Like any announcement of this significance, the moment was met with a variety of reactions across the public spectrum. Pundits and players alike weighed in on Sam’s revelation, with most initial offerings proving to be fairly positive in nature.
Seahawks linebacker (and Super Bowl MVP) Malcolm Smith was one of the first and most prominent athletes to share his take on the news, providing the following comments via Twitter:
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.
— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
Smith’s opinion was thoughtful and enlightened and in stark contrast to comments on homosexuality made by his teammate, Chris Clemons, in March, 2013.
The 32-year-old Clemons, who recorded 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks in a relatively quiet 2013 campaign, will likely be released in the coming weeks to save the team more than $7 million in cap space for next year. It’s not irony, by definition, but in a unique twist of peculiarity, the vacancy left by Clemons’ departure could very well open up a roster spot for a rookie defensive end like, say, Michael Sam. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
With his landmark announcement, every franchise in the NFL will now be answering the question of how a player of Sam’s sexual orientation could potentially fit in with their team. Though there have been gay NFL players in the past, none have revealed themselves to be homosexual until retirement. Should he make a roster, Sam would become the first active athlete in the NFL who is publicly out.
The conversation about whether it is fair or unfair for teams to acknowledge Sam’s sexuality is a moot point – for now. We all know that professional sports franchises don’t operate in the same vein as your standard American workplace. But as more and more players follow Sam’s lead in the coming years, we can all hope that sports will progress to the point of becoming apathetic towards the sexual orientation of athletes. For the time being, however, the situation is new, revolutionary, and will undoubtedly inspire a host of questions. The Seahawks, as an organization that could vie for Sam’s services, are by no means exempt from speculation.
This of course leads us to a debate on Sam’s “football abilities,” which will quickly become code for “everything about Michael Sam that doesn’t have to do with him being gay.” The disclaimer of any intensive scouting report henceforth on Sam’s playing prowess will almost certainly include some allusion to this line of code, lest anyone suspect objectivity has been threatened in the analysis of a now-high-profile prospective draftee.
All that said, there is reason to believe the Seahawks could be in the market for Sam and those very “football abilities.”
As mentioned previously, the likely release of Clemons will open up a major role on the defensive line. The Seahawks face additional questions at the defensive end position with Michael Bennett becoming an unrestricted free agent, though all signs point to the team gathering the necessary funds to re-up Bennett long-term. Further, veteran Red Bryant could be let go to save money, as well, creating yet another vacancy at the same spot. All of this would make it imperative for the Seahawks to add between one and three bodies on the D-line, forging an opportunity for the likes of Sam.
The SEC’s leader in sacks in 2013 with 11.5 and a consensus All-American, Sam is described as a “high motor” guy, which would seemingly fit the mold of Pete Carroll-John Schneider draftees. At 6’2”, 255 pounds, Sam doesn’t possess prototypical size to play end in the NFL, however — thus punctuating the “high motor” designation. The Seahawks of the PCJS era have been characterized by effort players who buy in to the system, despite their physical traits or perceived limitations. That alone would give Sam a fighting chance to catch the team’s eye over other names at his position.
For what it’s worth, the Seahawks already employ one defensive end who compares favorably to Sam in Benson Mayowa. At 6’3”, 252 pounds, the 22-year-old Mayowa’s measurements align closely with those of his Missouri-bred counterpart. A rookie from Idaho, Mayowa was inked as a free agent following the 2013 Draft and made the roster out of training camp — he remains signed through the 2015 season at the bargain basement rate of $495,000 per year. Mayowa’s presence may mean that the Seahawks have no need for a player of a similar ilk in Sam, or it may indicate that the team is willing to add these types of guys on a repeated basis.
Beyond “football abilities,” Sam seems to possess the intangibles most organizations, including the Seahawks, would seek in a draft pick. He was a team captain of the Tigers’ program, is generally regarded as having a high moral fiber (“character,” in shorthand), and endured adverse circumstances during his adolescence that would prepare him for life in the NFL. A full dissertation on Sam, as penned by our friend Doug Farrar, can be found here.
From a societal perspective, there may be no better city in America for Sam to land than Seattle, which is among the most progressive when it comes to human rights and sexual orientation. On top of that, the environment in the Seahawks’ locker room, as evidenced by Malcolm Smith’s aforementioned comments, would appear to be welcoming. That the team was just crowned best in the league doesn’t hurt, either, and having a coach who is more willing than some of his peers to create a collaborative work environment is also a positive.
