Archive | October, 2012

Review: Seahawks 16, Panthers 12

9 Oct

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For the third time this season, the Seahawks turned their road game into a nail-biter. This time around however, the Seahawks were able to execute on offense when it counted and because of a couple of huge defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks prevailed; beating the Carolina Panthers 16-12. Here are some notes and thoughts I took from this wild win.

Wilson Is Finally Taking Some Chances: As a fan of a team with one of the best running games in the league, I usually take the stance that we should always establish the run by giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the first play of the drive. But for all the fans including myself who also wanted to see Russell Wilson get loose and stretch the field early, this game was for you. On the very first offensive play Sunday, Wilson looked left and completed a pass to Sidney Rice for 18 yards and a first down. Although the final tally may not reflect it, Russell Wilson kept improving in Carolina on Sunday. In front of some friends, family members, and fans that saw him play at North Carolina State, Wilson finished the game 19/25 for 221 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Wilson’s biggest mistake of the game was an interception returned for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn in the third quarter. Other than this Wilson looked much sharper to me. There were still some rookie moments that were frustrating to watch. These moments will come and go throughout the season. There were two big highlights in my eyes from Russell on Sunday. The first was a 56-yard pass to Golden Tate which was called back because of a penalty. Although the pass did not count, it was as beautiful of a pass as possible. Wilson put it right on Tate’s hands and the penalty negated what could have been the biggest offensive play of the game. The second was his touchdown to Tate, which did count, which came from inside the red zone. The commentators pondered the possibility of Russell Wilson being too afraid about possibly making a mistake so deep into enemy territory that he did not take chances. I am hoping with this touchdown, Wilson has shaken the monkey off of his back and will continue to split defenders down inside the red zone.

Defense Is Dominant: After giving up only 12 points on Sunday, the Seahawks now have the number one overall defense in the National Football League. My defensive studs this week go to Bruce Irvin who had 2 sacks, upping his season total to 4.5, Bobby Wagner, who co-led the defense in individual tackles with 6, Brandon Browner who ripped the ball away from DeAngelo Williams which set up the Wilson/Tate touchdown, and Richard Sherman who did a great job containing the ever-dangerous Steve Smith while also being able to get inside Smith’s head which caused him to commit an unnecessary roughness penalty. Although the Seahawks are 1-2 on the road this season, the defense is giving up an average of 17 points per game on the road which should be enough to win most games. The Seahawks return home this weekend and are giving up 9.5 points per game at home. Against the Patriots that may change but at home our defense has proven it can shut down even the most explosive offenses in the league.

Sophomore Slump: Name all of the synonyms for the word bad. Cam Newton’s performance on Sunday could be described by any one of those words. Newton had the worst game of his career on Sunday. He threw for only 141 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The entire game was summed up at the end when, on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, instead of jumping over the goal line in his signature “Superman” style which is what the Seahawks were expecting, Newton rolled to the right and threw a stinker of a pass which fell short of intended receiver Ben Hartsock. The Seahawks took over on downs and held on for the win. Newton felt pressure all game long and struggled with our dominant pass rush in his face. Newton was sacked 4 times on Sunday. The thing that hurt Carolina the most was the ineffectiveness of Newton and the offense when they entered Seahawks territory. The Panthers scored only 3 points after offensive drives. Their other points came on Munnerlyn’s interception return touchdown and the safety we gave up at the end of the game (more on the safety in random thoughts). Newton overall has not been impressive this season and Panthers fans should be worried. Even Earl Thomas called out Newton, stating that “once we bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he is going to tank…” Newton is even more frustrating in his postgame interviews. Newton seems to be very immature and unable to handle questions that easily make him upset and mad. If Carolina’s play doesn’t improve, things may get ugly in the Carolina Panthers locker room later on this season.

Impressive Rookie. I Called It: Luke Kuechly showed why I would have liked to draft him if he was available this past offseason. Kuechly did a great job filling the void left by Jon Beason, almost passing as a seasoned veteran. Kuechly led the team in solo tackles with 7 and also led the Panthers in total tackles with 11. He will be a stud with this team for a very long time to come. I wrote about Kuechly’s poise and potential in my preview post. Hopefully you also saw what I was talking about. I’m glad I was right about him. I’m even more glad our offensive performance was enough to beat his defense.

