Archive | August, 2013

Down to 53

31 Aug

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have our team. For week one at least. The Seahawks and the rest of the teams in the NFL had until 3pm pacific time Saturday to shrink their rosters down to 53 players. The Seahawks waived 18 players, terminated the contracts of 4 others and also made one trade.

Waived: Phil Bates (WR), Michael Brooks (DT), Dewayne Cherrington (DT), Arceto Clark (WR), Darren Fells (TE), Winston Guy (S), Chris Harper (WR), Cooper Helfet (TE), Jaye Howard (DT), Rishaw Johnson (OG), Sean McGrath (TE), Ron Parker (CB), Ty Powell (LB), Ryan Seymour (OG), DeShawn Shead (S), Sealver Siliga (DT), Jared Smith (OG), Bryan Walters (WR).

Contracts Terminated: Clinton McDonald (DT), Brady Quinn (QB), Michael Robinson (FB), Antoine Winfield (CB).

Trade: The Seahawks traded a future conditional draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith.

The Seahawks also moved defensive end Chris Clemons from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster.

Some Brief Thoughts: The move that makes the least sense to me is releasing fullback Michael Robinson. I understand that Robinson was due make a base salary of $2.5 million dollars in 2013 which would qualify him as one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL. By cutting Robinson, the Seahawks reportedly save $1 million of cap space this season. Having said this, the Seahawks are in “win now” mode and some think this season carries a “super bowl or bust” label. Robinson was a pro bowler two years ago and a pro bowl alternate last season. He is definitely the best option at fullback of players available to the Seahawks. By releasing Robinson, I believe you are weakening a very valuable position to Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I am holding out hope that no other team will sign Robinson for the money he was due to make and he will sign a new contract to come back to Seattle.

Of the players that were waived, three stick out in my mind; Winston Guy, Cooper Helfet, and Sean McGrath. Guy seemed to come on strong during the playoffs last season, playing in a limited role as a rookie. His spared play during the preseason could mean that the Seahawks coaching staff thinks Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, and Jeron Johnson showed enough to convince the front office that they can add great depth to the secondary by themselves. I would not be surprised however if Guy is retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The cuts of Helfet and McGrath together make me scratch my head. The Seahawks now only have two tight ends on the active roster (Zach Miller and Luke Willson) and I was certain one of these players would make the final roster. One of these guys will make the practice squad. It just makes sense. The depth at tight end is too weak not to carry one on the practice squad.

I am sad to see that Antoine Winfield was cut but at the same time I am excited. Winfield’s release tells me the Seahawks are confident in the young talent they have to fill Winfield’s shoes. I am excited to see Brady Quinn cut. He was very unimpressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Keeping Quinn would have been a wasted roster spot. Maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else (are you listening Bills and Jets fans?).

My Practice Squad: The Seahawks now have until the end of the weekend to fill their 8-man practice squad. Using only the players we waived today here are the 8 players I think the Seahawks should retain: Phil Bates, Winston Guy, Chris Harper, Jaye Howard, Rishaw Johnson, Ron Parker, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith.

 

Review: Seahawks 22, Raiders 6

30 Aug

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After 36 days of training camp and 4 practice games, the preseason is finally over. The Seahawks finish the preseason 4-0 for a second straight season after defeating the Oakland Raiders 22-6 at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. Although the offensive starters only played one series, it was enough to gage our level of readiness for the regular season. Here are some things I took out of Thursday night’s game.

Wilson is Ready: It took only six plays but the starting offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson proved that they are ready to go for the regular season. Wilson went 3/3 for 68 yards, including a 50-yard deep pass to Stephen Williams. Wilson also added an 11-yard run for a first down. The thing that stands out was how easy Wilson made the opening drive look. Granted it was against a very unimpressive Oakland defense but I felt like the drive told the 12th Man “see, I still have it. I’m ready. See you in the regular season.” The offense was able to stay healthy for the most part. Stephen Williams left the game after his long reception due to a concussion. Regardless, all projected starters made it through the drive without a hitch and I am convinced we can go out and move the ball in the regular season just like how we have done in the preseason.

Hauschka is Ready: I remember during training camp last season kicker Steven Hauschka could barely kick a 58-yard field goal. Months later, the final play in Atlanta last season could have been a 65-yard field goal attempt to win the game and send the Seahawks to the NFC Championship game if Hauschka was healthy. It seems as though Hauschka trained this offseason to prepare for such a possibility. During training camp Hauschka was able to kick 58-yard field goals with ease and tonight he booted 5 field goals; 3 of which from 50 yards or more. His first kick, a 56-yard field goal was a career high and looked strong enough to have been good from at least 60 yards out. Hauschka is definitely a better kicker than he was last year and he will be a valuable asset to put up points if drives stall in the opponents territory.

Who Helped Their Stock: After Thursday’s game I would be stunned if Benson Mayowa does not make the team. Mayowa recorded another sack in the second half and did a great job applying pressure to Raiders quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Tyler Wilson. Thanks to Mayowa, Wilson made several forced throws off of his back foot. Given the recent injuries along the defensive line, Mayowa could find himself on the week one roster. If the Seahawks decide to cut Mayowa, I believe he will not clear waivers and he will be on an active roster somewhere else in the NFL for week one.

Who Hurt Their Stock: For the past several weeks I have mentioned that I believe wide receiver Chris Harper needs to make more of an impact in the preseason. He may have stamped his ticket out of Seattle on Thursday night. Harper dropped two wide open passes, one of which was an underthrown pass into the endzone which would have surely been a touchdown. The ball hit Harper in the chest and he could not bring it in. Harper, in my eyes, is the sixth wide receiver on the current roster. It is up to the coaches to determine if 5 or 6 wide receivers make the week one roster. If only five make the team, Harper will be cut.

