The Seahawks/Redskins game left me with a number of observations, mostly positive. However, there are a few scenarios that simply left me baffled with the Redskins ball club. Let’s start with those…
I’m really puzzled at who is actually in charge in DC because it certainly doesn’t appear to be Shanahan. In his post-game interview, RG3 made 2 telling statements regarding who is really in charge on the Redskin team.
- “I’m the quarterback of this team,” Griffin said. “My job is to be out there if I can play. … I don’t feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. I’m the best option for this team, and that’s why I’m the starter.”
- He was then asked what would his reaction have been had Shanahan pulled him against his will for Kirk Cousins. His answer? “I probably would have been right back out there on the field,” he said. “You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan, but at the same time you have to step up and be a man sometimes, and there was no way I was coming out of that game.”
Either Robert Griffin the Third believed all the hype and praise heaped on him throughout the regular season made him the expert or Shanahan never utilized his authority at any time since drafting him. You don’t get this far into the post season race with this being the first indicator that the coach doesn’t have his hand on the wheel. Imagine Russell Wilson making a statement like this… yeah, I can’t either. One of the hallmark components of a champion is humility, something RG3 seems to lack and something RW3 has in abundance.
Secondly, who’s asleep at the switch with the field condition? I watched the Mike Robinson cell phone video of the field during the Seahawk walk through and found it appalling, not only the dirt, but the divots and holes in the field. And this isn’t an observation about the Seahawks, but about the field in general. Why would you ask your own players to play on that nonsense? Why would you spend all that money on RG3 and then give him that crap surface to play on? And he wasn’t the only Redskin player that had leg issues… A quick check of the Redskins 1/4/13 injury report, showed 11 of 15 players had foot, ankle or knee injuries. Coincidence?
Perhaps because of this field? This picture was seen on the internet post game showing the comparison between the Redskins and Ravens field just a few miles apart. (Redskins on the right, Ravens on the left) I submit that if owner, Dan Snyder, was concerned enough to travel to Florida with his star QB to get the scoop on his knee, perhaps he should have been concerned enough not to send him out to play in an eroded cow pasture to begin with!
Enough about the Redskins. Now Seahawks!!
So proud of our team for winning yet another road game! So proud of our Hawks for coming back from 14-0 and shutting down the Redskins for the next 3 quarters! There are too many players to mention and I think that’s a great sign that the Hawks are not one dimensional or overly reliant on one player! Lots of weapons, lots of energy!
I think the single most important component to this game is one that we’ve seen all year. I asked Pete Carroll about it midseason and you can read his answers here. I’m referring to the ability of the Seahawks to make adjustments. It hasn’t been that long ago that we had a Hawks team that seemed to script the entire game and either couldn’t implement adjustments or made them too late in the game to win. The fact that this team can make them throughout the game, not just at halftime, is a testament to the coaching staff and bodes well for their plans to continue through the playoffs.
Just a quick note to acknowledge the contributions of Chris Clemons and Steven Hauschka this season. Both were injured in the cow pasture at Fed Ex field and moved to the Injured Reserve list. Additional thanks to Jon Ryan for stepping up to do kick offs. Our special teams squad has been amazing this year!
Off to Atlanta!
Zach Miller had what was probably his most important game as a Seahawk Sunday. After a withering offensive display by RGIII and his offense resulted in two touchdown drives, Seattle’s defense looked like it was running at half-speed and the offense looked like they had left their Mojo of the last five games on the tarmac in Seattle. There was absolutely no sign of the high octane offense we had seen in recent weeks, and the vaunted Seattle defense was putting up little resistance to the Washington running attack.
Down 14 – 0 midway through the first quarter Seattle needed to get something going ASAP or risk having the game get out of control by the end of the first quarter. Enter Tight End Zach Miller who gave the Seahawks just what the doctor ordered to get them out of their funk late in the first quarter. On a third and long from his own 18 Russell Wilson hit Miller short of the marker, but Miller twisted and fought his way to a critical first down, Seattle’s first of the game. That was the first sign of life from the Seahawks offense. That drive ended in a field goal but put Seattle on the scoreboard and broke the Redskins momentum.
