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.
The Seahawks, fresh of their much-needed bye week, head to Miami to face a struggling Dolphins team in what I consider a must-win game for Seattle’s playoff aspirations.
At 6-4, the Seahawks need to find a way to get 10 or more victories in what is turning out to be a tight NFC West race to the top with the San Francisco 49ers. If the Seahawks can’t take the division the 10-plus win goal should put them in the playoffs as a wild card team. But to do so Seattle must shake off their horrendous road record and win one or two on the road to finish the year.
For the Dolphins, a rested and hungry Seahawks team is the exact opposite of what they need right now. During their current three-game losing streak, the team has begun to show signs of imploding under positive expectations brought on by some unexpected early season success.
Keys to the game: Russell Wilson
1. Manage the game. The Seahawks may be facing a team with issues but one thing they do well is rush the passer and stuff the run. Miami pass rusher Cameron Wake is going to be an issue for Seattle all day long if Russell Wilson doesn’t get the Seahawks into manageable down and distances with savvy checks at the line of scrimmage. Wilson must diagnose and get the Seahawks into the right play or he’ll be in trouble.
2. Expose Dolphins coverage. Miami Cornerback Nolan Carroll has struggled mightily this season and should be ripe for another beating. Russell Wilson would be smart to find Carroll and target him until he proves it’s not a good idea.
Bottom Line: Wilson doesn’t have to be a beast for the Seahawks to win, he just needs to be careful with the ball and smart with his reads. Football doesn’t have to be hard, just find the matchup to exploit and go after it.
Keys to the game: Seahawks offense
1. Find daylight. The Seahawks are well-rested and that’s a good thing. The Dolphins boast a run defense that prides itself with shutting down the run. That just happens to be what the Seahawks like to do most. Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks offensive line must fire out, and get movement on the Miami defensive front early on or it will have to be the Russell Wilson show.
2. Screen game. The Seahawks have shown that they can utilize the screen game and have success and this game may require it. What they must avoid is relying on the receiver “alley” screen and try to add running back screens in the mix. The last thing the Dolphins want is Marshawn Lynch on the outside with a head of steam.
3. Avoid turnovers. Road game failures usually come down to mental errors and the Seahawks seem to struggle with those away from Seattle. If the Seahawks can play error-free football this Dolphins team may crack under the pressure. Not doing so gives the Dolphins hope.
Keys to the game: Defense
1. Pressure. I’ve been saying for a while that the Seahawks late bye week was going to be rough for the defense. They have been asked to carry this team for the better part of the season and over the past few games the wear and tear had begun to show. This had a direct effect on the amount of pressure they could muster. With the Seahawks injury free and well rested, look for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to dial-up pressure and force Miami’s rookie QB Ryan Tannehill to fold under it.
Easy Pressure Target: Miami RT Jonathan Martin
2. Contain, Contain, Contain. Reggie Bush causes problems for teams because of his ability to bounce inside runs to the outside and beat contain to the corner. Seattle must play to the whistle and wrap and drive this man to the ground. When he bounces, the linebackers must be there to funnel Bush back into the teeth of the defense. If Reggie Bush gets free, he will put up yardage in bunches.
3. Avoid Penalties. Avoiding turnovers is paramount for road teams, but right up there on the list is penalties. When you play a team that struggles on offense like the Dolphins have been, you can’t extend their drives with mental errors. If the Seahawks play tough and clean this game should be decided by the third quarter.
Keys to the game: Special teams
1. Field position. This might be the biggest key for Seattle. If Seahawks stud punter Jon Ryan gets the opportunity to punt, his leg could be the difference in the game. The Dolphins are not designed to march up and down the field and pinning them deep gives the Seahawks offense even more opportunities to put points on the board.
Keys to the game: Coaching staff
1. Preparation. When you have two weeks to study yourself as well as your upcoming opponent the fact is there is no excuse for a poor game plan. Head coach Pete Carroll and staff must develop a plan of attack that exposes the Dolphins many offensive weaknesses.
2. Tempo. For many reasons, the Seahawks rank near the bottom of the league on offense but Darrell Bevell plays a part on game day. Quick play calling means quicker huddles and more time for Russell Wilson to diagnose looks at the line of scrimmage.
3. Be multiple. At this point the NFL knows what the Seahawks are. They are a powerful inside zone running team led by a savvy rookie QB and an elite level defense who specializes in coverage, run stuffing and pressure.
On offense, the coaching staff must not allow players such as DE Cameron Wake and DT Randy Starks to disrupt with their penetration and must do so by varying their play calling. Balance equals unpredictable.
