The Seahawks have finally made their first pick in the 2013 draft. It just took until the final pick of the second round to get here. With that pick, Seattle took Christine (pronounced Chris-TIN) Michael, a running back from Texas A&M. Chances are you’re wondering who the hell that is. Allow me to enlighten you.
According to NFL.com, Michael’s strengths include a “low center of gravity” but with a “thickness throughout his frame to take and give out punishment.” He has more speed than one would think when he is able to break open as well. Overall, Michael is a bruiser that will be a nice compliment to Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Both Lynch and Turbin are hard to bring down, and Lynch will occasionally level a tackler, but Michael has the ability to straight damage some defenders. Michael is also a good blocker that is able to lead the ball into the second level.
According to CBS Sports, Michael started 2012 rated by some as the “top senior running back in the country.” Attitude issues, however, took him out of the starting role, and the spotlight, which is probably a big reason he was relatively unknown and is yet another “what the what” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Michael has had injury issues and missed the ends of both his sophomore and junior year. He broke his right leg in 2010 and the following season he tore his ACL. However, in 13 games he ran for 1,530 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he can check his attitude issues at the door and stay healthy, Michael should have an opportunity to contribute greatly in Seattle.
If Seattle starts utilizing a running back by committee approach it could be a very different dynamic on offense and make them harder to prepare for and defend. Diversity is a killer.
Another thing that I just thought of is whether or not Seattle might consider lining up Michael at full back and getting all three backs (Lynch, Turbin, and Michael) on the field at the same time. This could also give Seattle more flexibility when it comes to dealing with Michael Robinson’s contract.
This pick could also have fantasy implications as it might limit carries by Lynch.
No matter what, I think we should all get #inpcjswetrust trending because I expect a lot more unexpected picks out of Seattle for the rest of the draft.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Christine Michael, featured, football, Individual Prospects, John Schneider, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson, News, nfl, NFL Draft, Pete Carroll, Popular, Robert Turbin, Roster Moves, Seahawks
Draft day is here and the NFL hype machine is in full force. Personally, since Seattle ostensibly took Percy Harvin I won’t be watching the draft coverage, but that doesn’t mean the writers here at 12th Man Rising haven’t put together their pre-draft power rankings.
The rankings have been updated as of yesterday so they account for all of the free agency acquisitions and releases that have taken place up to now. You will also see more daylight between teams’ highest and lowest rankings since there aren’t actually any games to help guide us.
The teams that have the biggest differences between their highest and lowest rank are:
- Rams (16) – David 9th, Micah 25th
- Vikings (13) – David 8th, Hanley 21st
- Steelers (12) – Nick 9th, Micah 21st
- Chiefs (12) – David 20th, Nick 32nd
- Falcons (11) – Diane 2nd, David 13th
- Colts (11) – Diane 8th, David 19th
- Giants (10) – Micah 8th, David 18th
- Buccaneers (10) – Hanley 12th, David 22nd
- Cardinals (10) – Hanley 19th, David 29th
As can be expected of a division that includes both San Francisco and Seattle, the NFC West had the highest average ranking in the NFL with 11.5. The NFC North is next with an average ranking of 12.75. The worst division in the NFL is, not surprisingly, the AFC West with an average ranking of 21. The highest ranked team in the AFC West is Denver (3rd overall), with the other three teams 24th or lower.
Obviously, these rankings are very preliminary and will change once the draft happens. Draft day is overall a bad predictor of how good a team will be the next season. There aren’t many teams that are a top five pick away from a Super Bowl or even division dominance. Draft picks are more of an investment in a player’s future potential that, if successful, will explode in a player’s second or third season. Teams like Seattle and San Francisco cut some dead weight, and reloaded for the following season without the need to change much. Other teams like Jacksonville, Kansas City, Oakland, and the New York Jets have further to go.
Until the next rankings are published in August, enjoy these for what their worth – conversation fodder. And if draft day is your gig, enjoy that as well. The first pick that matters to me is the 24th pick of the second round.
The Seattle Seahawks have stolen the stage during the off season after signing; Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin. Seattle added these three players to an all ready lethal squad that includes Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, and of course Russell Wilson. Seattle finished the 2012-2013 season in a gut wrenching loss to the Atlanta Falcons, losing a slim lead in the last 30-seconds to a Matt Bryant field goal. A lot of hype is headed Seattle’s way after adding the trio, and some are calling them the team to beat for the 2013-2014 NFL Season.
The addition of Percy Harvin has made Seattle even better on offense. Harvin will give Seattle a much needed deep threat at the wide receiver position that they lacked during Pete Carroll’s three first years in Seattle. Harvin also gives Seattle another element to us for the zone-read option. Harvin often lined up as Running back during his time at Florida with Tim Tebow, Minnesota also used Harvin at Running back on third down situations. The addition of Harvin also takes pressure off of Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate and will give Russell Wilson another weapon who will haul in a lot of receptions, and be able to gain yards after the catch, much like Golden Tate was able to last year.
On the defensive side of the ball Seattle has added defensive end Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett who can play tackle and defensive end much like Jason Jones was able to do last year for Seattle. These two combined for 18.5 sacks last year, add that to Seattle’s total of 36 last year that is a total of 54.5 sacks. I find it hard to believe Seattle will be able to rack up that many total sacks, especially with Chris Clemons who led the Seahawks in sacks last year with 11.5 is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, and may not be ready for the 2013 NFL season. However it is not hard to believe with the growth of rookie Defensive End’s Bruce Irvin, and Greg Scruggs that those two can’t add to their total sack total. Irvin led all rookies with eight-sacks, and fellow rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs totaled just two-sacks in a very limited role, I expect both players to up their sack totals next year. I see no reason Seattle can’t get at least 42 –sacks which would put them in the top half of the league.
The latter part of the 2012-2013 NFL season Seattle arguably played better than any other team in the league, they dominated on offense, and defense and showed little weakness, a slow start in the playoff game to the Falcons led to the ending of the season for Seattle, despite outscoring the Falcons 28 to 10 in the second half.ed to be one of the most complete teams in the NFL, with two deep threats at wide receiver, one of the best running backs in the league and the team is young, they bring back every starter on offense, and nine of eleven starters on defense. It is logical to think this team is only going to be better, some fans are calling this team the “Dream Team”. Is it true? Is this team the best team in the league, and the team everybody in the league does not want to play? Is this team the most talented team in the entire league? My quick answer to all three of these questions would be simply, yes. I am however scared of a team that originally dubbed themselves the “Dream Team” (something no Seattle player has done, which I am very thankful for.)
The team I am speaking of is the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles like the Seahawks brought in big named players to a team that went 10-6 the year before, and had one of the most lethal Quarterbacks in the NFL in Michael Vick. They seem a seasoned coach in Andy Reid.
The eagles decided to add to an all ready potent roster, and brought in All-Pro corner back Nnamdi Asomogha, former pro bowler defensive end Jason Babin and seasoned veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. These three starters along with former first round picks Ronnie Brown, and Vince young mixed with an all ready talented roster formed what was supposed to be the “Dream Team” as Vince Young famously called them during the 2011 off season. So with all these added additions what happened? A 11-5 NFL football team, ended up going 8-8. Poor coaching and management of the team is the simple answer, if you want a specific name it is on Andy Reid, he made the mistake of hiring Juan Castillo who coached the Offensive Line to become his Defensive Coordinator. I failed to see the logic in this, at the time and still do.
