If Jets choose Mike White, Seahawks should look into Zach Wilson trade
Plus Boye Mafe, draft class cautionary tales, and bad advice: Seaside Joe 1387
Many of you know that I have had a strong affinity for New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, citing him numerous times as my pick for the breakout player of the year and as a future superstar who would be the next Justin Herbert, if not Patrick Mahomes. So before I go any further, let me be the first to say it and get ahead of those who had been vehemently in disagreement with my Zach Wilson assessment:
Zach Wilson is bad.
(If you feel like you don’t care about the Jets quarterback or are sick of hearing about Seattle’s 2023 QB situation, no hard feelings and I don’t want to leave you hanging: Scroll way down/click on the Seaside Joe banner above and I’ll write up some thoughts on the Seahawks! Who else would do that for you???)
There is no way to talk around a quarterback being as bad as Wilson has been for 21 games and saying that you’re encouraged by those starts without being disengenous. So I’m not here to tell you that my hopes for Wilson are just as high as they were a few months ago. When others get something wrong, they may deny or even delete any record of their wildly incorrect assessments of a player, coach, or team.
Instead, I choose to highlight my errors for you and then together we can figure out how to do better next time. That’s also what Wilson has to do after getting benched for Mike White in Week 12 and finding himself on the brink of hitting the trade block, just as the Jets did with Sam Darnold a couple of years ago.
If the price is right to acquire Zach Wilson, then the timing might also be perfect for the Seattle Seahawks to give him an opportunity to hold the clipboard for a little while.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced on Tuesday that Wilson would start for the second time in as many weeks, as White remains out with a rib injury. Wilson’s start against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 was no more encouraging than his previous seven this season, really, but the arm talent and mobility that made him the number two pick in the 2021 draft was on display again.
Wilson now has at least one more opportunity to prove himself worthy of a chance to start for the Jets beyond the next game and we can all bear witness this Thursday against the Jaguars. If you dare.
Now some of you may have read this far and been thinking, “Wow, Seaside Joe is such a jerk. Why would he want to have Zach Wilson starting for the Seahawks in 2023 when he’s been so terrible already? Is he merely overrating his draft status and completely ignoring his track record?”
That record so far being a 55% completion rate, 15 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 64 sacks taken in 21 games for a loss of 524 yards, and a passer rating of 71.8. Wilson had a golden opportunity to beef his stats against the Lions in Week 15 and instead he went 18-of-35 with two touchdowns and an interception as New York managed only 17 points against a defense that has allowed 26 per game*.
*Most of those bad defensive games for the Lions came prior to Week 11 and Detroit is actually allowing 20 ppg over their last five
But no, if Wilson hits the trade market in 2023 then I do not think he should be starting for the Seahawks. I do not think he should be starting for anybody. And I do not think that Wilson should be thrown into a quarterback competition next year.
Barring a glorious home stretch for Wilson, his only role in the NFL next season, whether it be in New York, Seattle, Carolina, or other is clear: He’s a backup.
My concern for Wilson and so many other quarterbacks lately though is that they aren’t accepting these roles often enough and that players are getting terrible advice from coaches, agents, friends, execs, etc. about their careers, and even if the intentions are good, the result is that too many quarterbacks have had their careers ruined before they got their proper chance to develop.
Far too many people aren’t giving prospective NFL players the advice that they most likely need to hear which is: “You’re probably not good enough.”
In the offseason, when fans were debating if Baker Mayfield should go to the Panthers or Seahawks, I was arguing that he would be best served to go to the Los Angeles Rams. Does this counter-balance my takes on Zach Wilson?
It wasn’t just that I didn’t think Baker should start for Seattle. I did not believe that he should be starting for any team and at least with the Rams he would have all the development tools available to him to maybe still reach his potential of becoming an NFL starter again in the future:
A guaranteed role as a backup on a team that needed a real quarterback backing up Matthew Stafford, not John Wolford and Bryce Perkins
A head coach who had gotten the most out of two other former number one picks
A supporting cast that could elevate him in the future and ownership that is deadset on spending money to keep it that way for a long time
No pressure to be “Baker Mayfield”
What I didn’t think that Baker should do is go to a team to be the undeniable starter, which is exactly what the Carolina Panthers did by trading a day three conditional pick for him and then holding a fake competition against Darnold. Because the compensation was so low and he was destined for a massive paycut anyway, there were better opportunities for Baker and he could have insisted that the Browns trade him to a contender with an entrenched starter so that he could spend a year behind Stafford or Tom Brady or maybe even Russell Wilson.
