Why are we not calling Russell Wilson “The Terminator” yet? After the Seahawks’ Week 2 preseason match-up against the Denver Broncos, it should be clear that our sophomore quarterback is a finely-tuned robot, after all.
This week saw some promising progress from the offensive line, which provided far better protection for Wilson during passing attempts than the first week against the Chargers. It helped that All-Pro and Pro Bowl Center Max Unger was back in the lineup and snapping the ball to the QB during the 40-10 preseason victory that felt more like a regular season game with the 12th Man going bananas at Century Link field.
Wilson looked crisp; he was quick with throws and while he had a few overthrows, there were also a few occasions where it was the receiver’s fault. In particular I think there was a catchable ball thrown to rookie Tight End Luke Willson but he appeared to be fearing a hit coming his way and ended up with alligator arms, or, as I like to call them – creepy baby arms.
It was a game that showed Wide Received Golden Tate doesn’t fall down because he is, in fact, a Segway, and Tight End Sean McGrath can’t drop passes because even if his hands slipped his massively-impressive beard would still snag the ball for him.
Overall, the line’s play was far superior from Week 1, and against what I believe to be a better defense in the Broncos. We also saw the first-team offense play the entire first half against a Denver team that many seem to believe are headed to the Super Bowl this year.
Line play was largely my focus of what I wanted to see in improvement for this game and I wasn’t disappointed. Some have complained that while pass protection was enhanced from the first to second games, run protection was still lacking. I think those people must have attended Hempfest in Seattle this weekend and were too high to really pay attention.
It seems that people saw a weakness there due to the fact that Robert Turbin, taking the majority of the snaps at running back this week, gained just 35 yards on nine carries.
To me, however, that was all on Turbin, coming back from injury and who seemed to lack his get-off step that he normally has. He wasn’t so much “Turbo” this week after he touched the ball. Part of Seattle’s running style, too, is that smash-mouth, wear-you-down football. I absolutely believe that had this been the third or fourth quarter the line would have continued to make great running opportunities and the defense would by that point have been so worn down there would be huge gains. We saw it time and again in 2012 and there is nothing that caused me concern this week to warrant otherwise.
Back to Golden Tate – we got this guy named Percy Harvin this year and many have lauded his ability to make plays in space. Here’s the thing: We’ve already got the Golden One. He made at least four or five defenders miss on a 33-yard punt return, his only one of the night. If I’m a betting man, he’s our returner going into Week 1 and they’re just trying to keep him healthy now by giving return looks to Walter Thurmond and Will Blackmon (unlikely to be on the team in September).
Tate has amazing hands and his chemistry with Cyberback Russell Wilson showed with two catches for 42 yards. Tate can make any play Harvin can. I truly believe that. And I didn’t attend Hempfest.
There was so much to be happy about in this game. In Week 3 we need to see some progress in the pass rush, however. It’s unclear exactly when Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril will be ready to go for the ’Hawks, though it seems the team says they could both be back by Week 1. Still – this team has so much depth it’s silly at Defensive End and we need to see more from those other players.
Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is probably defragging his hard drive as we speak and Golden Tate is out there somewhere challenging guys to try and knock him over like an inflatable punching clown that never quite goes all the way to the ground.
It’s effin’ here – the 2013 NFL season. HOT DAMN!
I’m so pumped for this season that if I had a kitten here with me I’d excitement-squeeze it to death. Precious!
Football is a sacred time in my household. That is, my wife hates it – and so I get to leave her with our devil toddler and a 6-month-old infant for places where the game is appreciated. Where I can fuckin’ swear at people on television like they can hear me. Where I can use the word “fart” (I wish this were a joke. Save me).
But let’s recap a little bit of how we got to this point in the year:
With or without Harvin, I fervently believe the Seahawks are a team that can easily go 13-3, take the division and bring Seattle its first Super Bowl. Thinking anything less for a team that went to the divisional round of the playoffs with a 5’10” rookie quarterback in 2012 makes you look like an asshat.
The Seahawks are absolutely better in so many ways than they were last year. Our quarterback has a year under his belt. Our defense – which was insanely good last year – got even better adding ALL THE PASS RUSHERS. Golden Tate, by all accounts, is poised for a star season at wide receiver. And Doug Baldwin so far still has all his teeth. I haven’t even mentioned All-Pro Stanford Graduate Richard Sherman (he mentions himself enough, I think, in this hilarious MMQB piece).
Hang on, 12th Man. We’ve only got a week.
There are few things in sports that are quite like reunions with former players with massive amounts of supporters. That’s Matthew Hasselbeck, former and arguably the best quarterback that has suited up for the Seattle Seahawks franchise.
Hasselbeck stats in case you forgot:
COMPLETION %: 60.2
PASSING YARDS: 29,434
GAME WINNING DRIVES: 19
Last year the Seahawks ranked 22nd in passing offense. This wouldn’t be so bad if that came with 10 wins, or if the QB that was selected to replace Hasselbeck didn’t play like, well..Tarvaris Jackson. I’ve been a supporter of Jackson from a leadership and heart standpoint (battled through awful offensive line play and torn pectoral muscle most of year) but he doesn’t pass the eye test. He’s not as polished as Matt was under center for the Seahawks (patting the ball for 5 seconds, then throwing majority of his passes off back foot like a fade away jumper doesn’t help his case).
