Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 10:30am
By Jim Moore
I blather a lot about Russell Wilson being the best quarterback in Seahawks history and wrote a column about it over the weekend.
Some of you agree, some of you don't. Those who disagree contend that you can't make an assessment like that after only one season. Wilson was terrific, but there needs to be a bigger body of work before you can say he's better than Matt Hasselbeck, Dave Krieg and Jim Zorn.
Someone also pointed out that Rick Mirer had a good rookie season and look what happened to him -- the No. 2 pick overall in the 1993 draft fizzled after that.
Which got me to thinking: You can debate who the best quarterback in franchise history is, but what about the worst? Is there a clear-cut winner in that department? Probably not, but I've come up with a bottom five:
5. Stan Gelbaugh. I hesitate to put this man in the bottom five because he was a sixth-round pick, and you don't expect much from sixth-round picks unless you fast-forward to John Schneider in the here and now.
But Gelbaugh started eight games in the Seahawks' worst season ever -- in 1992, they went 2-14 and set an NFL record by scoring only 140 points, averaging 8.8 a game. In '92, Gelbaugh went 121 of 255 (47.5 percent) with six touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
4. Kelly Stouffer. Drafted No. 6 overall in 1987 by the then-Phoenix Cardinals, he was unfortunately dealt to Seattle. During that dismal '92 season, Stouffer lost all seven games he started. In his short career as an NFL quarterback, Stouffer finished with seven touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Stouffer started 16 games for the Seahawks from 1988-92, and none were memorable.
3. Charlie Whitehurst. Remember how excited everyone was when Clipboard Jesus arrived in Seattle in 2010? All he needed was an opportunity.
As you know, it never worked out for Whitehurst, who started only four games in his two years here, throwing three touchdowns and four interceptions. When Tarvaris Jackson beats you out, like he did in 2011, it doesn't speak well of you as a quarterback.
Whitehurst did have a few decent moments -- he was the starting quarterback when the Seahawks beat the Rams to "win" the NFC West with a 7-9 record in 2010. But he had more clunkers -- who could forget the 6-3 loss to Cleveland in 2011 when he went 12 of 30 for 92 yards with no touchdowns and two turnovers?
2. Dan McGwire. I'd forgotten this, but the 6-foot-8 right-hander from San Diego State was the first quarterback selected in the 1991 draft at No. 16 overall. Brett Favre was in the same draft and went in the second round to the Falcons.
McGwire will forever be best known as Mark McGwire's brother. He did nothing to distinguish himself as a good quarterback here with two touchdowns and six interceptions.
Two years after drafting McGwire, the Seahawks gave up on him and drafted Mirer No. 2 overall in 1993, which was another colossal mistake.
1. Rick Mirer. Arguable choice for the top spot given McGwire's badness, but Mirer did enough to qualify as the worst quarterback in franchise history. Coming out of Notre Dame, he was supposed to be the next Joe Montana and sometimes looked the part during his rookie season.
Mirer set NFL rookie records with 274 completions for 2,833 yards, apparently overshadowing his horrible touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12 to 17.
In his four years here, Mirer threw 41 touchdown passes and 56 interceptions and was finally, mercifully, traded to the Bears with a fourth-round pick for Chicago's first-round pick in 1997.
The best and worst quarterbacks in franchise history have something in common -- jersey No. 3 -- but that's where the similarities end.
Saturday, February 16, 2013 @ 12:09pm
By Jim Moore
Whenever I mention that Russell Wilson is the best quarterback in Seahawks history, I get all kinds of heat from those who think that one season isn't long enough to make that claim.
I'm not sure what it will take to qualify – two seasons? Three? Four? Seven?
I'm baffled. I use the eye test. The eye test told me last year that Tarvaris Jackson was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in franchise history. Yet I think he's a good backup and that Buffalo made a good decision by signing him to a one-year contract Friday.
I've been using the eye test since 1976 when an expansion team called the Seahawks came to Seattle. I was 19 then. I've seen every quarterback who has taken a snap for this team.
In the beginning and to this day, I was and still am a huge Jim Zorn fan. I absolutely loved him. No. 10. Left-hander out of Cal Poly-Pomona. The perfect quarterback for an expansion team because he was mobile, able to escape pressure that was often in his face because of a thrown-together offensive line.
