Let Poona Cook: A 2021 Seattle Seahawk Preseason Preview

Let this man cook right fricking now

Alright, Ladies and Gents that don the colors of Blue and Green, and call thy selves the Twelves. It’s Seattle Seahawk preseason time; an annual August tradition known to the Pacific Northwest August that long predates all the climate changing conditions which bring us horrific smoke filled forest fire air to endure at this time of the year seemingly every year now.

Here, at 12th Life, have I got a preview for the 2021 Seattle Seahawks for you. Gird your loins because this deep dive isn’t going to be pretty.

Russ smuss. I say let Poona Ford cook.

Seriously, I’m excited about Number 97 this year. I’m excited about some other Seattle Seahawk players, too. Lots of them!

.. And I’m nervous, here and there, about some spots, as well.

We will go through all of it together, position by position. We will metaphorically hold hands. Because that’s what we do here. We care for each other. Blood is thicker than water, but for those that bleed Blue and Green, well, we are just simply better than everyone else. We go high when others go low.

Important Disclaimer!

It’s highly unlikely that I will be in attendance for this Summer’s Seahawk training camp. It’s nothing personal, but here at 12th Life, I take the Delta Variant of Covid probably more seriously than your tin hat wearing uncle from Kenmore who I could be standing next to while watching pass rush drills. So, I am just going to stay in my rat hole until enough people get a real clue.

Thus, all my analysis will be solely based on lazy intuition. If you crave more detailed analytical style takes, just go read the folks from Field Gulls, or watch the Hawkblogger podcast crew. They all do fine.

If you are still reading this, here we go. Gird your lions. I mean, loins.

Comedy is hard.

The Quarterback Position

Let all the hype begin.

This is a big year for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks!

If they don’t go farther in the playoffs, Russell Wilson could be traded in 2022!

Well, it’s true. It is a big year for Russ and the Seahawks, and if all doesn’t go well, it is possible that he could be traded next year.

It is also entirely possible that if I dip my toes into ocean waters, I could be attacked by a great white shark. Both things are entirely possible, but if I were to look at the probabilities, I think most Seahawk fans (and shark anxiety types) can rest a bit more easily. The odds are highly against either scenarios actually happening.

Bottom line is that Russell Wilson is a great quarterback, and in order for Pete Carroll to trade his best chance of winning, he would have to get a very good quarterback in return plus three first round picks and change. What team out there would be willing to trade all that for a quarterback nearing his mid thirties?

The realistic probabilities point to Russ having a nice bounce back year under first year play caller Shane Waldron, and Seattle making the playoffs yet again. There are many aspects of a Ram style offense that Waldron will assemble that fit Russ like a glove (especially the up tempo and play action portions of it).

Even if they don’t reach the NFC Championship game, and Russ’s agent starts making negative waves through the national media that piss off Pete Carroll again, Carroll will most likely reach the same exact conclusion next off-season as he did during the last. Russell Wilson remains his best chance to win, and he won’t trade him unless a team offers an absolute absurd price in exchange (which most likely won’t happen).

Here’s what I expect at this “all too important” quarterback position for Seattle. Russell Wilson will likely have some early growing pains with the Waldron offense. That first game against the Colts might not look pretty, and some fans are going to be nervous. I also think that once we get through September, we are going to start seeing Russ and the offense clicking more, and by the end of the season, I think we are going to see some actual MVP votes for Russ for the first time ever.

Russell Wilson looks like he is in absolute stellar shape, and I think that’s likely by design. My hunch is that Waldron is looking at all of Russ’s strengths as a quarterback, and a big part of those strengths are going to be his legs again (God bless it). I suspect Waldron is probably going to be much more willing to get Russ running a bit more than Brian Schottenheimer was, and that will put more stress on defenses.

Running Russ terrifies defenders.

There are aspects of Russ’s game that I don’t love. I think he chases the big play too much and invites sacks. I think he struggles, at times, to find targets in the short middle to mid portions of the field if he stays square in the pocket. I don’t love him with screen passes a lot.

That said, I absolutely love Running Russell Wilson beyond what words can be typed. His ability to throw on the run remains largely unmatched, and his spide-y senses of when to get down on the turf on keepers are superb. Running Russ puts extra stress on defenders, especially when it is paired with.. wait for it.. a solid run game.

This, in my humble opinion, is how you want Russell Wilson to quarterback. Looking at this slimmed down version of Russ makes me think that Shane Waldron sees it the same.

I’m excited about that. I see the potential of 2015 Russell Wilson coming back, and I’m ready for it. Go Hawks.

And no, I don’t think this is Russ’s last year in Seattle regardless of how it all finishes. I’m sure I will have plenty of opportunity to expand on that later as the season moves on. It’s not even a matter of whether or not I think they should or shouldn’t trade him, either. I just don’t see it.

