I am back after a lengthy hiatus as I added writing for the FanSided homepage as part of my regimen for a while and am excited to get back in the swing with my weekly column for you great Seattle fans. And good lord do I have something for you this week, hope you’re in the mood to read a little. Let’s get it!
I saw this intriguing column by Hayden Kane at our FanSided partner LightlyBuzzed.com and just had to respond. The main bullet point is in the title of the column, “Seattle Seahawks PED suspensions: Seriously, why don’t we care more?” In all fairness he meant general suspensions, PED or otherwise. It’s a pretty interesting concept he brings up and I’d suggest the read to make sense of what you’re about to read as a response.
As opposed to the original negative comments towards this piece, I have to admit I was wondering when this question was going to be posed by somebody, if ever. It IS a valid question and I am SHOCKED that it’s not a bigger deal to the league office. I will say that it seems as if Browner’s suspension (if upheld) is a step in that exact direction. Technically a judgement of a year long suspension for this offense isn’t supposed to fall until til the 4th time around and this is Browner’s first issue in this category, to my knowledge. (Thanks for that assist goes to our old buddy @12thManMyers). The suspension then, could be more of a not-so-quiet but inconspicuous message to the Seahawks from the NFL, more-so than to Browner; “Get it fixed or we reserve the right to expedite the process of penalty against your player(s).” Yeah I might be reaching there, but maybe not.
At any rate consider that the league is fining and flirting with the idea of taking away a draft pick from the Steelers for their coach standing too close to the field of play when a player ran by and almost bumped him. The NFL is extremely sensitive to even seemingly non-issues. Consider also that if the University of Washington were facing this, the question of “death penalty” might be posed, not acted upon, but it would come up eventually through other findings in a stupidly-long investigation of the last two decades of stuff. A bowl ban, recruiting penalties, etc., all would be on the table and the previous coaches would be sought out for penalty if possible.
Thankfully that isn’t the case in the NFL, but the argument of why Seattle has been caught so many times without really having to deal with much flack as an organization is incredibly justified and ultimately, the result is stunning. There’s nothing wrong with having the opinion that this is maybe a bigger deal than we make it out to be.
That being said, to answer your question Hayden in a general sense, comparing football and baseball is comparing the gladiators to the Roman soldiers. One is held to a higher standard and baseball has always self-proclaimed it’s place as “America’s Game.” The other is expected to find a way to that edge for survival and Football was the sport created for the ‘bad boy’ in all of us. Corruption in baseball is supposed to mean more because they hold themselves to a higher standard, so it does.
Also, for the most part, NFL players simply accept their punishment (I said for the most part) as opposed to lying about it and dragging it into the public circle of court or whatever. You lose credibility for your sport by doing that and ultimately being proven guilty. It’s also worth mentioning that this is not Russell Wilson and it was looking like a bigger deal when Sherm was in trouble last year. But yeah, none of these players has the stature of a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez were the flag-bearers for all races in Major League Baseball and all of them lied about it, under oath! Before them nobody would have noticed and honestly, we can ask the question would they have been noticed in their stature otherwise? Yeah probably, but I think that’s the main catch-22 for this whole argument. I mean nobody really talks about Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson in that regard, while questions could easily be raised for both.
But we move on to cover the horizon of the question.
To answer your question as a pure Hawks fan, we don’t care at this point, LOL. We can’t be bothered with that stuff. Simply, we’ve been heartbroken and cheated out of this thing too many times (believe it or not and true or not, that’s how we feel… check the phantom Jets’ TD to end our season in ’99, or the 2006 Super Bowl “pushoff” that stole a TD or “touchdown” that wasn’t or “block in the back” by our QB who was in on the tackle, or the two Playoff losses to Chicago in the last 7 years, or Atlanta in 2013 and etc.). Not all of them were us being cheated but the fact remains we’re starving. We’ve been too good to not have a banner and until we get what’s comin’ we won’t let anything taint our view or stand in the way of our year!!! We deserve this! We can taste this!
Digging deeper, it comes down to the way that Pete Carroll and his staff handle these situations. They don’t let us (or the all important media) dwell on them and those in trouble do not define our team or our team character. When a guy gets suspended, he gets suspended, end of discussion, period. It’s not this “oh woe is us how will we survive this” attitude, our management prepared and did their homework! Every weakness on this team only seems to reveal a bigger strength. The issues that completely destroyed our teams in the past are mere blips on the radar now.
Bad call? Make a play. Down 21? Get tough. Guy injured? Dang it, good thing we drafted homeboy behind him! Guy suspended, WHAT!? (Shrug) we don’t even think about them more than the time it takes us to read it. Oh wait, how many games? Is Russell still our quarterback? Ok, yeah we’re good. There’s no time to whine about it, we’ve been here before and it’s just time to overcome it all. It’s the Pete Carroll way and we’ve all bought in.
Next up, the way this team was built, this is OUR team now! Most are draft picks, which gives the fans a particular sense of pride and entitlement in their performances. On top of that, like 90% of our players are degenerates, passed over or made fun of by the entire league for one reason or another either during the draft or after it. It’s been well documented and we’ve embraced them as the somebodies nobody wanted but now everybody wish they had! Sorry, that’s OUR guy and we’re willing to help him through his issues. Carroll and the 12′s realize that there is a fair amount of risk involved there, but if we can’t embrace you, nobody can. There’s always the T.O.’s that come to town and never fit in, but they kick themselves to the curb anyway.
Whether from the years of painful setbacks or the idea that nobody could be bothered with us or our players, we’ve all developed the underdog mentality, killer instinct and forgiving attitude for those that wish to be forgiven.