Later on I loved Dave Krieg, too. Loved his story, coming out of a little school in Wisconsin, Milton College, that doesn't exist anymore. How good was he? Good enough to be named to three Pro Bowl teams and have his name in the Seahawks' Ring of Honor. In 1984, he led the Seahawks to a 12-4 record, throwing for 3,671 yards and 32 touchdowns.
But until Wilson arrived, Matt Hasselbeck was my all-time favorite Seahawks quarterback. Like Krieg, he was selected to the Pro Bowl three times. He also holds the franchise record for passing yards. More than any of that, Hasselbeck is the only quarterback in franchise history to lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl.
Mobility helps give Wilson the edge over Matt Hasselbeck. (AP)
But Wilson changed those rankings. In my book, he's already No. 1, slightly ahead of Hasselbeck. It won't be long before he's miles ahead of Hasselbeck. Zorn and Krieg will be specks in the distance, barely detectable.
Wilson led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record and within 30 seconds of the NFC championship game. If the defense had stopped either Detroit or Miami during the regular season, the Seahawks would've won the NFC West, played two playoff games at home and probably would have gone to the Super Bowl. It was the defense's fault that that didn't happen, not Wilson's.
Wilson's season stats are some of the best in Seahawks history, and to think that he produced them during his rookie season:
A 64 percent completion rate, 26 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, a 100.0 QB rating, 3,118 passing yards, 489 rushing yards with four TDs, including three in one game against Buffalo.
Ratings-wise, he was the best quarterback in the NFL in the second half of the season, which means he was better than Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and anyone else you want to name.
At what point did that ever happen during an eight-game stretch for Hasselbeck or Krieg?
At what point did Hasselbeck or Krieg offer the threat to run and extend plays like Wilson does?
They could occasionally buy time, but Wilson bought more time this season than Hasselbeck and Krieg did combined during their careers.
This isn't meant as criticism of Hasselbeck and Krieg; it's just to point out how good Wilson was this season in every aspect of the game – from decision-making to leadership to accuracy to downfield throws to whatever else you want to see from your quarterback.
I don't know what your eye test told you, but mine told me that after only season, Russell Wilson already qualifies as the best quarterback in franchise history.
Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 11:09am
Looking back at the 2012 NFL Draft, it is easy to see why the Seahawks were 31 seconds away from playing in the NFC Championship Game this season.
Most experts originally felt it was a stretch when Seattle took quarterback Russell Wilson with its third round pick. As a rookie Wilson proved he was worthy of being selected 75th overall, and much more.
When Sports Illustrated's Don Banks did his annual re-draft, a reconstruction of the first round based on each rookie's performance this year, he had Wilson going to the Cleveland Browns as the 3rd overall pick in the first round. Banks essentially rated Wilson as the third best rookie in the NFL this season behind only Andrew Luck of the Colts and Robert Griffin III of Washington.
Wilson was not the only Seahawk to impress in his first year in the league, according to Banks. He also had linebacker Bobby Wagner at No. 9 overall and defensive end Bruce Irvin going to Seattle at No. 15, just as he did in the real draft last April.
Acquiring three of the best 15 players available is an extreme rarity, so the Seahawks' front office must have known what it was doing.
"I've done the redraft eight or nine years. I don't remember anything like that," Banks told 710 ESPN Seattle's Go 2 Guy Friday. "You look back, and you realize they (Seahawks) were kind of ahead of the curve. The top three picks all hit, not just a little, but hit dramatically big in Seattle this year."
Wilson's performance as a rookie solidified the Seahawks' draft class as the best in the league. Banks also said he would rather have Wilson than Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers as his quarterback, and gave Seattle a slight advantage over San Francisco in the division next season.
Thursday, February 7, 2013 @ 9:51am
Wednesday's edition of "Cold Hard Facts" included more – you guessed it – speculation about which NFL free agents could be playing in Seahawks uniforms next season.
The latest name was a big one: Dwight Freeney, one of the league's most prolific pass rushers. With the Seahawks intent on beefing up their pass rush, Clayton called Freeney an "intriguing" possibility.
Dwight Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is set to become a free agent. (AP)
As Clayton suggested, Freeney's 2012 season – a down one by his standards – makes it difficult to gauge what kind money teams will be willing to throw his way. He had five sacks, less than half of what he had averaged over the previous four seasons. His 12 tackles represented a career low.
