The Seattle Seahawks have stolen the stage during the off season after signing; Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin. Seattle added these three players to an all ready lethal squad that includes Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, and of course Russell Wilson. Seattle finished the 2012-2013 season in a gut wrenching loss to the Atlanta Falcons, losing a slim lead in the last 30-seconds to a Matt Bryant field goal. A lot of hype is headed Seattle’s way after adding the trio, and some are calling them the team to beat for the 2013-2014 NFL Season.
The addition of Percy Harvin has made Seattle even better on offense. Harvin will give Seattle a much needed deep threat at the wide receiver position that they lacked during Pete Carroll’s three first years in Seattle. Harvin also gives Seattle another element to us for the zone-read option. Harvin often lined up as Running back during his time at Florida with Tim Tebow, Minnesota also used Harvin at Running back on third down situations. The addition of Harvin also takes pressure off of Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate and will give Russell Wilson another weapon who will haul in a lot of receptions, and be able to gain yards after the catch, much like Golden Tate was able to last year.
On the defensive side of the ball Seattle has added defensive end Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett who can play tackle and defensive end much like Jason Jones was able to do last year for Seattle. These two combined for 18.5 sacks last year, add that to Seattle’s total of 36 last year that is a total of 54.5 sacks. I find it hard to believe Seattle will be able to rack up that many total sacks, especially with Chris Clemons who led the Seahawks in sacks last year with 11.5 is recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, and may not be ready for the 2013 NFL season. However it is not hard to believe with the growth of rookie Defensive End’s Bruce Irvin, and Greg Scruggs that those two can’t add to their total sack total. Irvin led all rookies with eight-sacks, and fellow rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs totaled just two-sacks in a very limited role, I expect both players to up their sack totals next year. I see no reason Seattle can’t get at least 42 –sacks which would put them in the top half of the league.
The latter part of the 2012-2013 NFL season Seattle arguably played better than any other team in the league, they dominated on offense, and defense and showed little weakness, a slow start in the playoff game to the Falcons led to the ending of the season for Seattle, despite outscoring the Falcons 28 to 10 in the second half.ed to be one of the most complete teams in the NFL, with two deep threats at wide receiver, one of the best running backs in the league and the team is young, they bring back every starter on offense, and nine of eleven starters on defense. It is logical to think this team is only going to be better, some fans are calling this team the “Dream Team”. Is it true? Is this team the best team in the league, and the team everybody in the league does not want to play? Is this team the most talented team in the entire league? My quick answer to all three of these questions would be simply, yes. I am however scared of a team that originally dubbed themselves the “Dream Team” (something no Seattle player has done, which I am very thankful for.)
The team I am speaking of is the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles like the Seahawks brought in big named players to a team that went 10-6 the year before, and had one of the most lethal Quarterbacks in the NFL in Michael Vick. They seem a seasoned coach in Andy Reid.
The eagles decided to add to an all ready potent roster, and brought in All-Pro corner back Nnamdi Asomogha, former pro bowler defensive end Jason Babin and seasoned veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. These three starters along with former first round picks Ronnie Brown, and Vince young mixed with an all ready talented roster formed what was supposed to be the “Dream Team” as Vince Young famously called them during the 2011 off season. So with all these added additions what happened? A 11-5 NFL football team, ended up going 8-8. Poor coaching and management of the team is the simple answer, if you want a specific name it is on Andy Reid, he made the mistake of hiring Juan Castillo who coached the Offensive Line to become his Defensive Coordinator. I failed to see the logic in this, at the time and still do.
Reid also tried to buy himself a championship team, something in football you can’t do. He added a lot of high priced guys who did not fit with his or his staffs coaching. Injuries to Michael Vick also led to the demise of the Eagle’s football season but that should also be blamed on Reid for failing to give his franchise Quarterback Michael Vick a stable offensive line to protect him. I highly doubt this fate will be Seattle’s. They return the entire coaching staff besides defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who went on to become the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seattle replaced him with former Florida Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn who also worked under Gus Bradley through 2009-2010 in Seattle as the Defensive Line Coach. As long as Seattle stays with the current defensive system they have ran under Carroll I see no reason why the defense should suffer with the arrivals of Avril, and Bennett, and Dan Quinn.
The 2007 New England Patriots also took the route of free agency to improve an all ready talented team who went 12-4 the year before. The result turned into a 16-0 regular season finish, and a loss in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
The Patriots first move of the 2007 off season was trading for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker giving up a 2nd and 7th round draft pick, to acquire the veteran pass catcher. The Patriots then looked to further boost a wide receiving group that lacked explosiveness and signed free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth. New England then went a step further to acquire one more wide receiver to help out Tom Brady and traded for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss. The end result was a 16-0 season and both Brady and Moss shattered the touchdown record for their respected positions on the football field. Moss was the biggest risk as many felt he played lazy and uninspired football during his stint with Oakland. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was able to keep the talented wide receiver happy. All three wide receivers contributed greatly to the season. Moss finished the season with 98 receptions, 1493 yards, and 23 touchdowns. Welker had 112 receptions, 1175 yards, and 8 touchdowns, and Donte Stallworth finished his season with 46 receptions, 697 yards, and three touchdowns. The result of spending in free agency can work if you have a good coach, stability at the quarterback position and the franchise. Patriots clearly had that, Eagles well they are still looking.
So will the Seahawk’s season end in dismay like the Eagle’s, or will it end in record breaking success like the patriots. I feel somewhere in between, I do not believe Russell Wilson will throw for 50 touchdowns, and that Harvin will haul in 21 touchdown receptions, or haul in 112 receptions the team is too balanced for that to happen, nor do I believe they will go 16-0 at the moment. I do believe however they can achieve something the 2007 New England Patriots were not able to achieve and that is a Super Bowl. I do believe this Seattle team is the Dream Team and team to beat for the 2013 NFL season.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Andy Reid, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Dream Team, featured, football, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Michael Vick, News, nfl, Percy Harvin, Philadelphia Eagles, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady
The match up for Super Bowl XLVII is incredibly difficult to call. Both teams have overcome adversity, and both teams have weaknesses. In fact, I don’t totally trust either quarterback, or defense. Baltimore shut out the New England Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship game, but San Francisco runs a totally different offense. San Francisco plays physical, but their defense almost let the Atlanta Falcons run away with the game early on in the NFC Championship game.
As for the quarterbacks, Joe Flacco has won playoff games in each of his seasons in the league, but he has also lost playoff games in each of those seasons. Colin Kaepernick has great skills, but he was shut down by the Seattle Seahawks in a prime time match up earlier in the season.
Both teams also have questions on special teams. San Francisco’s place kicker, David Akers, has missed several field goal attempts. The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, have a better kicker in Justin Tucker, but have been known to blow coverages on kick offs and punts.