Most importantly, each and every one of these players are heavily involved in the betterment of their community and have formed an unbelievable bond with the people and media of Seattle. The Russell Wilson’s, Richard Sherman’s, Marshawn Lynch’s, Golden Tate’s, Doug Baldwin’s and Earl Thomas’s are killers, trash talkers and unreal natural athletes on the field, but as a unit they probably best represent what the NFL is all about outside the field of play, in fact better than most any other group. Media spin is easily positive towards that type of endearment and to a man the team is never “too good” for a quick interview. That earns brownie points.
The guys are ambassadors for their sport and for their city. In Seattle our team is recognized as citizens and friends before we recognize them as players! We know the face before we know the number on the jersey. When they win, we all celebrate together! When they lose, the city is gloomy. We feed off each other on a daily basis, which is part of why we have the loudest crowd in the world. I mean it’s always been loud here, but when everybody cares about the guy making the play more than the play itself, well… Special Happens.
I guess it also doesn’t hurt that it’s nice to be the ‘bad boy’ for once, as opposed to getting beat up by him. Heck, we lived in the AFC West for three decades! Oakland, KC and Denver were always a combination of the dirtiest and best teams in the league. It was like getting punched in the face by big brother ALL THE TIME! When we moved into the NFC West we were the punch-line upon arrival. We were never supposed to be allowed to catch up to San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona. The banners and trophies said it all.
But things have changed, the Aldon Smith’s of the world are getting caught on illegal gun charges in San Fran while the Cardinals are picking up a Tyrann Mathieu with all of his personal problems because he’s a heck of a baller! He got like a million retries at LSU and still couldn’t figure it out, but heck, the Cards were desperate.
We have to be desperate! So our guys took a couple pills and a joint for a leg up, who cares? Nobody’s totally clean, that’s football. If you get caught, own up and do the time. Maybe it’s the wrong attitude to have, but it’s not changing because a few more penalty flags are thrown. We NEED a championship.
We all have issues and it’s always been like this, the great teams face adversity and simply press the “dismiss” prompt on their screen til nobody can see it. For the rest of the league it must really piss them off that the perceived weakness of the week is actually not going to be any easier to attack than it was before. But that’s how it is with every great NFL team.
We’ve been on the other side of the fence too often! Meh, what’s a few suspensions? Next man up til dude gets back! Besides, look at the Tomlin deal. The league is so busy trying to figure out what to do with the next guy that they can’t focus on who’s doing what in Seattle for too long. Suspend the guy and let the 12th Man play!
Percy Harvin will be back in Seattle this week as he prepares to make his debut as a Seahawk, according to NBC Sports.
Earlier today, Harvin tweeted to Seahawk nation:
12th man im back and ready….countdown begins
— Percy Harvin (@Percy_Harvin) October 7, 2013
On Sunday, the Seahawks will complete Week 6, which means that all players on the PUP list are eligible to start practicing and playing with the team.
Harvin has been recovering from a torn labrum injury he suffered at the end of July. His recovery time has reportedly been ahead of schedule as he was not initially thought to be returning to the Seahawks until November.
On Monday, head coach Pete Carroll spoke with 710 ESPN in Seattle and discussed what he knew about Harvin, via NBC Sports:
“He will be back in town this week,” Carroll said. “He was in New York to make sure that the doctor that did the surgery and his rehab team back there was really on it and could really sign off on him. So he’ll be back with us. I know he started running last week. I don’t know any more than that until we get him out here working with our guys. It’s encouraging, we’re getting closer and if it can happen it’s going to happen as soon as possible.”
Harvin’s return would certainly help the Seahawks pass offense, which is currently 25th in the league with 207.4 passing yards per game this season.
While Harvin could theoretically return as soon as Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks have mentioned that they are in no hurry to rush Harvin’s recovery.
In his four-year NFL career, Harvin has caught 280 passes for over 3,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has at least one kickoff returned for a touchdown in each of the four years he has played.
His six-year contract with Seattle is worth $67 million and guarantees $25 million.
On Friday, less than two days before the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll addressed the media saying that the Hawks are “in good shape” and feeling “pretty darn good” about the first game of the season.
“It’s a very difficult match-up with these guys because this quarterback is such a phenomenal football player,” Carroll said.
That quarterback is Cam Newton, the highly-touted Auburn alumn who combines a powerful arm with quick legs to make him a unique dual-threat. Last season, he threw for over 3,800 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding an additional 781 yards and eight TDs on the ground.
The Panthers offense relied very much on Newton last season. In fact, he lead the team in rushing yards, gaining four more yards than starting running back DeAngelo Williams did. But Coach Carroll doesn’t want to underestimate the Panthers at all.
“We [need to] really play well and do the all things we always need to do to [have] the chance to win,” he said.
But the Seahawks need their best players to play and, unfortunately, not all of them are completely healthy just yet.
According to Coach Carroll, corner back Brandon Browner will be a game day decision as he nurses a left hamstring injury he suffered on Wednesday and Cliff Avril, who also has a sore hamstring, “had a very good week of practice”, but will still be a game day decision.
Other notable injuries include defensive tackles Tony McDaniel (groin) and Brandon Mebane (groin) and wide receivers Sidney Rice (knee) and Stephen Williams (head), though they are currently listed as “probable” going into Sunday’s game.
Barring any other setbacks, Coach Carroll seems confident in his team and its potential success this year.
“You always like to play really good at the start and all the way through to the end,” said Carroll. “And we are going to try to do that again [this year].”
I know I am not alone. It doesn’t get talked about much but it is there nonetheless; Seattle Sports Paranoia (SSP). I’ve written this post in four or five different ways over the last week, never really sure how to best go about it. I’ve even seen tangential brushes with SSP being covered elsewhere, such as by Dayna over at NFLfemale.com.
After last season ended, I was crushed. The roller coaster ride in Atlanta took me to ridiculous highs and ended with devastation. Eventually, though, I made peace with it and enjoyed the incredible ride the season was.
