As the season comes to an end, it comes time to reflect on not only what happened in 2012 but Seattle’s outlook for the future. I suppose I could save you and I some time and say that the outlook is “bright” and/or “good” but I tend to be a more thorough person than that. When looking into the crystal ball at a team’s future you have to evaluate their “core”. If the core is too old or too flawed then the team is likely to struggle down the road, unless it can find new core players, probably in the draft, to build around.
When we talk about the core and core players it’s hard to know exactly what it is we are talking about. Usually a core player is someone worth building around; someone you know is going to stick around for a while. As is always the case, the contract is almost as important as the talent level. It’s hard to think of someone as part of the core of your team if they have an expiring contract, unless the plan is to franchise tag them every year like the Seahawks did with Walter Jones for a time. To summarize, the two major criteria for a core player are talent and a contract.
That being said it has always been a bit of a feel thing for me. Similar to how some players feel like Hall of Famers and some don’t even when their objective differences might be slight. That ambiguity is why I’ve developed a mental exercise to determine who the core of this team is. I simply ask myself, “would I consider buying that X player’s jersey?” and if the answer is yes they are probably a core piece. This is particularly pertinent to my life at the moment as my most up-to-date Seahawks jerseys are a Ken Hamlin jersey and a Shaun Alexander jersey. I understand that everyone has their own thoughts on jerseys and some people just buy their favorite player’s jersey but considering the expense, and my desire for the jersey to remain current for as long as possible, I’ve always considered it a big commitment/something worth putting a lot of thought into. In the case of Ken Hamlin I gambled and lost (largely due to very unfortunate circumstances) in 2005, thinking he was a core Seahawk coming out of his 2nd year on the way up. I don’t want to get burned again.
As a result this article can either be seen as identifying/evaluating the Seahawks’ core or a column on jersey buying advice. Whatever floats your boat….. We’ll start on offense.
Firstly, I’d put a disclaimer that I haven’t included o-lineman here, mainly because very few people seem to buy those jerseys. That being said Okung and Unger are both absolutely jersey worthy core players but if I had to choose I’d go with Unger because of his less scary injury history.
Russell Wilson: Wilson was the 4th ranked passer in the NFL as a rookie. He also was ranked 4th in the all-important yards per attempt statistic. He tied the rookie record for TD passes, without setting any records for interceptions like a certain Peyton Manning did. Wilson was also a fantastic runner which opened up some deadly read-option looks for this offense. His game isn’t perfect and he may suffer through some struggles down the road and a little bit of regression to the mean but I can’t conceive of a single reason not to not only consider him part of Seattle’s core but its most important part and to be very happy about this fact. Gushing over. Verdict: I would be proud to don his jersey.Wilson is the present and future.
Marshawn Lynch- To put it succinctly Lynch is a definite yes. Even so, running backs break down like it’s nobody’s business and Lynch does take a pounding so it’s not as much of a slam dunk as you might think. The thing is his accomplishments with the Seahawks so far and his superstar Beast Quake moment are already so legendary that his jersey would be a credible one to own 20 years from now even if he had a career ending injury tomorrow. In terms of his real life value to the Seahawks, he is under contract from three more years and is still in his prime (26) so he’s very much a core piece. Verdict: Yup.
Sidney Rice- Now we are out of the obvious candidates things get a little bit tricky. Rice is 26, he’s under contract for 3 more years, he’s Seattle’s #1 receiver and he’s good so all signs point to a yes here. The problem is twofold. Firstly, Rice has been immensely injury prone and that could severely alter his career path making your Rice jersey look foolish in the years ahead. Secondly, wide receiver is a position group that the Seahawks are trying to improve, probably fairly aggressive and possibly with the addition of another big-ticket free agent acquisition like Dwayne Bowe. It’s not so much that Rice is likely to be displaced or dislodged as there is a risk his importance diminishes over time. The development of Golden Tate could also be a factor. Verdict: Rice is a great receiver, but I can’t bring myself to confidently identify him as a core player for the Seahawks or purchase his jersey. Which hurts because I really like Rice.
Honorable Mention: Golden Tate- Although Tate is two years younger than Rice and seemingly on the way up you are banking heavily on a fair amount of additional development by calling him a core player. Also he hasn’t signed a contract extension and has yet to reach the level of value to the team wherein said extension is an inevitability.
Richard Sherman- There is a strong argument to be made that Richard Sherman is the best player on the Seahawks and at 24 he’s clearly a core piece for the future. My only concern is that he is only under contract for two more years but he’s a player that I’d seriously consider extending this off-season even though the first team all-pro has so much leverage coming off a great year. I think a deal gets done; I’m not suuuure I’d buy the jersey until it does but that’s probably overly cautious on my part. Verdict: Love Sherman, he’s incredibly important to the club and his jersey is a must-own.
Earl Thomas- Everything that I just said about Sherman applies to Thomas. Thomas is actually younger at 23 even though he has played an additional year in the NFL. He is a two time Pro Bowler at 23 and despite being posterized by Jacquizz Rodgers last week is an essential core piece. Same contract situation as Sherman although his lofty draft status has him far better compensated at this moment, likely making an extension less of a priority. Verdict: Earl Thomas is a fantastic player and wearing his name on your back will only make you a better person by extension.
Bobby Wagner- He’s already a great anchor for this defense and there is no reason why he shouldn’t get better and better with experience. An underrated find by Pete Carroll and Co. Absolutely a core player and not a free agent until 2016. One of the best players on arguably the best defense in the league already. Verdict: Buy the damn jersey
Brandon Browner: Although controversial in his playing style Browner has been undeniably effective since making the leap from the CFL to the NFL. He does play second fiddle to Sherman to an extent but is a Pro Bowl corner in his own right coming out of only his second year. This all sounds promising but there are two issues. One is that Browner turns 29 this year playing a position at which it is difficult to age gracefully. The second is that his contract only takes him through 2013 (to be fair he’ll be an RFA after).Browner is going to command big money, money that the Seahawks may well be saving for Richard Sherman. I can’t say with a great deal of confidence that Browner will be in Seattle in 3 years and even if he is he will be 31 and likely not quite what he once was. Great player, not a core player. Verdict: I’d steer clear of a Browner jersey, though you could do a lot worse.
