NFC EAST

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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!!!

The Final Matchup week 5: The New York Giants

The Seahawks make another long trip back to the East Coast (1:00 EST, Metlife Stadium) in what could be a disaster, or great kick-start to the second quarter of the Season.

After reviewing the film, stats, and various sites (profootballfocus.com, Footballoutsiders.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com) There are a few areas I think the Seahawks can exploit to squeeze out a much-needed victory on the road.

Here are the match ups the Seahawks will need to take advantage of on Sunday:

When the Seahawks have the ball:

We have not been running the ball with much patience to start the year. I have a feeling the run blocking has suffered because of the limited practice time allowed by NFL rules, and the focus on shoring up protection issues. I’m really hoping that Darrell Bevell allows the Line to fire out and pop this Giant’s D line. They are not the wall that some people assume. Their strength lies in the pass rush. Allowing our line to get aggressive instead of always retreating into pass protection can give the men up front the ability to gel, and it also allows our running backs to develop a trust in their lane vision. Right now, for Lynch and company, it’s just hit the landmark, and hope. No vision, no successful cutbacks, just full speed into a murky sight picture. We must improve, by forcing the issue a little more. It’s the only way.

C Max Unger and Pat McQuistan vs DT Chris Canty

So far this season Max Unger has been the highlight on the offensive line. He has played the most consistent football, and has been solid in both the run game and in pass protection. LG Pat McQuistan has come in and actually played very solid in Robert Gallery’s place. He has been abused a few times, but overall more individual play wins then losses. If the Great Giant D line has a weakness, its at the Nose Tackle position. Chris Canty has played solid, but not great football, and at 6 ft 7 inches, he tends to play a little high and can lose leverage. Look for the Seahawks to try to focus on moving him on run plays.

Slot WR Doug Baldwin Vs Slot CB Brian Williams.

This might be the biggest mismatch on paper. We’ve all seen how Baldwin has started this season, and it seems the sky’s the limit for him. Brian Williams is a 4th round pick from 2002, and has struggled mightily all season in coverage. With Mike Williams concussion, look for Baldwin’s 67% snap count to increase by a large margin. This is bad news for a corner with a 104.2 QB rating when he’s targeted.

When the Giant’s have the Ball:

Eli Manning is playing great football this year. The turnovers are down and the impact plays are up (8 TDs, 2 INTs). One of the very interesting graphics I read on profootballfocus.com was this:

Eli Manning under pressure:

Pressure
Drop-backs
Runs
Att.
Com.
Com. %
Yds
Yds / Att.
TD
INT
Sk
NFL QB Rating
Pff.com Rating
No pressure
91
1
90
60
66.7
765
8.5
5
2
0
102.3
7.0
Plays under pressure
46
0
35
20
57.1
301
8.6
3
0
11
114.1
4.5
When not blitzed
74
0
68
45
66.2
535
7.9
2
0
6
99.8
6.0
When blitzed
63
1
57
35
61.4
531
9.3
6
2
5
112.5
5.5
All Plays
137
1
125
80
64.0
1066
8.5
8
2
11
105.6
11.5

It’s very interesting to see that when teams bring pressure, Manning is more dangerous. Credit the Giant’s offensive scheme and receivers to all read the Hot and attack the blitz. Very curious to see if the Seahawks can scheme some forced hots, and dictate where to throw the ball to possibly force some turnovers.

DT Brandon Mebane and DT Alan Branch Vs LG David Diehl and replacement Center Kevin Booth (RT)

With starting center David Baas out, and LG David Diehl struggling, the Giants could be in a world of hurt in the middle of their line. Look for the Seahawks to continue to move our tackles from the 1 tech to 3 tech position to exploit this. To me this could be a serious pivot point to the game. If the Seahawks don’t win this battle, Ahmad Bradshaw could have a huge day rushing the ball. Huge.

Overall I see way more mismatches tipping against us in this game.
For example:

WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Victor Cruz, Brandon Stokley vs CB Brandon Browner, CB Marcus Trufant (questionable with back issue), CB Walter Thurmond III. Definite win for Giants here at least on paper.

DE’s Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul vs LT Russell Okung and RT James Carpenter. Nothing needs to be said. All we can hope for here is that Tarvaris Jackson can get the ball off quickly to assist them in protection.

Final thoughts:

The Giant’s aren’t a super team, they are just better than we are at this stage. Anytime you put on the pads you have a chance, and the Giant’s have weaknesses we can exploit. But our well known history with east coast road games is a huge factor here. The Seahawks have an enormous mountain to climb on Sunday, but I’ll say this: This game, if won, could start a landslide of victories, that may not stop for at least 3 games. In the anemic NFC West, that could mean a real shot at the playoffs. Fingers crossed.