Now, with a brand new season about to start, I can think back and remember the feeling after giving San Francisco the beat-down of a life time. Of winning at Washington in the playoffs. I want to feel that again. I want Sundays to continue to be celebratory holidays where Seattle’s warriors go out and beat the representatives from another city. This isn’t “Southern Alaska,” Jimmy Asshat Johnson. THIS IS SEATTLE!! (Said, of course, in the voice of Leonidas, while kicking Jim Harbaugh down into pit of misery.) (I really need to learn how to make GIFs because this one would be great.)
There it was, though. That Seattle Sports Paranoia. We’ve been letdown as a fan base so many times that talking about it with friends is like showing old battle scars. As excited as I get, I can’t push the thought out of my head that a trap door is about to open up underneath us when we are most vulnerable. This isn’t to say that I don’t have complete faith and trust in Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Russell Wilson. I just feel like entropic forces are stronger in Seattle for some reason.
SSP definitely diminishes when I talk about the team with other fans and listen to podcasts or radio shows that talk about the Seahawks. As soon as they’re over, though, it starts to creep back. It’s like a terminal case of self-doubt. The difference is that Seattleites internalize it, while other cities, namely ridiculously overpriced foggy ones, project this out onto others as a massive inferiority complex. Seattle wants to be great, athletically and otherwise, to the point that we don’t have to tell you how great our teams are, you just know.
It takes effort and some level of will power to tamp down what could easily be wild expectations. Seattle didn’t make one bad move in the off season. They were proactive and signed several players to fill obvious needs. It would be hard to imagine a season in which the Seahawks regress at all. But, the unimaginable has happened before and my Seattle Sports Paranoia reminds of it. The Super Bowl. The 1993 Western Conference Finals. The perpetual awfulness of the Mariners that feels like domestic abuse at this point. (And I’m not even a Mariners fan!)
For some, SSP hardens them. They become jaded and cynical. They’re fans, for sure, but always slightly aloof as a form of protection. Some are more empathetic and take big defeats and letdowns right on the chin and are temporarily a wreck. This is me. I consider people like this to be the true optimists because they felt to their core what could have been and are therefore more sad when it doesn’t happen.
Luckily, my fear and doubt have absolutely zero effect on the outcome. I know there will be a bunch of people that think I’m a Debbie downer, have no idea what I’m talking about, or think I should stay optimistic and upbeat no matter what, but that just isn’t me. It’s not how I am with areas unrelated to sports, and it sure isn’t in my nature as a Seattle sports fan. That doesn’t diminish my dedication and loyalty as a fan. Blind faith is not a measure of fandom. I was recently derided for stating that I’m now completely on the Russell Wilson bandwagon. Apparently that is virtually meaningless since I wasn’t on it from day one, like this other guy, and required some proof. To me, that’s ridiculous.
It’s okay to critically think about your team. Ultimately, we all want our team(s) to win. In doing so, you want the best players to play. I originally thought Matt Flynn was the best option. I was wrong. That makes me human, not a bad fan.
Anyway, I’m off to silence those tiny doubting voices once again. I will say, though, that when you have low expectations (not that I really do) or inklings of doubt, it make the joys of victory that much greater, and Seattle fans are in need of continued victory. It never feels better to be oh so wrong.
At the end of last season, as our Seahawks lost so unexpectedly to Atlanta, many 12th men experienced both a devastating sense of loss and a profound depth of gratitude for such an amazing season. Watching our Hawks come to life under Pete, John and Russell was so powerful, that for many, the loss in Atlanta left us struggling to process for weeks. As I began my own emotional recovery, I knew a few things for sure:
- The Hawks wouldn’t pick up where they left off, they would have a championship off-season.
- The rivalry between Seattle and San Francisco would be even stronger this year after that December smack-down the Seahawks gave the 9ers.
- John and Pete would orchestrate an unpredictable draft that would create depth and resolve the pass rush.
- The 12th Man (and woman) would become even more formidable as we pursued another 8-0 home field record.
What I did not foresee, was a world record attempt for a crowd cheer in a sports stadium. Yet, as I considered it, my first response was “who better?!”
The world record attempt originated in the hearts of former Seattle Seahawks Joe Tafoya DE, and Kerry Carter, RB – co-founders of sports media agency, JumpIt Media. JumpIt Media not only produces events such as Richard Sherman’s charity softball game, they also look for opportunities to involve the fans with the teams they love. As former players, they are well aware of the connection between fans and athletes and the energy it produces on game day. Why not, they thought? Why not harness the power of the 12th Man to win a world record for their cheer? What better way for our fans to get the recognition they deserve as the world’s best fans?
Whether you call it the power of 12… or as Joe and Kerry prefer, Volume12… the movement should give Seahawks fans the title they’ve earned!
Already, the impact can be seen, as the resale value for tickets to the world record attempt -September 15th opener against San Francisco- continue to rise.
Will we break the record? I desperately hope we will, even though it will have zero impact on the Seahawks win/loss record. This world record attempt gives the Seahawks fans, the 12th Man, the opportunity to compete against other team’s fans… to take the field, so to speak, on behalf of the Hawks using our own innate skill – Volume12
You’ve probably noticed by now that a number of the writers on 12th Man Rising are awesome with stats… seriously awesome.
Alas, I am not one of them. For me, football is simply a lifelong passion for which I blame my dad. Many years ago in Alaska, football film from the lower 48 had to be shipped north, often taking weeks. By the time I sat next to my dad with my Batman slippers, animal crackers and juice, the outcome was probably known by everyone else in Alaska. I, however, continued to be amazed that my dad always knew who would win. Fascinated, I was sure there must be something more to this game…
Throughout my youth, I devoured books on Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Vince Lombardi, Jim Thorpe, Bronco Nagurski and Ray Nitschke. I became sure that football was less about the game, the universal x’s and o’s, and more about the players that played… and the coaches that coached, like Lombardi, who I was sure could develop greatness in one of my crackers.
