As states begin to reopen, the NFL and players association are discussing ways to safely bring teams back together and eventually stage games — and, while we doubt there will be minicamps in June, it seems like training camps might be able to begin on time in July.
With teams limited to virtual meetings (see the Seahawks’ tight ends) this offseason, coaches are missing out on key on-field prep time. The lack of physical work is putting everyone behind their usual timelines, and those adding new elements (e.g, coaches, quarterbacks and receivers) will find themselves even further behind once camps begin.
So, teams that have few major changes should have a jump on the rest — which could help in the first few weeks of the season.
The Seahawks have had a busy mid-May, and they’ve got a couple more things to do before training camp (hopefully) starts in July.
They left the draft needing a backup quarterback, a veteran running back, a run-stopping defensive tackle and — more than any of those — a top pass rusher.
In the past week or so — around Quinton Dunbar’s drama, Russell Wilson trade rumors and chatter about troubled receivers — they have brought back QB Geno Smith and added RB Carlos Hyde. That leaves the defensive line as the last area they need to address, unless Dunbar suddenly becomes unavailable due to incarceration or suspension.
This spring, the NFL allows two hours of classroom work virtually for veteran players four days per week. The Seahawks as a team meet from 10 a.m. to noon PT four days a week, usually starting with a short team meeting and breaking down into smaller groups—the offense for some play installations, then maybe just the quarterback, tight ends and receivers, and then the tight ends, via video conference. The two-hour session is tightly controlled by director of team operations Matt Capurro, who flashes “time remaining” alerts on the screen as the last half-hour of the session winds down.
The scene: Seattle’s tight-end room, with two coaches and five veterans, stretches over three time zones and five states, connected by Zoom videoconference.
“Let Russ cook” has become an annoying mantra repeated by some fans the last couple of years.
It’s a nebulous decree. For some, it is a call for Seattle to just throw the ball 40 times a game. For the smarter ones, it is a more nuanced request for the Seahawks to let Russell Wilson stir the pot in his own special way, especially earlier in games.
At the Pro Bowl in February, Wilson said he was all in favor of the latter. He talked about going up-tempo more — something we have constantly called for in the first half, especially. He also apparently has discussed this with Pete Carroll.
Don’t get too excited, cooking fans, but it sounds like the coach might have listened, based on staff moves he made and a report that Seattle is indeed talking about letting Wilson work up some two-minute meals.
John Schneider had around $35 million in 2020 salary cap space to spend on free agents when the league year began, and everyone expected a chunk of that to go toward a pass rusher on a long-term deal.
That has not happened, and it would be a surprise now if it did — because Schneider has spent about $34 million on 13 veterans (including four RFAs). And he has followed his SOP of not giving out long-term deals to outside players — just three of his signings (Jarran Reed, B.J. Finney, Brandon Shell) have been for two years. Even his reported offers to Jadeveon Clowney have been for just one or two years.
Other than guys on rookie deals, the Seahawks have just three players signed for the next three seasons: Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and shaky kicker Jason Myers.
Basically, this team is built — you might say patched together — through only 2021. And that includes Schneider and Pete Carroll, whose contracts expire after that season as well.
Why are they being so shortsighted? Because they generally give long-term deals only to players who have proven themselves in Carroll’s system — and few of their recent draft picks have earned the right to be considered part of the core.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed thousands around the world and will kill thousands more. It has changed the way we all live — for now, if not forever. It’s obviously so much bigger than football and sports, which mean nothing in the face of a deadly worldwide crisis.
That said, the sports world is doing everything it can to help. Among the first athletes to do so was Russell Wilson, who (with wife Ciara) is helping to contribute 10 million meals to those in need. Drew Brees and his wife are giving $5 million to hard-hit Louisiana to combat the virus. Many others are contributing as well, and athletes everywhere have joined the PSA calling for people to stay home and help flatten the curve.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll are smart enough to agree with the rest of us: Their biggest need this offseason is the pass rush.
“We’re looking to improve in some really critical areas. Pass rush is something that we’re really focusing on,” Carroll said at the Combine. “We really like the way we turned the ball over last year. We got the ball a lot, made some nice plays and stuff that gave us a chance, but we need to do some things more consistently — and that’s rush the passer.”
You have to be happy for Frank Clark, who has gone from tragedy to triumph over the past couple of years. Almost exactly two years ago, he sadly lost his father and other relatives in a Cleveland fire. Last year at this time, he said, “Let’s get this paperwork (i.e., contract) done so we (can) go on this hunt. I’m tired of the same results.” Well, the paperwork turned out to be trade papers and a new contract with the Chiefs, who gave him the $104 million Seattle would not. And then he got the different results he wanted by helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV.
The lesson the Seahawks hopefully learned: It’s OK to pay a pass rusher top dollar. It might actually help you win a Super Bowl. They need to pay their top pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, this time.
John Schneider has a pretty well-known MO when it comes to trying to keep the Seahawks’ roster competitive for Pete Carroll: The GM is conservative in free agency and the draft, saving his big splashes for blockbuster trades.
However, given the resources at his disposal this year and the dire need to reformat the defensive line and fortify the offensive line, will Schneider be more aggressive?