Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck played football together for two years at Stanford University. Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Colts will be the first time they have been on the same field together since, and both have high praises for each other.
Baldwin believes Luck could be one of the “greatest” quarterbacks ever, this quote coming via Terry Blount at ESPN.com:
“I’m on the record as saying Andrew Luck can be the greatest quarterback who ever played the game of football,” Baldwin said Wednesday. “I’ve seen him do some unbelievable things that I still can’t believe a quarterback was able to do. I have tremendous respect for that guy.”
Luck has praise of his own, reminiscing of their college days as teammates, according to John Boyle at HeraldNet.com:
“I remember in Doug’s last year Stanford really developing a good football rapport with him. I always admired his work ethic and obviously he’s got a lot of physical traits that go well with being an NFL player. I admired his work ethic and football smarts…”
At Stanford in 2009, Baldwin was a junior while Luck was a freshman. The Cardinal went 8-4 in the regular season before losing in the Sun Bowl to Oklahoma, 31-27.
The next year, Stanford had a breakout season. The team finished 11-1, their only loss coming at the hands of then-No. 4 Oregon in Eugene. The year would be capped off by a dominant 40-12 win in the Orange Bowl over No. 13 Virginia Tech. The Cardinal finished the season ranked No. 4 in the nation.
Baldwin finished the 2010 season with 58 receptions for 857 yards and nine touchdowns. Luck, in his sophomore season, completed 263 of his 372 pass attempts (70.7 percent completion percentage) for 3338 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing just eight interceptions.
When it came time for the NFL, the two made it in completely different ways.
Baldwin went undrafted before being signed by Seattle. His impact, however, was immediate — he played in all 16 games his rookie year and caught 51 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns.
Luck, on the other hand, was the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft after a strong senior season at Stanford. In his rookie season, he completed 54.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,376 yards, 23 TDs and 18 INTs.
Now, the former teammates will cross paths again — for the first time since their Orange Bowl win in 2010, they will be on the same field together.
Joining them will be other members of the 2010 Stanford team: Seahawks corner Richard Sherman, Colts tight end Coby Fleener and Colts safety Delano Howell.
Through four games this season, Luck has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 918 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Colts to a 3-1 record.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
The Seahawks won on the road early Sunday against one of the AFC’s most explosive teams. This was not a game that looks pretty on the box score, although after Sunday all that matters is that the Seahawks left Houston with another “W” in the win column. Seattle played this game missing 60% of its starting offensive line and from the first snap it was very evident against a Houston Defensive-line that is anchored by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks Offense put the first points of the game on the board with a 1st Quarter field goal. After the first score the Seahawks offense was under constant duress from the Texans pass rush. Wilson only passed for 123 yards on 12 of 23 passing and 1 interception. This week it wasn’t his arm that won this game, it was his legs that he used when he got out of the pocket as he rushed for 77 yards on 10 attempts. Wilson seemed to play better once he was able to escape the pressure inside the pocket. He had a huge scramble for a 1st down on a 4th and 3 situation late in the game. Russell Wilson did not have huge numbers but he again came up clutch late in the game when it mattered the most.
Running Backs: B
Marshawn Lynch started the game off strong, as he had a huge beastmode run for 43 yards from the 2 yard line as he broke tackle after tackle as ran up the field. Lynch finished the game with 98 yards on 17 carries and 1 Touchdown in the 4th Quarter. Lynch also was the Seahawks leading receiver as he caught 3 passes for 45 yards. Robert Turbin had 3 carries for 4 yards and was put in the game to help the Offensive-line pick up the Houston pass rush, although at times he seemed to just be getting run over just like the Offensive-line.
Wide Receivers: B-
The Seahawks Receivers only had 12 catches in the game but none were as important as Doug Baldwin’s tip toe catch on the sidelines in the 4th Quarter on 3rd down. Wilson scrambled out of the pocket and hit Baldwin as he was coming back to help his Quarterback who was under duress. The play was originally called incomplete but it was challenged by Pete Carroll and then overturned for a 1st down. The Receivers seemed to struggle to create separation but with respect to them the Quarterback was under so much pressure that he was going to the ground or getting hit before they seemed to be able to make it out of their breaks.