In the passing game, The Ravens have a slight edge with their deep threat of Flacco to Torrey Smith. Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta are solid, but The 49ers have the better overall receiving corps with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, and Vernon Davis.
Both teams are solid in the run game. Baltimore’s Ray Rice is the top rusher in the playoffs this season with 247 yards. However, Frank Gore is number three with 230 yards in one less game. Right behind him is San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick has put up a jaw-dropping 202 yards rushing in his first NFL postseason. 183 of those yards came in one game against the Green Bay Packers.
Historically, both teams boast impressive records. San Fransisco is undefeated in five trips to the Super Bowl, and Baltimore has won one Super Bowl, and holds the best post season record of any team in history at .650. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco also has the most wins away from home of any quarterback in history at six.
San Francisco’s last Super Bowl victory was in 1988. Baltimore’s was in 2000. Because the 49ers history is much older than the Ravens’, I don’t see that playing any part in predicting this game. While they still have the mystique of being the 49ers, they are only three years removed from being one of the most underachieving teams in football. At the same time, the Ravens have been in the thick of the hunt for the better part of the past fourteen seasons.
In the previous round, both teams beat pass-first teams to get to the game, so it’s hard to tell how either will react to each other’s run-first attacks. But, it might be fair to say that the game will go to which ever team manages to pull off the first big pass plays, and if it comes down to that, my money is on Joe Flacco.
Being that both teams dodged bullets to get to the super bowl. The Ravens had a miraculous comeback against the Broncos, and the 49ers mounted an impressive come back against the Falcons. That should indicate that this game will be competitive until the end, even if one team gets off to a quick start.
On the line, the edge should go to San Francisco’s defense vs. Baltimore’s offense. Running the ball will be a challenge. So, I expect Baltimore to pass early to set up the run. Don’t be surprised if they take a shot at the endzone on first or second down of their first drive if they are not trailing.
San Francisco, on the other hand, has to hope that their read option offense has enough spark to confuse a veteran Ravens defense led by Ray Lewis who may have lost a step in terms of speed, but still reads an offense as well as anybody in history. I expect the Ravens to minimize Kaepernick’s rushing attack forcing Frank Gore to provide the bulk of the ground yards. Meanwhile, Kaepernick will have to rely on his arm, the major factor that set him apart from his teammate Alex Smith. Expect Gore to have a big game, and expect Kaepernick to air it out.
In the end, I believe that the Ravens’ experience, will outmatch the youth of the 49ers. The Ravens have spent years deliberatley improving their offense. The plan was to balance out their great defense to have a shot to win a super bowl. Now that they have made it back to the dance, I expect them to show up with their laces tied tight, and ready to rumble.
Ravens: 24 49ers: 17
Tags: afc, Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, David Akers, Dennis Pitta, featured, football, Frank Gore, Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Michael Crabtree, NFC, nfl, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVII, Torrey Smith, Vernon Davis
As somebody who is not going to be watching the Super Bowl (I’ll be skiing) and has been all but completely disinterested in it as soon as I saw who the two contenders are, I figured I’d make a contribution to your Super Bowl party. I have hosted a party myself for the last eight years and am taking this year off, so the recipes that I’m about to provide are tried and true. I consider myself a good cook and somewhat of a foodie so they are being provided by somebody who truly loves food.
First up is chili. I love spicy food. When I say love, I mean really f*ck!ng love spicy food. If you just said in your head that you also like spicy food, multiply that a few times and you have me. Because of this fact, I usually make two batches of chili: a super human batch (for me) and a normal human batch (for most everyone else).
The foundation of the chili is from Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit. You can get at just about any grocery store although it’s always hidden somewhere. It is a little tan and red box that has all the basic spices you’ll need.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound steak (top sirloin or chuck depending on your preference)
8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
Peppers (I like habaneros, serranos, and jalapenos, but you can pick whatever you want)
Other Options: cayenne pepper, hot sauce like Frank’s Red Hot, can of diced tomatoes.
- Dice up onions and peppers.
- Cut steak into .5 – 1 inch cubes and brown over medium-high heat in a pot or pan adding a slight amount of oil if needed. Once browned, drain and set aside.
- Brown ground beef and then drain. Add steak back in.
- Add onions and peppers now or you can add when browning meat.
- Add tomato sauce, 16 ounces of water, spice packet from chili kit, cayenne pepper (from kit isn’t enough, I’d recommend adding some of your own as well), and a little salt (I usually use no salt).
- If you add can of diced tomatoes, cut water in half to 8 ounces.
- Stir together, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Rinse kidney and pinto beans and add to chili. Simmer 5 minutes.
- Mix masa flour from chili kit with 1/3 cup of water and stir into chili. Simmer 5 more minutes.
- You’re done. If you don’t like your chili thick, omit masa flour or use it and add water at the end to get the consistency you want.
*The times are approximate and you can add anything else you think might be good. I added cubed potatoes last time and that turned out nicely although you have to precook them a bit or cook the chili longer.
Buffalo wings are also a good party food. Here is a sauce that I like and appeals to most people.
Ingredients for bourbon buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup bourbon
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s if I don’t have any homemade stuff on hand)
½ cup prepared buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank’s)
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir to prevent burning. It should be softened and smell great.
- Mix in ancho chili powder, chili sauce, BBQ sauce, and wing sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Keep warm while you bake or fry the wings. Or keep over low to have available. The sauce gets really thick when it’s cool.
*Once again, I might add a bit more hot sauce but that’s a preference issue. This is a sweet, spicy wing sauce.
I have lots of other recipes so if anybody has any special requests, put them in the comments section and I’d be happy to oblige. I would also suggest having a cooler/tub filled with beer and ice in the living room so people don’t have to constantly go to the kitchen every time they need a refill.
*Update: I added bacon to my chili last time and that turned out well. 12 ounces of beer is also good. Or if you roast your own peppers (very easy to do), that’s also good. I suggest poblanos. Basically things that are smoky and rich can really enhance the layers of flavor in a good chili.
Well Seahawks fans, I don’t know how this could have turned out worse for us. It’s bad enough that the 49ers and their king sized jerk of a coach got to the Superbowl when the Seahawks are a better team, but now we have another Harbaugh in it…Brother John. The only good thing about this is by all accounts John is not quite the turd in the punch bowl his brother is.
It’s too bad the NFL won’t have the Superbowl on the east coast and make the 49ers play at the equivalent west coast time of 7:00 AM after getting up at 4:00 AM like they did to the Seahawks in Atlanta. Yes, I’m still bellyaching about that even though it goes against the Pete Carroll philosophy. I think it borders on unethical of the NFL to give the first seed team both home field advantage and a time zone advantage and then force the west coast visitors to play the early game on top of that!
