Seahawk

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Blue Friday Match up Focus: The Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo courtesy of the blog.thenewstribune.com

The Legion Of Boom should be souring on Sunday
Photo courtesy of the blog.thenewstribune.com

Sunday, September 22, 2013 – 4:25 pm ET
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

When the Seahawks host the Jaguars this weekend there are only three things that could possibly stop them from victory.

1. A complete and total mental collapse in front of the 12th Man.
2. A potential point shaving scandal. (19.5 Vegas…really?)
3. One of the most miraculous underdog stories you’ll see in the NFL this year.

So now that I’ve established that I think this game is more like a high school homecoming game than an actual NFL match up and totally blown the suspense…let’s move on..

When the Seattle Seahawks have the ball:

1. Pass protection. JR Sweezy is one of my favorite run blockers on this Seahawks team. Those who follow me on Twitter or Vine can attest to my love affair with JR. What he brings to the running game is so so valuable to the Seahawks offense, however he’s consistently over matched one on one in pass protection. Any man over plus perceived A gap pressure causes confusion/hesitation and he is on the receiving end of most of the contact. Inconsistent punch, and uncertainty leads to bad things in protection folks. Russell Okung‘s absence on Sunday will put added pressure on Sweezy to improve or that weaknesses may be just the equalizer the Jacksonville Jaguars need to make this game slightly more intriguing.

2. Russell Wilson‘s accuracy. It started in preseason as a noticeable issue and it seems to have continued into the regular season. Russell’s accuracy is just not where it was at the end of the year. Which is surprising to me considering how fundamentally sound he can be. In the preseason it was high throw after high throw. In the regular season it’s been a mixed bag of high throws late throws and missed opportunities. I’m still not sure you can place blame on any one person here and more likely, a combination platter of blame should be shared by Wilson, the receivers, the poor protection, and Darrell Bevell. I’m in no way pushing the panic button but it is something that I think is fair to note. Russell Wilson is human folks. Let’s hope the Jags can be the sun to our Superman.

3. Running back pass protection problems. Again, not a huge issue but one I think needs to be highlighted. With Pro bowler Russell Okung out at left tackle it is imperative that the running backs and pass protection scheme take this into account. I just didn’t like the way The Seahawks protected the left side of the line during critical parts of the game against the San Francisco 49ers. Whether it was poorly executed chips or misreads by the running back, Russell Wilson had way too much pressure on him in critical moments.

4. Lack of production from the tight end position. Going into the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Zach Miller has only 64 yards receiving total. Now no one expects Zach Miller to become a fantasy stat monster, but I would’ve hoped at this point the Seahawks would’ve utilized him a little more. With the offense sputtering and protection problems on the horizon, it just seems to me that a tight end should be the quarterback’s best friend. Please play matchmaker Darrell Bevell..please?

Now to the Jacksonville Jaguars:

First let’s start off with weaknesses.. They have a ton. But I admire the job Gus Bradley has done by keeping his team motivated despite the huge talent gap.

When the Jaguars have the ball:

1. The battle in the trenches. When I watched tape of the Jaguars against Raiders the one thing stuck out to me was how the Raiders defense lived in the Jaguars back field. It was almost as though the Raiders knew the snap count. I don’t think we’ll see a drop off in pressure considering the venue and the attacking style of the Seahawks. (Paging Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett, and Chris Avril. Please report to the white courtesy phone shaped like Chad Henne)

More specifically, the Jaguars seem to have a lot of trouble in the A gap of their protection schemes. Actually their guard and center play has been awful. Look for the Seahawks to sugar/pressure the A gap as much as possible and force the Jaguars to account for possible/imminent pressure. From what I saw from the Raiders game tape they don’t handle that well and play crushing pressure was the result.

2. Who will be”the guy” for the Jags offense? As far as the skill positions go there isn’t a single player wearing the bizarre Jaguars color scheme that scares me. Honestly when I watch tape, look at this roster and subsequent stats, no one jumps out as an individual defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have to slant the game plan towards.

Before we go any further I just have to comment on the Jaguars quarterback situation…ADD Moment:

Blaine Gabbert is one lucky man and I really feel bad for Chad Henne. This game could potentially be one of the worst in his career and that’s saying something. From crowd noise to defensive pressure to a porous offensive line, he’s in for a very very very very long day (I probably didn’t use “very” enough there). Couple that with a hobbled Maurice Jones-Drew and receivers that will not be able to get free against the likes of Richard Sherman, Brandan Browner and Walter Thurmond, this is going to be bad..I honestly see no way that Chad gets the ball in the hands of his play makers on a consistent basis. The Legion of boom might just have a wonderful day. Fantasy alert folks.

