Seahawks

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Seahawks Look Unchampionship-Like in Week 1

Photo courtesy of Panthers.com

Photo courtesy of Panthers.com

The 2013 football season is potentially the one in which the Seattle Seahawks earn their first Super Bowl championship.

On Sunday, though, the ’Hawks were anything but championship-caliber for at least the first three quarters of the game.

And, yet, we all sit here delighting in Quarterback Russell Wilson’s 320-yard, one-touchdown game in which Seattle defeated the Carolina Panthers a meager 12-7.

Yes, it was a battle of defenses. Yes, the offensive lines of both teams generally looked pretty horrendous (Seattle’s far more than Carolina’s). Yes the Panthers have a great front seven on the offensive line and the Seahawks won’t see that every week. Yes, it was only Week 1 and folks were rusty. Yes, it was really hot and humid (how could we forget, having heard Fox Sports’ Tim Ryan and Chris Myers repeat this ad nauseum throughout the game?!).

Except, the team is likely to see great football teams in the playoffs, and they’re going to see the best of the best if they reach the Super Bowl. They may even see some horrendously-adverse weather conditions in an outdoor championship game that will be in New Jersey this season.

And so, I guess, I hoped that the Seahawks would start a bit stronger on offense than they did last year. It was anything but a good start, and while one game a pattern does not make, having seen the offensive line collapse in on itself like a black hole throughout the pre-season as well shows there may be some cause for concern.

The Seahawks must find solutions to the offensive guard position, where Paul McQuistan was frequently out-manned Sunday, including getting flat-backed at least once. The argument for McQuistan is that he is a utility player who can step into any line position. The problem is that playing shitty at every position doesn’t really make his service worth it for me. It’s almost pointless to single McQuistan out, too, because overall they sucked for most of the game.

This team again racked up too many penalties, with nine for 109 yards.

Wilson looked lost against the Panthers defense frequently, seemingly having no idea where pressure would come from or where he might get hit from. He continued to show a maturity most young players are devoid of, however, by generally not panicking and continuing until the last whistle. That right there earned the Seahawks the victory, and if there is any person who can bring this team to a Super Bowl victory, it’s Robot Russell.

Wilson the Android simply looked like he needed a disk defrag and a virus scan for the first three quarters.

Yes, I’ve focused on the negative. I tend to do that, because I want to recognize a deficiency and see it corrected. When I write about offensive line play or penalties or Wilson’s shoddy early play, it’s because I hope to see those things corrected in successive games. And I believe that this team must remain strong throughout the season to have the best chance for championship success. That’s what we want, is it not?

2013 can still be the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season. They just need to show us they can earn it.

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Russell Wilson is The Terminator in Preseason Week 2

Photo courtesy of ESPN

Photo courtesy of ESPN

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.

120919-tate-480It 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.

 

The 2013 Season is Here, Suckas!

Go_Hawks.JPG

Hello Seahawks fans (and NSA spy overlords, thank you for reading my article … and please ignore that recent Amazon purchase for the Playmobil Security Checkpoint toy. It’s for a friend)!

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:

  • January 1, 2013: Happy New Year!
  • March 12: Percy Harvin – Or, you might call this special time: “Harvana.”
  • March 15: DE Cliff Avril comes over from the Detroit Lions as a free agent.
  • March 16: DE Michael Bennett comes over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
  • March 16  – 5:30 p.m.: Seahawks fans collectively have their heads explode based on the past week’s worth of transaction news.
  • April 1: You’re still a Seahawk, Matt Flynn. APRIL FOOLS – The No. 2 QB is traded to the Oakland Raiders.
  • April 9: QB Brady Quinn is signed. Seahawks fans are like “Double-U Tee Eff?!” and “Huh?!” and “Bleep Blop Blorp.”
  • April 17: Veteran CB Antoine Winfield hops on over from the Minnesota Vikings. The 36-year-old comes because he wants to win a Super Bowl, and he probably is pretty confident that the Seahawks are the team to beat in 2013.
  • April 22:  Safety Kam “Bam Bam” Chancellor signs a deal through 2017 to stay a member of the “Legion of Boom.”
  • April 25-27: The 2013 NFL Draft occurs. The Seahawks pick up some intriguing players, but frankly I’m most excited by Christine Michael (as everyone points out, it’s pronounced like “Christian,” but I can’t help say “Christine,” because that’s how it’s spelled, you jerk). The running back is fast and has great hands, and he reminds me of Adrian Peterson without the bad mustache. Also picked up was giant Australian monster DT Jesse Williams and nine other dudes who I’m not really writing about because I haven’t paid enough attention to them. Did I mention the devil toddler and 6-month-old?
  • May 28: TE Anthony McCoy, injured in Organized Team Activities, is waived.
  • June 14: Seahawks former starting QB, and former backup QB, Tarvaris Jackson is signed from the Buffalo Bills. Seahawks fans are like “Double-U Tee Eff?!” and “Huh?!” and “Bleep Blop Blorp.”
  • July 29: I, your faithful scribe, celebrate a birthday. This is the most important part of this entire article. Where are my gifts, peasants?
  • July 30: KONZ! I’ll be honest, I just wanted to write that. I, frankly, don’t necessarily get as excited about this freak-athlete-but-not-so-stellar-football-player in TE Jameson Konz, who was then converted to linebacker, who is now apparently taking snaps as a tight end again because all of our tight ends are apparently made of fine china.
  • July 30: Percy Harvin breaks his own news that he will have hip surgery for a torn labrum. It’s something in your hip. You know: the hip bone’s connected to the … thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the delicious dark meat on the turkey. And so on. It’s science. This day in Harvin Hip Watch is collectively known amongst fans as “Harvinacolypse.” Many shops were looted and many dogs were eaten. It was a dark day.
  • August 1: And so here we are, the day I’m writing this helpful recap for you. Head Coach Pete Carroll has reported this day –- a day after the Seahawks refused to have him meet with local media and instead went on the NFL Network for an interview of literally 29 seconds on Harvin – that the $65 million wide receiver (costing us $2.5 million in 2013 folks, calm down) had a good surgery and is now on a road to recovery in which the team is “hoping” he is able to come back this season.

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.

Welcome home Matthew Hasselbeck…

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:
GAMES: 138
COMPLETIONS: 2,559
COMPLETION %: 60.2
PASSING YARDS: 29,434
TDS: 174
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.

Go Seahawks!!

Meet DE Greg Scruggs, the Seahawks 7th round draft pick.

Seahawk’s DE Greg Scruggs and I at Peterson AFB, Colorado

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.

 

 

 

BIO: DE/DT Greg Scruggs 6-4, 285 

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.

Ready, Shoot, Aim

I remember attending a conference a few years ago and listening to a speaker talk to those of us in attendance about the inherent dangers involved when making business decisions without properly investigating both the decisions we make and the ramifications of those decisions.  He told us that when we act too quickly we mess up the order that one expects to find in good decisions.  “When we engage too quickly or when we speak without first understanding the matter in question, it is like the guy at the shooting range who, failing to take his time, winds up with: Ready, shoot, aim.”  Not much about that conference stuck with me but ready, shoot, aim did.  Reaction prior to investigation can (and does) lead to some interesting–sometimes difficult–problems.  Nowhere was that more evident than over the past three days of the 2012 NFL draft.

The NFL draft is a great event.  By the time the draft occurs near the end of April, football has been hibernating too long.  For NFL fans of every loyalty the draft is a much-needed spring thaw.  It signifies that while the beginning of the season is still a number of months off, the next season is indeed getting closer. Already we are in better shape than last year.  With no lockout, new uniforms, and some key off-season acquisitions already signed, anticipation for the start of the 2012 season is already pretty high.

Current NFL drafts look little like drafts of yesteryear.  With access to the 24/7 NFL Network, Twitter, sports talk radio, and the recent proliferation of some solid NFL/Seahawks blogs, our appetite for all things NFL has never been quite so rapacious.  As the 2011 NFL season wrapped up a number of us turned our attention to the draft.  We are now moving into year number three of the “Pete and John” regime and while the organization has made some huge strides in the right direction; rebuilding the team they found (one bloated with age, a mentality of tenure, and some questionable contracts with sub-par ROI) their job has not been simple.  Our “better day” has been predicated on use of the draft, and this draft was no exception.   But as incredibly exciting as the NFL draft is for teams and fans alike, it is worth remembering that drafting college players into your professional organization is far from a perfect science. Every NFL team has a list of picks those in charge at the time would no doubt love to do again, and the NFL is nothing if not a truth detector. Athletes that impress in college sometimes fail to make the move to the NFL while in other cases players who were told no by way of a draft that never called their name have gone on to brilliant careers. It has always been that way and until the NFL draft hands out crystal balls along with draft selection orders, picks will continue to experience varying degrees of success. While every team wants to maximize the overall success of their draft picks, and while fans are more than interested observers in the process, it seems to me that today we judge too quickly the value and worth of a pick; all before that player has ever played a single down in the NFL.