Offensive Line: D
The Offensive line allowed 5 sacks which resulted in 32 yards lost. I graded the Offensive-line a “D” and it would have been an “F” had it been the starting Offensive-line but with only two actual starters I graded with a bit of leeway. The 1st showed the Offensive-line getting manhandled by JJ Watt and the Houston Defensive-line. Wilson was constantly under pressure and Lynch was being forced to break tackles to gain any yards. In the 4th Quarter the Offensive-line was not suddenly great, but they were able to at least Russell Wilson enough time to move around in the packet so that he could at least create a bit with his legs. So the Line play did progress later in the game, but this was clearly the Seahawks weakest link through-out the game.
Defensive Line: B
For the Seahawks defense this game could be the tale of two halves. In the 1st half of the game the Seahawks Defensive-line struggled to put pressure on Matt Schaub and Arian Foster seemed to be able to run through wide open holes thanks to the play action pass. But, in the 2nd half the Defensive line was consistently putting Schaub under pressure. Clinton McDonald led the Seahawks Defensive-line with 5 tackles and 1 sack, Chris Clemons, Tony Mcdaniel and Cliff Avril each threw in another sack.
Bobby Wagner again led the team with 8 tackles as he flew around the ball the whole game. Malcolm Smith was right behind Wagner in tackles with 7. The Linebackers were constantly around the ball but when it came to coverage they seemed to be out matched covering the Texans tight ends as Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham pulled down 11 catches for 141 yards while primarily being covered by the Linebacking Corps.
The Secondary came up big this week in the 2nd half as Richard Sherman intercepted the ball from Matt Schaub and returned it for a Touchdown with under 3:00 minutes remaining in the game to tie the score up at 20 – 20. Although throughout the game the Texan receivers all seemed to be able to create separation which allowed Schaub to pass for 355 yards with 2 Touchdowns. It is never a good sign when 2nd and 3rd leading tacklers from the game are your safeties as Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor each had 7 tackles in the game. But again the Secondary did come through with 2 interception one of which was inside the redzone by Thomas.
Special Teams: A
The Seahawks special teams again had a solid game, although Jeremy Lane did cough the ball up on a kickoff return but he was able to get through the pile and recover the ball. Steven Hauschka still has not missed a field goal attempt on the season as he hit 3 field goals one of which was the game winner from 48 yards away. Jon Ryan punted he ball 6 times pinning the Jaguars back inside the 20 yard line four times and he also had a long 60 yard punt as well. Golden Tate had a big Punt return when he backed himself into the endzone before bringing it out as he weaved through the coverage to start the game winning drive on the 32 yard line.
This was not the prettiest game of the season for the Seahawks but they did show how much grit they have and belief in themselves as they came back on the road for the win. Again the Seahawks have to stop falling behind by starting off slowly; they still have yet to score a Touchdown on their opening drive. The Seahawks will take this victory and head home as they prepare for next Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts and hopefully they will not have to have nearly as many late heroics.
Doug Baldwin started the season as the third receiver on the Seahawks depth chart, behind Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, respectively. On Sunday against the Panthers, Baldwin put on a show and acted very much the part of a top target.
He led the team in catches with seven for 91 yards, the most he has had since December 2011. More importantly, Baldwin was there when Russell Wilson needed him, catching four third-down conversions that lead to first downs.
The third-year wideout was limited to 29 receptions last season due to injuries, but believes if he can keep his health up, he can have a good year — and the Seahawks would love that. After Sunday’s victory, Baldwin spoke with the Seattle Times:
“I think I’m just healthy,” Baldwin said. “Last year I was coming off of a lot of hamstring injuries and a whole bunch of other stuff that we don’t even talk about. I felt healthy out there today, and then obviously to go through the entire preseason with Russell and take all the first-team snaps, I was able to build a chemistry and a rapport, and I think that showed up today.”
While Baldwin was Wilson’s top target on Sunday, seven other receivers caught at least two passes to give Wilson 320 passing yards for the day.
The Seahawks may be able to utilize that passing game — and Baldwin — next week to exploit a San Francisco 49ers secondary that gave up 322 passing yards to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in their season opener.
The last time the Seahawks played the 49ers, the Hawks dominated San Francisco in a 42-13 rout at CenturyLink Field near the end of last season. In that game, Wilson threw for 171 yards while the rushing game, led by Marshawn Lynch, racked up 176 yards on the ground. However, Wilson had a career-high four touchdown passes — two of which went to Baldwin.