The next drive had some excitement from a Wilson to Lynch fumbled handoff which Lynch miraculously scooped up and carried to another key first down. That drive resulted in a Michael Robinson TD reception, and the Hawks had 10 on the board. After an Earl Thomas interception of a floated RG III pass the Seahawks added 3 more before the half. Hawks fans breathed a sigh of relief with the team being just one point down at the half.
The second half started with a lot of Beast mode and Wilson runs — getting the team down to the one yard line before Lynch fumbled the ball away. The Hawks held the Skins to a 3 and out and got the ball back with good field position, but had to punt the ball away after a near miss to Baldwin in the end zone. Even though the Hawks were moving the ball they were not able to add any points in the third quarter, reminiscent of some of the Hawks early season games. Still it didn’t seem like the Seahawks were in too much trouble, but they needed a play to break the near deadlock. Now in the 4th quarter the Hawks were on their own 46 at 3rd and long when Wilson again hit Zach Miller sneaking out of protection for a huge gain down to the Skins 32. Three plays later Lynch took the ball into the end zone from the 27 yard line with an assist block from Wilson at the goal line. And on the 2 point conversion Wilson again hit Zach Miller as he crossed the goal line on a quick slant. Miller would lead all receivers with 4 catches for the game.
With a touchdown lead the Hawks were ahead but not out of the woods yet. They needed a game sealing score with time running down. When the Redskins and RG III got the ball back Bruce Irvin nailed RG III for a sack. On the next play the right knee of RG III grotesquely gave way as he chased a bad snap and the Hawks recovered on the 5 yard line. After three unsuccessful shots to the end zone, a Hauschka field goal made it a 2 score game and pretty much put the game out of reach for the Redskins.
There were a lot of great plays made by a lot of Seahawks in this game. Rice and Tate made some incredible sideline hugging receptions of pinpoint Russell Wilson throws. Marshawn Lynch made some huge runs and had that crazy scoop of the fumbled hand off. But the key plays that got the Seahawks out of the doldrums and on their way to this win came from Mr. Zach Miller. So here’s a big “Well Done!” for Zach Miller, Seattle’s unsung hero and the spark that got the Seahawk machine going. Go Hawks!
This was supposed to be a two man race for Rookie of the Year (ROY) honors. It was going to be either #1 Draft Pick Andrew Luck of the Colts, or it would be Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of the Redskins. These two QB’s have been playing steadily all year, turning their teams around, transforming them from cellar dwellers to playoff teams, and catching nearly all the headlines of the major sports media. But a funny thing happened on these two guy’s way to the ROY award. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks has put up a ROY season of his own, having guided his team to 10 wins and the playoffs. All the more amazing when you consider how Wilson started his pro career just months earlier.
Who is this Russell Wilson guy? He was drafted 75th overall in the third round and started the season as a 3rd stringer behind the previous year’s starter and a new free agent with a big contract. Wilson whose height will never crack 6’0″, so impressed his coaches in summer camp that they made it a 3-way competition for the QB job. After he won the job, most “experts” in the sports media confidently predicted Wilson would “be a good backup, but is not starting QB material”. He was dismissed as too short, but they overlooked Wilson’s primary asset as a player. His brain. He is a student of the game like no one other than maybe Peyton Manning. His work ethic is second to none. His leadership is contagious. His confidence is off the charts. His stats are right there with the other two guys. What’s different is Russell Wilson is actually re-defining the position of NFL quarterback to fit HIS capabilities.
Sunday night everyone in the country finally got to see what the whispers were all about on this rookie QB Wilson way up in the United State’s version of western Siberia, Seattle Washington. The first hint that something was happening in western Siberia came when the Seahawks beat the division leading Chicago Bears at home in week 13. It’s safe to say no one saw that coming, including a lot of people in Seattle, since the team had just lost to the Dolphins the previous week. The amazing thing about that win over the Bears was Wilson had to win it twice. After seemingly securing the win with a long drive with under 30 seconds on the clock, Seattle’s defense allowed a long pass to get the Bears in field goal range. They made the kick and the game went to OT. This is when things changed for Seattle’s season. Wilson put the team on his shoulders, and took the ball 80 yards on Chicago, throwing and running through their defense at will, and getting the winning score while Chicago’s offense sat helplessly and watched the birth of a green and blue monster.