By the time we moved to Seattle and the Seahawks became an expansion team, I was prepared to be amazed once again. Instead, I was witness to the heartbreaking realization that expansion teams struggle for years. Still, I soaked up the heart of players like Jim Zorn, Dave Kreig (from the now defunct Milton College), Steve Largent and Dr. Dan Doornink. Coach Patera’s trick plays and Knox’s Ground Chuck became part of my football lore.
Even though I followed the team through the 90’s, my passion for the team and the game wasn’t fully realized until The Big Show came to town. Although Holmgren brought with him plenty of ego, he also brought leadership and vision and I began to see the parallels to Lombardi’s pull-no-punches management of team and personnel.
Becoming a season ticket holder under Holmgren provided me a front row seat to player development, game management and bench theatrics. Barring the painful one year reign of He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned, that view to a team is even better today under Coach Carroll. Under Carroll’s culture of Always Compete, the team seems more of a cohesive unit than ever.
During a game, I can recognize a nickel package and an I-formation as far away as I can see them. But honestly, it’s a bit of a distraction at times. That last minute communication between players before the ball is snapped, the shifts in the line, the hand signals, the stillness… this is what captures my attention. The play clock ticks down, the ball snaps, and the play unfolds. From the stands, you can see the play that was called, the coach’s intent, and the strategy. Then everything changes and it’s down to the players running it, defending it, executing it… Their ability to push, throw, catch, chase… vs the other team’s ability to oppose or out guess them… Gosh, it’s exciting! Sometimes the play goes as called, but often times the execution boils down to each team’s communication in those last few seconds before the ball was snapped. And that’s magical to me.
Sorry fellow writers, (you know who you are). I’ll never be a stat girl. For me, the “fabulousness” of football is always going to boil down to the grittiness, brilliance and heart of the game… and those that play it and orchestrate it.
Ok, the “breaking” part of the headline is a lie. He signed the extension a year ago. He and the team just didn’t bother to tell anyone, so we’re just finding out now.
Credit for digging this up goes to ESPN’s Mike Sando. If it wasn’t for his blog post this morning, we might have never known about this new contract.
Schneider is now signed though 2016, which is great for the Seahawks and all of us Seahawks fans. His work building this roster has been incredible. This extension was well deserved.
This does set up an interesting scenario for the Seahawks though. Pete Carroll was originally given a 5 year deal, and Schneider was given just a 3 year contract. Carroll is Schneider’s boss, so it made sense that Schneider would have a shorter contract in case he didn’t work out.
Now, Schenider has the longer contract. This sets up a scenario where he might outlast Carroll with the organization.
Carroll isn’t exactly as young as he seems. If he isn’t signed to his own extension soon, we’re going to start hearing rumors of him retiring.
I don’t buy that we’re getting close to that point yet, but if the Seahawks win a pair of Super Bowls over the next couple years, then who knows. That type of succes has a way of changing people’s priorities.
All that is just rampant speculation though (brought on by bordem from a slow news day). All we really know is that Schneider is going to be around for a while longer.
And that makes this fan very happy.
Welcome back TJack!
I couldn’t be happier that TJack and the Seahawks have come to terms on a one year contract.
But more, I’m pleased that he’ll be competing with Brady Quinn to be the back up QB behind Russell Wilson, because for TJack, last season with the Buffalo Bills was basically an exercise in futility.
Traded to the Buffalo Bills in preseason for a late round draft pick, Tavaris was not activated for a single game. It defies logic that the Bills traded for him (even though it wasn’t an early draft pick) and then didn’t have him active and dressed for a single game last season. Perhaps they underestimated some of his better qualities, such as his toughness given his determination to play though a devastating injury in the Seahawks 2011 season.
Carroll’s assessment of TJack’s return is spot on… “We’re seizing the opportunity that one of our guys is out there, and we can bring him back in, and he’ll be able to help us. T-Jack has a strong arm, he understands the system and he’s tough as nails. That’s a lot of good stuff.”
One additional aspect that should be addressed is that during his time here, TJack had the respect of the locker room. Several current players have already tweeted their support of TJack returning to the team.
Additionally, with Quinn’s starting record of 4-16, there would appear to be a lot of upside in bringing some completion to the back up QB spot.
So, welcome back TJack! We’re glad you’re here!
The Seahawks have finally made their first pick in the 2013 draft. It just took until the final pick of the second round to get here. With that pick, Seattle took Christine (pronounced Chris-TIN) Michael, a running back from Texas A&M. Chances are you’re wondering who the hell that is. Allow me to enlighten you.
According to NFL.com, Michael’s strengths include a “low center of gravity” but with a “thickness throughout his frame to take and give out punishment.” He has more speed than one would think when he is able to break open as well. Overall, Michael is a bruiser that will be a nice compliment to Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Both Lynch and Turbin are hard to bring down, and Lynch will occasionally level a tackler, but Michael has the ability to straight damage some defenders. Michael is also a good blocker that is able to lead the ball into the second level.
According to CBS Sports, Michael started 2012 rated by some as the “top senior running back in the country.” Attitude issues, however, took him out of the starting role, and the spotlight, which is probably a big reason he was relatively unknown and is yet another “what the what” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Michael has had injury issues and missed the ends of both his sophomore and junior year. He broke his right leg in 2010 and the following season he tore his ACL. However, in 13 games he ran for 1,530 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he can check his attitude issues at the door and stay healthy, Michael should have an opportunity to contribute greatly in Seattle.
If Seattle starts utilizing a running back by committee approach it could be a very different dynamic on offense and make them harder to prepare for and defend. Diversity is a killer.
Another thing that I just thought of is whether or not Seattle might consider lining up Michael at full back and getting all three backs (Lynch, Turbin, and Michael) on the field at the same time. This could also give Seattle more flexibility when it comes to dealing with Michael Robinson’s contract.
This pick could also have fantasy implications as it might limit carries by Lynch.