Oakland Scouting Report: The Oakland Raiders did not show me anything special from any of their units this week. Terrelle Pryor was unable to conjure up a touchdown drive and the starting defense could not stop the Seahawks offense. Pryor had a golden opportunity to show the Raiders coaching staff he could win the starting quarterback job. He played pretty mediocre football, going 3/8 for 31 yards and one interception. The only highlight I saw out of Oakland was their ability stop the Seahawks running game. The Raiders only allowed 53 rushing yards while gaining 126 rushing yards of their own. As a whole however, I think it is going to be a long season for Oakland Raiders fans. At this point I would not be surprised to see them in contention for the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were able to limit their penalties significantly this week. 8 penalties total for 65 yards… The Seahawks wore blue pants and blue jerseys this week again… There was very interesting scene at the bar before the game. A Seattle rap group which I believe calls themselves “Neva Scared” filmed footage of their music video for their Seahawks themed anthem. It was kind of cool but was low budget and not very impressive. Just a hunch, but I don’t think they’ll be the next Macklemore & Ryan Lewis… The starting defense was introduced this week… My buddy Josh was only able to get one Raiders autograph before the game. He had terrible luck, as a thunder and lightning storm along with heavy rain postponed pregame warm-ups for both teams. The funny thing though was the rain stopped shortly thereafter and was clear for the rest of the night… You can clearly tell who season ticket holders are and who are not. Maybe it is appropriate to try to start “the wave” in the first quarter at a Husky game or during a Mariners game but NOT during a Seahawks game. In general, preseason games are more for the casual fan who are not fortunate enough to get tickets to a regular season game… At the end of the game the following was announced to the crowd: “we’ll see you on September 15th when your Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday Night Football, host the San Francisco 49ers.” This got a pretty loud cheer from the scattered fans leaving the game. I am already getting excited about the home opener. Can’t overlook the season opener though. Speaking of which… 10 days until the season opener!

The Seahawks have until 3pm on Saturday to make their final roster cuts to get the active roster down to 53 players. I will publish another roster analysis post Saturday night or Sunday morning. And make sure to check back on Saturday, September 7th as I preview our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Go Seahawks!

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

28 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

For the 8th straight season and the 3rd straight at home, the Seahawks conclude the preseason against their former division rivals the Oakland Raiders. In their last 7 preseason meetings the Seahawks are 6-1. Seattle’s only loss came in 2010 in Oakland. Last week the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-10 while the Raiders lost at home to the Chicago Bears 34-26. The last preseason game is mainly for players who are on the bubble to make the week one roster to show what they’ve got to impress the coaching staff and convince them they deserve the chance to be on the team. Here are some things to watch on Thursday night.

If you are watching the game on television this week and want to watch Russell Wilson and the rest of the starters, make sure your TV is on right at 7. Don’t blink either because you might miss it. The starters are only expected to see a series this week (if they play at all) and then the backups will play the rest of the game. As is the case with most of the other teams around the league, the last preseason game is a tryout for the backups to prove that they are one of the best 53 men on the roster. There are several guys who are fighting for a Seahawks uniform come September but I spotlight five players to keep an eye out for on Thursday night. I believe these players are on the bubble to make the final roster and a strong performance on Thursday night could be the difference between a trip with the Seahawks to Carolina for week one and perhaps a spot on the waiver wire.

Spencer Ware: Ware is battling Michael Robinson for the starting fullback job. I do not expect Ware to beat Robinson out but he will get a good look on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if Seattle keeps Ware on the active roster or if they release him, potentially with the hope they can place him on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Cooper Helfet: With the Seahawks weak tight end corps, Helfet is battling Sean McGrath for the 3rd and final tight end spot. Helfet’s numbers in the preseason have almost mirrored McGrath’s. In three preseason games, Helfet has three catches for 47 yards while McGrath has three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Helfet needs to outperform McGrath this week and if he does he could win a spot on the roster.

Rishaw Johnson: Among a position group filled with young talent, Johnson may be an odd man out. Johnson’s main competition at offensive guard are rookies Jared Smith and Ryan Seymour. The mistakes guard Lemuel Jeanpierre made against Green Bay may have raised Johnson’s stock.

Heath Farwell: If Farwell gets cut it would come as a shock to me. It is possible though. Farwell is a tremendous asset on special teams and his roster status may not come down to his play at linebacker. If the coaching staff thinks someone can make a stronger impact then Farwell on special teams, he will most likely be cut come the end of the weekend.

Jaye Howard: Howard remains a bubble player to me even after the news that Jesse Williams has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the 2013 season with a knee injury. The emergence of Jordan Hill I believe will determine if Howard is a Seahawk this season or not. Hopefully Howard will get a good amount of playing time this week to prove he can be solid depth to a defensive tackle group that has all of a sudden become one of the weaker groups on this team from a depth perspective.

The Oakland Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season. They have a new quarterback in Matt Flynn, whom they traded for from Seattle during the offseason but this week the spotlight is on another Raiders quarterback who is suddenly a strong candidate to start Oakland’s first game. Due to arm soreness (where have I heard this before…) Flynn will not play on Thursday night. Instead Terrelle Pryor will start for the Raiders. Pryor is viewed as a lock to be the backup quarterback in Oakland this season but due to poor play and injury by Flynn, Pryor is now in a position to make his case to be the Raiders starting quarterback this season. It would be the second time in as many years that the presumed starter, Flynn, would be beat out by one of his backups. I think that Pryor will see an extended amount of playing time and if he is successful in moving the ball I predict he will be Oakland’s starter week one.