Random Thoughts: The safety at the end of the game was a genius move. By having Jon Ryan run out of the endzone, we took more time off the clock, we gave Ryan the opportunity to free kick back to the Panthers with no pressure in his face, and the Panthers still needed to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown. Huge kudos to the coaching staff for planning that play. Very smart in my opinion… I think the blue jersey/grey pants combo looks a little weird. I think white pants would look better when we have to wear blue tops on the road… Not going to lie, there were a couple brief moments in the middle of the game where I wanted to see Matt Flynn take over for Wilson. Let’s just say I was frustrated. Just ask my roommates… Coach Carroll benched Breno Giacomini after his latest personal foul penalty and rightfully so. If this keeps up (which I’m sure it will) Giacomini may lose his starting spot. That’s right I’m calling you out Breno… Beating Carolina is a HUGE momentum boost for our game against New England at home next weekend. That game will be incredible especially since we haven’t played at home since the Monday Night Miracle… Once again the game seemed to go pretty fast… The good news and the bad news: The good news is all NFC West teams are over .500 this late into the season for the first time since re-alignment in 2002. The Bad news is that the Seahawks are in last place. Me thinks that won’t last for much longer… Steve Smith only got me 4.9 fantasy points this week but I still won my matchup. Success… I can’t wait for this week anticipating the Patriots game. I’ve got a fun week and weekend ahead of me.

Programming Note: Academically, I’ve got a small essay due next Monday for one class, a quiz next week for another class, and a mid-term next Wednesday that I will be studying for most of this week. Socially, my roommates and I are hosting a soiree on Friday night, I will be attending the USC Trojans/Washington Huskies game on Saturday, and the Patriots/Seahawks game on Sunday. Needless to say the next few days will be pretty hectic. Nevertheless, expect my preview of our week 6 game against the New England Patriots to be posted sometime Saturday morning. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Hawks!

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Seahawks/Panthers Preview

6 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers

Site: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks are looking to shake off the disappointment of a loss last weekend. This week, they head to North Carolina to take on the Panthers. The Seahawks are 2-2 and in last place in the NFC West while the Panthers are 1-3 and are in a three way tie for second place in the NFC South. Last week the Panthers lost a tough game to the Atlanta Falcons 30-28, thanks in large part to a couple of big Atlanta gains with under a minute to go which set up the Falcons game winning field goal. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Panthers 3-2. The last meeting was a 31-14 Seahawks win in Seattle in 2010. The last time the Seahawks played in Carolina was in 2007, when the Panthers defeated the Seahawks 13-10. Here is what I will be focusing on this week against Carolina.

The Panthers have one of the most explosive offenses in the National Football League. Since Cam Newton has been drafted, there have been many big plays made between him and wide receiver Steve Smith. The Seahawks have a stout run defense and because of this I do not see a problem containing DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, or Mike Tolbert. My concern this week is the pass defense getting torched by Newton and Smith. On the road, at least thus far, the Seahawks do not have nearly as good of a pass rush as they do at home. Unfortunately because of this, I am expecting Newton to buy a lot of time and be able to make big plays down the field. Brandon Browner among others needs to step up and have a huge game this week since he will be lined up against Smith. If we can stop big plays, especially on third down, the Seahawks defense will be in excellent shape.

One of the underlying struggles on defense has been our tackling ability. Cam Newton may be the biggest quarterback and athlete the Seahawks will face this year. If we can put pressure on him, we need to make sure we do a good job of wrapping him up and bringing him down to the ground. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are also large and physical. Solo tackles will not be the norm against the Panthers. Like in the games at home, the Seahawks have shown that if only one guy goes to make a tackle and can slow him down, that gives the rest of the defense enough time to swarm him and assist in tackling the ball carrier. This is the way the Seahawks will have to play defense this week. If proper tackling is not executed, we will be giving up huge chunks of yards and even points that should never happen in the first place.

The Seahawks are averaging close to 150 yards per game on offense. We have scored only three touchdowns in the red zone this season. This NEEDS to change. Unfortunately for Russell Wilson and the offense, this week we are once again on the road against a defense that has good talent. Having said this, the Panthers are allowing an average of 27 points per game but when you are at home that can always change. I will spare analysis of the running game, since Marshawn Lynch is the NFL leading rusher at this point in the season. This week it is all about Wilson in my eyes. Russell needs to limit turnovers while being aware of everything that is occurring around him. He needs to look down the field and take chances. Wilson has been known to look past wide open receivers for safer options and smaller gains. Part of me thinks Wilson may be afraid to spread the entire length of the field. Whether it is because of a fear of turning the ball over, or not turning down a sure play in the flat, watching our offense is not that exciting. It would be great for Wilson’s confidence to be able to score touchdowns on drives that get the ball into the red zone. Unfortunately Wilson still looks very raw especially on the road. Because of this, I am not convinced anything will dramatically change this week and that we may greatly struggle once again on offense this week.