Reid also tried to buy himself a championship team, something in football you can’t do. He added a lot of high priced guys who did not fit with his or his staffs coaching. Injuries to Michael Vick also led to the demise of the Eagle’s football season but that should also be blamed on Reid for failing to give his franchise Quarterback Michael Vick a stable offensive line to protect him. I highly doubt this fate will be Seattle’s. They return the entire coaching staff besides defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who went on to become the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seattle replaced him with former Florida Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn who also worked under Gus Bradley through 2009-2010 in Seattle as the Defensive Line Coach. As long as Seattle stays with the current defensive system they have ran under Carroll I see no reason why the defense should suffer with the arrivals of Avril, and Bennett, and Dan Quinn.
The 2007 New England Patriots also took the route of free agency to improve an all ready talented team who went 12-4 the year before. The result turned into a 16-0 regular season finish, and a loss in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
The Patriots first move of the 2007 off season was trading for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker giving up a 2nd and 7th round draft pick, to acquire the veteran pass catcher. The Patriots then looked to further boost a wide receiving group that lacked explosiveness and signed free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth. New England then went a step further to acquire one more wide receiver to help out Tom Brady and traded for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss. The end result was a 16-0 season and both Brady and Moss shattered the touchdown record for their respected positions on the football field. Moss was the biggest risk as many felt he played lazy and uninspired football during his stint with Oakland. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was able to keep the talented wide receiver happy. All three wide receivers contributed greatly to the season. Moss finished the season with 98 receptions, 1493 yards, and 23 touchdowns. Welker had 112 receptions, 1175 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and Donte Stallworth finished his season with 46 receptions, 697 yards, and three touchdowns. The result of spending in free agency can work if you have a good coach, stability at the quarterback position and the franchise. Patriots clearly had that, Eagles well they are still looking.
So will the Seahawk’s season end in dismay like the Eagle’s, or will it end in record breaking success like the patriots. I feel somewhere in between, I do not believe Russell Wilson will throw for 50 touchdowns, and that Harvin will haul in 21 touchdown receptions, or haul in 112 receptions the team is too balanced for that to happen, nor do I believe they will go 16-0 at the moment. I do believe however they can achieve something the 2007 New England Patriots were not able to achieve and that is a Super Bowl. I do believe this Seattle team is the Dream Team and team to beat for the 2013 NFL season.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Andy Reid, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Dream Team, featured, football, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Michael Vick, News, nfl, Percy Harvin, Philadelphia Eagles, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady
There are a lot of Seahawk fans that remember (and probably a certain Cowboys player that doesn’t) one of the best NFL blocks of the season, delivered by Golden Tate. The Dallas player that took the hit was linebacker Sean Lee, who ended up hurt on the play. There was some debate in the commentary booth at the time on whether or not the block was legal, especially considering a flag went down around that time of the play.
It was correctly ruled a legal hit (as you can see the hit by Tate was directly to the chest of Lee and perfectly squared) and the flag was a separate issue, but there were several other types of hits like this that were a point of contention throughout the last several seasons. A rule has been added on “peel back” blocks to try and protect defenders that don’t see the hit coming. There were two rule changes passed to improve player safety yesterday, so here’s the excerpt from NFL.com:
Teams will no longer be allowed to have more than six players on either side of the snapper at the snap of a point after or field goal attempt. This “overloading” one side strategy was deemed to be unsafe and unnecessary. You can no longer hit an offensive lineman low, and the snapper now is considered a defenseless player.
This was a fairly simple fix. A slightly more complicated rule passed Tuesday banning “peel-back blocks,” making those low-blocks illegal even if they occur in the tackle box. This likely will be known as “The Brian Cushing rule” after the Houston Texans linebacker suffered a serious injury on a peel-back block in 2012.
Of course we’re focusing right here on the second rule and again, it’s a rule that I totally agree with. Another huge point to the rule that isn’t mentioned is that you cannot reverse field, (coming back to your own goal-line) to make a block below the waist outside the tackle box. Previously that was allowed and we all saw some really ugly looking plays that at the very least really put a defender in jeopardy of losing a knee cap last season. Going back to a previous rule in place, it is also not allowed to hit a player in this instance above the shoulders, just like a safety can not hit a receiver above the shoulders.
So would Golden Tate’s block now be flagged under the new rule provisions?
The answer is a resounding “NO”, it is still a legal hit. You can still throw a “peel back” or “crack back” block outside (or inside) of the tackle box, if the hit is square to the shoulder or chest of the defender, meaning you will still see big hits but they won’t often result in a potential season or even career threatening injury. Another move that is good for the game but still allows for football plays.
Imagine yourself at a Seahawks home game, early in the season. The Seahawks are driving for a go-ahead score with minutes left in the game. The hand off goes to Marshawn Lynch at the opponent’s 40 yard line. He tries the middle, bounces to the outside, and breaks loose in the defensive backfield. He’s at the 30, the 20…cuts back inside….he’s at the 10 yard line. Finally, a linebacker, a safety and a corner converge on him at the 8 yard line. But Lynch smells the end zone and gives it that “Marshawn Lean” to try and knock that safety out of his path. Marshawn puts his head down, destroys the safety and rolls into the end zone carrying 2 guys on his back. “TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!!!”, shouts Steve Raible at the top of his lungs. The crowd jumps to it’s collective feet cheering wildly! Then Raible says; “Hold on a minute, there’s a flag down on the field at the 10 yard line…Oh boy…it looks like this one is coming back…”.
This could be a common occurrence with the Seahawks this season, maybe more so than with other teams, if NFL owners vote in a new “head lowering” penalty for running backs . Pete Carroll has already said the Seahawks are going to remain a “run first” offense. He may want to change his mind on that one after the first few games if things go the way I’m thinking they could go with this new running back “head lowering” rule. If you haven’t heard, Roger Goodell proposed a new rule in which running backs will be flagged if they lower their head to use the crown of the helmet like a battering ram. This essentially means running backs will have to take on hits standing up or risk a penalty.
I was listening to the “Mike & Mike” show this morning on the way in to work, and they had former Dallas Cowboys Great Emmett Smith on the show to give his “NFL Hall of Fame running back” perspective on the new rule. He brashly said it will make it impossible to play the position of running back. He claimed there is no way a runner who sees he’s about to have a collision is NOT going to instinctively lower his helmet and his whole body to protect himself. Smith added, when you are punished for hitting tacklers with your helmet the end result is you’re going to see a lot of guys just step out of bounds rather than try to get more yards. He thinks it will eventually turn the NFL in to something that resembles “touch football”. Will this still be “football”? I say “no”. Running backs will more resemble quarterbacks at the end of a play, taking a slide to avoid a stand-up hit or meekly squirting out of bounds before the big hits we all know and love.
Now, to be fair, an NFL team of experts, coaches, & former players looked at all the film from last year and only found five instances of this helmet lowering that would have been called under the new rule. So, while there might be a lot of latitude a referee can give backs on this rule, or there might not be. The panel admitted it could be very difficult for a referee to fairly call this kind of thing in the heat of a game. This rule is made for inconsistency in how it’s called, and could be affected by the referee’s angle to the play, his view of the play through other players, the weather, how the other player reacts, and a million other variables. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to push this rule hard, it could really put a crimp on the running styles of the hard-nosed, punishing running backs like Lynch. A quick review of some “Beast Mode” highlights reveals Lynch does often use his helmet and shoulders and a healthy forward lean to blast people out of his way. Is this going to make him a magnate for yellow flags? How could it not? You could even say Lynch is the kind of runner this rule is designed to punish…errrr…protect. If there is one rule they could have come up with (other than making the QB scramble illegal) that could put the brakes on a potential Seahawks championship season, this is it!