Away from the crush of a major media market like New York, for example, Seattle would provide a safe enough haven for the transcendent figure that Sam will certainly become – though no matter where the rookie goes, he will surely be followed by reporters seeking comment on more than just Xs and Os.
It remains to be seen whether the league’s first openly gay player could become a Seahawk, but the consensus is that, as a potential mid-to-late-round pick, every organization will at least have a chance to add Sam’s talents, if desired.
Would Sam make sense as a member of your defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks? For a number of reasons, yes. And should he find himself in the Emerald City come May, there are few places across the landscape of the National Football League that will offer Michael Sam a blend of acceptance and opportunity quite like Seattle.
Filed under: Seahawks
The sixth installment of “Obscure Seahawks Bi-Weekly” looks at LEO prospect Benson Mayowa out of Idaho. Mayowa has only been a Seahawk since Monday but might just have a chance to stay awhile.
Height: 6’ 3”
Method of Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent 5/13/13
Years Pro: R
40 yard dash time: 4.73 seconds
Vertical: 37 ½
NCAA career stats: 45 GP, 67 Tackles, 19 TFL, 11 Sacks, 11 FF, 7 PD
Fun Fact: Mayowa’s 20 yard shuffle time of 4.26 would have been tied for first at the Combine among defensive ends with Ziggy Ansah.
The term that keeps coming up in scouting reports of Mayowa is ‘short-area quickness’. Whenever I investigate these fringe roster players I look for the unique talent that made them appeal to the Seahawks and for Mayowa it has to be his quickness. As shown above he had an elite 20 yard shuffle time and the buzz from his tryout was that he was very quick off the ball. That first step is essential for pass rushers and it’s a good thing that Mayowa has it because there isn’t a ton else exciting about him. His NCAA career was fine, but far from distinguished, his long speed is pedestrian and he’s on the small side, even for a LEO. Mayowa may be a one-trick pony but LEO is a one-trick position and if he can use his quickness to be disruptive in the passing game then no one will complain.
Chances of Making the Team
Not bad, at least for now. With Bruce Irvin’s suspension and the injury to Chris Clemons, Clint Avril is the last pure LEO left on the roster. Michael Bennett can play the role but he is more of a hybrid player. On 3rd downs Bennett will probably see time at DT so the Seahawks will need someone to rush across from Avril. Even if they have Bennett line up on the other end there will need to be at least one LEO backup. Although someone else could be brought in, the only three real candidates for the role are Mayowa, fellow undrafted free agent Kenneth Boatright and 2013 draft pick Ty Powell. Boatright is the least athletic of the trio and looks unlikely to figure in Seattle’s plans. Powell has better long speed and a little more size than Mayowa but as a 7th round pick it’s not as if he will be guaranteed a spot on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks bring in John Abraham to help them get through this pass rushing crisis, but he may not be inclined to sign what would amount to a 4 game contract. The door seems to be wide open for Mayowa while Irvin is out but I think there will probably be another move because I doubt a serious contender like the Seahawks would leave such an important role to such unproven players. Arbitrary Estimates: 25% chance of making the team, 35% of making the practice squad.
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
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
Reports coming in now that former Detroit Lion DE Cliff Avril has agreed to terms for a contract with the Seattle Seahawks.
Terms of the contract are not know yet, and likely wont be known until tomorrow. He’s actually got to get here and sign the contract and then it’ll be submitted to the league office first.
Avril was thought to be asking for about $8M/yr, which would actually be fair market value for a player of his quality. He was the best edge rusher available in free agency this year. Avril played last season as Detroit’s “franchise player.”
Avril is a great pass rusher, but offers little against the run. (thought he’s better than Bruce Irvin that regard.) Great speed, and technique. He rushed from both sides in Detroit and did so successfully.
I have to wonder what this means for Chris Clemons. Avril will almost certainly take over as the Leo, and Clemons has an $8.16M cap number of 2013. Clemons is recovering from ACL reconstruction, and is unlikely to play in the first half of 2013.
The Seahawks/Redskins game left me with a number of observations, mostly positive. However, there are a few scenarios that simply left me baffled with the Redskins ball club. Let’s start with those…
I’m really puzzled at who is actually in charge in DC because it certainly doesn’t appear to be Shanahan. In his post-game interview, RG3 made 2 telling statements regarding who is really in charge on the Redskin team.
