Game Previews

This category contains 7 posts

Blue Friday Match up Focus: The Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo courtesy of the blog.thenewstribune.com

The Legion Of Boom should be souring on Sunday
Photo courtesy of the blog.thenewstribune.com

Sunday, September 22, 2013 – 4:25 pm ET
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

When the Seahawks host the Jaguars this weekend there are only three things that could possibly stop them from victory.

1. A complete and total mental collapse in front of the 12th Man.
2. A potential point shaving scandal. (19.5 Vegas…really?)
3. One of the most miraculous underdog stories you’ll see in the NFL this year.

So now that I’ve established that I think this game is more like a high school homecoming game than an actual NFL match up and totally blown the suspense…let’s move on..

When the Seattle Seahawks have the ball:

1. Pass protection. JR Sweezy is one of my favorite run blockers on this Seahawks team. Those who follow me on Twitter or Vine can attest to my love affair with JR. What he brings to the running game is so so valuable to the Seahawks offense, however he’s consistently over matched one on one in pass protection. Any man over plus perceived A gap pressure causes confusion/hesitation and he is on the receiving end of most of the contact. Inconsistent punch, and uncertainty leads to bad things in protection folks. Russell Okung‘s absence on Sunday will put added pressure on Sweezy to improve or that weaknesses may be just the equalizer the Jacksonville Jaguars need to make this game slightly more intriguing.

2. Russell Wilson‘s accuracy. It started in preseason as a noticeable issue and it seems to have continued into the regular season. Russell’s accuracy is just not where it was at the end of the year. Which is surprising to me considering how fundamentally sound he can be. In the preseason it was high throw after high throw. In the regular season it’s been a mixed bag of high throws late throws and missed opportunities. I’m still not sure you can place blame on any one person here and more likely, a combination platter of blame should be shared by Wilson, the receivers, the poor protection, and Darrell Bevell. I’m in no way pushing the panic button but it is something that I think is fair to note. Russell Wilson is human folks. Let’s hope the Jags can be the sun to our Superman.

3. Running back pass protection problems. Again, not a huge issue but one I think needs to be highlighted. With Pro bowler Russell Okung out at left tackle it is imperative that the running backs and pass protection scheme take this into account. I just didn’t like the way The Seahawks protected the left side of the line during critical parts of the game against the San Francisco 49ers. Whether it was poorly executed chips or misreads by the running back, Russell Wilson had way too much pressure on him in critical moments.

4. Lack of production from the tight end position. Going into the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Zach Miller has only 64 yards receiving total. Now no one expects Zach Miller to become a fantasy stat monster, but I would’ve hoped at this point the Seahawks would’ve utilized him a little more. With the offense sputtering and protection problems on the horizon, it just seems to me that a tight end should be the quarterback’s best friend. Please play matchmaker Darrell Bevell..please?

Now to the Jacksonville Jaguars:

First let’s start off with weaknesses.. They have a ton. But I admire the job Gus Bradley has done by keeping his team motivated despite the huge talent gap.

When the Jaguars have the ball:

1. The battle in the trenches. When I watched tape of the Jaguars against Raiders the one thing stuck out to me was how the Raiders defense lived in the Jaguars back field. It was almost as though the Raiders knew the snap count. I don’t think we’ll see a drop off in pressure considering the venue and the attacking style of the Seahawks. (Paging Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett, and Chris Avril. Please report to the white courtesy phone shaped like Chad Henne)

More specifically, the Jaguars seem to have a lot of trouble in the A gap of their protection schemes. Actually their guard and center play has been awful. Look for the Seahawks to sugar/pressure the A gap as much as possible and force the Jaguars to account for possible/imminent pressure. From what I saw from the Raiders game tape they don’t handle that well and play crushing pressure was the result.

2. Who will be”the guy” for the Jags offense? As far as the skill positions go there isn’t a single player wearing the bizarre Jaguars color scheme that scares me. Honestly when I watch tape, look at this roster and subsequent stats, no one jumps out as an individual defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have to slant the game plan towards.

