Seahawks/Rams Preview

18 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

Even though we are the defending world champions and even though we are playing one of the toughest schedules in the National Football League, for the first time in a long time the 12th Man is feeling a bit uncertain moving forward. After falling at home to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Seahawks now face two straight road games that are now even more important to win. This stretch starts on Sunday when the Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams in our first NFC West game of the season. The Seahawks are 3-2 on the season and with the loss last week we currently sit in 3rd place in the division. The Rams are 1-4 and are in last place in the NFC West. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 20-12 and in their last meeting the Seahawks defeated St. Louis in Seattle by a score of 27-9. Here is what to watch for in this week’s game.

This week there is one over-arching question that must be asked on both sides of the ball. How will injuries to core players affect our play? On the offensive side of the ball I am focusing on the Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks will be without Max Unger for the second consecutive week. Russell Okung is likely to play but he is still has a labrum injury lingering in his shoulder. It will be crucial for the offensive line to create running room for Marshawn Lynch and to give Russell Wilson a clean pocket to throw from. The Rams have a lot of talent along their defensive line and historically they have given Seattle problems when playing in St. Louis. Although the Seahawks only allowed two sacks of Russell Wilson last week, the talent the Rams will send his way is much better in my opinion than what the Dallas Cowboys had to offer. The running game must be effective for us to have any chance in winning this game. It starts with Marshawn Lynch. After only 10 carries in a losing effort last week, expect his workload to be dramatically higher this week. Even if Lynch struggles to get going early, I expect offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to not shy away from calling Lynch’s number especially after the criticism he was faced with after last week’s game.

On defense the Seahawks will be without at least one starter and possibly without one other starter. Bobby Wagner is suffering from turf toe and has been ruled out of this week’s game. Seattle will play the linebacker shuffle this week, moving K.J. Wright to middle linebacker with Malcolm Smith taking Wright’s spot as the starting “Will” linebacker. The Seahawks may also be without starting cornerback Byron Maxwell, who has not practiced all week while recovering from a calf strain. After Wagner exited last week’s game it felt as though our defense fell apart. The Seahawks defense allowed 23 points once Wagner departed in the second quarter. The tackling in the middle of the field worsened in the second half and the Cowboys skill position players found lots of room in the open field. It will be important for Wright to be an anchor in the middle of the field and make clean, fundamental tackles. Last week Rams quarterback Austin Davis was able to make clean throws to receivers Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis among others in the middle of the field against a banged up San Francisco defense. This week look for Davis to use these receivers and speedster Tavon Austin out wide to test the Legion of Boom especially if Maxwell is inactive. Marcus Burley will likely start for the Seahawks if Maxwell cannot go and it is very possible to think that Davis will look in the direction of a raw inexperienced starter rather than to throw in the direction of all-pro Richard Sherman.

This season the St. Louis Rams defense is not putting up the numbers like they did a season ago but they are still an intimidating bunch, especially the front seven. Last season Rams defensive end Robert Quinn ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 19. That dominant performance earned him a new contract but so far Quinn has not earned his newfound money. Quinn has only 12 tackles so far this season with no sacks. The only sack the Rams have recorded this season belongs to my X-Factor player to watch, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald, from the University of Pittsburgh, was a first-round pick of the Rams back in May. He along with Michael Brockers form one of the best up-and-coming defensive tackle combinations in all of football. Just like Robert Quinn, Donald has also recorded 12 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. I loved Donald coming out of college because of his potential as an interior pass rusher and with Max Unger out this could be the perfect opportunity for Donald to show what all the hype was about back before the draft. Donald vs. Seahawks center Stephen Schilling is a matchup to keep an eye on this week. If Donald is successful in getting through the middle of the Seahawks offensive line it could be a frustrating day once again for Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have confirmed via their Twitter that they will wear white jerseys and wolf grey pants this week… The Rams will wear navy blue jerseys with either white or navy blue pants… Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Tony Siragusa have the call for FOX this week… Brad Allen is this week’s referee. Allen is one of 4 rookie referees in the NFL this season… I was hoping the St. Louis Cardinals would extend the National League Championship Series into Sunday. It would have been great for the entire city of St. Louis to be infatuated with playoff baseball, virtually making this week’s Rams game an afterthought. That will not be the case however, after the Cardinals season came to an end on Thursday night… In the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks are 2-2 playing the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome… St. Louis would have been an interesting road trip to do. Game tickets are dirt cheap but round-trip airfare to St. Louis is a bit on the pricey side. I have given some thought into doing a spontaneous short-notice weekend trip to St. Louis for the game this year and in previous years but have never done it… I have been to every NFC West for a Seahawks game except for St. Louis… I am not in panic mode yet but if the Seahawks lose this game I am sure this entire city will be panicking. My word of encouragement: Never lose faith in this team.