I heard Carroll on the last Seahawks Saturday talk about “if we had just gotten ONE of those 4 road losses other than the 49ers loss”. Yes, it sucks. My column on “4 plays that could have made the Seahawks the #1 seed” comes back to haunt us again. Just ONE play of ONE of those games would have given them the NFC West title and at least one home game. What difference would it have made not to have to fly to the east coast TWICE in 8 days? How much more would the Hawks have had in the tank in the 4th quarter against Atlanta? We’ll never know. I just know it sucks. Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now…
Well, so as not to be a Negative Nellie for this entire column and acting on instructions from our fearless leader Keith, I’m supposed to do some kind of look back on the year. I thought I would take a look back at what some pretty widely read sports personalities and writers had to say about Russell Wilson at the beginning of the year.
Wes Bunting – formerly of the National Football Post: Wilson is a plus athlete who can spin the football and gives you a nice run/pass threat. However he’s undersized, is going to struggle to consistently make plays from the pocket and is still learning how to work his way through defenses. He is worth a pick late, but I don’t see the guy as a potential starter in the NFL. Reserve only.
Well, he was a little right and a lot wrong. Yes he wasn’t a great pocket passer, but everything else Wilson nailed down by mid-season.
Tony Softli – former personnel evaluator for the Panthers and Rams said; Wilson is an “immediate threat” to Flynn, and called Wilson “future star”. ”Flynn will have his hands full in a training camp competition against this star in the making”.
That’s more like it! He saw in Wilson what I saw. A guy who will simply overcome his height disadvantage and win on brains and preparation.
Matt Bowen of the National Football Post - I’m curious about this one. Flynn was just handed some new money to come over to Seattle as a free agent and Jackson has plenty of starting experience in this offensive system. Maybe the rookie eventually can jump Jackson on the depth chart, but to beat out Flynn? That’s tough.
Well, you can’t blame Matt. There was the assumption Flynn would be “the guy” and all that money is hard to watch sitting on the bench.
Tom Fortenbaugh of National Football Post - Time to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve got nothing against Russell Wilson as a person. He’s dedicated, hard-working and intelligent. But I believe he’s a vastly overrated quarterback and I think the twitter universe is putting way too much emphasis on what he’s done in meaningless preseason games. Wilson isn’t a fourth quarter closer (Oregon & Ohio State games in 2011, Virginia Tech game in 2010) and is going to struggle once the games start counting. I’m going to sit tight for a few days to see if the hype forces oddsmakers to adjust north before I lock this one in, but rest assured, I’m making this play.
Tom actually KNEW about Wilson and still got this wrong! To Fortenbaughs’ credit, he fessed up to this forecast of Wilson’s career in a recent column, admitting his article was a “Swing and a Miss”. Funny stuff!
John Clayton of ESPN – “I see Matt Flynn as the starter. They brought him in at $6 1/2 million dollars a year , he’s a quick decision maker, he can make all the throws, and he seems to be very accurate. He just hasn’t wowed anyone yet…, but I expect that to happen.”
Clayton is pretty consistent in giving the conservative or “conventional wisdom” aspect of any story. With Pete Carroll one thing you can never do is assume “conventional wisdom”.
Don Banks of SI.com nailed it with this prediction - ”With Russell-mania raging out of control early on in the season, the Seahawks will feed off the energy and veteran-like execution of their rookie quarterback (Russell Wilson) and emerge as one of the surprise teams of the year in the NFL. Seattle will compete with San Francisco for supremacy in the NFC West all season, before settling for a wild-card slot. While Wilson will be a huge part of the story, the Seahawks’ stout young defense will come to the fore down the stretch.”
I was hoping to find more totally off the mark predictions on Wilson, but they have mysteriously disappeared from the web…. Oh well… If anyone can remember the big shot former NFL General Manager who smugly forecast Wilson as a “career backup” at best, feel free to name names, I know I heard that in the pre-season. It’s not enough to say that the Seahawks were THE surprise team this season. They started in the power rankings at around 19th, and ended it in the top 6. Had the Seahawks been anywhere near their week 9 form earlier in the season this season would have been ridiculous. Which brings me to looking forward to next year.
The 49ers are the 7th oldest team in the league. OK, I guess they’re still pretty good this year, and adding Kaepernick made them better, but how long will Gore and Justin Smith be around? One-two more years? The Seahawks are one of the youngest teams in the league and will get younger, and better, next year with Hill and Trufaunt most likely gone. This is a team growing up together, getting good together, and realizing they can be something special together. With the addition of a true #1 receiver and some youth in the defensive backfield the Seahawks are a legitimate rival to the 49ers starting immediately. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks the preseason favorite to win the NFC West even if the 49ers win the Superbowl. Most people know next September the Seahawks will be far ahead of where they started last September. That’s got to be worth at least 2-3 more wins on the road. I also expect another 8 win home schedule too.
It’s Friday! and that means that it’s almost time for another big game for the Seattle Seahawks. This week, the Seahawks welcome The Minnesota Vikings to CenturyLink Field in what feels like a must win game for the Seahawks.
I figure, the best way to get started looking at exactly who the Vikings are, is to ask an expert on the team. So joining me this week for a quick Q&A is Dan Zinski from The Viking Age.
1. The team is playing better than last year, but Ponder’s numbers are still below average. Is this just because of the team’s run-first approach on offense, or are there legitimate concerns about the 2nd year passer?
I don’t normally write forward-looking predictive posts. I tend to focus on things that have taken place, are quantifiable and can be analyzed. That’s just my nature. That being said, I haven’t been this nervous about a game since probably the 2010 Wildcard game against the New Orleans Saints. I am pretty sure I literally lost sleep over it. For those readers that think I’m a “terrible fan” or somehow don’t support my team, boy are they wrong. I have a tendency to wind myself up to a point of complete stress over a game that has very little bearing on my actual life, outside of civic pride. That being said, god I hope the Seahawks leave the 49ers dead on the field after tonight’s game. I actually don’t mind the players on the 49ers, but I straight hate Jim Harbaugh and the organization.
As a resident of San Francisco for five years, I can’t begin to explain the vitriol and borderline violence that awaits fans for visiting teams. For a city whose economy thrives off of tourism, San Franciscans sure don’t like fans from other cities. This was brought to the fore last week, however it is not getting much attention, unlike a similarly disturbing event at a Dodger’s game at the start of the 2011 season which San Francisco attached itself to for an entire season. (I’m not defending either attack – both are abhorrent – I’m just pointing out how much attention some get relative to others.)
I can pretty much guarantee that my Facebook wall (and maybe the comment section below) will explode with insults if the Niners win. After the Green Bay game, it was my “friends” who are Niners fans that forced me to turn off comments on my wall for the evening, something I had never done before. And if the Seahawks are able to pull off this monumental upset, I can’t wait to hear about how many rings San Francisco has. Niner fans seem to think that Super Bowl rings work the same way as the rings the Planeteers used to summon Captain Planet. Their powers combined! Whatever. (That green mullet is awesome, though.)