When you are a 4-12 team and still in rebuilding mode you are going to have a plethora of weaknesses on your team. For the Raiders, no weakness is greater than along the offensive line. The Raiders lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer to a torn triceps earlier in the preseason. Rookie Menelik Watson will start at left tackle for Oakland Thursday night. As sad as it may be to say, even though Veldheer arguably Oakland’s best offensive lineman, it is skeptical to believe Veldheer would be good enough to be Seattle’s starting RIGHT tackle. The running game will be my focus for Oakland this week. I am not expecting a whole lot out of running backs Rashad Jennings and Jeremy Stewart but if they can move the ball my optimism would grow if I was a Raiders fan heading into the regular season.

Random Thoughts: With this being the final game preseason game comes my annual five dollar bet on the game with my Raiders friend Josh. I have never lost and he has never seen the Raiders win in Seattle. I expect to win again this season. If we can beat Denver by 30 at home during the preseason, I think this will be an easy bet to win… The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants most likely this week… The weather forecast looks bleak, even for a preseason game. I’ve seen a game time temperature of 71 degrees and a 40 percent chance of rain… It’s going to be a busy day Thursday. On tap: lunch at Dixie’s BBQ in Bellevue, pre-gaming at a bar downtown, getting into the stadium right as the gates open so I can watch warm-ups and Josh can get autographs at the Raiders tunnel, and finally the game… My friend James is also taking his girlfriend Christine to her first game. The best part? They are sitting two rows down and three seats to the left of me. That will be a lot of fun I imagine… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week… No word on the referee… The starting defense will be introduced this week during pregame introductions… Sidney Rice is the only Seahawk on my fantasy team and he is my #3 wide receiver… I think I like the Marshawn Lynch “Madden 25” commercial than the one Russell Wilson is in. Lynch is just a goofier guy and the advertisement he is in is slightly more ridiculous… This is your final warm-up, 12th Man. Make sure you shake the rust off on Thursday because the next time we all get together it will be to break the Guinness world record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.” (I broke that story, you know). I’m not trying to overlook the Raiders game but I’m just saying make sure you know what is on deck for the next game.

Prediction: The game will get off to a slow start but Tarvaris Jackson, Brady Quinn, and Christine Michael will warm-up and score multiple touchdowns. The defense will feed off the 12th Man and will not have any trouble stopping Oakland’s running game. Overall, I expect this game to be a cakewalk and could be over by halftime.

Seahawks 37, Raiders 10

My game review will be posted Friday afternoon. Check back this weekend for an analysis of the Seahawks final roster cuts. Then a week from this Saturday be sure to check back for my preview of “Back to Football” weekend and our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Down to 75

28 Aug

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The following players have been released to help get the Seahawks roster from 90 players to 75 players: Brett Swain, Kyle Knox, Craig Wilkins, Perez Ashford, Jameson Konz, Andrei Lintz, Martin Parker, Kyle Nelson, Donavon Kemp and Will Blackmon.

In my Packers game review I guessed who I thought would be cut in the first wave of roster cuts. I successfully picked six players right.

Here is the breakdown by position: 3 wide receivers, 2 tight ends, 2 linebackers, 1 defensive tackle, 1 cornerback, 1 long snapper.

In total, the Seahawks released these ten players and placed five on injured reserve, the physically unable to perform list, and/or the non-football injury list. The only player cut that surprises me at this point is Will Blackmon. I thought Blackmon had a more legitimate chance to make the team as cornerback depth and perhaps a special teams contributor. The Seahawks attempted to trade Blackmon but were unsuccessful.

Although four of these players were not predicted by me to be cut at this point in the preseason, I think at least three of them would not have made the team anyway if they were lucky to survive the first wave of cuts. For the players that are still on the bubble, a strong performance Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders can only help their case to make the team.

Review: Seahawks 17, Packers 10

24 Aug

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The Seahawks extended their preseason winning streak to a franchise best 8 games Friday night, defeating the Green Bay Packers 17-10 at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks will now head home and prepare for another short week as they get set to take on the Oakland Raiders next Thursday night. Before we move on to next week, let’s take a look back at some good things and bad things from Friday night’s victory.

Finish: The Seahawks did a very nice job moving the ball in the first half of the game but were unsuccessful in finishing drives. With Russell Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks could only score 10 points. Seattle had two drives into the red zone and we were unable to score touchdowns on both of those drives. The nice thing about these long drives was our ability to convert on third down. The Seahawks converted 5 of their 12 third downs on Friday night. As effective as we were on third down and our overall efficiency moving the ball, when the regular season comes around it will be much more difficult to keep drives alive, especially on the road. The Packers have a “middle of the pack” defense and the Seahawks will see much better defenses early on in the regular season. If we can turn field goals into touchdowns, we will be in a much better position to win the games that turn out to be close.

Michael Shines: Christine Michael put an exclamation point on his case to be the primary backup to Marshawn Lynch on Friday night. Michael got 11 of the running backs 27 carries against the Packers and made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Michael’s most impressive runs came on handoffs right up the middle and his quickness is also worth mentioning. Michael’s blockers did such a good job that on a couple of his big first down runs, he was able to run right around the offense line and break into the second and third levels of the defense easily. I am starting to think we will see more of Michael in games this season. He will not be splitting carries evenly with Lynch but I would not be shocked to see Michael get close to ten carries per game. He will see a lot of playing time next week and another impressive performance could earn him the number two running back spot.