Prediction: I could see this game going down to the wire, much like some of our previous games played in St. Louis. I think it will be incredibly difficult for the Seahawks running game to get going once again this week and it will be up to Russell Wilson to extend Seahawks drives. The only Seahawks touchdown will belong to Wilson on a scramble from inside the redzone. The Seahawks defense will play a much more sound game this week, including three sacks of Austin Davis. The Rams will win the turnover battle however and that could cost the Seahawks a chance to win the game late. Of course I hope I am wrong, but I believe the Rams will win a tight, physical game and the Seahawks will lose back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season.

Rams 17, Seahawks 16

Check back on Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

Thoughts on the Percy Harvin Trade

17 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Today the Seahawks made a rather shocking transaction, trading wide receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets for a 2015 conditional draft pick. The draft pick could range anywhere from a 2nd round pick to a 4th round pick, however it has not been disclosed how the pick will be determined (i.e. Harvin’s playing time, etc.). Here are my brief thoughts on today’s trade.

In the short term I am not a fan of this trade. Without Percy Harvin our two starting wide receivers are now Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse with Ricardo Lockette likely seeing an expanded role. Baldwin will likely return kickoffs. Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood (who is now on the active roster) may also be called upon in an expanded role moving forward. Losing Golden Tate in free agency also makes this trade look worse at this point; because the Seahawks are simply down a receiver and now will move forward without the on-field talents of both players.

Something that head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have preached since day one is that it is their way or the highway; if you do not agree with the philosophy of the organization, no matter who you are, you will be gone. This is exactly what happened in Percy Harvin’s case. Multiple reports suggest that Harvin had become a cancer in the Seahawks locker room and that his anger issues had become a serious problem. Lance Zierlein, a sports talk personality in Houston called in to Sports Radio 950 KJR this afternoon to shed some light on the situation, which included multiple incidents that may have expedited the end of the line for Harvin in Seattle. Zierlein reported that back during Super Bowl week in January, Harvin got into a heated argument with then-Seahawks receiver Golden Tate. The confrontation led to Harvin punching Tate in the face, and you can tell that the remnants of Tate’s black eye were still visible during the Super Bowl postgame awards ceremony. Over the offseason and into this season Harvin was becoming increasingly upset about his situation in Seattle and complained that he wanted out. The final straw came earlier this season when Harvin initiated a shouting match with Russell Wilson which nearly led to a fight. From the organizations standpoint, you can’t pick a fight with the quarterback and expect to stick around. It was then that the front office realized it needed to move Harvin immediately before the entire locker room culture was destroyed.

In the short term it will be tough to replace Harvin on the field, but there are two silver linings all 12’s need to take into account. First is the draft pick we will be receiving from the Jets. If all goes well and the Jets keep losing, it is possible that the draft pick we will receive will be in the mid-30’s which some may consider being a very late first rounder. Second, by moving Harvin we have more cap space to resign some of our more important players in future years. Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson immediately come to mind in that regard.

Review: Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23

12 Oct
Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Over the past few years the Seattle Seahawks have played games on the road where the defense could not get off the field on third down. Never had I seen those kinds of defensive failures in a game played at CenturyLink Field.

Until today.

The Seahawks lost only their second home game since 2011 on Sunday, falling to the Dallas Cowboys 30-23. While the Cowboys maintain a share of the NFC East lead with a 5-1 record, the Seahawks are now 3-2 and by the end of Monday night’s game they could be sitting in 3rd place in the NFC West. The Seahawks struggled mightily in multiple aspects of this game while still being able to score 23 points. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s game.

Offensive Talking Points: There are few positive notes this week on offense. Russell Wilson played a very safe game, throwing for only 126 yards and one interception. Wilson also added the Seahawks only offensive touchdown of the game, scrambling for 9 yards to tie the game at 17-17 at the start of the third quarter. Jermaine Kearse led all receivers with 3 catches for 62 yards but Wilson had a difficult time connecting with his receivers, leaving the pocket to try to create space for the majority of the game. One major disappointment was the ineffectiveness of the running game and Marshawn Lynch. Feeding the beast is more often than not the reason why the Seattle offense is so successful, so to see Lynch with a stat line consisting of only 10 carries for 61 yards, it is frustrating. If you take away Lynch’s 32-yard scamper, he ran the ball for an average of only 3.2 yards per carry. Looking ahead to next week is scary, as the Seahawks and Lynch will face a front-7 even better next week when they take on St. Louis.

What Did I Say About the Dallas Special Teams?: In my preview post I noted how the Dallas Cowboys always make a crucial mistake on special teams that costs them points when playing in Seattle. Sunday was no different as Doug Baldwin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Mike Morgan returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Seahawks a 10-0 lead. At that point it looked like the Seahawks were going to run away with this game and it is shocking that we could have that much momentum and lose it the way we did. The Seahawks also recovered a Dwayne Harris muffed punt which led to a touchdown in the third quarter. My hope is that the Seahawks can expose future opponents on punt formations as well as they did on Sunday, as it could pay dividends later on in the season and could also lead to scoring opportunities.