My one bit about the Carolina Panthers will be their defense. I am putting the spotlight this week on rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly was the Panthers first round draft pick this year and has been playing on the outside this season. This week however, it is looking like Carolina will be without pro-bowl middle linebacker Jon Beason due to injury. Kuechly will most likely shift to the Mike spot this week, the position that he was to move to after Beason left. Kuechly will most likely be calling the defensive packages this week and it will be interesting to see how he does. He will be in a similar spot as Bobby Wagner, who has been calling the plays for the Seahawks on defense this season as a rookie middle linebacker. I think Kuechly will handle the sudden responsibilities with great poise and leadership. Will he struggle at times? Sure. Most players always do but if the Panthers can get into a groove, the Seahawks may be in trouble.

Random Thoughts: Sunday’s game marks the start of the NFL’s breast cancer awareness month recognition. The Seahawks and Panthers will both wear pink gear which includes gloves, shoes, and wristbands among other items. I love what the NFL and the players do for breast cancer awareness month but some of the players go overboard with the pink apparel… The Seahawks have never beaten the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Time for that to change… The Seahawks are playing a rare 1:05 pacific start east-coast game this week. I prefer these games over morning games ten times out of ten… I think the Seahawks leading receiver on Sunday will be tight end Anthony McCoy. Just a hunch… Steve Smith is on my fantasy team. Like I say time and time again to my friends, I would much rather have a Seahawks win over a fantasy win. That being said, I hope the rest of my team scores touchdowns so Steve Smith doesn’t… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call on FOX this week. They are one of the lower play-by-play pairs but I actually like Myers. At least these commentators will not be biased during the broadcast… The Seahawks will be wearing blue jerseys this week. This is because the Panthers have elected to wear white. No word on what color pants we will wear but we have only worn the blue pants with the blue jerseys thus far. If we win, the entire NFC West will be over .500. That is pretty amazing given where the division has been over the past decade.

Prediction: When the schedule came out and I started thinking about this game, I immediately thought about the fact that Cam Newton is at home early in the season. Unfortunately Seahawks fans, I don’t think this game is going to be very competitive. I get the feeling the Newton will rip us apart for the majority of the game. I say Newton scores a rush touchdown and throws for two. This will be the worst performance by the Seahawks defense all season long. The Seahawks will head home and start preparing for the New England Patriots with a 2-3 record.

Panthers 34, Seahawks 17

Look for my review post most likely on Monday evening. Enjoy the game everybody! Go Seahawks!

#ClausenCrusaders You like that Nat?

Review: Rams 19, Seahawks 13

1 Oct

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On Sunday, the Seahawks showed that there may have been a hangover following Monday night’s win. The Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams 19-13 and in the process the Seahawks fall to 2-2 and are now technically in last place in the NFC West. The Rams improve to 2-2 and take over 3rd place in the division. What may ultimately hurt the most however is that the Seahawks are now 0-2 in divisional play. This game showed great promise early on but those feelings quickly faded, as the Seahawks failed to do many things that are crucial to staying competitive and winning the game. Let’s get to the thoughts I took from this game.

We Couldn’t Get Off The Field: The Rams converted 5 third downs today and they all seemed to be at the most crucial of times. The most frustrating conversions were a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 13 in the second quarter. This conversion set up a Greg Zeurlein field goal at the end of the half to give the Rams a 13-7 lead. The second conversion came in the fourth quarter. Sam Bradford completed a 17-yard pass to Austin Pettis on 3rd and 14 which set up Zeurlein’s fourth field goal of the day, which gave the Rams a 19-13 lead. These two stops could have been easily avoided because our secondary gave the Rams receivers too much space to create a play. Our run defense was steady throughout most of the game but did give up a couple big runs to Steven Jackson. Overall I am pleased with the defense but unfortunately we could not perform when it mattered the most, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Wilson Needs To Be More Aware: Russell Wilson may be too comfortable in the pocket. Wilson was sacked twice on Sunday, but he was also flushed out of the pocket multiple times and his second interception of the day could have been avoided if he was quicker in deciding where to throw the ball. Wilson also is not taking chances down the field. Mike Martz on the FOX broadcast said that the Seahawks “are almost nonexistent in the 20+ yards per play zone. They thrive in the 10-15 yard range.” Russell threw three interceptions today, although two of them were not his fault. It is getting to the point where I am considering describing the Seahawks offensive as anemic. Marshawn Lynch is our offense. We may be in big trouble if Wilson cannot improve his numbers, which of course starts with him processing his decision making and being fully aware of everything going on around him.