On defense, Gus Bradley must ensure the one big Miami weapon never sees a clear lane to run and pays for attempts to bounce outside with several Seahawks defenders waiting to lay the hit.
Bottom Line: This is a game the Seahawks should win despite their past issues on the road and considering the playoff implications, they’d better.
Prediction: Seahawks 21-13
Well that was fun wasn’t it?
This game further proved the point that the Jets are a mess as an organization, and the Seahawks are really good at home. Something everyone already knew.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has shown so much maturity in the last several weeks it is really astounding. From his savvy pocket manipulation-to his ability to maintain proper eye level as he escapes pressure-the growth is a great sign for this young Seattle Seahawks squad.
Golden Tate… This man is fun to watch when his head is on straight. It’s games like this you almost forget why people have complained about him. Playmaker is his role, and Sunday he filled it in stellar fashion despite the ugly throwing motion, and reckless ball carrying skills.
The Seahawks defense has also been a joy to watch but need this bye week to regroup. I think fatigue and K.J Wright’s injury has led to some run fit break downs and this break gives the team time to get refreshed for the playoff push. Yes, I said playoffs.
Bruce Irvin is proving to be really good at one thing, and that one thing is getting to the QB. Bruce Irvin’s 7 sacks places him atop the rookie pass rushing mountain top and is a testament to Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s ability to utilize Irvin in the right situations. Just imagine how good he’ll be when he learns how to play at the NFL level. Scary.
For the Jets, the writing is on the wall. They are not doing anything well on the offensive side of the ball and the blame is on a select few. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has installed a gimmick filled scheme and refuses to allow Mark Sanchez to play with a rhythm.
Tim Tebow should either start, play running back, or hold a clipboard. This QB swap approach is killing the Jets season by taking valuable practice time away from the Jets base offense.
Mark Sanchez is a rattled mess. Nothing he does looks purposeful of confident. This has permeated the entire offense. Time after time the Jets either failed at the QB position or the receivers failed the QB. Vicious cycle.
Going to be a long season for the Jets.
Stats that tell the tale:
3rd Down Conversions:
Russell Wilson: 11-17 177 yards, 2 TDs
Mark Sanchez: 9-22 124 yards, 1 INT
Enjoy the bye week everyone!
It’d be easy enough for this entire reaction blog post here to simply be me typing in all-caps just one big, long curse word and hitting submit. I should do that, because the amount of effort that would take is about as much as the Seahawks put in against a team like the St. Louis Rams. I’ll hold off on that, but I’m sure there will still be some blue language here.
The game was a frustrating loss and continued to keep questions about rookie quarterback Russell Wilson‘s long-term viability as a starter front and center. Perhaps what’s worse, however, is that it’s at times unclear if the issues the ‘Hawks offense is having is because of QB play, because of the line collapsing in like a dying star, because the receivers don’t have the ability to get open down field or the coaching.
Perhaps it’s all those things.
This week, coach Pete Carroll made claims that he has called for a conservative offense because he is having a rookie QB helm the ship.
It’s mind-boggling that is the tact of a coach who allegedly believes in his starting quarterback considering the play of some of the other rookie starters out there. Robert Griffin III put up another huge game in Week 4 against Tampa Bay (or as I like to call them, the St. Louis Rams of the NFC South) with 323 passing yards, 43 rushing yards on seven carries for a TD. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill dropped 431 passing yards on the stout Arizona Cardinals defense. Cleveland Brown’s rookie QB Brandon Weeden tossed 320 yards over the Baltimore Ravens. Both Miami and Cleveland lost this week, and they’ve got their own issues, but the point here is that there is a huge difference in what appears to be the faith of the coaching staff of those teams versus the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll can say whatever he wants to the media, but what we’re seeing on the field seems different.
What has me the most pissed off this week is that we simply should not have lost this game. It wasn’t the damned fake field goal (though if I hear a Fox announcer say “trickeration” ever again I’m going to kick a puppy) or even the three interceptions Wilson threw (they didn’t, largely, appear to be fully his fault).
I’m angry our coaching staff appears to simply not believe in the person they’ve asked to lead this team.
Today we saw some great flashes from Wilson in the first drive of the game. The quarterback was able to zip some passes to wide receiver Sidney Rice and our ground game was superb. When the Rams brought pressure, he got out of it and it was clear climbing the pocket wasn’t the answer.
