Thirteen games into the season there is a fairly compelling argument to made that Golden Tate is having his best year ever. With three games still remaining he has already set a career high in both catches and yards. Although he has not found the endzone as often as he did last year, he has really stepped into the breach after Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin went down. The comparison between Golden Tate last year and this year looks like this:
By the end of the year the gap between these two lines will be substantial and Golden Tate will be on the way to a fat new contract. While this is important it’s not what interests me today. Today, I thought I’d look at one factor that is making Golden Tate’s 2013 season a special one: his punt returning. The chart below shows what Tate has done on punt returns so far this year:
Tate ranks 7th in the league in yards per return with his more than respectable 12.0 average, but that understates his value. In fact, Golden Tate ranks second in pure yardage, 108 yards ahead of the guy in third, Tandon Doss of the Ravens, due to the fact he very rarely takes the fair catch. Tate is always looking to get his team yards, even if it’s only a couple, and that’s part of what makes him so valuable returning punts.
Golden Tate showed an aptitude for returning punts in his rookie season in 2010 but he has never held the job full time until now. The presence of Leon Washington always kept Tate exclusively at receiver, which is unfortunate given what he has to offer as a return man. Now that he has his chance he’s running with it and this week looks like he’ll have the opportunity to make some big plays. It’s interesting to consider how the following line compares to the fact the Seahawks have allowed only 15 punt return yards all season. This is what the Giants have allowed on punt returns in 2013:
Numbers like that will get a special teams coordinator fired. Additionally, they should mean that Golden Tate will have a crease or two to work with. Hopefully this isn’t the kind of game that is close enough that to turn on a big punt return, but it’s good to know that there could be a chance for Golden Tate to make some magic happen if he needs to.
Golden Tate started returning punts for the Seahawks in his rookie campaign four years ago.
In 2010, he returned 16 punts for 202 yards, averaging 12.6 yards per return. He didn’t score any touchdowns, but did have a 63-yard punt return against the Denver Broncos.
The next two years, he didn’t return a single punt, taking the backseat to Leon Washington, who served as a mentor to Tate until he became the full-time punt returner in 2013.
“I was very fortunate to be right behind Leon Washington for a couple of years,” said Tate in a video-log for ESPN. ”I learned a lot of things from him, [including] sticking your foot in the ground and just getting vertical as fast you can.”
Tate has also learned to use his athletic abilities from other sports to help keep sight of the ball.
“For me, playing baseball makes it a little easier for me to catch the punt.”
This season, Tate has brought his electric energy back to the return game, averaging 13.2 yards per return.
“I’m very fortunate to be on a very hard-working punt return team,” Tate said. “We work so hard during the week to get ready for Sunday’s so it’s a blessing to have those guys in front of me.”
Tate said that his priority is making sure he doesn’t lose the football after he catches it.
“First and foremost, I want to secure the ball and make sure the offense is getting the ball,” he explained. “My goal is…to eliminate one first down that the offense has to get and try to make one big play, and hopefully a game-changing play, each week.”
On Sunday, he had a momentous game-changing play. His career-long 71-yard punt return energized the Seahawks and helped shift the momentum of the game back in Seattle’s favor.
“We strongly believe we can change games on special teams and that’s what we did,” Tate said to the media after Sunday’s win.
Tate knows that he is a play-maker and has proved it to his team throughout the season. His talent is undeniable and while some call him cocky, he believes it to be nothing more than confidence.
“When this team needs a play to be made I want the ball in my hands, some way or another.”
If he continues to make big plays like his punt return on Sunday, there will be many clutch opportunities in his future.
Soften one popular, outspoken, All-Pro corner back
Add the sweetness of many of the core members of the Seahawks offense and defense
To achieve lightness, blend in additional athletes and celebrities
Smooth by sprinkling in a “celebrity” replacement official from last NFL season
Stir in deserving Home for Heroes recipients
Add a whopping scoop of fervent 12th man screaming in the stands
Bake in the midday sun using formula of former Seahawk DE Joe Tafoya’s PR firm, JumpIt Media
Poof! Instant success!
Covering the Richard Sherman Celebrity Softball Game was both a delight and a challenge…
From contested plays….
To Kam helping the Rainer’s girls shoot socks into the crowd of 12th men!
It was delightful having so many athletes to speak with all on one field at the same time. However, during the game there was the challenge of making sure your camera was pointed at the right part of the field during each swing of the bat. There was every possibility you might capture the home run and yet miss the antics of a flag being thrown on a play!
First name Russell, last name Wilson, coach of the Greys, provided two outstanding moments in the silliness of fund raising game…
During the home run derby, as Golden Tate slapped his first home run, Wilson ran out to brush the dust off Golden’s shoes with his hat! Classic!
During one of the later innings in the game, Russell did an almost exact impersonation of former Mariners coach, Lou Pinella, challenging the call at first base. From kicking dirt on the ump to reaching down to pick up the base to throw it, it was an absolute classic, made even better by the official throwing a yellow flag on the play for a flagrant foul.
The Whites, coached by Marcus and Desmond Trufant, benefited from excellent hitting and the zestiness of Richard Sherman, who continually took to field to comment on the play of the Gray team and took great joy in running the bases.
Aside from all the antics, the best part of the game in my opinion was welcoming the Homes for Heroes participants onto the field. It was incredibly heartwarming to see Shawn Kemp immediately walk over to shake their hands and welcome them to the event.
It was a very entertaining event and JumpIt Media and Joe Tafoya should be congratulated for the excellent planning and execution! Well done!
Huge congratulations to the Gray Team!
MVP – Golden Tate
And winning coach, Russell Wilson!