Not even halfway through round number one of the 2012 draft (the ‘Hawks traded down a few spots from the 12th overall pick to land the 15th) we were treated to a dizzying display of reactionary negativity.  It was aimed at a 24-year-old LB/DE from West Virginia; Bruce Irvin. Irvin was not supposed to go to the Seahawks. A young man with a less than perfect past, he was thought to be too situational, too one-dimensional to be worth the 15th overall pick.  The Seahawks thought otherwise.  Reaction was mixed but the negative side of the mix was quite loud.  Twitter almost imploded as a number of fans–having had to first pick their phones up off the floor–wasted little time (and even fewer of the allowable 140 characters) panning Irvin.  Reactions ranged from: “Who the hell is Bruce Irvin…” to “Oh, god, what are Pete and John smoking?”  Some were favorable but those were the exception, especially in the minutes immediately following the pick.  The national sports media was apoplectic.  Because the ‘Hawks had again walked away from what many thought they should do, and instead did what they felt was in the best interest of the team, blowhard talking heads like Mel Kiper Jr. were left shaking their heads.  On the other hand, some Seattle fans might have found it worth looking a little deeper.

Some did.  Within an hour of the team selecting Irvin, several very good articles were linked; ready for anyone who cared to know more about Irvin a chance to learn.  Frustratingly, some were more content to argue that this was a wasted pick; some even argued that it was one of the worst picks in team history.  The truth of course is that it will be a while before we know with any certainty whether picking Bruce Irvin so early in the draft was a good move or whether it will provide fodder for another top ten draft busts program on ESPN.  It will be months before Irvin and his fellow draftees will take the field in a meaningful game, and even then there is a danger in judging rookies too harshly (or for that matter, leniently) during their first season.

But the judgment of the past few days has not been so much about the players selected as it has been about those making those selections.  To listen to some Seahawk fans you’d be led to believe that draft selection starts by lining the VMAC with a number of dart boards and then spending hours each day hurling darts at the boards just hoping that with enough throws they might field a competent and productive team.  Seahawk fans are some of the most passionate and long-suffering fans that exist.  I count myself as one of them and will forever consider myself as such.  But despite my access to a great deal of information about players hitting the draft, I don’t have access to anything close to what the organization has.  I have access to just enough information to form an incomplete opinion; and like most, my opinions are based a great deal more on personal preferences than they  are the hard data used to make millions of dollar worth of investments in players who have yet to play a single down of professional football.

It can be tough to watch a draft unfold that leaves one wondering if the Seahawks might be leaving better players on the board than the ones they select.  But that is nothing unique to being a Seahawks fan.  All draft picks are risky.  History shows that for every Peyton Manning there are a lot more picks closer to Ryan Leaf.  Aaron Curry was taken as the fourth pick a few years ago while David Hawthorne was an UDFA who led the Seahawks with 115 tackles last year.  Curry is now in Oakland still trying to revive a career that is slowly dying while Hawthorne signed a nice contract and will start in New Orleans.  Few–if any–saw that coming, but that is how it panned out.  Those who pick the ones who play have a tough job.  Coaches and General Managers wager their careers and their legacies on their picks.  It’s no different in Seattle and there is no doubt that Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be judged on the strength (or lack thereof) of their drafts.

But as a fan of both them and the team they are charged with making better, I think I would do well to remember that before they are judged they should be given a fair chance to field their team.  Knee-jerk and visceral reactions to draft picks is a good gig and not a hard one to get.  All one has to do is have an opinion and when it comes to sports fans opinions are typically part of the deal.  Passionate and smart as Seattle fans are, we are not always patient.  It is not hard to understand why and all of us have the same hopes; a team capable of winning a Super Bowl.  While championships are the goal the journey there does not have to be a miserable one.  We should enjoy the ride.  Part of that enjoyment is trying to understand what this organization is about and what they are looking for in a player.  Understanding that means that with my limited access to information the organization has to evaluate the value of a player, I need to give each player a chance.