Before we go any further I just have to comment on the Jaguars quarterback situation…ADD Moment:

Blaine Gabbert is one lucky man and I really feel bad for Chad Henne. This game could potentially be one of the worst in his career and that’s saying something. From crowd noise to defensive pressure to a porous offensive line, he’s in for a very very very very long day (I probably didn’t use “very” enough there). Couple that with a hobbled Maurice Jones-Drew and receivers that will not be able to get free against the likes of Richard Sherman, Brandan Browner and Walter Thurmond, this is going to be bad..I honestly see no way that Chad gets the ball in the hands of his play makers on a consistent basis. The Legion of boom might just have a wonderful day. Fantasy alert folks.

Potential Seahawks stars of the game:

1. DE/DL Michael Bennett. Bennett has been on a tear this entire season and I don’t anticipate that slowing down for Sunday. His ability to pressure from every position on the defensive line makes him almost unstoppable. I can’t say for sure if he will receive a lot of tangible stats but I do know that his presence opens things up for other players. He is quietly become one of the most important players on the Seahawks’ defensive front.

2. RB Marshawn Lynch. The Jaguars allow 173.5 yards a game on the ground. That’s good enough for 31st in the NFL only slightly edging out the Washington Redskins who are a complete dumpster fire on defense. This may be Lynch’s breakout game early in 2013.

3. The Legion of boom. The Jaguars average 5 yards an attempt in the passing game. Five. That’s good enough for dead last in the NFL. The Jaguars will no doubt try to get the ball out fast to avoid pressure and that’s when this amazing secondary will feast on the short crossers, slants, and flat concepts. Could get ugly fast.

Top 10 things I hope I see on Sunday.

10. Golden Tate heavily involved in the passing game.
9. A Walter Thurmond pick six.
8. A Christine Michael sighting.
7. A vastly improved JR Sweezy.
6. The real Russell Wilson.
5. A multiple sack game from the Seahawk’s front seven.
4. Chris Clemons
3. No more injuries.
2. More and more KJ Wright defensive goodness.

And..

1. A big fat “W” and a 3-0 record.

Go Hawks! Talk to you all on Sunday!

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Sunday Matchup Focus: Seahawks vs Dolphins

Halip/Getty Images

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Team Records: Seahawks (6-4); Dolphins (4-6)

The Seahawks, fresh of their much-needed bye week, head to Miami to face a struggling Dolphins team in what I consider a must-win game for Seattle’s playoff aspirations.

At 6-4, the Seahawks need to find a way to get 10 or more victories in what is turning out to be a tight NFC West race to the top with the San Francisco 49ers. If the Seahawks can’t take the division the 10-plus win goal should put them in the playoffs as a wild card team. But to do so Seattle must shake off their horrendous road record and win one or two on the road to finish the year.

For the Dolphins, a rested and hungry Seahawks team is the exact opposite of what they need right now. During their current three-game losing streak, the team has begun to show signs of imploding under positive expectations brought on by some unexpected early season success.

Keys to the game: Russell Wilson

1. Manage the game. The Seahawks may be facing a team with issues but one thing they do well is rush the passer and stuff the run. Miami pass rusher Cameron Wake is going to be an issue for Seattle all day long if Russell Wilson doesn’t get the Seahawks into manageable down and distances with savvy checks at the line of scrimmage. Wilson must diagnose and get the Seahawks into the right play or he’ll be in trouble.

2. Expose Dolphins coverage. Miami Cornerback Nolan Carroll has struggled mightily this season and should be ripe for another beating. Russell Wilson would be smart to find Carroll and target him until he proves it’s not a good idea.

Bottom Line: Wilson doesn’t have to be a beast for the Seahawks to win, he just needs to be careful with the ball and smart with his reads. Football doesn’t have to be hard, just find the matchup to exploit and go after it.