Potential Seahawks stars of the game:

1. DE/DL Michael Bennett. Bennett has been on a tear this entire season and I don’t anticipate that slowing down for Sunday. His ability to pressure from every position on the defensive line makes him almost unstoppable. I can’t say for sure if he will receive a lot of tangible stats but I do know that his presence opens things up for other players. He is quietly become one of the most important players on the Seahawks’ defensive front.

2. RB Marshawn Lynch. The Jaguars allow 173.5 yards a game on the ground. That’s good enough for 31st in the NFL only slightly edging out the Washington Redskins who are a complete dumpster fire on defense. This may be Lynch’s breakout game early in 2013.

3. The Legion of boom. The Jaguars average 5 yards an attempt in the passing game. Five. That’s good enough for dead last in the NFL. The Jaguars will no doubt try to get the ball out fast to avoid pressure and that’s when this amazing secondary will feast on the short crossers, slants, and flat concepts. Could get ugly fast.

Top 10 things I hope I see on Sunday.

10. Golden Tate heavily involved in the passing game.
9. A Walter Thurmond pick six.
8. A Christine Michael sighting.
7. A vastly improved JR Sweezy.
6. The real Russell Wilson.
5. A multiple sack game from the Seahawk’s front seven.
4. Chris Clemons
3. No more injuries.
2. More and more KJ Wright defensive goodness.

And..

1. A big fat “W” and a 3-0 record.

Go Hawks! Talk to you all on Sunday!

The Point After: Seattle Seahawks “Juiced on Noise” edition

Photo courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com

Photo courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com

Everyone who has lived has lost.  As self-evident as that statement might appear it leads to the next part of the equation; what we do with losses, how do we respond, and what does that response say about who we are.  Some losses are personal.  The failed job interview, the low score on a test we thought we were prepared to take, or the loss that we thought (perhaps fueled by hubris) we assumed would be a win.

And then there are team losses.  Most of us have been a part of a team, the level matters little when discussing this because team losses can stay with us, make us question, make us relive.  But unable to change the outcome after the fact, most people, over time, let things go.  In the immediate aftermath of a loss, “nice try” is a bad consolation prize.

As fans of the Seattle Seahawks we have experienced our share of losses.  That is a fact but that is not what this article is about. There are plenty of columns (even books) that detail the more painful chapters of this teams’ history.  Personally, I have a tough time with my team losing.  I am a passionate fan, and I care a great deal about this team.  But I’m also a pragmatist and I realize that in the end, this is a game. I would like to believe–and convince you too–that I handle Seattle losses well.  But I don’t, at least not until a few days have passed.

Over the years the Seahawks have lost some tough games.  The year following our loss in Seattle’s first ever Super Bowl appearance, hopes were high.  But that next season was not to go our way.  The reasons vary but after losses I employ a few rules.  Chief among them is this: Don’t reach for worthless excuses.  It is not always easy to practice but frustrated as I have been, I don’t reach.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of two 49ers fans after losing to the Seahawks this past Sunday in Seattle. The game was not close. After a week one offensive clinic against the Green Bay Packers many picked the 49ers to win in Seattle. The Seahawks read from a different script. Throughout the game Seattle disrupted San Francisco’s offense, creating turnovers, limiting their scoring to just three points, and dominating them in every meaningful statistic.  It was a great game.  It was a battle, even if the war still lies ahead. As always, Seattle’s 12th Man was there to offer their full-throated support.  Everything about the game was big.  The rivalry (which extends well beyond the two head coaches) the divisional aspect, and the fact that these two teams generally don’t much care for each other all made for a frenzied environment. It was loud!  In fact, we set a world record. It started loud and it stayed loud.  That is what we do here in Seattle.  That is what this team’s fans do.  And that is what they’ve always done.

This is not new.  The 12th Man has always been loud and even before the record for crowd noise in a stadium environment was broken this past Sunday, Seattle has always been considered a very difficult place for teams to play.  After the game, I was relieved.  I knew that it was only week two, but I also knew how important it was to hold serve at home.  We needed this win!  Following the game, Twitter and other social media outlets were crowded with stats, stories, and some very happy fans. Bay area social media participants were understandably not as thrilled.  As I went to bed late Sunday night, I knew there would be some bitterness in San Francisco.  If Seattle had lost, I know I would have felt the same way.  But then a story emerged; a letter to the Editor at SFGate.com. Sunday night had given way to desperation Monday.