On Saturday, Seahawks fans will once again see Matt Hasselbeck running on to the Century Link Field , only this time in a Tennessee Titan’s jersey. While most fans will admit it was time for Hasselbeck to move on, the fact that we haven’t had the new “Matt” since he left has turned the QB situation into a full-fledged 12th Man soap opera.
The desperation is clear. Pete Carroll, and John Schneider have been busy building an outstanding defense..The additions of players like Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Alan Branch, Jason Jones, Bruce Irvin, and more have catapulted this defense into championship caliber levels.
To be fair, Pete Carroll has decided to construct the Seahawk’s new offense the right way: by building from the offensive line out. Additionally, offensive additions like Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin have brought serious excitement at times but we are still an unbalanced team to date, and that has led to fears that this great defense may be wasted much like the 49er’s before Jim Harbaugh arrived (I just vomited a little writing that).
Matt Flynn vs Russell Wilson vs Tarvaris Jackson
During camp you hear-read the daily “how do they look?” questions from fans with numerous “experts” in local and national media weighing in on who they thought looked like “the guy”. These assumptions and opinions have driven me slightly crazy. I say that only because the rep counts, 1st team, 2nd team, and play call sheets are only part of the story. What happens in the film room off the field is also HUGE and is not getting discussed. Also I’ll add that successes in practice at this point in camp either offensive or defensive, may have to do with familiarity with personnel and their weaknesses as well as the limited contact allowed. While I’m on this mini rant, I’ll say one last thing: We don’t know what metric Pete Carroll and staff are using to grade the QB’s. I’d imagine it was deeper than completion percentage during practice, hitch steps, TD counts, and release points. I’d submit that it’s possible to go 8-8 in 7 on 7 drills but grade out below average. Without having intimate knowledge of the playbook, and philosophies against various coverages, it is all wild speculation.
The point is I’m getting restless. I’m getting restless to once again have that feeling of confidence in the QB position. To know the guy taking snaps is “the guy” and won’t be shipped out next year for another guy, who is then shipped out for another (see Seattle from 92-2000). I don’t want to go through that again. Matt Hasselbeck spoiled us as a fan base. He was perfect for Seattle, and seeing him back on the field on Saturday picks at a scab that has yet to heal.
Matt Flynn will get the start on Saturday, and an entire fan base will be sitting on the edge of their seats to see if this Matt can show us just a glimpse of what the new and improved defense Pete Carroll has built deserves : A competent QB who won’t force them to make the play that wins the game. Kind of a tough spot for Matt Flynn, even if it is just the 1st pre-season game. But, “the guy” should rise to the challenge.
Let’s hope he can.
As a seriously displaced Seattle Seahawks fan, I’m always extremely jealous of fellow 12thman who have season tickets and are consistent visitors to Seahawks practices and player events. When I found out earlier today that a certain 7th round Seahawks 2012 draftee was heading to my Air Force base in Colorado Springs, I jumped. It’s not often we get to see Seahawks players. Heck, most of the time, we get a USO bus full of cheerleaders (not complaining about that at all by the way) and an occasional Denver Broncos vet or two. Gross..But that’s about it.
As I headed over to greet Mr. Scruggs, I wondered if it would even be appropriate to ask for an interview. After all, he and a few other NFL players along with former Kansas City Chief CB Eric Warfield were only here to sign some autographs, take a tour of the base, and head back to their youth football camp (Players are here in Colorado Springs with profootballcamp.com). But to my surprise, Mr Scruggs was gracious enough to grant me, a nobody Seahawks blogger, a very nice 10 minute interview.
Graduated from Louisville 2011
Selected as the 25th pick in the 7th round, 232nd overall, in the 2012 NFL Draft
What’s the best part of being a being drafted into the NFL? “I think it’s just living the dream, you know what I mean? I’m happy every day I wake up. I mean, I wake up and play football every day. Just being out there being able to live out that dream, I think that will be the best part.. You know there are some bad things though, I did have to buy some pizza (for the team) but when it’s all said and done, I’m playing football for a living so I can’t complain about that.”
Did you have any idea the Seahawk’s were interested prior to the NFL Draft? “Well me an John Schneider had begun to talk 3 weeks prior. He just called me one day out of nowhere and was like “hey this is John Schneider from the Seattle Seahawks”. I was like… I mean a Seahawks scout wasn’t even at my pro day, I never saw them at my practices. But slowly (leading up to draft) the momentum started to pick up, John asked what type of car I was going to get (when drafted) and suggested I get something that handled the rain like Seattle. You know, little hints like that. There were a couple different points in the draft we thought we’d be picked up by the Seahawks but due to my turf toe I kept sliding, sliding, sliding. But I’m glad and I’m happy I finally did get picked you know? I just wanted someone to draft me. Give me a shot, that’s all I wanted.”
Prior to the draft, were you familiar with the Seahawks? “Never watched their games, obviously when Pete Carroll got there it was a big deal, but no. I knew of Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexender who is from Northern Kentucky and I’m from Cincinnati but I hadn’t watched them because they don’t play much on the east coast and I didn’t have NFL Sunday Ticket and the whole nine. So all I had was what popped up on Sports Center. ”
On the Seahawk’s locker room environment: “The Locker room is great man! There’s always a fear for a rookie coming into a locker room because essentially you’re there to take someone’s job. But they have taken me with open arms especially at the D-Line position. Guys like Red, Mebane you know, those guys have taken me under their wing. They aren’t treating you like your someone who will take their job because they just got paid, both of them, so they aren’t worried about it. They want you to have the best career you can have. Everyone in the locker room is cool.. You know Mike Rob (Robinson) is a real good influence on the team.”