Looking at the film, it’s easy to see why the Seahawks have looked to find a potential replacement for Tate. It’s also easy to see why he put up some impressive stats in 2012, and why Seahawks fans love him.
Tate still doesn’t run crisp routes, and after 3 years in the NFL, it’s unlikely that he ever will. Because of this, he is almost never able to get open within the first 2.5 seconds the play. Its that time span that NFL offense require a WR to get open, which is why I think the Seahawks will let Tate walk at the end of 2013, and why they drafted Chris Harper back in April.
On the other hand, Tate excelled after that point. When the play would break down, and QB Russell Wilson would break containment and get outside, it was Tate that he found for a big play over and over again. Plus, once the ball was in his hands, Tate’s athleticism showed up and good things happened for the Seahawks.
As for what to expect in 2013, it is difficult to expect anything but lesser numbers for Tate. The acquisition of Percy Harvin is likely to effect Tate’s playing time more anyone else. Plus, since Chris Harper is being groomed to be the Split End of the future, he’s also likely get a few snaps each game at Tate’s expense.
Still, Tate has a way of making good things happen when given the chance. The Seahawks would be foolish to not get Tate on the field in situations when a play simply has to be made, like any third or 4th down situation, so Tate’s playing time isn’t going to completely evaporate. There’s also been some talk of have Tate return punts, and possibly kickoffs as well, now that Leon Washington is gone.
There are a lot of Seahawk fans that remember (and probably a certain Cowboys player that doesn’t) one of the best NFL blocks of the season, delivered by Golden Tate. The Dallas player that took the hit was linebacker Sean Lee, who ended up hurt on the play. There was some debate in the commentary booth at the time on whether or not the block was legal, especially considering a flag went down around that time of the play.
It was correctly ruled a legal hit (as you can see the hit by Tate was directly to the chest of Lee and perfectly squared) and the flag was a separate issue, but there were several other types of hits like this that were a point of contention throughout the last several seasons. A rule has been added on “peel back” blocks to try and protect defenders that don’t see the hit coming. There were two rule changes passed to improve player safety yesterday, so here’s the excerpt from NFL.com:
Teams will no longer be allowed to have more than six players on either side of the snapper at the snap of a point after or field goal attempt. This “overloading” one side strategy was deemed to be unsafe and unnecessary. You can no longer hit an offensive lineman low, and the snapper now is considered a defenseless player.
This was a fairly simple fix. A slightly more complicated rule passed Tuesday banning “peel-back blocks,” making those low-blocks illegal even if they occur in the tackle box. This likely will be known as “The Brian Cushing rule” after the Houston Texans linebacker suffered a serious injury on a peel-back block in 2012.
Of course we’re focusing right here on the second rule and again, it’s a rule that I totally agree with. Another huge point to the rule that isn’t mentioned is that you cannot reverse field, (coming back to your own goal-line) to make a block below the waist outside the tackle box. Previously that was allowed and we all saw some really ugly looking plays that at the very least really put a defender in jeopardy of losing a knee cap last season. Going back to a previous rule in place, it is also not allowed to hit a player in this instance above the shoulders, just like a safety can not hit a receiver above the shoulders.
So would Golden Tate’s block now be flagged under the new rule provisions?
The answer is a resounding “NO”, it is still a legal hit. You can still throw a “peel back” or “crack back” block outside (or inside) of the tackle box, if the hit is square to the shoulder or chest of the defender, meaning you will still see big hits but they won’t often result in a potential season or even career threatening injury. Another move that is good for the game but still allows for football plays.
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.
Although the NFL season isn’t over, unfortunately the Seahawks’ season is over so now is the time to talk about the off-season, even if the off-season isn’t officially upon us. The Seahawks have done an excellent job of building through the draft and that appears to be essential to their philosophy but that doesn’t mean that free agency should be ignored. John Schneider and Co. have dabbled in free agency over the past couple years with the signing of players like Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery, and frankly results have been mixed. Seattle has money to spend and is hoping to find some pieces to supplement the strong, young core of this team. One area of interest is the wide receiver position where there is a plethora of starting-quality options at a position where the Seahawks could use some help. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are all capable receivers but Russell Wilson could definitely use another weapon or two to take this passing offense to the next level. In this article I’ll outline some of the top free agent wide receivers that could be Seattle’s if they are willing to spend a pretty penny. In no particular order here are the top wide receivers available in free agency this year:
Dwayne Bowe: The big-bodied Bowe has been a very steady performer in some fairly terrible passing offenses in Kansas City with 1,000 yard seasons in 3 of the last 5 years, and 801 yards last year. Though Bowe is a bigger wide out he still has the ability to challenge a defense down the field. He has 13.8 yards per reception for his career, much of which has been spent in tandem with the noodle-armed Matt Cassel. Bowe is also a threat in the red zone as demonstrated by his 15 TD season in 2010 and has been able to consistently find pay dirt in the past (39 TD in 6 seasons). I think that Bowe would bring an element of physicality to the Seahawks receiving core that is currently lacking but he is not without his warts. There are plenty of whispers (some of them of the none-too-quiet variety) about work ethic and attitude issues with Bowe and he has a tendency to drop the ball, posting the 9th highest drop rate in the NFL between 2009 and 2011. Additionally, Bowe will turn 29 early in the 2013 season so if you sign him to a lengthy deal you are counting on him producing into his thirties, not impossible but not the safest bet either. Buying the decline years of a player, no matter how good he is, is always a dicey proposition. Still I think the Seahawks might be interested in Bowe because his skill set is unique to their receiving group and Pete Carroll thinks he can get anyone to buy in.