Any team interested in Freeney will have to determine whether that dropoff in production had more to do with his advancing age (he turns 33 later this month) or his adjustment to a new position. Freeney, a defensive end for the first 10 years of his career, moved to outside linebacker as the Colts switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 last season.
Chances are, it was a little of both. But regardless of the reason, the fact that Freeney will be 33 and coming off a down season should significantly lower his price tag. Freeney's 2012 base salary was more than $14 million, a number he won't come anywhere near matching in free agency.
If the price is reduced enough, Clayton could see the Seahawks jumping in.
"If you're John Schneider and you're Pete Carroll, you call Dwight and say, 'Listen, if you're going to get big money in free agency, God love you, we support you 100 ways. But if indeed you struggle a little bit and need to take a little bit of a flier on a team, look at this team,'" Clayton said.
And the interest would be mutual, Clayton believes, partly because of the advantage that Seahawks pass rushers have while playing in the din of CenturyLink Field.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Dwight would consider coming to Seattle because I do think it's an attractive team that is good for a pass rusher," he said, "and if you're looking to get into a championship situation, this would be the team to come to."
Friday, February 1, 2013 @ 8:30am
If the Seahawks had held on to beat Atlanta and somehow defeated the 49ers in San Francisco in the NFC championship game, they would have been 3-point favorites to beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl according to John Clayton.
That's how close they were to being Super Bowl champions – two plays in Atlanta, one game in San Francisco and another 60 minutes in New Orleans with Russell Wilson capping the remarkable journey by accepting the Lombardi Trophy and ending the interview with a "Go Hawks!"
I would be preparing to go to the downtown parade on Tuesday while reveling in the fact that I would've gone 17-3 against the spread in Seahawks games this year.
The Go 2 Guy is betting (get it?) that the two-week layoff will help Justin Smith and his partially torn triceps. (AP)
I mention this because now I'm going to attempt to branch out and give you the pointspread winner in the Super Bowl. Warning: I'm guessing I'll be wrong. I'm due to be wrong. I won't be surprised at all if I'm wrong.
If you're better than 50 percent against the spread, it's good. If you're better than 60 percent, it's great. But when you're better than 80 percent, it's not only phenomenal, it's about to change. No one can keep up that pace. But I'm going to try by giving you the top five reasons why the 49ers will cover the 3.5-point spread in the Super Bowl.
Questions: Don't most people come up with top-10 lists? So why am I coming up with a top-5 list?
Answers: I'm not most people. I'm lazier than most people. Plus I couldn't come up with 10 so I settled on five.
5. Colin Kaepernick. I thought the replacement of Alex Smith would at some point backfire on Jim Harbaugh, but it hasn't. Smith was good, but Kaepernick's fantastic. Like Russell Wilson, he gives the 49ers a read-option dimension that is hard to stop. And if you do, Kaepernick can beat you from the pocket or with straight handoffs to Frank Gore.
4. Justin Smith. I know the 49ers' defensive tackle is dealing with a torn triceps. The Niners haven't been the same since he was injured. But I'm thinking the two-week break will help him. And if it helps him, it should help Aldon Smith return to being the sack machine that he is. A good rush should lead to some poor throws by Joe Flacco and an interception or two by the Niners.
3. The Ravens. I'm not sold on the 49ers' opponent. They were lucky to beat the Broncos. They played a great game against New England but always seem to match up well with the Patriots. They were 9-point underdogs at Denver, 9-point underdogs at New England. And all of a sudden, they're just 3.5-point underdogs to San Francisco, the best team in the toughest conference? It doesn't compute.
2. Vernon Davis. Kaepernick finally found the tight end on a consistent basis in the NFC championship game. Expect that to continue on Sunday. If the Ravens shut down Davis, Michael Crabtree will burn them deep. I love how Kaepernick likes to throw the ball downfield. But my darkhorse candidate for Super Bowl MVP is Davis.
1. Ray Lewis. I'm expecting karma to deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit to the Ravens' linebacker. If there's a football god, does he really want to see Lewis' over-the-top postgame celebration? I would think not. Lewis will end up in the Hall of Fame, but on Sunday he'll trade deer-antler spray for the agony of defeat.
Prediction: 49ers 34, Ravens 13.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 @ 10:54am
I first heard the news about Chris Hansen's purchase of the Sacramento Kings via text from Jessamyn McIntyre Sunday night.
I went straight to our home computer to read the ESPN.com story about the transaction and printed it out. I took the printout upstairs to show my 8-year-old kids that the NBA was indeed coming back to Seattle.