- “I’m the quarterback of this team,” Griffin said. “My job is to be out there if I can play. … I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”
- He was then asked what would his reaction have been had Shanahan pulled him against his will for Kirk Cousins. His answer? “I probably would have been right back out there on the field,” he said. “You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan, but at the same time you have to step up and be a man sometimes, and there was no way I was coming out of that game.”
Either Robert Griffin the Third believed all the hype and praise heaped on him throughout the regular season made him the expert or Shanahan never utilized his authority at any time since drafting him. You don’t get this far into the post season race with this being the first indicator that the coach doesn’t have his hand on the wheel. Imagine Russell Wilson making a statement like this… yeah, I can’t either. One of the hallmark components of a champion is humility, something RG3 seems to lack and something RW3 has in abundance.
Secondly, who’s asleep at the switch with the field condition? I watched the Mike Robinson cell phone video of the field during the Seahawk walk through and found it appalling, not only the dirt, but the divots and holes in the field. And this isn’t an observation about the Seahawks, but about the field in general. Why would you ask your own players to play on that nonsense? Why would you spend all that money on RG3 and then give him that crap surface to play on? And he wasn’t the only Redskin player that had leg issues… A quick check of the Redskins 1/4/13 injury report, showed 11 of 15 players had foot, ankle or knee injuries. Coincidence?
Perhaps because of this field? This picture was seen on the internet post game showing the comparison between the Redskins and Ravens field just a few miles apart. (Redskins on the right, Ravens on the left) I submit that if owner, Dan Snyder, was concerned enough to travel to Florida with his star QB to get the scoop on his knee, perhaps he should have been concerned enough not to send him out to play in an eroded cow pasture to begin with!
Enough about the Redskins. Now Seahawks!!
So proud of our team for winning yet another road game! So proud of our Hawks for coming back from 14-0 and shutting down the Redskins for the next 3 quarters! There are too many players to mention and I think that’s a great sign that the Hawks are not one dimensional or overly reliant on one player! Lots of weapons, lots of energy!
I think the single most important component to this game is one that we’ve seen all year. I asked Pete Carroll about it midseason and you can read his answers here. I’m referring to the ability of the Seahawks to make adjustments. It hasn’t been that long ago that we had a Hawks team that seemed to script the entire game and either couldn’t implement adjustments or made them too late in the game to win. The fact that this team can make them throughout the game, not just at halftime, is a testament to the coaching staff and bodes well for their plans to continue through the playoffs.
Just a quick note to acknowledge the contributions of Chris Clemons and Steven Hauschka this season. Both were injured in the cow pasture at Fed Ex field and moved to the Injured Reserve list. Additional thanks to Jon Ryan for stepping up to do kick offs. Our special teams squad has been amazing this year!
Off to Atlanta!
One of the biggest topics surrounding the Seahawks this week is the how the team will be affected by the loss of star pass rusher Chris Clemons. Although there is a great deal of venom to be spewed on the topic of FedEx field’s substandard conditions, for me it just is what it is. Injuries happen, and truth be told the Seahawks have been remarkable healthy this year and have very little to complain about in that regard. Clemons is the first major contributor (I guess you could make an argument for Jason Jones but I think it would be a stretch) the Seahawks have lost to injury this year. A good team, a team in the last final eight vying for the Super Bowl, needs to have the depth to overcome the loss of a single player. Now one could argue that Clemons is a particularly indispensable player for Seattle because defensive end is not one of their areas of depth, but he is one player nonetheless.
The obvious option for filling the Clemons hole is putting in rookie Bruce Irvin, and that’s exactly what the Seahawks are going to do. Irvin will slot in at Clemons’s spot at Leo with question marks about his ability to hold up against the run. I thought he looked just fine after Clemons left last week but I think that’s what people call a small sample size. The fact of the matter is that Irvin is not a known quantity when it comes to run defense. Luckily he isn’t up for the biggest challenge in that department.
There is this perception that Atlanta can really run the ball and in 2012 it couldn’t be more wrong. Atlanta, a team ahead in games often that should have been running the ball more than average, was 29th in the league in rushing yards per game and tied for 31st in first downs on the ground. Tellingly they were 28th in yards per carry, led by the aging Michael Turner (3.6 ypc) and the supposedly explosive but limited Jacquizz Rodgers (3.9 ypc). To give you another perspective the Falcons had the 31st ranked Run EPA/play in the NFL at -0.10, meaning that, on average, after the Atlanta Falcons completed a running play the team was in a situation where they were likely to score a tenth of a point less than before the play was run. These aren’t you’re the Falcons of yesteryear (literally 2011) that could cram the ball down your throat.