After that, everything seemed to falter. Red zone touchdown scoring simply doesn’t exist for the franchise right now. The offensive line doesn’t have any inkling as to what pass protection seems to mean. Russell Wilson does not have the ability to climb the pocket and appears to have some type of fetish for the scrambling boot leg (including loss of yardage while being tackled in the backfield).
Today’s game made it hard not to think that Wilson’s height really has a large impact on his ability to make plays, most especially when his line fails him in protection and closes throwing windows. If he were taller would he be able to get the ball to wide open tight end Zach Miller at the two yard line?
It’s just very hard to know where exactly the offensive failure is right now.
I’ll tell you where it’s not, though: The failure sure as hell isn’t our running game. Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin (aka Turbo) are the shining stars of the offense. If Turbin had been given the 20 snaps Lynch did, he could have had 150 rushing yards today based on his pace. Marshawn, too, was extremely effective in his runs, including an 18-yard Skittles Scramble (that’s trademarked) for a TD on the first drive.
But the Seahawks simply cannot rely on only the running game to win. What’s baffling is that, with such a successful ground game, the passing game should be all the more successful. And, yet, when Wilson is back to pass it’s like a different team is playing.
Frankly I better end this now. I’m so frustrated this week I’m not even sure where to go with this. Just a few quick snippet thoughts and then I’m going to mic drop and go eat some apple pie:
1) Despite how pissed I am, Wilson should still start. He needs better coaching support, better play from receivers and damned better pass protection. Let’s face it, we’re still 2-2. I don’t know that Matt Flynn would have fared any better and frankly Wilson has a far better chance of escaping when our offensive line plays like shit, which seems to be the norm right now on passing plays. I’ll change my tune quickly if I don’t see some changes at QB, however.
2) The left side of the line with Russell Okung and James Carpenter was great today in run blocking.
3) Bench Breno Giacomini. Two after-whistle unsportsmanlike penalties for 15 yards each are unacceptable. Period. During Carroll’s post-game press conference he attributed it to Giacomini playing the full play or some such shittery. Bullshit. When the whistle blows, stop playing. You’re hurting your team. And I’m going to kick a puppy.
4) Our defensive secondary are clearly stronger when they jam at the line. Zone coverage is a weak spot. Getting burned by the Rams really showed it, and really, really hurt.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Next week we face a high-flying offense run by second-year star and big-ass cry baby Cam Newton over at the Carolina Panthers.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a puppy.
I watched and charted every 2011 Seattle Seahawks Offensive snap in the Red Zone. Below is a
quick breakdown of what I saw by personnel grouping. Disclaimer: I’m an amateur, it was a lot of data,
and I had a small screen so definitely factor in a slight margin of error.
The Outside Zone Run (or tackle zone) is the Seahawks favorite play by far. It should be
assumed going forward that the Outside Zone is the primary running play in each of the subsequent
personnel groupings. They will run it with a lead blocking Fullback (out of 21, 22, or 23 personnel) or out
of Single-Back sets (in 11 and 12 personnel). Lynch is good at turning this play into a big gain.
11 (Kings) Personnel : 43 Plays (Run-16, Pass-27)
Personnel philosophy Outside/Inside Zone Runs, Vertical Concepts, Primary Target:X Vertical
Formation tendencies 50% of the time they will be in a Trips Set of some type.
50% of the time it will be a Shotgun formation.
5 times they lined up in a Trips Speed formation
All sprint outs look like they are coming out of Kings Gun Trips Near.
11 (Kings) Alternate Y Line-up Locations
Y Off-4 Times
Y Crack-4 Times
Y Wide-4 Times
11 (Kings) Types of Motion with Play in parenthesis
W-Yoyo (Inside Zone)
W-Deep (F Wheel)
Y (Zone Run, Slant)
Y-Yoyo (Inside Zone)
11 (Kings) Personnel Red Zone Pass Targets
W-Slant (lined up wide in Trips sets the other two WRs lined up inside of him run clear out
vertical routes), comeback, bubbles.
Y-Out, slant, seam
Z- Hitch, curl, bubble
12 (Ace) Personnel 21 Plays (Run-11, Pass-10)
Personnel Philosophy-Horizontal and Three-Level (Flood) Concepts, Zone Runs with U as a
lead/trap blocker, Primary Target(s): Crossing Routes (To both X and U)
12 (Ace) Formation tendencies
The QB is always under center in Ace sets.
50% of the time it is a Trips set
38 % of the time both Tight Ends are lined up next to each other (Wing and Trump).
They don’t line up either Tight End wide in Ace.