The Running Back Position

Chris Carson is a beast and I’m glad that the Seahawks brought him back on a reasonable two year deal. Also, unlike more than a few on Seahawks Twitter, I’m actually a fan of Rashaad Penny’s potential even though injuries have hampered his impact in the league.

On paper, these two backs offer exciting potential in a Ram style offense that loves to get it’s best athletes the ball in space, and certainly, Carson and Penny are two of the top athletes on the Seahawk roster.

Then I sober up when I look at each of these player’s injury history and their inabilities to play full seasons. We better hope the Alex Collins is a good fit for the Waldron offense, or maybe one of DeeJay Dallas, Josh Johnson, or Travis Homer pops in camp.

I’m gonna be honest. I’m a bit queasy here with the depth, and the injury history. I honestly think this is another reason why Running Russ might be a genuine plus for the offense. Not only does it keep a defense more honest, it might help keep these runners more fresh.

Color me worried about injury potential and depth here and don’t be surprised if Seattle makes some sort of move to add another proven vet.

The Wide Receiver Position

I honestly think that DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett deserve to be in consideration for the top receiver tandem in the league. They are an outstanding pair, and DK is only still scratching the surface of what he can be.

That said, like running back, depth worries me greatly here.

I don’t love that rookie second round pick Dee Eskridge is starting camp unable to practice because of a lingering sore toe. I like second year receiver Freddie Swain’s potential as a third or fourth receiver, and there’s a lot of camp hype around Penny Hart that has me cautiously optimistic. Maybe the combo of Hart and Swain will make Eskridge’s impact less necessary, but that feels like a relatively large maybe.

I think there is a strong chance that Seattle will look to add another vet before camp is out.

The Tight End Position

Color me pumped about this group.

Gerald Everett was a guy I wanted the Seahawks to draft a few years back and they got him in town on a one year prove it deal with a chance to be the main man, and cash in. He’s a big fast dude with great run after catch upside and run blocking want to. Seattle has not had a tight end like this under Pete Carroll. Jimmy Graham was a post up power forward playing the spot, but jets he had little, and a willingness to be a blocker he had zilch.

Conversely, Will Dissly is returning as a steady blocker and outlet receiver, but the guy that I am perhaps most intrigued with is second year tight end Colby Parkinson out of Stanford. He was a tall and athletic touchdown scoring machine in college, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Carroll is going to give him every chance to be a factor this year. The coach keeps talking him up. I kinda suspect that he might become the surprise breakout player this year on offense. That’s my honest hunch.

And I honestly think that the tight end group could become a major area of strength on the team this year. In fact, from what this roster looks like, I am ready for seeing a lot of two tight end (12 personnel) looks with this offense. I will be good with that.

The Offensive Line Group

I absolutely love the guards and the tackles, and I am nervous about center. I’m not one that thinks Ethan Pocic is a bad player, but I wonder about his durability. I would have loved for Seattle to have been aggressive going after a center in either free agency or the draft, but they chose to continue with familiar faces.

We will see how that shakes out. My one thought about a potential long term answer at center remains the idea of moving promising guard Damien Lewis there, but the team seems to like him at guard, and I don’t frankly blame them. He’s one of the better drafted players that they’ve had in recent years, and I believe one with serious pro bowl potential.

Duane Brown remains a cornerstone player at left tackle who I hope they reach an extension with, and I love how the team went out and grabbed veteran guard Gabe Jackson. Brandon Shell last year brought a steadiness to right tackle that the team hasn’t had in a long time.

The player that I am most interested in is sixth round pick Stone Florsythe out for Florida. The scouting reports were all over the map with him from calling him a second round talent and perhaps the best pass blocking left tackle in the draft to calling him a major project because of his unusual length and the fact Florida didn’t run much. Because he lasted into round six, it’s obvious that the league viewed him as a project, but Hall of Fame guard Steven Hutchinson now works in scouting for the Seahawks, and supposedly he is quite high on the Gator. I trust Hutch knows a thing or two about O liners. Therefore, this dude might be the player I most want to see in preseason games.

This all said, I think if Pocic can stay healthy through most of the season at center, this can be the best line Pete Carroll has had in Seattle. That’s a very big if, in my opinion, but I think the potential is there.

Fingers crossed Pocic holds up.

The Defensive Line Group

Let. Poona. Cook.

Ya’ll hear me on this one?

Let 97 Cook. He’s legit.

Seattle has not had an defensive tackle this first step explosive since Cortez (rest peacefully) was playing in the 1990’s. I’m fricking serious about this, too. Yeah, they had John Randle for a spell when he was at the end of his career, and Brandon Mebane was fun, and yeah, Jarran Reed put up some nice sack digits, and there was Rocky Bernard, but Poona’s explosiveness is legit good.