The thing is that even if Irvin struggles against Atlanta’s fairly dismal run game Seattle can put in Scruggs on early downs and he will likely be effective in that role. Though this might open up some early-down passing opportunities for the Falcons I think that by and large some combination of Irvin-Scruggs (the more Irvin the better) can be a reasonable facsimile of Clemons. Instead what the Seahawks need to concern themselves with is who fills Irvin’s role as the second pass rusher on passing downs. This is where the Seahawks find themselves in a spot of bother, as it were. If Irvin is the only threat he can be double teamed and Matt Ryan can enjoy a clean pocket from which he can hit Roddy White and Julio Jones downfield.
This article will address two of the names that have been brought up as potential pass rushing replacements for Clemons: Free Agent Ray Edwards and the improbable Mike Morgan. It may well happen that one of these two could be the unlikely hero for the Seahawks on Sunday, an idea that was unfathomable merely days ago.
First up is the (sort of) known quantity, former Falcon Ray Edwards. Edwards is best known for a two year stretch (2009-2010) where he put up 16.5 sacks and was thought to be a complete DE worthy of a big contract. Atlanta gave him that contract, received 3.5 sacks from him in 25 games and sent him packing earlier this year. Edwards is on the radar largely because he worked out with the Seahawks earlier this year and the fact he is a recognizable name to many NFL fans, something that cannot be said for other street free agents and the internal options Seattle have. Let’s give it the classic, but never out of style, pro-con analysis.
Pros: Edwards is still relatively young at 28 and has been durable throughout his career (never having played less than 12 games in a season) suggesting that his physical skills should still be intact. He has been successful at the NFL level and has a lengthy track record with 33 sacks in his career. Edwards at 6-4 270 has the requisite size to play on any down so if Irvin struggles against the run he could also fit in there while offering more pass rush ability from the DE spot than Scruggs would have. He could be extra motivated to play against the team that recently cut him (I know that’s pure speculation but I know I would be in his shoes). Ray Edwards is also a professional boxer with a career record of 1-0, which is pretty cool.
Cons: Edwards has been extraordinarily unproductive over the last two years after signing a 5 year contract with the Falcons prior to 2011. The Falcons really aren’t in the business of releasing good players given that they are going for a Super Bowl run so releasing him was not merely a cost-cutting measure. No other team has picked up Edwards to this point.
Overall I think you could do worse than Edwards. If he was a couple of years older I wouldn’t touch him, but maybe he just wasn’t a fit in Atlanta for whatever reason. He still likely possesses the athleticism that made him effective and he can play on any down. He’s the sort of guy Seattle could catch lightning in a bottle with, which is exactly what they need.
The other option I’ll be highlighting today is virtual unknown/backup linebacker (or so we thought) Mike Morgan. Morgan is a player that Pete Carroll knows from his USC days who perhaps was kept around due to his versatility and potential to play Leo on passing downs although I must confess that Carroll speaking about that possibility this week is the first I recall hearing about it. There isn’t that much information floating around about Morgan, for understandable reasons, but I’ll do my best to whip out the virtual legal pad for another pro-con.
Pros: The man is fast (4.47 40), like Bruce Irvin fast. Morgan put up a very impressive 27 reps on the bench press in the past suggesting that he may be stronger than his raw size would suggest. Coming out of high school some pegged Morgan as a potential Dwight Freeney-like speed rushing end. Pete Carroll knows more about Morgan than we do and figures he might be worth a look.
Cons: Morgan is an utter unknown at the position/basically in general. He has been playing, and presumably practicing at LB all year. He is really small (6’3 226) to be lining up at DE, even for a passing situation and you wouldn’t even think of putting him in if there was the remotest chance the Falcons were going to run the ball. His athletic profile is like Irvin minus 20 pounds and a little bit of short are quickness so concerns we have about Bruce getting blown out wide or physically overpowered by OT’s can basically be doubled for Morgan.
