Tag Archives: AFC South

Rant: Seahawks 20, Titans 13

13 Oct

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Through all of the bumps and bruises, the Seahawks reached down deep on Sunday as they pulled out a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks improve their record to 5-1 and still hold a one-game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The “average” Titans, as described by head coach Mike Munchak following today’s game, fall to 3-3 on the season. That seemed to be the only positive to come out of today’s events. On multiple different occasions today, both on the field and in the stands, I seemed to be extremely frustrated and was left scratching my head as well as being angry and extremely disappointed. I apologize in advance for the following rant folks. Let me explain…

Fumbles: I will get to the botched field goal a little bit later on but let me touch on the Seahawks inability to hold on to the ball from a broader perspective. The Seahawks fumbled the ball 4 times on Sunday. Two of these fumbles resulted in a turnover and/or points for the Titans. This number is beyond concerning and is absolutely unacceptable. The fumble by Derrick Coleman out of bounds and the fumble in the red zone by Marshawn Lynch (which was basically flipped right back to Russell Wilson by the Titans) illustrates a need to figure out how to carry the ball more securely, especially for Lynch, who has fumbled four times in scoring range dating back to last year’s playoffs. The Sidney Rice fumble and turnover is so baffling to me for a couple of reasons. First, from my view in the stands it looked as though Rice had gained enough yards for a first down. If that was the case, then why on Earth would you extend the ball out while it is mostly unprotected?! Secondly, I know it was next to impossible to see which direction the defender is trying to tackle you from but usually the receiver and defender are running towards each other. You are basically asking the defender to take the ball from you if you try to get fancy to gain extra yards. This fumble was a total brainfart by Rice and he needs to quit trying to be fancy and take the yards you have already gained. The risk definitely outweighs the reward. The risk? Turning the ball over deep into enemy territory. The reward? A gain of only ONE extra yard.

Really, Maragos?!: Steven Hauschka briefly left Sunday’s game with a concussion he suffered on kickoff coverage with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter. That injury ultimately led to a Titans touchdown and a mind-boggling switcheroo of personnel on the field goal unit. Typically the punter holds for the kicker on field goal attempts but when an injury occurs to the field goal kicker, it is common to see the punter replace the kicker and a quarterback (starter or backup) fill in for the punter as the holder. The best example I can think of this is Tony Romo in the 2006 playoffs. He started the 2006 season as the holder on field goal attempts because he was the backup quarterback at the time. Organically, I must raise the question, why was Chris Maragos the emergency holder?! It would make more sense in my opinion to have Tarvaris Jackson or B.J. Daniels hold for Jon Ryan but apparently (and unfortunately) that job belongs to Maragos. What is frustrating is that the snap did not slip out of his hands. He just simply dropped the ball. What is even more frustrating is the fact that Maragos tried to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. Why would you ever risk the possibility of turning the ball over and having the Titans run it back for a touchdown?! Maragos should have just fallen on the ball and gone to halftime with a 7-3 lead. Instead, Maragos tried to shovel pass the ball and make a miraculous play and it backfired to the max. Tennessee’s Jason McCourty returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Titans lead. I cannot remember the last time I saw as boneheaded of a play as that one.

“Can You Win the Game in the First Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Second Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Third Quarter?…”: As you probably know, this is part of one of Pete Carroll’s famous mantras. After the third quarter the Seahawks took control of the game, piling up 139 fourth quarter yards and scoring 10 points which ultimately determined the outcome of the game. As positive as these numbers are, the fourth quarter defense also left me frustrated. On Tennessee’s 14 play, 96 yard drive which resulted in a field goal towards the end of the game, the Seahawks defense could not stop Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Titans no-huddle offense. We have given up long scoring drives in the fourth quarter in each of our last two games. Fortunately it did not cost us a victory today but our defense needs to find a way to stay fresh for the entire game. With only 4 days to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, I am immensely skeptical about our ability to stop any defense when it matters the most. If the Seahawks are in a close game in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, I will definitely be afraid of the possibility of another win slipping away from us on the road.

Commentary, Skittles Celebrations Are Over: Before I get into this part of the rant, let me quote the NFL in-stadium code of conduct policy:

“When attending a game, you’re required to refrain from the following behaviors: Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature… Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.”