12 (Ace) Types of Motion with play in parenthesis:
F2 (U Out)
F3 (U Cross)
U (Zone run)
X (Inside zone)
X behind Z (Flood)
Y-Deep (F Swing)
Y-Yoyo (X Cross)
Z (Z cross, inside run)
12 (Ace) Personnel Red Zone Pass Targets
21 (Regular) Personnel 20 Plays (Run-15, Pass-5)
Personnel Philosophy-Run First, Inside/Outside Zone Runs, Quick Concept and Play Action
Passes, Primary Target(s): Short passes to Z and H
21 (Regular) Formation tendencies
The QB is under Center 100% of the time
100% of the time it is an I Formation (3 times Off-set I Far)
They don’t split any Running Backs or the Tight End wide.
They will line Lynch up at both H and F.
When Lynch is lined up at F
They will either hand it to Lynch or fake it to him and pitch to H Washington
33% of the time WR in Flip Alignment
21 (Regular) Types of Motion with Play in parenthesis
Y (Zone run)
Z (Delay screen to Z)
21 (Regular) Personnel Red Zone Pass Targets
H-Wheel (to field)
22 (Tens) Personnel
13 Plays (Run-9, Pass-4)
22 (Tens) Personnel Philosophy-Run First, Outside/Inside Zone Runs, both H and F touch the ball equally
22 (Tens) Formation tendencies
100% of the time it is an I Formation
Both TE aligned to same side (Heavy) 5 times
Y lined up wide one play
Won’t hesitate to run the same Short Yardage play 2 or even 3 times in a row
22 (Tens) Types of Motion with Play in parenthesis
F Off (PA Pass)
U (Z Sluggo, Zone Run)
U Out (U Slant)
22 (Tens) Personnel Red Zone Pass Targets
23 (Jacks) Personnel 2 Plays (Run-1, Pass-1)
This is a short-yardage grouping both plays were run with 1 and 3 yards to gain respectively.
One play was Jacks I Right lead dive with a Tackle eligible. The other play was Jacks I Left pass to FB in
0? (Spread) Personnel 11 Plays (Run-0, Pass-11)
Personnel groupings that fell under this category had no RB in the backfield but on some plays I
could not make out exactly if there were Tight Ends in the formation or not. So in theory they could be
00, 01, 02, 03, personnel but they’ve all been grouped together under this (0?) Category.
0? (Spread) Personnel Philosophy-Vertical/Horizontal Concepts, Intermediate and Deeper Routes,
0? (Spread) Types of Motion with Play in Parenthesis-
Z Deep (Z Wheel)
0? (Spread) Personnel Red Zone Pass Targets
U-Out (away from Trips set)
W-Post, trips slant, screen
Concluding Thoughts and Notes
Kings Personnel is the Seahawks preferred personnel grouping by a wide margin. (It is also their
preferred personnel grouping on all 3rd down plays regardless of field position but I’ll get to 3rd down
plays on another report). They will try and take some vertical shots to the Y just outside of the Red
Zone. They like to throw Bubbles to the 3-WR Side of formations. Sometimes they will manufacture
that 3-WR side by using F3 motion (1 target) or by lining the F out wide (1 target). Late in the season
there was a noticeable trend to target the motion man.
I know that Russell Wilson is starting at QB now so the play calling could change to suit his
strengths. However, NFL Offenses don’t change much from season to season when the same Offensive
Coordinator is in place. Therefore, it would be safe to assume that Darell Bevell’s Red Zone Offense in
2012 will look quite similar to the one detailed in this report. The difference in the 2012 version will
have more to do with whatever Russell Wilson does within plays (favorite targets, throws, or launch
points, etc). I believe that Russell Wilson’s skill-set and leadership will make the Seahawks Red Zone
Offense more effective than it has been before under Darell Bevell. Last but not least, none of this
matters if you don’t tackle Marshawn Lynch. Good luck with that.
Tweet me your criticism, feedback, or suggestions for other Advance Scouting Reports to
When Marshawn Lynch was arrested for playing drunken Econoline bumper cars, the 12thMan became completely overrun with anger, disappointment, and sky is falling predictions. These predictions, while over the top and scary, just showed me how much faith and pride Lynch’s “BeastMode” persona have brought to Seattle.
I also heard immediate calls for an apology for wronging us as a fan base.
Buckle up, I’m going to get controversial here… apologies from athletes are pointless, and in my humble opinion we shouldn’t want one.