Speaking of Mike Robinson, what are the chances we see you on one of his reports? [big laugh] “I told him, I dream of the day I can make it on the “Real Rob Report”
Goals for the season: “My goal is just to make the team. I really want to really be able to contribute this year, or as soon as possible.”
How easy has Pete Carroll‘s focus on “Always Compete” been for you to adjust to, or is it similar to what you were already used to? ” I would say it’s about the same..At the University of Louisville my coaches were always about competing and being the best so coming into Pete’s style of coaching is the same exact way. Like you said, it’s always compete, compete, compete and do your best for the team. Everything we do, and everything we harp on has the underlying theme of competition and it makes it fun. It makes you enjoy coming to practice.
How do you see yourself fitting into the D line rotation? ” My main role thus far is just to pass rush. That’s my niche, that’s what got me into college, that’s what got me drafted. Also giving Red, Mebane, and AB (A. Branch) some rest on 3rd down and really getting after the quarterback. That’s why the Seahawks got me. Coaches tell me all of the time to just get there, and that’s what I do. At the strong end opposite of Chris Clemons, it’s just me and JJ ( Jason Jones) so that’s my job. That’s where I think I’ll make my mark in this league.”
On the expectations of greatness placed on the Seahawk’s defense. ” Through the roof, through the roof man. There’s not a group of guys I trust more to get it done more than us.. People like Kam (Chancellor). I mean, he’s on special teams working harder than anyone out there and he’s a starter. Earl Thomas runs down everyone on every play no matter how far they are. Sherman, guys like that, I mean I couldn’t have walked into a better situation as far as learning and couldn’t be with a better group of guys to live up to those expectations.”
On fellow unproven rookie Bobby Wagner starting at the middle linebacker position: “The linebackers are the QBs of the defense but when you have someone like Wags (Bobby Wagner) in the middle it takes other people around him helping him out. we still have Leroy Hill, KJ Wright, we still have the safeties to make the checks to help him out if needed. It’s imperative for the linebackers to know it (their job) but being he is a rookie, everyone else know’s what’s going on and they can help him out. When you have pro bowlers playing behind you and big dollar guys playing in front of you, all you have to do is come out and do your job, and Wags does a great job of studying the playbook and really being on top of it. He takes pride in that. I think he’ll be just fine.”
On team goals for the Season: “It’s nothing official, but I think the feeling (in locker room) is at least the NFC Championship game or beyond.”
On the QB Battle brewing in Seattle (Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, Russell Wilson): “I haven’t watched it much, but um.. 3 way tie. That’s not a politically correct answer, it’s just how I feel and everyone else in the organization feels. I don’t have a bias towards any one person at this point. Right now everyone is neck and neck but I’ll think it will play out in camp and pre season.”
On if his family will come out to Seattle: “My Mother and my brothers will eventually come out to visit, but not too many flights though…I’m paying for it..” [big laughs]
And with that, his NFL player tour was forced to move on and my time with Greg was over.
What I wish I could convey was the down to earth, genuine and affable nature this young man displayed. He didn’t have to take the time to talk with me, but because he did, I’ll take the time to watch him closer than any other 7th round draft pick in Seahawks history.
Good luck Mr. Scruggs.
A few days ago the Match Ups Zone took a hard look at the defensive side of the ball going into the 2011 Season. Now it’s time to switch gears and take a look at our offense. All opinions are based off film study (broadcast only) of past seasons, and this years pre-season performances. So let’s get started with the hottest issue going into the season: The Offensive line.
OFFENSIVE LINE QUICK NOTES: The Seahawks are going into the 2011 with more question marks on the offensive line than they would like. They have invested both draft picks and a ton of money in this group with the hopes to make this the highlight of the offense for years to come. Without a proper off-season , the teamwork, communication, and play have struggled severely in all but one pre-season game. During 2011 you can anticipate dramatic ups and downs from quarter to quarter, half to half, and game to game. Brock Huard shares his thoughts on the offensive line below (skip to 30 seconds in).
GROUP STRENGTH: RUN BLOCKING
GROUP WEAKNESS: PASS BLOCKING
NOTABLE DEPTH: Tyler Polumbus, Paul McQuistan, Jarriel King, Breno Giacomini, Lemuel Jeanpierre
#76 LT Russell Okung 6’5, 310 LBS 2 YRS (OKLAHOMA STATE) BIAS: ALL AROUND LT, POTENTIAL ELITE PLAYER. Russell Okung has the potential to be a key fixture in the Seattle Offense. He has all you ask for in an elite left tackle. Size, arm length, strength, body control, and quick feet to name a few. He is great at keeping low in blocks and his slide steps and reach let him easily manipulate rushers to maintain pocket integrity. He shows nice pop in his blocks, and is able to move to the second level in the run game. His only real issue has been ankle injuries that have plagued him early in his career. He could be great, but he needs to be on the field to realize that potential.
#72 Robert Gallery LG 6’7, 325 LBS 8YRS (IOWA) BIAS: RUN BLOCKING Robert Gallery was signed this year in free agency, and is the third former Raider to join the Seahawks. He’s Tom Cable’s kind of lineman. He’s large, powerful, and excels in the run game. From what I’ve seen this pre-season, he’s very adept at pulling and either sealing or kicking out defenders. He’s more than adequate in pass protection and can manipulate rushers well. He’s got a bit of a nasty streak which I personally prefer in lineman, and will be looked to by our very young offensive line as a mentor and leader.