The reaction by some to the Seahawks picking Bruce Irvin was a little sad.  The day following his pick there were still those who, despite having access to a number of articles that detailed his past and his journey to becoming a first round draft pick, were still taking to mass media with stories about his past that were not only inaccurate, but closer to pure fantasy.  Bruce Irvin has made some serious mistakes, but knowing what those were is the responsibility of anyone who feels inclined to comment on who he is, both as a person and as a player.  Judging him for what he’s done is one thing but too much of what I read the other night had little to do with those things and more to do with judging what people thought he had done. That judgment led to people judging the organization, some of which was inaccurate to the point of disappointing.

I am impressed with what the Seahawks did in this draft and trust those who made those decisions.  It does not mean that I’ll feel the same way in a year or two.  As things stand, I trust in what the team is doing and the direction we’re heading.  What a great time to be a fan.

Ready, Aim, Shoot!

Tarvaris Jackson: The Christmas Socks of the Seahawks

oooh..ooooh..oh!.....ooooh.....ugh

When I was growing up, we called pairs of socks we got for Christmas “Ooh, Socks!” It was said with an exacted amount of faux enthusiasm, like Ashton Kutcher apologizing for cheating on his old wife with a younger woman. Did we like the socks? Not really. But they were one of those practical presents that are necessary for the coming year.

And so, they were “Ooh, Socks!”

Cheap-assed present givers anyway.

Tavaris Jackson is the “Ooh, Socks!” of the Seahawks fan base. They love him until he’s out of ear shot or not helping win the last five of seven games on behalf of the Nation of the 12th Man.

And so we now know that Tavaris Jackson isn’t the Seattle Seahawks Quarterback of the Future. That has been made very clear by the Twitterazzi and local media folks in their reaction to today’s insanely close 19-17 loss against the San Francisco 49ers.

Also made clear by Twitter is just how egregiously idiotic 49ers fans are, but that’s a post for another time.

No, today, what we really learned is that people who watch football games for some odd reason seem to get Alzheimers throughout the season.

Some are calling for the head of TJax, perhaps one of the most even-keeled, courageous and pain-handling quarterbacks I’ve ever seen who holds onto the ball for way too long.

Of course, that flaw, which resulted in him being stripped by Niners back-up linebacker Larry Grant in a play that shut down the Hawks’ last-second hopes of a winning field goal, is something we’ve known all season. We saw Chicago Bears linebacker Julius Peppers cause a safety last week for that reason. We saw many of the sacks in the stats column happen for the same reason this year.

Is there a way to correct that flaw? Unlikely. Jackson has been in the NFL too long to teach him new tricks, and clearly the coaching staff isn’t interested in him practicing throwing live hand grenades (I want an intellectual property rights fee if they ever decide to use that idea).

So it should be shocking to absolutely friggin’ everyone in the universe that all of the sudden fans and the media are screaming “oh my Hamburger Helper I can’t believe it! There’s no way he’s our quarterback next year! He’s never going to do anything!”

As if they were praising him as the Messiah (my apologies, Mr. Tebow) the entire season.

These are the same bandwagon-loving fans and media elites who were screaming for Checkdown Charlie Whitehurst to replace him. We had an extremely disgusting taste of that this season, too, and then those cart-riding reactionaries screamed for Jackson to be back. When he started to win, and make some decent plays downfield (and the team was winning), they fell in love with him, as if to say they now believed he was worthy for the NFL Hall of Fame.

Nobody in my house thought either of those extreme positions. Mainly because my wife doesn’t watch football and my kid is too young to understand what’s going on. He thinks everything on the TV is called “football,” and that’s all he knows about the game. Or television, actually.

What “we” thought in this humble abode was that Tavaris Jackson was the most likely to be able to manage an offense he was familiar with and that this was still a rebuilding process for the NFL’s youngest team of starters during a lock-out-shorteneded offseason and training camp.

For the most part, that’s exactly what this season has shown. Was I disappointed in today’s loss? Of course. But I am not screaming for blood. Tavaris Jackson did exactly what he has done each week he has played for this team. He showed poise and conviction, as well as the patience of a 147-year turtle in the Galapagos Islands who holds onto the ball too.effing.long.