Cowboys Offensive Line Better Than Advertised: DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys running game was very hard to stop throughout the game, thanks in large part to the play of the Dallas offensive line. The line paved the way for 162 total rushing yards and a Murray touchdown in the fourth quarter. The line also did a magnificent job of protecting Tony Romo as he was only sacked once. In the trenches it was Dallas that bullied the Seahawks defensive line throughout the game and at the end of the day the leading tackler along the Seattle defensive line was Tony McDaniel with 4. What scares me about the Cowboys success in the running game today is that it gives future Seahawks opponents a game’s worth of film as a blueprint to designing a game plan to run the ball just as effectively.

Third Down Woes: The Seahawks simply could not get off the field on third down this week. The Cowboys converted 9 of their 15 third down attempts (60%) with 5 of them coming with 8 yards to go or more. The Seahawks could not get to Tony Romo as he had a comfortable pocket to throw out of for the entire game. Putting pressure on Romo would have been a sure-fire way to create turnovers and although the Seahawks won the turnover battle this week, the plays Dallas were able to convert ultimately cost us the game.

The Play That Could Have Changed the Game: Among the many opportunities that slipped through the Seahawks fingers this week, one play literally slipped through the fingers of Byron Maxwell and it could have changed the entire outlook on the game. With the Cowboys facing a 2nd and goal in the first quarter Tony Romo fired a pass to the left side which was nearly intercepted by Maxwell. From my view Maxwell had 100 yards clearly in front of him and if he could have held onto the ball he would have returned it the length of the field for a touchdown, giving Seattle a 17-0 lead and the chances of us keeping our foot on the throat of the Dallas Cowboys would have been much greater. Instead Maxwell dropped the potential interception and Romo connected with Gavin Escobar for a touchdown on the very next play; a 14-point swing just like that.

The Play that Did Change the Game: The Cowboys faced an improbable 3rd and 20 late in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks held a 23-20 lead at the time and a stop on this play would have forced Dallas to punt and the Seahawks would have had time to try for insurance points on their next drive. Instead, after escaping the wrap of Bruce Irvin, Romo found Terrance Williams for a toe-tapping 23-yard reception. The spectacular catch by Williams extended the Cowboys drive and DeMarco Murray was able to score later on in the drive to give the Cowboys a lead that they would hold onto for good. As great of a catch as it was by Williams, how in the world could the Seahawks secondary play so soft to even allow Williams to have a chance at making the catch?! Simply frustrating.

Thoughts on Dallas: If they can keep up this dominant offensive pace, the Cowboys could be a very dangerous team going forward. The NFC East will come down to either Dallas or Philadelphia and barring injury I think the Cowboys are fully capable of winning the division. They know they can come into Seattle and win, so that makes Dallas a dangerous team if they make the playoffs as a wild-card team also. I do not think this team is capable of making a Super Bowl caliber run in the playoffs but they could certainly make January football interesting and intriguing.

Random Thoughts: Seahawks in navy, Cowboys in white just as expected… 5 Bud Light’s in a bucket for $20 is the best pregame deal at the bars. Can’t beat that value… Don’t blame this game on the officiating. I still hold a grudge against Bill Leavy as most other Seahawks fans do as well but the Seahawks beat themselves on this day… The starting offense was introduced this week. Good to see Jermaine Kearse get the opportunity to run out of the tunnel individually for the first time in his career… There were no intriguing morning games this week with the Cardinals playing in the afternoon and the 49ers and Rams playing on Monday night… A lot of Seahawks fans bailed after we failed to score at the end of the game, even with one timeout and the two-minute warning left. Did the Broncos game not teach you anything about leaving the stadium early???… There were a good number of Cowboys fans at the game this week so that was a little discouraging. I wonder how long it took the bandwagon to get here… I thought we would win this game, and when we did I thought we would be in good shape to split our next two games, both on the road. Now with this loss I think it is necessary for us to win both of our next two games. It will be tough but I think we can do it.

Check back on Saturday for a preview of the Seahawks week 7 matchup with the St. Louis Rams. Thanks for reading and Go Hawks!

Cowboys/Seahawks Preview

11 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Who would have thought that going into week 6 the Dallas Cowboys would be 4-1? All of a sudden this week’s game has way more meaning than I originally thought it would. On Sunday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys come to Seattle to face the Seattle Seahawks. At 4-1 the Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East while the Seahawks sit at 3-1 and are tied for first place in the NFC West. Dallas leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but in their last meeting in September 2012 Seattle handled the Cowboys easily, winning 27-7 with Russell Wilson earning his first NFL victory. Two seasons, 30 victories, and one Vince Lombardi trophy later, Wilson will attempt to tame Dallas once again. Here is what I am looking for in this week’s game.

The Dallas Cowboys sport the NFL’s leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray. Murray’s 134 yards per game average is the best in the league and the first priority of the Seahawks defense will be to stop him. Look for Kevin Williams and Jordan Hill to have an expanded role along the Seahawks defensive line this week along with starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. It will be on these three guys to plug holes to limit Murray’s production. It will be crucial to stop Murray on first and second downs to force quarterback Tony Romo to throw. Romo has had a history of making bad throws and turning the ball over in Seattle so it will be crucial for the Seahawks pass rushers to put extra pressure on to force Romo into mistakes. If the defense can do both of these things the Seahawks will be in excellent shape.