For other teams with finesse style runners this probably wouldn’t be an issue. Teams with backs that run in a style more like Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, or Barry Sanders will get a break because that style runner very rarely takes on a defensive back. Teams with backs like Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis, and yes, Marshawn Lynch could potentially lose some important plays, first downs, or critical scores. Remember the Seahawks were a HALF GAME away from winning the NFC West title. One bad call can make that difference. This WILL affect coaching strategies. Worse case; I think it’s possible that coaches will get tired of all the laundry thrown at their running backs and probably will move away from the running game as an important force in their offenses. The NFL will evolve into something like the Canadian Football League, where passing becomes the dominant type of play. That will be too bad. I think it will wreck the game as it has come to be known and loved. The diversity of schemes that combine running and passing is what makes the NFL interesting to watch.
The next question is; will the fans revolt? Will the NFL be on a path to a slow death because fans will slowly find other things to do than watch a league full of guys running around trying to avoid getting hit? Will the game become something so foreign to our senses that it becomes a laughing stock? A quick look at the controversy created by the “defenseless receiver” rule should give guidance here. There were a lot of cases where a legitimate hit was flagged and great defensive plays called penalties. The hit Cam Chancellor put on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis comes to mind… That was a great, legal (as it turns out) hit that should have been called an incompletion and brought on the 49ers punting team if memory serve me. The penalty turned it into a 1st and 10 for San Fran. The Hawks ended up losing that game by a touchdown. If victories are seen as not legitimately won, the loss of fan interest could put a serious dent in the NFL’s credibility and viewership. But then the NFL has survived and thrived amid controversial calls for decades, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about.
Last but not least, will this rule, if passed, affect how Pete Carroll and John Schneider evaluate running backs in the upcoming draft? Might they hedge their bets that sending Marshawn Lynch to ballet school won’t turn him into a finesse runner and go after one in the draft? It seems advisable to have a “change-up” back anyway, but maybe this puts a little more urgency into that kind of pick. I’m thinking a running back with lots of speed and not a lot of brawn, and the ability to avoid pursuit may be high on more than a few teams draft boards.
In the end it looks like the NFL is changing so as not to appear unconcerned, and to avoid the avalanche of lawsuits that will surely materialize if they don’t “do something” now that they know there is a serious problem. Here are some things about this rule to consider moving forward: Will it change the game so much that they destroy the game? If they do nothing can the game survive anyway? Will the running back become extinct? Will they have to make more changes to keep the game interesting? Who knows? Finding the answers to these questions may become more interesting to watch than the actual games. One other thing Emmett Smith said is that people who haven’t played running back at a professional level have no idea what they’re talking about. Sorry Emmett, but THAT’S WHAT WE DO HERE!
Seattle Seahawks General Manger John Schneider went on the John Clayton Show, which airs on 710 ESPN Seattle every Saturday morning, and talked about the role Cliff Avril would play for Seattle. A link can be found at the bottom of the article to the interview.
Schneider mentioned in the interview that Seattle plans to have Avril play the LEO position that Clemons played before his injury and WILL Linebacker that K.J. Wright currently fills.
The comment about Avril playing the WILL Linebacker position got me to thinking; How a 6’4, 260 pound defensive end play linebacker in a 4-3 defensive system? The answer and player that comes in mind is former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson.
Julian Peterson came to Seattle after the 2005 season after spending six years with the San Francisco 49ers. After signing a seven-year deal worth 54 Million. Peterson was not your typical 4-3 linebacker. His job was to get in the backfield and sack the opposing quarterback as many times as possible. Peterson filled this role nicely with Seattle in three-years he managed to collect 24.5 sacks. Keep in mind that Peterson was not put in a position of defensive end; he played strictly the SAM/OLB position. While Avril would be coming from the opposite side that Peterson filled and taking over for K.J. Wright it could allow Wright to slide over to the other side of the field.
Seattle I believe will put Avril in this role in specific passing downs. I do not believe he will be a three down linebacker as Peterson was. He struggled against the run in Detroit. Avril stands at 6’3, 260 pounds and ran a 4.59 so the explosiveness to come off the edge exists. Avril playing OLB also gives other pass rushers such as Bennett, Clemons, and Irvin the opportunity to all play at the same time.
If you put the numbers in perspective Avril has been a far more productive player than Peterson was, however keep in mind that Avril has had a great supporting cast around while playing with Detroit. Avril has played a total of 73 games during a five-year career while collecting 39.5 sacks (.54 sacks per game). Peterson during an 11 year career played 158 games and collected 51.5 sacks. (.32 sacks per game). Peterson’s play did take a deep decline after leaving Seattle via trade to Detroit, which affected his sack numbers deeply. However if you put the Sack numbers for Clemons and average it out per year that is at least eight-sacks per year and I believe playing for one of the league’s best defenses he can increase those numbers in Seattle.
No one can guess how Avril will truly be used and if the WILL linebacker position will work out but I’m certain Carroll will find a spot for him to cause pure mayhem on opposing Quarterbacks.
After dominating the latter part of the 2012 NFL season, and going 11-5 it was fair to expect the Seattle Seahawks to stay mostly still during the 2013 free agency period and let the market sort out before signing any free agents outside of their own.
Many expected them to sign a pass rusher after only recording two sacks in two playoff games. Starting DE/OLB Chris Clemons tore his ACL during a playoff game against the Washington Redskins leaving rookie Bruce Irvin as the only pass rushing defensive lineman on the roster. This change resulted in no pressure against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Their season ended at the Georgia Dome after the Falcons marched downfield with less than a minute left to kick a game winning field goal.
Seattle has answered the pass rushing problem very aggressively in free agency by signing former Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril and Tampa Bay DE/DT Michael Bennett. Together they combined for 18.5 sacks. Both Free agents expected to get big deals in the market but a tight salary cap for NFL has led to a slower market. Avril signed a two year deal worth
15 million. Bennett took a one year deal worth just five million.
Seattle now has a full arsenal of defensive linemen who can rush the passer. The only question is where can they all play? Many have looked at the New York Giants NASCAR package which uses four defensive ends on the line of scrimmage. I believe Pete Carroll and the staff will take this approach with the Seahawks’ defense on passing downs. The NASCAR package requires two who are fast and strong enough to play inside and create pressure up the middle, while the smaller defensive ends create a rush from the outside.
Seattle has the player personnel to do so. The player personnel for Seattle during the NASCAR package would be (Left to Right); Irvin, Clemons, Bennett and Avril. When this group of four potential threats is on the field together, their height and weight average out at 6’4” 259 pounds. The Giants NASCAR package which included; Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka average out to 6’5” 267 pounds. While there may be a size difference in the Giants NASCAR package, the Seahawks have the advantage of youth and speed on their team.
It will be difficult to know for sure the package Seattle will send out on passing situations when the season starts, but it is intriguing to think about.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, featured, football, Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Bennett, New York Giants, News, nfl, Osi Umenyiora, Popular, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks
In the wake of the fairly surprising Clint Avril signing, the Percy Harvin addition may seem like old news. If you’ll indulge me, I wanted to revisit the Harvin acquisition anyway.