You will notice that I did not include my thoughts on putting Wagner or Wright in to rush the passer because, although that has been mentioned, I don’t think it’s wise to compromise the pass coverage in that manner, especially with Atlanta having the still effective Tony Gonzalez at TE. Overall I’d rather see the Seahawks sign Edwards because I think having two pure speed guys like Irvin and Morgan could be problematic and Morgan scares me because I have no idea what he can do. However, if Pete Carroll goes with Morgan or one of the LB’s I will trust him because this season he has most certainly earned my trust. What I don’t want to see is Carroll throw Scruggs opposite Irvin on passing downs and limit the Seahawks to one pass rushing threat and, as a result, an impotent pass rush. I haven’t outlined all the options here, just two that I have heard discussed, in all likelihood Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley have cooked up an alternative idea that hasn’t even occurred to us yet. That’s just the sort of guys they are.
That was an excellent win. I can’t lie and said I felt good about it the whole time, though. During the first quarter, make that first three quarters, my tension levels were through the roof. Seattle goes down 14-0. Then blows some red zone opportunities and goes into half-time 14-13. Yes, they caught up. But place kicker Steven Hauschka was hurt and Seattle seemed inconsistent on offense. For some reason the zone-read was used intermittently for whatever reason and Russell Wilson missed a few wide open receivers downfield. Fortunately, Seattle’s defense must have smelled some coffee and decided to wake up and Washington wasn’t able to score for the rest of the game.
Michael Robinson and Zach Miller decided to have amazing games and show why they are both integral parts of the Seahawks team. In my opinion the game ball would have to go to one of those two guys. Russell Wilson did well but there were a few plays where he held onto the ball to long and scrambled for a sack instead of just throwing the ball away. I had to force images of Tarvaris Jackson out my head in those instances.
Marshawn Lynch also had a good game rushing for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he also fumbled to ball on the one yard line but at least partially made up for it with his one-handed fumble recovery and 18 yard rush after Wilson lost the ball. He must have just seen a giant Skittle bouncing around and wasn’t going to let it get away. It was so smooth it was kind of ridiculous to watch. Lynch didn’t even break stride.
I also loved watching Big Red Bryant chase after Robert Griffin. Griffin managed to scramble for a gain of a yard, but the effort put out by a man the size of Bryant to chase after Griffin was impressive. Not a fair fight but you have to love the determination.
This was Seattle’s first playoff game on the road since before I was born. That is very surprising at first because I am starting to think of myself as old and second because I am used to Seattle teams that are always at least somewhat dangerous. Then I remember that there was a long stretch in there (1988-1999) where Seattle didn’t make the playoffs at all and being a Seahawks fan was more depressing than mania inducing. That weakness on the road appears to be a thing of the past now, though.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend some time pissing on the legacy of one, Daniel Snyder. (Don’t worry Dan, it’s just rain.) Dan Snyder provided the worst possible playing surface he could and when Robert Griffin decided to audition for a stunt-double role in “Thiesmann: A Football Life”, it didn’t turn out so well. Griffin ended the game throwing for just 99 yards and should have been taken out at half-time. At least Griffin can look forward to a bright future of selling yet another wiener-pill.
Chris Clemons tore his ACL. Kory Lichtensteiger re-aggravated his ankle sprain. Steven Hauschka sprained his calf. Saying that the field was anything less than complete crap would be an overstatement. I guess Snyder likes his field to match his personality. The NFL and Roger Goodell have once again demonstrated that “player safety” is on par with the NCAA’s “student athlete.” (Seriously, who doesn’t laugh during March Madness when the announcers forcibly use “student athlete” to the point that it’s insulting to your own intelligence?)
Apparently “player safety” is a way for owners and the “shield” (another garbage term turned into NFL propaganda) to regulate player-on-player infractions. Owners like Daniel Snyder, on the other hand, can’t be forced to stop counting their billions and provide the same kind of surface – FieldTurf – that is now common at many high schools. Forcing owners to provide ideal conditions for their athletes isn’t worth regulating aggressively, apparently. Sure there are “rules” but they are token at best. And after players get hurt what difference does it make? I’d love to see a report showing how many injuries occur at each field.
Soldier Field in Chicago is also a terrible field but in a different way. It’s soft, lumpy, and a borderline mud pit. FedEx field is crap-grass growing out of hard dirt with some extra dirt thrown on top for aesthetics. A cleat planted in soft lumpy dirt will give a little when the player’s foot and leg twist. A cleat planted in hard-packed dirt won’t give at all. That’s how we get to see disgusting things like knees bending 90 degrees the wrong way. The warning sign should be that players have to wear ridiculously long cleats to play on a certain field. Give me a freaking break. Hopefully Dan Snyder is taking a long walk off of a short pier right now and the waters below are filled with sharks that have laser beams attached to their heads and the Sharks are all pissed off Cowboy’s fans. I almost forgot to mention that Snyder pumps artificial noise into his stadium.