Keys to the game: Seahawks offense

1. Find daylight. The Seahawks are well-rested and that’s a good thing. The Dolphins boast a run defense that prides itself with shutting down the run. That just happens to be what the Seahawks like to do most. Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks offensive line must fire out, and get movement on the Miami defensive front early on or it will have to be the Russell Wilson show.

 2. Screen game. The Seahawks have shown that they can utilize the screen game and have success and this game may require it. What they must avoid is relying on the receiver “alley” screen and try to add running back screens in the mix. The last thing the Dolphins want is Marshawn Lynch on the outside with a head of steam.

3. Avoid turnovers. Road game failures usually come down to mental errors and the Seahawks seem to struggle with those away from Seattle. If the Seahawks can play error-free football this Dolphins team may crack under the pressure. Not doing so gives the Dolphins hope.

Keys to the game: Defense

1. Pressure. I’ve been saying for a while that the Seahawks late bye week was going to be rough for the defense. They have been asked to carry this team for the better part of the season and over the past few games the wear and tear had begun to show. This had a direct effect on the amount of pressure they could muster. With the Seahawks injury free and well rested, look for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to dial-up pressure and force Miami’s rookie QB Ryan Tannehill to fold under it.

Easy Pressure Target: Miami RT Jonathan Martin

2. Contain, Contain, Contain. Reggie Bush causes problems for teams because of his ability to bounce inside runs to the outside and beat contain to the corner. Seattle must play to the whistle and wrap and drive this man to the ground. When he bounces, the linebackers must be there to funnel Bush back into the teeth of the defense. If Reggie Bush gets free, he will put up yardage in bunches.

3. Avoid Penalties. Avoiding turnovers is paramount for road teams, but right up there on the list is penalties. When you play a team that struggles on offense like the Dolphins have been, you can’t extend their drives with mental errors. If the Seahawks play tough and clean this game should be decided by the third quarter.

Keys to the game: Special teams

1. Field position. This might be the biggest key for Seattle. If Seahawks stud punter Jon Ryan gets the opportunity to punt, his leg could be the difference in the game. The Dolphins are not designed to march up and down the field and pinning them deep gives the Seahawks offense even more opportunities to put points on the board.

Keys to the game: Coaching staff

1. Preparation. When you have two weeks to study yourself as well as your upcoming opponent the fact is there is no excuse for a poor game plan. Head coach Pete Carroll and staff must develop a plan of attack that exposes the Dolphins many offensive weaknesses.

2. Tempo.  For many reasons, the Seahawks rank near the bottom of the league on offense but Darrell Bevell plays a part on game day. Quick play calling means quicker huddles and more time for Russell Wilson to diagnose looks at the line of scrimmage.

3. Be multiple. At this point the NFL knows what the Seahawks are. They are a powerful inside zone running team led by a savvy rookie QB and an elite level defense who specializes in coverage, run stuffing and pressure.

On offense, the coaching staff must not allow players such as DE Cameron Wake and DT Randy Starks to disrupt with their penetration and must do so by varying their play calling. Balance equals unpredictable.

On defense, Gus Bradley must ensure the one big Miami weapon never sees a clear lane to run and pays for attempts to bounce outside with several Seahawks defenders waiting to lay the hit.

Bottom Line: This is a game the Seahawks should win despite their past issues on the road and considering the playoff implications, they’d better.

Prediction: Seahawks 21-13

A quick look at the Seattle Seahawks schedule

Can Russell Be “the guy” for the Seahawks in 2012?
Courtesy U.S Presswire

Going into this pivotal third preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City, the Seattle Seahawks first-team offense has yet to gain much offensive traction.

Quarterback carousels, injuries to key starting receivers Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice, as well the additions of new receivers like Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards have been a mixed bag of occasional flashes of brilliance yet inconsistent offensive football to date.

One can only hope the decision to start rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in the regular season dress rehearsal will be the calming and galvanizing force needed as the Seahawks prepare for the Arizona Cardinals in 2 weeks.

Just for fun I decided to take a look at 2011 scoring outputs for each opponent we face in 2012 as well as defensive points allowed statistics.