First off I’d like to say that I am a big fan of the move because I think Percy Harvin is a unique talent who makes this offence 12.8%* more dangerous. His YAC ability, blazing speed and versatility make him enormously valuable and at 24 he is at a juncture in his career where his production is likely to ascend over the next couple of years. Pre- prime players who are already stars don’t often make their way to the trade market. When they do, the cost is bound to be high. That’s what I will discuss today.
No NFL transaction exists in a vacuum, if I were to ask any Seahawks fan a week ago, “Hey, would you like to have Percy Harvin on the Seahawks?” the overwhelming majority of them would have said, “Yes please.” However, a small minority of alert fans/cynics would ask, “What is it going to cost me?” Harvin is a great player but regardless of his greatness there is a price that would be too high for his services.
Minnesota couldn’t have simply asked for three 1st round picks and Russell Wilson. When analyzing the price of Harvin there are two components. The first one being the draft picks the Seahawks sent to Minnesota. The second one being Harvin’s lucrative contract extension.
The Cost of Percy Harvin Part One: Draft Picks
When the trade was all said and done the Seahawks had given Minnesota the 25th overall pick, and a 7th round pick in the 2013 draft, and a 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft. The real question to the value of these picks is what kind of players one can expect to acquire if they were to be used by Seattle. The centerpiece of the deal is the 25th overall pick this year so forgive me if I spend approximately 647† times more effort determining its value. In ascending order of value:
2013 7th round pick: The Seahawks have the 8th, 14th and 25th picks in the 7th round and I was unable to determine which one went to Minnesota but ultimately it doesn’t make a ton of difference. A 7th round pick is a virtual lottery ticket in terms of acquiring an NFL caliber special teams player, let alone a starter or difference maker of any kid. Do not let the loss of this pick trouble you.
2014 3rd round pick: This pick is actually significant. Third round picks tend to play some kind of role in the NFL and finding a starter here is far from unheard of. Stars like NaVarro Bowman, Eric Decker, and of course Russell Wilson were all 3rd round picks, as well as the newest Seahawk, Clint Avril. A 3rd round pick is far from a sure thing but if you choose wisely you can find a very cost effective starter. If I knew exactly which pick this would be I’d give some examples of previous examples of players chosen at that spot but alas I don’t feel comfortable slotting Seattle in for the 32nd spot just yet. It should be considered that Seattle is fairly certain to be picking in the bottom section of the round, making this worse than most 3rd round picks but far from an insignificant asset.
2013 1st round pick (25th overall): The is is the biggest asset that the Seahawks will be relinquishing and by a fairly heavy margin. I’ve provided a list of recent 25th pick selections with a brief career summary to give you an idea of the kind of players available.
2000: Chris Hovan DT- Vikings
Hovan was an undersized penetrating DT who had a 10 year career concluding in 2009. He was very durable playing in 156 of a possible 160 games, including 149 starts. The peak of his career came in 2001-2002 when he had 11.5 sacks and was 2nd team All-Pro. It was a good pick that got a good player who was great at times.
2001: Freddie Mitchell WR- Eagles
Although Freddie Mitchell was an interesting character who had some memorable moments in his career, he will likely be remembered as a disappointment and a bust. Mitchell lasted 4 years in the NFL where he was only able to total 1263 yards and 5 touchdowns despite catching balls from a then-elite Donavan McNabb. Hardly a Ryan Leaf caliber bust, but not a good player and not even really a starter. He only started 17 games over four years despite dressing for 63.
2002: Charles Grant DE- Saints
Grant was a stout DE at 6-3 282 who was known for a well-rounded game. His best years were in 2003 and 2004 when he put up 10 and 10.5 sacks respectively. In his later years Grant was less of a pure pass rusher but remained a valuable starter. Grant would end his career at age 31 with 47 career sacks. He spent all 8 years of his career with the Saints, starting 106 games for them. Another pick used to grab a good long-term starter.
2003: William Joseph DT- Giants
Joseph had a quiet 6 year career (four with the Giants) in which he totaled 17 starts and 7 sacks. He started 10 games in 2005 but was never able to crack the starting lineup with any regularity otherwise. Joseph had the kind of career that thousands of NFL hopefuls would die for but not one expected from a 1st round pick.
2004: Ahmad Carroll CB- Packers
Carroll is a player that I recall being poorly thought of by Packers fans when he started for them in 2004 and 2005. That makes sense considering he was a special teams player for the rest of his career which ended in 2009. Much like William Joseph, the 5 year career that Carroll had, including 28 starts, is the envy of many players but it isn’t exactly what a team would want from its first round pick. On the plus side, Carroll had some success in the CFL where he won the Grey Cup last year with the Toronto Argonauts and promptly retired. So in a way he sailed off into the sunset, sort of.
2005: Jason Campbell QB- Redskins
Campbell was a QB that I always kind of liked but he wasn’t a franchise quarterback. In the end, when your 1st round quarterback isn’t a franchise quarterback, he will be considered a disappointment. The conservative Campbell has only thrown for 20 TD’s once and has a disappointing 6.7 career yards per attempt. Campbell is the kind of guy who is probably in the top 32 best quarterbacks around at any given time but you know that if he’s starting for your team you are in need of a different solution. It is hard to evaluate a player like this who is good, but not good enough, and has been a starter, but shouldn’t have been. To be fair to Campbell, he never had a ton to work with in either Washington or Oakland.
2006: Santonio Holmes WR- Steelers
Probably the first player we’ve dealt with so far who many would consider to be an elite talent. The 2008 Super Bowl MVP has had an excellent career with 5,507 yards and 35 TD’s, along with 59.9 yards receiving per game, so far. His numbers have declined since going to the Jets, due in large part to poor QB play. Currently he seems to be spending his prime languishing on an awful team with an awful passing offense. He’s making enough money that I don’t feel too sorry for him, though. Overall, Holmes is an excellent player and an excellent pick.
2007: Jon Beason MLB- Panthers
Beason is an absolute stud. Or rather, he was. It’s hard to say exactly. In Beason’s first four years in the league he was a Pro Bowler thrice and a first team All-Pro once. He was a tackling machine who was a major asset to a relatively inept Carolina defense in both the rushing and passing games. Unfortunately, Beason has only played 5 games in the last two years due to injury and it’s pretty difficult to project what his career might look like from here. Even so, most teams would take 64 excellent starts and 3 Pro Bowl appearances from their 1st round picks.
2008: Mike Jenkins CB- Cowboys
Jenkins is currently a free agent and I haven’t heard of any team expressing interest yet. Not to say that his NFL career is done but that should give some indication of where Mike Jenkins is at. Jenkins made the Pro Bowl in 2009 after hauling in 5 interceptions and deflecting 19 passes but has never been able to repeat that impressiveness. In his five years in the league he has amassed only 8 interceptions and he lost his starting gig with Dallas last year. Jenkins was a starter for 3 years, one of them good and that in itself has some value but the perception of him suffers because he never lived up to the promise he showed in his second season.