130915_seahawks_crowdThe letter was written by a man and woman who, in looking to understand the loss of their team, employed a number of suspect arguments.

From the letter:

“Was anyone else appalled by the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Seattle Seahawks and their fans, juiced on noise, which surely creates as big an advantage over an opponent as any performance enhancing drug and which, to their shame, NFL officials turn the same blind eye they have to concussions and drugs.”

First, it is incredibly disingenuous to question the conduct of Seattle’s players in this game.  Seattle was on the receiving end of more than one 15-yard personal foul penalty committed by the 49ers.  But it gets worse. The loss was not a result of poor play on the part of their team.  Nope, it was the juiced on noise fans, the result of which was so detrimental to the 49ers that the noise was akin to a performance enhancing drug.  The Adderall issue again; never too tired to be framed as a shot, regardless of how weak the analogy.  Then there is the shame and duplicity of the NFL officials who, much to the annoyance of the authors, turned a blind eye to a rule (crowd noise) that is no longer enforced, just as they have similarly done with concussions and drugs.  Bad arguments are everywhere in print and in voice.  But this argument isn’t just bad, it’s desperate.  It groans under the strain of its own inability to lucidly connect any of the dots.  Allow me to help.

The 49ers lost because they played a bad game and Seattle played a better one.  It happens.  Seattle has played bad games (I still have road game nightmares that date back decades) but so does every fan base of every team in the NFL.  They played a bad game.  In interviews prior to the game 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick made it clear that last year’s loss in Seattle (a worse loss point-wise than this past Sunday by the way) was not due to the crowd noise.  He dismissed it.  The authors of the article picked it up, dusted it off, and employed it.  They employed an argument their own team had dismissed. Yes, and as I have covered, the crowd was loud–very loud–but no one from the stands was given a shot at playing starting running back that night.  No one from the club seats had a ticket that along with admission allowed them to call a play or take a turn at quarterback after Russell Wilson was tagged a few times.  The players played the game while the fans played a vital supporting role.

It’s worth pointing out too that typically a home crowd is loud when their defense is on the field.  This being the case, no explanation is offered by the authors about the other half of the equation.  If the crowd noise is to blame for San Francisco’s confused offense, how do the authors explain their defense?  In the past two games against the 49ers in Seattle the Seahawks have outscored the 49ers 71-16.  Their letter does not even attempt to justify or explain this. Instead the letter attacks the NFL for ignoring the news while comparing the issue to the very serious and often times tragic issue of concussed players.  That’s right, crowd noise is right up there with the terrible deaths of players like Dave Duerson and Junior Saeu, whose deaths were likely at least partially related to a career of being blasted in the head and body. The memories of those players (and all players who have suffered from concussion related health issues) deserve better than the rip current of this article.

The authors then spend a paragraph of cyber real-estate arguing that the solution is simple.  Crowds (comprised of individuals who spend thousands of dollars to watch their team play live) will be regulated by the noise police.  If they fail to keep things quiet enough, they forfeit home field play, including playoff games!  It’s another terrible argument and not worth hyper-analyzing. The NFL is–before everything–a well crafted business.  Business suicide could be realized by the NFL PIO announcing that moving forward, fans will only be allowed to make a certain amount of noise.  Perhaps the announcement could include the following: “Folks, we know that your money is what sustains this business, but please, go with a movie theater approach–just keep it down.  “Project Shhhhhh” is now in effect.  Rome would fall.

Their letter closes with:

“At a time when the world seems sour, sports give us a place of joy, community and hope, and to have it spoiled is a bigger loss than it seems on the surface.”

The “world” is sour?  Really?  And then the final dart that misses wide the point; sports is about joy and community, and hope and those awful people in Seattle just ruined it.  Not just ruined it, but created a loss bigger than it seems on the surface.  Again, I’d like to help.