Here is a snap shot of what the Seahawks might face. (Stats in Seahawks favor are highlighted in green).

Seahawks 2011 Offensive Scoring: 20.1 PPG
Seahawks 2011 Defense allowed: 19.7 PPG

Game 1: Arizona Cardinals (John Skelton, Kevin Kolb)
2011 Offensive Scoring:19.5 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 21.8 PPG

Game 2: Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 23.1 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 21.7 PPG

Game 3: Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 35 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 22.4 PPG

Game 4: St Louis Rams (Sam Bradford)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 12.1 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 25.4 PPG

Game 5. Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 25.4 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 26.8 PPG

Game 6. New England Patriots (Tom Brady)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 32.1 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 21.4 PPG

Game 7. San Francisco 49ers (Alex Smith)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 23.8 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 14.3 PPG

Game 8. Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 29.6 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 24.2 PPG

Game 9. Minnesota Vikings (Christian Ponder)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 21.2 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 28.1 PPG

Game 10.  New York Jets (Mark Sanchez)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 23.6 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 22.7 PPG

Game 11. Miami Dolphins (Ryan Tannehill)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 20.6 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 19.6 PPG

Game 12. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 22.1 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 21.3 PPG

Game 13.  Arizona Cardinals (John Skelton, Kevin Kolb)
2011 Offensive Scoring:19.5 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 21.8 PPG

Game 14. Buffalo Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 23.2 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 27.1 PPG

Game 15. San Francisco 49ers (Alex Smith)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 23.8 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 14.3 PPG

Game 16: St Louis Rams (Sam Bradford)
2011 Offensive Scoring: 12.1 PPG
2011 Defense allowed: 25.4 PPG

Understanding that previous years do not always project future outcomes, It is still interesting to note that the Seahawks face twelve games in which the opposing team had a better scoring offense yet face thirteen games in which their defense has lower defensive points-per-game allowed.

This schedule may be brutal. Facing Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, Tony Romo and the 49ers (twice) with lingering questions at QB and receiver will be something to behold.

One thing is for sure….The Seahawks can not afford to waste their great defense by taking a step back offensively in 2012.

BOLD PREDICTION: The Seahawks get through 2012 with a winning record for the first time under Pete Carroll: 9-7

If not the seat under Pete Carroll will get hot quickly.

Pressure is on Coach.

GO SEAHAWKS!!

Blue Friday Matchup Focus: The St Louis Rams, and the Quest for the Tasty Rainbow.

Marshawn Lynch on one of his many Skittles Quests!

A Seahawks Monday Night Football is upon us, and it’s a great matchup for a team who still has a chance, albeit a very small one, to sneak into the playoffs. The Rams on the other hand…um, well the only “playoff” they can compete for is the one for the worst record in the league, and right now they are losing that match up to the Colts.

I’ve stated several times before how much I still hate the Rams despite the fact that the Seahawks have completely dominated them lately (12 of the last 13, and 6 straight in Seattle). I still can’t get Tory Holt and Marshall Faulk’s irritating and disrespectful comments out of my head from early on in the Holmgren era. I never will.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy in-game broadcast NFC West bashing, a little Seahawks bashing, and hopefully a ton of skittles to shove down their throat!

Key injuries

Seahawks
IR: LT Russell Okung, RG John Moffitt, RT James Carpenter, WR Sidney Rice
Rams
15 members on IR, QB Sam Bradford will try to play with severely sprained ankle, and DT Robins may miss game with back injury.

Key matchups to watch when the Seahawks have the ball:

DE Chris Long and DE James Hall vs LT Paul McQuiston and RT Breno Giacomini: This is the only matchup that scares me. This is a huge mismatch, and it may just be the one that keeps the heavily overmatched Rams in the game. TE Zach Miller has done a great job in the blocking game all year, and his services will be needed again. I’m predicting the Seahawks go to their heavy (2TE) sets for the majority of the game if the Rams ends can create pressure. If, and that’s a big IF,  Paul McQuiston and Breno Giacomini can hold up, we should roll easily in this one.