No, Breno!: In my preview post, I explained the importance of Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini keeping a cool head because Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan likes to trash talk and get under the skin of opposing players. Despite the importance and concern I had, Giacomini was flagged twice for personal foul penalties. The first of these penalties, as a matter of fact, came as Giacomini shoved Finnegan about five seconds after Marshawn Lynch was tackled and the whistle blew. Watching Breno get out of control has become a serious worry for me. Our opponent clearly knows what to do to tick Giacomini off and the effort to push him to the edge is never-ending. I don’t know what else to say about this except for that Breno needs to seriously take a step back and see how his “heat of the moment” actions are actually hurting his team in the long run. With a very young and talented Carolina Panthers defense up next, Giacomini needs to get a sense of perspective and fast.

It’s A Fake!: Pete Carroll claimed in his postgame press conference that he tried to call timeout to prevent the Rams fake field goal touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the second quarter. Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful in getting the timeout granted and the Seahawks unfortunately gave up 7 points that should never be allowed to happen. What is the most frustrating about this is that Amendola lined up in the huddle and spread out wide to the sideline. None of the Seahawks special teams players noticed Amendola break from the huddle, allowing him to float unguarded for the easy touchdown. These mental mistakes are very uncharacteristic for a special teams unit that has shown to be dominant so far this season. Kudos to the Rams for perfectly executing this play. As a fan it is extremely embarrassing to give up a touchdown as easy as that. I don’t expect any other team to be able to successfully try a trick play like that again this season. If we do give up another trick play I can assure you I will be ripping out chunks of my beautiful red hair.

Two Can Play That Game… We Think: What a ballsy call by Coach Carroll by calling an onside kick to start the second half. Hindsight is 20/20 and of course it did not pan out the way we would have hoped but I actually like the play call. The Seahawks entered halftime trailing 13-7 and were faced with the possibility of giving the Rams the ball to start the second half with all of the momentum on their side. Why not take a shot to get the ball back and swing momentum back in our favor? The Seahawks only gave up a field goal on that drive, which is okay considering the excellent field position we gave the Rams. Although I like the call in this situation it doesn’t mean I would like to see it again. Let’s save the onside kicks for when we are trailing at the end of the game.

Props To Zuerlein: Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein made four field goals on Sunday, which also tallies to 18 fantasy football points (distances of 58, 48, 60, and 24 respectively). All of his kicks were right down the middle and each had plenty of extra distance. Zuerlein pretty much singlehandedly beat the Seahawks on Sunday. I understand the kicker is not the sexiest position and does not attract the most attention from the media and fans, but St. Louis definitely has a keeper at the position for a long time to come. This guy is definitely proving the Rams made the right choice in releasing Josh Brown during the offseason.

Random Thoughts: I had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast. Quite a ways off from the breakfast I was thinking about cooking for me and my roommates… Warren Sapp’s “Bold Prediction” on NFL Gameday Morning today was that the Seahawks would set an all-time NFL record by sacking Sam Bradford 13 times today. We only sacked him twice. I wonder how many more games it will take to get the other 11 sacks to fulfill Sapp’s prediction… Like I was hoping was NOT going to happen, Mike Martz spent most of his commentary time hyping up the Rams… Martz was also quoted during the broadcast saying that “the score doesn’t matter until the fourth quarter. It is 0-0 until the fourth quarter.” Let me test this theory. Hey Mike, if the Rams scored 30 points in quarters 1-3 and the only score in the fourth quarter was a Seahawks touchdown does that mean the Seahawks win the game 7-0?… It was amazing to see how many empty seats there were inside the Edward Jones Dome on television. Granted, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing a very important game at the exact same time right across the street, but still you should be able to drum up more support than what I saw on TV on Sunday. I guess a baseball game with playoff implications is more important to a St. Louis sports fan than a football team that has won 16 games in 6 seasons… The patterns of small attendance for Rams games in St. Louis makes me wonder if the team is going to be at the top of the list of candidates that could move to Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles just approved a new stadium in the downtown “L.A. Live” area… The game went fast which was nice. I honestly like a fast game especially when it is a 10am kickoff… Mike Carey and his officiating crew did a very good job calling Sunday’s game. I am really happy to see the actual referees back on the field… The Seahawks wore the white jersey/gray pants combination again on Sunday. I would like to see the Seahawks try out the white jersey/blue pants combo again like they did in Denver during the preseason… Although the Seahawks are technically in last place in the NFC West, we are only one game behind San Francisco and two games behind Arizona for the division lead. I am optimistic we can catch up… I lost my fantasy game by 3 points this week. Thanks a lot, Ramses Barden… Hey Rams fans see you in Week 17. We’ll be ready for the rematch no doubt.

If I get some free time outside of school this week look for an update or two about what is going on at Seahawks headquarters. If not, look for my preview of next Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!