NFL football is an amazing sport and product.  There is joy and community found in the NFL and in particular, at home games played before a national audience.  And that joy and community is realized by giving all a fan can give to support his/her team.  We buy the jerseys (and then buy them again when that players is traded or cut) and we buy the tickets, sometimes at a mind-numbing cost. We take our sons and daughters to their first games, and we introduce a friend or family member to amazing time found in attending a NFL game.  We buy the beer, and food, and pay for parking.  We lose sleep and voice and we know that each time we head out, nothing is promised. Sometimes we’ll win, and sometimes we’ll lose. But there we sit (and in many places, stand) giving our team our very best.  And part of that best is found in the advantage of volume.  Eight times per year (at the minimum) we get that chance.  The rest of the time we cheer from home and hope that our team can make it work out on the road.  And here is perhaps the biggest issue I have with the letter: Every team’s fans have the same opportunity and chance that we have in Seattle.  Not happy with how loud it is in Seattle, be louder in San Francisco.  Not happy with crowd noise in general, score some points and work to silence them.  This option is a lot more productive than sending in an angry letter that lacks a certain volume of its own.

The authors of the letter have a right to write in to the editor and the editor obviously has a right to print opinions that vary in stance.  In no way am I advocating limiting that.  I am also not at all in favor of those who wrote the article being harassed beyond anything that is good natured and free of threats.

The point of their letter escapes me except to say that we all lose, and how we handle losing matters.  That is why this article is not directed at a fan base but specifically at those who authored the letter.  Their way of dealing with loss is to blame people who did not actually play in the game.  I find that to be silly and wrongheaded but it’s their stance and their voice.  They are allowed that.  But it won’t change the fact that each time a visiting team arrives in Seattle, a great team, and loyal following will be waiting.  We won’t be quiet and we don’t expect anyone will be quiet for us.  That is how it works.  It’s just too bad that the authors of the letter entirely miss the point.

Be loud Seattle and Go ‘Hawks!

Seahawks Cut Day 2013: Saying goodbye to Michael Robinson

Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com

Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com

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.

Michael Robinson was my favorite.. A 12thMan favorite and probably the favorite of most of his teammates on this Seattle Seahawks team.

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 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.

Seahawks D Continues to Impress Despite Lackluster Offense (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 5)

 

(Photo: Bob Leverone, AP)

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.

Deserved Kudos

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?

 

Pre Season game 1: What matters, and what doesn’t.. Yet.

Tom Cable (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Seahawk’s football is back!   I’m not sure what was worse.. The months without any football or the month of football previews and teases. Either way, it’s over and the dress rehearsals for the regular season march to the Lombardi trophy begin tonight.

With all the focus on the QB position it’s hard to think of anything else but I’m going to give it a shot..

Here I go!

I’d submit that in a game such as this, the easiest thing to accurately grade is the offensive and defensive lines. The trenches speak more truth to progress than any other position in game 1 of the pre season. The physicality, fundamentals and unit cohesion will be very clear, and will give a good indicator of things to come.
Last year, due to the lockout, new young players, and many other issues, the preseason play of the line was one of the worst I’ve ever seen as a long time Seahawks fan. Rookie RT James Carpenter and rookie RG John Moffitt mastered the ” Look Out! ” block, and the running game was non existent. These problems hurt Seattle going into the season and cost them at least 3-4 games in my opinion.
Toward the end of the year however, things seem to get much better as Tom Cable was able to achieve some really nice performances with career back ups. However, serious pressure is on this group to keep the momentum going into 2013.

Who I’m watching tonight not named Flynn or Wilson:

DE Bruce Irvin: The Seahawks surprising first round pick has flashed in camp, and this is a great opportunity to show the home crowd the reason he was selected so high. I’ll be looking specifically for a multitude of moves that not only utilize his speed and explosiveness, but also his raw power.

DT Brandon Mebane: I was very impressed with Mebane’s performance early in the season but he wore down a bit as the season progressed. With Bobby Wagner vying for a starting job at middle Linebacker, Mebane will need to dominate his 1 tech position to keep Wagner as clean as possible to find the ball carrier. This will be crucial to his success.

The entire Offensive Line:
As I mentioned before, this unit is arguably the personnel grouping that determines the Seahawks fate this year over all others. Very interested to see the rotation tonight, and hope to see guys like J.R Sweezy, Rishaw Johnson, Frank Omiyale, and Deuce Lutui a bunch. There are a ton of unknowns in this group so this is a great opportunity to show the fans and more importantly the coaching staff what they have to work with.

Some Final Thoughts:

Of course the QB and receiving position situations will be a focus tonight..I’m not crazy. But struggles in that area won’t mean as much to me now (talk to me after game 3 of pre season) as struggles in the trenches. I fully anticipate a great defensive line presence tonight, and hope the offensive line follows suit.

Bottom Line:

Seahawks football is back, and I couldn’t be happier.

GO SEAHAWKS

 

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!!

Mike Williams is gone and all I got was Twitter blocked

Mike Williams.. Former Seattle Seahawks receiver.