The Seahawks running game vs The Rams rush defense: The Seahawks have been on a tear posting 5 straight 100 yard efforts, and will need that kind of effort in order to crush any hopes of a struggling Rams team. The fact that the Rams have the worst run defense in the league should mean that Beastmode will be in full effect on national TV, but not so fast.  How the Seahawks handle the transition from Russell Okung at left tackle to Paul McQuiston, and Lemuel Jeanpierre starting his first game at the RG position will be key to a victory tonight.  Offensive line coach Tom Cable has done a great job of molding our line, but I’m not sure how rabbits are left in that hat of his. That said, I really can’t think of a better opponent to get some important training snaps against, than this current Rams defense.

Prediction: The extra time between games has given Tom Cable enough time to prepare the new line.  The running game will be the number one offensive weapon to protect Tarvaris from the Rams Defensive ends. Look for 15-20 passes again from Tarvaris Jackson. The 100 yard streak continues… Get your Skittles ready!!

Key matchup to watch when the Rams have the ball
CB Richard Sherman vs Wr Brandon Lloyd

“Wr Brandon Lloyd has been a huge addition to the Rams offense. Since the trade he is the Rams # 1 option in the passing game and has surpassed all Rams receivers in targeted passes.”

I wrote that a couple of weeks ago and it remains true today. WR Brandon Lloyd is the Rams only passing target that demands extra attention. This will be another opportunity for the CB Richard Sherman, and CB Brandon Browner to show improvement. During the last meeting, Brandon Lloyd was held to 5 catches (67 yds, 1 TD) on 14 targeted passes. For the most part,  Seahawks did a good job of keeping him quiet, and I anticipate the same for tonight.

* NOTE: There is still a huge question mark on the Rams QB situation for tonight. Sam Bradford is going to be a game time decision but If he can’t go look for the Rams to insert QB Kellen Clemens, freshly signed to the Rams after being cut from the Houston Texans. Sam Bradford has been awful this year, so the drop off might not be dramatic .

Final Matchup Thoughts:

Look for a ton of three and outs early from both teams. The Seahawks should focus on getting some push and continuity from their offensive line and this might mean the special teams, particularly Jon Ryan and the punt coverage units will get a lot of early snaps. In my opinion, this will be temporary. Barring unforeseen issues, the Seahawks will pound the Rams with time of possession, and a brutal running attack until the seas begin to part and the game is put out of reach.

Caution: This game feels like the Cleveland game to me. A very winnable game, against a struggling team. The only huge difference is the Rams do not play defense like the Browns do, and Charlie Whitehurst isn’t starting. I say we atone for the failure in Cleveland.

Prediction: Seahawks 24– Rams 13 (Predicted MVP: The Seahawks offensive line)

Silver lining: The media will be forced to talk about a Seattle win, because the alternative, is well….. The Rams.

The Blue Friday Matchup: The Philadelphia Eagles

Why do we keep losing!??? (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Seahawks, time for your national close up…Are you ready?

This is going to be the strangest matchup on the schedule in my opinion. There’s the whole Pete Carroll Vince Young thing, the Jason Babin Twitter rant, and the smack talk from the Eagles players on how they will “Blow them out”. For me, I see an Eagles team that I assumed would be a 11-5 or better team. They currently sit tied with the Seahawks at 4-7, and are quickly coming apart at the seams. From the DeSean Jackson drama, to the investment in Mike Vick as the long-term QB, nothing is working out for the free agent magnet Eagles. Contrast the dysfunctional Eagles with a Seahawks team who has performed exactly like I predicted they would. Up and down they go, each week I watch expecting the worse, and hoping for the best. This young team is talented, but undisciplined and the 4-7 record fits them at this point in Pete Carroll’s tenure.

Impact Injuries:
Seahawks: WR Sidney Rice (IR), RG John Moffit (IR), RT James Carpenter (IR)
Eagles: QB Mike Vick, Wr Jeremy Maclin

Who to watch when the Eagles have the ball: 

Wr DeSean Jackson vs Seahawks pass coverage.