Going into this season many believed that the 2014 Dallas Cowboys defense could statistically be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Although they have not played terribly (yet), the Cowboys still rank in the bottom half in both pass defense and run defense. Dallas has given up an average of 122 rushing yards per game and if the Seahawks are successful running the ball much like they were last week this could be an easy win. On offense this week I believe the Seahawks will be victorious if Marshawn Lynch tops the 100 yard rushing plateau. Also keep an eye on Seattle’s use of the read option this week. Russell Wilson ran 14 read option plays against Washington last week and I think we will see more of it against a Cowboys team that has not faced a duel-threat quarterback since week 1 (Colin Kaepernick). I could see the Seahawks running between 5-10 read option plays. On these plays if Russell Wilson can run for 40-50 yards I believe we will be unbeatable. Expect to see Percy Harvin used just like he was last week, with expanded playing time lined up in the backfield.

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys on the offensive side of the ball everyone looks at DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant as the motor that makes the offense work. With the Seahawks primarily focusing on stopping Murray and with Richard Sherman likely covering Bryant, it would not surprise me to see Tony Romo throw to his other targets. Enter my “boom or bust” X-Factor player to watch, wide receiver Terrance Williams. I say Williams is “boom or bust” because he has been rather inconsistent on the stat line this season. On good days Williams can be dynamic, much like he has been the past two weeks when he caught a combined 8 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the first three weeks of the season however, Williams struggled, catching only 8 passes for a combined 102 yards, a 34 yards per game average. With Williams likely matched up against Byron Maxwell for the majority of this game, it would not be surprising to see Romo throw in Williams’s direction to try to pick on Maxwell.

There is one pattern that I must address with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town this week. The Cowboys have played two meaningful games in Seattle since I became a season ticket holder in 2006. In both of these games the Cowboys have made at least one blunder on special teams. Everyone remembers the Tony Romo botched snap in the 2006 playoffs but many fans may not remember what happened the last time Dallas came to town. In our 2012 matchup Dallas kick returner Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff right into the arms of Earl Thomas. The Seahawks cashed in 7 plays later with a Steven Hauschka field goal. On the next Dallas possession, Bruce Irvin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a Seahawks touchdown. The Cowboys special teams have a rich history of struggling at CenturyLink Field so it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can score any points on special teams this week.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy blue this week with the Cowboys wearing their traditional white jerseys and metallic silver/blue pants… Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week. Brennaman will be paired with Aikman for the next three weeks while Joe Buck calls the National League Championship Series and World Series for FOX. Even though Brennaman will do the play-by-play, this will still be FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week” broadcasted to the majority of the country… Bill Leavy is this week’s referee. Now that the Seahawks have won a Super Bowl it wouldn’t surprise me if Leavy’s Seattle limitations have been lifted. For those of you who don’t know this will be only the third time Leavy has officiated a Seahawks game in Seattle since Super Bowl XL… This week we will have an extra 20 minutes before kickoff as the game starts at 1:25pm. Everyone be in their seats ready to go by kickoff!… October is breast cancer awareness month in the NFL and this week the giveaway is pink ribbon pins. I am also excited to show off my pink Strideline socks for the second time this season… I think I’m only going to bring the leftover streamers I didn’t use at the Broncos game. Don’t feel like going to buy more. I’ll have to stock back up fully for the Raiders game… If the Seahawks win this week we will be 4-1, the same record we had through our first 5 games last season.

Prediction: A lot of people think the Cowboys can come into Seattle and make this a close game but I think otherwise. I think the Seahawks are primed for a decisive win. Marshawn Lynch will score two touchdowns and Michael Bennett will recover a Tony Romo fumble and take it to the house. The Seahawks will win this game to get to 4-1 and we will get ready for a huge test next week, our first division rivalry game of the season against St. Louis.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 13

Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

My Week in D.C.

9 Oct
Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

Me at the Lincoln Memorial, looking out to the Washington Monument

*Note: To try to avoid any confusion, here is a warning. I will be using various 1st person pronouns as well as using specific people’s names throughout this piece*

Thursday: My flight out of Seattle was supposed to take off at 8:20am pacific time. It was the following sequence of frustrating events that really made me think back to the recent luck I’ve had while flying. Once all of the passengers were seated and strapped in, the cabin doors were about to close when it was announced that there was a water leak in one of the lavatories in the back of the plane. 5 minutes later the captain got back on the intercom to announce that we had to change planes. We all got off the first plane at Sea-Tac’s C20 gate and had to make the trek all the way to N2 in the north satellite. After standing in line again we re-boarded with no organized order so basically we boarded in the order that we had arrived to the new gate, which easily pissed off those in first class and those who had priority boarding the first time. We pulled back from the gate and after almost a two-hour delay we were in the air and on our way to Baltimore.