2009: Vontae Davis CB- Dolphins
The fact the Vontae Davis is already on his second team is somewhat alarming, but the Colts corner has been a solid starter over the last four years who may not have reached his potential yet. At 24 it seems a bit early to render judgment on the athletic Davis other than to say that he is already an established starter in the NFL and that bodes well for him. He is probably a better player than at least half of the players listed above him.
2010: Tim Tebow QB- Broncos
There are a million things that could be said about Tim Tebow. This article is about Percy Harvin so I will refrain from a tempting tangent. I will say that, in my humble opinion, Tim Tebow is not a good quarterback. He may well be an adequate football player in a different capacity. Even so, he should be thought of as a disappointment in the context of being a 1st round pick.
2011: James Carpenter OT- Seahawks
There are reasons to be disappointed with this pick. They include injury concerns and the fact that Carpenter lacks the feet to play right tackle, a positon of need on the Seahawks. The fact is, however, Carpenter looks capable of becoming a quality starter at guard. If you can get a quality starter it’s hard to complain especially when you are picking late enough in the first round that the truly elite talents are unlikely to be available. This looks like a fine pick if Carpenter can stay healthy.
2012: Don’t’a Hightower- ILB Patriots
Hightower started 13 games as a rookie and was productive with 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. He looks like a keeper but it’s really far too early to say if this was a wise pick for the patriots.
That’s the list. There are some good players but there are very few elite players. Beason is undoubtedly one, providing 3 of the 4 collective Pro Bowl appearances among these 13 players. You could probably argue that Santonio Holmes was an elite player with Pittsburgh and he is a Superbowl MVP so that’s 2 elite players (15%). Elite can be subjective so let’s talk about starters.
If we generously call James Carpenter and Don’t’a Hightower starters we have 10 starters (although Carroll and Campbell could be viewed as disappointments in the role). I suspect that’s an unusually high number for this area of the draft and given the small sample I imagine it’s not very predictive. I would guess that if you included picks 23 through 27 you would find a higher bust rate. This list of 25th picks is more descriptive of the type of player you are likely to find in that spot than predictive of the future in any way.
This history suggests that at the 25th pick you are likely to find a solid starter for your team who is not a Pro Bowler. Hovan, Grant, Jenkins and Davis fall into this category with Carpenter and Hightower probable to. On the surface it seems very unlikely that you will find a Harvin-quality player. However, the Vikings don’t necessarily need to find a Harvin quality player to come away from this trade ok. The beauty of a late first round pick is that not only are you likely to get a starter, you are likely to get one at an incredibly low price. Last year Don’t’a’ Hightower got a 4 year contract worth 7.7 million from the Patriots out of the draft, which is absolute peanuts when you consider what a 22 year old starting caliber linebacker could fetch on a hypothetical open market.
The 25th pick is immensely valuable because the Vikings are not only likely to restock their talent but at an incredibly discount. When you add that to the 7th round lottery ticket and the substantial but somewhat mysterious 2014 3rd round pick you are looking at quite the haul for Minnesota and a heavy price paid for Seattle. Now let’s look more briefly (I promise) at the contract.
The Cost of Percy Harvin Part Two: Harvin’s Extension
I realize the journey to determine what the Seahawks gave up in draft picks was a long one so I’ll try and be a bit shorter here. (The reality is that if brevity is truly the soul of wit than I am a truly witless man.) Sometimes numbers speak louder than words so I’m going to throw up a career stats and contract comparison of Percy Harvin to Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe, the big WR’s who signed as free agents this year.
Of the three, Harvin is the youngest, cheapest (on a yearly basis), and most productive, on a per game basis. The Seahawks are paying the market price for a receiver of Harvin’s skill level. That means that Harvin’s surplus value comes from extraordinary production, not a team friendly contract, but that’s ok. Harvin is capable of providing elite production and has done so in the past with regularity. His youth also makes the contract more sensible as the Chiefs will be paying a premium for some of Dwayne Bowe’s decline years, and while the Dolphins get years 26-31 with Wallace, which should be productive, I’m more confident in Harvin’s 24-30 years as they make up the heart of his prime. There is no doubt that this is an expensive contract but it is a fair contract and the Seahawks are paying a premium price for a premium player.
Overall I hope this gives you a sense of what it costs to get a 24 year old star like Percy Harvin. The Seahawks relinquished a draft pick that is likely to provide value, both in terms of talent and a cap friendly salary, and two others, as well as giving Harvin a contract that he must continue to produce in order to justify. The cost is high. We cannot pretend the Seahawks did not pay dearly for Percy Harvin.
People are often naturally risk-averse and this is a risk. I think that this is a risk Seattle won’t regret because Harvin is the rare player who can produce enough to justify his salary. It is my belief this move makes this team better in the short and long term but Minnesota got their’s too (especially when you consider the cap room they save by not extending Harvin). It was far from the steal, though. This deal is high risk, high reward and high stakes. Sounds like an awful lot of fun to me. Also sounds an awful lot like Pete Carroll.
*If you remember this asterisk from the beginning of the article congratulations. I just wanted you to note that I made that number up based on absolutely nothing (but it sounds vaguely plausible right?). It’s important to be transparent.
† Apparently I was in the making up number mood today…
Zach Miller had what was probably his most important game as a Seahawk Sunday. After a withering offensive display by RGIII and his offense resulted in two touchdown drives, Seattle’s defense looked like it was running at half-speed and the offense looked like they had left their Mojo of the last five games on the tarmac in Seattle. There was absolutely no sign of the high octane offense we had seen in recent weeks, and the vaunted Seattle defense was putting up little resistance to the Washington running attack.
Down 14 – 0 midway through the first quarter Seattle needed to get something going ASAP or risk having the game get out of control by the end of the first quarter. Enter Tight End Zach Miller who gave the Seahawks just what the doctor ordered to get them out of their funk late in the first quarter. On a third and long from his own 18 Russell Wilson hit Miller short of the marker, but Miller twisted and fought his way to a critical first down, Seattle’s first of the game. That was the first sign of life from the Seahawks offense. That drive ended in a field goal but put Seattle on the scoreboard and broke the Redskins momentum.
The next drive had some excitement from a Wilson to Lynch fumbled handoff which Lynch miraculously scooped up and carried to another key first down. That drive resulted in a Michael Robinson TD reception, and the Hawks had 10 on the board. After an Earl Thomas interception of a floated RG III pass the Seahawks added 3 more before the half. Hawks fans breathed a sigh of relief with the team being just one point down at the half.
The second half started with a lot of Beast mode and Wilson runs — getting the team down to the one yard line before Lynch fumbled the ball away. The Hawks held the Skins to a 3 and out and got the ball back with good field position, but had to punt the ball away after a near miss to Baldwin in the end zone. Even though the Hawks were moving the ball they were not able to add any points in the third quarter, reminiscent of some of the Hawks early season games. Still it didn’t seem like the Seahawks were in too much trouble, but they needed a play to break the near deadlock. Now in the 4th quarter the Hawks were on their own 46 at 3rd and long when Wilson again hit Zach Miller sneaking out of protection for a huge gain down to the Skins 32. Three plays later Lynch took the ball into the end zone from the 27 yard line with an assist block from Wilson at the goal line. And on the 2 point conversion Wilson again hit Zach Miller as he crossed the goal line on a quick slant. Miller would lead all receivers with 4 catches for the game.
