Fast-backward with me, three weeks. Three weeks and three days exactly, to the season opener against the Broncos.
Will Dissly’s setting franchise TE records. Shaquem Griffin’s starting at linebacker. Rasheem Green’s fresh off a preseason of pressuring and sacking fool quarterbacks, and Rashaad Penny has just begun teaming up with Chris Carson to form a two-headed rushing attack quite different than recent versions of the team.
Michael Dickson spends the afternoon impressing, with two punts that land within six yards of the end zone. Two!
Punt 2: 59 yards, 4.55 seconds. Jones lets it go because punts in this area of the field have a high (approximately 60% chance) of going in the endzone. Thorpe makes him pay downing it at the 2. pic.twitter.com/dGDeqfLrNb— Sean Clement (@SeanFromSeabeck) September 10, 2018
It’s September 10, 2018, and the future of the Seattle Seahawks’ recent draft class is bright. It’s blinding, even. Although Seattle will depart Denver with a defeat, there’s much reason to hope. It’s only been a preseason and a single game, but there are scant reasons to doubt that John Schneider and his scouts have #DoneItAgain.
Fast-present to... the present, and the tune has changed. With the caveat that it’s far, far too soon to judge the 2018 draft class entirely, there are far-reaching consequences to all the things that have gone wrong regarding their health and development. If the franchise wants to return to postseason glory, and /checks texts from V-Mac/ they do, cheap good labor will be necessary. Physical setbacks just push eventual title contention farther and farther into the future.
Was second on the team in receiving yards and touchdowns through three weeks, then of course tore his patella tendon in Glendale, Arizona, graveyard of Seahawks. Now on injured reserve, facing a rehab process that is often estimated at one year.
Missed Week 4, and Week 5 is in doubt. Has four tackles and no sacks in 102 defensive snaps. Is not a factor on the field, yet, even when healthy. Given how cryptic or misleading Seattle is officially about the severity of any injury, it’s hard to tell when he’ll return.
On IR too, this after pushing Germain Ifedi in the preseason for the starting RT job. Many speculated he could start immediately, or later in the year. Instead, he’ll sit out and try again in 2019.
The Holding Pattern
Finally, in Week 4, Penny began to look like the running back advertised to us in May. Or the one you were familiar with if you watched San Diego State football. 49 yards on nine attempts; he was decisive, quick to cut, hard to bring down, and useful.
Just in terms of showcasing physical traits, I thought this was Rashaad Penny's best run in a Seahawks uniform. It's the first time he looked to me like an elite size/speed prospect. pic.twitter.com/tWju01Sglt— Parker Lewis (@ParkerLewisJR) October 1, 2018
Those descriptors would not fit his first three games with the Seahawks. A line of 20-43-0 has a way of making a rookie look like a questionable pick. But guys develop. They actually get better with time, often. It’s quite unfair to judge him on his first three pro games. So, holding pattern it is.
To be perfectly frank, Griffin has been more hype than results so far. Again, it’s been four games. Again, he’ll progress. But the coaches certainly haven’t seen enough from him to reward him with extensive playing time since the opener against the Broncos.
Austin Calitro and Mychal Kendricks (acquired after Griffin’s first game) have been complementing Bobby Wagner in the linebacker corps since. Griffin has not. He’s still making plays on special teams. This is a frickin’ awesome open-field tackle.
.@Seahawks LB @Shaquemgriffin earned the Week 3 #NFLWayToPlay Award for this textbook special teams tackle vs. the @dallascowboys.— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) September 27, 2018
He receives a $2,500 grant through @usafootball for the youth or high school football program of his choice: https://t.co/C4uiuAf1Tz pic.twitter.com/C9Fph2yMoY
But he’s not playing defense right now. Let’s see what happens now that Kendricks is suspended indefinitely for his definitely-way-worse-than-domestic-violence* offense.
* free editorializing
The defensive end, Seattle’s sixth-round selection, has been active and inactive on game days, and he managed to stick to the 53, which is good. Hasn’t made any impact though — just one tackle. It’s pretty hard to say how he fits in right now other than the last line of depth. Again, wait and see.
The Practice Squadder
Not much shame in a seventh-rounder failing to beat out a veteran such as Brett Hundley for the backup QB job. But McGough also won’t get much time on the field in 2018 now, unless another devastating turn of events materializes. In a sign that the Seahawks aren’t completely committed to him in the near future, or someone’s secretly hurt, they brought in Paxton Lynch for a tryout on Monday.
Still-bright spots exist.
The starting cornerback is part of a pass defense that looks good, maybe very good. They’ve allowed as many touchdowns as they’ve garnered interceptions (seven) and their yards/attempt against is 4th best in the league. If Flowers is a weakness in the scheme, one opposing quarterbacks ought to exploit, they haven’t done so yet, at least not well enough for it to matter.
Flowers gets his hands on the ball regularly, with two passes defensed, and he... rose to the occasion Week 4 with this gorgeous forced fumble.
Although he’s cooled off substantially from his Denver exploits, Dickson remains an upgrade at punter (look Jon, I didn’t want to say it out loud, but objectivity got the better of me). His potential to cause turnovers and confound special teams with drop kicks and floaters has not been fully tapped. Anticipating more of that as the weather intensifies. Also he appears to be an adequate holder, which doesn’t hurt. Until this article jinxes him.
Why any of this matters
All of the setbacks, be they physical or playing time-related, have an effect on 2018 and 2019. Right now, players such as Green, Griffin and Jones are missing out on reps they can’t get in practice, or in the offseason. There’s no substitute for live action.
Impacting even further the situation is Earl Thomas’ injury — had he been traded, the 2019 draft would be bolstered. Had he stayed healthy and walked, a compensatory pick could reasonably be expected. Now Seattle will get neither the benefit of Thomas’ presence on game day, nor the 2019/2020 assets, nor sufficient knowledge about their 2018 picks, all of which would be helpful in completing their rise back to the top of the division mountain.
What initially looked like a banner year of new exciting talent is quickly turning sour. Hopefully the other shoe has already dropped and Week 5 marks a turning point toward more health and production from the new Seahawks, not even less of each.