Luckily, the agony is limited. This is not a make-or-break game for the Seahawks’ season. They play the remaining three division games in Seattle and could still end up at .500 in the division. In other words, the downside is limited, whereas the upside it much greater. If Seattle wins it sends a message to the NFL, the division, and the conversation turns from “will Seattle make the playoffs?” to “how deep will they go?” Seattle will have defeated the Packers, the Patriots, and the 49ers. If they don’t get recognized, they can play with a giant chip on their shoulders which will hopefully allow them to play with that much more of an edge and attitude.
Essentially, after reading a million blogs and listening to way too many podcasts this week, my excitement and “bi-polarity” is ratcheted up to an extreme. I literally have a tendency to live and die with the Seahawks’ success. To question my loyalty and fanship is, to an extent, to question who I am. I think that Seattle can win this game. As to whether they will or not, I can’t say, but it’s hard not to look forward to all the implications if they do. The ecstasy before the agony.
Onto how I think Seattle can beat San Francisco. The 49ers’ defensive line is big. Russell Wilson’s passing pocket will not have the same integrity that it did against New England. Russell Wilson’s first job is to not turn the ball over. Turnovers are a sure way to lose the game. Wilson is going to have to make smart, quick decisions under severe pressure and possibly throw the ball away more than he wants to or is used to. Anything to make sure San Francisco doesn’t get amazing field position. I have never questioned Wilson’s intelligence, and won’t do so now. He is going to need every ounce of it. He is also going to need to be aware of San Francisco’s line backers. They aren’t necessarily even going to try to hide what they’re doing; they’re just going to do it, because they are that good. The outlets I have noticed are usually 5-15 yards downfield toward the sidelines. If Wilson takes what is given and doesn’t force anything, he should be fine.
Seattle also needs to establish and stay with the run game. Both Lynch and Turbin should be used to soften up the 49ers’ line and open up more passing options for Wilson. If Seattle can get 3+ yards a carry, they’re in business. Don’t abandon the run game!
The defense just needs to do what the defense does. The secondary needs to stick to receivers like glue. I can’t wait to see the match-up against Vernon Davis. The defensive line needs to put lots of pressure on Alex Smith. Doing so will increase the likeliness of Smith throwing an interception. The most important thing, however, is stopping San Francisco’s ferocious run game. San Francisco has the leading rushing offense (Seattle is 7th); Seattle has the third best rushing defense (San Francisco is 12th). Overall, San Francisco and Seattle are the 5th and 6th best defenses in the NFL. It’s just a question of which defense will buckle first and which quarterback will play smarter and make few mistakes. The team that forces the offense most will most likely lose. The team that plays within itself, takes advantages of opportunities given, makes the plays that are available, and doesn’t make costly mistakes (turnovers, penalties, etc.) will likely come out with a victory. That may sound cliché (and to an extent, it is), but I think it really holds true for today.
I’m beginning to agonize more and more as I write this post, so I’m going to stop now and count the minutes until kickoff. For me, tonight’s game is personal, as I’m sure it is for many Seahawks players and coaches. It’s my chance to vicariously enjoy a team representing my city kick the crap (hopefully) out of the team of the city I lived in for five years. Hopefully, the only post that goes up on Facebook is me saying nothing because the message will have been heard. Winning graciously is something that I think the city of Seattle does well. We enjoy success, but because loss and sports-related heartache are also too familiar, we can empathize with the losing teams. Fortunately, my hatred of San Francisco outweighs any empathy I have, and in the confines of my apartment I will savor every minute of a possible victory (just not on Facebook).
Let’s hope ecstasy trumps agony, tonight. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long ten days.
*Apologies for the scatter-shot nature of this post. It was simply a fan’s attempt to put down the thoughts and feelings that have been swirling around in my head all week about a highly anticipated game and some aspects that I think would help Seattle win.
All the writers have their stories/predictions out and there seems to be a consensus. ”It’s going to be a low scoring game with the 49ers eeking out a 4 point victory”. Sure, why not? I could believe that! After all, that’s what logic would dictate, right?
We have the two best defenses in the league and two so-so offenses all in the same game. This combination doesn’t scream “high scoring bomb-a-thon”. And Alex Smith is hitting a rough patch in the road after dropping two recent games in fairly close proximity. Seattle, according to the sports elite, has a rookie QB the coaching staff doesn’t trust to throw down the field. They say look for a Gore vs Lynch grind for 4 quarters.
Well I could just join the chorus and agree with them but that’s not my style. And besides that, I don’t believe that’s how Pete Carroll is going to attempt to win this game. I just don’t see Carroll in his office up in Kirkland saying to is coaching staff “yeah, I think I’m going to game-plan according to all the sports writers and do the VERY predictable thing and run Lynch 35 times”. So, understanding full well that I’m 100% wrong when I try to predict what Carroll is GOING TO DO based on what I would do, but totally get what he DID after the game, Im’ going to try this week to think like Pete and make a bold statement as to how I think this game will go.
The 49ers already know about Lynch. They’re game planning to stop him. They also have a really good pass defense but probably aren’t all that afraid that Russell Wilson can do to them what he did to a mediocre Patriots secondary. They will stop Lynch if they can, and dare Wilson to beat them. Now they have last weeks game film, and they know Wilson can throw a pretty good long ball. So if I’m San Fran, I’m ready for that too. What does that leave? It leaves quick passes over the middle, in the flanks, and screens to backs. If I’m Carroll I’m also working on ways to add some sprint outs and a possible option run/pass into that mix with one of the most mobile young QB’s in the league. If Wilson can get the SF defense to quit worrying about the deep ball by mixing lots of short passes with Lynch runs, then eventually when he does go for the long ball, it will come as a little bit of a surprise to the SF secondary. Maybe there’s a long TD to be had if the timing and match-up is right. That should open up the running and short passing game even more.
And what about defensively? Alex Smith is not Tom Brady. He’s not even Russell Wilson. He’s…pedestrian (I learned that word hearing sports writers talk about Matt Flynn, though I don’t necessarily agree with that). There are already calls in San Francisco to bring in Colin Kaepernick. I haven’t seen the two games the 49ers lost, but I know Smith had some INT’s and wasn’t sharp. Smith’s confidence of last year might be starting to wane slightly with the two losses. With players like Smith if they’re taken out of their comfort zone they don’t do well. So pressure is critical. Getting him running, firing passes on the run, forcing him to make throws to his second or third receiver should help limit the damage he can do. So, stunts, blitzes, combined with getting really physical on SF’s older receivers should help make it a long day for Smith.
San Francisco is an old team. Still good, but getting long in the tooth by NFL standards. The young, tough new kids on the block should be able to keep up the punishment on the 49ers for 4 quarters. The Seahawks are overdue to get all three elements of the game going at the same time, offense, defense, and special teams. I expect the team to be focused and inspired by the challenge of playing a great team on the road. If that happens, this game will not be as close as everyone thinks. The 49ers are ripe for a blow-out just like the Texans were last week. They should not take this game lightly.