The Go 2 Guy can't wait for his twin sons to switch allegiances when the Kings become the Sonics. (AP)
We all have our own reasons why we're excited about the rebirth of the Sonics this fall when the green and gold plays home games again at KeyArena.
It's been a weird deal for me. I was 10 years old and thrilled to death when the Sonics came to town in 1967. As I've mentioned before, I dreamed of growing up and covering the Sonics as a sportswriter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
To be able to do that from 1990-96 was the highlight of my career. But in the last five or six years that the Sonics were here, my love for the NBA waned. I'm not sure why I got burned out on the Sonics and the NBA, but I did. I became more interested in college basketball.
Personally, I admit to not really missing the Sonics at first. But then my 8-year-olds got into the NBA by playing Xbox video games. They know all of the players on all of the teams. It reminded me of me at their age and it rekindled my passion for the NBA.
They have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Fathead posters on their bedroom wall. They absolutely love the OKC stars, and it kills me to think that Durant and Westbrook could be playing here. Their hero worship would be off the charts if that were the case.
I took them to Portland to see the Thunder play the Blazers a week and a half ago. They wore their Thunder jerseys and cheered all night long for Durant and Westbrook. They were mini-me's, taking me back 45 years to a time when I worshiped Bob Rule and Bob Weiss and Plummer Lott and Tommy Kron and Tom Meschery and Walt Hazzard and Henry Akin on the first Sonics team.
Thanks to my kids, I've gone full circle. Now I can't wait for the Kings to get here. We've talked about it a lot. I told Mikey and Stevie that pretty soon, they're going to like DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas more than Durant and Westbrook. They don't think that's possible, but I know that it is.
They'll be wearing their Sonics jerseys, their Sonics caps and their Sonics shorts. They'll be wearing Sonics headbands and trying to imitate Cousins' moves in the paint and Thomas' moves on the perimeter, just like I used to pretend I was Spencer Haywood and Lenny Wilkens in my gravel driveway in Redmond.
As it is right now, Mikey comes downstairs every morning and tells me who beat who in the NBA the night before and that so-and-so scored 35 points and that Klay Thompson had 18 for the Warriors. To my kids' credit, Thompson is their third-favorite NBA player because of their Cougness.
This fall we'll be watching and talking about the Sonics. We'll be going to games at KeyArena. We'll be sharing dad-and-kid moments, discussing and dissecting whatever happened in the latest Sonics game.
That's all I've got. I didn't plan to get sappy about the return of a pro basketball team. Some of you will understand my feelings, some of you won't, and that's fine – if I didn't have kids, it might not be that big of a deal to me either.
But for everyone who is jacked up about the return of the Sonics, I get it. I'm right there with you.
Opening night will be unlike anything we've seen in Seattle in a long time.
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 2:24pm
Thursday marked the unofficial beginning of what will be more than three months of draft-related discussion and speculation on 710 ESPN Seattle and 710Sports.com.
Draft analyst Gil Brandt of the NFL Network got things started when he joined Jim Moore and Danny O'Neil to discuss – among other things – his recently released mock draft. The Seahawks own the 25th pick, which Brandt thinks they'll use on Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
DeAndre Hopkins racked up more than 3,000 receiving yards and 27 TDs in three seasons at Clemson. (AP)
Brandt has this to say about Hopkins Thursday:
"I'm probably way too high on him. But, boy, he really played good against LSU – now LSU has got some very, very good defensive backs. He's a tall guy and has got amazing quickness, was a really good athlete. He was an all-state basketball player three years running in the state of South Carolina.
"He's one of those guys ... that you have to look at and decide, are you willing to take him and maybe he's not going to help you a lot his first year? But he's got a lot of potential down the line."
Hopkins, who is leaving Clemson a year early, set a single-season school record with 1,405 receiving yards as a junior. He led the team with 82 catches and set an ACC record with 18 receiving touchdowns.
The LSU game Brandt mentioned was the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the final game of Hopkins' career. He caught 13 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns against LSU. That was the 12th 100-yard game of his career, setting a new school record.
Wide receiver isn't the Seahawks' most pressing need. Pass rush was their biggest deficiency even though Seattle's defense led the league in scoring. That was the case even before Chris Clemons, the team's leader in sacks, suffered an ACL injury that will likely force him to start next season on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
Value, of course, often trumps need when teams make draft decisions. The Seahawks opted not to take a wide receiver last year because, they reasoned, better players at other positions were available each time it was Seattle's turn to pick.