Baldwin could be an impact player in this year’s first match up against the 49ers as well. If he can have a big day the way he did against the Panthers, the Seahawks should start the season 2-0.
And using Baldwin may not even be an option for the offense. If Marshawn Lynch struggles to get going against a tough 49ers run defense, the Hawks will look to Wilson to start throwing. With Sidney Rice still nursing a sore knee, Baldwin will be on the field with Golden Tate more than usual, which could be the key factor in a Seahawks victory.
There’s a rumor floating around that the Colts are about to trade for Seattle Seahawk wide receiver Doug Baldwin. The question has to be asked: Why would the Seahawks even be interested in doing that? Answer: They’re not.
All of this stems from a Jim Irsay tweet. First he said that the team was looking to get another player on the roster, and then tweeted “Colt Fans,hint—–it’s a Wide Receiver!!” That’s it. There’s no indication of who the receiver might be.
So why is Baldwin’s name attached? That’s a wild and baseless guess by the Indianapolis Star. Why they would even guess that Baldwin might be available in the first place is something I don’t understand.
Trading Baldwin makes zero sense for the Seahawks. He’s a young and productive receiver who plays for the league minimum and is under team control for the next 2 years. That’s something that isn’t exactly easy to find.
The Seahawks simply have no reason to trade him. There’s exactly zero cap relief for doing so, and it isn’t like the team is overly deep at the position. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that Baldwin is available. Not one bit.
The way I see it, the only way Baldwin gets traded is if a team drastically overpays for him. If the Colts were to offer a 1st or 2nd round draft pick, then Baldwin would be as good as gone. But in a year where the position in the draft is very very deep, and quality WRs can be picked in those rounds, why would any team offer that for guy coming off an injury plagued year?
If Seattle was going to trade Baldwin, than I think we would have heard about it already. You don’t trade a player like him to the first team that calls you to see if he’s available. No matter how good the offer, it only takes a couple minutes to call around to the other receiver-needy teams to see if they’re willing to beat the offer. And if that was happening, there’s no way that Adam Schefter or Jason La Canfora or one of the other well connected reporters out there wouldn’t have caught wind of this by now.
No, it’s safe to say this is just message board fodder and nothing else.
If the Seahawks are going to trade a receiver, the odds are much more likely that it would be Golden Tate. Tate is coming off of a big season, going into his contract year, and it is highly likely that he walks in free agency after next season. That combination means that the return for Tate’s services would likely be more in tune to what the Seahawks would need to complete the deal. Trading Tate would make sense, but only for a draft pick that the Colts are unlikely to offer.
I just don’t believe that the Seahawks will be trading away one of their young receivers any time soon.
Update: like 5 minutes after I published this, Doug Baldwin tool to twitter to put this rumor to bed for good.
Turns out I’m not crazy.
Percy Harvin – Is only 24, runs a 40 in 4.3 seconds, does a great job of getting yards after catch and is an accomplished kickoff return runner.
Percy Harvin – misses a lot of practices, unfortunately suffers from recurring migraines and has already exhibited a tendency to be a bit of diva.
So what does this mean for the Seahawks?
It means that if he passes his physical, Harvin will be a speedy receiver with good hands, excellent running instincts and a desire for the ball. It also means that Harvin may continue to miss practices due to his migraine issues and on a team with an “always compete” team mentality, missing practices means Harvin may not successfully compete for as much starting time as he would like.
Going up against Rice, Baldwin and Tate, who have all shown exceptional growth and stability through the 2012 season, Harvin may find himself having to work harder than he has before to get playing time.
While I’m okay with the picks we’ve given for Harvin, I’m not “all in” this trade. But I’m open to the possibilities of the Hawks making it work. Some keys to success for Harvin with the Seahawks will include:
- Adapting to the always compete mode (Doug Baldwin is embracing the opportunity to compete)
- Limiting kick return opportunities (let someone else be cannon fodder, although if rumors of trading Leon Washington are true, hopefully Pete and John plan on picking someone up in the draft)
- Committing to as many practices/mini camps as possible, both for physical conditioning and developing relationships with his QB and fellow receivers
- Understanding that great physical talent still requires considerable practice and application. Ask Golden Tate.
- Appreciating the caliber of players he’ll be sharing a locker room with (Russell Wilson has extra meetings with his receivers and oline… for a reason)
Ultimately, Pete and John are pretty smart guys. I’m pretty confident that they will limit the guaranteed money to Harvin and build in lots of incentives for him to reach for. And I hope he does rise to the occasion. He really needs to appreciate this opportunity for what it is.
