Last night I found myself on the corner of FANatic and logical human. In that moment, and despite my internal GPS yelling “re-calculating”, my fandom got the best of me and I made a decision…head down emotion street.
For those on social media last night that think I don’t understand the business of football you couldn’t be further from the truth. I understand the business of football very well. What I couldn’t get my arms around was Pete Carroll‘s apparent departure from the “best guy wins the position battle no matter what” deal. I find it hard to believe that Michael Robinson was not the best Fullback on this roster.
However, looking long-term I can’t escape the fact that the money saved by Michael Robinson leaving could help pay other players that are going to need big paychecks down the road. Guys like Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas come to mind.
Still, because I believe that Pete Carroll means what he says, there has to be more to this decision than just money for other players later…Mike Rob must be hurt.
What made Michael Robinson unique was not just his pro bowl quality play on the field but his ability to bring us into the locker room like we’ve never been before.
I’ll admit I’m being selfish here and I’m okay with that.
That’s what got me. That’s what got me a tad emotional last night on Twitter and it’s what makes me sad today. That access is gone. Probably forever unless it’s produced professionally by the Seahawks media relations staff. Even so, I would imagine it will never be quite as organic as when Michael Robinson walked around with his Real Rob report microphone.
Michael Robinson was more than the Seahawks fullback. He was more than just a replaceable leader on a football team. He was the perfect match for Pete Carroll’s new way of doing things and his walks around the locker room allowed us to see what Pete was building behind the scenes and be “All In”. It was amazing.
From John Moffitt’s hilarity to Marshawn Lynch‘s attempt to completely ignore the camera in seemingly every video, the team became more than just football players we cheer for on Sunday, they became actual people. It is because of that exposure I love the Seahawks even more today. Which for a fan of the team for over 30 years it’s crazy for me to say. I’m connected now on a different level.
So as a tribute to Michael Robinson I gathered some of my favorite youtube clips from his Real Rob report and as a Seahawks football player. I hope you guys enjoy.
Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson picked a good time to have a basically solid performance during a week when many fans were (and probably some still are) calling for his head in a 16-12 win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
But despite the dubya and an as-expected intergalactically-stellar performance from the Seahawks defense, there clearly is still much-needed improvement for the ‘Hawks offense that must happen.
Wilson had his best performance of the regular season so far with 221 passing yards and a touchdown, though a bit marred by an interception for a Panthers touchdown. By a dude named Captain Munnerlyn. I mean, seriously, if a guy picks you off and runs back a pick 6, and it sounds like he should be starring in his own Saturday morning kids special, there is a problem.
Sidebar: How high exactly do you think that man’s parents were when he came into this world?
On the Twittersphere many a folk were playing the “Nitpick Our Short Quarterback Game” by pointing out every single missed pass and what they felt should have been done differently. It’s baffling to me that people think they have the same vantage point as any players on the turf when all we see generally are sky box side views of the game. Of course you’re going to see someone open more often than the quarterback, no matter his height.
Despite Wilson’s solid showing, however, the Seahawks continue to have several major deficiencies, and this win only further highlighted those issues. The negative attributes should be concerning for any fan, most especially considering how middling of a defense the Carolina Panthers have. They’re basically ranked in the bottom 10 of every defensive category there is. Not only could we hardly touch them in the early part of the game in the red zone, we didn’t even use Lynch or rookie RB Robert Turbin very efficiently considering the Panthers have been giving up more than 134 yards rushing on average per game.
The Seahawks were held to under 100 yards total today. Yes, Beast Mode’s 85 yards on 20 carries is still damn good, and he remained second in the league in total yardage, but this should have been an even better game for him.
I attribute this to a rather lackluster performance by the offensive line, which hasn’t been that bad this season in run plays. As a matter of fact, that’s where they’ve stood out generally.
Both the defense and offense had absolutely stupid penalties today, and I’m about to be a rich man by selling “Bench Breno” T-shirts because No. 68 Giacomini can’t seem to stop himself from getting penalized. Some will say at least one penalty was due to reputation and it shouldn’t have been called. I would say that if he hadn’t gotten that reputation in the first place it wouldn’t have been called. You have to know that the locked out refs would be taking notes every single weekend, watching who was playing dirty and preparing to throw extra flags on those guys to whip everyone back into shape after the debacle that was the replacement referees. Whether Breno did it or not, he earned that reputation, and now he must live with it. He needs to cool down. Benching him was a good call, but he might need to not start next game, period.
Giacomini wasn’t the only one with some stupid penalties today. Not even sixth-ranked sack master Chris Clemons could avoid a roughing the passer call by pushing Panthers QB Newton too late after a throw was made.
Back to the red zone: The Seahawks continue to simply have very few answers to red zone scoring. Two first-half opportunities were squandered and again the team settled for field goals, going into halftime up on Carolina 6-3. Horrifying.
Thankfully the Panthers coaching staff is in no way as elite as that of the Green Bay Packers, who made some amazing halftime adjustments two weeks ago. I was truly concerned going into the final half of the game Carolina would have Cam Newton running all over the place, but it just didn’t happen.
As usual, Seattle’s defense deserves the game ball for an amazing performance. Newton was sacked four times, the final hit coming from rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin who tallied a sack and a stripped ball that defensive tackle Alan Branch fell on to finalize the game. Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner also had an awesome performance with 1.5 sacks.
But probably the turning point of the game came on a strip by cornerback Brandon Browner on Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams (who has just a very, very gentle smile, based on the commercials I saw during the game). Browner also had a goal line tackle that shut the Panthers out of a potentially game-winning score.