Due to thunderstorms in the Midwest our plane was forced to do a “V” around the country. Instead of flying directly to Baltimore we flew south all the way to Dallas before turning back north into Baltimore. Of course I was seated next to an elderly couple. Just my luck. Luckily I was able to listen to music without interruption for most of the flight. There was also a family of four sitting in the row in front of me. The mom and dad were sitting in the aisle seats and every once in a while they would lean into the aisle to either seductively rub each other arms or briefly kiss. Kind of weird but whatever I guess. Total flight time was roughly 6 hours, almost one full hour longer than scheduled. After landing we headed to a shuttle that took us to an offsite Amtrak station where we would take a “MARC” train into downtown Washington D.C. After nearly an hour long wait on the train platform, we got on the train and rode it about 45 minutes into Washington D.C.’s Union Station. Upon arriving at Union Station we needed to ride the red subway line three stops to get to our hotel. After struggling for almost 15 minutes trying to figure out how to buy a subway pass, we rode the subway to Metro Center, and did about a 5-block loop to get to our hotel. After almost 11 hours after leaving Seattle, we were finally able to settle in at the hotel.

After unpacking my Dad and I went down the street to eat at a restaurant called “City Tap House” and although the food was pretty good (I had a pepperoni pizza with sliced Chile peppers), the menu was somewhat sophisticated and I had a hard time landing on something I thought I would enjoy. After dinner we headed back to catch the end of Thursday Night Football between the Vikings and Packers and after the game I headed for bed in preparation for a hectic, busy, and fun touristy day on Friday.

Friday: I woke up relatively early and headed down to the first floor for a full breakfast buffet that included classic options such as hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage, and French toast. After breakfast my dad and I headed out and hit many of the sites most people go to Washington D.C. to see. In order we saw the White House, the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Museum of American History Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History Smithsonian, and the Capitol building. It was a long day on my feet but it was very fun. If you were only able to see a couple of these things I would recommend the Lincoln Memorial and the American History Smithsonian. My favorite exhibits at the Smithsonian included “Food: Transforming the American Table” which showed the evolution of food in the United States, “American Stories” which was a timeline of important faces, artifacts, and inventions in American history, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” which included the original American flag from the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song which became our National Anthem.

Upon arriving back at the hotel my Dad and I awaited the arrival of my uncle and my two cousins who were also coming into town for the Seahawks game. Once they arrived we went out to dinner at the Capitol City Brewing Company which was just a couple blocks away from the hotel. Capitol City’s beer selection reminded me of the Ram, as they only had four house brews and they also cycled in seasonal beers. I enjoyed the baby back ribs with a pint of their “Amber Waves Ale” and a pint of their Oktoberfest. Following dinner my friend James arrived into town and since he had not eaten since leaving Seattle we trekked to the only quality restaurant still open past midnight, a “Five Guys” about 15 minutes away from the hotel. We randomly ran into my cousin Chris who was coming back from a night out with his friends and convinced him to join us on our burger adventure. After we ate we walked back through the pouring rain to the hotel.

Saturday: I woke up early on Saturday morning to work out before heading down to breakfast. Following breakfast James and I did many of the things I had done with my Dad the day before. The only new thing I saw on Saturday was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial which was very spacious and beautiful. After walking around the Mall a little bit more we decided to stop for lunch at Shake Shack. We had Shake Shack for the very first time back in New York in February at the Super Bowl so when we learned that Washington D.C. housed a “Shack” it was clear we had to make a stop. After devouring a double smoke shack (my personal favorite menu item), fries, and a s’mores concrete (blended custard dessert) we headed back to the hotel to rest up for what would become a very eventful night.

Late Friday night James and I had bought tickets to game 2 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals so in the late afternoon Saturday James and I hopped onto the green subway line to head to Nationals Park. I had not been to a playoff baseball game since the Mariners played the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Championship Series so I was really excited to be a part of postseason baseball again. We then got swagged out in red at the Nationals team store before taking a lap around the inside of the stadium. Nationals Park is a relatively young ballpark and I was very impressed with the amenities it provided, the quality view from every angle, as well as the food selection. I highly recommend the pulled pork/brisket combo from Blue Smoke BBQ in right-center field. We sat in the very last row of the upper deck down the left field line and we only stayed at our seats for 4 innings because I was drastically underdressed and an intense cross breeze made it uncomfortably cold to stay in my seat as the game wore on. The game ended in 18 innings with the Giants winning 2-1 but due to plans we had made later on that night we only stayed for the first 10 innings. Even though it was disappointing we couldn’t stay, this experience was the best part of the trip other than the Seahawks game.

Upon arriving back at the hotel we met up with our other friend from high school Brent and the three of us walked up 14th Street to meet our friend Amy for a night out at a bar called Café Saint-Ex. Let me say first that 14th Street in D.C. gives off a feel similar to Capitol Hill in Seattle. There are several bars and other nightlife options in the area, bringing a varied range of groups of people into the area. Café Saint-Ex reminded me of two different places in Seattle. The main bar reminded me of the front room at Finn MacCool on the Ave. The entire room was filled to capacity and it was difficult to find an open place to stand. The downstairs room was much more fun as it was a dance floor reminiscent of the top floor of Grim’s on Capitol Hill. After a long, wild dance party that included a few shots of Fireball and a few Miller Lite’s, James and I headed back to the hotel.