Pete Carroll knew what he was getting when he signed Marshawn Lynch in 2010. He knew he had weapons charges, a hit and run, and other various issues. This is not an indictment of his character as much as it is his maturity and decision-making. Most individuals with checkered pasts do not change all that much and even when they do their improved behavior will eventually become disrupted by another event. If anyone owes us an apology I would argue the case for Pete Carroll is a much stronger one. One in which I would never pursue.
Earlier today Marshawn Lynch released this statement:
“I want to apologize to my family, the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL and the 12th Man for the negative attention resulting from my recent actions. This is not the type of community leader I have been over the last two years or the one I’m striving to become. I want to assure everyone that I will work to be better and look forward to a very exciting, and very successful season with the Seattle Seahawks.”
Great statement.. Mature, remorseful and also a complete waste of time. I happen to believe Marshawn Lynch is a good guy, and probably is truly sorry for the lives he could have ended, the people he could have hurt, and the injuries he could have inflicted on himself but we will never know for sure. These types of statements serve one purpose, and one purpose only..Damage control.
And that’s my point. These contrived apologies from star athletes are never going to be enough. They are never going to stop a fan base from turning their back or force someone to forgive their transgressions.
But maybe I’m wrong..What do you think?
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.
A Seahawks Monday Night Football is upon us, and it’s a great matchup for a team who still has a chance, albeit a very small one, to sneak into the playoffs. The Rams on the other hand…um, well the only “playoff” they can compete for is the one for the worst record in the league, and right now they are losing that match up to the Colts.
I’ve stated several times before how much I still hate the Rams despite the fact that the Seahawks have completely dominated them lately (12 of the last 13, and 6 straight in Seattle). I still can’t get Tory Holt and Marshall Faulk’s irritating and disrespectful comments out of my head from early on in the Holmgren era. I never will.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy in-game broadcast NFC West bashing, a little Seahawks bashing, and hopefully a ton of skittles to shove down their throat!
IR: LT Russell Okung, RG John Moffitt, RT James Carpenter, WR Sidney Rice
15 members on IR, QB Sam Bradford will try to play with severely sprained ankle, and DT Robins may miss game with back injury.
Key matchups to watch when the Seahawks have the ball:
DE Chris Long and DE James Hall vs LT Paul McQuiston and RT Breno Giacomini: This is the only matchup that scares me. This is a huge mismatch, and it may just be the one that keeps the heavily overmatched Rams in the game. TE Zach Miller has done a great job in the blocking game all year, and his services will be needed again. I’m predicting the Seahawks go to their heavy (2TE) sets for the majority of the game if the Rams ends can create pressure. If, and that’s a big IF, Paul McQuiston and Breno Giacomini can hold up, we should roll easily in this one.
The Seahawks running game vs The Rams rush defense: The Seahawks have been on a tear posting 5 straight 100 yard efforts, and will need that kind of effort in order to crush any hopes of a struggling Rams team. The fact that the Rams have the worst run defense in the league should mean that Beastmode will be in full effect on national TV, but not so fast. How the Seahawks handle the transition from Russell Okung at left tackle to Paul McQuiston, and Lemuel Jeanpierre starting his first game at the RG position will be key to a victory tonight. Offensive line coach Tom Cable has done a great job of molding our line, but I’m not sure how rabbits are left in that hat of his. That said, I really can’t think of a better opponent to get some important training snaps against, than this current Rams defense.
Prediction: The extra time between games has given Tom Cable enough time to prepare the new line. The running game will be the number one offensive weapon to protect Tarvaris from the Rams Defensive ends. Look for 15-20 passes again from Tarvaris Jackson. The 100 yard streak continues… Get your Skittles ready!!
Key matchup to watch when the Rams have the ball
CB Richard Sherman vs Wr Brandon Lloyd
“Wr Brandon Lloyd has been a huge addition to the Rams offense. Since the trade he is the Rams # 1 option in the passing game and has surpassed all Rams receivers in targeted passes.”
I wrote that a couple of weeks ago and it remains true today. WR Brandon Lloyd is the Rams only passing target that demands extra attention. This will be another opportunity for the CB Richard Sherman, and CB Brandon Browner to show improvement. During the last meeting, Brandon Lloyd was held to 5 catches (67 yds, 1 TD) on 14 targeted passes. For the most part, Seahawks did a good job of keeping him quiet, and I anticipate the same for tonight.
* NOTE: There is still a huge question mark on the Rams QB situation for tonight. Sam Bradford is going to be a game time decision but If he can’t go look for the Rams to insert QB Kellen Clemens, freshly signed to the Rams after being cut from the Houston Texans. Sam Bradford has been awful this year, so the drop off might not be dramatic .