#60 Max Unger C 6’5 305LBS 3YRS (OREGON)BIAS: ALL AROUND LINEMAN Max Unger is a very versatile lineman. He originally started out as a guard and moved to the center position. Injuries in 2010 did not allow him to develop as much as the Seahawks would like, but he will get his chance in 2011. He’s not a bruiser but is he has the ability to gain leverage with low pad height, using proper footwork, and hand fit to manipulate defenders.
#74 John Moffitt, RG 6’4, 319LBS ROOKIE (WISCONSIN) BIAS: RUN BLOCKING John Moffitt is another rookie added to this very young line. So far this pre-season he has not shown very quick feet, or the ability to manipulate rushers very well with consistency. This may be due to the limited reps in the shortened off-season, and his need for some technique improvements that come with coaching. He’s got all the tools, so this should come with game reps, and better understanding of Tom Cable’s blocking scheme.
#75 James Carpenter, RT 6’5 321LBS ROOKIE (ALABAMA) BIAS: RUN BLOCKING James Carpenter was considered quite the reach by the Seahawks when they selected him in the 1st round. Projected as a guard by some scouts, the former left tackle at Alabama has been moved to the right tackle position. This transition has been very difficult so far, and like Moffit, the lack of a proper off-season has hampered his readiness for the upcoming season. He’s a very large and powerful man, but he relies on this power more than utilizing proper knee bend, footwork, and hand fit. He consistently plays with a high pad level and struggles with edge rushers due to slow footwork. He is very vulnerable to set up moves, and can be bull rushed by much smaller players. Not sure what the Seahawks have with Carpenter long term, but his early struggles do not mean he is a bust. He will need a full season at right tackle before we can give him a grade of any kind.
QB QUICK NOTES: Tarvaris Jackson was somewhat of a surprise pick up in free agency this year. While the connection to Darrell Bevell exists, I’m not sure many Seahawk fans were prepared for the departure of Matt Hasselbeck in favor of Jackson. The immediate promotion to the starting QB position without competition Charlie Whitehurst was also a bit of a head scratching moment for Seahawk loyalists. This pre-season has not given fans a real positive feel for Tarvaris Jackson due to protection issues and a myriad of other issues, so one can only trust in Pete Carroll’s judgement here.
STRENGTH: ARM STRENGTH, SPEED/AGILITY
WEAKNESS: ACCURACY, DECISION MAKING
NOTABLE DEPTH: Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Portis
#7 Tarvaris Jackson QB 6’2 225 LBS 6 Yrs (ALABAMA STATE) BIAS: ATHLETICISM Tarvaris Jackson is a very tough and gifted athlete at the QB position. He is not a prototypical pocket passer but can be successful from there with protection. He has a very strong arm, and has shown he can throw with different releases. He is very good at sensing pressure, and has the speed and quickness to evade the pocket. He has a tendency to hold the ball too long and will stare down his primary receiver. He has nice touch on passes when outside of the pocket, and has the arm strength to throw deep on the run. Accuracy is an issue at times, and seemingly more so in pressure moments. Ultimately his success will be based off the running game, and Darrell Bevell’s ability to utilize his skill set better than he did in Minnesota.
Here’s a quick video of what he’s capable of:
RB QUICK NOTES: This year more than ever, the Seahawks will need to run the ball effectively in order to keep our defense off the field. I do not anticipate our offense scoring more than a touchdown or two a weekend in the early part of the season so it will be imperative that the offense sustain drives at least. Marshawn Lynch leads this pack of RBs and will look to build off the Beast Mode run in last years playoff victory against the Saints. The 12th Man hopes there is plenty more where that came from.
In case you’d like to watch the run again.. here it is:
NOTABLE DEPTH: Leon Washington, Justin Forsett
GROUP STRENGTH: POWER, RECEIVING, SPEED
GROUP WEAKNESS: PASS PROTECTION,
#24 Marshawn Lynch RB, 5’11 215LBS 5yrs (CALIFORNIA) BIAS: POWERBACK BeastMode…Ask the Saints about Marshawn Lynch. He can be so devastating that a team as good as the Saints will devote an entire free agency strategy to not letting that kind of abuse happen again. He is more comfortable with running between the tackles, and shows great burst once he gets to the second level. He runs low and strong, and can be a nightmare for 2nd and 3rd level defenders.He has decent vision to identify the proper lane to attack, and sets up blocks well. He has not shown much consistency in his career and will need to improve in that area now that he is the featured back in Seattle.
#26 Michael Robinson HB 6’1, 223LBS, 6 YRS (PENN STATE) BIAS: VERSATILITY Robinson is a very important piece to the success of the Seahawks offense. He is not a prototypical short necked FullBack who will blow you up in the running game, but he is a sound blocker who will utilize good technique and pad level. He is adequate in pass protection against LB’s but will struggle matched up on an end (as all RB’s tend to do). A former QB and RB he can give an offense a nice little weapon out of the backfield.
RECEIVER QUICK NOTES: This is the best position group on the offense in my opinion. It is also the group most dependent on the play of everyone else to have sustained success. Sidney Rice and Mike Williams highlight a very deep and diverse group of receivers who all bring something special to the game.