With a touchdown lead the Hawks were ahead but not out of the woods yet. They needed a game sealing score with time running down. When the Redskins and RG III got the ball back Bruce Irvin nailed RG III for a sack. On the next play the right knee of RG III grotesquely gave way as he chased a bad snap and the Hawks recovered on the 5 yard line. After three unsuccessful shots to the end zone, a Hauschka field goal made it a 2 score game and pretty much put the game out of reach for the Redskins.
There were a lot of great plays made by a lot of Seahawks in this game. Rice and Tate made some incredible sideline hugging receptions of pinpoint Russell Wilson throws. Marshawn Lynch made some huge runs and had that crazy scoop of the fumbled hand off. But the key plays that got the Seahawks out of the doldrums and on their way to this win came from Mr. Zach Miller. So here’s a big “Well Done!” for Zach Miller, Seattle’s unsung hero and the spark that got the Seahawk machine going. Go Hawks!
I’d first like to start off by saying that I’m not a fan of awards that aren’t based on metrics such as rookie of the year, comeback player of the year, etc. It’s like asking me what my favorite movie is. Depending on the time and my mood I will give you a different answer. Instead, I can give you a grouping of my top movies in no particular order. This is how I view the rookie of the year selection. Clearly there are a few offensive rookies that should be considered. In my opinion they are Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin, and Alfred Morris. Sorry Andrew Luck, but if you lead the league in interceptions, you can’t be considered.
On defense the group is Bobby Wagner, Casey Hayward, and Chandler Jones. Sorry Janoris Jenkins, you have lots of talent but aren’t very disciplined at this point and need to improve.
Being the quantitative geek that I am, I have decided to compare Wilson and Griffin using some sort of quantifiable metrics. (Don’t worry, there will be lots of graphs, too.) Since I personally don’t really care who wins this award I came into this analysis without a dog in the hunt.
Let’s start by looking a quick set of basic metrics.
As you can see, Griffin edges out Wilson is every category except for touchdowns. That being said, Wilson’s TD/INT ratio is only 2.6 while Griffin’s is 4. Don’t get me wrong, they are ridiculously close but objectively Griffin has the edge in these basic stats. They also both threw 393 times and Griffin has only 82 more yards than Wilson. Wilson also attempted a higher percentage of deep throws than Griffin.
While those baseline stats are nice, they don’t really add much color. For instance, Seattle played a harder schedule than Washington. Seattle’s opponent’s winning percentage was .505 while Washington’s was only .494.
There is also the fact that both quarterbacks are not qualitatively all that similar. Keith wrote an article illustrating just that point. Given that, I thought it would add more clarity to break out the separate aspects of their games — passing, rushing, and total against the quality of the opposing defenses in those same categories. Let’s first look at rushing.
First, I include the game that Griffin did not play in because I believe that if a player gets statistical credit for playing a certain way and thereby accepting the risk of playing in such a way, then the costs of those risks should also be factored in. In this case, it’s the game that Griffin sat out. (In all fairness, Wilson also sat out about 2.5 quarters of the season.)
Some quick data information. The defensive averages are the average of a certain type of yard in games up to that game not counting yards from a Washington or Seattle game. So, in essence, a quarterback’s numbers won’t be used against himself. It’s his performance compared to the defenses performance against every other opponent, rushing and passing.
The quarterbacks’ cumulative average is the average of all games played up to the end of each week. I prefer this average because it shows trends rather than a flat line over the entire season.
You can see above that Griffin generally ran for more yards per game than did Wilson. This is both a stylistic difference in the players and a difference in play calling. Griffin was provided with an offensive scheme much more catered to his abilities as a mobile quarterback while Wilson was basically forced to stay in the pocked for the first half of the season. Wilson clearly began running more in the last third of the season and that moved his average up a bit, while Griffin was up and down all season. Griffin’s best rushing games came against Minnesota, New York, and Philadelphia. Wilson’s came against Chicago, Buffalo, and St. Louis.
Now let’s look at the two quarterbacks’ aerial statistics.
The passing data and charts show a different story. Wilson’s passing average increased by nearly 50 yards per game over the season while Griffin’s dropped by almost 100 yards per game. Even if you don’t count the Cleveland game his average still drops by over 100 yards a game over the season. Both Wilson and Griffin ended the season averaging nearly the same however, 195 and 200 yards per game respectively. I do think the upward trend of Wilson though speaks more to his actual development while Griffin trended down most of the season and became prone to injury toward the end. I would prefer to have a steady-as-she-goes upward trending quarterback like Wilson than someone who is a spectacular player when they’re healthy, but is unable to play a complete season. (Paging Michael Vick! Who, ironically, also had the best selling jersey in the NFL, before he decided he’d rather kill dogs for sport.)
The final set of charts shows the quarterbacks’ QBRs in each game overlayed their QBR rank and their opponent’s defensive rank for each game. I highlighted in green the games in which the quarterback was ranked first in QBR for the week. The ranks are at the top of each column.
Russell Wilson had three weeks where he was the best performing quarterback in the NFL. Those games came against Miami, Buffalo, and San Francisco. Seattle also played an average ranked defense of 13th. Washington’s opponents averaged19th. That’s a substantial difference in quality of defensive opponent. Griffin finished the season with a 71.4 QBR while Wilson had a 69.6 QBR.
In the end, I would probably vote for Wilson because I’m a Seahawks fan. I don’t see enough discernible differences between the two players to make an overwhelming case one way or the other. A vote for either man is completely defensible. In the end, I’d put money on Griffin to win, largely because of media bias and ignorance that is generally displayed week to week by too many of the people that get to vote in this popularity contest. I doubt many of the voters have done even the level of analysis I’ve done here. I’d value the award if there was some sort of objectivity inserted into it. Right now it’s more subjective than Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.
There are a lot of other conclusions and analyses that can be drawn from these charts and the underlying data but I already feel like my head is so far up my own butt in doing this that I should probably stop. If you want the data to go down the rabbit hole with me, let me know. I was unable to find any sort of massive database available from the NFL or ESPN that could be downloaded so if you want the individually and painfully collected data to do something else with it, I’ve got it.
*I refuse to use the pretentious and obnoxious III moniker. As far as I know there isn’t a Robert Griffin I or II in the NFL. Same goes for all the idiots putting “JR” and “SR” on their jerseys for no reason. This is more a statement to the ridiculous trend of players to get creative on their jerseys than a stab at just one player. I’m getting off my soapbox now.
We have come to the end of the 2012 season. A season of which I hope includes the reemergence of a Seattle Seahawks football team that will last for many years. Seattle finished the 2012 season ranked second in the power polls, right behind Denver. The NFC West also finished as the strongest division despite a dismal season in Arizona. The Rams improved greatly and moved into the top half of the league.
In the final week of play many teams stayed ranked in the spot or just moved one spot up or down. The biggest move was by the Titans who jumped five places to finish at 23rd. The Steelers moved up three spots to 15th, and the Cowboys and Browns both fell three places to finish 17th and 26th, respectively.
The top twelve rankings all belong to playoff teams however the seeding is quite different.
The table above shows the order of how NFC and AFC teams would be seeded according to the final rankings. Of course, seeding is determined over an entire season so it’s just a demonstration of the current strength or weakness of a team and where they are in the playoffs. The AFC is nearly identical to the order of AFC teams ranked by 12thManRising’s writers.