Kam Chancellor: My personal favorite Seahawk. This one hurts. Chancellor is only 24 and has a Pro Bowl berth to his name in 2011. The problem is he’s only signed through 2013 (followed by UFA unlike Browner), I’m inclined to think that he’ll get an extension but unfortunately that isn’t the only problem. At this point I’m not exactly sure how good Kam Chancellor is. Aside from a couple of highlight reel hits he wasn’t a big factor in 2012. Chancellor did very little in coverage this year with his INT’s falling from 4 in 2011 to 0 in 2012 and his PD’s dropping from 12 to 4. He wasn’t a liability he just wasn’t a game changer. Verdict: My heart says, “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” and my head says, “no”. Regardless if I see someone in a Chancellor jersey my going in assumption is that we will be best friends.
Honorable Mentions: Basically every starter on defense was considered here but most had enough red flags to not be worth delving too far into. Here’s a quick summary.
Chris Clemons- too old, current nasty injury
Red Bryant- not a game changer this year, not convinced they won’t dump his hefty contract at some point
K.J Wright & Brandon Mebane- check all the boxes in theory but neither are quiteee good enough. As I said this is a bit of a feel thing.
Bruce Irvin- too large a range of outcomes for his career, still a complementary player
Overall there are a lot more options on defense than offense which really shouldn’t come at a surprise given the way this team is designed. At the end of the day we wind up with a “core” of Wilson, Lynch, Wagner, Sherman and Thomas, to which you can add Unger and Okung. None of these players are above the age of 26 and 5 of the 7 have made Pro Bowls. That sounds like a pretty impressive core not only for 2013 but for many many more years as well. Not only are these players in their prime but they are also still developing and getting better. I’m not sure if you guys know this but this Seahawks team is really good, and it’s going to be really good for a while. Having done all this I don’t know which jersey I would buy, but that’s sort of a first world problem. The fact there are too many great players on my favorite team is something I can live with.
Tags: Bobby Wagner, brandon browner, Earl Thomas, featured, football, Golden Tate, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger, nfl, Popular, Red Bryant, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, sidney rice
In what Chris Berman keeps insisting on calling “the best weekend in pro football” (to be fair it’s been pretty damn good so far) the Seahawks make the long trek out to Atlanta to face the number one seeded Falcons. The Falcons are a formidable foe, particularly at home, and despite the love the Seahawks are getting in the national media (something that I find so foreign that it makes me uncomfortable) this is an extraordinarily difficult test. After winning their first road playoff game in decades last week it seems almost greedy to hope for another road victory but as this team has evolved so have the expectations. The idea of the Seahawks going into Atlanta and winning a playoff game would have seemed virtually impossible halfway through this year and now we are at a point where it’s what many prognosticators are expecting. Whatever the result, the battle of the birds figures to be a close, hard fought contest. Let’s take a look at some of the big time matchups.
Matchup #1: Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner vs. Roddy White and Julio Jones
This has been the most talked about matchup all week and for good reason. 12 feet and 4 inches and 421 pounds worth of Pro Bowl receivers figure to do battle with 12 feet 7 inches and 416 pounds worth of Pro Bowl cornerbacks (Sherman hasn’t technically made a Pro Bowl appearance but his worthiness is obvious) in a physical battle for the ages. White and Jones combined for 17 TD’s in 2012 while the Seattle CB duo had 11 INT’s, even with Browner missing four games. The Falcons receivers have been extraordinarily productive this year but they haven’t faced a challenge like the one Seattle presents yet this year. This is a classic unstoppable force- immovable object situation with major repercussions in the game. With the Seahawks down Chris Clemons the pass rush for Seattle won’t be the same and there will be even more pressure on the dynamic Sherman-Browner pairing. You quite simply can’t shut out White and Jones but look for the Seahawks to do as good a job as humanly possible behind the efforts of their elite corners.
Matchup #2: Russell Okung vs. John Abraham
Tomorrow the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl LT faces an intriguing test in John Abraham. Abraham has being waging a surprisingly successful war against Father Time, remaining an effective pass rusher into his age 34 season. The Falcons have done a good job limiting Abraham’s snaps to keep him fresh but you can count on seeing Abraham on every third down. Okung has been excellent this year but Abraham will have the advantage of home field which has been significant for him this year (7 sacks of his 10 this year have come at home). Abraham is tiny compared to Okung (6-4 256) and as a result the Seahawks should look to run at him, behind Okung, whenever possible in this game. Additionally Abraham is dealing with an ankle injury is questionable for this game (although you’d have to think he’s going to play). There is a chance that could sap his effectiveness rushing the passer, although I think he remains a significant challenge for Seattle’s LT, who has struggled with smaller pass rushers, like Sam Acho, at times this year. Look for Okung to contain Abraham even if he can’t erase him completely in this one.
Matchup #3: Earl Thomas vs. Matt Ryan
Matty Ice has a questionable playoff resume (0-3 with a 71.2 Passer Rating) but as much of a big deal as the media likes to make it, this is a sample size of three games we are talking about. Ryan is a very good quarterback and he’s even better at home. The Falcons have elite playmakers but for any passing offense to work you need the right facilitator and Ryan is that guy for Atlanta. He was an early MVP candidate and although his pace slowed as the season wore on he set career highs in yards (4719), TD’s (32), and Passer Rating (99.1). One of the things that makes Ryan successful is his ability to go deep and that’s where Earl Thomas comes in. The smallest and fastest member of the Legion of Boom is the man who really makes the Seahawks pass coverage work downfield. Thomas’s unbelievable range can help compensate for any mistakes his fellows make and he’s dangerous if he can get the ball in his hands as he demonstrated in week 15 against Buffalo. Roddy White and Julio Jones have the straight line speed to get behind Seattle’s corners and that’s where Thomas steps in. Thomas’s All-Pro nod was well deserved this year and we’ll have to see if he can continue to earn it by helping to shut down Matt Ryan’s aerial assault.
This is a winnable game for Seattle, but only because the Seahawks have proven they are capable of virtually anything over the last six weeks. The Falcons aren’t the pushovers/choke artists they are being painted as and I would warn against assuming the “hot team”, in this case the Seahawks, rolls over the team who took a week off. It’s a convenient narrative but it’s not true at least as often as it is. This will be a good game, a tough game, and an entertaining game. Beyond that one can only hope the Seahawks play their best football and have the favor of the football gods.
Previewing the Seahawk/ Redskins game
I’ve thought about this game all week and while I feel it’s a game we can win, I have not jumped on the bandwagon of “it’s going to be a blowout!” I think the key to looking at this game is balancing expectations with reality. I’m looking at several categories:
- Scoring: The Seahawks are entirely capable of scoring a lot of points. But that hasn’t been their predominant performance over the season and certainly not on the road, the one exception being the Buffalo Bills. While our offense has turned in solid performances recently, expect Marshawn to be only moderately successful tomorrow based on the Redskins run defense. The bulk of our scoring will be on Mr. Wilson!