Danny Amendola: Danny Amendola is intriguing because he’s clearly a productive and useful player but he can’t seem to stay on the field, playing in 12 games over the last two seasons. Amendola was on pace for an 1,000 yard season this year with the Rams but ultimately had injuries befall him and ended up with only 666 yards. Amendola caught 5.7 balls a game this year which would have been 91 catches if he had played the whole season. Therein lies the rub. You can have absolutely beautiful rate stats but it doesn’t really matter unless you can pile up the gross numbers by staying on the field. Health is a skill in this league and Amendola’s 5 11 183 pound frame doesn’t scream durability. Someone will take a chance on Amendola’s elite quickness and ability to get open out of the slot but I’d rather it not be the Seahawks. As satisfying as it would be to take a quality player off a division rival I’d rather see the Rams resign Amendola (which I suspect they will given his chemistry with Sam Bradford) and live with the consequences. Amendola will be 28 in 2013 so age is not really a concern as slot receivers not relying on pure speed have potential to age gracefully, like Bobby Engram did. Even still, I think an investment in Amendola is one that ends in heartbreak, although it would be hard to be too disappointed if Seattle signed him because he is a really fine player.
Wes Welker: Wes Welker is a very interesting case. Looking at numbers alone makes one salivate at the prospect of adding a player like Wes Welker. Who wouldn’t want a receiver who has had 110+ catches in 5 of the last 6 years, leading the league thrice during that span? I bet a receiver with 7459 yards over the past six seasons also sounds fairly tempting. Also it isn’t as if Welker has slowed down at all recently, setting a career high with 1569 yards in 2011 and a still-fantastic 1354 yards in 2012. So what’s the hold up? The first one is arguably the most important number of all which is age. Welker will be 32 this year and although his style of play lends itself to a more generous aging curve 32 is pretty dangerous place to start a long term contract. Welker is a special player and he may yet have five or six productive years left in him but I’m not sure that’s something I want to bet tens of millions of dollars on. The second more profound question mark surrounding Wes Welker is what he is capable of outside of the New England offense and without Tom Brady. I’m not saying Welker doesn’t have a universally useful skill set, every team could use a ball catching machine out of the slot, but Welker didn’t show much in Miami before coming to New England and the concern is he’s sort of just a guy outside that system. I think both concerns are valid and I would steer clear of Welker, especially given that I still think Doug Baldwin can be a weapon out of the slot despite something of a lost 2012 season.
Mike Wallace: Of all the receivers mentioned so far Mike Wallace is both the fastest and the youngest. That’s a pretty good start in my book. Wallace is an absolute burner and he is only turning 27 this year so a free agent contract with Wallace stands to buy some of his peak years making it easier to be comfortable with a fairly generous term like 5 or 6 years. Mike Wallace is coming off a rough year, much of which can be attributed to Charlie Batchitude and also to a prolonged holdout going into the season. Clearly Mike Wallace wants to be paid, but he deserves to be paid. Over the last three years Wallace has put up 3286 yards receiving and 26 touchdowns. Although he is primarily a speed receiver the other parts of his game are growing as well. He has gone from 2.6 catches a game in his rookie year to 4.3 last year demonstrating an ability to contribute on short and intermediate patterns. Wallace has also been durable playing in 63 of a possible 64 games in his career. In short I’m a fan. I think now might be the time to buy a low (relatively speaking, this will still be a hefty contract) on Wallace. A wide receiving core featuring Wallace, Rice and Tate would be lethal down the field, giving opposing defensive backs nightmares. Wallace would look good in Seahawks colors.
Brian Hartline: Hartline, like Wallace, will be 27 this year and unlike Wallace is coming off an 1,000 yard season. While productive, Hartline lacks elite size and speed and can sometimes have trouble creating separation from quality defensive backs. While his numbers are slightly inflated by one massive game this season in which he went for well over 200 yards, Hartline is for real. I suspect that Miami will try and resign their de facto number one receiver who profiles as more of a #2 on a quality team. Honestly, that’s fine with me. There isn’t a great deal to hate about Hartline and he is coming off a good year but he’s not an impact talent in my book. Free agents, especially ones coming off good years, come at a premium cost and when you are paying a premium cost you best be sure you are getting a premium talent. Hartline is an appealing age and coming off a quality season but I’d rather sit out on the bidding which figures to exceed his value. I think both Rice and Tate are better players so I see no reason to add Hartline at an exorbitant cost.
Greg Jennings: Jennings is coming off a tough season where he fought through some difficult injuries and by all accounts the emergence of James Jones and Randall Cobb in Green Bay indicate he’s made his last Lambeau Leap. With 2 Pro Bowl berths and three 1,000 yard seasons to his name (and 2 more 900 yard seasons) Jennings is an accomplished and intriguing free agent option. Greg Jennings reminds me of Darrell Jackson at his peak, not the fastest but not slow, not the biggest but not small and able to simply get the job down. Jennings will be 30 this year so I would be hesitant to give him the sort of long term deal he’s likely asking for. I think Jennings would make a fine addition to the Seahawks but for me it depends on the price, if his age and recent injury concerns depress his value enough then pouncing on Jennings would be a prudent move but if the market sees him as a marquee #1 receiver I would back off. Also given the Sidney Rice is the resident injury risk the Seahawks might want someone more reliable if they are going to spend big in free agency. The market for Jennings is going to be very interesting, and one the Seahawks should keep tabs on.
This year’s free agency pool has some pretty impressive talent at the WR position. All the receivers listed here figure to play prominent roles on whatever team they end up on but enough of them carry red flags that we can expect a couple of busts. If the Seahawks are in the mood for big-ticket shopping at this position I’d recommend Bowe or Wallace but neither is cheap or risk free. However, if the Seahawks want to move up the ladder for great team to championship team they are going to have to take some risks. Luckily that’s never been a problem for this front office.