As you know or may have read about in one of my blog posts, I bring two large Ziploc bags full of Skittles to each home game and when Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown my guest and I throw handfuls of Skittles in the air in any and all directions to celebrate. These celebratory actions are simply that; celebratory. When I throw the Skittles, I am in no way whatsoever trying to hurt anyone or piss anyone off. Today after Lynch’s second touchdown of the game a middle-aged male fan sitting in the front few rows of the section to my right angrily complained to a security guard that a SINGLE Skittle hit him and his wife. Although security did not single me or anyone around me out as the main perpetrator, myself and the people around me were warned that they were going to camp out in our section and that if they saw anyone throw Skittles again they would be ejected from CenturyLink Field. I consider this to be a direct threat not to bring Skittles again or else I will be kicked out of the game.

Remember that my intentions are good, so someone please explain to me how celebrating by tossing Skittles into the air violates the NFL code of conduct policy?! In my opinion I do not see how you can justify the action of me throwing Skittles in celebration violates the league’s code of conduct policy. It is not unruly. It is not disruptive (as the entire stadium was in celebration mode). It is not illegal.

To the furious fan who ratted us out. I WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO HIT YOU! You were sitting one section over and at least 20 rows in front of us. If you think I was intentionally trying to hit you with a single Skittle from that distance you might as well sign me up to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars with that kind of accuracy.

I have been celebrating Marshawn Lynch’s touchdowns by throwing Skittles since the end of the 2011 season and I have NEVER had a single complaint from security or anyone else around me. The majority of people I have talked to think it is a very creative celebration and they have even joined in by bringing their own bags of Skittles to games to throw.

Instead of reveling in the excitement of celebrating a touchdown with fellow Seahawks fans, you choose be a “Debbie Downer” and get pissed off over what I believe to be the smallest thing possible.

By attending a Seahawks home game you are subjecting yourself to witnessing way worse behavior in the stands. If you can tolerate witnessing excessive alcohol consumption, hearing foul language constantly throughout the game, and seeing potentially intense heckling by other fans around you, why can’t you tolerate feeling the slightest “pelt” of a Skittle that hit you from at least 200 feet away?! It’s not like I threw them as hard as I could directly into your face!

It is incredibly disheartening that one butt hurt fan can ruin such a fun tradition for an entire group of fans. Of all the frustrating moments today, this one REALLY got my blood boiling. Absolutely infuriating. It is with great anger, frustration, and sadness to say that I will not be bringing Skittles to anymore Seahawks games.

Thoughts on Tennessee: The Seahawks had their hands full with the Titans at home today. Just imagine what could have happened if Jake Locker was healthy? Chris Johnson will make this team incredibly dangerous if he can perform like his 2009 self. Also, their defense might be one of the most underrated units in all of football. I think that the Tennessee Titans have solid young talent and if they play as tough as they did today, I think they might challenge for an AFC Wild-Card spot.

Random Thoughts: Pre-gaming started at 9am at King Street Bar and Oven. Good to know you can call ahead to reserve a table. All of the tables were reserved when we got there… “Hawk Shots” are the King Street staple drink and they taste like straight candy. Pretty easy on the wallet as well… King Street Bar and Oven are famously known for their calzones and today I tried the house favorite “Sicilian” calzone; three different meats and cheese baked into a homemade pesto-brushed crust. It was the best pregame meal I have had in a very long time…The only problem I had with this bar was that they only showed one morning game on all of the televisions. I wanted to watch Rams/Texans not Packers/Ravens… The giveaway this week was “crazy hair” which is basically a headband with lime green hair-like fuzz on the top of it. I left mine at my seat after the game and I can’t say I’m sad I did so… Like all Seahawks home games I was right again. Blue jerseys and blue pants for the home team this week… Blake Lewis of American Idol fame sung the national anthem on Sunday. I was only slightly surprised he didn’t burst into full beat-box mode halfway through… Any other week the 12th Man flag raisers would have been great. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to host the Eastlake Little League team to raise the flag because both Will Ferrell and Macklemore were in attendance at Sunday’s game. I was really hoping one of those two guys would do the honors. Unfortunately they did not and I was pretty bummed out about that… Kevin Lee was also in attendance at his first ever Seahawks game this week. For those who may not know or may not remember, Kevin was featured on ESPN’S “My Wish” series over the summer and the Seahawks invited him back to Seattle for this week’s game… Nice to have you back, 60 degrees and sunshine… Time to get back to work, Seahawks. We have a lot to get fixed before we play again on Thursday night.