Final Matchup Thoughts:
Look for a ton of three and outs early from both teams. The Seahawks should focus on getting some push and continuity from their offensive line and this might mean the special teams, particularly Jon Ryan and the punt coverage units will get a lot of early snaps. In my opinion, this will be temporary. Barring unforeseen issues, the Seahawks will pound the Rams with time of possession, and a brutal running attack until the seas begin to part and the game is put out of reach.
Caution: This game feels like the Cleveland game to me. A very winnable game, against a struggling team. The only huge difference is the Rams do not play defense like the Browns do, and Charlie Whitehurst isn’t starting. I say we atone for the failure in Cleveland.
Prediction: Seahawks 24– Rams 13 (Predicted MVP: The Seahawks offensive line)
Silver lining: The media will be forced to talk about a Seattle win, because the alternative, is well….. The Rams.
Seahawks, time for your national close up…Are you ready?
This is going to be the strangest matchup on the schedule in my opinion. There’s the whole Pete Carroll Vince Young thing, the Jason Babin Twitter rant, and the smack talk from the Eagles players on how they will “Blow them out”. For me, I see an Eagles team that I assumed would be a 11-5 or better team. They currently sit tied with the Seahawks at 4-7, and are quickly coming apart at the seams. From the DeSean Jackson drama, to the investment in Mike Vick as the long-term QB, nothing is working out for the free agent magnet Eagles. Contrast the dysfunctional Eagles with a Seahawks team who has performed exactly like I predicted they would. Up and down they go, each week I watch expecting the worse, and hoping for the best. This young team is talented, but undisciplined and the 4-7 record fits them at this point in Pete Carroll’s tenure.
Seahawks: WR Sidney Rice (IR), RG John Moffit (IR), RT James Carpenter (IR)
Eagles: QB Mike Vick, Wr Jeremy Maclin
Who to watch when the Eagles have the ball:
Wr DeSean Jackson vs Seahawks pass coverage.
People seem to forget that the Eagles have a pretty good receiving corps even without Jeremy Maclin. Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper have had success this year, and TE Brent Celek will make it tough to stack coverage on DeSean Jackson. With our size at corner, this is a bit of a nightmare matchup for Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman (if he plays). DeSean Jackson is so fast, and agile that we may see double moves, crossers, and turn out routes to attempt to get the bigger corners in trouble. With the Seahawks season long issues in the penalty department, this is a sound strategy. This could be a long day for the secondary.
Advantage: DeSean Jackson
RB LeSean McCoy vs the Seahawks front 7:
The Seahawks have been stellar in the run game for the majority of the year. I don’t think DT Alan Branch gets the credit he deserves for this production. DE Red Bryant get’s a lot of love, and rightfully so, but with Branch out last week, the Seahawks allowed a no name RB from Washington to run wild. Additionally, McCoy is currently averaging a ridiculous 8.7 YPC on runs off left tackle. This means that Chris Clemons will be a huge factor here. How he holds up will be something to watch for.
TE Brent Celek vs Seahawks LB’s in coverage
This is a matchup that concerns me. Brent Celek has been a favorite target (63 Targeted passes this year) and the Seahawks have proven game after game, they can’t match up with pass catching TEs. With McCoy, and Eagles QB Vince Young working play action, boot, and waggle games, It may be very difficult to contain Celek unless the Seahawks run defense is STOUT.
Advantage: TE Brent Celek
Who to watch when the Seahawks have the ball:
QB Tarvaris Jackson vs CBs Asante Samual & Nnamdi Asomugha.
In my humble opinion, Tarvaris Jackson should not be playing anymore this season. The pectoral injury is clearly reached the point that he’s not effective, and can’t throw accurately past 10 yards. This concerns me greatly considering the skill the Eagles have at the corner position. With Sidney Rice’s placement on season ending IR, that’s just one less target for a weak-armed QB to throw to. Mentioning the 38 degree temp at kick off seems like piling on but it is what it is. The Seahawks better establish themselves on the ground or Jon Ryan will be punting on 80% of the Seahawks possession.
Advantage: Asante Samual & Nnamdi Asomugha
The Seahawks running game vs Eagles front 7.
Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks run game has been on a bit of a tear the last four games with a 4.3 YPC average, and three games over 100 yards. That is a great sign, and I think that trend continues against the Eagles defensive front. The Eagles started out the year with their DE’s in what is being called a “Wide 9” alignment. This basically means that both DE’s are lined up a full gap to the outside shoulder of the Offensive tackle.