As the season comes to an end, it comes time to reflect on not only what happened in 2012 but Seattle’s outlook for the future. I suppose I could save you and I some time and say that the outlook is “bright” and/or “good” but I tend to be a more thorough person than that. When looking into the crystal ball at a team’s future you have to evaluate their “core”. If the core is too old or too flawed then the team is likely to struggle down the road, unless it can find new core players, probably in the draft, to build around.
When we talk about the core and core players it’s hard to know exactly what it is we are talking about. Usually a core player is someone worth building around; someone you know is going to stick around for a while. As is always the case, the contract is almost as important as the talent level. It’s hard to think of someone as part of the core of your team if they have an expiring contract, unless the plan is to franchise tag them every year like the Seahawks did with Walter Jones for a time. To summarize, the two major criteria for a core player are talent and a contract.
That being said it has always been a bit of a feel thing for me. Similar to how some players feel like Hall of Famers and some don’t even when their objective differences might be slight. That ambiguity is why I’ve developed a mental exercise to determine who the core of this team is. I simply ask myself, “would I consider buying that X player’s jersey?” and if the answer is yes they are probably a core piece. This is particularly pertinent to my life at the moment as my most up-to-date Seahawks jerseys are a Ken Hamlin jersey and a Shaun Alexander jersey. I understand that everyone has their own thoughts on jerseys and some people just buy their favorite player’s jersey but considering the expense, and my desire for the jersey to remain current for as long as possible, I’ve always considered it a big commitment/something worth putting a lot of thought into. In the case of Ken Hamlin I gambled and lost (largely due to very unfortunate circumstances) in 2005, thinking he was a core Seahawk coming out of his 2nd year on the way up. I don’t want to get burned again.
As a result this article can either be seen as identifying/evaluating the Seahawks’ core or a column on jersey buying advice. Whatever floats your boat….. We’ll start on offense.
Firstly, I’d put a disclaimer that I haven’t included o-lineman here, mainly because very few people seem to buy those jerseys. That being said Okung and Unger are both absolutely jersey worthy core players but if I had to choose I’d go with Unger because of his less scary injury history.
Russell Wilson: Wilson was the 4th ranked passer in the NFL as a rookie. He also was ranked 4th in the all-important yards per attempt statistic. He tied the rookie record for TD passes, without setting any records for interceptions like a certain Peyton Manning did. Wilson was also a fantastic runner which opened up some deadly read-option looks for this offense. His game isn’t perfect and he may suffer through some struggles down the road and a little bit of regression to the mean but I can’t conceive of a single reason not to not only consider him part of Seattle’s core but its most important part and to be very happy about this fact. Gushing over. Verdict: I would be proud to don his jersey.Wilson is the present and future.
Marshawn Lynch- To put it succinctly Lynch is a definite yes. Even so, running backs break down like it’s nobody’s business and Lynch does take a pounding so it’s not as much of a slam dunk as you might think. The thing is his accomplishments with the Seahawks so far and his superstar Beast Quake moment are already so legendary that his jersey would be a credible one to own 20 years from now even if he had a career ending injury tomorrow. In terms of his real life value to the Seahawks, he is under contract from three more years and is still in his prime (26) so he’s very much a core piece. Verdict: Yup.
Sidney Rice- Now we are out of the obvious candidates things get a little bit tricky. Rice is 26, he’s under contract for 3 more years, he’s Seattle’s #1 receiver and he’s good so all signs point to a yes here. The problem is twofold. Firstly, Rice has been immensely injury prone and that could severely alter his career path making your Rice jersey look foolish in the years ahead. Secondly, wide receiver is a position group that the Seahawks are trying to improve, probably fairly aggressive and possibly with the addition of another big-ticket free agent acquisition like Dwayne Bowe. It’s not so much that Rice is likely to be displaced or dislodged as there is a risk his importance diminishes over time. The development of Golden Tate could also be a factor. Verdict: Rice is a great receiver, but I can’t bring myself to confidently identify him as a core player for the Seahawks or purchase his jersey. Which hurts because I really like Rice.
Honorable Mention: Golden Tate- Although Tate is two years younger than Rice and seemingly on the way up you are banking heavily on a fair amount of additional development by calling him a core player. Also he hasn’t signed a contract extension and has yet to reach the level of value to the team wherein said extension is an inevitability.
Richard Sherman- There is a strong argument to be made that Richard Sherman is the best player on the Seahawks and at 24 he’s clearly a core piece for the future. My only concern is that he is only under contract for two more years but he’s a player that I’d seriously consider extending this off-season even though the first team all-pro has so much leverage coming off a great year. I think a deal gets done; I’m not suuuure I’d buy the jersey until it does but that’s probably overly cautious on my part. Verdict: Love Sherman, he’s incredibly important to the club and his jersey is a must-own.
Earl Thomas- Everything that I just said about Sherman applies to Thomas. Thomas is actually younger at 23 even though he has played an additional year in the NFL. He is a two time Pro Bowler at 23 and despite being posterized by Jacquizz Rodgers last week is an essential core piece. Same contract situation as Sherman although his lofty draft status has him far better compensated at this moment, likely making an extension less of a priority. Verdict: Earl Thomas is a fantastic player and wearing his name on your back will only make you a better person by extension.
Bobby Wagner- He’s already a great anchor for this defense and there is no reason why he shouldn’t get better and better with experience. An underrated find by Pete Carroll and Co. Absolutely a core player and not a free agent until 2016. One of the best players on arguably the best defense in the league already. Verdict: Buy the damn jersey
Brandon Browner: Although controversial in his playing style Browner has been undeniably effective since making the leap from the CFL to the NFL. He does play second fiddle to Sherman to an extent but is a Pro Bowl corner in his own right coming out of only his second year. This all sounds promising but there are two issues. One is that Browner turns 29 this year playing a position at which it is difficult to age gracefully. The second is that his contract only takes him through 2013 (to be fair he’ll be an RFA after).Browner is going to command big money, money that the Seahawks may well be saving for Richard Sherman. I can’t say with a great deal of confidence that Browner will be in Seattle in 3 years and even if he is he will be 31 and likely not quite what he once was. Great player, not a core player. Verdict: I’d steer clear of a Browner jersey, though you could do a lot worse.