Sunday: Thanks in large part to my late Saturday night out, I slept through breakfast on Sunday morning. Oh well, at least I was able to get a cup of coffee and a scone at Starbucks across the street once I finally got going. The bulk of our Sunday was spent at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the history and evolution of news across all media platforms. As a sports blogger with a passion for learning about news and media I found the Newseum to be the most interesting and most fun museum I went to on this trip. Among the exhibits on display were these three that I found to be the most interesting and noteworthy. The “Berlin Wall Gallery” which included a portion of the Berlin Wall along with a timeline which told the story of how television among other media covered the events surrounding the take down of the Berlin Wall. The “FBI Exhibit” had artifacts of some of the most famous cases the FBI has ever worked on stretching from the manhunt for John Dillinger to the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. The last exhibit that really got my emotions going was the “9/11 Gallery” which presented the September 11th terrorist attacks through the eyes of the journalists that covered them around the world. The gallery included a picture timeline of the day’s events, a theater that played a documentary of interviews from some of the media that covered the attacks up close, a wall of newspapers featuring the front page of every major newspaper published on September 12th, 2001, and a tribute to photojournalist William Biggart who was the only journalist who lost his life covering the 9/11 attacks. The tribute included never-before-seen pictures from his cameras as well as some of Biggart’s personal effects that were found in the World Trade Center rubble.

We spent three hours in the Newseum which was more time than I spent in both Smithsonian’s on Friday combined. Upon leaving the Newseum and grabbing a quick lunch we headed on the subway to see the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery. Although we did not get to the cemetery until after it closed, we were able to walk around the Pentagon and see the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. The memorial consists of a wide gravel space along with trees and includes 125 benches in honor of the 125 people who lost their lives at this site. I found the benches to be interesting, as those that were pointing towards the building represent those who were on the plane that crashed. The benches facing the opposite direction represent those who were inside the Pentagon at the time of the crash. I am always intrigued to learn more about 9/11 as it is American history that I remember, unlike other memorials recognizing events that I have no personal memory of.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to catch the last quarter-plus of the late afternoon NFL games. The three of us then went out to dinner and following the completion of my fish and chips at Gordon Biersch we decided to head back and call it a night. We had a busy day ahead of us on Monday and we needed to get as much rest as possible.

Monday: When it comes to Seahawks gameday, I am the kind of fan that treats the day like a holiday; there is nothing that I want stopping me from having a football-filled day. When the group of 6 of us decided to take a short day trip out to the Air and Space Smithsonian close to Washington-Dulles airport, I was worried that the time spent at the museum would interfere with any other Seahawks-related activities I was hoping to do prior to heading out to the game that night. If we had gone to see this museum on any other day I would have loved it even more. Although I found the Space Shuttle Discovery exhibit, the Concorde, and the various military planes to be very interesting, the fact that I was worried about being late to the game on Monday night made me kind of a pain to be around as I felt my body language made it seem like I did not want to be there. What added to this behavior was that it took two hours to get there, as we had to take the silver subway out to the end of the line with a 30 minute bus ride on top of it. Talk about frustrating. After spending only about an hour at the museum we headed back to the hotel to get ready for Monday Night Football.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat at the Capitol City Brewing Company one more time, the entire group of 7 of us headed to the subway station to take the ride out to FedExField. Upon arriving out in Landover it was about a mile walk through a new residential complex to get into the stadium parking lot. We decided to head immediately into the stadium.

FedExField reminded me a lot of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The stadium is a simple three-deck bowl that had interior decorations that were the colors of the FedEx logo (purple, orange, and green). The seats were all orange but I stood for the entire game so I have no gage to determine if they were comfortable or not. The concourses are wide but they show signs of aging. It is all concrete that gave off a vibe of older stadiums I have visited such as the Oakland Coliseum or Candlestick Park. The 12th Man showed up in full force this week. While walking around I heard several moans and groans from Redskins fans about how their stadium was being invaded by opposing fans once again.

There are also a few points that need to be made about Redskins fans in general. First, Redskins fans seem to fully understand that their team is struggling and any banter between them and fans of the defending Super Bowl champions, they knew they did not stand a chance. Therefore there was almost no smack talk hurled my way throughout the game. Secondly, Redskins fans are very quick to give up on their team. After the Seahawks took a 24-10 lead with 6 minutes left in the game the majority of the crowd started to head for the exits. The game was not over by any means and the Redskins were able to quickly drive down the field to cut the Seahawks lead down to 7. A few loyal fans stuck around while showing clear anger that other fans were choosing to leave. That is something that you almost never see happen in Seattle. Lastly, it is amazing how few people I saw wearing Redskins gear around the city from the time I got in on Thursday night. I do not know if it has something to do with the fact that the Washington Nationals were in the playoffs and most fans had their full attention on baseball. I do not know if the Redskins name controversy has scared fans away of wearing Redskins gear in public. What I do know is that I walked close to 100 miles in my first 4 days in D.C. and I could count the number of people wearing Redskins gear on one hand. I found that number to be absolutely stunning.