Harvin could be great. But he’s not great yet.
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.
Now that we’re in the bye part of our season, I wanted to take a moment to evaluate what we know we have… and have not.
We have not: a quarterback controversy. In fact, yesterday I heard sports radio commentators remarking that the Jets switching out quarterbacks during a drive was actually disruptive and created a stall in drives. This was followed by advice to commit to your quarterback just like Seattle did with Wilson… that it would have been the height of stupidity to bring Flynn in just to see what he had. Hind sight is a wonderful thing! It hasn’t been that many weeks since Seattle sports commentators were calling for Flynn to play just to see what he had.
We have: an unseasoned quarterback. As good as Wilson is performing, he’s still a rookie and there will be mistakes. There were certainly plays in the first half of the Jets game where he struggled, holding on to the ball too long, not sliding when he ran for yardage, missing open receivers down field.
We have: A quarterback with amazing ability to implement learned information in the middle of a game. In spite of his youth and inexperience in the NFL, Wilson isn’t one to continually make mistakes. He has an amazing ability to filter information and implement it immediately.
We have not: a solid receiver corp. Although we have some excellent receivers, injury has kept us from being solid at this position. While Rice and Tate have been consistent, Edwards and Baldwin have been only spotty contributors (injuries) even though both looked great in training camp. Meanwhile Kearse remains untested after drops in the Viking game.
We have: An amazing Tight End. Zack Miller is golden. Whether blocking, running routes or catching the ball, he’s a favorite target down the middle and with his size, a difficult player to bring down.
We have: an amazing defense. Even though they have faced questions regarding how good they really are (optimus prime) they continue to be formidable opponents; opportunists with great speed, size and a desire to hold other team scoreless…
We have: a fantastic owner/front office.
We have: a much needed week off to heal injuries and prepare for the home stretch.
We have: a chance to be a 10-6 team! Or 11-5!
I’m not sure if people around here have noticed but the Seahawks passing game looked pretty good on Sunday. It also looked half-decent against Carolina. Russell Wilson has looked downright competent over the last two games, and for a team that already has an elite rushing attack, and an elite defense that qualifies as good news. What is causing this development? Is Russell Wilson starting to adjust to the NFL? Probably. Is the O-line doing a better job of protecting their quarterback? Sure. Have the Seahawks benefited from facing some suspect pass defenses? Definitely. However, I think there is one thing that is going largely unnoticed over the past two games: The reintroduction of Doug Baldwin into Seattle’s offense.
It’s shouldn’t be easy to forget the kind of rookie season Baldwin had in 2011 but it seems like it has faded to the background given all the other compelling story lines surrounding the Seahawks this year. Normally, when a rookie breaks out, pundits are scrambling to find out whether he can repeat that performance in year two; but a quarterback controversy and a rookie QB are dominant talking points with the power to obscure all others. That being said, Doug Baldwin broke out last year and he broke out in a big way. In a very questionable passing offense, led by a very questionable quarterback, Baldwin caught 51 passes for 788 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those numbers were better than any other Seahawks WR by 14 receptions 304 yards and one touchdown. The undrafted free agent posted a robust 15.5 yards per catch, a number better than Sidney Rice’s. 19 of his 50 catches went for 20+ yards and 40 of them went for 1st downs. The advanced stats liked Baldwin even more. His DYAR (or defense adjusted yards above replacement) sat at 174 and number that put him right between Torrey Smith and Julio Jones. His DVOA (Defense-adjusted value above average) was 14.2 making Doug Baldwin 114.2% as good as your average wide out. Now that I’m done with my number binge (sorry I can’t help myself sometimes) the take is this: Doug Baldwin was good last year, very, very good. Too good to forget about.
Assuming we have established that Baldwin was excellent in 2011 it bears wondering why he was used so little to begin the season. Injuries were a huge factor. Baldwin missed the preseason, and his opportunity to develop chemistry with Russell Wilson, with a hamstring issue. He broke teeth trying to make a catch at Arizona. He had a shoulder issue that kept him out of Green Bay, the only game he actually missed. In his first 3 games Baldwin had a total of 4 catches and 23 yards. Last year he averaged 3.2 catches for 49.3 yards a game. That’s a pretty big difference in utilization. While Baldwin’s role in the offense was diminished the passing game failed to gain much traction. In the four games before Baldwin started to show life against Carolina, Russell Wilson went 60 for 100 passing with 594 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions leading to a grim passer rating of 73.5.