This gives them a much better rushing angle and it makes it very difficult for slow-of-foot tackles to get into position to stop the pass rush. However, it leaves the Eagles very vulnerable with gaping holes for off tackle and guard runs. I don’t anticipate them staying in this alignment once Marshawn Lynch starts to get it going, but I will predict it burns them at least once for a big gain.
Fun Fact: The Seahawks offensive line averages 6.6, and 314 lbs, while the Eagles defensive front is a smaller 6.2 , 285. The Eagles are very light at the DE position (Cole, Babin) and the Seahawks should run early, often, and consistently.
Advantage: The Seahawks running game
Seahawks Offensive line pass protection vs Eagles Pass rush
DEs Trent Cole, and Jason Babin would normally be a big problem in the passing game. Thing is, I doubt we pass more than 20-25 times, so their impact should be greatly minimized. With Tarvaris Jackson’s injury, The Seahawks would be wise run a lot and keep their passing attack focused on throws that Tarvaris Jackson can make without too much pain. This will mean Zach Miller, and Doug Baldwin should be the go to guys tonight.
Advantage: Draw (by default)
Final thoughts: On paper this should be an easy win for the Eagles. But on paper, the Eagles should have at least 8-10 wins by now. The Eagles remind me of the Daniel Snyder Redskins a while back that would stock pile big name free agents and do absolutely nothing. In Philadelphia, the Eagles fans are calling for the head of Andy Reid on a stake, Eagles players have lacked the work ethic to do great things, and DC Juan Castillo is still trying to figure out what the heck a defensive coordinator is supposed to do.
At Century Link, in front of the 12th Man, I think the Seahawks will be ready for their close up. Just don’t expect the media coverage to discuss anything other than the Eagles failures after it’s all said and done.
Prediction: 17-13 Seahawks
I hate the Rams.. No really I do. It’s bugged me that both teams have been down on their luck the past few years because this rivalry used to be really good. This could be a very interesting game for many reasons. None of those reasons more important than the vast amount of injuries both teams will have to deal with. I haven’t confirmed this (writing this article at 10,000 ft on a Southwest flight to Denver) but the Rams probably have the worst possible injury situation I have seen in several years. This has led to a very disappointing and lost season for a team many thought would compete for the NFC West title.
Seattle: RG John Moffit (IR), RT James Carpenter (IR)
Wr Brandon Lloyd (45 targeted passes, 21 Catches) has been a huge addition to this Rams offense. Since the trade he is the Rams # 1 option in the passing game and has surpassed all Rams receivers in targeted passes. CB Richard Sherman has had a lot of lofty praise thrown his way after his stellar play and will need to continue to shine in order to slow Lloyd down. Brandon Lloyd makes a habit of spectacular catches in clutch situations. His route running and separation ability remind me of Chad OchoCinco in his early Bengals years. What surprises me, is the lack of national attention he receives. Make no mistake, this receiver is a deadly asset to the Rams attack. One of the things that impresses me most about Richard Sherman is his athletic ability. It’s very difficult for a man his size and length to sink and flip is hips like he does. This enables him to stay “belt to belt” with receivers coming out of his initial back pedal. I’m very concerned with Lloyd’s savvy route running here. I have a feeling Rams Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels will be calling for double move routes all day for two reasons: 1. With our defensive scheme, our lack of pressure may give those routes time to develop. 2. Sherman, for all his supreme ability, is still a very young and inexperienced corner.
Advantage: WR Brandon Lloyd
RB Steven Jackson-Oline Vs Seahawks Defensive front
Steven Jackson is a like a sledge hammer with feet. His freakish mixture of size, power, aggression, and quickness make him very effective against smaller defenses. Here’s the thing, the Seahawks aren’t the small, quick, athletic, play with the lead type defense anymore. The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll have collected, large, nasty, and aggressive defenders that aren’t afraid of players like Jackson. Mentality aside, this match up is very intriguing to me. The Rams want to utilize Jackson to keep the pressure off a horrible pass protection issue that has plagued them all year. A balanced approach will keep Sam Bradford upright. The Seahawks are built for this, and with the injuries on the Rams O-Line, I forsee a disappointing outing for Jackson in this one.
Advantage: Seahawks Defensive Front
QB Sam Bradford vs the Seahawks Secondary.