GROUP STRENGTH: SIZE, PLAYMAKING ABILITY
GROUP WEAKNESS: ROUTE RUNNING, SEPARATION FROM DEFENDERS
NOTABLE DEPTH: Ben Obamanu, Kris Durham, Doug Baldwin
#18 Sidney Rice WR 6’4 202LBS 5 YRS (SOUTH CAROLINA)BIAS: SPEED/PLAYMAKER Sidney Rice on paper should be one of the best receivers in the game. In fact, while playing with Brett Favre in Minnesota, he was. But if you look at what he did before and after the Pro-Bowl year with Favre it makes you wonder. He has all the tools you look for in an elite receiver. Athleticism, height, Speed, Agility, length, hands, you name it. He can stretch defenses vertically using his speed, or beat defenders with solid route running and great body positioning and hands. He is a nightmare in the red-zone due to his ability to go up and get the tough jump ball over hapless defenders. Really looking forward to seeing what he can bring to this Seattle offense in 2011.
#17 Mike Williams WR 6’5, 235LBS 5 YRS (USC)BIAS: POSESSION RECEIVER/PLAYMAKER It’s funny how most people laughed off the Mike Williams signing as just a camp body, who had no chance to make the 53 man squad. I can understand where it came from though. Mike Williams was a 1st round pick of the Lions in 2005 and was not ready to play at the NFL level. He was labeled everything from fat, slow, to lazy. It just goes to show you that sometimes a little maturity and the experience of almost losing everything you thought you should have, can motivate a person. Mike Williams is a very large and powerful receiver. His size makes one on one match ups very difficult for smaller defenders. His ability to make the tough catch in traffic combined with his size and length make him a QB dream when you need a 3rd down conversion or more importantly a red zone score. His only downside is his lack of ideal WR speed. He’s not slow by any stretch, but he will not beat you on a 9 route, and has difficulty separating from defenders.
#81 Golden Tate Slot Reciever 5’10, 202LBS 2Yrs (NOTRE DAME)BIAS: PLAYMAKER Golden Tate has been a frustration to many fans since arriving in Seattle. Highly touted as the play-maker the Seahawks desperately needed, this ability has yet to materialize with any kind of consistency. Strictly from a skill set standpoint he’s fast, quick in and out of breaks, and has shown the will to battle defenders in the air for the ball. He does not play fast, and will lose focus from time to time. His biggest asset is his overall athleticism, but the mental side of the game can tend to negate that advantage. On the bright side, his performance against the Raiders in the Seahawks 4th Pre-season game has given many a snapshot of the impact playmaker he can become. From returning, to outstanding plays from the slot and split end position, this may have been the game he needed to kick off a break out season. Only time will tell.
TIGHT END QUICK NOTES: With the Free Agency addition of Zach Miller and the already succesful John Carlson, the Seahawks were set to have a nice duo of play-making tight ends. That was before John Carlson went on IR prior to the 4th pre-season game. The good news is, the Tight position had the best pre-season overall, and it really didn’t seem to matter who suited up. They all contributed.
GROUP STRENGTH: SIZE, PLAYMAKING ABILITY
GROUP WEAKNESS: ROUTE RUNNING, SEPARATION FROM DEFENDERS
NOTABLE DEPTH: DOMINIQUE BYRD
#86 Zach Miller TE 6’5 255LBS, 5 YRS (ARIZONA STATE) BIAS: ALL AROUND ELITE TE I’ll admit, I’m still a little shocked we were able to steal the Raiders best, and honestly only receiver over the past few seasons. Zach Miller is an elite Tight End and can carry an offense on his back (see also:Raiders passing attack). He can dominate with routes over the middle, and even pressure the secondary with speed to get deep down the seam or sideline (as seen in the video below). He’s an above average run blocker, and will work hard to finish blocks. Overall I couldn’t be happier about this addition.
#85 Anthony McCoy TE 6’5 259LBS 2Yrs (USC) BIAS: RECEIVING TE Anthony McCoy has made some very nice strides in his overall development into an NFL TE. He is a much better receiver than blocker at this point in his career. He has nice hands, and is a decent route runner for his position. He has the ability to make the tough catch and is most suited to shorter routes. So far this year the Seahawks have utilized him in a lot of play action crossing routes. Blocking has been another issue. He’s not poor, but he lacks the proper pad level and will not finish off blocks. Will struggle in pass protection against bigger defenders.
So there you have it. A pretty long winded scouting report from the Match Ups Zone team. I see a lot of potential in our young and very raw offensive squad because the tools are there. Hopefully they can put it all together and shock the NFL with yet another playoff run.
Now that the Seahawks pre-season is coming to a close, it’s time for the Match Ups Zone to take a really hard and honest look at the Seahawks projected defensive starters as we transition into the regular season. I’m going to break this up into two articles and really dig deep into the strengths and weaknesses of our team.
After reviewing each pre-season game several times, here is my take on what we have on the defensive side of the ball for 2011.
THE STARTING DEFENSIVE LINE
DEFENSIVE LINE QUICK NOTES: The Defensive line is going to have a new look this year as Brandon Mebane has made the switch from the 3 technique to the 1 technique. Alan Branch (picked up in free agency this year) will take Mebane’s old position and add some serious size to the line.