The absolute stupidest thing he could have done is to go play for the most obvious hot seat head coach in the NFL, with Ben McAdoo as his offensive coordinator, throwing to Robbie Anderson, and playing behind an offensive line in flux. I realize that the competitive nature of athletes practically robs them of rational thought at times like that, but that’s exactly why I said what I said earlier:
These players are getting shitty advice from people who should be leading them towards the path of good development instead of the path of least resistence.
And where is Baker Mayfield now? The place he should have been all along. Except instead of spending the entire training camp, preseason, and first 13 weeks as Stafford’s backup learning the offense, Baker has made two starts (technically one, but he played almost the entire first game) with barely two weeks to get to know his teammates and coaches and the playbook.
Now the best thing for Baker could be that he has a mediocre finish to the season—not an improbable outcome—and doesn’t get more bad advice or any offers to go start somewhere else and instead agrees to play for the Rams as Stafford’s backup in 2023, if not much longer. Many will point to Steve Young as the ultimate example of how waiting for your moment can pay off, but in the modern era we have Geno Smith to point to as a reason for patience.
Others who should heed this advice include Daniel Jones, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson.
Though they were drafted more than 30 years apart and shouldn’t be compared by statistics or style, Wilson and Young do have quite a lot in common. Beyond the fact that they both starred at BYU, Young and Wilson were highly touted prospects who went to perpetually helpless franchises. The Bucs were 2-14 two seasons before getting Young in the supplemental draft, the Jets were 2-14 the year before drafting Wilson without much resistence in 2021.
Now the Jets are kind of good but Wilson is very bad.
Young went to the San Francisco 49ers in 1987, two years after they had won their second Super Bowl out of four seasons, and had immediate success while playing for Bill Walsh, backing up Joe Montana, and getting guidance from quarterbacks coach Mike Holmgren. But rather than eagerly parlay that small sample size (10 TD, 0 INT over four appearances) into an immediate opportunity, as one would expect a modern quarterback to do, Young spent four more years as Montana’s backup.
It feels ridiculous to recount a story as famous as Steve Young’s again…but have we already forgotten those lessons?
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It seems to me that we have.
Young got to be a three-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time MVP, and a Hall of Famer because he accepted a backup role on a good team instead of demanding a trade to the Cardinals or Lions when he had raised his stock again with a few positive appearances in a perfect quarterbacking situation.
Maybe it’s because Young didn’t have the allure of extraordinary fame and wealth that comes with being a starting NFL quarterback today. Or that he did not have to endure the ridicule that comes with living in a social media age in which “journalists” live for retweets and likes by buying into Twitter’s trash-talk-for-comedy instead of analzying and reporting on the sport of football.
The longer that Wilson goes without starting, the longer that he’s a Geno Smith-like punchline, a quarterback who spent a decade as a joke until the current moment in which those same people who trashed Geno are now saying, “God, what’s wrong with all of those losers who trashed Geno for 10 years?!?!”
It was you. You did it.
It’s amazing what Twitter will say about Steve Young or Drew Brees with hindsight. They’ll say, “Wow, these guys were so great. Now THAT is how you quarterback.” But what would Twitter have done to Young or Brees if the internet had existed in 1985 or social media was a dominant presence in 2004? The Venn diagram of social media addicts and NFL reporters/content creators/journalists is growing ever-closer to a single circle and that means that most are driven by their own personal need for clout and notifications than by a desire to be one with truth, reason, and reality.
Before he got to the 49ers, Young sucked and Twitter would have been the first to let him know it. Before his fourth season, Brees was benched for Doug Flutie and that would have made him Twitter’s main character for a long time, a moment that would have been extended and exacerbated after San Diego drafted his replacement in 2004.
Most of us will never know what it is like to be publicly flogged at that level. There’s no telling what it does to the psyche of each individual, maybe for some it serves as motivation, but it’s clear that patience has not been given any room to breathe in an era of instant gratification.
Zach Wilson played his most recent college football game on December 22, 2020. He’s been declared an NFL bust before the two-year anniversary.
I don’t think it has to be this way.