Then something happened. In week 5 Doug Baldwin caught 3 passes for 37 yards. Not an awe-inspiring line by any means, but a start. Not too far from what he averaged in 2011. Last week we saw Baldwin go for 74 yards and a touchdown. The total for the two weeks is 5 catches 111 yards and a touchdown or an average of 2.5 catches and 55.5 yards per game. Those numbers look a lot like Baldwin’s rookie numbers. Perhaps more revealing is how Russell Wilson’s numbers have looked over the last two games. Mr. Wilson has gone 35 for 52 with 514 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and an excellent 108.9 passer rating. That’s a fairly big change. Two games is a small sample size, but this offense is beginning to move the ball through the air. I realize that Baldwin is not responsible for all of this improvement, he’s only one man. I do think that he has been a factor.
Doug Baldwin is back. He may not be a superstar, or even the kind of guy you would want to pick up for your fantasy team. What Doug Baldwin does is help this offense move the chains by exploiting advantageous matchups out of the slot. If defenses insist on trying to take away Rice down the field, Baldwin can be there for the intermediate and short routes. The idea of a “safety blanket” for a young quarterback is one that NFL commentators often touch on and I can’t think of a better safety valve than a weapon like Baldwin in the slot. He is also the rare slot receiver that can also make plays down the field as he showed against the Patriots on Sunday. Baldwin is not a cure-all for what ails the Seahawks passing game, but he is demonstrating that he can be a major asset. He is starting to show up over the last two games and so is the Seahawks offense and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
The Seahawks are now a quarter of the way through the season. They are 2-2 overall, and 0-2 in their division. They could be 4-0, barring two late game offensive collapses against Arizona and St. Louis, and they could be 1-3 if the call goes differently at the end of the game against Green Bay. The only game the Seahawks absolutely won was at home against Dallas. Seattle should have beat St. Louis. There is nobody that can convince me otherwise. The Rams didn’t beat the Seahawks, the Seahawks beat themselves. The Seahawks once again showed a completely dominant defense (not allowing a single touchdown) and a potent ground attack (both Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin had great games). The passing offense was completely impotent. In fact, it was embarrassing and it was clear the Rams didn’t respect it. The Rams would rush around both ends of the line and, while I think the offensive line did alright, Wilson did not have the poise required.
I have received some pretty vitriolic and ridiculous comments from people who feel I am being too hard on Russell Wilson and I have no doubt that there will be a few after this post. Reality, however is that he is not effectively running Seattle’s offense. Pete Carroll can take responsibility for the uncreative play-calling but Wilson is the one on the field, leading the charge. I have no doubt that if the Seahawks were doing well, Wilson would get the lion’s share of credit, which is fair, but credit and responsibility cuts both ways. As Jason pointed out on Twitter, if three events don’t happen we’d be thinking differently about Wilson. While this is true, the fact is, it happened the way it did. Doug Baldwin should have caught that ball that went through his arms. Anthony McCoy shouldn’t have slipped. And Seattle should never have fallen for the fake field goal. (The third is totally inexcusable in my opinion.)
Wilson is yet to have any sort of “break-out” performance. When I listen to Fox, CBS, and NFL Network’s pre and post-game “discussions,” Wilson is no longer mentioned along with Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, and Robert Griffin. I’m not saying I like the punditry or even agree with it, but it is telling. Seattle does have more rushing yards than passing yards and has shown a complete ineptitude in the passing game.
I don’t know that Matt Flynn would be better. It might even be that is injured in some way and that is preventing him from playing (even though I’d require more clarity on this phantom injury that Carroll is citing before buying it). What I do know, though, is that as a fan I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of rebuilding. We have an elite defense and we’d be a 3-1 team, with at least one division win, if we had even an average offense. I’ll admit that I’m very frustrated.
I want Russell Wilson to succeed. Believe me when I say that I do. I want him to succeed because I want the Seahawks to win. I want Seattle, as a city, to have a team that is a perennial contender. The current iteration of the Seahawks, though, is not a contender. Wilson is bothered by blitzes and it takes a little extra work, and time, for him to get a good vantage of the passing lanes. I see the potential for him to be a good quarterback but, as a fan, I’m not willing to burn a season on him getting there. I’d rather have Wilson as backup for three seasons while he learned the pro-game and, hopefully, win in the meantime with a quarterback that has spent time as a backup and does have a better familiarity with the offense. Essentially, I care about the team’s success above any individual player’s success.