I really hope Chris Clemons’ injury is better than they are currently thinking. I feel bad that a guy who has busted his ass all year gets done in by the greed and negligence of another team’s owner in the first game of the playoffs. Never mind the fact that it hurts Seattle’s defensive line. He needs to get better because Seattle is lucky enough to play in Snyder’s joke of a stadium again next season!
I like our odds against Atlanta. Currently the Falcons are favored by about 2.5 points, but that might close to 1.5. Atlanta has yet to win a playoff game under Matt Ryan and Seattle has one under their belt already with Wilson. Hopefully Browner is better than he was yesterday because we’ll need him and Sherman to shut down Roddy White and Julio Jones. Anyway, those are topics for an article later this week.
Tags: Chris Clemons, dan snyder, featured, football, gut reaction, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson, News, nfl, Popular, Recaps, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Zach Miller
Multiple reports tonight say that the Seahawks think that DE Chris Clemons has a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the playoffs. He is schedule to have an MRI Monday morning.
I’m not sure who to credit with breaking this first as I’ve seen it form a lot of people (I saw it first on NFL.com). I don’t like not giving credit for stories like this. I’m not there, and certainly not breaking this story, I’m just trying to pass it along.
If Clemons is indeed out, rookie first round pick Bruce Irvin will get the start at the Leo DE position. Irvin took over there in the 4th quarter after the Clemons injury, and looked solid rushing the QB.
It remains to be seen if Irvin can hold up against the run. At this point, he in considered a 1 dimensional pass rusher. That’s not a good sign considering the Seahawks will be facing Michael Turner in Atlanta next week. Don’t be surprised if DE/DT Greg Scruggs gets snaps in that spot in obvious running situations.
The Seahawks currently only have 4 DE on the roster including Clemons. I expect that they will sign a pass rusher early in the week if Clemons is indeed going to be out.
Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be former Falcon’s standout DE Ray Edwards who was released earlier in the year. He worked out for the Seahawks back around Christmas, but the Seahawks decided to add a LB instead since LeRoy Hill and Malcom Smith were both injured.
All I can say is that waiting was the worst part. The week before this game had my nerves all twisted and blood pressure at a consistently unhealthy level. I tried to avoid conversations about football with any of my friends in San Francisco and stay focused on the game at hand. When kickoff finally rolled around I had so much adrenaline in my system that I didn’t know how to process it. Cry? Yell? Run around in circles like a jack-rabbit on amphetamines? I realize I might have taken this game way too seriously, but I can’t help it. I hate losing, as many of you probably already know. But more than just losing, I hate losing to the 49ers.
Anyway, by the time kick off finally arrived, it seemed like the game had taken on a sense of inevitability. There was just so much energy, support, and emotion behind the Seahawks that it would have taken a Herculean effort to stop the Seahawks yesterday. Even with Justin Smith I don’t think San Francisco could have taken down the Seattle team that showed up Sunday night. The fans simply would not let it happen.
Russell Wilson continued his odyssey of dismantling opposing defenses with an almost scientific precision. Marshawn Lynch continued to punish opposing linebackers and secondaries. Speaking of secondaries, ours played out of their
minds. Kam Chancellor laid down the hit of the season on Vernon Davis. A completely legal hit, I’d like to add. Sherman had an interception and a recovered blocked field goal. Red Bryant had his fourth blocked kick in two years. The game was so complete that I could basically list every play and talk about how great it was.
I was worried that Colin Kaepernick’s mobility would present problems for Seattle. Especially with demonstrated weakness across the middle in various pass plays. The defensive line held strong though and on top of that they made Frank Gore look like a below average running back. Seeing Seattle beat Chicago, Green Bay, New England, and now San Francisco. I just wish I could see them play Atlanta, Houston, and Denver just so the complete set of the NFL’s top teams would be in the record.
After this game, the national media has finally started to pay attention to the wrecking ball coming out of Seattle. Russell Wilson is finally getting the attention he deserves for rookie of the year consideration. I honestly don’t especially care about individual awards such as rookie or players of the year. They’re nice but ultimately meaningless.
Aldon Smith was in the running for defensive player of the year but didn’t get a single sack against Seattle because his front man, Justin Smith, wasn’t there to block for him. Does that mean Aldon or Just in is more valuable? Anyway, if Wilson gets it, great. If not, who cares? It’s not like the sports media complex has demonstrated any sort of integrity or fairness when reporting sports in the last few years. Looking at you, ESPN. The new attention is nice but I’d rather keep the chip on the team’s shoulder and use that to steamroll their way through the post season.