The Seahawks (and Seattle) have a target on their backs. It isn’t deserved, at least not the way they got it, but it’s their new reality for the 2012 season. The Seattle Seahawks, the only team to ever make the playoffs with a losing record. The Seattle Seahawks, the team that should never have even been in Super Bowl XL against the Cowher and Bettis et al., who deserved to be there sooner. This is what the rest of the country thinks about when they think of the Seattle Seahawks. After Monday night’s game, Seattle now has another item to add to that list: The Seattle Seahawks, the team that “cheated” and “stole” a game away from the perennially popular Green Bay Packers. It isn’t right, and it sure as hell isn’t fair, but that is the message that has occupied the agenda-driven echo chamber of ESPN and other sports media outlets. Seattle didn’t “deserve” to win – even though they outplayed Green Bay in most aspects of the game. Golden Tate “cheated” by pushing Sam Shields in the back – even though one of the best receivers in the game said it was par for the course on Hail Mary plays (is Fitzgerald a cheater too, Rick Reilly?). The refs blew the call even though the picture becomes less and less clear as time goes on.
Seattle must now focus on the coming weeks against opponents such as the Patriots and 49ers. They can’t let the unwarranted abuse get inside their heads. The Seahawks must avoid any sort of letdown at all costs. The team needs to have a chip on its shoulder the way the Patriots did after spy-gate (although that was actual cheating). The defense needs to be play angry and smart. Emphasis on smart. The offense needs to add a second level. Right now it’s extremely one dimensional and it won’t take very long for other defenses to start putting eight and nine in the box on every play.
Pete Carroll has taken responsibility for such repetitive play calling, which is fine, but at some point the Seahawks are going to need to take some chances and make some throws. Interceptions might have killed the Seahawks against the Packers, but Russell Wilson is going to need to get some experience making decisions under pressure. A franchise quarterback must lead the team on the field during crunch-time and get touchdowns. Game managers are generally not franchise quarterbacks. At this point, Wilson is hardly even a game manager. It might be Carroll’s decision and it might be that Wilson simply doesn’t have the ability at this point. Either way, there will come a point in this season when the Seahawks will need to drive down the field at the end of the game on their own, without the benefit of question pass-interference calls. Game one in Arizona comes to mind but I’ll let it pass since it was the first game of the season.
The reason I’m focusing on this is because the only way that Seattle is going to get the target off its back and show the country that the win against Green Bay wasn’t a fluke and are capable of winning the big games on their own. If Seattle has a let-down and loses to the Rams, or gets blown out by the Patriots or 49ers, the talking-heads will start back up about how Seattle is barely good enough to compete in the NFL.
I don’t think the Seahawks will let down, but I hope they also have a little bit of attitude. Play smart and have attitude. No more dumb penalties. Don’t try to explicitly prove anything to the country, because most of it will never give the Seahawks due credit, but take away their arguments one by one. The way Seattle shut up the critics of a 7-9 playoff team was by soundly beating the Saints in the first round. The way to show that Seattle can beat teams like Green Bay is by beating other good teams (Bears, Patriots, Niners, Lions) and not losing to struggling teams (Dolphins, Rams, and Jets).
Seattle also needs to expect the deck to be stacked against them. As far as fans and, I have no doubt, the league are concerned, Seattle is due for the ultimate make-up call to occur against them. Seattle is going to have to fight uphill for at least the near-term and not complain because nobody else is going to acknowledge it. Hopefully the field will level if Seattle can make its case, but they are going to have to play through adversity, of various kinds, first (which is where a more diverse offensive scheme comes in).
The Seahawks know that the 12th man is behind them and I like to think that’s all they need. Seattle tends to have smart players that understand the big picture and don’t get emotionally rattled by the garbage that gets tossed around. They haven’t so far this week, so I have faith. The Seahawks have handled themselves with class (especially with some of the horrific things that have been leveled at some of them on a personal level) and (correctly) apologized to nobody. Now they need to play smart and hard, have pride and attitude, and, at all costs, avoid any kind of letdown, especially against teams that Seattle should beat.
We are still a couple days away from the first game that counts in the Seahawk’s season. One of the things I’m planning on doing each week, just for fun, is to let Madden 13 predict the outcome by simulating the game at least 20 times. I’ll also “watch” one game (I wont be controlling either team) and detailing out how the game unfolds. This week, lets start with the game description.
Before I started the game, I had to make a couple changes to the rosters. For starters, I had to change the team’s starting QBs to Russell Wilson and John Skelton. I also buried Terrell Owens on the depth chart enough that he wouldn’t play, since he’s no longer with the Seahawks.
And now, on to the game:
The Cardinals kicked off, and Seahawks started off pounding the ball with 6 straight runs for 2 first downs before Wilson’s first pass, and it’s a play action pass complete to Edwards for 5 yards. The drive finally bogs down when Lynch gets spelled and Leon Washington can’t pick up a 3rd and 3 at the 8 yard line, but Hauschka hits a short field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks.
The Cardinals first drive ends with a 3 and out. After 2 runs for a total of 4 yards, Skelton throws wide of his target on 3rd down and the Cards punt, giving the Seahawks decent field position for their 2nd drive.
The Seahawks 2nd drive, with Washington still in at RB, can’t get a first down and the Seahawks punt the ball right back. Skelton only completes one pass on their drive, and the ball goes back to Seahawks.
The Seahawks and the Cards continue trading punts in this fashion after this as neither team is capable of getting a first down. The Seahawks defense is dominating, and the Cardinals are stacking the line to stop the run and the Seahawks passing game can’t take advantage.
The punt trading was finally ends when Wilson throws an interception at the Seahawk’s 28 yard line. Luckily for Seattle, the Cardinals can’t get the ball into the endzone, and the game is tied up at 3-3.
After trading punts yet again, Leon Washington take a quick toss around the left side 53 yards to the endzone. 10-3 Seahawks with the first half almost over.
The Cardinals pound the ball into the line twice and it’s halftime with the Seahawks leading 10-3.
The beginning of the 2nd half looks much like the first half, with neither team able to get a first down and trading punts back and forth for most of the 3rd quarter. The first drive not to end in a punt in the 2nd half ends with a Robert Turbin fumble at the Cardinal 45 yard line with just 24 seconds on the clock, ending the Seahawk’s best looking drive of the half.
Again the Cardinals go 3 and out and have to punt, but with the good field position the Cards had, the Seahawks are backed up deep. Luckily, Doug Baldwin finally gets involved in the offense, and the Seahawks are able to string together a few first downs on passes to Baldwin and end up getting a 47 yard FG by Hauschka for a 13-3 lead with 8 minutes to go in the game.