Sweezy Needs to Improve: On consecutive plays early on in the game, right guard J.R. Sweezy was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul late hit then penalized 10 yards for holding. Sweezy is still showing signs of a young, raw player with a great amount of potential but someone who is struggling to handle a job that was confirmed to be his earlier in the week when the Seahawks traded John Moffitt to Denver. Sweezy’s primary struggle on Friday night was preventing Green Bay’s interior pass rush. Two of the three sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson occurred within the middle three offensive lineman. From what I saw, Sweezy did a good job run blocking but his pass blocking still needs some work. With one more preseason game before the Seahawks head to Carolina, I think it would be wise to let Sweezy play longer than any other starter on offense against Oakland next week to get as much game experience under his belt as possible. However, it wasn’t just Sweezy who was responsible for drawing penalties against the Packers…

Penalties are Unacceptable: Let me be more specific about this point. Penalties occur in every game. It may be time to panic however, when you are penalized 14 times for 182 yards. When you rack up close to 200 yards in penalties in one game you have a very minimal chance of winning. Most of the Seahawks penalties against the Packers were fixable mistakes. Holding was the primary problem for the Seahawks on offense. A lot of our penalties came later on in the game with our backups in. Offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre had multiple holding penalties and linebacker John Lotulelei also got flagged for a 15-yard personal foul late hit which should have been avoided since the tackle had been made well before Lotulelei jumped into the pile for one last shot. Penalties have been a problem throughout the preseason. In three games the Seahawks have been called for 34 penalties for a total of 354 yards, an average of 118 yards per game. This is the highest average in the NFL this preseason. Making this many mistakes will definitely cost us games in the regular season. Limiting penalties must be the number one priority during practice this week. If the Seahawks do not show improvement against Oakland, we may be in trouble come week one.

The Packers Could Have a Quarterback Battle on Their Hands: Let me be clear that I do not mean Aaron Rodgers is in jeopardy of losing the starting job. I think Vince Young outplayed current backup quarterback Graham Harrell on Friday night and it is Young who I believe deserves the backup quarterback job in Green Bay. Young’s mobility is a big advantage now in an era where the zone-read option and quarterbacks who can run are turning into the brightest stars in the league. Young had a passer rating of 130.7 Friday night while also adding 3 rushes for 39 yards. Young was a more accurate passer than Harrell, failing to complete only one of his 7 passes. The one thing that is apparent to me however is that Young is more eager to run. It does not seem to take much for him to feel the pocket breaking down which is leading to him scrambling somewhat prematurely. The Green Bay brass like Harrell a lot but I think Young is a better fit to backup Aaron Rodgers in the short term.

Projected Roster Cuts: The Seahawks have to cut their roster down from 90 players to 75 players by the end of the weekend. Here are 15 players who I think will get cut during this first wave of roster cuts: Donavon Kemp, Arceto Clark, Bryan Walters, Kyle Nelson, Martin Parker, Dewayne Cherrington, Michael Brooks, Andrei Lintz, Darren Fells, Perez Ashford, Ron Parker, Kyle Knox, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and Jaye Howard.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were introduced to a chorus of boos but once the game started everybody seemed to forget about why they were booing… Golden Tate got the loudest ovation of boos when he was announced as our punt returner in the first quarter… I counted only 4 mentions of last year’s game during the broadcast. I was pleased with that number. I thought they would mention it at least a dozen times… I am not a fan of Ian Eagle’s play-by-play but I am a fan of Phil Simms’s commentary. Good thing both games on CBS during the regular season are home games… The Seahawks wore white jerseys and grey pants this week. That combo was last seen week 7 of last year in San Francisco… Time to put away the white road jersey for a few weeks. We won’t see that jersey again until week 4 in Houston… The new upper deck at Lambeau looks really nice. I can’t wait to go to Green Bay and see the stadium for myself… Time for another short week. I already cannot wait for next Thursday night when we play Oakland… Good to make it through another week without any significant injuries… My fantasy football draft is Sunday night. I haven’t taken a Seahawk for at least three seasons. Maybe this year that will change.

This week I will publish a reflection piece about the first wave of roster cuts. I’ll give you my take on the decisions that were made and whether I agree with them or not. Also, be sure to check back on Wednesday as I preview next week’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders.

Seahawks/Packers Preview

22 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is the most anticipated preseason game this season. On Friday night in front of a nationally televised audience, the Seahawks head to Green Bay to take on the Packers in a rematch of last year’s 14-12 Seahawks victory on Monday Night Football. The game was highlighted by Golden Tate’s disputed touchdown catch on the final play of the game. The play, ruled a simultaneous catch by Tate and defender M.D. Jennings, was awarded to the Seahawks even though Jennings appeared to have more control over the ball. The game did not have any effect on the Seahawks at the end of the season but a Green Bay win would have given the Packers the number two seed in the NFC playoffs and could have changed the landscape of how last season ended in the National Football League. There are some notable things to be watching in this game so let’s get right to it.

The starters will see the most playing time of the preseason this week. Both starting units will play into the third quarter on Friday night. What makes this noteworthy is our opponent. The Green Bay Packers are the defending NFC North champions and are expected by many to win their division once again in 2013 and compete to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII. For the starters to get the majority of their preseason playing time against the starting defense on a team that is also very talented is the best thing for the Seahawks. From this standpoint I am excited for two things specifically. I am excited to see how Russell Wilson handles the Green Bay defense and I am excited to see how our defense matches up against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense. If we can hold the Packers offense and keep our offense on the field, that can only be a sign of good things to come in the regular season.