- Talent: the Seahawks clearly have the greater depth in talent. A great example would be Brandon Browner returning at cornerback and yet if he’s rusty we don’t have to play him the entire game because we can rely on Jeremy Lane. We also have the shared linebacking skills of Leroy Hill and Malcolm Smith.
- Taking care of the ball: both teams are excellent at this I can’t see an advantage in either direction.
- Special teams: Leon Washington. 2nd best returner in the NFL. Advantage Hawks.
- Making adjustments: both teams excel at halftime adjustments, again I can’t see an advantage for either team.
- Quarterbacks: both quarterbacks are extremely talented but I’ll take Russell Wilson. He may not be as fast that he’s an excellent game manager and he doesn’t put himself at risk trying to run the ball. He also has a ton of poise in the pocket.
- Defense: no team allows fewer points than the Seattle Seahawks. There’s that old saying that defenses win championships. My guess is that our entire defensive squad has that tattooed on their behinds.
- Pass coverage: Advantage Hawks. Browner and Sherman, Kam and Earl… Expect the legion of boom to give RG3 fits with passing.
- Running game: Both teams excel with Lynch and Morris running the ball…. But I’ll take Beastmode every day and twice on Sundays!
I expect this to be a very close game, while we haven’t played our best ball on the road this year, much of those games were earlier in the season. Expect this game to be the exception. I believe the Seahawks will win… but like the Rams game, not by much.
In many ways I think the Rams game was good for us. It reminds us as players and fans that at times we will struggle and that one of our best strengths is the ability to rise to the occasion. I’ll close with this message I got from Malcolm Smith after the Rams game last week:
@Asthmagirl thank you very much. It was too close for my liking but im glad we won. Now the real ball starts
Now the real ball starts… Well played Malcolm, well played!!
With the regular-season over, I thought I’d look back at the predictions I made before the regular season started. This was the first time I’d done NFC West predictions and it was more difficult than I thought it would be. Even reading the hometown newspapers and scouting the team’s fan websites, getting the predictions right for a team over an entire season was a lot harder than picking week to week game winners or managing a fantasy team.
One of the things I wasn’t able to predict was what a powerhouse the NFC West would become throughout the season. From teams like the Cardinals starting off 4 and 0, to the scrappy repuation of the Rams, to the “team that no one wants to play” nickname that got hung on the Seahawks to the flawless defense of the 49ers… The NFC West definitely made a name for itself this year. So let’s look back and see what I predicted!
Number 4- Arizona Cardinals – Even their own fan base is down on the Cards. With a tough schedule at the start including Seattle, Philly and New England, the Card’s iffy QB and lackluster O-Line will be challenged as they come out of the gate. Even the end of the season schedule does them no favors with an away game to Seattle, playing Chicago and Detroit at home and then finishing at San Fran. This team will be truly tested. Expect to see Kalb playing again as Skelton struggles. Even with a few surprise wins during the season, the Cards will be in the bottom of the NFC west this year.
Note: I’ll take this. The cards did have some surprise wins but their schedule and QB injuries were far more than they could handle.
Number 3- St Louis Rams – The Ram’s youth as team remains a question mark for this season even as QB Sam Bradford settles into his job as somewhat of an elder statesman as a two year man. As the youngest team in the NFL, there have been plenty of jokes regarding Fruit Loops and Cartoons at the hotel… But, this team has done a drastic restructure and is prepared to live with the consequences. There are 17 rookies on the St. Louis Rams’ opening day roster, seven more players age 24 or younger and 31 in all on the 53-man roster who were not with the franchise last season. Expect to see flashes of brilliance as well as plenty of penalties in the first part of the season as the team gels. The Rams will finish behind the dual powerhouses of Seattle and San Fran.
Note: I’ll take this one too! The Rams did show flashes of brilliance and despite the strong efforts of Sam Bradford they did finish a good distance behind Seattle and San Fran (Although their gutsy play against San Fran got them the tie this year, which was very impressive!)
Number 2 – San Francisco 49ers – While there are any number of claims that the opening 49er/packer game may be a preview of the NFC playoff, there are those in the club house wondering if things will go as smoothly this year as they did last year. In an effort to keep their NFC west champ status, the 49ers brought in Moss and Manningham to help Smith improve his passing performance that was 29th out of 32 last year. With a top ranked D to fall back on should offense become stagnant, expect the 49ers to be competitive. Their real challenge will be remaining consistent as 4 of their last 6 games are on the road. Their D will keep them in 2nd place behind the Seahawks.
Number 1 – Seattle Seahawks – After the changes made in the off-season, it’s hard to say the Hawks won’t take their division. Unlike other teams wondering which QB to start, Seattle has two excellent options instead of “the lesser of two evils”. Russell Wilson has shown excellent skills and preparation and has a fascinating group of receivers to throw to including free agent Braylon Edwards who was sterling in preseason. Factor that in with the improved O-line (Hello JR Sweezy!), the improved running game (Mr. Turbin) and the strength of the Hawks D, and you have the team most likely to win the west! While their passing D was ranked 11th last year, expect that to be even more improved this year with the addition of Bruce Irvin and his outside speed when he rushes the passer. The Hawks secondary is loaded with pro bowl level talent (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor – otherwise known as the Legion of Boom) and should give opposing QBs nightmares. Expect the Seahawks to take this division despite closely contested games with the 49ers.
Note: I totally got the order wrong between San Fran and the Seahawks. I knew it would be close but I erred on my estimate regarding how long it would take Russell Wilson to become proficient. I also missed the contribution Bobby Wagner made and I didn’t consider that the 49ers wouldn’t start Smith as QB all season. Even with those miscalculations, I was only off by half a game on the final result.
It will be very interesting to look at the NFC West prior to the beginning of next year’s regular-season. With the Cardinals replacing their coach, I’m looking for a lot of changes with that team. The Rams should further solidify and I look for them to play their division even tougher than they did this year. The Seattle/ San Fran rivalry should continue to fuel fan bases in both regions. Expect gutsy, hard-hitting, take – no – prisoners games between these two franchises next year.
If you had to pick a division winner for next year right now, who would you pick?
The Seahawks announced to day that Brandon Browner will begin serving his suspension immediately. He has planned on appealing his suspension, but has dropped that effort in favor of being back in time for the playoffs.