The Cardinals answer with 12 play drive that finally dies at the 15 yard line, and a J. Feely FG cuts the lead to 13-6, but there’s just 2:11 on the clock.
The Cardinals elect to kick the ball deep and not try for the onsides kick, hoping to use their time outs and the 2 minute warning to get get the ball back. It doesn’t work. 3 straight play action passes burn the Cardinals who have everyone at the line to stop the run, and then the Seahawks are able to run out the clock.
In the end, it’s a very ugly football game, but the Seahawks win 13-6.
Statistically, the game was as ugly as they come. Wilson’s passing numbers end up as 12/21 for just 98 yards and an interception. That’s 49.3 QB rating. Skelton’s numbers were only slightly better at 13/25 for 132 yards and a 67.4 rating.
The Cardinals, despite 33 rushing attempts, managed just 86 yards on the ground against the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks faired slightly better, with 167 yards on 45 attempts, though 53 of those came on the Leon Washington TD run.
Clearly, the stars of this game were the 2 defenses. The Cardinal’s defense was led by Daryl Washington, who had 13 tackles and one of the team’s 2 sacks.
The Seahawks were led by defensive end Red Bryant, who finished the game with 11 tackles, including 3 sacks and 2 more tackles for loss. The Seahawks ended the game with 5 sacks on Skelton, though they didn’t manage to force any turnovers.
This game ended up pretty represent of all 20 that were simulated.
As you can see, none of the games were really an offensive shootout. Madden 13 clearly expects the defenses to dominate this game, and it also expects the Seahawks to win.
With many surprising events taking place during training camp and the preseason, I thought it would be a good idea to update the predictions that I made back in May. I also have some more insight into what the Seahawks will look like in the regular season and how tough their opponents are in the first half of their schedule. Without any more delay, let’s get started.
Week 1 September 9, 2012 Seahawks @ Cardinals
This is a game the Seahawks can’t afford to lose. With Arizona’s offensive line in disarray and inexperience at quarterback, the Seahawks defense needs to make a big statement. While the Seahawks often struggle in opening games play away, they have a solid chance to win this one. This game will swing heavily on the two defenses, and if Marshawn Lynch is unable to play due to back spasms, Seattle will be starting rookies at quarterback and running back. This will be a test for Russell Wilson since he will be playing against a good defense that has actually prepared for him. His arm and speed will be put to the test. I believe Seattle will win 21-17.
Week 2 September 16, 2012 Seahawks vs. Cowboys
The Seahawks have had bad luck playing in Dallas the last few years, but as everyone remembers, the last time Romo visited the 12th Man, he squashed a hold and got chased down by Babineaux on a play that would have won Big D the game. Dallas has potential to do big things have struggled to live up to the much publicized potential. This is another game Seattle should win. It’s the home opener and Seattle can’t afford to give away close games if it plans to make the playoffs. I predict the Seahawks secondary making life tough for Romo as the 12th Man’s noise gets inside his head. That, matched with an inconsistent Dallas running game and Lynch feasting on Skittles, has Seattle starting the season 2-0 in a 28-24 victory.
Week 3 September 24, 2012 Seahawks vs. Packers (Monday Night)
This will be the Seahawks’ first big chance to force some recognition from the rest of the country that they are not to be taken lightly. There is a friendly rivalry between the two franchises, due to shared front office and key player lineage, and everyone remembers Hasselbeck’s ill-fated OT prediction in 2003. This game will be a big test for Seattle’s defense. Whether or not they can keep up with Green Bay’s high-speed, high-efficiency offense will say a lot about how much they’ve developed. Russell Wilson will also have to play flawlessly if Seattle wants to stay close. Green Bay’s defense also looks improved since last season and we know Aaron Rodger’s will likely capitalize on the majority of possessions. Green Bay’s ground game will be the biggest question in this game. (Seahawks lose 30-24.)
Week 4 September 30, 2012 Seahawks vs. Rams
The Rams have been the NFC West’s red-headed stepchild for the last ten years or so, and there isn’t much to make me think that that will be any different this season. The Rams have a solid new head coach in Jeff Fisher, and have made some good moves in the offseason so far. However, with Gregg Williams being banned for life, it leaves the Rams in a bit of a bind. The Seahawks did a terrific job shutting down the Rams offense last season – which was basically Steven Jackson who had 61 combined yards on 11/20, and 123 combined yards and the only Ram TD on 12/13. That was partially due to a decimated Rams receiving corps, however which should be healthier and improved with the addition of Steve Smith and return of Danny Amendola. Expect a bit more of a fight from a Rams team that is looking to garner whatever tiny amount of dignity it can, aided by the newly signed Cortland Finnegan, but not being able to overcome a dominant home Seahawks defense. Seattle wins (32-16) and moves to 3-1 on the season.
Week 5 October 7, 2012 Seahawks @ Carolina
The Seahawks haven’t played in Carolina since 2007 where the Hawks lost a close 13-10 game. Of course, everyone also remembers the time before that – the 2006 NCF championship game. Seattle had a top 10 run defense in 2011 and should pose a challenge for Cam Newton. Steve Smith, if he is healthy, is always a threat, as well as the only remaining Panther from the 2006 team. Greg Olsen, the new tight end, is an underrated target that should be respected by Seattle’s secondary. It will be fun to see Seattle’s new pass rushers and linebackers take on Cam Newton. In the end, though, I think that the lack of Panther receivers and a stifling run defense gives Seattle the edge in a game that the Seahawks will probably make more difficult than necessary. Seahawks win 27-24.
Week 6 October 14, 2012 Seahawks vs. Patriots
This is the beginning of the end of Seattle’s very hard first half of the schedule and would be a huge win for morale and momentum if the Seahawks are able to steal this one away from the Hoody. It will be interesting to see if Brady is able to command his offense in the noise and could be a huge different. If the Seahawks hang tough and the crowd stays energized, I would lean towards the Seahawks winning. However, gun-to-my head, I have to go with the Patriots. Seeing what Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski did to teams last year was amazing. Until the Pats are shown to have reliably exploitable weaknesses, and the refs stop listening to Brady’s whining, they have the edge. The Seahawks suffer their second loss on the season (and at home) to one of the best teams of the last ten years. Seahawks lose 21-17.
Week 7 October 18, 2012 Seahawks @ 49ers
Depending on the outcome of the previous game, the Seahawks will have a short week to either lick their wounds from a second home loss of the season or maintain a high level of energy spawned by defeating a storied dynasty. Either way, going into Candlestick and playing in one of the most underrated current NFL rivalries will have all players on high alert. The Niners will have just played the visiting Giants, who did not look very intimidating against Dallas, and will be looking to maintain NFC West dominance.