Kam Chancellor: My personal favorite Seahawk. This one hurts. Chancellor is only 24 and has a Pro Bowl berth to his name in 2011. The problem is he’s only signed through 2013 (followed by UFA unlike Browner), I’m inclined to think that he’ll get an extension but unfortunately that isn’t the only problem. At this point I’m not exactly sure how good Kam Chancellor is. Aside from a couple of highlight reel hits he wasn’t a big factor in 2012. Chancellor did very little in coverage this year with his INT’s falling from 4 in 2011 to 0 in 2012 and his PD’s dropping from 12 to 4. He wasn’t a liability he just wasn’t a game changer. Verdict: My heart says, “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” and my head says, “no”. Regardless if I see someone in a Chancellor jersey my going in assumption is that we will be best friends.
Honorable Mentions: Basically every starter on defense was considered here but most had enough red flags to not be worth delving too far into. Here’s a quick summary.
Chris Clemons- too old, current nasty injury
Red Bryant- not a game changer this year, not convinced they won’t dump his hefty contract at some point
K.J Wright & Brandon Mebane- check all the boxes in theory but neither are quiteee good enough. As I said this is a bit of a feel thing.
Bruce Irvin- too large a range of outcomes for his career, still a complementary player
Overall there are a lot more options on defense than offense which really shouldn’t come at a surprise given the way this team is designed. At the end of the day we wind up with a “core” of Wilson, Lynch, Wagner, Sherman and Thomas, to which you can add Unger and Okung. None of these players are above the age of 26 and 5 of the 7 have made Pro Bowls. That sounds like a pretty impressive core not only for 2013 but for many many more years as well. Not only are these players in their prime but they are also still developing and getting better. I’m not sure if you guys know this but this Seahawks team is really good, and it’s going to be really good for a while. Having done all this I don’t know which jersey I would buy, but that’s sort of a first world problem. The fact there are too many great players on my favorite team is something I can live with.
Tags: Bobby Wagner, brandon browner, Earl Thomas, featured, football, Golden Tate, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger, nfl, Popular, Red Bryant, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, sidney rice
Today’s game features the Seattle Seahawks flying east to the nation’s capital to do battle with an explosive Washington Redskins team led by superhuman rookie quarterback RGIII. The Seahawks are the favorites heading into this game on the strength of their superior record and the way they closed out the season with a notable victory at Chicago followed by three blowout wins (including one over the #2 seed San Francisco) and a final win last week against St. Louis. 5 wins, 4 of them of the impressive variety, is nothings to sneeze at and it’s no surprise the Seahawks are being labeled as a dangerous team right now. The thing that people seem to be glossing over is that the Redskins won their last 7 games which is an even more remarkable feat. They can’t be taken lightly in this game but nor are they an unstoppable force. The Redskins are the sort of team you’d expect to play in wildcard weekend, a good team with some issues. One of those issues today is Robert Griffin’s knee. Although RGIII is an accomplished passer without his trademark speed he loses a dynamic aspect of his game. However, since it’s hard to discuss the matchup of the Seahawks defense vs. Robert Griffin’s knee without sounding like Gregg Williams I’ll have to turn my attention elsewhere. Instead we will focus on whole players rather than individual joints in the first ever playoff edition of “matchups of the game”.
Matchup #1: Russell Okung vs. Trent Williams
I’ll start here by saying that I am aware of the basic principles of football and the fact that these two LT’s will never see the field against each other. The comparison of the two Pro Bowl tackles in this game is what interests me. Not only were Okung (drafted 6th overall) and Williams (4th overall) compared ad nauseam during the 2010 Draft process but they likely will be during their careers. Most observers at the time saw Okung as the #1 LT prospect available but the Redskins chose Williams instead as he was a better fit for their scheme. Both teams have been rewarded with quality players. Both players are making their first Pro Bowl appearance in their third years in the league after having some trouble staying healthy in their first two years (23 starts during that period for Williams, 22 for Okung). Okung and Williams are both protecting very mobile quarterbacks which, on the surface, seems like a benefit as their quarterback’s legs can bail them out of trouble. In reality scrambling quarterbacks can be infuriating to block for because although they are a moving target to defenders they are the same for blockers and their unpredictability of movement can turn an excellent block into the wrong block in no time at all. Both the Seahawks’ and Redskins’ defenses will be keying on the oppositions running game and as a result there will be opportunities for shots down the field in this game. Whichever one of these men is able to keep their quarterback safer and in a position to hold the ball and make the deep throw might well see their team emerge victorious.
Matchup #2: Richard Sherman vs. Pierre Garcon
I’ve highlighted this matchup mainly for the reason that Richard Sherman already declared that he wasn’t worried about Garcon and I’d like to see him back up that kind of talk. I admire Sherman’s confidence and acknowledge his skill, but to be honest Garcon is the type of receiver worth losing a little sleep over. Garcon played in only 10 games this year, very few of them completely healthy, and put up 633 yards or 63.3 per game. Over a full year that average would have resulted in 1012 yards for Garcon and that’s without considering to what degree he played hurt. Given that 1000 yard receivers don’t grow on trees (there were 19 this year) Sherman will have to pay attention today. Garcon has electric down the field ability and Sherman would be wise to bully him at the line of scrimmage as much as possible. The reason that shutting down Garcon is so essential is that there is such a drop off between him and the next best receiving option in Washington. The Redskins other starting wideout, Joshua Morgan, has put up 31.9 yards a game and a far from intimidating 10.6 yards per catch. Logan Paulsen, the starting tight end, is averaging 19.3 yards per game. The bottom line is if you shut down Pierre Garcon you can cripple the Washington passing game and the Seahawks will be allocating arguably their best player to that exact assignment.