Still, Wilson, Mayfield, and Daniel Jones would all be better served with patience instead of worrying about their public personas. Yeah, Twitter is going to shit talk you for accepting a role as a backup, but Young, Brees, and Geno have all proven that the pendulum swings just as easily in the other direction. Twitter addicts will sell their souls for clout by calling you garbage, but they’ll also hit ‘delete’ and then praise you for being a great comeback story because that drives traffic too.
Zach Wilson could play well against the Jaguars on Thursday, earn a start against the Seahawks in Week 17, and if he leads the Jets to the playoffs, be back in the good graces of Twitter like it’s 2021 NFL Draft season again. That could happen and my encouragement to accept a backup role next year might be all but moot.
I don’t expect it to happen. The Jets seem to have enough talent to give a quarterback a chance to succeed and Wilson has yet to come close to that, even for a week or two.
Instead, I believe the Jets could decide to re-sign Mike White, a 2023 free agent, and I think that they would be better served in that case to separate Wilson from the situation rather than invite competition and controversy at the quarterback position for another year. It’s better for New York, it’s better for White, and it’s better for Wilson.
It’s better for the team that acquires Zach Wilson with absolutely no designs on starting him in 2023.
Though the Panthers are morons and traded second, fourth, and sixth round picks for Darnold, I do not anticipate the cost of Wilson to be that high. Mayfield was worth a conditional fourth rounder. Christian Hackenberg, a second round pick of the Jets in 2016 who was traded in 2018 after no appearances, commanded a conditional seventh rounder from the Raiders that was never met. He was traded for literally nothing.
Far be it from me to know how many idiots there are running NFL teams, like Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier trading a second and a fifth for Josh Rosen, but I still think that the words Wilson needs to hear from anyone who is invited to give him advice is: “You’re probably not good enough to be a starter.”
“You need to go be a backup.”
Wilson shouldn’t be competing to start next season. Jones shouldn’t be competing to start next season. Both should find homes on good teams that have entrenched starters and nothing to do for the next 18 months other than preparing for their next opportunity after hundreds of more days of development and study. And it is still more-likely-than-not that Wilson would find himself called on anyway because Geno, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff are the only quarterbacks in the entire league who have played every quarterback snap for their respective teams this year.
The Seahawks have two first and two second round picks, more draft capital than any other team in the NFL, and while it is not advisable to trade any of those for Wilson it does mean that Seattle can address their wants in the draft without worrying if they’re sacrificing too much by acquiring a quarterback. Beyond the Seahawks own third and fourth round picks, they also have an extra fifth round pick by way of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I would not trade pick 35 for Zach Wilson, but I would certainly try and talk everybody into a scenario where Seattle gets a rare opportunity to move a conditional fourth round pick for a 23-year-old quarterback with immense talent and absolutely no idea what to do with it.
Also because the 2023 quarterback class has been massively disappointing and the best you can hope to do in that same range of the draft is probably Spencer Rattler or Aidan O’Connell or one of these other prospects who doesn’t have as much potential to move the needle as Wilson, even if he’s been worse than Darnold and far worse than Mayfield in the early parts of their careers.
It would require that the Jets are open to moving Wilson at such a cost, but there’s reason to believe this is realistic. For one, John Schneider and New York general manager Joe Douglas have a history: Seattle traded up for Darrell Taylor in the 2020 draft in a swap with the Jets, then three months later acquired Jamal Adams. The two GMs also made a Parry Nickerson trade in 2019 with far less fanfare.
Douglas also knows when it is time to move on from a prospect. The Jets traded former top-10 pick Leonard Williams to the Giants for the discounted rate of a third and a fifth, former first rounder Darron Lee went to the Chiefs for only a sixth, and of course Darnold was moved with little resistance in 2021.
Perhaps a team like the Colts, Texans, Panthers, or Falcons comes along dangling a second round pick for Wilson and there’s nothing I can do about that. But my advice would be the same: “How could you be so stupid?” if you’re Zach Wilson’s inner circle.
Go play for the Texans. Your career will be over before I send out my 1,500th newsletter.
This is not to say that the Houston Texans never be relevant again or to pile on against franchises that continously fail…but…isn’t playing for horrible teams what gets most quarterbacks into hot water to begin with? The Texans are presently a horrible team, as are the Colts and Falcons and probably the Panthers, although the point there is that Wilson should not be starting for anyone.
He shouldn’t be starting for the Seahawks.