Richard Sherman’s appeal hearing is scheduled for Friday the 14th, and a ruling on his case isn’t expected until After the December 16th game. This means that Sherman is likely to play in he next 2 games before his suspension begins, but he will miss the first 2 games of the playoffs, or games next year, if his appeal isn’t successful.
Moving Browner to the suspended list meant that the Seahawks had 2 open spots on their 53 man roster.
Filling those spots will be 2 CBs. The Seahawks promoted DeShawn Shead from the practice squad. Shead is a former Safety who the Seahawks converted to CB earlier in the year. His versatility in the defensive backfield will make him an asset with all the different formations the Seahawks like to use.
The Seahawks also signed CB Ron Parker off the Carolina Panthers practice squad. Parker has been with the Seahawks for parts of the last 2 seasons, but did not receive much playing time.
It took about ten minutes before I was literally having flash-backs to Super Bowl XL in this game. Mike Carey and company clearly were going to do their damnedest to ensure this was a one sided fight. The sick, queasy feeling in my stomach wouldn’t relent and my Twitter feed turned into nothing more than ranting with heavy f-bomb usage. Even after the game ended, for the second time, it took me the rest of the day to unwind and remove the knot that had found a home in my stomach. Finally right before bed it sunk in that the Seahawks had won and it couldn’t be taken away.
If the first half of the season was all about the defense carrying the team and just requiring the offense to do a bare minimum to win games, the second half is the opposite. Russell Wilson is maturing and proving all the doubters, myself included, wrong. Marshawn Lynch continues to run like a stud and the team has found a way to continue moving forward and winning games in the process. Seattle has now won as many games (seven) as it has the last two seasons. It would take a colossal meltdown to not finish the season with a winning record. With head-to-head tie breaks over Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago, a wild card spot is easily within reach. I guess I should be relieved, but I feel even more stressed now.
We have two players facing four game suspensions, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. They are appealing but if they lose, then their delayed suspensions will carry forward into the playoffs. Going into the playoffs without Sherman and Browner seems like a recipe for disaster. Especially since that game will most likely be on the road. Seattle has three of the last four games at home and would could go 2-2 or 3-1 and still make the playoffs with Sherman and Browner back. In other words the downside in this situation is larger, and more likely given the appeals statistics, than the potential risk-adjusted upside.
Because the game was such a stressful experience, it’s going to be hard for me break down anything that wasn’t recognized by others. Golden Tate has huge play-making ability. The read-option is underused. Seattle’s defense really needs to step-the-$&%* up. That last minute field goal by Chicago is inexcusable. I don’t know if Sherman is distracted or his head is getting just a tad too big, but swat that ball away. Interception at the end of the game is nothing but stat padding. Just ask MD Jennings who tried for an interception instead of swatting the ball away at the end of the Green Bay game.
Cutler ended up on the ground only once and he was clearly looking to Brandon Marshall on every play but Marshall managed to light Seattle’s secondary up. Why did they zone cover him? Who the hell knows, but it sure didn’t work and they stayed in it way too long. Matt Forte was a non-factor, however. The run defense was effective. Now if they can get some sort of pass rush. Even half the pass rush Seattle used to sack Aaron Rodgers nine times would be an improvement over the current one. Seattle needs both the offense and defense performing at a high level to have any chance at winning a playoff game.
Mike Carey should be fired and have his house lit on fire. That anger has no subsided in any way. The NFL is facing a serious credibility issue in its officiating. There are actual instances of the exact same play happening and calls not being consistent. For instance, Alan Branch having a personal foul penalty called on him for hitting Jay Cutler after he started his slide. Bad call, but bad calls happen. I accept that. Russell Wilson was hit several times on running plays after he had slid or gone done. No penalty. Not on one single play. He was also thrown down by his helmet on a play which wasn’t called. There was Lynch’s first fumble which was a bizarre play because forward progress had been stopped for several seconds yet the play was allowed to continue. I’d love to see data on how quickly the whistle was blown to kill plays on forward progress being stopped when Chicago had the ball versus when Seattle had the ball. Let’s see, what else. Uncalled holding by Chicago’s offensive line. That’s a recurring theme though, so I can’t blame Mike Carey. Seattle’s defensive line was held constantly last week, as well. Oh right, there was the special teams play where Seattle was called for a low block because the Chicago player threw him to the ground by grabbing his facemask and proceeded to trip over him. I also question the last shot Chicago took on Sidney Rice to end the game.
Let me be clear. I understand bad calls are part of any game. That is an accepted fact. What drives me up the wall is when bad calls are unevenly distributed. If a ref is going to misinterpret a rule, misinterpret across the board for both teams. Then the bad calls even out. That’s fine. It’s part of the game. When horrible calls stack up against one team, over plays that are happening on both sides but only being called one way, I can’t take it. It’s like ending an NBA game with one team shooting 30 more free throws then the other.
Yes, Seattle won. I’m tired though, of it seeming like the Seahawks have to not just beat their opponent but occasionally overcome other obstacles that are unnecessary. It gets old. The requirement for the Seahawks to get to a certain level seems higher than it is for other teams.
I hate talking about officiating. And I hate bitching about it, the last few paragraphs aside. The officials should be essentially invisible but this season they have been terrible. With replay, clock management, on-the-field calls. The standard for the regular refs was set so low by the replacements that it would seem like a cake walk to look good. Au contraire. The regular refs have still found a way to look like garbage. But nobody can replace them so they’re safe, I suppose. If the “integrity” of the game really matters, if “player safety” really matters, then the NFL would make sure officiating was consistent and even. Consistency in officiating ensures that players and coaches understand the parameters in which they are supposed to compete. Inconsistency opens it up to taking risks in order to see how far a player can go. Game integrity goes along with that. If fans don’t feel like games are being consistently called, bad calls and good, then they question the fairness and agenda of the NFL. That’s not good for business.
They NFL gets a free pass most of the time because it is by far the most lucrative league of the big three, but screw-ups have a way of accumulating and even the best damn can crack. You just hope there isn’t too much built up on the other side when it does because if there is a reservoir of sketchy issues it will take much longer and hurt credibility much more than if the problems had been dealt with quickly and meaningfully as they came up.
Any 12th Men out there who happen to also be friends with 49er fans know that it has become that much harder to tolerate the barbs and “clever” quips that ceaselessly emanate from a city that seems to have forgotten the years of 1995-2011 now that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing suspension due to non-sanctioned use of a “performance enhancing” drug. I say “non-sanctioned” because the drug Adderall is not, in fact, illegal, and put quotations around performance enhancing because Adderall is an ADD medication, not a steroid. As someone who has both played sports their whole life and has also taken Adderall a few times, I’m not aware of any performance enhancements Adderall provided that something such as 5-Hour Energy wouldn’t also provide.