In short, I want to win, and I want to win now. I don’t care who leads us to victory but after a quarter of the season, I feel less and less like Wilson, at this very early point in his career, can do that. When Seattle needs to score a touchdown late in the game, I feel anything but confident. For the defense to allow only field goals, some of them at a ridiculous distance, and still lose upsets me as a fan. It’s frustrating to see a lot of energy spent, and ultimately wasted, because the offense, and special teams in this game, can’t get their act together.
Finally, I would like to know that certain key members of the team share my sense of urgency and desperation. I know Lynch does because of the way he runs on every carry. The normally thoughtful Sidney Rice does, as well. I think the vast majority of the team does because they are built that way and if they live around the Seattle area, it’s hard not to realize how much Seattle wants this team to succeed now.
I would like to know Russell Wilson also feels that way. I am not questioning who he is as a person or a leader. This is something purely personal that I want to know about my team’s athletes. As a fan, when my team loses, I feel crappy the rest of the day. My dad knows not to call me to talk about the game. My girlfriend gives me my space. It’s who I am. I am proud of my city in all its aspects, including is sports teams. And when something happens that reflects badly upon that which I love, I wear my heart on my sleeve and take it (too) personally. Therefore, I feel better when I know that players hate losing as much as I do. I don’t think Wilson likes to lose, but I want him to understand he is representing a city that has been screwed by sports fairly regularly. I want him to have that sense of urgency and competitive edge. I don’t like seeing optimistic “positive” tweets after a loss about moving forward and learning. I assume professionals learn after a loss. I don’t need to be told that. If you didn’t learn you wouldn’t be a pro. I want to know that the disappointment is shared. I wouldn’t be upset if there was an overt flash of frustration after the first four games. Breno Giacomini’s two personal foul penalties were not an acceptable expression of frustration.
Fair or not, the quarterback is generally the “leader” and “face” of a team and right now, that’s Wilson. That comes with all of the perks, accolades, and blame (all of which may sometimes be out of proportion) to actual events. And have no doubt; if Matt Flynn or anyone else was running our current offense and everything was the same, I’d be equally critical of them.
It is painfully clear that things aren’t firing on all cylinders and there is a lot of untapped potential in the offense. If I knew my frustration was shared by key leaders, I’d feel better following a very disappointing first four games.
*Quick disclaimer. These posts are titled “Gut Reaction” for a reason. They are literally my immediate thoughts and feelings from within 24 hours of the game (sans the profanity) in written form. While there may be some actual nuggets of analysis in these posts, they generally aren’t acmes of analysis. (I’d say they are approximately 80% emotion and 20% analysis.) I encourage all forms of discussion and comments, but I want readers to understand that the intent of these posts before making ridiculous accusations against yours truly.
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.
Although I couldn’t get a decent feed for the game last week since my husband and I were on the road, I still kept an eye out for NFL and Hawks news. When we heard that Chad Johnson was released by the dolphins, my husband suggested that the Seahawks might be looking at him to fill wide receiver needs.
That comment and other media blurbs made me take a closer look at our wide receiver situation. With Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Ben Obamanu and Doug Baldwin being assumed automatics for the team this year, it really leaves some question marks for the remaining two slots, assuming the Seahawks go with 6 spots for that position. The sticky part of the equation is whether Pete decides to continue developing players with potential (Butler, Durham, Lockette) or keep veteran players with 1 year contracts (Owens, Edwards).
My preference would be a combination. Keep Lockette. He did considerable off season work with TJack, learning to run routes and working on his hands. He has so much potential given his speed and size. I haven’t seen much from Butler since his broken leg, but he does lack the size of Lockette, and Durham is a total question mark for me, given his lack of playing time. I’d also keep Edwards as a one year contract. Based on what I saw in training camp, he’s got a ton of talent and great work ethic. Even though TO showed up at camp in great condition and with a pleasant attitude, in my opinion, TO is too great a risk to carry through the season. Even though he’s capable of being a great receiver, TO has a history of being concerned with TO, not the team he’s playing for. A developing offence like the hawks can’t afford a public mid-season melt down when he doesn’t get the ball as much as he’d like.