No matter what, I think we should all get #inpcjswetrust trending because I expect a lot more unexpected picks out of Seattle for the rest of the draft.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Christine Michael, featured, football, Individual Prospects, John Schneider, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Robinson, News, nfl, NFL Draft, Pete Carroll, Popular, Robert Turbin, Roster Moves, Seahawks
Given the Seahawks lofty status of playoff team and being ranked as the 2013 preseason NFL’s best team, it’s easy to forget where this team stood last year at this time, a week before the draft. Here we are in mid April again, wondering who the Seahawks may draft starting with the second round after having traded their first round pick to Minnesota for Percy Harvin. The Seahawks are widely said to have “won” free agency after having gone blow for blow with the San Francisco 49ers in signing big name players. And the likely answer to the question; “who will the team pick in the second round”?, is a resounding – “Who cares? Let’s PLAY”!
The team has already improved itself so much that any player they pick up in the draft will be the sprinkles on the frosting of the cake. In one year the team has gone from just recently having achieved the “respectable” moniker, to “Super Bowl favorite”, and that’s BEFORE the 2013 draft even takes place! There is really some question as to whether any draft picks will even make the team. While the draft may seem a bit anti-climactic after the free agency blitz the team just put on, just remember it was exactly a year ago we were almost positive Matt Flynn would be the Hawk’s starting quarterback in 2012. In other words, with John Schneider and Pete Carroll calling the shots, expect the unexpected. Expect a player or three who can not only make this team, but who can make this team better.
Just for fun, let’s review a few stories Seahawks fans were reading and hearing about their team exactly one year ago.
- Fans of the Seahawks were being told by football writers that;
- We should take heart in the fact that although the Seahawks started 2011 with a 2-6 record, they finished well with a 5-3 record and matched their 2010 mark of 7-9.
- The Seahawks of 2011 were competitive in all but one of their losses.
- The Seahawks had released their big 2011 free agency catch Robert Gallery.
- Excitement for the “two tight end set” grew with the signing of tight end Kellen Winslow from Tampa Bay.
- The team had released and re-signed Marcus Trufant.
- The team was happy to have locked up Marshawn Lynch for the next 4 years and Red Bryant for 5 years.
- Breno Giacomini had done such a good job filling in at right tackle for the injured first rounder James Carpenter, he was re-signed and talk began of moving Carpenter to the guard position.
- The names Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, and Earl Thomas were not yet “household names”, much less the “best secondary in football”.
- Matt Flynn was the “crown jewel” of the Seahawks free agent class. His position with the team would require him to beat out Tavaris Jackson and whatever rookie quarterback the team may pick up in the 2012 draft. Consensus was the QB job was Flynn’s to lose. Nobody, except for a few die hard college football junkies or Wisconsin fans had ever heard of Russell Wilson…
Seahawks fans should understand it’s OK be excited about the 2013 draft, even without a first round pick. Last year the team picked up a franchise quarterback, a starting linebacker, an excellent backup running back, and a future starting offensive lineman converted from defense…all AFTER the first round.
Rarely when your team schedules a visit with a soon to be 36 year old cornerback should you be excited, but today might be the exception to that rule. Antoine Winfield is scheduled to visit Seattle this week as the Seahawks try to address something of a question mark at the nickel corner position. Although Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane are candidates for this spot Winfield is a definite upgrade.
The first concern with Winfield is his age given that he is 35, turning 36 in June. To be wary of an old player at such a physically demanding position is natural but Winfield does not seem to be slowing down. The 5-9 190 lb corner started 15 games last year and played in all 16, and while he has missed 17 games in the last four years, he comes in without any current injury concerns. After injury the second most important concern about aging players is declining performance. Winfield puts this concern to rest given that his 2012 season was one of the best in his 14 year career. He had three interceptions, tied for his 3rd best career total, and 12 passes defended which was tied for 2nd best in his career. These numbers suggest that Winfield hasn’t lost enough to be a liability in coverage, even if the reality is that pure coverage has never been his specialty.
The real reason why this potential signing is so brilliant is because Antoine Winfield fits perfectly with what Pete Carroll likes to do on defense. Arguably his greatest talent is in run support, which is a point of emphasis for this defense since Carroll has been in Seattle. Defending the run was also a greater weakness than many realized in 2012 as the Seahawks conceded a problematic 4.5 yards per carry. Additionally, Winfield has shown the ability to get to the quarterback on the cornerback blitz, something that Pete Carroll is very fond of, especially out of the slot. In the last five seasons Antoine Winfield has produced 6.5 sacks, which is not a staggering number but not an irrelevant one either for a cornerback. When one considers that games missed over that span it is even more impressive. Winfield can clearly be an interesting occasional weapon rushing the passer out of the slot, something that makes him even more appealing to the Seahawks.
A visit is no guarantee of a signing but this one caught my eye because Antoine Winfield appears to be a really good fit for this Seattle team. As a Super Bowl contender the Seahawks should be looking to sign older players at a discounted price to help them win over the short term the way the Patriots have been doing for years. I don’t know exactly what Antoine Winfield’s price is but I can’t imagine he would be particularly cost prohibitive and it seems like he would be an excellent addition due to his ability to stop the run, rush the passer, and hold up in in coverage, even during his twilight years.
I’ll admit that the number people commenting on this site the last few days in support of Breno Giacomini greatly surprised me. I’ve become used to a generally level of unabashed Breno-hate on the web. I had come to believe I was one of his “supporters” simply because I didn’t want him run out of town on the first available bus.
Views on Breno are obviously disperate. My views land on the side that he’s fairly mediocre and should be replaced as a starter if the team can find a suitable player. I’m also not always right (obviously!), and am willing examine the possibility that I’ve been selling Giacomini’s ability and performance short.