Programming Note: Check back on WEDNESDAY for my preview of Thursday Night Football between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Talk to you very soon, 12th Man. Go Hawks!

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Titans/Seahawks Preview

12 Oct

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Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

After losing their first game of the season last week the Seahawks look to bounce back in week 6 as they finish their tour of the AFC South by hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks hold a one game lead in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. The Tennessee Titans come into this game a somewhat surprising 3-2 and are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise 9-6. Their last meeting came in week 17 of the 2009 season. Chris Johnson broke the 2,000 yard mark on the season as the Titans defeated the Seahawks 17-13. The Seahawks finished the season 5-11 and just days after the defeat Jim Mora was fired and Pete Carroll was hired as Seahawks head coach. Here are my keys to victory and some things to look for this week.

With Max Unger likely back this week, the Seahawks will have their healthiest starting offensive line in three weeks. Given this I hope to see better pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson which hopefully also translates into better production from Wilson. After 3 solid weeks, Wilson’s numbers slipped in his previous two games. Wilson threw for a combined 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis and last week was the first week since week 2 his completion percentage was under 50 percent in a game. Wilson also has not seemed to be as accurate so far this year as he was at the end of last season. I think the offensive line could make all the difference in the world. I expect the Seahawks passing game to get back on track this week and I would not be surprised to see Wilson throw for between 250 and 300 yards against the Titans.

This week is the first week that all of our pass rushers will play together in front of the 12th Man. This could spell disaster for Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though the defense struggled down the stretch last week, our front 7 still sacked Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble on a strip-sack. I think the pass rush will play a huge factor this week and Fitzpatrick will be sacked at least four times. One thing that could affect the Seahawks on defense this week is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is dealing with a low grade high-ankle sprain and head coach Pete Carroll suggested that Wagner’s final game status could be determined during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. If Wagner cannot play, Heath Farwell will most likely start at middle linebacker. Wagner is the leader of the defensive huddle and he may be the most important defensive player as he relays the defensive formations to the rest of the defense. Wagner also has the second most tackles so far this season behind safety Earl Thomas. I am confident in Harwell’s ability to fill in but look for Tennessee to try to take advantage of the “weaker” middle of the field by dumping passes off to tight end Delanie Walker and primary slot receiver Kendall Wright.

The Tennessee Titans have gotten off to a rather surprising start to the 2013 season. After starting the season 3-1 they lost in two aspects last week against Kansas City Chiefs. They lost the game, and they also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. Without Locker, the Titans now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick to command the offense. Ideally with a backup quarterback at the helm the offense will turn to their running back to carry the load to try to take some of the pressure on the quarterback. The Titans definitely have a running back capable of carrying the load in Chris Johnson but playing in Seattle, Johnson may be facing a long and tough day this week. The Titans will be forced to throw a lot this week especially if the Seahawks can build a lead early on in the game. On offense for Tennessee this week my X-Factor player to watch is wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, was a player I had my eye on at this year’s combine and the time before the NFL Draft. Hunter’s height and speed to break away from defenders made him a perfect #2 wide receiver immediately in my eyes. This week he will line up across both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner depending on the play. The Titans have a lot of wide receivers that will see playing time this week. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington receiving most of the attention, look for Hunter to possibly make a bigger impact than expected against the Legion of Boom.

Last season Richard Sherman led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions with 8. This year, the Titans feature a guy in their secondary that could wind up leading the league in interceptions by season’s end. Cornerback Alterraun Verner has intercepted 4 passes so far this season and I believe he has established himself as the permanent replacement to former Titan Cortland Finnegan. What is interesting about the Titans defense is that they have a handful of guys that are effective in rushing the passer and another handful of guys that are effective getting to the play and making tackles. My X-Factor player to watch on defense is a guy who falls into both of these categories, outside linebacker Zach Brown. Brown, a second year man from the University of North Carolina, has recorded a team-high 3 sacks so far this season and also ranks third on the team in tackles with 29. Brown has also forced one fumble. Watching him on film, Brown does a very good job at being the first defender to figure out what type of play the offense will run. He does a good job of getting to the ball and is has more of an impact on running plays than on passing plays. I expect Brown to rush to the right side of the Seahawks offensive line to catch J.R. Sweezy and Michael Bowie off guard.