Similarly, I’m coming to grips with our QB competition. If we’re committed to keeping Josh Portis because of his potential, then we need to release or trade one of our QBs. The three way QB competition has left Portis with no reps in camp, just the role of throwing to Rice on the sidelines. If we’re going to keep Tjack, Wilson and Flynn, then we need to let Portis go. If we’re going to develop Portis, then we need to let Tjack go. It seems as though the media has already determined Tjack will be on the block next week and I for one, will be sorry to see it. Evaluating him as ‘lacking’ last year, based on the significant injury he played though seems illogical. Playing through that injury with an offense that was under construction, well, I thought he did a pretty good job. Not great, but good. If I were another team lacking a starting quarterback, I’d give him a good look given his dedication and courage. The only drawback would be his 4 mill+ salary which means we’ll likely get nothing for him in a trade and just end up releasing him.
I think the game this week is going to answer a lot of questions on receivers as we face off against Denver and Peyton Manning. Stay tuned!
About a week ago, I listed 5 things that we should look for during the first few practices of training camp. Well, now that we’re through the first few practices, I thought I’d check in on what we saw and see if there were any answers to questions that needed answered.
1) How many snaps does Doug Baldwin get on the outside?
Some, but not that many. It’s clear that Baldwin is going to be the team’s slot receiver again in 2012. Even with Sydney Rice and Antonio Bryant both out with injuries in the early going, Baldwin isn’t getting a ton of looks on the outside.
2) Who’s calling the adjustments for the defensive front 7?
Bobby Wagner appears to be. The kid is going to be the starting middle linebacker, and the team is preparing him for the roll. All the talk of KJ Wright making the defensive calls appears to have just been talk. Wagner is putting in all the work.
3) What personnel groups are on the field the most?
Really tough to say. Kellen Winslow has only participated in one practice, and he lined up on the outside a lot, making it difficult to tell the deference on personnel groups on the fly, especially at the speed at which the practices have been going. My impression has been that there have been more 3 WR sets than 2 TE sets, but that could easily be wrong at this point. We’ll have to keep watching.
4) How much is the Seahawk defense in the nickel?
Quite a bit. The Seahawks have had 2 separate looks in the nickel; one with 3 safeties (mostly Winston Guy) and one with 3 corners (Marcus Trufant more than anyone else). The Seahawks have employed these sets about 40% of the time in 11-11 on drills.
5) Who’s not on the field?
The players I was worried about last week have all been on the field to start camp. John Moffitt, Russell Okung, and Dexter Davis are all practicing without restrictions. Chris Clemons signed that big extension and thus there was no reason for him to hold out. The only key player who hasn’t participated fully is WR Sydney Rice. The players who are on the sidelines are ones that weren’t expected, like wide receivers Antonio Bryant and Jermaine Kearse. There also haven’t been any major injuries yet during camp, which is a good thing.
When the Seahawks drafted Golden Tate two years ago I have to say that I was pretty pleased about it. The selection of Tate was coming off a first round where both Russell Okung and Earl Thomas fell to the Seahawks and I don’t think I was alone in my jubilation regarding the 2010 draft. Draft pundits had pegged Tate as a late first round-early second round value and it seemed the Seahawks had come away with a steal. We are now entering the third year of Golden Tate’s tenure with the Seahawks and I’m not sure we know exactly what kind of player we are dealing with. Tate sits on the bubble of the roster with a legitimate chance to not make the 2012 Seahawks. Even if Tate does make the team he will need to carve out a role for himself in short order if he hopes to stick around in the long term. A look at the skills Tate possesses, his production over the last two years and his opportunity for playing time for this year’s Seahawks team gives us a sense of whether Golden Tate will break through or fade into obscurity at this crossroads in his career.