After the Seahawks sealed the win we decided to head back to the hotel. We got back around 1am and I decided to crash. Monday night had been one of the more memorable Seahawks road experiences I have had.

Review: Seahawks 27, Redskins 17

8 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

In a game that should have been a lot uglier on paper, the Seahawks extended their Monday Night Football winning streak to 9 games defeating the Washington Redskins 27-17. The Seahawks advance to 3-1 on the season and are tied with Arizona for first place in the NFC West. Washington falls to 1-4 on the season and they have a comfortable seat in last place in the NFC East. Here are some brief thoughts I took away from this week’s game.

The Read Option Returns: On Monday night the Seahawks ran 14 read option plays, their most since 2012. These plays allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to control the game virtually on his own. Wilson threw for 201 yards but his 122 rushing yards allowed the Seahawks to take control of field position and the game clock. Even though the Seahawks were a disappointing 36 percent effective on third down conversions, Seattle possessed the ball for 34:56 on Monday night. The Seahawks 225 total rushing yards this week are a season high and it will be interesting to see how we plan our running game for Dallas next week. Is the spike in read option play calling something that will stick around, or was the expanded running via Russell Wilson something specific that the Seahawks were trying to expose from watching film specific to the Washington Redskins. Time will certainly tell.

Defense Played a Solid Game: If you take away two deep completions from Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver DeSean Jackson for a combined 117 yards, the Seahawks defense played a dominant football game. The Legion of Boom did a good job of shutting down the Redskins short and intermediate passing game and the running defense led by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Kevin Williams did an outstanding job of holding Washington running back Alfred Morris to only 29 yards rushing on 13 carries. This is the kind of defensive performance I was hoping to see in a road environment. After we lost to San Diego I openly wondered if this team will slip back into their historical struggles on the road. After this win over the Redskins however, I am now starting to think this team can get back on track and go on a big winning streak, especially with a home game upcoming.

A 30 Burger?: It would have probably happened if it wasn’t for a whopping 13 penalties for 90 yards on Monday night. Holds and personal fouls negated not one, not two, but three Percy Harvin touchdowns, two of which coming on back-to-back plays. Without the penalties it would have resulted in 14 extra points and the Seahawks would have had the game won perhaps by the time halftime rolled around. Penalties must be fixed in practice this week and it is my belief that a solid expectation should be to trim this penalty in number in half next week.

Seahawks Struggle to Take Advantage of Field Position: If a drive starts on your own 40-yard line, it should take only 25 yards to get into comfortable field goal range. This week the Seahawks struggled mightily with a short field. The Seahawks started 6 drives from within 60 yards of the endzone. These 6 drives resulted in only 10 points (including 4 punts). With an offense as explosive as ours, there is no excuse for us not to turn all of these drives into points and our inability to take advantage of a short field was very frustrating this week.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be featured in a piece detailing my trip to Washington D.C. for the game. Look for that piece to be published later this week.

In addition to a review of my vacation to the Nation’s Capital, look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys to be published on Saturday morning. Thanks for reading and Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Redskins Preview

2 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

Site: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

After a two week break the Seahawks are back for the extended stretch run of the season, consisting of 13 straight games. The Seahawks conclude the first quarter of their season on Monday Night Football as they head across the country to face the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks are 2-1 and are coming off a nail-biting 26-20 overtime win over the Denver Broncos on September 21st. The Redskins, who will be playing this game on 11 days rest, are 1-3 and are coming off an ugly 45-14 loss at home to the New York Giants last week. Washington leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 11-7. Their last meeting came in the 2012 playoffs with the Seahawks defeating a banged up Robert Griffin III led Redskins team 24-14. With Griffin hurt and out for the foreseeable future this time around, the Seahawks and specifically the Legion of Boom will face Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for the very first time as a starter. Here is what I will be looking for from section 125 at FedExField on Monday night.

This week I want to see two things out of the Seahawks offense. First, I want to see as close to an evenly balanced attack as possible which in turn hopefully leads to being able to control time of possession. The Seahawks may be a top-5 rushing offense but Marshawn Lynch’s 36 rushing yards in our last road game will not cut it this week. It may be a challenge on the ground this week as the Redskins have allowed an average of only 87 rushing yards per game, 7th best in the NFL. If we can get Lynch going early and control the tempo of the game we will be much better off. We were unable to do all of that against San Diego and Russell Wilson was ultimately unable to carry the team on his shoulders. My target production for Beast Mode in this game is 90-95 yards. If Lynch can achieve this number with Robert Turbin helping out as well, the offense will be in good hands. Given the production of Ricardo Lockette thus far in the season, it would not surprise me to see the inexperienced Redskins secondary overlook the starters. With Percy Harvin as a threat all over the field, Russell Wilson may look to Doug Baldwin to carry more of the load this week. Do not be surprised if Baldwin leads all Seahawks receivers in targets. Secondly, I want to see a turnover-free performance. The Seahawks have only turned the ball over three times this season, one coming in each game. They have done a very good job of protecting the football and if the Seahawks turn it over multiple times the Redskins have the potential to turn those turnovers into points. I think the Seahawks can afford to turn the ball over once and be fine but this week I am calling for a turnover-free performance in all phases of the game. Like head coach Pete Carroll preaches “it’s all about the ball” and if the Seahawks put up a 0 in the turnover category this week, we will almost certainly win this game.