Matchup #3: Golden Tate vs. Josh Wilson
The battle of Seattle’s 2010 2nd round pick and their 2007 2nd rounder should be a doozy. Even though Sidney Rice isn’t 100% (1 catch for 14 yards in his last 2 games) he will still likely draw DeAngelo Hall leaving two “mighty mites” to duke it out on the other side of the field. Tate actually has the height advantage in this one, a luxury he rarely has access to, which might make it easier for him to reel in a jump ball or two down field. He has really emerged this year with 45.9 yards per game, almost twice his career high of 23.9 yards per match. Tate has finally turned his strength and short area quickness into tangible production and is beginning to look the part of a starting WR. If the Seattle passing game is really going to get going Tate will need to be involved but that’s easier said than done against former Seahawk Josh Wilson. Wilson has emerged as a viable starting corner over the last two years in Washington starting all 32 games and averaging 2 INT and 14 PD per year. Adding in a knack for creating fumbles (3FF this year) and the fact he is immensely dangerous with the ball in his hands (you may recall he led the league in kick return yardage for the 2008 Seahawks), Wilson is a nifty player and a formidable opponent. However, he is a formidable opponent Tate will have to best because unless Rice finds his stride again Tate is the #1 option for Russell Wilson today.
This game has the makings of a memorable contest. The Seahawks take to the road looking for their first road win since 1983 (a stat that just keeps coming up this week) against a team that is likely inferior but only slightly so. With the Redskins holding home field advantage I’d say this one is about dead even. An absolute dogfight is in order with two powerful RB’s, two Pro Bowl LT’s and two rookie sensations leading the way at QB. The difference in this game is that Seattle has the elite defense and Washington doesn’t (the Redskins allowed 1144 yards and 143 points more than Seattle over the course of the year). I have faith that Seattle can put some points against a Washington defense that is fairly unimpressive, so all they really have to do is stop RGIII and company. That sounds so simple. I’ve got this sneaking suspicion it’s easier said than done. Whatever the case may be Seahawks fans are in for an exciting day, and with any luck, an even more exciting night.
1) Stop Em’ Cold
- The Redskins averaged 169 yards per game on the ground throughout the season. It’s no secret they are going to try and establish a consistent, time-consuming game plan to offset Seattle’s new found high-octane offense. It will be up to the ‘Hawks D to create 3rd and Long situations for RG3, and take Alfred Morris out of the equation by going up early and being stout at the point of attack to force Washington into obvious passing situations where the Seahawks can best utilize their speed in their pass rush. Look for Chris Clemons, and Bruce Irvin to come up big in this one.
2) Wear Em’ Out
- On the other side of the ball, the Redskins gave up an average of 378 yards to opposing offenses on the year. This bodes well for a peaking Seattle Offense, and its power run game. While Washington did hold opponents to just under a 100 yards per game on the ground, look for the ‘Hawks to ‘Feed the Beast’, and rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch as well as it’s vertical passing game out of play-action to keep the aging Redskins defense on the field for extended periods of time in the fridgid, bone aching cold of FedEx Field. I would look for Sidney Rice to benefit greatly in this matchup, as he must be frustrated from the lack of looks he received against St. Louis on top of the fact the Redskins pass-D has been giving up an average of almost 300 yards per game. Could be a big game for the Seahawks Wideouts.
- While there are distinct differences in schematics, and approach, the Seahawks and Redskins adopt very similar philosophies when it comes to their offensive game plans. Run the football, utilize their youth and athleticism at the Quarterback position, and maintain field position and game clock dominance. In doing this, both teams have the advantage of having seen a version of what the other team is going to be doing come Sunday, to a degree, in practice. While the Redskins utilize the Pistol formation in most of its read-option packages, the Seahawks Defense will have had a good amount of familiarity in defending this type of offense, as it does so a weekly basis at the VMAC. While both teams can claim to have this advantage, I think it can only bolster a team’s chances on the road in the playoffs.
4) Road Warriors
- The Seahawks haven’t won on the road since 1983. It’s been well documented in the lead up to the game. It’s true, winning on the road in the playoffs, let alone in the regular season, is a tough hill to climb. If the Seahawks have any chance of moving on in the tournament, they’ll have to knock down the 29 year old roadblock that stands in their way in our Nation’s Capitol. One could cite numerous occasions when a Wild Card team has ran the house on the road to end up in the Big Game. The Giants did it just recently. But it’s not commonplace. Not by a long shot. However, this Seattle team has found a new resilience, a new gusto, born in the last 2 drives in Chicago and has been with them ever since. With the Smooth Operator in Wilson at the helm, and a ferocious Defense on the road, the formula for success is in place. It’s up to the Seahawks to execute it.
5) Silence is Golden
- While the 12th Man will be represented with a strong showing in Washington D.C., it will still be a rough go for the ‘Hawks if the 85-90,000+ at FedEx Field get going in a frenzy. As is true with any road game, the deflation of any home team momentum goes a long way to the overall feel and ‘buzz’ of the game. Look for the Seahawks to get things going early with a shot or 2 down the field to muzzle the efforts of the Redskins faithful. A nice completion to a streaking Golden Tate off of play-action on 2nd and 2 would definitely put a hush on the largest capacity venue in the NFL. Hey, maybe the 12th Man will turn it into a home game of sorts for the visiting Hawks. One can only hope…Best of luck to our beloved Seahawks, and all my 12th Men and Women around the world. I 3elieve. HAWKS!!