The first and perhaps most important question is what Golden Tate’s skill set is. Coming into the draft Golden Tate was often described as a wide receiver in a runningback’s body. Tate is shorter and stouter than your average wideout and yet he has both excellent speed (4.42 at the Combine) and elusiveness. At Notre Dame, Tate showed that he was dangerous and difficult to tackle in the open field and made a multitude of explosive plays. Tate seems to possess the skills of a “touchdown maker” as prized by Pete Carroll. Not only was he considered to be a receiving threat but also a threat returning punts. Tate returned 16 punts for 202 yards in his rookie year for a more than respectable average of 12.6 yards per return. Last year he ceded the role to Leon Washington and was unable to showcase his abilities in that area. He has not suffered any major injuries and is only 24 years old so there is no reason to believe he doesn’t possess the same athleticism and physical abilities he did coming out of the draft. Tate was often compared to Steve Smith coming out of college which gives a sense of what he brings to the table athletically. Tate has a high ceiling due to top level athleticism and rare ability with the ball in his hands. The weakness in his game that draft experts pointed to, and still applies today, is his route-running. Tate’s route running was considered very raw and it could be argued that it has not taken great strides since he joined the Seahawks. Much like many other young receivers Tate also struggles against the jam. The total package is a confusing set of tools. Tate is dynamic with the ball in his hands but he lacks the route-running acumen to get open consistently even though he doesn’t lack for speed. Tate is talented and explosive but also limited. His skills have been described as unique but until the Seahawks find a way to harness them Tate would be better off with a more conventional set of abilities. There are reasons to be excited about what Tate brings to the table but also an equal number of reasons to be concerned.
Where Golden Tate looks utterly unimpressive is in the realm of quantifiable production. In his rookie year Tate caught 21 passes for 227 yards. Last year Tate improved on those numbers by catching 35 passes for 382 yards. It would be easy to be deceived by these numbers into believing that Tate was taking strides towards becoming a more productive receiver when this is not actually the case. The only difference between the stat lines is related to the amount of games Tate played. Tate played 11 games in his rookie year as opposed to 16 last year and when we examine his production on a per game basis it is virtually the same. Tate averaged 1.9 receptions per game in 2010 as opposed to 2.2 last year, a difference of 0.3. In terms of yardage Tate averaged 20.6 in 2010 and 23.9 last year. Even on a per reception level Tate averaged 10.8 in his rookie year and 10.9 last year. In a sense Tate has been very consistent, just consistently unproductive. I found these statistics to be somewhat surprising as I had thought that Tate had improved slightly last year. Instead the numbers paint the picture of a receiver whose career is in a holding pattern. Glimpses of hope can be found the fact the Tate led Seattle wide receivers by catching 62% of balls thrown his way. However, Tate was often catching shorter, higher percentage passes and the catch rate statistic is far from a perfect one. It is fair to say that whichever way you slice it Golden Tate’s production has been disappointing.
Perhaps the most important factor determining whether Tate will finally break through this season is the opportunity he is presented with. The Seahawks wide receiver situation is fluid to say the least so on the surface it appears as if Tate could really step up and be a factor in the passing game. However, whether he will have a chance to do so likely depends on which wide receiver position the Seahawks want to play him at. The Flanker position is held down by the immensely talented but rather fragile Sidney Rice, Split End is wide open at the moment in the wake of the Mike Williams departure, with Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette headlining a myriad of contenders, and the Slot is occupied by the already immortal Doug Baldwin. Tate has played all these positions in his time with the Seahawks but his abilities seem to lend themselves best to the Slot. If the Seahawks see Tate as a slot receiver then he is trapped behind Baldwin with no chance to shine. If the brass determines that Tate should be playing on the outside he is looking at two spots: one that is completely wide open and one that is inhabited by someone with durability issues. The Seahawks’ wide receiver situation is a double edged sword for Tate; he either has an enormous opportunity or virtually no opportunity whatsoever.
It is often said that receiver is a position that takes a while to learn how to play at the NFL level. Fantasy Football aficionados are probably familiar with the “third year receiver” phenomenon, the logic being that this is the time in many receiver’s careers when they really break out. No matter how much credence you put in that theory the fact is that this is Golden Tate’s third NFL season and it is time for him to produce. It no longer matters that he was a second round pick or a star at Notre Dame. All that matters for Golden Tate is what he can produce today because his high draft pick rope has come to an end and if he is not one of the five or six best receivers in camp he will not make the team. Tate still has the talent to be a useful weapon in the NFL, even if perhaps he will have to be deployed creatively to succeed, but he also has the potential to fall of the face of the Earth. There is a massive gap between the best case and worst case scenarios for Golden Tate in 2012, making this truly his make or break year.
The Seahawks have 13 Wide Receivers currently on their 90 man roster. It is pretty much impossible to believe that they will keep more than 6 on the final 53 man roster. That means that more than half the current group will be handed their walking … [visit site to read more]