The Seahawks will be out for some revenge and trying not to repeat their “death by a thousand field goals” like they did against the Niners last season – aided in the first meeting by a David Akers flop. The Niners have added weapons at receiver (Moss and Manningham) and running back (Brandon Jacobs). What better way to salve a recent wound (if they lose to the Patriots) or keep riding high on momentum (if the Hawks beat the Pats) then by going down to the Bay Area and wishing Harbaugh and company an early Merry Christmas? In a pick where I will acknowledge bias due to my total hatred of the 49ers, Seattle wins a huge knock-down, drag-out fight 23-18.
Note: I see this game as a total toss-up. Depending on how Seattle has looked in the first games, this will be a big test since they will need to beat San Francisco at least once in order to make the playoffs. I still don’t know how good Russell Wilson will be and this is one defense that will be looking to welcome him to the NFL.
Week 8 October 28, 2012 Seahawks @ Lions
This is the team that Matt Flynn threw six TDs against to finish the 2011 season. The only problem is, if all goes according to plan, he won’t be starting. Detroit is a team that is looking to return to the playoffs after missing them for forever and a day. If Stafford can stay healthy, they are not a team to take lightly and, if firing on all cylinders, can hang with the best of them. Seattle’s secondary is going to have to work hard to cover the best receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson. Detroit has suffered from chronic injuries at running back and quarterback. A large factor in this game will be who on Detroit is healthy and who isn’t. I’ve given the Seahawks a win in most of the close games so far (one two which could swing the other way) so I am going to have to say the Seahawks lose to the Lions in Detroit and finish the first half of the season 5-3.
This is a marked improvement over the slow starts from the last two seasons, and if the Seahawks can start out 4-4, they will still be very much in the playoff hunt seeing as the second half of their schedule is much easier with games against Miami, Minnesota and home rematches with the Cardinals and Rams. This is a season where Seattle needs to win the games it is supposed to win and hopefully steal a couple of upsets along the way. They also need to split the series with San Francisco in order to hopefully win the division which, I believe, is the only way Seattle makes the playoffs in 2012. Seattle also has depth issues at receiver and continuity issues on the offensive line.
If Seattle is unable to finish 9-7, then I think the scrutiny will pick up a lot, and deservedly so. I am feeling good about the Seahawks’ chances and excited to see if Wilson lives up to expectations and leads the Seahawks back to the playoffs.
I realize that the first game was in fact played last night, but because it was played a day earlier than normal, I’m going to give myself a pardon. This season the staff writers of 12thmanrising.com are participating in a weekly power poll. The results will typically be posted before the Thursday night game and reflect rankings based on the previous week’s games.
Now, without further ado, I give you the preseason polls.
Quickly looking at the top ten, you might see a few surprises. The Eagles are only ranked 15th, while the Seahawks are 10th. This might be due to the focus and nature of the sight, but I also think it reflects how difficult it is to beat the Seahawks. They might not win, but they are not a team that gets pushed over. Especially at home. The Giants are at 6th which I believe accurately reflects their status. They won the Super Bowl last year but barely made it into the playoffs. The last team anybody wants to see on their schedule at this point is clearly Green Bay who are sitting at the top of the list.
The Rams, Dolphins, and Vikings all very much out of favor and have a lot to prove this season. The Cardinals were also not very well ranked, coming in at 25th. There is definitely some stratification in the NFC West according to our writers. The Niners are the highest ranked team in the division (8th), which after going 13-3 last season, I think is justified.
I imagine after the first few weeks, there will be some significant changes in the list as teams sort each other out. Teams that have question marks at quarterback or other key parts of their offense obviously fell down the list (Raiders, Bills, Cardinals, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Rams, Jaguars, and Redskins). You might wonder why the Seahawks are not included, and I can say at least for my part, even though they are starting a rookie quarterback, they have veterans starting in most of the other offensive positions and a proven defense that can help them stay in games. That being said, I have no doubt that the Hawks would quickly tumble down the rankings if they don’t take care of business against the Cardinals and Cowboys in the first two weeks.
It’s always sort of like taking a new car out for a test ride when a new quarterback takes the field. It always helps to have done a little homework on the various options and differences with that new car prior to setting out for the dealership. Many fans have only seen short snippets of the 3 Seahawks’ QBs on the evening news, but have read a good deal about them. So, in this first pre-season game what are the fans going to be looking for versus what Pete Carroll might focus on regarding the play of his QB? Is it possible for Matt Flynn to have a great game but be a disappointment to his coaches? Might what looks like a great play to fans be a “fail” to his coaches? For example, what if Flynn misses all his reads when he comes up behind center, scrambles for his life, and miraculously finds an open receiver for a touchdown? Is that a good play? Or will coaches give him bad marks for missing the reads and failing to audible out of the play?
On the other hand here are some of the things Flynn might do which could appear as “bad” plays to fans that Pete Carroll will absolutely love;
1. Flynn drops back to pass, can’t find a receiver and throws the ball away. That might be marked as a positive on the part of the QB for not throwing a risky pass into coverage and getting intercepted, unless film later shows there was an open receiver.
2. Flynn comes to the line, looks over the defense and calls a time-out. Rather than going ahead with a play that will go nowhere, he can go talk it over with coaches and discuss the look the defense was giving him and plan an appropriate audible for the next time that look comes up.
3. Flynn drops back to pass, and drops to the turf for an easy sack. Some of the worst game-changing QB mistakes come on plays where the QB tries to make something out of nothing. If the defense is getting the better of Flynn’s protection, it’s a veteran move to go down and live to throw another play. Maybe the coaches can change the protection to stop the problem with their pass rush or call a play that could take advantage of over-aggressive defenses.
Of course, we would all like to see Matt Flynn come out and tear up the opposing defense. Here’s what I’m going to be watching for in the seconds between the drop back and the release of the ball. If Flynn does these things well, he could very well avoid the mistakes new quarterbacks make that turn the game against them.
1. Quick decision making. I hope to see Flynn’s head moving around as he checks off his first, second, and third options instead of locking in on one receiver.
2. If the first option is open, I will be looking for NO hesitation before the throw. We had a whole year of that with T-Jack and we all know what that looks like. So do defenses, and they’re going to exploit any hesitation.
3. Sensing pressure. This is a critical skill for any QB. Flynn seemed to have a great feel for the pocket in Green Bay. If he is to be successful, he needs to feel that pressure and take a few steps away from the pressure as he’s looking for his receivers to open up.
1. I’ll be watching the huddle. You can see body language by both the QB and the other players in the huddle as the play is being called. Also the break and how the team approaches the line can indicate how players feel about how things are going.
2. When a play is over, whether it’s successful or not, I’ll be watching for players attitudes when they come back to the huddle. Are they frustrated? Are they “pumped and jacked” as Pete Carroll likes to see them? Are they communicating positively or in an exasperated way?
3. What’s happening on the sidelines when Flynn is talking to coaches? Is it relaxed, tense, animated?
4. I want to see Flynn congratulate his receivers when they make a play, but also maybe have a short conversation to get things straight after an incompletion. This is key to Flynn building his leadership with the team.