So, a win is a win is a win, right? Not with the New England Patriots coming to Century Link Field next week. Having the second best defense in the NFL right now means nothing if the offense can’t put up some points. The Patriots are a top 10 rushing defense right now, but ranked 29th in receiving allowing nearly 300 yards per game. Let’s hope today’s QB performance by Wilson was a warm-up for next week.
He’ll need it.
Now I’m off to fire up my press for those “Bench Breno” T-shirts. Who wants in on this?
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.
Las Vegas odds makers were wrong! Ha! Take that! Apparently the 14 1/2 point spread was a touch too conservative. That was one of the worst Seahawk games I’ve witnessed in a while, and considering the last few years, that is saying something. I’m not into the sky is falling talk, because I never really thought we could win a ton of games this year, but it’s hard to watch something as ugly as today without a sick feeling in your stomach.
Leading rusher: Tarvaris Jackson with 3 attempts for 12 yards
Passing: Tarvaris Jackson 159 yards
Receiving: Ben Obamanu 4 catches 35 yards.
There was very little to hang our hat on today. Some would say the highlight of the game was Ben Roethlisberger laying on his back, after a shot in the knee. I don’t share that sentiment, but I do think that is the only time we actually inflicted any semblance of pain on the Steelers. The only silver lining for us was that we were able to escape the phone booth beating without any injuries to speak of.
Top 5 questions I have going forward:
1. When does Darrell Bevell create a game plan that utilizes our offensive weapons?
2. How many games will Tarvaris Jackson get to prove himself?
3. When will the Seahawks try to run to the weak side behind their best two blockers in Okung and Gallery?
4. I’ve been stating that Brandon Browner has been grabbing receivers and playing fast and loose with technique. Do we stick with Browner, or move him to the nickel?
5. Will Gus Bradley figure out a way to get Chris Clemons going?
Here’s my take: The Seahawks lack the components that winning teams must have. This shouldn’t be taken as negativity, it’s simply the facts. We are a rebuilding team who overachieved last year at 7-9. It’s not our time yet, and that’s okay. When we start winning again, this feeling will be but a memory. Head up, on to the next one.
For years it seemed like we would never hear the end of the “finesse” talk. Season after season we would be over-matched physically, and even in victory opposing players would give interviews describing their disdain for being beaten by smaller guys. I personally prefer a large defense to the smaller, built for leads types. You must be able to physically dominate your match up or at least let them know it’s going to be an all day battle. Thank you Pete Carroll for bringing that feel to the Seahawks.
COVER 1: The Secondary
SS Kam Chancellor and FS Earl Thomas both had 2 tackles for losses, to go with a combined 19 tackles. I can’t say enough about the way both safeties flew to the ball. There was rarely a play that they didn’t have a hand in stopping. What a great move by Pete Carroll to give Kam Chancellor a chance to start this year. The young safety is validating that decision so far.
Brandon Browner, in the genesis of his NFL career, physically dominated his match up with Braylon Edwards (3 catches for 27 yds). What stood out to me, was the fact that Browner was able to get into Edwards’ head in the first game of his career. While Browner is still very raw, and has a penchant for grabbing and pulling at receivers, the sky is the limit for him.
COVER 2: Aaron Curry
Aaron Curry gave me hope that the former 4th pick is on his way to becoming the guy we
thought we drafted. I really feel like it’s the shift to the weak side that has open up his game. In Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley’s defense the LEO, WLB, and FS are schematically protected to make plays, and this freedom let Curry shine. One of my biggest gripes concerning Curry on the Strong side was poor pursuit angles and unwillingness to take on blockers. Against the 49ers he improved dramatically in that area. Curry was able to squeeze the gap, keep his outside shoulder free, then knife through to make, or contribute, on several key stops. Textbook, and very nice to see.
COVER 3: Defensive Line
Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, Red Bryant, and Chris Clemons.
When I watched the game again, I noticed something. Something I’d been wanting for years. A bigger stronger and more disruptive defensive line. The Seahawks front 4 was so stout at the point of attack, Frank Gore was left little room to operate inside. The way in which each defender squeezed the gap, and blurred Gore’ running lane vision was impressive. The only thing I wish, was a little more QB pressure, but that had more to do with the 49ers conservative offensive game-plan. One of the key matchups I wrote about prior to the game was DT Mebane vs LG Iupati. In film study the 49ers Iupati was a man amongst boys. His strength had opened several gaping holes in the running game in past games. If we were going to win the battle in the trenches Mebane would have to come up big. Both Mebane used very solid technique, initial quickness, and leverage against the powerful Iupati rendering him a non-factor on a majority of running plays. This was the nail-biting matchup for me, and Mebane managed to impress me, yet again.
My favorite stats from Sunday’s game:
Frank Gore: 22 rushes, 59 yds, 2.7 YPC
49ers Offense: 1-12 on 3rd Down, 1-5 in Red Zone efficiancy, 1-3 in goal to go efficiancy.
Time of possession: Despite the Seahawks offense’s awful 1st half performance, the Defense played so well that the end of game TOP was 28:53 to 31:07. That’s incredible.
There has been a lot of “suck for Luck” talk out there and it baffles me. We are watching what could be a dominant defense. I have a serious football crush on the strategy that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have used to build this team. We can have our concerns about the Offense, and I get that they will be a work in progress, but most of the pieces are in place.
Bottom line: It was a loss. But not all is lost Seahawk fans. We have something to hang our hat on until the rest of the team develops.