The Point After. Pre-Season Week 2 Edition

The Point After By Drew Bales

What does NFL Preseason really mean, and does it really matter?

A question that creates a decent amount of discussion this time of year is the obligatory; does preseason really matter?  Some argue that preseason does not matter.  They reason that no one remembers preseason and that after four games everyone is 0-0 again, so in the end, while preseason might be fun, it does not really matter.  Others argue that preseason games do matter; that what happens in preseason creates momentum; that winning (or losing) in preseason sets a tone.    After watching and then reviewing the first two preseason games played by the Seahawks, it is easy to feel like both arguments contain elements of truth.  When I see something I really like, preseason suddenly matters.  When I see a receiver tip a catchable ball into the arms of a waiting DB who then returns it for a TD I am content to mutter: “Whew, it’s only preseason.”

The truth is–preseason does matter.  The question, properly phrased really becomes which parts of preseason matter and how much we should read into the record of our favorite team? Taking a look at the preseason from the standpoint of win/loss, there is little correlation between success in the preseason and success in the regular season.  Consider the 2009 Seattle Seahawks’ 4-0 preseason record.  Expectations were high going into that season but the 5-11 finish was depressing, even if it was a one game win improvement from the previous year.

And a few more interesting stats courtesy of SportsDelve.com:

Since 2000, only 45% of teams that went undefeated in the preseason went on to have a winning record during the regular season.

Since 2000, 48% of teams that went undefeated in the preseason, finished the regular season with a losing record.

Only seven teams have gone from an undefeated preseason to a win a Super Bowl in the same year: 1967 Packers, 1969 Chiefs, 1971 Cowboys, 1974 Steelers, 1990 Giants, 2000 Ravens, and the 2003 Patriots.

Only the 1982 Redskins went winless in the preseason only to win a Super Bowl that same year.

It seems pretty clear that there is certainly the potential for letdown if one believes that preseason serves as a good predictor of the regular season.  It is nice to be hopeful and I believe in momentum as much as the next person when it comes to football, but the preseason and the regular season are just two different seasons as it relates to scores and team win/loss totals.

So if preseason performances don’t promise success (or even a winning record) how does preseason matter?

DT Joe Nash, Undrafted out of Boston College played 218 Games as a Seattle Seahawk

Preseason gives guys a chance to make a team.  Most guys who make it to the NFL are living a dream they’ve been pursuing for many years.  Most have sacrificed a great deal, worked harder than they’ve ever worked and committed to a dream that so few will ever realize.  Preseason in the NFL is like the playoffs for undrafted free agents or guys looking to earn a second chance in the league.  Ask Mike Williams if preseason (and training camp) matter. Ask Doug Baldwin or Josh Portis.  Preseason is where guys try out their dream of playing in the NFL.  Considering teams have to cut down to a 53 man roster, every player who is not locked in has the short window of preseason to fight for a spot.  To those guys, to the guys who will get asked to grab their playbooks and follow a guy to an office where they’ll be told that they are going to be cut; preseason absolutely matters. And it mattered to guys over the years who earned roster spots though undrafted, guys like: Dave Krieg, Mike Tice, Joe Nash, Jim Zorn, and eventual Seahawks QB, Warren Moon.  What would our history look like without camp and preseason?  Think of the moments and games that would have been different without those players.  Yes, preseason matters.

Preseason also matters because while game losses reset and are wiped clean when the regular season begins, injuries do not.  Coming away from a preseason game with a losing score of 42-0 is less painful than coming away with a star player seriously injured.  I won’t comment one word about the Seahawks as it relates to injuries because I refuse to jinx us, but if you want to see injury decimation, take a look at the New York Giants.  So far in this preseason they’ve lost DT Marvin Austin for the season with a Pectoral injury. DBs Brian Witherspoon (knee); Prince Amukamara (foot, out until early October); Bruce Johnson (Achilles’); and Chad Jones (Leg) are out for the season.  The cost of preseason (whether on the field for a game or for during training camp) can be high.

Finally, preseason matters to me because I love football.  I love watching my Seahawks play regardless of whether the game “officially” counts or not because I enjoy the game, enjoy the energy, and enjoy watching up and coming players get a shot at their dream.  I enjoy seeing how draft picks are working out, and I enjoy seeing the veterans get some time; a preview of the great things to come in the regular season.

In some respects, preseason could not matter less.  The scores don’t count and once regular season begins, no one cares about the preseason record.  But preseason does carry with it the hopes and dreams of guys trying to make a team, and the very real and career changing injuries that can (and do) occur; sometimes in biggest games, and sometimes in the most meaningless.

Preseason is a necessary risk.  It is good for fans as well as for the majority of players.  I watch every year and will continue to do so as long as preseason games are played. Not because it gives me a preview of the upcoming year, but because I love football, and a game that doesn’t count is still far better than a game un-played.

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