In the NFC you can see that the teams that finished strongest are more mismatched when compared to their playoff seed. Seattle is arguably the hottest NFC team right now and they are seeded fifth with a game this Sunday at Washington. The Falcons have been somewhat inconsistent in the end of the season but have the ability. Of course Matt Ryan still needs to win his first playoff game. San Francisco also gets a bye but is battling some injuries and the loss of Mario Manningham following the game in Seattle. Both those teams have home field but are very beatable after a bye week. Seattle on the other hand will have win on the road in the playoffs which hasn’t been done since the ’90s. This is a big test for a very dynamic football team who will be playing a similarly hot Redskins team.
I’m going to breeze through some of the other highlights. The NFC West finished as the strongest division, followed by the NFC North, which makes sense since both divisions also sent two teams each to the postseason.
The weakest divisions were the AFC West and AFC East. Each of them had only one team above .500. The NFC West had two teams well over .500 and a third team that was just half of a game below due to a tie.
Here are charts showing the AFC West and East (the divisions with the least parity) followed by the NFC East (the division with the most parity).
I think that’s enough charts for now. I hope this was useful or at least entertaining for the 2012 season. That’s all until next September.
We saw the clean hit Kam Chancellor put on Vernon Davis in week 17. We saw the flags fly giving the 49ers first and goal instead of the 4th and long they were facing. Then we saw on the replay that Chancellor’s hit on Davis was a textbook hit on a receiver that was intended to separate the ball from the receiver. So what gives? Defensive backs are complaining that it’s physically impossible to play their positions with the NFL’s well meaning but ill conceived new rules on how defensive backs are allowed to tackle receivers. The rules are not only impossible for players to obey given the unpredictable movement of the receiver, they are also impossible for a referee to correctly call. The new rules are causing players to get unwarranted fines, teams to get unwarranted penalties, and have changed the outcomes of a few games.
Another drawback of the new rule is defensive backs are afraid to tackle anyone high for fear of inadvertent helmet contact. The predictable result is they are now tackling around the knees of receivers and, as the 49ers Mario Manningham unfortunately found out, that can result in a blown out knee and a year out of the league while rehabbing the repaired but never to be the same joint. Aren’t we just trading concussions for destroyed knees?
So, what’s the answer? Players can go broke hitting high, and receivers can have their careers cut short by low tackles around the knees. Lacking a change in the laws of physics or a really high tech concussion-proof helmet, there’s one easy thing that can be done. How about using the red flag replay for those calls? When both the players and the refs can’t get a fair shake with a rule, it’s time to either change the rules again or use playbacks to fairly enforce the rules. It doesn’t make it any easier for the defensive back to avoid an inadvertent rule violation, but maybe when the receiver suddenly ducks his head replay will show it’s not the D-back’s fault; and at the very least replay can show when an unfairly flagged hit is a good legal hit. Sure it could open up a bag of worms as replay officials try to interpret a defender’s intent or a receiver’s reflexive “duck and cover” move, but it’s worth a try.
If something isn’t done about this issue football will continue to lose credibility as a contact sport. Now….what the hell is this garbage about eliminating the kickoff! DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!
I went a little overboard on the charts this week, as you’ll see below, but first let’s get to the rankings. There was a lot of movement this week and I had to break up some pretty substantial ties. In case you were wondering, I use the same tie-break methodology as ESPN.
2. Overall season record.
3. Which team won most recently.
4. Previous ranking.
There was a three way tie at third between San Francisco, Seattle, and Indianapolis. The results of the tiebreak placed the teams in the order I most likely would have done so if I had done it blindly although seeing San Francisco ahead of Seattle after such a dismantling last Sunday is a little hard to take. The Colts consequently reached their highest ranking of the season at 5th. San Francisco had the overall best record of the three teams by half a game. I had to go all the way to the fourth tie break for the Seattle and Indianapolis tie.
Other ties were: Redskins, Vikings and Cowboys; Bengals and Rams; Bears and Saints; Giants and Chargers; Bills and Cardinals; Panthers, Titans, and Eagles; and the Raiders and Chiefs.
Birds of a Feather: As you can see, everyone had the Broncos ranked number one. Everyone also had the Raiders ranked 30th.
Small Differences: Teams that only had a difference of one between their rankings were Minnesota, Chicago, Kansas City, and Jacksonville.
Five Yard Penalties: There were seven teams that had a difference of five or more between their highest and lowest rankings. Carolina was ranked as high as 19th (Micah) and as low as 28th (Scott). The Lions (22nd-28th), Buccaneers (19th – 25th), Titans (23rd – 29th), and Jets (23rd – 29th) all had differences of six places. The Saints (+5) and Cardinals (+2) were the only two teams that had a difference of five places: 12th – 17th, and 24th – 29th, respectively.
Downhill Runners: The Ravens, Saints, and Chargers were the biggest gainers for the week. Each moving up five spots. The Seahawks moved up four spots to fourth from eighth. The Dolphins and Bills also moved up four places to 20th and 22nd, respectively.
Sacks for Losses: The Giants fell the furthest in Week 16 after getting manhandled by the Ravens. The G-men fell six spots to land at 17th. Other big losers were the Vikings (11th), Lions (24th), Buccaneers (25th), and Titans (27th) which all fell five spots each.
Now, if you’re not into numbers and charting like me, feel free to tune out. It’s about to get graphic(al). *rim shot*
Here is your weekly chart of the NFC west.
I also went ahead and created a chart with all eight NFL divisions for the last 16 weeks. This generally shows how strong the writers at 12thManRising feel each division actually is based on averaging the four teams’ rankings together.
As you can see, the NFC West is the strongest division after the end of week 16 and has never been lower than fourth, which is what is was after week 12. The AFC West has tended to be the weakest division overall even though it currently has the top ranked Broncos in it. The AFC East has also recently trended poorly even though it has the Patriots as well as the AFC South which has been near the bottom despite having the Texans and Colts in the division.
Those issues lead me to create another set of charts showing the top team from each division after week 16 along with the division average. It is a visual way of demonstrating how a team can be highly rated but might also benefit from having a very weak division. The top team is still included in the division average.
I will start with the NFC and they will be in order of smallest to largest separation from top team to average. Also, keep in mind that the Y-axes are different from chart to chart due to condensing based on rankings range.
As you can see, the NFC East has the most parity among it’s teams according to our power polls. The Redskins which were below their division average for much of the season have pulled ahead of it in the last few weeks and plays Dallas this Sunday for the top spot in the NFC East.
The NFC North has recently show less parity due to the drop off of Chicago and Detroit while Minnesota is highly inconsistent. Even Green Bay’s rankings have fluctuated widely over the season.
The NFC West has two teams San Francisco and Seattle that buoy the average up and the recent rise of St. Louis has also helped. If Arizona were to somehow beat San Francisco this Sunday, I’d expect this gap to narrow. (Likewise if the Rams win, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.)
The NFC South has the biggest gap which makes sense. Atlanta is the best team and has been all season, while Tampa Bay, Carolina, and the Saints have basically been basement dwellers. New Orleans has had a big of a surge lately, but they aren’t beating teams that would give them any huge boost in rankings according the the writers.
Now to the AFC. Same song, different verse.
As you can see, the AFC North has the most parity of these four divisions while all of the teams aren’t ranked very high. The AFC South has shown improvement as a division over the season with the Colts crossing over the average in week 8 to be ranked fifth now. Obviously the two weakest divisions are the AFC East and West where the Patriots and Broncos have strangleholds over the other three teams. Those are two divisions where the top rated team from just about any other division would make easy work of their opponents as well.