Now does this go against my wishes of seeing Seattle leave Geno Smith open to being wooed by another team in 2023, therefore opening the door for a new starter next season? No, because the Seahawks don’t have any quarterbacks signed for 2023. They need to secure a backup just as much as they need to secure a starter and I would not necessarily be opposed to finding out that next season’s starter will be Drew Lock, if it’s not Geno Smith.
Lock could even end up as Case #5A3163V for the value of patience and development sans pressure at the quarterback position.
Wishful thinking? Of course. But no more wishful than expecting to strike gold in the draft, or free agency, or…from Geno Smith and Steve Young.
Wilson has been polar opposite of what I expected him to be. Maybe he can still defy the odds of what everyone else is calling him now that he’s hit rock bottom.
Now as I promised, some thoughts on the 2022 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS.
Colts cautionary tale
Yes, I get as excited and braggy as you do when I think about the Seahawks rookie draft class. Even if we only end up with 50% of the long-term starters that we expect, Seattle should do no worse than maybe three very good players, if not a couple superstars. Tariq Woolen on his own is worthy of saying that the Seahawks basically could have two top-10 picks from the 2022 draft class.
A 2022 re-draft would undoubtedly put Woolen in the conversation to go in the top-five.
But for some reason, my cynical mind can’t think of Seattle’s rookies without thinking back on the 2018 draft class for the Indianapolis Colts. Not that one should have any negative thoughts about the players that the Colts got that year-Quenton Nelson and Shaquille Leonard will anchor the team’s strengths for years to come—but based on what we know about the organization since.
The Colts continue to be one of the shittiest football teams on the planet.
GM Chris Ballard did indeed win Executive of the Year, as John Schneider deserves for this past season if that’s how writers are judging who the strongest candidates are, and he signed a five-year extension in 2021. He has far outclassed predecessor Ryan Grigson, himself an Executive of the Year…four years before he was fired.
But what about the actual product that Indianapolis is putting on the football field and the mindblowing decisions made by one of the stupidest owners in all of pro sports, Jim Irsay?
The Colts drafted three long-term starters in 2018, Nelson, Leonard, and offensive lineman Braden Smith, all of whom went in the top-40 picks. Nobody seems to want to mention Indy’s next eight picks (including two more second rounders), the only one of whom still remains on the roster being linebacker Zaire Franklin.
Or that Ballard had three second round picks in 2019 (Rock Ya-Sin, Ben Banogu, Parris Campbell) and not a single one of them has accrued even one season as an NFL starter. Or that the Colts didn’t win a playoff game in 2019, 2020, or 2021, fired head coach Frank Reich in the middle of this season, and have now lost seven of their last eight games.
Hey, it’s really cool to brag about a cool draft class. Cool. The last thing I want though is to be sitting here in four years writing about the fired head coaches, the bad drafts, the failed trades, the garbage ownership, and blowing the largest lead in NFL history because Seattle got too in their heads over all the praise from crushing it during one draft.
I don’t want good drafts unless they lead to good teams. The Colts had a good draft, but they’re not giving their fans a damn thing worth watching.
Similarly, I think back on the 2017 Saints draft class with Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara, and Trey Hendrickson and think, “How could you find that many high-caliber rookies in a single year and not have one Super Bowl appearance to show for it?”
New Orleans won three playoff games from 2017-2021 and they’re now 5-9 with their 2023 first round pick going to the 13-1 Eagles. A team that drafted Andre Dillard and Jalen Reagor with their first round picks in 2019 and 2020.
Give me bad drafts and a good team over good drafts and ending up with Jeff Saturday or Dennis Allen as your head coach.
How do the Seahawks avoid this? I’m not quite sure how to answer that yet. But I know that I’m not about to brag over “stealing the draft” until Seattle proves that they can still seal a victory.
Boy-A Draft Grade
Typically lost in the mix when talking about the Seahawks incredible draft class is not the running back that Seattle picked in the second round who Twitter gave an “F” grade to on day two, but the edge rusher one pick earlier who was praised as the “right pick” just before the “wrong pick.”
This is not to say that we know yet whether Boye Mafe and Kenneth Walker III will be good or bad picks. It is only to say that a) smart people give evaluations that go beyond “positional value” and b) we talk about Walker but Mafe is rarely mentioned.
Unless we’re talking about how he rarely plays and has been usurped by a veteran who had been watching football from his couch in September.
