Wow, I'm exactly the opposite. I think the last few seasons were weaker than this one. The tension was high (and sometimes great to watch), but it was almost relentlessly grim, and I got sick of the focus on one man (Rick) to the exclusion of almost everyone else. I think the ethical dilemmas & themes of this season (do I separate myself from the world to protect myself, or do I let more people in so I can grow?) are more fruitful than the ones of the previous seasons (Rick's constant struggle with whether or not to kill someone).
I'm in that boat, too, Rob. I tired of Negan's voice reallllly quickly and had to keep hearing it. Also, as you say, relentlessly grim. Also also, as you say, too much Rick (as evidenced by this season's scramble to find someone to put in his place, and nobody's developed enough). But also got tired of pointless gun battles at close range with automatic weaponry where nobody important ever got hit. Even Sgt. Fury was more convincing.
I think I remember someone--once!--getting hit by friendly fire. That's just astonishing.
I specifically remember the scene where Rick and Co. drive up in vehicles with bullet shields welded on one side, and open fire on The Sanctuaries windows. Negan and his entire command group step out on a porch depicted as not more than 15 feet from Rick -- and when a bunch of people in safe positions open fire at short range with automatic weapons, they all miss. Then they LEAVE their safe positions and run at the bad guys with guns blazing. They still miss. Good grief.