After two straight blowouts the Seahawks host the formidable 49ers at the Clink in a game that figures to be as close as it is physical. Two of the league’s top defenses will do battle on Sunday and this game has the makings of an absolute nail biter. The 49ers are coming off a wild victory over the New England Patriots that was heartbreaking for Seahawks fans everywhere. As a result, this game is no longer really a battle for the division crown (unless the 49ers lose out, which would include losing to the woeful Cardinals at home). Instead this is more of a statement game/a game to keep Seattle in the #5 seed. The #5 seed is a nice place to be because the NFC only has 3 quality division leaders, the Packers, the Falcons and the 49ers, and as a result the team holding the 5th seed can avoid these dangerous teams and play the winner of the weak NFC East. That being said if the Hawks can beat the 49ers there really isn’t any team they need to be afraid of. Let’s take a lot of the big time matchups in this prime time game.
Matchup #1: Golden Tate vs. Tarell Brown
With Sidney Rice far from 100% Tate needs to step up in this game. At the beginning of the year I wrote that this was a make or break year for Golden Tate and the man has shown himself to be the playmaker we all knew he could be but weren’t sure he would become. With 7 touchdowns receiving and 1 passing Tate has impacted games all year long and needs to do it again on Sunday night if the Seahawks are going to succeed against the intimidating San Francisco defense. Rice (if he plays) is likely to be locking horns with Carlos Rogers so Tate’s opponent is Tarell Brown. Brown is a former 5th round pick who worked his way into the starting lineup of the 49ers last year and was very effective with 4 Int’s and 16 passes deflected. The 27 year old cover corner has similar size to Tate (5-11 190 to Tate’s 5’11 195) and speed (4.45 40 yard dash to Tate’s 4.42) but will need the help of the 49ers vaunted pass rush to account for Tate’s unique quickness and explosiveness. Look for Tate to be Wilson’s number one target on Sunday night.
Matchup #2: Paul McQuistan vs. Justin Smith
McQuistan is exactly the kind of offensive lineman most fans like. A quiet offensive lineman. Paul does not draw our attention with stupid penalties and is rarely has praise heaped on him by over-zealous commentators and as such we tend to forget him. On Sunday he draws a very important duty, the containing of Justin Smith. Smith is one of the keys to the 49er’s offense and opens up pass rushing opportunities for sack artist Aldon Smith by wreaking havoc in the interior of the offensive line. Not only does Smith absorb blocks for his dangerous teammate he also collects sacks himself. Smith has 32 sacks in his five years with the 49ers as a 3-4 end, which is an impressive total for that position. He is a tireless worker and a talented defender and if he can’t be held in check then Aldon Smith can run wild. If Okung is going to have any chance with the younger Smith then McQuistan will have to keep the older Smith quiet. We’ll have to see if the unheralded former 3rd round pick is up to the task.
Matchup #3: K.J Wright vs. Vernon Davis
I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of K.J Wright and what he does for Seattle’s defense. Today Wright draws a very interesting tight end in Vernon Davis. We all know the freakish athleticism and impressive skills that Davis possesses but this year he is not translating them into results. Davis is in for his worst year since 2008 and at 28 it would be hard to blame this on a physical decline, especially given how healthy he has been over his career. One thing that could account for Davis’s off-year is the emergence of Kaepernick at QB for the 49ers. Since the Kaepernick era began Vernon Davis has 10 catches for 112 yards and a single touchdown in 5 games. My first instinct is take comfort in this obvious lack of rapport but in reality Davis is so dangerous and so gifted that it just makes me nervous that the 49ers QB has an elite weapon he hasn’t even discovered yet. Davis is due for a breakout but the rangy Wright is a tough foe. I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis caught a few balls but I wouldn’t expect him to be the same player who has haunted the nightmares of Seattle fans for years.
There is no denying this is a big game but one can’t help but wonder what it would have been like as a division deciding game if the Patriots had won last week. Alas the Seahawks can only control what happens in the games they play and in this game a win keeps them firmly entrenched in the first wildcard. This is the part of the year where looking ahead is inevitable and it’s unreasonable to caution against it. We are all dreaming of playoffs but before we get there how about a marquee matchup that will be a treat not only for Seattle fans but for football fans nationwide.
You could almost hear the outraged Seahawks fans screaming at their television sets. It seemed like lady luck was just not with the Hawks today. The referees seemed to be making every possible call against the Seahawks and none for them. Balls dropped by the Bears seemed to be magnetically attracted back into their hands. A couple times the Seahawks came out of a pile with the ball on a fumble and a muffed kick but for some inexplicable reason the ball was awarded to the Bears. It was just “one of those days” the Seahawks and their fans have suffered through many times in the past, most notably in their Super Bowl loss, and most recently last week vs. Miami.
But something strange happened on the way to another infamous Seattle loss. They somehow got the plays they needed at just the right time. Like the big defensive stop in the first half that halted a Bears drive inside the Seahawks 30. And there were the numerous Russell Wilson runs for first downs. Then there was the offensive pass interference call on the Bears Brandon Marshall against Richard Sherman that helped end a second half Bears threat.