People seem to forget that the Eagles have a pretty good receiving corps even without Jeremy Maclin. Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper have had success this year, and TE Brent Celek will make it tough to stack coverage on DeSean Jackson. With our size at corner, this is a bit of a nightmare matchup for Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman (if he plays). DeSean Jackson is so fast, and agile that we may see double moves, crossers, and turn out routes to attempt to get the bigger corners in trouble. With the Seahawks season long issues in the penalty department, this is a sound strategy. This could be a long day for the secondary.

Advantage: DeSean Jackson

RB LeSean McCoy vs the Seahawks front 7:
The Seahawks have been stellar in the run game for the majority of the year. I don’t think DT Alan Branch gets the credit he deserves for this production. DE Red Bryant get’s a lot of love, and rightfully so, but with Branch out last week, the Seahawks allowed a no name RB from Washington to run wild. Additionally, McCoy is currently averaging a ridiculous 8.7 YPC on runs off left tackle. This means that Chris Clemons will be a huge factor here. How he holds up will be something to watch for.

Advantage: Seahawks

TE Brent Celek vs Seahawks LB’s in coverage

This is a matchup that concerns me. Brent Celek has been a favorite target (63 Targeted passes this year) and the Seahawks have proven game after game, they can’t match up with pass catching TEs. With McCoy, and Eagles QB Vince Young working play action, boot, and waggle games, It may be very difficult to contain Celek unless the Seahawks run defense is STOUT.

Advantage: TE Brent Celek

Who to watch when the Seahawks have the ball:

QB Tarvaris Jackson vs CBs Asante Samual & Nnamdi Asomugha.

In my humble opinion, Tarvaris Jackson should not be playing anymore this season. The pectoral injury is clearly reached the point that he’s not effective, and can’t throw accurately past 10 yards. This concerns me greatly considering the skill the Eagles have at the corner position. With Sidney Rice’s placement on season ending IR, that’s just one less target for a weak-armed QB to throw to. Mentioning the 38 degree temp at kick off seems like piling on but it is what it is. The Seahawks better establish themselves on the ground or Jon Ryan will be punting on 80% of the Seahawks possession.

Advantage: Asante Samual & Nnamdi Asomugha

The Seahawks running game vs Eagles front 7.
Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks run game has been on a bit of a tear the last four games with a 4.3 YPC average, and three games over 100 yards. That is a great sign, and I think that trend continues against the Eagles defensive front. The Eagles started out the year with their DE’s in what is being called a “Wide 9” alignment. This basically means that both DE’s are lined up a full gap to the outside shoulder of the Offensive tackle.

This gives them a much better rushing angle and it makes it very difficult for slow-of-foot tackles to get into position to stop the pass rush. However, it leaves the Eagles very vulnerable with gaping holes for off tackle and guard runs. I don’t anticipate them staying in this alignment once Marshawn Lynch starts to get it going, but I will predict it burns them at least once for a big gain.
Fun Fact: The Seahawks offensive line averages 6.6, and 314 lbs, while the Eagles defensive front is a smaller 6.2 , 285. The Eagles are very light at the DE position (Cole, Babin) and the Seahawks should run early, often, and consistently.
Advantage: The Seahawks running game

Seahawks Offensive line pass protection vs Eagles Pass rush
DEs Trent Cole, and Jason Babin would normally be a big problem in the passing game. Thing is, I doubt we pass more than 20-25 times, so their impact should be greatly minimized. With Tarvaris Jackson’s injury, The Seahawks would be wise run a lot and keep their passing attack focused on throws that Tarvaris Jackson can make without too much pain. This will mean Zach Miller, and Doug Baldwin should be the go to guys tonight.