Alright, that’s enough words on this great victory. Seattle has punched its ticket to the post season and I expect them to do some damage while they are there. I wish I was in the Northwest to experience this with the 12th Man. Someday soon, hopefully.
Also want to send shout-outs to Doug Baldwin who reemerged this game and made an awesome catch in the end zone showing great spatial awareness. Also, Red Bryant for being nothing less than Big Red. And finally Chris Clemons who chased down Kaepernick to tackle him from behind on a play that wasn’t a sack but a great demonstration of his intensity and determination.
Today the Seahawks face a team that is a mess offensively (27th in the league in yards per game) and not nearly as good as it used to be on defense (16th in yardage) and they get to face them at home. They say there are no easy wins in the NFL but this is a win the Seahawks have to get if they have any serious playoff aspirations. While it’s true the Jets aren’t just going to roll over for them, Seattle is the superior team and personally I don’t think it’s close. Let’s take a look at some of today’s deciding matchups.
Matchup #1: Chris Clemons vs. D’Brickashaw Ferguson
Clemons have an impressive 7 sacks through the first 9 games of the season and although a great deal of that was concentrated in the Green Bay game he looks on track for a third consecutive double digit sack campaign. Clemons has been quiet over his last 3 games with only 4 tackles and no sacks and he might be in tough again today. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, my favourite name in sports, is a quality tackle, who has lived up to his draft pedigree (4th Overall) with 3 Pro Bowls to date. Ferguson is an athletic pass protector who is unlikely to be beaten by Clemons’s pure quickness. Sitting at 295 lbs he is small for an OT and as a result the best way to beat Ferguson is likely with power, not really Clemons’s strong suit. Clemons could use a big game but I think a quiet game is more likely against New York’s steady tackle.
Matchup #2: Marshawn Lynch vs. David Harris
Lynch was coming off a career year last season and it was fair to expect some level of regression but instead he has absolutely taken off in 2012. He is on pace to blow away his career high in rushing yardage considering his yards per game is 17 higher than last year’s total. His yards per carry is an impressive 4.8, blowing away his previous career high. There is credit to be given to the offensive line here as well, but Lynch has been every bit the beast Seahawks fans have come to love. His challenge between the tackles today is the stout, strong tackling machine David Harris. Harris is on pace for 130 tackles this year and can be found all over the field when the Jets are on defense. Harris is an underrated playmaker with the size (6-2 250) to counter power backs like Lynch. Regardless of the skills that Harris possesses I don’t see him slowing down Marshawn today. Lynch has faced more intimidating run defenses and succeeded and I think he should be fine against Harris today.
Matchup #3: The Seahawks Defense vs. Multi-Purpose Threat Tim Tebow
I’m just kidding. Tebow is irrelevant. I do hope he gets his comeuppance regarding his comments about the crowd noise at the Clink in the form of dozens of false starts for the Jets though.
Actual Matchup #3: Golden Tate vs. Kyle Wilson
Golden Tate has really come alive this year and is starting to become the kind of weapon and “touchdown maker” that Carroll envisioned when he used a 2nd round pick on him back in 2010. Tate is on pace for career highs in every category and while he’s not lighting the world on fire statistically, he is doing his part in an offense that relies heavily on the running game to do the heavy lifting. Sidney Rice is likely to draw Antonio “Best Cornerback in the NFL” Cromartie, who is very good despite the absurdness of his claims, which leaves Tate with Kyle Wilson in a matchup he will need to win for the Seahawks passing game to really get going. Some questioned the Jets for drafting Kyle Wilson with a first round pick when they already had two quality corners but Wilson has already made 19 starts in two and a half years. Injuries happen and quality depth is important. So far Wilson has been quality depth be he has yet to really shine. Tate has no height advantage over Wilson but he is bigger and stronger and should be able to beat the jam should Wilson attempt to apply it. Look for a lot of targets for Tate today in the short passing game.
When a 3-5 team comes to town that is a game a good team has to win. It is my belief that the Seahawks are a good team. It is also my belief that they will win.