In the end we got what we needed this season (and, oh by the way bandwagon fans, you know there’s another game this season, right?), our young players gained crucial experience and we saw significant progress in Year 2 of the Epoch of Carroll & Schneider.

We saw the blueprint in a far clearer fashion than we did with Hasselbeck at the helm. We were familiar with him, his skill set and many of the veterans, now on their umpteenth offensive scheme in however many years (a crafty way for me to admit I can’t remember, you suckers). We were a bit lost last year in terms of where Carroll wanted to go with “his” team. Marshawn Lynch was lost in the backfield all year, too.

Now look where we’re at. Skittles literally fall from out of the sky at Century Link Field when Beast Mode breaks into the endzone.

No, Tavaris Jackson isn’t the Seahawks Quarterback of the Future. He’s likely our starter next year considering we’ll probably end the season 8-8 and be nowhere close to picking up an immediate starting QB in the 2012 draft. Jackson still provides this team with enough time to potentially draft a solid rookie who he can help mentor for a year.

TJax is the Christmas “Ooh, Socks!” of the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll keep your feet warm until you’re ready to open up the good stuff.

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

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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

Bad News for Seahawks Fans, the 49ers Are For Real

 

Written by Brandan Schulze.

It’s time to put to rest all of the talk about Jim Schwartz looking like he wanted to fight Jim Harbaugh after a rough post-game handshake and backslap. The real issue after this weekend is how the San Francisco 49ers appear to be for real.

As a Seahawks fan, I didn’t want to believe it after seeing the box score of the 49ers’ 48-3 win over the Buccaneers. I wanted to believe that was a fluke in front of their home crowd. And with the Seahawks on their bye week, I couldn’t wait to watch San Francisco get slapped back down to Earth.

Outside of a bunch of penalties by the Niners and watching Alex Smith complete just over 50 percent of his passes for a total of 125 yards, I did not like what I saw. This team is actually pretty good, and to see it go on the road and win against an undefeated Detroit team was very impressive.

Now at 5-1, the question is whether or not the Seahawks even have a chance at running them down in attempt to retain the NFC West crown. It certainly doesn’t look good, but there is still plenty of room in the schedule for a meltdown. Just ask former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels.

In 2009, the Broncos were quick out of the gate and McDaniels was worshipped in Denver for the great start. I’ll hold off on making any comparisons to Harbaugh, though, until he loses 17 of the next 22 games. I’m not saying it’s going to happen—I just really hope that it does.

Maybe Seahawks fans ought to take the same attitude as Raheem Brock. On Monday, he posted on Twitter, “Yeah the 49ers r lookin good! But we won’t worry about that until Dec! We got cleveland this week!”

The Seahawks don’t face San Francisco again until Christmas Eve in Week 16.

As good as the 49ers have been so far, it’s had more to do with Smith not making mistakes than any sort of miraculous turnaround from his previous years. The 49ers are ranked 30th in the league in passing, two spots behind the Seahawks, with an average of 171 yards per game.

“Alex is playing winning football. Playing tough. Managing the offense, you know, doing a great job with his assignments and his role,” Harbaugh said.

Smith is winning, but he hasn’t been dominant by any means. Outside of a 291-yard passing performance against the Eagles, his best game was against the Buccaneers, in which he threw three touchdowns but only 170 yards.

“I don’t think anybody played perfect on the offensive side of the ball in this game,” Harbaugh said. “But I thought they overcame adversity, got stronger as the game went on, and didn’t flinch at crunch time.”

The 49ers are getting wins through a strong running game, limiting turnovers and with a defense that is playing very well, particularly against the run, and limiting opponents to only 16.2 points a game.

While San Francisco has a few difficult teams on the schedule that could trip it up, five of its final 10 games are against the Browns, Cardinals and Rams, who have a combined record of 3-12.

While the season isn’t near over yet, it’s definitely time for Seahawks fans to be worried. The 12th Man will continue to cheer in Seattle, but it wouldn’t hurt to also start rooting for a catastrophic collapse similar to the 2009 Broncos.

Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the military chapter of the Sea Hawkers, the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit http://www.militaryseahawkers.com

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.

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