There are several issues that I’d like to cover. First and foremost is that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner should have known better. If they intentionally took Adderall or any other non-sanctioned substance, then they let their team, fan-base, and city down. They basically allowed one of the most iconic and amazing parts of the Seattle Seahawks to be nothing more than a house built on sand. The “Legion of Boom” becomes the Legion of Gloom. All of Richard Sherman’s talk becomes artificially enhanced bloviating. Why would a Stanford graduate take something banned by the NFL (unless you have a prescription) that marginally (at best) improves your performance knowing the cost of getting caught. To me this would make me think it’s a false-positive or that Sherman honestly didn’t know. Or he is arrogant enough to think he wouldn’t be caught. I don’t like the third option nearly as much. Most of the same questions hold true for Brandon Browner.
All of this, of course, relies on the word of Sherman and Browner who stated that the “PED” is Adderall. The NFL won’t release the drugs that are positively tested for because of its preservationist mindset and stopping at nothing to make sure the “shield” never gets tarnished by anything as specific as HGH or other steroids. Releasing the substance would allow for a more nuanced approach to enforcement (Adderall is not the same as anabolic steroids) but could link the NFL to a scandal similar to the one professional baseball went through. Profits before clarity, right? And all for the health of the players.
It is also incredibly unusual (as in an actual statistical anomaly) that the NFL has such a high rate of success on upholding decisions on appeals. I bet the US Anti-Doping Agency and the Olympics wish they had the same sort of success.
I do believe that substances should be banned. I don’t want professional players taking steroids. The game is big, fast, and dangerous enough as it is. Steroids are dangerous to players personally and on the field. There does need to be refinement in the NFL’s policy, however. Transparency would be a big step. It should be reported what players are deemed guilty of having consumed. The player shouldn’t get the privacy if they violate such a policy and the league should have to show it is being responsible, fair and even with enforcing its drug policy. Olympic athletes have to get tested after every competition. If the NFL is really concerned about barring certain substances from being consumed, I see no better method than making tested regular and mandatory for every player. Throw out the randomness. That is the best way to decrease usage.
The current policy is that players will be tested for human growth hormone (HGH) at least once a year and players will be randomly tested an unlimited amount of times during a season on game days for HGH and other substances. Players can also be tested up to six random times during the offseason. There is not testing for actual illegal substances, however, such as drugs. Also, the entire drug policy itself is not even available to the public which allows obfuscation by both the players and the NFL. Why should we trust the NFL over the players? Or vice versa? Drug testing isn’t perfect and players can always lie. The way to mitigate this is, again, transparency.
Obviously, this is being written because events have taken place effecting the team, and players, that I root for and support. I want nothing more, though, than any cloud of uncertainty to be removed. I want to know whether or not Sherman and Browner have actually violated the policy and with which substance so that nobody is inappropriately accused of lying and that the liars are exposed. I want to know that Roger Goodell, who I don’t have much respect for anyway, is actually enforcing this policy accurately and responsibly. I want to know that finding players who violate the policy isn’t arbitrary and random, but rather robust and complete. Just because the NFL has the final word doesn’t make the NFL correct.
If Goodell came into my office and dumped the file case on to my desk and all the evidence showed that Browner and Sherman were taking a banned substance, I’d be forced to acknowledge it and have to suffer the ridicule. The players would also have to face the honest and strong backlash from their fans which would be more discouragement for taking such substances. The only way both sides can be defended and wrong and right at the same time is by withholding all the important and relevant details. It isn’t fun for the players and it sure isn’t fun for the fans. I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about the current situation, and it isn’t the food poisoning I’m recovering from.
I really hope Sherman and Browner are innocent. For themselves and the city they represent. Chances are, we’ll never truly know. My 49er friends can twist logic as it suits them to claim that Sherman and Browner were using something more serious than Adderall and continue to crap all over Seattle and my Seahawks friends can be supportive until more solid evidence is produced, which it never will be. This isn’t a good system for fans or players. The only thing a half-assed drug policy like this protects it the League itself.
There’s a lot to get to, so I’m just going to list out the main points:
1) Both players WILL play this week. They are appealing the results of the test, and thus suspensions will not begin until the appeals ruling is given. The league said today that the hearings for both players will happen next week, so both players will be out there on the field when the Seahawks take on the Bears.
2) The Adderall reports cannot be confirmed, and wont be. The NFL is not allowed to say what substance showed up on the test. Doing so, would be a major violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The report appears to have started as speculation and was picked up other media outlets.
The only way we ever learn what substance a player tested positive for, is if the player or his agent divulges that info. Unfortunately, this often leads to misinformation. A player can test positive for some nasty anabolic steroid, and then tell the media and the fans that it’s something innocuous like Adderall because the league cannot, and will not, refute that report.
That is why Adderall has become the old “tainted GNC supplement” that all players claim to be what they tested positive for.
3) Both players aren’t taking that road though. Both have said that they have never taken anything and they believe that there has been some break in the testing protocol that has lead to both of them failing tests at the same time. Both have been very clear in their assertion that they are innocent.
4) That said, it will be very difficult for the players to win this appeal. The league has a positive test, it’s up to the players to show that there is a problem with that test. That is no easy task.
John Clayton says there’s a 95% chance the appeal with fail. Unfortunately, this is the case even if they are telling the truth and are innocent.
They said they would like to take a polygraph to show that they are telling the truth. That can’t hurt, but even a favorable result might not effect the results of the appeal. All it would show was that they didn’t knowingly taking anything, but it doesn’t show that they didn’t take something accidentally, or that someone didn’t “slip them something.” Even if they didn’t knowingly take anything, the test still says that they had the substance in their system, and that’s all that matters.
Basically, its an uphill climb for the players to win this appeal, no matter how innocent they are.
ESPN’s Adem Schefter is reporting (and have been confirmed by multiple sources) that both of the starting CBs for the Seattle Seahawks are about to be suspended 4 game violating the leagues performance enhancing drugs policy. They’ve both filed appeals, and they will be heard early this week. Appeals in cases like this are almost never successful. It has not been released what substance they are being suspended for.
Sherman and Browner are the 3rd Seahawks defensive backs to be suspended for PEDs in the last 6 days. S Winston Guy was also suspended.
If these suspensions are not overturned, then the Seahawk’s season is essentially over. The team’s CB’s are the strength of this defense, and they allow the rest of the defense to do what it does. Without them, this is not a particularly good unit in any way.