If you lose that leverage battle with him (easy to do), it’s game over against the run, and last year, he finally started putting together his pass rush, and QB pressures came in abundance. Honestly, when it comes to the DT position, I would gladly take pressures over sacks because sacks can happen by the QB running into you. Pressures show disruption and disruption forces bad throws and sacks. Poona is a disruptive dude. Period.

The analysts at Pro Football Focus fricking loves this dude, and so should you.

So no disrespecting Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder, and Aldon Smith, but fricking let Poona cook in the middle of that defensive line.

You wanna know why the team released Jarran Reed and his expensive contract?

Poona F’ing Ford.

Here’s the bit of dramatized dialogue that I think went down between GM John Schneider and big J-Reed last Spring.

JS: Jarran, we love you and your leadership, but Poona looked really good at 3 technique and Coach wants to play him more there. We’d like you be play more nose this year, but here’s the rub. We can’t really afford two expensive D tackles. So, we want to ask you to take a pay cut.

Reed: F that. Just cut me.

I like this group and it’s depth a lot. I see ten players here that they should keep and rotate in.

I like seeing Poona asserting himself as the main 3 tech and putting biggies like Brian Mone and Al Woods next to him to soak up blockers that will let him f’ing cook. I like the stampede of edge rushers they got behind Dunlap in Aldon Smith, Benson Mayowa, and especially second year player Alton Robinson. I like the big end types they got in Hyder, and LJ Collier. I’m intrigued about giving former first round pick Robert NKemdiche a shot to revive his career as a DT or big end.

The one player outside of Poona that I really want to see further take off is Alton Robinson as a LEO (rush end). I thought the dude looked terrific as a rookie last year. He kinda reminds me of Frank Clark a bit. When you see him closing around the corner, your eyes instantly go with him. It would be a great thing for this club if he takes on an expanded passing rushing role and maybe beats out a bigger named vet. If that happens, this could be a really fun season.

But for goodness sake, folks. Let Poona Ford cook.

The Linebacker Group

I like the potential of this group with All Pro Bobby Wagner back at MIKE (middle), and Jordyn Brooks further taking over at WILL (weakside). I really wanted to see this team bring back KJ Wright for another year or two playing the SAM (strong side) position where he excelled last season.

That said, I’m very interested to see what former second rounder Darrell Taylor does at SAM instead of the LEO end role we assumed he would inherit. Taylor is a better athlete than KJ, but is built a bit similarly. He has experience in coverage from his college days, and as a pass rusher, he shows crazy bend around the corner. There is good clay to mold there.

Here’s the thing that Taylor at strong side linebacker has me really excited, though. I think it’s a signal that the Seahawks intend to stay in more of a Bear style defense than their traditional cover three 4-3. To run that Bear front, you ideally want the SAM to be a pass rush threat in order keep the offense guessing where the extra pressures are coming. That’s how you truly make this Bear thing work.

KJ did a great job setting an edge on the line of scrimmage and blowing up screens behind the line, but he has never been a serious pass rush threat. This is the reason why I believe we haven’t seen him return to Seattle.

Personally, I want to see more of the Bear and less cover three. My hunch is that the league has long caught up with that defense that the legendary LOB ran, and it is time to move onto something else.

If Taylor doesn’t quickly take to the spot, and the team has Aldon Smith and Benson Mayowa who have also played that position. Third year player Cody Barton will also be given a chance to compete there (although I like him better at WILL and MIKE), but I suspect that it is Taylor’s gig to lose.

A player that I hope sees the field more is former UW Husky Ben Burr-Kirven. I still believe in his starter potential as a WILL, and I would like to see moments in games where Brooks takes over for Wagner at MIKE, and BBK and Brooks are on the field together. It would keep Wagner fresher, and it would allow Brooks to gain valuable experience quarterbacking the defense.

I think Jordyn Brooks is an exciting talent. I didn’t love that Seattle spent a first round pick on a off ball linebacker in 2020, but watching him during the second half of the season last year moved me off that spot. He is crazy fast to the ball and Seattle desperately needed his speed on the field.

I think that the success of this group probably hinges on how well Taylor takes to the strong side, though. If he takes to it, that could be a very special thing for this defense. We shall see.

Cornerback Group

Anyone who has been following my little blog knows how much I have wanted the team to bring back Richard Sherman. It’s a drum I have been beating all season long. Even after his recent domestic brush up with the police out in Redmond, I have remained a fan of bringing him back.

That said, I think this is more of a sentimental wish than it is me seeing a huge team need.

Yes, this defense can use the return of his veteran leadership, and his play on the field, and his swagger. I don’t doubt any of that.