Since I didn’t have 48+ hours (or about 16 if I watched the condensed versions) available to go through all of the Seahawks tape while writing this, I decided to use the data available from Pro Football Focus. They grade every player on every play, so their performance ratings are very comprehensive. I’ve found that their player grades are the best of the advanced metrics that are out there.
Here is a snapshot Giacomini’s performance from 2012 according to PFF. I also compared him to the other full time offensive tackles. (43 qualifying players who played at least 75% of their team’s offensive snaps)
|Pass Block Efficiency||93||4|
I have to say, the data here is pretty clear. There weren’t a lot of offensive tackles that played worse than he did in 2012. It wasn’t just penalties either. Giacomini wasn’t very good in any aspect of the game. If anything, my view that he was a little below average may have been giving him too much credit.
So lets get this over with. Time to dispel from myths:
Myth 1: He’s a road grader in the running game.
He’s not. Giacomini ended the year with a negative performance rating in run blocking. He was also 32st of 43 full time offensive tackles in run blocking. If you remove the LTs from the list (which are usually there for their pass blocking) it looks even worse. There were only 4 RTs in the NFL that ended the season with a worse performance rating for run blocking.
While run blocking might be his strength, he’s still in the bottom 25% in the NFL.
Myth 2: His pass blocking isn’t that bad for a RT
The above data is pretty clear. He’s among the worst pass blockers in the entire NFL. Even if you look at only RTs (which are usually not as good at LTs in terms of pass blocking) it’s still bad. Only 2 starting RTs finished with lower pass blocking performance ratings.
Myth 3: His penalty problems got better over the course of the season
The data doesn’t support this. He had 7 penalties in the first half, and 5 in the 2nd half. He had a negative performance score for penalties in 5 games in the first half, and 4 in the 2nd half. That sounds like improvement, but it isn’t statistically significant (which means that the change isn’t enough that it can’t be distinguished from random variance).
The real change was the number of penalty yards given up. Instead of 15 yard personal foul penalties, he was giving up 10 yard holding penalties and 5 yard false start penalties. This leads to the perception that the penalty situation is improved much more than it might have been.
Is Giacomini improving?
This is an interesting question. If he is, then dealing with his insufficiencies becomes easier because we can expect better things from him in the future. In this case, the data is fairly inconclusive.
The thing that jumps out to me is that he was more consistent, and had more aspects of his game that were positive in the 2nd half. That suggest improvement. He also had his 2nd worst game of the season in week 17, which suggests otherwise.
The difficult part in trying to learn anything meaning from the data is that the talent of the opposing team isn’t included. That stretch of generally positive results for Giacomini came during the “soft” part of the Seahawk’s schedule. Did he actually play better? Or was this simply the case of looking better because he played against inferior defenders? I’m not sure.
Like I said above, the data is inconclusive. I think most people will look at that chart and see whatever they thought before looking at the data. It’s called confirmation bias. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Back to whether or not he’s improving: We are talking about a guy who has been in the league for 5 years. Few players ever improve significantly this far into their career. There is also no discernable change from his 2011 performance data. Both of these 2 facts suggest that even if he does improve for 2013, it would be unreasonable to expect drastic improvement. It could happen, but logic and history suggest it’s exceedingly unlikely.
But what about attitude/intangibles?
This is where Giacomini has the edge. He’s a full-effort guy. He’s mean. He blocks through (and sometimes past) the whistle. These are good things. I like the “edge” that he brings. His demeanor and attitude are a good fit for the running game.
But is that enough?
One thing that I keep hearing about is the positive things that Pete Carroll and Tom Cable said about Breno last season. I honestly think people are reading too much into those statements. You have to take into account the context of what was going on.
Carroll and Cable were getting pounded by questions about Giacomini’s negative performance. Of course they’re going to be positive. That’s their job. They aren’t going to throw one of their starters under the bus. That isn’t how the NFL works. It’s what we like to call “coach speak,” and Carroll is a master of it.
Also, if you look at the quotes, Carroll praised Breno’s attitude and effort, but not his play. Cable said that Giacomini was the one guy he’d want in a street fight with him, but since when does street fighting correlate to being an NFL tackle?
I think people are reading too much into these quotes, but that’s just my opinion
So what does this all mean?
I think the take away from all of this is that the Seahawks need to find a long-term solution at the position. Giacomini simply isn’t a quality NFL offensive tackle. There isn’t a nicer way for me to put it.
The Seahawks also know what they have in Breno. They know they can win even if he continues to play at a low level. There’s trust there. I believe that this is why he’s still on the roster. If an upgrade can’t be found, they know they can roll with him at RT for another year.
He’s also entering the final year of his contract, and is due significantly more than his play would indicate. The Seahawks need to free up some cap room, and could generate $3.5 milion in cap saving by replacing him with a rookie or cheap veteran. So while Breno is safe now, that doesn’t mean he’ll remain so.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Giacomini not make the 53 man roster. As long as there is someone who can replace his production (which the above data suggests shouldn’t be hard to find), then there’s no reason to keep his inflated contract on the books.
With free agency winding down, especially for the Seahawks I would imagine, it seems about time to take stock of where Seattle sits heading into the draft. It’s no secret the Seahawks are a good team, no amount of east-coast bias could blind the football world to that fact. The Seahawks may well be a great team, in fact I have them in the top five as we stand at this moment. As a result, this article is going to be much shorter than it might have been in previous years. Today what I’m going to examine is remaining areas of concern for the 2013 Seahawks. We are a couple of draft picks and perhaps a few bargain bin free agents from a final roster at the moment and with any luck these shockingly few holes will be filled come the regular season. The following is an account of what’s missing/a shopping list for this front office:
#1: A starting quality DT to pair with Brandon Mebane
This need might be satisfied in a fairly anti-climactic manner with the return of Alan Branch but that is no guarantee. Branch is only 28, he’s available, and he’s probably relatively cheap. None of that is anything to sneeze at. Additionally he has started 31 of 32 games for the Seahawks and provided four sacks and solid run stuffing during that time. This is also noteworthy. Contrarily Branch only had one sack and one tackle for loss last season compared to three and five in 2011. Branch is a known quantity but he’s far from exciting and most definitely upgrade-able I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle brought back Branch but I also think there’s a good chance they draft a DT with one of their first two picks in the draft. These scenarios are far from mutually exclusive as you can never have too many quality defensive linemen. It’s important not to forget about Jaye Howard who failed to make an impact last year but was a fairly well regarded prospect coming into the draft and could always surprise.