That’s all for this week. If anybody wants to see the data behind the charts, I’m happy to share. Just let me know.
This was supposed to be a two man race for Rookie of the Year (ROY) honors. It was going to be either #1 Draft Pick Andrew Luck of the Colts, or it would be Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of the Redskins. These two QB’s have been playing steadily all year, turning their teams around, transforming them from cellar dwellers to playoff teams, and catching nearly all the headlines of the major sports media. But a funny thing happened on these two guy’s way to the ROY award. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks has put up a ROY season of his own, having guided his team to 10 wins and the playoffs. All the more amazing when you consider how Wilson started his pro career just months earlier.
Who is this Russell Wilson guy? He was drafted 75th overall in the third round and started the season as a 3rd stringer behind the previous year’s starter and a new free agent with a big contract. Wilson whose height will never crack 6’0″, so impressed his coaches in summer camp that they made it a 3-way competition for the QB job. After he won the job, most “experts” in the sports media confidently predicted Wilson would “be a good backup, but is not starting QB material”. He was dismissed as too short, but they overlooked Wilson’s primary asset as a player. His brain. He is a student of the game like no one other than maybe Peyton Manning. His work ethic is second to none. His leadership is contagious. His confidence is off the charts. His stats are right there with the other two guys. What’s different is Russell Wilson is actually re-defining the position of NFL quarterback to fit HIS capabilities.
Sunday night everyone in the country finally got to see what the whispers were all about on this rookie QB Wilson way up in the United State’s version of western Siberia, Seattle Washington. The first hint that something was happening in western Siberia came when the Seahawks beat the division leading Chicago Bears at home in week 13. It’s safe to say no one saw that coming, including a lot of people in Seattle, since the team had just lost to the Dolphins the previous week. The amazing thing about that win over the Bears was Wilson had to win it twice. After seemingly securing the win with a long drive with under 30 seconds on the clock, Seattle’s defense allowed a long pass to get the Bears in field goal range. They made the kick and the game went to OT. This is when things changed for Seattle’s season. Wilson put the team on his shoulders, and took the ball 80 yards on Chicago, throwing and running through their defense at will, and getting the winning score while Chicago’s offense sat helplessly and watched the birth of a green and blue monster.
The next week Wilson and Seattle spanked the Cardinals, who they lost to back in week one, 58 – zip. That shocking score gained the solid interest of the national sports media. The following week, Seattle put the stake through the heart of their “road curse” by dominating the Bills in Toronto in another 50 point blow out. Now the media had all eyes and ears on Wilson and Seattle, and Russell Wilson has officially entered the ROY “discussion”. Sensing something was happening in Seattle, the network changed the Seahawks/49ers game to the ‘Sunday Night Football’ showcase.
With the nation’s eyes on Seattle and their rookie QB, the Seahawks dismantled THE BEST DEFENSE in the league, while holding the 49ers potent offense to two field goals until late in garbage time where they finally managed to cross the goal line. And this was the same 49er team that only a week before beat New England in their own stadium.
Tweets by sports writers after the game not only indicate Wilson is “in the discussion” for ROY, but may now actually be LEADING Luck and RGIII. Russell Wilson may be late to the party, but he’s just kicked in the door and taken over the DJ’s booth. And he’s playing his own tune, the one that says a 5’10″ quarterback CAN play in the NFL. He’s having to redefine how a quarterback plays to get back whatever advantage he loses by being 4 inches too short for an NFL quarterback. But that’s all the more reason to give him the nod for Rookie of the Year. How many other rookies have had to redefine their position in order to play at a high level? The ROY award has been given to lots of “prototype” quarterbacks who came into the league and had a good year. But maybe this year it’s about more than that. Maybe it’s about a “pioneer” as commentator Trent Dilfer said on a post game show; a guy who will open doors and eyes and make it a little easier for undersized players to play quarterback in the NFL.
Now that the playoff picture is starting to take shape I started to think back on the season the Seahawks have had, and how the team had at least 4 games slip through their fingers. How different things could be right now had it not been for 4 losses that could have been wins. Let’s accept that the first game at the 49ers was one the Seahawks were expected to lose. In the other 4 losses the Seahawks were actually favored. If not for just 4 plays the Seahawks would likely be sitting on a league leading 13 and 1 record! This begs the question; Which 4 plays would have changed the Seahawks record from 9 and 5 to 13 and 1?
Here is my best shot at determining those 4 plays that, had they gone the other way, would have changed the Seahawks season.
- Week 1 vs the Cardinals – Most people would pick one of the 2 missed passes at the end of this game that could have given the Seahawks a touchdown and the win. But I’m going to pick a another play earlier in the game. Seattle had just scored 13 consecutive points and led Arizona 16-13 . Arizona’s offense under QB John Skelton was having an awful second half and the Seahawks were in complete control and had all the momentum. Then Skelton was hit during an attempted pass and left the game with an injured right ankle. Kevin Kolb, who had lost the starting job to Skelton in the preseason, came in and drove the Cardinals on a scoring, and game winning drive. The Hawks later fell short on several pass attempts in the red zone after a long drive. Had Skelton not been hurt, the Seahawks would likely have continued to stifle him and would have been able to play ball control the rest of the game and gotten the win.
- Week 4 vs the Rams – An uninspired effort by the offense left the Seahawks defense with the majority of the load in this game. The Rams Danny Amendola was able to get open for key completions all game long. Even so the Seahawks were only down by 6 and driving with 2 minutes left. The game was lost on a throw when Wilson’s intended receiver Anthony McCoy tripped on his route and Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher grabbed an easy interception, and that handed the win to St. Louis.
- Week 8 vs the Lions – This is another one that, despite a late 4th quarter winning drive by the Lions, was actually lost not on the last drive of the game, but late in the second quarter. It was on a Lions drive that was stalled at third-and-11 just past midfield. Stafford made probably his best throw of the year to Titus Young who streaked for a 46-yard touchdown. Had the Seahawks held on that 3rd and 11, they likely could have held the Lions out of the end zone until half time and that 4th quarter drive by the Lions would have been irrelevant.
- Week 12 vs the Dolphins – The Seahawks had the lead and the Dolphins were driving with 8 minutes remaining in the game. On first and goal from Seattle’s 7-yard line QB Ryan Tannehill was flushed out of the pocket to his right and forced a throw to Anthony Fasano in tight coverage. Hawks LB Bobby Wagner intercepted the ball in the end zone for what would have been a touchback and Hawks ball at the 20. Unfortunately, during the throw, Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas had launched himself airborne in an attempt to knock down the pass. His forward momentum carried him into Tannehills path and Thomas’ arm inadvertently brushed the quarterback’s helmet, drawing a personal foul. Interception negated. Dolphins get the easy score and win 21-24.
So there you have it…Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda. 4 Plays that would have made the Seahawks the No.1 seed in the playoffs had they not happened, giving them home field advantage and a bye in the first week…just like their Super Bowl year. Even winning just one of these games would have made this weeks game vs the 49ers a battle for the NFC West lead. I’m sure every Seahawks player knows this and will remember it next season, which should be one to remember. But with a little luck, a top 3 defense, and the newly found offensive power of the last 3 games, hopefully fans won’t have to wait until next season for a look at another Seahawks Super Bowl. But how much easier it could have been.