With the trade of John Moffitt to the Denver Broncos, J.R. Sweezy has officially won the starting right guard spot. Although I am disappointed in the trade, I am glad we were able to get it done now. Every starting offensive line spot has now been solidified and the job now is to build continuity between these five guys. Sweezy is still a bit raw and I thought Moffitt was a better fit for the time being (which is why I am disappointed) but in the long run I think this will be good for the team. It will be interesting to see what kinds of blitz packages Green Bay will dial up, specifically in Sweezy’s direction. Do not be surprised to see Clay Matthews attempt to rush up the middle and through Sweezy. If Sweezy can maintain his ground, our offense will be in good shape.

I will have special interest in the starters and the overall playing time of certain Seahawks defenders this week. Benson Mayowa started at defensive end against Denver last week and could get the start again in Green Bay. We will see a lot of Mayowa and linebacker John Lotulelei as well as linebacker Allen Bradford. Bradford can play all three linebacker spots and will mainly be competing for the backup middle linebacker spot. Bradford has impressed throughout the preseason although he has not gained as much attention as Mayowa and Lotulelei. If Bradford can also impress on special teams Heath Farwell, Bradford’s primary competition, could be out of a job come time for roster cuts. Antoine Winfield is another man to watch. According to defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Winfield is currently the starting nickel corner in front of Walter Thurmond. An impactful game by Winfield could solidify his roster spot, a spot that was considered to be unstable during the first week of training camp.

For the Green Bay Packers I am mostly interested in their offense. Green Bay has some serious question marks along the offensive line considering starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Packers offensive line was a point of weakness last season. The Seahawks can confirm that given their 8 first half sacks of Aaron Rodgers in their matchup last season. According to the Packers official depth chart rookie David Bakhtiari is in line to start at left tackle in place of Bulaga on Friday night. Look for the Seahawks to send increased pressure to Bakhtiari’s side to see how he handles it. The Packers also drafted two rookie running backs this year. According to the Packers website DuJuan Harris is currently the starter but make sure to watch how Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin fit into Green Bay plans both in the backfield and on special teams.

Random Thoughts: I hope Golden Tate is ready to hear the boo birds. Packers fans still remember what happened last season and if social media is any indication, Tate will be showered with boos throughout the game. I hope we see Tate score a touchdown to see what kind of fun he has planned for the fans regarding his touchdown celebration… How many times will we see the replay of last year’s game during the broadcast? I say five… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week… Ian Eagle and Phil Simms have the call for CBS this week… No word yet on who the referee for this week’s game is… It’s too bad we’re playing in Green Bay during the preseason. Of all the regular season road games I have been to, I am waiting for the chance to see the Seahawks play at Lambeau. Maybe it will happen next season… I have my fantasy football draft on Sunday night. Here’s to an injury-free week of football!

Prediction: I think the game will go back and forth until the backups come into the game. I think the Packers will hold a 10 point lead at the time the starters exit the game and the Seahawks will close the gap with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Unfortunately I think the Packers hold on for a victory this week and snap the Seahawks preseason winning streak.

Packers 31, Seahawks 27

Check back on Saturday for a review of the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 40, Broncos 10

18 Aug

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We are going to be just fine. That was the main thought that rolled through my mind at halftime of Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos. If Saturday was any indication, the Seahawks will be a strong Super Bowl contender this season. The starters carried the Seahawks to a 33-7 halftime lead on their way to a 40-10 victory. Here of some things to take out of Saturday night’s win.

Kearse Solidifies Roster Spot: After the injury to Percy Harvin it was widely believed that second year wide receiver Jermaine Kearse would move up the depth chart and would comfortably make the opening day roster. After Saturday’s game his roster spot has never been more comfortable. Kearse impressed on both offense and special teams against Denver. Kearse caught only one pass but it was a 12-yard touchdown that included perfect route execution; an out route to the corner of the endzone. Kearse also returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Jermaine Kearse could be a dark horse to be one of Russell Wilson’s deadliest weapons in 2013. His height, speed, and hands along with his exceptional special teams skills are tremendous assets to a team and coaching staff that values all of these traits to the highest level. I expect Kearse to see a lot of snaps with the first team offense this week during practice and it will be interesting to see what role he plays next week against Green Bay.

Fullback Confusion: It was announced earlier this week that wide receiver Phil Bates would be converted to fullback. After having only one fullback on the roster last year (Michael Robinson), the Seahawks suddenly have four fullbacks on the roster; Robinson, Bates, Spencer Ware, and Derrick Coleman who saw playing time at fullback on Saturday night. This position battle confuses me more than any other position battle. I think that next season would be an appropriate time to add youth to the position, a time where Michael Robinson could become expendable. There is no question in my mind the fullback job should belong to Robinson in 2013. He has been playing at a pro-bowl caliber level the past two seasons and continues to be one of the most respected players in the locker room. Playing time at fullback the next two weeks could be an indicator to show what direction the Seahawks are heading this season but anyone who thinks Robinson should be cut is crazy in my opinion.

Defense Shows Up: Even with the no-huddle offense there was little that could faze the 12th Man and the Seahawks starting defense. The first two Denver possessions resulted in a three-and-out and a fumble recovery. By the time the Broncos got the ball back for their third offensive drive, it was 10-0 Seattle. The starting pass rush still needs improvement but the secondary played incredible football. I was very impressed with Brandon Browner and Bobby Wagner. Browner returned a fumble 107 yards for a touchdown and Wagner made 7 tackles in the first half. For a lot of the game I felt like I was back in the 2012 season. Dominant defensive play by the starters made me feel very comfortable and optimistic about what is to come this season.

Rookie Stand-Outs: Benson Mayowa, John Lotulelei, and Allen Bradford continued their preseason success this week and linebacker Kyle Knox added his name to my short list of players to watch for the remainder of the preseason. Knox recorded 3 tackles and also sacked Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. With the first wave of roster cuts coming in the next week, these four players have earned the right to stick with the team through the preseason in my eyes.