In his mock draft, Brandt had six pass rushers being taken among the first 24 selections. That could leave the Seahawks without a good enough pass-rushing prospect to warrant drafting at that spot. Addressing other needs would make more sense in that scenario.
Wide receiver seemed like a bigger question mark earlier in the season when Seattle's passing game hadn't yet hit its stride. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate each finished with seven touchdown receptions. Neither topped 800 yards receiving, but their yardage totals (748 for Rice and 688 for Tate) look better when you consider the Seahawks attempted the fewest passes of any team.
Still, the Seahawks could stand to add a wide receiver, specifically a deep threat. Hopkins' 17.1 yards-per-catch average last season was nearly two yards better than any Seahawks receiver. That figure would have ranked sixth in the NFL.
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 9:25am
By Jim Moore
The past 18 weeks, I have written posts about the Seahawks, predicting the outcome of each game against the spread.
I mention this because I knew what I was going to write about each week and so did Brady Henderson, my 26-year-old boss who runs the 710Sports.com website.
But this week is different because the Seahawks' season is over.
"So, Jim, what do you want to write about?" Henderson asked me Thursday night.
I usually respond with an "I don't know, Brady," but this time I surprised him by saying: "I want to write about how excited I am that the Mariners traded for Mike Morse."
"Really?" Henderson replied, thinking I was being sarcastic because I usually am.
Yep, really. I'm genuinely excited to the point of being thrilled that the Mariners have reacquired Morse.
As you know, the Mariners got Morse from the Nationals in a three-way deal that sent John Jaso to the A's.
Let's get this out of the way first – I'll miss Jaso. He was the Mariners' best hitter last year. He delivered in the clutch. He had a cool beard going at the end of the season.
He was also a terrific interview, and there will never be another Mariner with an English Bulldog named Bruce, a chinchilla named Gustavo and hedgehogs named Bill and Marble as pets.
The seamheads will trout out their acronyms and tell you why this is a bad trade. They'll tell you that Morse is a bad defensive player and a bad baserunner. They'll tell you a bunch of negative stuff about Morse and a bunch of positive stuff about Jaso.
And ya know what? They're right about all of it.
But I don't care. If we're going to complain about the Mariners' lack of power – which most of us have done for the past three years – how can we complain when Jack Zduriencik brings in a bopper like Morse?
The guy hit 31 homers two years ago. In 102 games last year, he hit 18. That projects to 28 if he'd played 162 games. Then with the fences coming in this year at Safeco Field, it's hard not to imagine Morse hitting 30 home runs in his first season back with the Mariners.
Unlike Justin Upton, who nixed a trade to the Mariners, Morse wants to be here, says he feels like he has unfinished business here. If I were him, I might be disappointed, going from a team that was in the playoffs last year to one that won't make the playoffs this year. But he's not.
I'm also fired up about the arrival of Kendrys Morales from the Angels. He brings the potential for even more pop in the lineup. Speaking of lineups, here's one I scribbled down. It features a lot more hope than anything that Eric Wedge trotted out there last year:
1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
2. Kyle Seager, 3B
3. Kendrys Morales, DH
4. Mike Morse, LF
5. Justin Smoak, 1B
6. Jesus Montero, C
7. Michael Saunders, RF
8. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
9. Brendan Ryan, SS
I'm not as excited about the return of Raul Ibanez at 40 but hoping that he'll have a little life left in his bat while providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
The Mariners have a legitimate chance of getting 100 home runs combined from Morales, Morse, Montero and Smoak. Throw in Seager, and you might get to 125. I know, you have to pray to the baseball gods if you're thinking Smoak is going to hit 25 home runs, but it's possible.
The Mariners still aren't good enough to finish ahead of the Angels or the Rangers and probably even the A's in the AL West.
But the acquisitions of Morales and Morse will at least make it more fun at the ballpark.
After so many 2-1 and 2-0 and 1-0 games, I'm ready for some 8-7 games at Safeco Field. I'm ready for some 7-2 deficits that the Mariners actually have a chance to come back from.
If it means that Morse is going to butcher some plays in the outfield, fine. Besides, he can't be worse than Milton Bradley.
Spring training is less than a month away. For the first time in three years, Mariner fans have good reasons to be optimistic about the season ahead.