I expect to see Jeremy Lane to get a chance to start, since he can play the physical style that the starters like to play. He’s very raw, but he has a lot of potential. The other CB will likely be Marcus Trufant, with Walter Thurmond taking over as the nickel CB. I also expect to see much more of the “Bandit” formation (three safeties) instead of a traditional nickel.
Update: I’m getting word that the suspension is for Adderall, and ADHD stimulant.
This is the same thing that John Moffitt was suspended for last season. He had a legal prescription but did not file it with the league office properly.
I’ll keep the into short here. Lots of rumors flying around, and I thought I’d pass a few along. Try not to get too worked up about trade rumors though. This is the NFL, not baseball. Mid-season trades just don’t happen very often in football.
Rumors are flying around that the Jets and Patriots and others are trying to acquire cornerback Brandon Browner from the Seahawks. Don’t believe them, they aren’t true. Browner is a key piece of what the Seahawks do on defense, and is irreplaceable at this point. I have no idea where this rumor has come from. There’s just no way this is even being considered.
That doesn’t mean that the Seahawks aren’t shopping a corner. As I suggested earlier today, Marcus Trufant would make sense as a possible trade candidate. But the two starters aren’t going anywhere.
Reports are that the Rams are actively shopping Steven Jackson. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise since considering that he’s already been told that this is his last season in St. Louis. If the Rams can get an extra draft pick for Jackson at this point, they’d be crazy not to make the swap.
The obvious destination for Jackson would be either the Lions or the Packers. The Packers are in desperate need of help at RB, and Jackson would be a good fit there. The Lions have Leshoure, but don’t have any depth behind him and could use help at the position if they’re going to make a run and get back into the playoff picture.
The Dwayne Bowe rumors continue to fly, and the Seahawks are one of the teams that are always attached to the wide receiver. The pairing makes sense. Seattle needs a WR, and Bowe is the best one out there available. I just don’t think it gets done. Kansas City isn’t letting him go, and know that they can use either the franchise tag or transition tag on him in the offseason in order to keep him.
The Chiefs wont be letting Bowe leave cheaply. A 2nd round pick is the compensation I’m hearing that they’re looking for. I just can’t see anyone giving up that much for a half season rental on the wide receiver. I don’t expect Bowe to actually be moved before the deadline.
I’m already thinking about the upcoming Seahawks/49ers game, but before I get too far removed, I just want to share a couple observations on the Seahawks/Patriots game… a view from the stands so to speak.
1. The pregame- There was so much media hype about this being the meeting of the statistical best offense and the statistical best defense, that the energy level of the stadium was super powerful. The tone was somewhat friendly though. We saw very few Patriot fans compared to how many Green Bay fans or Cowboy fans had shown up for their games. Surprisingly, ran into a number of Canadian fans (It was Canada Day at the Clink) who were Patriot supporters. The overwhelming vibe was dialed into the 12th man being loud. And we were loud, even as we found our seats…
2. The game- Seeing Big Walt raise the 12th man flag was awesome and really set the tone for the game starting off. Having one of our greatest players rousing us for the competition just cemented that we had a part to play in this game as well; support our team and bring the noise.
There was some tension around the coin flip. Enough tension that my husband turned to me and reminded me of the fisticuffs that broke out with the Redskins last year during the coin toss. Still, I had no expectations as the first quarter started, although I desperately wanted our Hawks to measure up against this offense. I didn’t want to believe that our D was any less than “as advertised.” I think our D faced their greatest challenge this season with the Patriot’s offense. And while they did their job, it was clear the offense would have to rise to the occasion.
Without going into every offensive play or formation, my observation was that the crowd rose and swelled with each successful run and pass. Seeing every person in front of you half rise in their seats as Wilson launched the ball down the field… hearing the swell of noise, like a wave rolling through the stadium and hitting a crescendo as the hands of the receiver held on tight. It was like the best Disney ride ever! And yes, the same thing happened when Brandon Browner hit Wes Welker and when Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman caught their interceptions.
3. Post game- First of all, I hope some fans have learned not to leave early anymore. We usually leave our seats to get down to the walkway and watch the end of the game from there. When we got to the walkway with 2:37 left, we stopped to watch and got booted by the usher… into the seats below, right at the rail. Which was an excellent place to watch the last drive! It also gave me an excellent view, as the clock ticked down to :00, to watch Sherman make a beeline into the middle of the field and disappear into the crowd. It was chaos at that point, and I couldn’t see where he’d gone, although I know now!
4. Afterglow- In some ways, this was a better experience than beating Green Bay or Dallas. There was no “replacement ref controversy”, no “simultaneous catch dispute”, and no “the opposing team had an off day” rationalization. They had a great game, and we beat ‘em. Hopefully that gets us some respect, but I don’t care either way. The Seahawks are realizing their potential and creating their identity. I think tomorrow’s game against the 49ers is going to be yet another step in that process!
It’s a grey, rainy fall day here in the great Northwest and we’re now two days away from what may be the most telling and important game of the season thus far. And it’s no cake-walk. Here comes Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots. Let’s have a look at a few things that could end up being the difference in Sunday’s big matchup.
1) A Lasting Impression
- “First impressions always last” they say. Well, here’s to creating a lasting one for Tom Brady, who has never played in Seattle in his 12 NFL Seasons (Matt Cassell was manning the post in the 2008 season when Brady was IR’d with a knee injury). While Brady has certainly played in hostile environments before, it’s even more crucial that the 12th Man be in full voice come Sunday as the Patriots look to utilize their hurry-up, Oregon-esque type offense. The inability to change plays at the line, and an overall sense of confusion will only help tilt the scale of momentum in the Seahawks favor. Even more-so, the Seahawks ability to force the Patriots to huddle, thus allowing them the ability to substitute in personnel packages, will be vital to their success.
2) Press Em’
- New England loves to utilize the middle of the field with Wes Welker and then push the boundary with its quick, yet powerful tight ends. They’re never really one to try and stretch the field, unless teams are willing to give them that. With Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman matched up on the likes of Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd, it will be key that the Seahawks make it as difficult as possible for Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez to catch dump-off passes and run the field. This can be remedied with a good hard jam at the line of scrimmage. Marcus Trufant may be in for the fight of his life come Sunday, and the Seahawks will need him to show flashes of his old self to come out with the upper hand. Trufant’s ability to press Welker off is routes, and disturb the timing between he and Brady, will only make it more difficult for New England to get into any sort of rhythm offensively. As for Gronk, and Hernandez (it’s worth noting that both are on New England’s injury report. If that’s ever worth a shred of truth), look for Seattle to capitalize on its overall speed and reputation for nastiness to create mismatches and hesitation in what hopes to be some key opportunities for turnovers. Imagine a stumbling Gronkowski, after a good Wagner jam, breaking into his out-route as a streaking Earl Thomas snags a wet football out of the air and is gone for six.