But there are some younger players that I am very interested in seeing what Pete Carroll make out of them this preseason. I loved the team bringing in former 49er Ahkello Witherspoon to potentially start with former 49er DJ Reed. Witherspoon is tall like Sherman and he’s probably a better athlete. Like Gerald Everett, I like Seattle bringing him in on a relatively handsome one year deal to prove his worth in the league. He will be motivated in the PNW to prove himself a top end corner in the league in order to cash in next year.

I really like the swagger and scrappy play of DJ Reed who will be playing for a big contract down the road, as well. He kinda reminds me of Doug Baldwin in a way.. just an air about him.

It’s been intriguing to hear that former Green Bay first round pick Damarious Randall has been looking sharp in camp and has been a thorn in Russell Wilson’s side. Seems like he is giving Witherspoon a fight for that left side spot, and that is a good thing.

I’m interested in how rookie Tre Brown looks during the preseason games.

With shorter players like Reed, Brown, and Randall all competing outside, I think it’s another interesting tell that Pete Carroll is moving more towards that Bear defense where quicker coverage players become more needed rather than the longer corners that were used in cover three zones.

I really love Ugo Amadi as the inside nickel corner, and if safety/nickel Marquise Blair beats him out there, Seattle is going to have potentially crazy depth with this group (more about that coming up soon).

As much as I want to see the glorious return of Richard Sherman, I think Seattle is probably pretty good here. But, man, I would still love to see Sherm back in Seahawk blue. I just can’t shake that desire.

The Safety Position

The Seattle Seahawks have play-making Quandre Diggs returning at free safety, and are set to make Jamal Adams a very rich man playing a hybrid role of strong safety and linebacker. The starting duo of Diggs and Adams is awesome, and I am excited to see these two continue to grow with each other. If I am John Schneider, I am locking them both down with long terms contracts.

Some noise was made during the off-season about how good of a fit Adams is to the Seattle defense, and whether they should spend big dollars on the dude. I’ve read stuff from some other Seahawk writer types (much more smarter than myself, I’m sure) who believe it was a mistake to trade what they did for him, and have thus given amble “Sky Is Falling” takes about what a big Adams contract will mean for the club.

I’m more optimistic.

I think Adams can continue being a very interesting straw that stirs the drink of a transitioning Seahawk defense. I am comfortable paying for his services as a hybrid player. I see these type of defenders mattering more as offenses continue to evolve and defenses needing to counter.

I believe that is what Seattle is doing with him. Folks want to criticize his coverage in 2020, but they have a hard time explaining away the fact that his coverage got better as the season played on.

I wouldn’t let that performance in the playoff loss to the Rams be a determining factor to who he is as a player, either. Dude played with one shoulder and a busted hand. If anything should be questioned, it should maybe be the coaching decision to have him gutting through it on the field instead of going more with his backup, Ryan Neal, who played well enough earlier in the season when Adams missed games.

Marquise Blair will be the top backup at safety but really, he’s probably going to earn the nickel role and effectively be playing like a starter in most games. In fact, if we get a full healthy season out of Blair, I’m ready to say that it could be a massive shot in arm for this club. Seattle can then blend its base Bear front with a 4-2-5 look and keep similar pressure packages going. Don’t under look how much of an impact Blair might be even if officially he isn’t listed as a “starter.”

Ryan Neal is a very dependable backup strong safety, and with Adams’ pension to get injured, that is vital for this team. As I just stated, I think it was a bit short sighted not going with Neal in the playoffs against the Rams. He showed instincts and play-making abilities that warranted it, and the Rams came into the game with a backup under center. I’m sure Adams was chomping at the bit to play in his first playoff game, and that was weighed. But I am a Neal believer, and I just would have gone with him and trusted that.

Damarious Randall and Ugo Amadi can each play safety, as well. Because of that, I think this group is crazy deep.

I love this safety group. I really do. This might be the group that I feel best about on the team, outside of quarterback, honestly.

Kicker and the Punter

Jason Myers is a solid place kicker, and Michael Dickson is a BEAST of a punter.


I love what could be shaping up on the defense (especially at D line and safety), but I have concerns about depth on the offense (especially at running back, receiver, and center). This is probably a contrarian take to what many others who follow closely this club are feeling. But I also think that a tiger shark would kick the ass out of great white in a match to the death for a swimming poodle, so there you have it.

There will be the expected hype around Russell Wilson being happy and meshing with new player caller Shane Waldron. There’s likely going be some drama regarding Jamal Adams reaching a mega deal with the Seahawks, and maybe whether the team needs to extend Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs (they should), but for me, and my deep desires.. well, you know.

Let Poona Cook. Let him cook a lot.

They do that, and I’m good.

I will be writing more as the preseason games get going, and down the round, I am planning to put together a podcast with friends that I am very excited about. I hope that you are able to follow both.

Happy Seahawks Preseason, and go Hawks!


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