Random Thoughts: This is the first home game in three weeks and the only home game in the three weeks upcoming. Talk about a bummer from a fan’s perspective but I would rather knock out the majority of our road games now so we can enjoy back-to-back home games on two separate occasions later on in the season… The Seahawks will wear blue uniforms and blue pants this week… Carl Cheffers is the referee for Sunday’s game… Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for CBS this week. They are CBS’s #2 crew, meaning they get the privilege to broadcast one playoff game each season so these guys are pretty good all things considered. Should be a good call if you’re watching from home… I’m changing up my pregame plans this week. I’ll be a bar north of the stadium, probably King Street Bar and Oven. I don’t think I’ve been there since the 2012 preseason… Oh yeah, pregaming starts at 9am sharp… I need to get more pink Seahawks stuff to wear for breast cancer awareness month. All I have is an NFL logo pink ribbon pin and a bracelet… Sunday is a 1:05 start, not a 1:25 start. I’ve stated in the past that this 20 minute difference is actually pretty significant and not as many fans are in their seats for the start of the game if it is a 1:05 start. To all the people going to this week’s game please keep this in mind. Be in your seats by 1:00pm (okay, 12:45 just to be safe).

Prediction: Last season the Seahawks lost a close game to the Miami Dolphins and responded by winning 6 straight games before losing to Atlanta in the playoffs. I think that the Titans may open up this game with an early lead but the Seahawks will regain complete control shortly thereafter. Earl Thomas will intercept a deep pass and the Seahawks defensive front seven will force two fumbles. On offense, Sidney Rice will lead the receivers in yardage with 80 and a touchdown. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will both run for touchdowns and the Seahawks will get ready for the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-1 record.

Seahawks 30, Titans 13

Check back Sunday night for a review of the Seahawks game against the Titans. I will be blogging a lot in the coming week as the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week in week 7. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Colts 34, Seahawks 28

6 Oct
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Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

In the 93 year history of the National Football League only four teams have had an undefeated regular season. Hopefully that is something to remember as we disappointed Seahawks fans saw our team lose for the first time this season on Sunday. Seattle’s 34-28 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts drops the Seahawks to 4-1 on the season and we hold a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. There was some good, some bad, and a bit of frustration mixed into this week’s game. Here is what I saw.

First Half Offense Shows Improvement: The first 12:15 of the game could not have gone any better for the Seahawks. After getting on the board with a field goal, the Seahawks drove 64 yards on 8 plays capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. After forcing another Indianapolis three-and-out, Jermaine Kearse blocked Pat McAfee’s punt which resulted in a safety as the officials ruled that Jeron Johnson did not have complete control of the recovered blocked kick in the endzone. Instead of a touchdown and a 17-0 lead, the Seahawks had to settle for the safety and a 12-0 lead. Add in a Jermaine Kearse touchdown in the second quarter and the Seahawks scored 19 points in the first half; 13 more points than in the first half’s of their first two road games combined. I think that the fast start will pay dividends going forward as it shows that we are capable of getting out to an early lead and taking the initial momentum of the game.

Thoughts on the Zone-Blocking Scheme: One of the things I always look for is for the Seahawks to be effective in the running game. Today the Seahawks seemingly looked unstoppable on the ground. I don’t want to take anything away from Marshawn Lynch because he gained over half of his yards after initial contact but the fact the Seahawks had two 100 yard rushers (Lynch and Russell Wilson) shows how the zone-blocking scheme implemented by offensive line coach Tom Cable is supposed to work at its best. Even without Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger as well as starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, it is a telling sign that the talent along the offensive line is not the most important thing when it comes to running the ball with the zone-blocking scheme in place. Could you imagine if our 2005 offensive line (Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear) was blocking for Marshawn Lynch in the zone-blocking scheme now? Lynch may be a 2,000+ yard rusher with that unit. As our offensive line continues to get healthier, I think Marshawn Lynch’s production will only increase and both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael could also see improved statistics if they see playing time.