I’m sorry, but Sam Bradford does not impress me at all. Never has. When the measuring stick for the #1 overal pick is simply to just “look like you belong” it’s pretty easy to achieve. The media tried to make a big deal about arbitrary rookie milestones, but I just don’t see the impact game to game.
So far this season Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson has outplayed him. Stats aside (which actually help my case) his game performances have been in a word…underwhelming. Not horrible, not great, just meh. Maybe it’s the new offense under McDaniels, perhaps the protection issues, or maybe it’s Sam Bradford and all of the above. This is why when fans assume that the #1 pick is going to be a lock it baffles me. Do I think he’s a bust? No way, but I have higher expectations for players chosen #1. He’s not elite, nor even close. He’s not a franchise changer like Matt Ryan was for a completely broken Atlanta Falcons team. He’s just another NFL QB and as a Seahawks fan, I’m happy about that.
However, Sam Bradford, despite his flaws, has the ability to hurt you if you give him time (as with most QBs not named Whitehurst). The Rams attack will probably focus on a pass to set up the run approach despite the pass protection issues. The Seahawks deploy a front with one pass rushing DE (Chris Clemons) and a mountainous run stuffing DE (Red Bryant). That approach has led to a very impressive run stopping force, but also limited pressure which leads to extra coverage time for our DBs. When you add in to the mix, the overall youth and inexperience at both Corner positions (Sherman, Browner), we may see an uptick of graded performance for the man I just criticized. Browner, and Sherman: Put your big boy pads on fellas.
Advantage: The Seahawks secondary loses some battles, but wins the war.
Match ups to watch when the Seahawks have the ball.
Rams Defensive Line vs the band new right side of the Seahawks offensive line
This matchup seems scary because of the injuries to our entire right side. I don’t see it that way. If we struggle against the pressure from DE’s Chris Long, and James Hall, I believe it’s scheme and talent, not injuries. I just don’t see the huge drop off with our back ups at this point. That said, RG John Moffit, and RT James Carpenter have had some really nice snaps this year. Series to series you can pick out about one or two and say “wow, there’s some serious potential there”. Problem is (and this is why I feel like the line’s play will remain consistent with previous production) with every nice play, there is five or six that force you to scratch your head. Lucky for the Seahawks, most of those plays have happened backside or Tarvaris Jackson was able to get the ball off prior to the broadcast focusing on the mistake. The addition of RG Paul McQuistan and RT Breno Giacomini may scare some fans, but their experience level may just enable the Seahawks to continue as scheduled. Bottom line: We may not have dominate snaps, but we may not have the same amount of poor snaps either. I can live with that.
There is no question who the leader of the Rams defense is. James Laurinaitis is everything you could want in a MLB. Athletic, powerful, intelligent, and a wrap tackler. The match up here could be fun for fans of the running game. The Seahawks have had some success in the past few weeks getting Marshawn lynch involved in the offense, and he has delivered. I have been critical of Marshawn Lynch’s ability to get a clear “blocking progression picture” when he’s handed the ball. As we witnessed in Buffalo, and the majority of games in Seattle, he will charge full speed into the back of a lineman, dance around, and aggressively fight eleven defenders for an impressive 2 yard loss. This led to a bunch of his run yardage coming on big runs, and not a consistent attack. The past few weeks his vision has increased, and his anticipation of pursuit angles has put him in great position for success.
QB Tarvaris Jackson vs the Rams Secondary.
As most of you know, I’m a true believer in the run game setting up the passing game for success. I’m also fully aware of the match up that faces Tarvaris Jackson and this Rams secondary. This could be like taking candy from a baby if we can win up front. The Rams have lost a total of nine DB’s this year to injury. Nine. I’m currently reading Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever”, and while I find his philosophy of “next man up” indearing, I can’t help but think that there’s only so far down in the barrel you can go before you are scraping the goo off the bottom. If I’m wrong, the Rams have the best scouting department and front office in the NFL. WR’s Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Mike Williams, and TE Zach Miller should be able to run their routes and find several openings inside the zone heavy pass defense. With all of the injuries , the Rams drop LB’s into coverage a bunch, and that’s even better news for those that are worried about our line. Tarvaris should be able to shred this secondary, and I believe he will.
Overall Position Group Edge Breakdown:
Final Thoughts: The Seahawks are coming off of an impressive win vs a Raven’s team we may have had no business beating. This isn’t the case with the Rams. If we lose, It’s a focus issue, and not a talent issue. I would not say that about most teams Seattle faces this year, but with the amount of back ups who are filling in for back ups, the Rams are a team fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
Prediction: 17-13 Seahawks