#2: A starting quality OLB to go with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright
This is the second biggest hole I see on the Seahawks right now and I’m not entirely sure there isn’t a viable candidate on the roster at this moment. That says a great deal about this team. Malcom Smith appears to have some talent and impressed me in his brief 3 game stint as a starter last year. Am I comfortable going in to the season with him as the starter though? Not without a serious back up plan. If the Seahawks insist on being boring I’m sure they could bring back Leroy Hill although he is far from the explosive talent he once was. My best guess is Seattle drafts an OLB in either the 2nd or 3rd round has him battle Smith for the job, with Smith likely returning to his role as a backup.
#3: A slot cornerback
Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner’s success as a corner tandem is well documented but in the today’s pass happy NFL you need three quality corners on defense. Trufant was fairly underwhelming last year and seems unlikely to be brought back in 2013. Walter Thurmond III is probably capable of playing this role but he simply cannot be counted on to stay healthy. Jeremy Lane is also a player who conceivably could be the guy for this spot but I see him as more of a backup on the outside with his size and lack of elite quickness. There are question marks surrounding both internal options and a couple interesting guys floating around in free agency (ie. Charles Woodson, Adam Jones, Tracy Porter) but they are probably cost prohibitive for a team that has been spending a surprising amount of money lately. The most likely scenario is Seattle tries to see if one of their two guys can stick as the third corner and takes a chance on someone later in the draft as well, as they are wont to do.
#4: A starting right tackle
This is where the shopping list enters pipe dream territory. Breno Giacomini is almost certainly the starting RT for the Seahawks in 2013. The problem is he’s not very good. He’s probably not the worst starting RT in the league but his inconsistency and stupid penalties are cringe inducing at times. There are some quality OT’s available in free agency at the moment who would represent a significant upgrade (Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith jump to mind) but they remain firmly outside Seattle’s price range barring any major cap casualties. Quality offensive tackles don’t last long in the draft so I doubt an immediate starter can be found late in the second round, but you never know. Unfortunately I think Giacomini is the Seahawks’ only realistic option at the moment.
Lists of five are much more aesthetically pleasing than lists of four but I really can’t think of anything else the Seahawks truly need. Quarterback? Check. Runningback? Check. Wide Receiver? Pretty impressive with the addition of Harvin. Tight End? Fine presuming Miller is sticking around, which he seems to be. Even the offensive line is has two Pro Bowlers and quite a few options at guard with upside. The Seahawks have also loaded up on pass rushers and they already had a stacked secondary so I really don’t know what else they would desperately desire. Quality depth is a must and that’s largely what this draft class is expected to provide, but by and large the Seahawks are set. Being a Seattle Seahawks fan at the moment feels like being a spoiled child who can’t even think of what he wants for Christmas because he has everything. Everything can always go wrong at the drop of a hat (and in my experience as a sports fan it does 85-90% of the time) but we are looking at a pretty strong squad heading into the 2013 draft. It’s a good thing I wrote this article now because knowing how well this front office drafts there might be nothing to say on this topic come April 28th.
Imagine yourself at a Seahawks home game, early in the season. The Seahawks are driving for a go-ahead score with minutes left in the game. The hand off goes to Marshawn Lynch at the opponent’s 40 yard line. He tries the middle, bounces to the outside, and breaks loose in the defensive backfield. He’s at the 30, the 20…cuts back inside….he’s at the 10 yard line. Finally, a linebacker, a safety and a corner converge on him at the 8 yard line. But Lynch smells the end zone and gives it that “Marshawn Lean” to try and knock that safety out of his path. Marshawn puts his head down, destroys the safety and rolls into the end zone carrying 2 guys on his back. “TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!!!”, shouts Steve Raible at the top of his lungs. The crowd jumps to it’s collective feet cheering wildly! Then Raible says; “Hold on a minute, there’s a flag down on the field at the 10 yard line…Oh boy…it looks like this one is coming back…”.
This could be a common occurrence with the Seahawks this season, maybe more so than with other teams, if NFL owners vote in a new “head lowering” penalty for running backs . Pete Carroll has already said the Seahawks are going to remain a “run first” offense. He may want to change his mind on that one after the first few games if things go the way I’m thinking they could go with this new running back “head lowering” rule. If you haven’t heard, Roger Goodell proposed a new rule in which running backs will be flagged if they lower their head to use the crown of the helmet like a battering ram. This essentially means running backs will have to take on hits standing up or risk a penalty.
I was listening to the “Mike & Mike” show this morning on the way in to work, and they had former Dallas Cowboys Great Emmett Smith on the show to give his “NFL Hall of Fame running back” perspective on the new rule. He brashly said it will make it impossible to play the position of running back. He claimed there is no way a runner who sees he’s about to have a collision is NOT going to instinctively lower his helmet and his whole body to protect himself. Smith added, when you are punished for hitting tacklers with your helmet the end result is you’re going to see a lot of guys just step out of bounds rather than try to get more yards. He thinks it will eventually turn the NFL in to something that resembles “touch football”. Will this still be “football”? I say “no”. Running backs will more resemble quarterbacks at the end of a play, taking a slide to avoid a stand-up hit or meekly squirting out of bounds before the big hits we all know and love.
