This position change improves the Seahawks by three games

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23: Sebastian Janikowski #11 kicks a field goal off of a hold by Marquette King #7 of the Oakland Raiders during the fourth quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23: Sebastian Janikowski #11 kicks a field goal off of a hold by Marquette King #7 of the Oakland Raiders during the fourth quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks have changed a lot of personnel this season. But not all of that turnover has been bad. One change is fantastic, in fact.

You may have noticed the 2018 version of your Seattle Seahawks will look a little different compared to last season. There’s no Michael Bennett, no Kam Chancellor, no Richard Sherman. And there’s no Jimmy Graham, no Sheldon Richardson, no Paul Richardson, either. That isn’t even all the talent that’s left Seattle. Luke Willson and DeShawn Shead could have been major contributors to the team again.

The good news is, not every departure is a bad thing. There’s an old adage known as addition by subtraction. Not to be mean, but I can think of one position in particular that will really benefit from the change of personnel. Sorry, Blair Walsh. I’m sure you’re a great guy, but the Seahawks will pick up at least two games, if not three, by your departure.

Before everyone thinks I’m predicting the Seahawks will go 12-4, nope. That’s not what I’m saying at all. If Seattle still had last season’s roster, or if this player had been on the Seahawks in 2017, then yes, they would have gone 12-4. At least 11-5. That difference maker is Walsh’s likely replacement, Sebastian Janikowski.

Of course Janikowski missed all of last season, so we can’t just plug in his 2017. Even on the face of it, Janikowski’s 2016 is much better than Walsh’s season in Seattle. Walsh missed eight of 29 field goal attempts for a 72 percent success rate. That was ten percent lower than his career average, if you wondered why Pete Carroll took a chance on him. Janikowski missed six of 35 field goals, making just under 83 percent of his kicks. More to the point, the 600 year old kicker (okay, now 40) put 29 kicks through the uprights in 2016. Walsh only made 21.

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The biggest problem for Walsh wasn’t just the misses. It’s when he missed them, and that’s where the extra wins come in. You probably know this, and have suffered through many nightmares too. But sometimes you just have to pick at that scab and hope it heals quicker. It won’t, by the way, but you’re not here for medical advice.

Walsh looked great through the first seven games of 2017. He made 17 of 18 extra points, and doubled down by making 12 of 13 field goals. The missed field goal was in the 28 point blowout over the Indianapolis Colts, and he made all five extra points in that game. The missed extra point was in a much tighter game, the 12-9 win over the 49ers, but as he supplied half the teams scoring on his two field goals, it’s hard to complain too much.

We’ll start complaining in game eight, the debacle against Washington at CenturyLink Field. There’s certainly plenty of blame to go around for that loss, including to Pete Carroll. But you simply can’t miss three field goals in a close game at home. If Walsh had made just one of those kicks, Pete probably isn’t desperate for something to happen. Or probably trusts his kicker to make a field goal. In his two worst seasons, Janikowski never missed three field goals in a game. In 2013, he made just 70 percent of his kicks, and took a lot of heat for missing two field goals in a 23-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He also made four kicks in that game, scoring 12 of the Raiders 19 points. I’d say that loss gets hung on the rest of the offense for only generating one touchdown.

Walsh made costly misses while Janikowski’s were almost all negligible

Back to Mr. Walsh. He missed a 52 yard kick that would have tied the game against the Atlanta Falcons in another critical close home loss. 52 yarders aren’t easy, to be sure. Janikowski missed five of them in 2016; ouch, right? But four of those misses were in Raiders wins. He did miss a 50 yarder at the end of regulation that would have beaten the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then missed a 52 yard kick in overtime to really make the wound tasty. Luckily for him, the Raiders pulled that one out of the fire anyway. So maybe he wouldn’t have saved the Atlanta game any more than Walsh did.

Finally we come to the embarrassment of all the rich embarrassments of the 2017 season. Yes, the final loss, the final home loss of the year. With about seven hundred guys on the DL, the Seahawks were in for a tough game anyway. Walsh missed a 48 yard kick that would have tied the game with less than a minute to go. How did Janikowski do in a similar situation in a late-season division game? Not much. He just made four of four field goals against the Chargers in San Diego in a 19-16 win. That gave the Raiders their eleventh win of 2016.

If you were wondering how the Seahawks new kicker – assuming he wins the job in camp – performed down the stretch in 2016, he had the opposite experience of Walsh in 2017. Walsh started hot and cooled off, as you know all too well. Janikowski was just 16 of 22 through the first nine games. That’s still better than Walsh’s percentage for the whole season, by the way. After that, he was Mr. Automatic, as he made 13 of 13 kicks down the stretch. That’s a guy you can trust when the season is on the line.

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Like I said earlier, this doesn’t mean Seattle will go 12 -4, or even 11-5. There are a lot of other personnel that need to fill some rather large shoes for that to happen. Oddly enough, the man sometimes called Bigfoot crams his size 11 appendage into a size 10 shoe. You know, it’s more fun to call the guy Sea Bass anyway. No matter what you call him, expect to call the Seahawks winners a few extra times this year thanks to him.