Advantage: Draw (by default)

Final thoughts: On paper this should be an easy win for the Eagles. But on paper, the Eagles should have at least 8-10 wins by now. The Eagles remind me of the Daniel Snyder Redskins a while back that would stock pile big name free agents and do absolutely nothing. In Philadelphia, the Eagles fans are calling for the head of Andy Reid on a stake, Eagles players have lacked the work ethic to do great things, and DC Juan Castillo is still trying to figure out what the heck a defensive coordinator is supposed to do.

At Century Link, in front of the 12th Man, I think the Seahawks will be ready for their close up. Just don’t expect the media coverage to discuss anything other than the Eagles failures after it’s all said and done.

Prediction: 17-13 Seahawks

Seahawks @ Cowboys Game Preview

By Brandan  Schulze.

Let’s face it Seahawks fans, Seattle has not fared well against the Dallas Cowboys since they squeaked by them in the Wild Card round back in 2007.

In the two matchups since that win, Seattle has lost 38-17 in 2009 and 34-9 in 2008. I’m not exactly sure how it works out as to why the team has had to fly to Dallas for three consecutive games now, but I guess that’s just how it has worked out.

Dallas comes into the game with a 3-4 record. They have two close wins over the 49ers and Redskins, and a 34-7 victory against the Rams. Apparently, if it weren’t for the NFC West, the Cowboys would really be hurting right now. Of course, if it weren’t for some mistakes this season by their quarterback Tony Romo, Dallas could potentially be 6-1.

So far this year, Romo has showed that he can throw for a ton of yards, nearly 2,000 already this season, but when it comes to closing out the game he’s not getting the job done.

In his Friday press conference, Pete Carroll talked about the many things that Romo does well.

“He handles everything. He can handle the game at the line of scrimmage,” said Carroll. “He’s got the resourceful kind of plays in him that just knock guys out with throws he can make with guys right in his face.”

We know one thing that Romo doesn’t handle, coach, and that is PAT attempts. It’s no Marshawn Lynch “Beast Quake” run, but it’s still pretty fun to watch.  Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/QVuQ5aw0HAQ

There was also a lot of focus on the Seahawks quarterback and whether Tarvaris Jackson would once again be healthy enough to get the start.

“He does not feel great. He’s barely making it through practice, but he did—he did make it through,” said Carroll. “If he’s ready to play, then he’s playing.”

Jackson spoke about his injury in his Thursday press conference.

“It’s going to be sore pretty much the whole season I think,” said Jackson. “Once Sunday comes and the adrenaline’s flowing, you’re more worried about the guys on the other side of the ball than your shoulder.”

Tarvaris had some interesting things to say about the up-tempo offense they’ve been running. Not only did he like it because it has the potential to slow down the pass rush, but Jackson says he is calling 60-80% of the plays depending on the rhythm.

“We’re growing, and I’m feeling more and more comfortable each week,” he said

Despite the growing comfort level of Jackson in the offense, this has the potential to be a rough game for the Seahawks. The things the Cowboys seem to do best are some of the team’s biggest weaknesses.

Despite Romo’s struggles to close out games, the Cowboys have a strong passing attack. Up until last week the Cowboys have been tough against the run, another thing Seattle hasn’t done well with this year.

The Cowboys also have outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who has been terrorizing quarterbacks this year. Just last week alone, he got to Michael Vick four times. When you think about how athletic a guy like Vick is, that gives you an idea about just how good Ware is if his 12 sacks this season weren’t already a good indication.

“He can get around the edge, he can bull rush, he can pretty much do it all,” said Jackson.

So not only are the Seahawks facing a talented team, they’re going to have to try and pick up a win in a hostile environment.

As the team enters the second half of the season, how the team does in the next 11 games is going to give us fans a good feel for the direction the team will need to take in the offseason.

Some of the things Jackson said in his Thursday press conference really impressed me, and combined with some impressive things he’s been able to do on the field behind a young line. Jackson is still relatively young and I get the sense that he’s going to make the most of this opportunity to prove something that he didn’t have the chance to try and prove while he was in Minnesota.

“I’m always about wins and that’s what I really pride myself in,” said Jackson. “That’s what I want to be judged on and 2-5 isn’t going to get the job done.”