Super Bowl Preview?: All I will say is this. I think we proved a lot tonight that we can compete with a Super Bowl contender, even if the starters only played one half. If we see Denver in the Super Bowl I think we can easily handle them.

Random Thoughts: It was good to be at the Hawks Nest Bar before the game. Gameday’s are crazy in there… The new bag check policy was not as bad as I thought it would be. Even though I didn’t have a bag there was no problem getting into the stadium… The Seahawks have new fireworks during pregame introductions this year. Not sure if I like them or not. No loud cannon which I am a fan of… The Seahawks wore blue pants with their blue jerseys. Get used to it. We probably won’t see another uniform combination at home all season… It was great to see Peyton Manning play live most likely for one last time. Maybe I’ll get to see him against the Seahawks in New Jersey in February… To the jackass about 15 rows below me who was so wild and out of control you pushed a handicapped woman into the aisle, hitting her head on the concrete steps and having the paramedics called to shut down the entire aisle during the end of the first half and through halftime, thanks a lot. Hope not to see you at the Oakland game in two weeks.

I will be back on the blog next Thursday with a preview of next week’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Broncos/Seahawks Preview

16 Aug

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Matchup: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks return home for their 2013 CenturyLink Field debut on Saturday night when they host the defending AFC West champion Denver Broncos. Last week the Seahawks backups were able to put their foot on the throats of the San Diego Chargers en route to a 31-10 victory. The Broncos are coming off a 10-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With a victory on Saturday night, the Seahawks will break a franchise record for most consecutive preseason wins. A win over Denver would be Seattle’s 7th straight preseason win dating back to 2011. Here are some things I will have my eyes on while in attendance at the game this weekend.

According to King 5 sports, the Seahawks starters may play into the second quarter on Saturday night and some starters may even play the entire first half. After a dismal performance by the first-team units last week, I am looking to see a lot of improvement on both sides of the ball. On offense, I want to see improvement mostly from the offensive line. Russell Wilson had to create space because his protection broke down several times last week. If Max Unger is back in the lineup Saturday night, definitely expect to see better pass protection for Russell Wilson. I also would like to see the Seahawks run at least a couple of zone-read option plays. Wilson and the starting offense ran no zone-read option plays against San Diego. In my Chargers review I wondered if the Seahawks would wait until the regular season to progress the playbook. Against a talented defense like Denver’s I think it would be wise to run a couple zone-read plays to see the level of effectiveness.

On defense the first team defense gave up a long drive to Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense which resulted in a field goal to start last week’s game. We were missing several starters on defense last week including Cliff Avril and Bobby Wagner, but this week I expect to see more significant improvement than the offense. At home, even in the preseason, the defense can play at a “lights out” level. I hope to see better quarterback pressure and a minimum of two sacks in the first half. With Avril continuing to recover from an ailing foot I am anxious to see who will step up as a defensive end pass rusher. Possibly look for Michael Bennett to stretch outside this week to play defensive end. I am also hoping that his play last week against the Chargers has earned undrafted rookie Benson Mayowa an opportunity to see first half playing time with the first and second string units. His improvement in practice this week has earned him some playing time earlier in the game in my opinion.

There are several position battles continuing this week to keep your eye on. After last week I believe Tarvaris Jackson has a leg up on Brady Quinn for the backup quarterback job. Quinn will have to play very well and make no mistakes this week. If Jackson continues to impress later in the game he will win the job in no time. Expect to see Robert Turbin get a good amount of playing time this week as well. Turbin practiced for the first time during training camp this week and there are some people who believe rookie Christine Michael could beat out Turbin for the backup running back spot. Last week Stephen Williams impressed at wide receiver. There are several other receivers who need to step up but the man I continue to watch is Chris Harper. Fourth round picks usually make the roster but with the talent and depth the Seahawks have, Harper may be in jeopardy of not making the team. A strong game against Denver can do nothing but help him to make the team moving forward.

The Denver Broncos enter Seattle with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Denver has come a long way from the Tim Tebow era two seasons ago and now feature four-time NFL most valuable player Peyton Manning at quarterback. The Broncos also welcome new weapon Wes Welker to the offense. We will not see much of the offense and even less of Manning this week. Instead, we will see a lot of backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. The Denver offense could only score 10 points last week. Granted, they played one of the best defenses in the league in the San Francisco 49ers but the Broncos backups are in a similar situation to the Seahawks backups. They need to show improvement or else with the 12th Man behind the Seahawks defense, it will be a long night for the Broncos. USA Today is reporting that the Broncos have a pistol package installed in their offense and that could definitely be a weapon if they choose to use it since they did not run a pistol style formation last season.

The Broncos defense is also a very strong unit and it will be interesting to see who steps up as a pass rusher given that Elvis Dumervil signed with Baltimore during free agency. I am excited to see Von Miller, assuming he plays in the first half and I am especially excited to see Champ Bailey, most likely one last time. The Broncos defense did a good job of shutting down San Francisco’s offense last week. They did not allow a touchdown. Red zone offense will be my focus for the Denver defense. If they are effective and can hold the Seahawks to field goals, they will be in good shape once the regular season rolls around.