NOTED DEPTH: Raheem Brock, Jimmy Wilkerson, Dexter Davis
TOTAL WEIGHT: 1213 lbs
AVG HEIGHT: 6’4
AVG WEIGHT: 300 LBS
STRENGTH: STOPPING THE RUN
WEAKNESS: ONLY PURE PASS RUSHERS ARE FROM LEO DE POSITION AND 1 TECH MEBANE
#91 Chris Clemons DE 6’3, 254 LBS 8 YRS (GEORGIA) BIAS: PASS RUSHER Chris Clemons is the prototypical LEO in Pete Carroll’s 4-3 Under scheme. He is explosive at the snap, and is fast enough to pressure the QB on a consistent basis. His weight has made him vulnerable to the run in the past because he does not excel at holding his ground or shedding blockers at the point of attack. This must improve or defenses will focus the majority of their running game to his side.
#92 Brandon Mebane 1 TECH DT 6’1, 311 LBS 5 YRS (CAL) BIAS: ALL AROUND PERFORMER Brandon Mebane is extremely agile and powerful. His ability to shed blockers, or manipulate his blocker to plug running lanes is a very disruptive force to deal with. He always seems to understand the look and scheme the offense wants to attack him with, and is very quick to adjust. He has been dominant on nearly every snap I’ve watched him this pre season.
#99 Alan Branch 3 TECH DT 6’6, 325 5 YRS (MICHIGAN) BIAS: ALL AROUND PERFORMER Alan Branch is a LARGE man. That amazing analysis aside, he is loaded with strength and short-range agility and should be a consistent disruption. The fact he has yet to really show that, validates my feeling that he plays a little high, which negates all of that natural power. Technique can be coached and improved, so hopefully that happens in 2011.
#79 Red Bryant 5 TECH DE 6’4, 323 4 YRS (TEXAS A&M) BIAS: RUN STUFFER Red Bryant is downright beastly. When you add in the speed and quickness it makes for a very disruptive force. He consistently compresses the edge, and takes good angles in pursuit. As a former DT he is not a natural pass rusher, so you may have the inverse effect that Chris Clemon’s side does. Offenses will be able to assist the weak side tackle in protection schemes, which may negate Chris Clemon’s effectiveness on occasion. Red Bryant is a very gifted athlete, so look for him to improve in that area in 2011.
THE STARTING LINEBACKERS
LINEBACKER QUICK NOTES: This is a group in transition at every position. With fan favorite Lofa Tatupu’s departure, David Hawthorne has moved from the Will Linebacker position to the Mike. Aaron Curry who recently took a large reduction in pay and contract length, has moved from the Sam Linebacker spot to the Will to replace Hawthorne. This may be a make or break year for Curry so hopefully this position will fit his skill set. Leroy Hill makes his surprising return to the Seahawks front 7 after a couple of years of off the field issues and injuries. He will now move into the role vacated by Aaron Curry at Sam Linebacker. Hopefully Gus Bradley will find a way to get this crew more opportunities at rushing the QB, which was one of their weaknesses last year.
NOTED DEPTH: Matt McCoy, KJ Wright, Malcom Smith
STRENGTH: STOPPING THE RUN
WEAKNESS: ZONE COVERAGE (PASS)
#59 Aaron Curry (WLB) 6’2, 255 LBS 3 YRS, (WAKE FOREST) BIAS: SPEED
When Aaron Curry was drafted, it was assumed that his explosiveness and football instincts would translate to the NFL seamlessly. He seems to be slow at times to decipher the play, but his incredible speed can cover up that mistake. In my opinion, he favors running around blocks over engaging to compress the hole. He has not tackled well this year due to poor angles, and several arm tackles. His impressive pure speed as a pass rusher is sometimes negated by poor angles and a limited arsenal of moves. It’s obvious to me that Aaron Curry is a gifted athlete, but can he put all those incredible natural abilities to better use at the Will Linebacker spot? Time will tell.
#57 David Hawthorne (MLB) 6’0, 246 4 yrs (Texas Christian) BIAS: HARD HITTING RUN STOPPER
David Hawthorne is the Seahawks most impressive LB. His ability to play all positions well make him indispensable in the front 7. He’s proven to be a playmaker and will not miss many tackles when the opportunity presents itself. He’s a very hard hitter and will sniff out and attack blockers from tackle to tackle to stop the run. He’s an explosive linebacker and seems to perform better in man coverage than in a zone. This may be due to a slower reaction time to targets passing through or settling.
#56 Leroy Hill (SLB) 6’1, 238 lbs 7 YRS (CLEMSON) BIAS: ALL AROUND PERFORMER
At one time, Leroy Hill was touted by Lofa Tatupu as the best Linebacker on the Seahawks defense. Since then, he has run afoul of the law, and been hit with an injury bug. He is hoping to turn that all around this year. There is no disputing his ability. He’s fast, agile, and stout. He’s a wrap tackler, and he takes solid pursuit angles. His football instincts always seem to take him to the play, and he’s consistently part of the tackle due to his ability to decipher and squeeze down blocks. One can only hope his insertion back in the LB corps will pay huge dividends in 2011.
THE STARTING DEFENSIVE BACKS
DEFENSIVE BACK QUICK NOTES: This is another part of the defense in transition. Long gone are Josh Wilson and more recently fan “favorite” Kelly Jennings. The Seahawks have added several new players highlighted by corners Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, and safety Atari Bigby.