The defensive game plan should be fairly simple this week; Put pressure on Kirk Cousins and force him to make bad decisions in the passing game. The Legion of Boom must have been licking their chops watching Cousins throw 4 interceptions against an average Giants defense last week. There is no reason to believe that cannot happen again if the Seahawks front seven does an adequate job of penetrating the Redskins offensive line to get to Cousins. While Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett will have their hands full with Redskins tackles Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus, it is Williams, Polumbus, and the rest of the Washington offensive line that will need to create holes for running back Alfred Morris. Morris has averaged 4.4 yards per carry so far this year, however the 63 yards he gained last week is a season low. The Redskins would be wise to watch film of the Seahawks loss in San Diego. An effective running attack will tire the Seahawks defense and if Washington faces third and short situations Morris is a dangerous threat to move the chains. If the Seahawks can stop Morris at the line of scrimmage, force Cousins to throw, and force turnovers the Redskins offense will be no match on this Monday night.

The Washington Redskins defense boasts some of the better talent in the NFL but right now the Redskins are paper thin at the cornerback position. After starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall tore his Achilles earlier in the year, members of the Washington secondary are filling in at positions they do not normally play. My X-Factor player to watch on the Washington defense this week is David Amerson, one of the Redskins two starting cornerbacks. Last week Amerson recorded 8 tackles and after watching film I believe the reason why he had so many tackles was because the Giants threw in his direction more than any other member of the Washington secondary. On the passing plays where Amerson made the tackle, the Redskins gave up an average of 10.3 yards per play. The Seahawks could be very effective in the short and intermediate passing game this week and if Amerson’s play does not improve the Seahawks could dink and dunk down the field all night long.

Random Thoughts: I have it on good authority from a source within the locker room that the Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week. To my knowledge I do not know which color pants the Seahawks will wear. The Redskins will likely wear gold pants with their maroon home jerseys… Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden have the call for ESPN this week with Lisa Salters covering the sidelines. In addition to ESPN, the game will also be broadcast locally on KONG (Channel 6) for those without cable, and WatchESPN.com for those without a television… Jeff Triplette is the referee this week. The last Seahawk game Triplette officiated was week 17 last season against St. Louis… I am sitting in the lower bowl of FedExField so hopefully my face will make it on some sort of media platform. I would love to get on ESPN if they show visiting fans in the stadium… This will be the latest game I have ever attended. Kickoff in D.C. is slated for 8:30pm. The latest start time for a Seahawks game I have been to was the Super Bowl last season which started at 6:30pm local time… In addition to the game I am really interested to take in the sights that Washington D.C. has to offer. I have 3 full days to sightsee before the game on Monday and I know 3 days will not be enough time to see everything. It will be a hectic few days but I cannot wait… I have no idea how ruthless Redskins fans are or can be. As a fan of the defending Super Bowl champions I will probably be walking around with a proud pep in my step so we’ll see how I am welcomed… This will be the 11th Seahawks game I attend on the road. My personal win-loss record seeing the Seahawks on the road is 3-7 but I went 2-1 last season including Super Bowl XLVIII… One last thought. I feel like I should address this because we are playing the Washington Redskins this week. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not the term “Redskins” is a racial slur and if the team name should be changed. Here are my brief thoughts on this topic. I really don’t have an opinion on if “Redskins” is a racial slur and I don’t really care whether or not they eventually decide to change the team’s name. Here is what I know. As a blogger I try to write and report as accurately as possible including using the correct terminology of whatever I am writing about. I have chosen to include the team’s name throughout this preview because whether I like the name or not the fact of the matter is “Redskins” is the team name of the franchise. As far as I am concerned my opinion of this issue is irrelevant. Plain and simple, they are the Washington Redskins and as someone who is going to write accurately, I will continue to address the team as such.

Prediction: This game could start one of two ways. I think the Seahawks could put together a fast scoring drive to start the game or it may take a few series to effectively move the ball and put points on the board. Russell Wilson will throw for 225 yards and a touchdown but it will be Marshawn Lynch that leads our offense. Lynch will run for over 100 yards and add a touchdown of his own. On the defensive side of the ball Richard Sherman will record his first interception of the season sometime in the second half. Kirk Cousins will play a better game than last week but his effort will not be enough. The Seahawks will go to 3-1 on the season and I will be flying home on Tuesday night a happy man.

Seahawks 24, Redskins 13

Next week will be a busy week on the blog. Look for my Redskins review hopefully late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning once I get home. Also I will chronicle my entire trip to Washington D.C. in a detailed post which I hope to have published late next week.

Thanks for reading peeps! Go Hawks!

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