3) Forget me Not!
- Ok. We all know New England looooves to throw the football. But let us not forget that the Patriots are also the 3rd leading RUSHING team in the NFL. While the aforementioned keys are in relation to the Pats passing offense, let’s not be forgetful of what Bolden and Ridley have been doing to its opponents on the ground this season. This goes back to Seattle’s ability to get their correct personnel groupings on the field, which ties back to the ‘Hawks forcing New England to huddle. It’s been said that the Patriots have simplified their calls at the line of scrimmage down to ONE word. This means that at no point between plays can the offensive package that is on the field for New England be able to hear ONE word out of Tom Brady’s mouth. Easy enough, yeah? Well, without risking the voices of 70,000 Blue Bloods and thus making for a very hushed Monday, this writer believes Pete Carroll, Gus Bradley, and Co. will implement a mix of the run/pass packages we’ve been seeing thus far into a more “base” package which can remain on the field for long periods of time. That means Bruce Irvin on run downs, and Red Bryant on pass downs. Thankfully, the ‘Hawks have great depth on the D-line. They will need every last body come Sunday.
4) Keeping Pace
- All week, not only my own, but a host of voices have discussed, dissected, and diluted the Seattle Seahawks quarterback situation. Is Russell Wilson the answer on a team that has so much in place? Should Matt Flynn be given his shot? In the past weeks, we’ve watched this young talent grow, albeit slowly, but certainly he’s grown. Now, does this growth translate to the Seahawks sticking to their guns and gutting out victory after victory with Wilson at the helm? While stock in men’s hair color may certainly be at a quarterly high, it doesn’t change the fact the ‘Hawks are 3-2. Some say, “We would be 5-0 with Flynn”. And others, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While I can realize both arguments, my ultimate litmus test will be this game right here. Can the Seahawks keep pace with the high-flying Patriots? If their feisty, hard-as-nails defense tires and New England drops a couple TD’s, can the Seahawks offense keep pace? Most would emphatically say no. But not Russell Wilson. Not Pete Carroll. No No. They’re singing a different tune. Maybe this Sunday the choir will be harmonious and bellow out an offensive masterpiece that emulates “Joyful Joyful”. If they can’t keep up, and Wilson continues to struggle on 3rd down, then, well, the song may change altogether. And the Matt Flynn choir may be asked to step in…
5) Bring the Rain!
- As I’m certain most readers know by now, Fall in Seattle is officially here. Which means rain, rain, with a slight chance of RAIN. And not the Skittle Reign we all know and love. But the good ole’ fashioned 52 degrees, can’t –even-tell-it’s-raining-because-I’m-so-dang-used-to-it RAIN. This is Seattle. And while we see the cruise ships sail off to their home ports on the horizon, and the last of the summer tourist run under their fleeing umbrellas to catch the last flight home, New England is coming to town. On Sunday, under the drizzle and sweat from the sky, the 12th Man will bask in its long lost friend. The ‘Wolf Grey’ in their new uniforms will match the weeping sky as the true feeling that has been so familiar, so close, but seemed so far away comes home to us. Football is back in Seattle. And on Sunday, against the best offense in the NFL, this writer says, let it pour my friends. Let it pour.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Bobby Wagner, brandon browner, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, featured, football, Marcus Trufant, nfl, Richard Sherman, Rob Gronkowski, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
This was a much needed win for the Seahawks. They needed a road win in the first half of the season if they were going to challenge for a playoff birth, and they finally got one. It took a gargantuan effort by the defense to do so, as the offense remains a major liability, but a win is a win. I’ll take it.
Plus, every win buys the offense time to get their act together. The talent is there, but they need things to come together, and that will happen with time.
- This defense is absolutely amazing. Cam Newton was completely lost, and then completely frustrated. That just doesn’t happen. This is another good offense that the Seahawks have completely shut down.
- If you didn’t know this defense was god before today, you haven’t been paying attention.
- Bruce Irvin had 2 more sacks, giving him 4.5 on the season through just 5 games. He also had the strip of Newton that iced the game for the Seahawks.
- Brandon Browner was the game’s MVP in my eyes. Very very good today. His stop on the option play, where he also forced and recovered the fumble, was the difference in the game. It clearly gave the Seahawks the momentum they needed. He also made the stop at the 1 on 3rd and goal, which was the biggest play on that goal line stand that preserved the lead.
- The Panthers ended the game at 190 yards of total offense. Let that sink in for a second.
- 42 of those yards were Newton using his legs. Only 148 on plays that weren’t broken plays when the QB scrambles.
- You’re not impressed enough. Re-read the last 2 bullet points. (or not, but it really is very impressive)
- Wilson showed some much needed improvement. Yes, I know it’s against a bad defense, but the quality of the defenses wasn’t making Wilson not throw the ball to wide open players. He didn’t do that this week, which is why the offense was much better. Yes the pick-6 was bad, but I wanted to see improvement, and I saw that this week. Remember the great pass to Tate that was called back because of penalty when evaluating him. His performance was better than what the stat sheet shows.
- I will say that I went into this game knowing that if Wilson played poorly, then it would be time for a switch to be made. He didn’t. Instead he played rather well. He’s earned more patience from me and (hopefully) the rest of the 12th Man.
- I also really like the Seahawks use of play action this week. Everyone knows the Seahawks are going to run the ball, so using that to their advantage is the right thing to do.
- Lynch didn’t get going as early as I expected, but the Panthers were selling out to stop the run. Its why the play action worked so well.
- Penalties!!!! seriously, what the hell? I’m getting so tired of penalties being a story every week.
- I was glad to see Breno Giacomini benched after a few more stupid penalties. He came back in and managed to keep his cool. Seahawks should just start fining him for every time he draws a flag. It’s ridiculous.
- 3 more turnovers. That’s bad no matter how you look at it. Seahawks need to stop shooting themselves in the foot.