The next week Wilson and Seattle spanked the Cardinals, who they lost to back in week one, 58 – zip. That shocking score gained the solid interest of the national sports media. The following week, Seattle put the stake through the heart of their “road curse” by dominating the Bills in Toronto in another 50 point blow out. Now the media had all eyes and ears on Wilson and Seattle, and Russell Wilson has officially entered the ROY “discussion”. Sensing something was happening in Seattle, the network changed the Seahawks/49ers game to the ‘Sunday Night Football’ showcase.
With the nation’s eyes on Seattle and their rookie QB, the Seahawks dismantled THE BEST DEFENSE in the league, while holding the 49ers potent offense to two field goals until late in garbage time where they finally managed to cross the goal line. And this was the same 49er team that only a week before beat New England in their own stadium.
Tweets by sports writers after the game not only indicate Wilson is “in the discussion” for ROY, but may now actually be LEADING Luck and RGIII. Russell Wilson may be late to the party, but he’s just kicked in the door and taken over the DJ’s booth. And he’s playing his own tune, the one that says a 5’10″ quarterback CAN play in the NFL. He’s having to redefine how a quarterback plays to get back whatever advantage he loses by being 4 inches too short for an NFL quarterback. But that’s all the more reason to give him the nod for Rookie of the Year. How many other rookies have had to redefine their position in order to play at a high level? The ROY award has been given to lots of “prototype” quarterbacks who came into the league and had a good year. But maybe this year it’s about more than that. Maybe it’s about a “pioneer” as commentator Trent Dilfer said on a post game show; a guy who will open doors and eyes and make it a little easier for undersized players to play quarterback in the NFL.
Russell Wilson has a way of making himself “Mr. Relevant”. When he came to Wisconsin looking for another year of college football after trying minor league baseball following his junior year at NC State, within 2 weeks he was the starter and elected captain of the team. In the early days of spring training with the Seahawks the wet behind the ears round 3 rookie so impressed Pete Carroll with his play that he earned himself the right to be part of the Quarterback competition with Tavaras Jackson and newly acquired veteran free agent Matt Flynn. Wilson went on to impress the coaching staff enough in his backup roll in his first two preseason games he was able to earn a start in game three vs. Kansas City. He went on to dismantle the Chiefs with his aggressive running and passing style and proved he could do it against the first team defense. That performance earned him the starting job with the Seahawks.
Wilson’s early regular season starts were not impressive, but he did take care of the ball and managed games pretty well as he learned to read defenses and got used to the speed of the NFL. His mistakes were few and not too serious. Carroll insisted this slow start was by design. Still, fans were not convinced. They wanted more from the QB position and Flynn supporters were making themselves heard. It was obvious Wilson was improving with every start but didn’t quite have it all figured out through the first 7 weeks of the season. Carroll kept his fledgling QB on a short leash for the first half of the season. Most games Wilson threw fewer than 25 passes but people were asking for more. There was never a loss you could really pin on Wilson, yet the clamor for Flynn continued.
Around week 8 it seemed like Carroll let out a little more rope on his new QB. He allowed Wilson to have more influence on the game with his passing and Russell responded. Wilson went 25 for 35 for 236 yards and 2 TDs against the Lions. That game was a loss, but it was a loss the defense got the blame for. For Wilson it was a breakout performance. Since then the Hawks have gone 3 for 4, with the Bears vaunted defense being the latest and most significant victim of an increasingly relevant Russell Wilson.
A quick look at the stats shows Wilson ahead of Luck and RGIII in passer rating for the months of October (90), November (128), and thus far in December (104). Wilson has 19 touchdowns (more than Luck and Griffen), and has winning drives in the last possession of the game in three games. With Wilson at the helm the Seahawks have also beaten NFL top rung QBs like Arron Rogers, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, and Jay Cutler. Wilson’s performance against the Bears has caught the attention of all the major sports media including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, SportsNation, Yahoo Sports and others. Those stories will start showing up in Fridays’ sports pages. Oh, and one other thing; Russell Wilson won player of the week in a week when he, RGIII, and Andrew Luck drove their teams to last minute victories. Why? Because Russell did it twice in the same game.
You can make a good argument Offensive Rookie of the Year honors will go to either Luck or RGIII using a number of the various rating categories, but you can’t ignore Wilson. His numbers are similar, his contribution to his team is just as large, and his leadership is unquestioned. He’s in the conversation now, kind of like when he got himself into Seattle’s QB competition during spring training. Expect “Mr. Relevant” to be in position to step up.