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ESPN analyst identifies linebacker as Seahawks’ ‘biggest flaw’ in 2023

And that’s even with Bobby Wagner returning.

NFL: SEP 29 Seahawks at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the same day that Jordyn Brooks was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell published an article that identified Linebackers as the Seahawks “biggest flaw.”

That there is some Grade-A irony.

To be fair, Barnwell’s article is massive (meaning he was probably working on it for a while), and came out before Brooks was activated.

The article is also quite complimentary to Seattle if you view it in the grander scheme of things.

The premise of the article (which is behind the ESPN paywall) is that there are 14 teams (7 per conference) that are considered to be playoff contenders and each of them has a flaw that could prove fatal to the team’s Super Bowl aspirations.

Thus, the fact that Seattle is included in the article is a good thing as it means Barnwell believes the Seahawks will be a playoff team. Or, rather, the algorithm behind ESPN’s NFL Football Power Index (FPI) believes Seattle will be a playoff team.

Note: Barnwell actually goes out of his way to state that these are NOT his picks for who will make the playoffs, and asks us (the readers) not to send him angry messages.

Here are the teams that Barnwell includes, along with their chances of making the playoffs (per FPI) and their chances of playing in the Super Bowl (again, per FPI).

Teams are listed alphabetically by conference.



Note: According to the FPI algorithm, Seattle’s odds for making the playoffs are the lowest of the 14 teams in Barnwell’s article, and the Seahawks’ odds for playing in the Super Bowl are the second-lowest, ahead of only the Saints.

So that we have something to discuss other than just how wrong Barnwell is about our linebackers (!!), here is the so-called “biggest flaw” for each of the 14 playoff contenders:

Note: The order is based on how concerned Barnwell is about each team’s flaw - i.e., he is most concerned about Baltimore’s flaw; least concerned about Kansas City’s.

  1. Ravens: Pass rush
  2. Jets: Offensive line
  3. Saints: Overall team age
  4. Vikings: The secondary
  5. Lions: The secondary
  6. Bengals: The secondary
  7. Seahawks: Linebackers
  8. Eagles: Defense up the middle
  9. Chargers: Run defense
  10. Bills: Offensive line
  11. 49ers: Health of offensive stars
  12. Cowboys: Kicking
  13. Jaguars: Coverage over the middle
  14. Chiefs: Dependence on Travis Kelce

Barnwell’s write-up on Seattle’s biggest flaw consumes 500+ words across six paragraphs so I’m not going to copy-and-paste the whole thing. I will, however, summarize it and provide a couple of “highlights.”

Paragraph 1 is about the wildcard game against the Niners and points out that Cody Barton and Tanner Muse were “trapped in Kyle Shanahan’s torture chamber of misdirection and over routes” and that the Niners only punted once all game.

Paragraph 2 points out that linebacker was an issue even before last year’s playoffs and supports that position with the fact that Seattle allowed more passing yards to running backs and tight ends than any team in the league in 2022.

Paragraph 3 is about how Barton and Muse are gone and Jordyn Brooks is expected to miss the start of the season.

Paragraph 4 is the longest paragraph and is all about Bobby Wagner’s return to the Pacific Northwest (and how he only whiffed on 1.4% of his tackle attempts last year).

Paragraph 5 is about the addition of Devin Bush and says, in part:

He made a few splashes as a rookie, but the Steelers never trusted him on third downs in coverage. He then tore his ACL in 2020, and while that can seem like a routine injury for players these days, he never seemed to show the same sort of explosiveness the Steelers were counting on after the injury. The Seahawks will have to try to hide Bush in coverage if they’re going to use him on passing downs.

Paragraph 6 is the most interesting one . . . at least if you’ve never had this exact same thought yourself:

If the goal is to get the best 11 pass defenders on the field on third down, it might make sense to use Adams more as a linebacker.

Here’s the full paragraph:

There’s one other option: What about Jamal Adams? The Seahawks have Quandre Diggs and signed away safety Julian Love from the Giants. Adams isn’t great in man coverage, but he’s athletic and a threat to spy, rush the quarterback or get home on green-dog pressures. If the goal is to get the best 11 pass defenders on the field on third down, it might make sense to use Adams more as a linebacker. He’ll just need to stay healthy after he has missed 21 of the past 22 games with various injuries.

At the end of the day, it’s just one person’s opinion, of course, but I find it somewhat amusing to see linebacker singled out as the Seahawks’ biggest flaw heading into the 2023 season when one of our starters (Wagner) is a future Hall of Famer who is still playing at a high level, and the other one, whether or not it’s Week 1, is a player (Brooks) who has had the second-most tackles in the league over the past two seasons.

Methinks this is something that won’t age well for Mr. Barnwell.

Go Hawks!