Same as Zach Wilson, Mafe has every right to become whoever he will become without being trashed for his expected rookie mistakes, whatever those issues are that have prevented him from getting snaps from Pete Carroll.
However, Mafe played just 10 snaps in Week 13’s win over the Rams, then 18 snaps against the Panthers, then 23 snaps last Thursday against the 49ers. Over 352 total snaps this season, Mafe has been credited with seven pressures; Pete clearly trusts Bruce Irvin, usually giving him more than twice as many snaps as the rookie since being added to the roster in Week 7.
The two have played virtually the same number of snaps now and their stats are basically the same (though QBs have thrown at Mafe way more times than they have thrown in Irvin’s direction) but the change seems to have more to do with veteran leadership, experience, and attitude than anything else.
That’s fine for right now and the last three games, but what does it say for next season and Seattle’s obvious need for better edge rushers and linebackers when the defense returns to the field for 2023 training camp?
Compared to Gregory Rosseau, a pass rusher with a similar draft grade in 2021 but who is 1.5 years younger than Mafe, Seattle’s rookie second rounder is behind schedule. Rosseau made 17 starts for the Bills in his first year and played in 50-percent of the snaps, recording 24 pressures, eight tackles for a loss, and four batted passes. In 11 starts this year, the 22-year-old has seven sacks, eight TFL, and four more batted passes while playing in 55-percent of the snaps.
On the other end, the Panthers selected Yetur Gross-Matos with the 38th overall pick in 2020 and his rookie season was similar to Mafe’s, if not a little more productive. Now in year three, Gross-Matos is a starter and in on 72-percnet of the snaps. But with 1.5 sacks and eight pressures, Carolina will have to look in another direction next year or hope that Gross-Matos is an exception who breaks out in his fourth campaign.
Gross-Matos is only a few months older than Mafe.
There will be ample opportunities for Mafe to earn an increased role on the defense next year, although it is not clear what scheme that defense will be running and whether or not Seattle’s 2023 defensive draft picks still fit into it. But what this means for the Seahawks is that they can’t rest on their laurels and just hope that Mafe’s second year will be more encouraging than his first.
The Seahawks have to approach free agency and the 2023 draft as if Uchenna Nwosu is the only edge rusher who they can count on. Because that’s the truth.
Wilson might not fit in with our locker room. If Pete and John interviewed him and believed he was worth developing, sure. We are talking backup. I get that QB's take time to develop, but they need to start with the right attitude. I don't get the feeling like he connects to his team. It isn't like QB's worth developing are all that rare, either. Having one develop into a top ten QB is fairly rare, and that's what we have with Geno. I think he could lead our team to playoff wins with a decent defense.
Agreed Nwosu is our only quality pass rusher. We need help, but between Taylor and Mafe, I hope one becomes worth keeping and starting. So we need depth at pass rusher, but we need starters at DT. Run stoppers. Mafe looked OK setting the edge, while Taylor is more explosive as a pass rusher. I see continuing to develop those two, rather than take an Anderson or other edge early on day one.
Other than DT, we need help on the interior OL. I have dreams of getting a three or 4 year window where we have one of the best OL's in football, and they are all on rookie contracts. With our draft picks, we should get at least 4 rookie starters next year. How we mix and match with free agency is fine and necessary. Ultimately, it's about value, and best player available helps avoid severe overdrafts.
It has become so apparent to me these past few years how ridiculous the online overreaction is to Every. Single. Game.
I think it was obvious going in what our chances were against such a dominant opponent in the niners this past weekend. And while the hawks were clearly outplayed, aside from that dropped interception, then fumble, we were keeping a scraped-out win in sight. But we lost that game, which we knew we were probs going to lose, and it is followed by just so much hand wringing and disappointment. This guy should be fired. This guy is a bust. Maybe this guy we thought was awesome actually sucks. C'mon.
I think our poor friends, all the nfl qbs, are on the receiving end of so much of this overreaction. So much so that many of them who need to have some time to grow and develop just don't ever get the opportunity. We don't have time for development. We Need results. Now! That game we lost this week was the most important game of my life. Don't you know how important that was?!
Sorry about our stupidity, guys.
I'm an educator. I know what learning looks like. I'm sure glad the Twitter crew isn't in my classroom evaluating the growth of my students. Kinda pisses me off, to be honest.
I think you're right on with this article. Keep on rockin Ken