1. Quick decision making.
2. Avoiding the forced throw.
3. ”Touch” on the pass.
4. Throwing high to the corner or back of the end zone where only the receiver can make the play.
5. Adapting to the short field with more compact coverages.
So, how will this “test drive” go for Flynn and what will the implications be? Keeping in mind this is the first game and defenses are almost always ahead of offenses this early in the pre-season, I’m thinking it could be pretty ugly for our new QB in a new system on a new team. But if it is, it’s possible to be ugly in a positive way. Flynn could have a good game with a bad result and still come out on top of the QB battle as long as his decisions are sound.
I’ll be watching all these things and taking notes for both QBs during both halves of the game so I can report back next week on what I saw. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just grab a bowl of nachos and a 6 pack and yell at the TV for two and a half hours, scare my dogs, and make a general nuisance of myself to my family. Ahhh yesssss! Football season is FINALLY HERE!
We currently sit at a point of the year where the Seahawks have not played a single snap, not even a preseason snap, and yet fans are willing to make broad assumptions about how this year might go. This is reasonable for the most part as an analysis of roster construction and schedule will give some insightful clues as to where our beloved Seahawks will find themselves at the end of the year. There are a lot of things that can be gleaned from examining how these Seahawks look on paper. However, as the incredibly annoying but unfortunately true cliché goes, “the game isn’t played on paper”. In this article I will examine the validity of five assumptions that we Seahawks fans (I’m just as guilty as you) are making going into this season. Very scientifically I will be rendering my verdict as to whether these assumptions fall under the categories of Safe, Likely, Iffy or Wrong.
1. Marshawn Lynch will continue to be a beast:
Marshawn Lynch is an absolute pleasure to watch. The utter violence of his running style makes me feel as if children under 18 shouldn’t be allowed to see his carries. At the same time I wouldn’t want anyone to be excluded from enjoying his brutal grace. Marshawn was excellent last year behind an iffy (the limits of my vocabulary show themselves in a hurry) offensive line with 1204 yards and 4.2 yards per carry. While his running style seems conducive to injury, he has been fairly durable throughout his career, never playing in less than 13 games in a year. For all the punishment he seems to take and all the carries he’s had, he is only 26. That being said running backs can break down at a moment’s notice.
2. The Seahawks secondary is awesome:
When you look at the Seahawks projected starting secondary awesome is a word that comes to mind along with epic, picktastic and bonecrushing (ok so that only applies to Kam Chancellor but I think it’s fair to say he crushes enough bones for the entire quartet). The foursome of Browner, Chancellor, Sherman and Thomas are 28, 24, 24 and 23 so age related regression is hardly a concern. If anything this group is on the up and up as they hone their skills as they approach their collective prime. The picture is not entirely rosy as Browner can get himself in penalty trouble and both him and Chancellor lack elite foot speed and can be exposed in coverage from time to time. That being said Earl Thomas has Mike Trout-esque range and can often cover for the errors of his comrades. I’m also fairly sure that Walter Thurmond, Marcus Trufant or someone else on the roster can be a competent 3rd CB. Overall there isn’t a lot not to like here but Pete Caroll’s preference for big DB’s could get them burned by speedy receivers from time to time.
3. Chris Clemons will once again lead the pass rush with exactly 11.0 sacks:
I did not have especially high hopes for Chris Clemons when he was first acquired. Even when he excelled in 2010 I braced myself for a sizable regression last year but that regression never came. I think at this point we are treating Chris Clemons as a proven commodity ace pass rusher. Unless Bruce Irvin is an instant star (I’m not betting my life savings on it) the Seahawks absolutely need this to be the case. Unfortunately there are multiple causes for concern the foremost being age and size. Clemons turns 31 this year. While this isn’t ancient it is about the time when pass rushers can fall off the side of the Earth. We got a great season from Patrick Kerney at this age but none after that. Also the fact Clemons is undersized makes me worry about his durability even though that potential issue has not cropped up during his time with the Seahawks. Overall I think that Clemons has too many things working against him (not even mentioning a defensive line that lacks the pass-rushing threats to prevent him from being doubled) to replicate his previous production.
Verdict: IFFY (I considered Wrong but I can’t muster that level of pessimism before the season even starts)
4. Nothing much should be expected of Zach Miller at this point:
After an admittedly disappointing season I feel like fan confidence in Miller is fairly low. Seahawks fans do not seem to have a great deal of optimism regarding Miller despite the fact he is a very talented player. The receiving numbers were not there last year and given what the Seahawks are paying him the results really should be there. I’m not really in the business of making excuses for Miller’s 2011 but I do think there is reason to expect a bounce back this year. Firstly he has youth on his side. Miller turns 27 this year and, without any debilitating injuries to speak of, there is no reason he should be physically diminished. Also between 2008 and 2010 Miller had no less than 685 yards in a season proving a consistent ability to produce despite playing with quarterbacks ranging from questionable to historically awful. Along with youth and history Miller will also be playing with a new quarterback this year in all likelihood. Despite the fact a great deal of his drop in production was a result of increased blocking responsibilities (which he will probably face this year as well) it was also clear that he didn’t really mesh with Tavaris Jackson. This year he will have the luxury of a new quarterback (whether it is Wilson or Flynn) and a chance to build chemistry from scratch. Miller has the potential to be an excellent weapon and hopefully his new quarterback (am I so out of line in dismissing Jackson’s chances of starting?) recognizes that. He could well be in for a big rebound. I don’t understand the lack of optimism.
5. Multiple quarterbacks will start for the Seahawks this year.
Given the lack of clarity in the quarterback situation at the moment this seems like a safe bet. People seem to think it will be Flynn and then ultimately Wilson either after the Seahawks fall out of contention or he proves himself. I wouldn’t put money on this but I have this feeling that Flynn might actually be good. Maybe even good enough to hold off a rookie 3rd round pick who is under 6 feet tall and Tavaris Jackson (is any description really required?). Call it a hunch but I think there is more of a chance that Flynn starts for the Seahawks all year than most seem to think. He is also the man getting paid. People say they haven’t invested in him fully but alternatively he makes a mighty expensive backup. Also there probably isn’t that much harm in sitting Wilson for another year. If you are a gambling man count on multiple QB’s for the Seahawks this year, due to the injury risk alone, but don’t be surprised if Flynn takes a hold of this job.
Verdict: LIKELY (I wish I was bold enough to say iffy which in and of itself isn’t exactly the boldest word).
Essentially what I’ve done here is warn you about making assumptions about the 2012 Seahawks at this point in the season and then made some assumptions of my own. If I’m a hypocrite so be it. Time will tell if my assumptions are any better than anyone else’s.
Tags: brandon browner, Chris Clemons, Earl Thomas, featured, football, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, matt flynn, nfl, Previews, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Tavaris Jackson, Zach Miller