Now, to be fair, an NFL team of experts, coaches, & former players looked at all the film from last year and only found five instances of this helmet lowering that would have been called under the new rule. So, while there might be a lot of latitude a referee can give backs on this rule, or there might not be. The panel admitted it could be very difficult for a referee to fairly call this kind of thing in the heat of a game. This rule is made for inconsistency in how it’s called, and could be affected by the referee’s angle to the play, his view of the play through other players, the weather, how the other player reacts, and a million other variables. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decides to push this rule hard, it could really put a crimp on the running styles of the hard-nosed, punishing running backs like Lynch. A quick review of some “Beast Mode” highlights reveals Lynch does often use his helmet and shoulders and a healthy forward lean to blast people out of his way. Is this going to make him a magnate for yellow flags? How could it not? You could even say Lynch is the kind of runner this rule is designed to punish…errrr…protect. If there is one rule they could have come up with (other than making the QB scramble illegal) that could put the brakes on a potential Seahawks championship season, this is it!
For other teams with finesse style runners this probably wouldn’t be an issue. Teams with backs that run in a style more like Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, or Barry Sanders will get a break because that style runner very rarely takes on a defensive back. Teams with backs like Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis, and yes, Marshawn Lynch could potentially lose some important plays, first downs, or critical scores. Remember the Seahawks were a HALF GAME away from winning the NFC West title. One bad call can make that difference. This WILL affect coaching strategies. Worse case; I think it’s possible that coaches will get tired of all the laundry thrown at their running backs and probably will move away from the running game as an important force in their offenses. The NFL will evolve into something like the Canadian Football League, where passing becomes the dominant type of play. That will be too bad. I think it will wreck the game as it has come to be known and loved. The diversity of schemes that combine running and passing is what makes the NFL interesting to watch.
The next question is; will the fans revolt? Will the NFL be on a path to a slow death because fans will slowly find other things to do than watch a league full of guys running around trying to avoid getting hit? Will the game become something so foreign to our senses that it becomes a laughing stock? A quick look at the controversy created by the “defenseless receiver” rule should give guidance here. There were a lot of cases where a legitimate hit was flagged and great defensive plays called penalties. The hit Cam Chancellor put on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis comes to mind… That was a great, legal (as it turns out) hit that should have been called an incompletion and brought on the 49ers punting team if memory serve me. The penalty turned it into a 1st and 10 for San Fran. The Hawks ended up losing that game by a touchdown. If victories are seen as not legitimately won, the loss of fan interest could put a serious dent in the NFL’s credibility and viewership. But then the NFL has survived and thrived amid controversial calls for decades, so maybe it’s nothing to worry about.
Last but not least, will this rule, if passed, affect how Pete Carroll and John Schneider evaluate running backs in the upcoming draft? Might they hedge their bets that sending Marshawn Lynch to ballet school won’t turn him into a finesse runner and go after one in the draft? It seems advisable to have a “change-up” back anyway, but maybe this puts a little more urgency into that kind of pick. I’m thinking a running back with lots of speed and not a lot of brawn, and the ability to avoid pursuit may be high on more than a few teams draft boards.
In the end it looks like the NFL is changing so as not to appear unconcerned, and to avoid the avalanche of lawsuits that will surely materialize if they don’t “do something” now that they know there is a serious problem. Here are some things about this rule to consider moving forward: Will it change the game so much that they destroy the game? If they do nothing can the game survive anyway? Will the running back become extinct? Will they have to make more changes to keep the game interesting? Who knows? Finding the answers to these questions may become more interesting to watch than the actual games. One other thing Emmett Smith said is that people who haven’t played running back at a professional level have no idea what they’re talking about. Sorry Emmett, but THAT’S WHAT WE DO HERE!
Seattle Seahawks General Manger John Schneider went on the John Clayton Show, which airs on 710 ESPN Seattle every Saturday morning, and talked about the role Cliff Avril would play for Seattle. A link can be found at the bottom of the article to the interview.
Schneider mentioned in the interview that Seattle plans to have Avril play the LEO position that Clemons played before his injury and WILL Linebacker that K.J. Wright currently fills.
The comment about Avril playing the WILL Linebacker position got me to thinking; How a 6’4, 260 pound defensive end play linebacker in a 4-3 defensive system? The answer and player that comes in mind is former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson.
Julian Peterson came to Seattle after the 2005 season after spending six years with the San Francisco 49ers. After signing a seven-year deal worth 54 Million. Peterson was not your typical 4-3 linebacker. His job was to get in the backfield and sack the opposing quarterback as many times as possible. Peterson filled this role nicely with Seattle in three-years he managed to collect 24.5 sacks. Keep in mind that Peterson was not put in a position of defensive end; he played strictly the SAM/OLB position. While Avril would be coming from the opposite side that Peterson filled and taking over for K.J. Wright it could allow Wright to slide over to the other side of the field.
Seattle I believe will put Avril in this role in specific passing downs. I do not believe he will be a three down linebacker as Peterson was. He struggled against the run in Detroit. Avril stands at 6’3, 260 pounds and ran a 4.59 so the explosiveness to come off the edge exists. Avril playing OLB also gives other pass rushers such as Bennett, Clemons, and Irvin the opportunity to all play at the same time.
If you put the numbers in perspective Avril has been a far more productive player than Peterson was, however keep in mind that Avril has had a great supporting cast around while playing with Detroit. Avril has played a total of 73 games during a five-year career while collecting 39.5 sacks (.54 sacks per game). Peterson during an 11 year career played 158 games and collected 51.5 sacks. (.32 sacks per game). Peterson’s play did take a deep decline after leaving Seattle via trade to Detroit, which affected his sack numbers deeply. However if you put the Sack numbers for Clemons and average it out per year that is at least eight-sacks per year and I believe playing for one of the league’s best defenses he can increase those numbers in Seattle.
No one can guess how Avril will truly be used and if the WILL linebacker position will work out but I’m certain Carroll will find a spot for him to cause pure mayhem on opposing Quarterbacks.