Defense Struggles: After forcing three straight three-and-outs to open the game, I thought the Seahawks were going to run away with this game. Unfortunately there were three quarters and change left to play at this point. The Colts were 7/12 on third down on Sunday and Andrew Luck was very effective in picking apart the Seahawks defense on short passes later on in the game. After doing a decent job of stuffing Trent Richardson in the first half, the Seahawks were unable to stop Richardson for little or no gain when it mattered the most. Richardson’s longest run of the game was only 16 yards but his short yardage runs on first down made it easier for the Colts to convert over half of their third down attempts. I was very disappointed in the tackling this week, especially in the open field. This was never more evident than on T.Y. Hilton’s 73-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter when Earl Thomas overran Hilton, allowing Hilton to cut and walk in for the touchdown. Overall, our offense is what kept us in the game until the very end. I’m not taking anything away from Indianapolis, as they have dynamic playmakers on offense that are capable of scoring points, but allowing 31 points is unacceptable for this group. After allowing only 10 points in their first two games, the Seahawks have allowed 17, 20, and 31 points in each of their last three games respectively. Fixing fundamental problems on defense should be a focus in practice this week. With a home game on deck, this is a prime opportunity for the Seattle defense to get back to the way they were playing in their first couple of games.

Thoughts on Indianapolis: At the start of each season my friends and I like to predict the playoff field, seedings, and playoff matchups leading up to us predicting a Super Bowl champion. I predicted that the Colts would win the AFC South over the Houston Texans and this game proved why they belong at the top of their division. The Colts have very impressive talent on offense and what I believe to be an underrated defensive unit. Andrew Luck really impressed me against the Seahawks. The poise he showed rivals the current elite quarterbacks in the NFL and it will not be long before we mention Luck’s name with the likes of Rodgers, Brees, and Peyton Manning. The Colts are going to be good for a while and if they play like they did against the Seahawks, I would not be surprised to see them make a push for a division championship along with a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs this season.

Thoughts on the Officiating: I understand that there is no changing what the final outcome was today but I do believe that there were multiple calls that went against Seattle today that could have changed the outcome of the game. The calls I question were a pass interference call on Brandon Browner on third down and long, a pass interference call on Richard Sherman where receiver Reggie Wayne simply slipped and fell down on his own, and a pass interference non-call on our final drive (where the Indianapolis defender had his arm wrapped around the waist of receiver Sidney Rice) which would have given the Seahawks a fresh set of downs and would have gotten us closer to the endzone. Two of these calls occurred along the Colts sideline with the players and coaches signaling the officials to convince them to throw a flag and it seemed to work. Last week I mentioned the role the crowd can play in determining whether or not a flag is thrown and I feel like that may have cost us today. At the end of the day, the loss stands and the Seahawks will move forward and try to get better to make sure these situations do not come to fruition in future games.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks wore white jerseys and white pants just like I said they would in my game preview. It wasn’t so bright inside the stadium however because the roof was closed… As much as I enjoyed getting a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan on the FOX broadcast maybe they are our good luck charms. We are 2-0 so far this season when Myers and Ryan have the call… John Lynch didn’t really seem to have a lot of good things to say about either offense this week. Not surprising though since he was a defensive player who was taught to hate the opponent’s offense… I understand and appreciate the gesture of having pink penalty flags in honor of breast cancer awareness month but they are kind of an eyesore and also very confusing. Since the players towels are also pink there was confusion in this game as to whether or not a penalty flag was thrown or not. I say go back to the yellow flags for next week’s games… The Seahawks do not have another 10am kickoff until week 10 when we play Atlanta… The most encouraging thing I saw online after this loss was from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times. He stated that in the long run this game will not have any serious effect on the Seahawks playoff chances and that “the feeling was that Seattle needed to win one of two games at Houston and Indianapolis, and that’s what the Seahawks did.” My hope was that the Seahawks needed to be at least 3-2 after their first 5 games to stay in good shape in the division race. The fact that they are 4-1 is a huge plus and most Seahawks fans would accept that record in a heartbeat. Arguably the toughest road stretch of the season is over and in our next 4 games we have two against sub-.500 teams and two at home. That is something to think about moving forward. Don’t panic yet, 12th Man.

Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Colts Preview

5 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

Site: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks won 3 regular season road games all of last season. This week they have a chance to match that number and it is only week 5. The Seahawks head to Indianapolis to take on the AFC South leading Colts. The Seahawks are 4-0 and are looking to extend their best start in franchise history. The Colts are 3-1 and are coming off a dominating 37-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks are 4-6 all-time against the Colts. Their last meeting came in 2009 in Indianapolis when the Seneca Wallace-led Seahawks lost to Peyton Manning’s Colts 34-17. Here are the keys I believe the Seahawks need to focus on in order to escape Indianapolis with a win.

One of the big things that propelled the Seahawks to a victory last week was the improved pass rush in the second half and overtime. This week the Seahawks have a 4-headed pass rushing monster that could give the Colts trouble. Bruce Irvin is back from serving his 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. The Colts offense will have to prepare for Irvin along with Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and a healthy Michael Bennett. Back during training camp and the preseason I pondered about the creative blitz packages Dan Quinn could draw up using all four of our primary pass rushers. This is the first week Quinn will have a chance to implement a gameplan that uses all of these guys. I will be keeping an eye on Indianapolis’s third down efficiency because these four guys will make the biggest impact on third down. I would not be surprised to see more blitzes called on first and second down this week to try to confuse the Colts offense and get to quarterback Andrew Luck early and often.

A struggle of the Seahawks in the first half last week was the play of the offensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 5 times last week and was pressured in 16 total plays throughout the game. This week, regardless of who starts along the offensive line, Seattle must contain the pass rush of the Colts. We are not going up against the best defensive player in the NFL this week but we are going up against one of the most underrated defensive units in the league. Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis has flown under the radar so far this season. He leads the league in sacks with 7.5 on the season. I expect the Seahawks to struggle early in this game if they try to throw the ball. The trend on the road this season seems to be a slow start matched with in-game adjustments to improve on what the opponent throws at them on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks have averaged only 3 points in the first half of their two road games. One way to avoid a slow start this week is to get Marshawn Lynch going in the first half. If you take out a 43-yard run in the first quarter last week, Lynch only rushed for 17 yards and also turned the ball over via fumble in the first half. Effective running by Lynch will wear down the Colts defense and could potentially prevent us from having to come back from a deficit late in the game.

The Seahawks have won the turnover battle in each of their first four games. They have forced over twice as many turnovers (13) as they have turned the ball over themselves (6). This week will be a big challenge in the turnover department as the Seahawks defense faces a Colts offense that has only turned the ball over twice this season. Consider this to be an extension to the point of establishing a consistent pass rush. If the Seahawks defense gives Colts quarterback Andrew Luck a lot of time, he will pick our defense apart much like how Matt Schaub picked apart our defense in the first half last week. If we win the turnover battle this week, I think we will be victorious once again.

The Indianapolis Colts are loaded on both sides of the ball. Andrew Luck has one of the brightest futures of any young quarterback in the National Football League due in large part to his mental capability and his underrated athleticism. Add the talent of veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne and powerful running back Trent Richardson, the Colts offense is definitely capable of moving the ball and scoring points. The Seahawks run defense has not given up a touchdown on the road all season so I am confident that they can stuff the run effectively. I am not worried about Richardson and the Indianapolis running game as much as I am worried about their air attack, which was an aspect of the opponent’s offense that was a weakness for the Seahawks last week in Houston. In their two road games so far this season the Seahawks have allowed an average of 225 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Colts offense has averaged 231 passing yards in their two home games. Richard Sherman will line up against Wayne this week and I am confident he can hold him to minimal catches and yards. My X-Factor player to watch this week on offense for the Colts is tight end Coby Fleener. With starting tight end Dwayne Allen out for the season with a hip injury, Fleener has emerged as the #1 tight end moving forward. Given his history with Andrew Luck dating back to college at Stanford, Fleener could be a reliable target this week, especially given the potential unwillingness to challenge the Legion of Boom on the outside. Fleener could be primed for many catches this week if he gets open when the Seahawks defense is in zone coverage.