NOTED DEPTH: Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Atari Bigby, Jeron Johnson
STRENGTH: ZONE COVERAGE
WEAKNESS: MAN COVERAGE
#23 Marcus Trufant (LCB) 5’11, 197 LBS 9 YRS (WASHINGTON STATE) BIAS: ZONE COVERAGE Marcus Trufant is hands down the Seahawks’ best and most accomplished corner. His Pro-Bowl caliber years may seem like a memory due to injuries and age, but he can still get it done on a consistent basis. He may need over the top assistance from the safety against speed receivers. He plays the ball well and is strong enough to re route receivers at the line. He must avoid the penalties that have plagued him in recent seasons.
#28 Walter Thurmond (RCB) 5’11, 190 LBS 2 YRS (OREGON) BIAS: ZONE COVERAGE Walter Thurmond has everything you want on paper. He’s fluid, quick in transition, and is a willing tackler. One thing he has struggled with is man to man coverage. He has not developed into a player that can stick with his man tightly enough. This may be a route recognition issue, or perhaps a tendency to peek into the backfield. Without the complete camera angles on broadcast TV it’s hard to tell.
#37 Brandon Browner (RCB) 6’4, 221 LBS 1YRS (OREGON STATE) BIAS: PRESS MAN Browner is an imposing specimen at the corner position. After starring in the CFL he has found his way back to the NFL. Browner has above average speed for his position and size. He is a bit stiff, but his length and speed can cover up for that limitation. He is still very raw, and must learn to play the ball better if he is going to push for a permanent starting position opposite Marcus Trufant.
#31 Kam Chancellor (SS) 6’3, 232 LBS 2 YRS (VIRGINIA TECH) BIAS: HARD HITTING There is a reason they call Kam Chancellor “Bam Bam”. He loves the big hit. This love of hitting can make for a great highlight or a the less attractive result, a missed tackle. He is very young in his development so it will take some time for him to develop the ability to read the action on the fly. Consider this his “freshman” year at the position. There will be missed assignments, blown coverages, great plays, and huge hits all mixed in while he learns to play safety in the NFL.
#29 Earl Thomas (FS) 5’10, 202 2 YRS (TEXAS) BIAS: PLAYMAKER, ALL AROUND PLAYER Earl Thomas is a great mixture of speed, coverage ability, instincts, and ball skills. There doesn’t seem to be much he can’t do well. He is also a willing tackler and will not miss in the open field. He is Seattle’s playmaker in the secondary and is schematically free in Pete Carroll’s system to roam and utilize his abilities to the fullest.
From my view-point the Seahawks defense has the potential to be a very bright spot in what some “experts” are saying could be a tumultuous season. Experts aside, I love the direction Pete Carroll has gone. Bigger, stronger, tougher with a pinch of nasty. That’s my kind of defense.
By Will McDougle
I tend to avoid post game wrap ups because as football fans we have 2,000,000,000 different resources out there and I’m just adding to the echo chamber. However, I find it deeply troubling that the TV Broadcast failed to show what really happened last night on almost every passing play the Seahawks ran.
It’s very easy as fans to blame one player or position for the failure of a play. The NFL has a horrible problem with analysts feeding this hysteria by the way they speak on air and edit replays. Football is a TEAM sport so when something goes wrong, it’s usually a myriad of things.
For now, let’s discuss the ingredients that go into any positive passing play.
1. The QB’s Pre-snap read (PSR), Primary Key, and accurate pass.
Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst must make a Pre-Snap Read to determine the defensive coverage or shell. The purpose is to identify several things such as: safeties, weak side defender, the defensive front, and position of corners in relation to receivers i.e., depth. A QB must also focus or “key” on the primary defender based on the patterns being ran to make smart and accurate throws to open areas of the field. All of this while utilizing proper footwork, balance and pocket pressure awareness. That’s why they pay QBs the money they do. So far Tarvaris Jackson has excelled at feeling and reacting to pressure. Problem is, the pressure was getting home before receivers were finished with routes, or he was set up to throw.
2. The Offensive Line
Whether it be an area, combo, or man blocking scheme it’s simple.. If you can’t block it you can’t succeed. Our lineman have consistently lost a battle or two across the line of scrimmage and it’s making things very difficult. When an offensive line struggles in pass protection there should be an adjustment made by the offensive play caller to move the QB around and change the defensive rushing landmarks. The use of half rolls, sprint outs, and boots can help restrain a defense’s constant pressure attack. Last night against Denver it was obvious that spread formation meant primarily pass, and heavy (2 TE) meant zone run or boot action. This seemingly stubborn play calling is meant to install and work on the new offense and obviously not what we will see in the regular season.
3. The Receivers
QB’s and receivers must understand the entire concept of each play to be on the same page. Receivers must also run crisp routes at the proper depth, gain some separation, and be aware of breakdowns in protection or hot calls. I can’t speak for the first two preseason games because the NFL refuses to show the defensive coverage or route combinations in full. Against Denver I was sitting 30 rows from the Seahawks bench on the 40 yd line and it gave me a great perspective of the routes as they progressed. One thing that I noticed was the extensive use of vertical timing route combinations, and sideline comebacks without much, if any separation. Timing routes, including 3-step, 5-step, and some 7-step drop passes, require a great deal of repetition between quarterback and receiver to develop the execution level needed to move the ball. Without the normal off-season, that’s going to take several games into the regular season to achieve. I watched as play after play Tarvaris stared at the back of his receiver, was cocked to throw, and had to eat it because the receiver had not even finished the stem of his route and never looked back.