Random Thoughts: It is going to feel so good to be back in my seat at CenturyLink. This is my 8th season as a season ticket holder and I have seen every game in that time from the same seat… I’m not bringing a bag in this week but it’s going to be a pain trying to get in the stadium due to the new league wide bag rule. I’ve seen some stadiums really have trouble being organized… Remember to “stuff the bus” for the back-to-school supply drive this week… Will the Seahawks wear a different color pant at home this week? They wore blue jerseys and blue pants for all 10 home games last season… I am excited to see Peyton Manning again, even if it is only for a couple drives. I love being able to watch all-time greats play live. I saw Manning play the Seahawks in Indianapolis in 2009, a 34-17 Seahawks loss… I am taking one of my best friends and roommates Clayton to the game. He has never been to an NFL game before so I’m excited for him. He’s not that big into football but he’s told me how excited he is on multiple occasions already… There is an unnamed referee retiring after the 2013 season so the NFL is conducting on-the-field tryouts of potential future NFL referees during the preseason. The Broncos/Seahawks game will be officiated by Ronald Torbert. I know nothing about him… The weather forecast for gameday is a high of 73 degrees and a chance of rain during the game. It has only rained during one preseason game I have ever gone to… The starting unit that gets introduced Saturday night will be the unit introduced before the home opener against San Francisco. I hope it is the offense… Not sure what the pregame tailgating plan is yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make camp at the Hawks Nest Bar and Grill before the game… This will be the last game I attend while living in my Seattle house. I’m moving back to the Eastside at the end of the month. A lot of fun bus rides and tailgates last season with my roommates before the games. I will definitely miss those experiences.

Prediction: The Seahawks backups have shown they can make plays and I expect nothing less this week, especially at home. Russell Wilson will lead one impressive scoring drive in the first half and Peyton Manning will struggle getting offense momentum at the beginning of the game. The Seahawks will extend their franchise record preseason winning streak on Saturday night.

Seahawks 26, Broncos 21

Look for a review of the Seahawks preseason home opener on Sunday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 31, Chargers 10

9 Aug

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After getting off to a slow start, the Seahawks warmed up and put the pedal to the metal. The Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-10 in their preseason debut on Thursday night. Here are a few observations from last night’s game.

Starting Defense Looked Shaky: The Chargers started the game with the ball and Philip Rivers drove the ball 74 yards on 13 plays before settling for a field goal. Even without Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks starting pass rush was virtually nonexistent in the first quarter. Third and fourth down defense was especially frustrating. The Seahawks were unable to stop the Chargers opening drive, allowing them to convert a fourth and short which ultimately led to the field goal. One highlight from the first quarter was Richard Sherman playing a pass that fell incomplete through the endzone. Nevertheless, the starting unit needs to show me more and next week at home is a perfect place to show improvement.

Advantage Jackson: When you throw for 128 yards and two touchdowns in one half and have a nearly perfect passer rating, you will earn my praise. That is what you did tonight Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson, tonight’s third string quarterback, had one of the more impressive nights of any Seahawk. His touchdown passes to Stephen Williams and Derrick Coleman were right on the money and, in my opinion, have earned him the chance to back-up Russell Wilson next week against Denver. Brady Quinn did throw a touchdown pass tonight, however his touchdown drive started inside the red zone. I was hoping to see Quinn put together a solid lengthy drive regardless of whether we scored or not. I think Quinn will need to show more in order to win the back-up quarterback job. For now, Jackson deserves the chance to play with the number two’s.

Names to Keep an Eye On: Three Seahawks caught my eye on Thursday night. Stephen Williams was Seattle’s leading receiver, catching two balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. His cuts were impressive as he was able to create separation with his defender to make the catches. Williams should be seriously considered to be the fifth or sixth receiver to make the team. On defense, two undrafted rookies really impressed me. Linebacker John Lotulelei made a pair of tackles and always seemed to be around the play. He showed great instincts and was not afraid to go after the ball carrier. One play stuck in my mind. Lotulelei had a chance to drive Chargers running back Fozzy Whittaker backward and strip the ball, but Lotulelei stayed low and made the wrap-around tackle. This was a perfect display of smart fundamental tackling. Benson Mayowa made up for Seattle’s weak first half pass rush by adding a sack of his own in the second half. Mayowa showed great speed and was very hard for the Chargers offensive line to contain. Definitely keep an eye on these three guys as the preseason continues.

Mathews vs. Whittaker: If I were a Chargers fan, I would think starting running back Ryan Mathews might be dangerously close to losing his job. Whittaker, the 2nd year running back from Texas, showed incredible quickness and was sneaky in getting through holes on his way to running for 38 yards on 14 carries tonight. His size and quickness reminded me of New Orleans running back Darren Sproles. If Whittaker performs like he did tonight Ryan Mathews, who ran for a measly 19 yards tonight, could start the season on the bench. Whittaker will definitely be a part of the San Diego offense come September.

Random Thoughts: Christine Michael reminds me of former Washington Husky running back Louis Rankin. Michael likes to stutter and shuffle his feet at the line of scrimmage and wait for holes to open up… One other note on Michael, his spins to attempt to break tackles have the potential for him to be scary dangerous this season… Okay one final note on Michael, it’s too bad he didn’t get the chance to run back a kickoff Thursday night. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do next week… The Seahawks ran no zone-read option plays with Russell Wilson on the field. It will be interesting to see if we open up the playbook a little bit next week or if we’ll save it for closer to the regular season… The Seahawks wore blue pants with their white jerseys, a combination that was unsuccessful in both the preseason and regular season in 2012… When preseason games are on local television you see a lot of the same advertisements. The award for most annoying commercial goes to the “anything you can do I can do better” Bing commercial. If you watched the game you know what I am talking about… Malcolm Smith got called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver tonight. Smith’s helmet hit the receiver below the shoulder. Hopefully the referees are shaking the cobwebs off because those kinds of calls are going to tick a lot of people off if they are called once the regular season starts… One of the best sounds of the night was hearing the Seahawks fans in attendance chant “SEA!…. HAWKS!” in the background of the broadcast and hearing Chargers fans boo. I don’t think I’ve seen or heard more Seahawks fans at a road game in my life… Countdown to the first game at CenturyLink: 8 days!