I thought I’d wait a few days before writing about week 2 to soak up all the stories and reactions. One thing that stood out for me was the sense of relief after this weeks Seahawks victory was in hand. It was one of those moments when you sensed the collective breath of thousands of fans release almost simultaneously. It was a relief more than exhilaration for many folks because it could have been so much worse. Think of the Seahawks sitting at 0-2 after having lost two games to non-playoff teams. Think about how a Russell Wilson – Matt Flynn “QB controversy” would have been in full bloom, or how Carroll might be on the “hot seat” if things keep going this way. That prospect loomed large Saturday afternoon in the first half. The Hawks just couldn’t get anything going offensively and couldn’t stop the Cowboys on 3rd down. You could tell they were almost there, but something wasn’t quit clicking.
Thank the football gods for half time! The coaching staff made some adjustments during the break that seemed to take care of the ills of the first half. It always amazes me that with the limited time in the locker room they are able to get some meaningful work done to counter things that the opposing team was doing in the first half. Whatever the staff told the team, it worked. This game became a tale of two halves.
The Hawks defense shut down the run, allowing only 8 rushing yards in the 2nd half, harassed Romo in the pocket with an improved pass rush that included one sack, and quit giving up those 3rd and longs they were not stopping in the first half. They gave up only one long drive as opposed to three last week. The pass rush was improved as well, with Bruce Irvin finally sharing credit for a sack and Brandon Browner getting 4 tackles and a pick.
Special teams was again a key contributor and looks like it can be counted on for 3 to 7 points per game. Jon Ryan’s dual 60+ yard punts and 53 yard average kept the Cowboys on a long field all day. One other big difference from last week was only 5 penalties for 35 yards, room for improvement but I’ll take it after last week. The defense and special teams are definitely finding their swagger.
Russell Wilson, with the help of a much-improved pass blocking effort, put together a careful but aggressive passing attack peppered with some strategic running from the pocket that had the Cowboys defense second guessing their assignments. The receiver corps had fewer drops while Golden Tate even delivered a crushing block on a Wilson scramble that will make the NFL 2012 Highlights film. And then there was Marshawn Lynch. His punishment of the Cowboys defense was so complete that by early in the 4th quarter the hang-dog look on the Cowboys faces told the whole story. They wanted it to end. The team that just beat the World Champs at home a little more than a week earlier wanted OUT of Seattle.
So, what does this game mean? Do we look for another dominating performance, or a let down after a big win, or maybe just be satisfied with steady progress from a young team win or lose? Pete Carroll talked about all his players now being of one mind, and how they are developing and perfecting their identity as a team. The Seahawks are a rough, tough, punishing football team capable of dominating other teams. To have that going this early in the season is a sign of things to come. This team can play with anybody.
Now a word of caution. Take another DEEP breath Seattle, and hold it for Monday Night Football next week. We’ve seen this before only to have the team come back the following week flat as an American Idol reject. Do I think the Seahawks can beat Green Bay? Absolutely! But it will take continued great play from special teams, an even more stingy defense, and the offense will have to get things going earlier in the game to keep things even in the first half. Everyone’s excited about this year’s team and there is a lot to be hopeful about, but I’ll believe it when we see this kind of performance week after week with no let-downs, even in losses. I don’t see this team losing in a blow out no matter who they play. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, so it shouldn’t take long to see if the team’s development can keep pace with the increasing level of the competition.
Yesterday the Seahawks announced they would be starting J.R. Sweezy at right guard over incumbent John Moffitt, their 3rd round pick in 2011. In case anyone was unclear about Pete Caroll’s ideas on competition at every position, this should clear things up. After all, this decision puts a rookie picked in the 7th round, who hasn’t played offensive line at a competitive level in his entire life, in to replace a returning starter. Any spot on this Seahawks team is open to someone who comes in and earns it. It’s a reasonable attitude to have when building a young team from the ground up and Carroll hopes it will result in him uncovering some hidden gems the way he has with players like Kam Chancellor or Doug Baldwin. Even with that in mind, how exactly does a man playing defensive tackle for North Carolina State only months ago wind up starting at guard for our Seattle Seahawks?
Apparently it began with Tom Cable himself journeying to North Carolina State to scout Sweezy and see if he was worth converting to offensive line. Considering the amount of college players actually playing the guard position it seems odd that they would put so much time into examining conversion candidates. However, with Cable’s zone-blocking scheme he looks for players that have a different skillset than traditional offensive lineman. The Seahawks generally look for linemen who are quick and agile, even at the expense of some bulk. With a specific and rare athletic profile in mind, it is not altogether surprising Pete Carroll has to explore unconventional means to find the players he needs for his offensive line. At this point it is fairly clear that Carroll is willing think outside the box. In his tenure he has acquired players from the CFL (Browner) and players years removed from the NFL (T.O, Mike Williams) as well as converted players to positions he felt suited them better (Red Bryant, J.R. Sweezy).
Now that we’ve established why Pete Carroll would be willing to look at someone who had never played offensive line, let’s examine the athletic tools Sweezy has at his disposal that makes him so intriguing. A good way to do this is to compare his Combine numbers to the man he’s replacing, John Moffit, who put up numbers more typical of an NFL guard. The comparison is in the table below:
40 yard dash
3 Cone Drill
20 yard shuffle
Although there is more to offensive line play than straight line speed and athleticism, Sweezy does beat Moffit handily across the board in these areas. Moffitt did complete more reps on the bench press but this isn’t at all surprising considering he has 20+ pounds on Sweezy. This comparison isn’t meant to call out Moffitt, who definitely can play guard at the NFL level, but rather to highlight Sweezy’s potential. Sweezy is not without fault physically, his raw strength is below average for the position and he is a bit undersized at 6-5 and a hair under 300 pounds. Luckily for Sweezy, his only true weaknesses are strength, size and experience and all three of those can be worked on over time. What you can’t do is teach a man that size the explosion it takes to jump like a wide receiver and run like a tight end (Sweezy was clocked as low as 4.84 at his Pro Day).
With J.R. Sweezy I think the Seahawks front office knew that they were getting a high-upside player who was potentially going to be a steal. What I doubt they knew is that Sweezy was going to work like a madman at his craft and pick up the offense quickly enough to be ready to start at the NFL level by Week 1. If anyone other than J.R. himself says they knew that I am fully prepared to call them a liar. When he was drafted, Sweezy had the look of an intriguing developmental prospect but he has arrived faster than anyone could have reasonably anticipated. Every training camp there is a story of someone overcoming odds to make the team or the starting lineup and this year Sweezy has to be that story. I understand the Russell Wilson’s ascension to the starting quarterback role is exceptionally important and impressive but in terms of sheer improbability Sweezy has to take the cake. I know that there is a lot to watch this coming Sunday but if you get the chance be sure to take a second to observe your right guard because he’s one heck of a story.