On defense for the Colts, another X-Factor player to watch is linebacker Jerrell Freeman. As I discussed earlier linebacker Robert Mathis has earned a lot of attention for his sack total but Freeman has also made an impact in the opponent’s backfield. Freeman has recorded 3 sacks of his own so far this season and his speed could be a challenge for the Seahawks makeshift offensive line this week. Look for Freeman and Mathis to make an impact on second and third down often this week.

Random Thoughts: This week is the only road game where I know exactly what uniform combination the Seahawks will wear. Per NFL rules, each team is required to notify the league office of which uniform top they will wear for each week of the season by the end of July. Some teams choose to post explicitly what their uniform combinations will be each week but the Seahawks choose not to. However I have learned that before the July deadline, Russell Wilson requested that the Seahawks wear white pants along with their white jerseys against the Colts. Wilson believes that the white/white combo will make it easier for him to see his teammates and the opponent because the way Lucas Oil Stadium is designed, it can be very bright down on the field, thus it is hard to make out who you are throwing to if both teams are wearing similar colored uniforms… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. It will be nice to have a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan… Now that I think of it, Seahawks fans will not be exposed to a Myers/Ryan broadcast until at least week 9, as our next three games after this week are on CBS, NFL Network, and ESPN respectively… Ron Winter is the referee this week… You will be able to tell how old and unathletic Winter is. Maybe he is the referee that is retiring at the end of this season… I am having a bunch of people over for the game this week so that will be a lot of fun. I haven’t hosted a “watch party” since the playoffs last year… Go Panthers, go Jaguars, and absolutely go Texans this week!… A win this week means a 5-0 start. I was talking with my friend James earlier this week about the upcoming schedule. I did not want to look too far ahead, as I try to take the same “one game at a time” approach the players and coaches do. However, it gets me excited to think about what could be in store if we beat the Colts and get to 5-0. With Tennessee at home, Arizona, a struggling St. Louis Rams team, and an unraveling Tampa Bay team at home, following this week’s game is there any part of you that thinks the Seahawks could be looking at a 9-0 record like I do?

Prediction: Going into this season I thought that the Seahawks would split their back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis. I did not know which game would be a win and which would be a loss but I was content to accept the possibility of losing one of those two games. However, following last week it has become increasingly difficult to count the Seahawks out of any game regardless of how bleak it may look. I expect the Seahawks to struggle but I believe Russell Wilson will play a better all-around game then he did last week. Big plays by the Legion of Boom will be the difference. Bobby Wagner will force a fumble and Earl Thomas will pick off a deep Andrew Luck pass in the 4th quarter to seal the win and give the Seahawks their first 5-0 record in team history.

Seahawks 26, Colts 24

Check back Sunday night after the game for my review of the Seahawks matchup with the Colts. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game. And as always, go Hawks!

Seahawks/Texans Preview

28 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans

Site: Reliant Stadium (Houston, Texas)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks now enter a brutal stretch where 4 of their next 5 games are on the road. This stretch starts Sunday when the Seahawks head to Houston to take on the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans. The Seahawks are 3-0 and are coming off a 45-17 butt-kicking of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are 2-1 after a 30-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore last week. This is the third matchup all-time between the Seahawks and the Texans. They have split the two previous matchups. The last time they played was in 2009 when the Seahawks lost in Houston 34-7. That loss to the Texans was the first of 4 straight blowout losses that ultimately cost former head coach Jim Mora his job. We may look back on this game later this season and say this was one of the biggest tests of the season. Here are some things to watch for against the Texans this week.

The biggest key for the Seahawks to be successful on offense this week is to mobilize Russell Wilson. It may be a necessity considering the Seahawks offensive line and the talent Houston displays along the defensive line. All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt already has 3 sacks this season after recording a Texans team record 20.5 sacks last season. His size and strength gives him the ability to overpower the offensive line and get to the quarterback easier than a lot of other defensive players around the league. Having Wilson scramble to make throws could limit Watt’s role in Houston’s defensive game plan significantly. Wilson is the shortest quarterback Watt has ever played against so Wilson will also need to make sure to elevate his passes to prevent Watt from knocking them down. One other way to limit Watt’s impact is to be successful in the running game. The Seahawks have the highest running rate in the NFL so far this season (57% run, 43% pass). Getting Marshawn Lynch going early could benefit the entire offense to chew clock, score points, and rest the defense. If Lynch struggles, I believe Darrell Bevell will change to a more pass-heavy offensive scheme to try to improve the offense.