It was a rather unlucky Friday the 13th for now-former Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams as the team announced today they have released him.

Word around the Twitterverse is that Big Mike Williams (also known as “BMW,” which I’m sure really helped his ego) had expected it “for some time now“. I expected it from the day he blocked me on Twitter, but we’ll get to that (so that I may show you just exactly how too seriously I take both 140-character social media and professional athlete maturity. And myself).

In a way, I feel bad for Williams, who had one of those redemptions stories in 2010 fans eat up like stadium nachos. You know, all gooey, messy but you really want more. The only difference is that Williams came cheap to the Seahawks in comparison to those nachos to your wallet.

I, too, was enthralled by the story. Williams, who had basically been blacklisted by NFL teams after becoming overweight and pretentious, had been given a second chance by the Big Man in the Hawks Nest – Pete Carroll. The Seahawks head coach has quickly made a name for himself these few years back in the pros by providing said redemption to lost athletic souls.

And it paid off. Williams was the Seahawks’ top receiver in 2010, with a respectable 65 catches and 751 yards for the team. Big Mike’s size allowed him to win match-ups in the air for catches and he appeared to have hands of steel. Not even a broken finger stopped him from catching nearly everything thrown his way that season.

The 12th Man had found its very own Magic Mike, you know, without all of the body oil, gyration and 40-year-old women screaming for more. Okay, there was probably some of the lady screaming.

But 2011 was a different story. Along with a change in quarterback, which didn’t appear to help, Williams’ production plummeted and he instead became Tragic MIke. Us casual, armchair quarterbacks out in Hawk Land can’t be sure if it was a failure of Williams or mash potatoes QB Tarvaris Jackson not getting him the ball.

Toward the end of the year, Williams left the season with a broken leg.

And now he’s gone. We knew it couldn’t last, the question was whether one more year with the team would bring back that fairy tale BMW we had all grown to love.

Well, at least, most of us had grown to love. You see, Mike Williams blocked me on Twitter last year. It was literally July 2011 when he and I got into a bit of an electronic spat over his attitude on the social media platform.

You see, I take Twitter way too seriously, and I’m a very odd sports fan. Here’s the thing: I believe professional athletes owe some respect to fans, the people who make what they do even possible.

That’s not a sentiment held by a lot of people. Most fans would tell me to shut my face and just watch the game. I can’t do it. In a world where athletes work to brand themselves and demand attention on social networks, I swoop in as some type of hell bent hall monitor calling them out when I think they’re being, well, asshats.

And Mike Williams was an asshat with this tweet:

Image

The rest is lost in the Twitterscape because archiving doesn’t go back that far and I can’t find keywords. But it went something like this:

My response was something very cordial and similar to “I do say, my good man, I take a smidgen of umbrage at your fairly racial tone. Please do appreciate that we’re all created equal and even the fair-skinned folk who have derived from the European continent enjoy watching you on the professional football sport pitch. Huzzah!”

Williams didn’t like my extremely-polite response and tweeted something else along the lines of “Sit on a bowling pin, biiiiiiitch!”

And then I said something along the lines of “blah, blah, blah, you’re an asshole who only cares about money blah, blah, blah.”

The next thing you know, my BFF Big Mike Williams has blocked me. It was an invigorating exchange of mature words, I assure you.

So, for nearly a year, I’ve not had the pleasure of following the “raw” thoughts of this consummate professional. Needless to say, he liked to brag about simply speaking his mind, whereas I thought he could have use a tad bit more humility, considering this was a shot at redemption, and he was not yet a star.

In the grand scheme of things, the argument was trivial, and his blocking of me was simply another day in the life of this armchair quarterback.

But there’s a big difference between Mike Williams and this writer: I still have a stake in the Seattle Seahawks this Friday the 13th.

Now excuse me while I go police Twitter for some athlete using curse words like “darn it” and “shucks.”

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.

The Blue Friday Match up: The St. Louis Rams

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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.

Impact injuries:

Seattle: RG John Moffit (IR), RT James Carpenter (IR)

Rams: CB Al Harris (IR), RT Jason Smith, LT Roger Saffold, WR Danny Amendola, CB Al Harris, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Greg Salas.

Who to watch when the Rams have the ball:  WR Brandon Lloyd vs CB Richard Sherman

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.

Advantage: Draw

RB Marshawn Lynch vs MLB James Laurinaitis

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.

Advantage: Draw

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.

Advantage: Seahawks

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

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