I will be quite busy this week as I have some school work to finish up and I am heading to Eastern Washington in the middle of next week so I cannot guarantee I will hop on the blog during the week. If not, check back next Friday as I preview next week’s game against the Denver Broncos. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Chargers Preview

7 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers

Site: Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, California)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

Welcome to another season of Seahawks football on the blog! The Seahawks kick off the preseason tomorrow night in San Diego as they take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers finished 2nd in the AFC West in 2012, posting a 7-9 record. Unfortunately this mark was not good enough to save some jobs and the winds of change hit San Diego. Norv Turner was fired as head coach and former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was named head coach. Ken Whisenhunt, the former Arizona head coach is now the Chargers offensive coordinator. The Seahawks finished 11-5 last season and lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The Seahawks and Chargers last met in the preseason in 2011 when the Seahawks defeated San Diego 24-17. Even though it is the preseason here are a few things I will still have my eye on.

Russell Wilson will only see a series or two to start the game. I think we will quite a bit of Tarvaris Jackson and even more of Brady Quinn tomorrow night. Jackson was listed as the number two quarterback on the newly-released depth chart last week. The coaching staff knows what they have in Jackson and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jackson play through the first half and Quinn play the entire second half. Winning is secondary in the preseason but if the Seahawks cannot score early in the game with the first and second string units, the Seahawks will struggle to win. Based on what I have seen during training camp, Quinn has consistently struggled to move the ball during 11-on-11 drills and is very timid to make vertical throws, often choosing to check down to the running back or slot receiver. If Quinn can lead the Seahawks on a couple scoring drives he will have a much greater chance in my eyes to win the backup quarterback job.

With Percy Harvin out and Sidney Rice questionable after his knee procedure in Switzerland, many of the Seahawks young receivers will get a chance to show what they can do on Thursday night. I will be focusing on three receivers tomorrow night; Jermaine Kearse, Chris Harper, and Stephen Williams. Kearse is projected to earn a roster spot behind Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin since Percy Harvin will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The coaching staff likes Kearse a lot and he is seen as a sleeper who can stretch the field. Chris Harper is our 4th round rookie who in my opinion has not impressed much during training camp. With the play of our other receivers fighting to make the roster, Harper could wind up being a casualty when it comes time for roster cuts. Harper will need to play well during the preseason to prove he belongs on the team when we open the season against Carolina. Stephen Williams is arguably having the best camp of any wide receiver. All three quarterbacks have developed chemistry with Williams and he could also be a vertical threat. I expect to see a lot of Stephen Williams on Thursday night.

On defense for the Seahawks, I am focusing on three spots. Defensive end, defensive tackle, and outside linebacker are the positions with the most question marks on defense. Tony McDaniel will get the start at defensive tackle alongside Brandon Mebane on Thursday night. McDaniel will most likely compete with Jesse Williams and Clinton McDonald for the starting defensive tackle spot. Malcolm Smith will start at outside linebacker with Bruce Irvin taking his spot on passing downs. Smith is the favorite to win this job, replacing Leroy Hill who spent 8 seasons starting at outside linebacker. Cliff Avril is nursing a foot injury and will not play Thursday night. Mike Morgan and Michael Bennett will see time at defensive end with Red Bryant on the other side.

For the San Diego Chargers, they spent the offseason trying to fix their once-dominant offense. Mike McCoy was hired as head coach, coming over from Denver where he coached one of the most explosive offenses in 2012. The Chargers used their first round draft pick on offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, which goes to show how poor the Chargers offensive line has been over the past few years and, in effect, how bad the offense has struggled as a whole. With a stronger offensive line, running back Ryan Mathews looks to bounce back after another disappointing 2012 campaign and Philip Rivers also looks to bounce back after two sub-par seasons. I am curious to see how backup running back Danny Woodhead fits into the Chargers plans. I expect to see a lot of Woodhead on Thursday night.

On defense, San Diego filled a hole at outside linebacker by signing free agent Dwight Freeney. Freeney adds veteran leadership to a position group that is more-or-less inexperienced and also adds a punch rushing the passer. One of the most notable additions for the Chargers this offseason was the drafting of linebacker Manti Te’o. Te’o and Donald Butler will both start at inside linebacker and it will be interesting to see how Te’o moves around the field, given one of his weaknesses before the draft was his tackling.

Random Thoughts: First and foremost, it feels so good to be back… The Seahawks will have 9 days off before coming home to play Denver. They will then have only 6 days off before playing Green Bay and another 6-day short week before ending the preseason against Oakland… The weather forecast for Thursday night is high 60’s and partly cloudy at kickoff. We have played in the sun every time we have gone to San Diego to play in the preseason… I have been to Qualcomm Stadium to see the Mariners play the San Diego Padres 10 years ago. How that stadium ever hosted a super bowl I’ll never understand. It is a dump (but not as bad of a dump as Candlestick)… The Seahawks will wear white uniforms Thursday night. No word on pant color yet… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call on Q13 FOX this week. They will call 2 more Seahawks preseason games… I do not care if we win this game. All I hope is that we can leave San Diego injury free.

Prediction: I think the Seahawks will look a bit rusty at the beginning of the game but we will put together a couple lengthy drives that will result in points. I expect to see Brady Quinn struggle but improve as the game goes on. Unfortunately however I think that the continuity Chargers backup quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Brad Sorensen is stronger than the continuity Quinn has and that will be the difference in the game.

Chargers 23, Seahawks 13

Check back on Friday for a review of the Seahawks first preseason game of the season! Go Seahawks!