He clearly takes the team’s losing record to heart, but with the team starting to come together and get more comfortable he appears optimistic that things are going to start to turn around. At this point, a winning record over the next 11 games would be a great start, and with a win on Sunday against the Cowboys it would definitely represent a solid step toward accomplishing that goal.

GO HAWKS!!!

Charlie Whitehurst loses the clipboard, likely to start vs the Browns

Getty Images

Written by The Match ups Zone contributor Brandan Schulze.

Charlie Whitehurst is ready to start against the Cleveland Browns this week in an attempt to get Seattle even in the win-loss column.

After taking over two weeks ago when Tarvaris Jackson left the game with a strained pectoral, Whitehurst is now expected to get the start—although head coach Pete Carroll still wouldn’t rule Jackson out.

One interesting aspect about this matchup to consider is the Browns general manager Mike Holmgren. Of course Holmgren will have little impact on the actual game, but it’s interesting to compare where these two teams are at.  Prior to Carroll and John Schneider joining the Seahawks, Seattle had the opportunity to bring Holmgren back to the team in the GM role.

Of course we know what direction the Hawks took and at this point it’s difficult to pick a clear winner.  Both teams are in a rebuilding phase and have a lot of young talent, and this matchup will allow us to see how that talent stacks up.

Statistically, both teams match up fairly evenly, particularly on offense.  Each team is averaging between 18 to 19 points and about 300 yards of total offense.  On defense, Seattle has a solid edge in shutting down the run, which helps them keep team to third-and-long situations where they only allow a 31.9 percent rate of conversions.  The Browns have been tough in the passing game, while each defense has allowed about 24 points per game.

Had the Seahawks not shown they could win out east against the Giants, it would be easy for some to continue to pick against them this week, especially going into the game without their starting quarterback.  In Carroll’s Friday press conference, he said the starting quarterback would have “no effect” in regard to changing how they’re going to run the offense.  Both guys can run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and the players have responded well to each of them.

“They don’t feel like anything is different with Charlie in there or Tarvaris,” said Carroll.  “The communication is really sharp, he’s very comfortable, he’s way more in command than he was a year ago – just seems more assured, and just seems stronger at the position.”

On Thursday, Whitehurst commented to reporters how much he liked running Darrell Bevell’s style of offense.

“It’s great. It puts pressure on the defense. We’ve seen that over the last few weeks,” said Whitehurst. “I’m comfortable back there, know the calls, and you’re kind of in control back there too and that’s nice.”

Whitehurst also praised how well the offensive line appears to be improving over the course of the season.

“Every day we’ve gotten better,” said Whitehurst.  “We’re assuming they’re going to play well every week and they’ve performed.”

With Whitehurst potentially having a full game to prove himself, Carroll was questioned on his philosophy regarding quarterbacks losing their starting job due to injury. Carroll said he’s never had a specific rule for any position or player, but it was too soon to speculate on the issue.

“We’re just going to wait and see what happens. We don’t have to make declarations like that.”

“We’ve already been through this kind of situation when you think back with last year with Charlie and with Matt,” said Carroll. “That had its own set of circumstances, and this one is different.”

The injury at quarterback won’t be the only one affecting the team this week.  Cornerback Marcus Trufant was placed on the injured reserve this past week, tight end Zach Miller is out after his concussion in the Giants game, and center Max Unger was listed as doubtful with a foot injury.

Carroll said he’s counting on Walter Thurmond to give first team play. Two important starters should be back (listed as probable) in the lineup with wide receiver Mike Williams and left guard Robert Gallery returning from injuries.

With San Francisco pulling off the win against the Lions last week, and now taking their bye week, this is a key game for Seattle to win to show they still have a chance at competing for the NFC West.  Either way, one of these teams is going to come away from the game with a .500 record.

Let’s hope the Seahawks don’t provide their former coach with that satisfaction.

Brandan Schulze
Military Sea Hawkers official website: www.militaryseahawkers.com

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