And then came what most fans thought would be the game winning score that capped a 97 yard drive; an incredible catch and run by… you guessed it, Golden Tate. This guy always has at least one amazing catch and run, and today was no different. Catching the ball at the 10 yard line, spinning and weaving through a matrix of Bears defenders, and finishing with a horizontal dive and stretch into the end zone. Hawks up by 3 with 26 seconds left to play. We WIN!!! Right??? Not so fast! After the kickoff, which the Seahawks covered well by tackling the Bears return man on the 15, Bears QB Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for a 56 yard strike to around the Seahawks 30. A short run to kill some clock and the Bears hit a 46 yard field goal to tie up the game and send it to overtime. You may notice some people walking around Seattle tomorrow with large clumps of their hair missing. They are Seahawks fans and this turn of events is why…
Now for the sake of full disclosure, this is when I turned off the TV set, got my son and our fishing poles and went fishing. The Seahawks just don’t ever seem to win after things like this happen and I didn’t want to see it after they seemingly had it in the bag! By the time we got our gear and ourselves in the car, got the radio on and were heading for the freeway, Russell Wilson was driving the Hawks who had just gotten a delay of game penalty. ”Yep, true to form”, I said. Seems like every time in these close games when the Hawks need to execute and focus, the penalties come in droves and they start going backwards. Not this time. Running for a couple first downs to keep drives alive and throwing with deadly precision, Wilson quickly had them in scoring position. At this point the air was starting to leave the Bears stadium for a second time in 10 minutes. Seahawks fans got the feeling something special might be about to happen. And it did, but at a cost yet to be determined.
From about the 15 or 20 Wilson threw a dart to Sydney Rice who made the reception, barely getting the ball in the end zone before a crushing hit appeared to knock him out cold. (Rice later said he never lost consciousness). The scary moment when Rice went limp on the ground overshadowed the potential score. As the refs scoured the replay for what Hawks fans must surely have thought was any excuse not to award the Hawks the score, Rice came around and sat up, and was able to walk off the field. After taking an inordinately long time, the replay official finally awarded the Hawks the TD. GAME OVER!
Nothing came easy for Seattle today. Not for the Seahawks or their fans at home watching. But these are the kind of games that build character and show that if you persevere you can overcome adversity. Yeah, I should have delayed my fishing trip a few minutes… Next time I should have a little more faith in the Seahawks, especially Mr. DangeRuss Wilson, whose leadership on this team just paid a huge dividend. Not only did he deliver the win, he delivered the spark of confidence this team will need to get into the playoffs.
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!
Well it is Finally Bye week for the Seattle Seahawks and it came at a perfect time before they go on the road for the next two games against the Dolphins and the Bears. All things considered Sunday was a huge game for the Seahawks as they were able to handily win a game that they were suppose to win. It was not filled with all of the suspense in the fourth quarter that Hawks fans have come accustomed to this season. Here is a look at how the team looked in all 3 phases of the game.
This game was really a tale of two halves for the Seahawks Offense. Other then the first drive of the game, the Seahawks offense really sputtered in the first half. Rex Ryan was able to confuse the offensive line with his blitz packages and the pressure forced Russell Wilson to do a lot of dancing in the pocket. The dancing forced two fumbles one of which resulted in the only points on the day for the Jets.
We are constantly talking about Russell Wilson and rightfully so but; it is being shown on a weekly basis that Golden Tate is finally becoming the playmaker that the Seahawks hoped for when they drafted him. His stats are not going to jump off the paper at you, but every time the Seahawks need a big play he is somewhere around the ball (Green Bay Game). Not to mention that he now has a passing touchdown to his credit ugly as it may have been. Sydney Rice has been able to stay healthy and because of that he had two touchdown catches and nearly a third on the flea-flicker. Zach Miller and Doug Baldwin were steady safety blankets for Wilson when needed.
Marshawn Lynch again had a solid game rushing for 124 yards and he went over the 1000 yard mark again this year. Lynch was slowed during the week with back spasms and it showed early in the game but once he loosened up the runs started getting longer and longer. Although he did lose his first fumble of the season and appeared to hurt or jam his wrist on the play in the 2nd quarter. This is a much needed week of rest for Lynch so that “Beastmode” can be unleashed in the later part of the season.
Grading the Seahawks Defense against the Jets should start and end with the word Sherman. Richard Sherman was all over the field, he had an interception in the endzone, he had a sack and he had a forced fumble. All the while completely shutting down whatever receiver he was guarding on the left side of the field.
Bruce Irvin made his presence felt with his speed rush with two sacks again, that gives him three multi sack games on the season and he now has 7 sacks on the season. Chris Clemons didn’t record any sacks but his presence was felt with his batted balls and he constantly hurried Mark Sanchez.
KJ Wright was out of the game with the remnants of his concussion from the Vikings game. The Seahawks showed their young depth at linebacker by sticking Mike Morgan in Wrights spot and he rewarded them by recording 6 tackles. Bobby Wagner again continues to get better each week as he was flying around and recording 9 tackles.
Special Teams B
This was a pretty average week for the Seahawks special teams; there was nothing spectacular other then the muffed punt by Jeremy Kerley which Kam Chancellor recovered. That fumble really got the momentum back on the Seahawks side late in the second quarter. The punt coverage was superb and constantly waiting for Kerley to fair catch the ball.
Jeremy Kerley was only able to return 2 out of 6 punts and Kerley totaled 6 yards on the two returns. Although Jon Ryan did shank one punt in the 1st half. He also put 2 of the 6 punts inside the 20 yard line.
Leon Washington had a quiet day returning the ball although he did not get many opportunities, 1 kick return for 17 yards and 3 punt returns totaling 40 yards.
All in all this was probably the most complete game that the Seahawks have had all year. Especially in the 2nd half, all three phases of the team were clicking and we the 12th Man was finally able to see what this Seahawks team can look like when they click on all cylinders. This game was against the 3-6 Jets but again it is important to handily beat the teams that you are supposed to beat. This was a solid win for the Seahawks as they go into their bye week before they make the push to the playoffs throughout the rest of the season.