I will say that when the Seahawks went to a heavy package ( multi TE’s) they seemed to fare much better in the passing game. Not because there was more people in to block, but because most passes came from boot action which I think is a huge strength of Tarvaris Jackson.
1. You must have a QB who has made a quality pre-and post snap read so he can throw to the open area/receiver (Grade: C+)
2. You must have sound protection and an offensive play caller who will move the QB around to assist in protection issues (Grade: D-)
3. You must have the receivers and QB on the same page. (Grade: D-)
The good news? It’s just the Pre-Season. My grades matter about as much as a win would. What matters most is that this preseason is being used like a proper mini camp would. These are scrimmages where concepts are being taught, and evaluation is being done. The coaches are working through weaknesses right now by on field reps and then reviewing film for correction. The extensive use of protection schemes that isolate James Carpenter one on one with a defender is good for his development, even though he is struggling mightily.
This third game dress rehearsal stuff you hear from NFL talking heads is fine for teams with established systems. In my opinion, that just doesn’t apply in Seattle. The Seahawks are just trying to install an offensive system with tons of new players under a huge time crunch. Have faith Seahawk fans! It’s ugly right now, but it’s always darkest before dawn.
The Cover 3 Awards. Pre-Season week 2 Edition.By Will McDougle
When watching any losing performance in real time it’s hard to put a positive spin on it. I like many Seahawk fans watched in disgust as play after play, just didn’t materialize. Drives stalled, our receivers failed to get separation, and even when they did the line had not protected enough for the QB to see the throw. The cynic in me wondered if we could win 4 games this year..Then I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and re-watched the entire game. I watched every play several times. Yes, it took a minute but I’m so glad I did, because a few things stood out to me that didn’t at first.
Typically in the Cover 3 articles I will discuss three individuals who had a positive impact on the game. This week it just seemed more appropriate with all the Charlie Whitehurst supporters clammoring for his chance to start, to address the one player who has taken most of the heat and explain three reasons why he actually saved the team from complete embarrassment.
Ladies and Gentleman, I sumbit to you: Tarvaris Jackson
Tarvaris Jackson’s performance in this game made me realize more than ever that Pete Carroll knows what he’s doing. I won’t post his stats because you know them. If you are a casual fan you may think he played horribly. Know this. In my opinion Jackson is the only quarterback on this roster with the right mixture of quickness and throwing ability to succeed behind our offensive line in 2011. But don’t let my unimportant opinion sway you, lets look at the facts.
1. He can handle the pass rush. Tarvaris Jackson has yet to see many clean pockets to throw from. Here is a small clip of that very issue courtesy of NFL.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJjySjdfr7g . On one occasion after the other in the Vikings game a rusher came free, or the line was pushed seven yards into the backfield before Jackson could finish his drop and set up to throw. Rookie Right Tackle James Carpenter low lights a group of Seahawks offensive linemen lacking the required amount of experience and cohesiveness. Play after play, Carpenter was dominated by the defensive end to the point it looked hopeless. I assume for where we selected him in the draft,he’ll get better. Problem is right now he’s getting abused on inside, outside and bull rush moves. I’ll also add that the offensive line struggles lead to several pocket collapses that would have been sacks for Charlie Whitehurst. There I said it Charlie fans..Sorry I had to.
2. He’s a tough playmaker. Simply put, he has made GREAT plays with his feet to extend disastrous plays. He’s not as spectacular to watch scramble as say, Mike Vick, but when he does its effective and only happens after he has exhausted all other options. I love the fact that he refuses to force the ball into tight coverage under pressure. His ability to hit the Tight Ends with throws that gave them the ability to run after the catch was impressive considering he watched those completions while he lay flat on his back. The only grossly errant throw I charted was on a quick fade route to Sidney Rice down the right side. Both throws to Golden Tate were on point, and he hit all other open receivers with crisp passes. All that leads me to number three reason he impressed me.
3. He Managed the game. I don’t care what people say, game managers are a coaches best friend. There is only so many elite players in the world and having a player who doesn’t lose the game and know’s the offense can win you games..Several times during the first half it was very obvious to me that his experience with the offense allowed him to audible or easily identify the hot read. His only misread was a play where Jared Allen was left free to rush when Tyler Polumbus read Weakside Linebacker, blocked to the inside and let him go. It’s the QB’s responsibility to understand the blocking scheme rules in place and adjust. If you think it is strange that I would highlight a negative play in a segment that is intended to do the opposite you are right. I thought it was appropriate to highlight because even when he made that one mistake he was able to make Jared Allen whiff and extend the play.
So there it is. For this game I’m a Tarvaris Jackson supporter. I won’t even go into Charlie Whitehurst other than to say he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He played well against a tissue soft Vikings defense who begged him to throw underneath routes. He executed flawlessly in a drastically different game situation. For the Madden fans out there it was like Tarvaris was on All Madden, and handed the controller to Charlie on Pro. But that wasn’t the story of the game for me. The real story is how truly amazing and difficult it is to watch our offense right now. Without a regular off-season where a team can install the offense and work on the small details in the meeting rooms, it’s clear Tarvaris Jackson’s athleticism combined with his experience makes him the starter week one without question. I hope for the teams sake the receivers can cut him some slack and avoid the frustration that comes from running route after route without too many catches.
Tarvaris Jackson always wanted a shot to be “the man” in Minnesota. With the current state of the offensive line play, he may regret having had that wish granted in Seattle.
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?
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.