Every game is important but for me this game is especially critical. Divisional wins are always valuable, and for the Seahawks proving they can win outside of the friendly confines of the Clink is always a challenge. This won’t be easy. The Rams are a better team than they are given credit for and the Seahawks offense is sputtering right now and will need to improve to score consistently against what is a fairly solid defense. There’s a big difference between 3-1 and 2-2 so let’s take a look at the matchups that will give the Seahawks a chance to sit 2 games above .500 at the quarter mark of the season.
Matchup #1: Marcus Trufant/Richard Sherman vs. Danny Amendola
Amendola has been extraordinarily productive through the first three weeks of the season with 25 catches and 296 yards. Amendola won’t beat you deep but he will get open and make all the catches underneath. If the Seahawks leave Trufant to cover Amendola in the slot they could be inviting Bradford to nickel and dime them all day with short throws to his favorite receiver. If they have Sherman shadow Amendola they stand a better chance but I can also see the small, quick, shifty receiver being the sort of player Sherman might have trouble with. Amendola is a mortal lock to catch 5+ balls but if he can be largely contained the Rams lack another consistent threat catching the ball.
Matchup #2: Chris Clemons vs. Ty Nsekhe
If you have not heard of Ty Nsekhe that is more than understandable. The Ram’s third string tackle is so obscure I couldn’t even find a Wikipedia page for him. All I can tell you about Nsekhe is that he is a 27 year old rookie out of Texas State and a very big man at 6-8 325 lbs. Nsekhe is pressed into duty due to knee injuries to both Roger Saffold and former Seahawk Wayne Hunter. I do not envy his position. Last week Clemons put on a pass rushing clinic the likes of which I’ve never seen. It’s not fair to expect an encore but I do think Clemons in an excellent position to succeed. I’m sure Nsekhe will be getting help all day but I would be very surprised if Clemons failed to put a few hits on Sam Bradford today.
Matchup #3: Sidney Rice vs. Cortland Finnegan
The Seahawks passing game needs to get going this week if they want to win on the road. When you are struggling you look to your best players to be your best players. Rice is the Seahawks best receiver in theory but he sure hasn’t played like it yet this year. Seahawks receivers, including Rice, have struggled to get separation but Rice needs to find a way to get open even if it’s as simple as using his size advantage. Finnegan, like him or hate him, is an effective corner and presents a difficult challenge for Rice. Finnegan is a dirty player and if Rice can keep his cool that can probably be exploited to the tune of a penalty or two but Rice really needs to catch 4+ balls in this game to reestablish himself as a factor in this offense. Seattle’s offense isn’t scaring anyone right now but Rice has the potential to add an important element if he can make his presence felt this week.
I think this game will be very telling in showing exactly where the Seahawks are at this point in the season. I expect an ugly low scoring game but if the Seahawks are feeling like blowing out the Rams I really wouldn’t mind. The Rams are a real challenge for the first time for a couple of years but an challenge the Seahawks need to be able to overcome if they want to compete with Arizona and San Francisco.
The Seahawks defense is good. I think that should be clear to anyone who paying attention.
If fact, it should be clear to even those who aren’t paying attention. The Seahawks gave up only 12 points to the Green Bay Packers, who are an elite offensive team. And 6 of those points were only scored because of a string of horrible calls (and non-calls of egregious holds) by the replacement referees.
The Rams offense? Well, lets just say that they haven’t been as impressive. The Rams are 28th in total offense after 3 weeks. They are 20th on the ground, and 27th through the air.
The Rams have also given up 12 sacks so far this year, which is the 2nd most in the league, while the Seahawks have 10 sacks, which is the 5th most in the league.
Seattle is also 9th in the league with 4 takeaways in 3 games, while the Rams are 20th in the league with 5 turnovers over the same time period.
Statistically, any way you look at it, this game should be a good one for the Seahawks defense. Things look even better once you leave the statistics behind and look at some of the game’s matchups.
The Rams have struggled to slow down the pass rushers so far this year, and the Seahawks now have a pair of good looking pass rushers. Bruce Irvin, who struggled at time during the first couple games, really broke out and was a force early in the game against the Packers. When the packers switched the TEs and backs over to help slow Irvin down, Chris Clemons was left 1 on 1 on the other side and took really took over the game with 4 sacks in the 2nd quarter.
If the Rams are going to protect QB Sam Bradford, they are going to have to keep 6 or 7 players in to block on each passing play, which will only help the Seahawk’s already strong secondary by limiting the number of players they have to cover.
Ultimately though, the games are not won on paper. While it seems that the Seahawks defense should have a huge advantage, they have to actually step up and realize that advantage on the field. Bring on the Rams!