In my Jaguars review I briefly touched on how the Seahawks used many different receivers and how using all those weapons could come in handy against the Texans. Looking at Houston’s secondary, cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are 5-11 and 5-10, respectively. Due to the undersized Texans secondary I am looking at Sidney Rice and Stephen Williams to make a big impact on the outside this week. Given the height advantage these two receivers have, Rice and Williams have the perfect opportunity to exploit Houston’s cornerbacks and gain large chunks of yards if Russell Wilson is confident enough to throw the ball in their direction. If Wilson is flushed out of the pocket, Doug Baldwin becomes an even bigger impact player. Lining up in the slot, Baldwin leads all Seahawks receivers with 177 receiving yards on the season. Baldwin is very good at improvising if plays are not executed as planned and he has an uncanny ability to get open if Wilson is looking downfield for a receiver while being chased. Keep an eye on these three receivers on Sunday.

On defense this week my focus isn’t really on individual matchups but on certain trends that need to come to fruition in order to be successful. The Seahawks tend to struggle a bit on the road no matter who the opponent is so the following things must happen to prevent our first loss of the season. First, they need to limit the number of penalties. On the road, penalties such as pass interference and personal foul penalties are called more often due to the reaction and influence of the home crowd. The Seahawks need to play clean football and make sure the defense can get off the field and the offense can stay on the field longer. Second, the defense needs to limit big plays. Fortunately for the Seahawks this point may not be as difficult as the common person would think. Starting Texans running back Arian Foster’s longest run of the season is only 16 yards and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ 30-yard catch against San Diego in week one is the longest catch by a Texans starting wide receiver this season. Third and most important, the Seahawks need to get off the field on third downs. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season (11 total), the opponent has converted 43.8 percent of third down opportunities. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season which resulted in a loss (6 total), the opponent converted 47.1 percent of third down opportunities. Although the margin between these numbers is small, they are both close to a 50 percent third down conversion rate which is utterly unacceptable. The Seahawks will not win this game if they cannot get off the field on third down. Stopping Foster, Andre Johnson, and running back Ben Tate is necessary in these situations because they are on the field for most of Houston’s third down chances.

In regards to the individual matchups between the Texans offense and the Seahawks defense, Arian Foster will face one of the best run stopping defenses in the NFL. Foster is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry so far this season. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is nursing an injured shin and will be a game-time decision on Sunday. If Johnson is active, he will line up across from Richard Sherman and DeAndre Hopkins will line up across from Brandon Browner. If Johnson is inactive, Sherman will defend Hopkins and Browner will defend the Texans number three receiver Lestar Jean.

When looking at the Houston Texans, most look directly at their defense and J.J. Watt. Although Watt is the most important player on defense for Houston, my Texans X-Factor player to watch this week is outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus, the Texans 2012 first round draft pick, is tied for the third most tackles by a Texans defender so far this season with 13. He also has one sack. Mercilus is the Texans weak-side linebacker meaning he will line up on the right side of the defensive formation and will blitz from Russell Wilson’s blind side. If Paul McQuistan struggles at left tackle this week for the Seahawks, Mercilus could wind up having a big day for the Texans solely from getting to Wilson behind the line of scrimmage.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. I am not sure about our pant color… The nice thing about the Texans is that they post their uniform combinations for the entire season on their website. That makes it easier to know what we are going to wear opposite of them… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week… Tony Corrente is the referee this week… I get the sense from a lot of my friends that 10am kickoffs in Seattle are kind of a pain in the ass. In Houston this week the game is a noon kickoff. The game I went to in 2011 in Dallas against the Cowboys was a noon kickoff and it was kind of too bad because I am used to going to Seahawks games here in Seattle at 1pm. It feels like the entire day gets going earlier when you go to a game that starts at noon… My hotel is walking distance from Reliant Stadium, much like my set up last season in Arizona. I’ll be pre-gaming in my hotel room instead of tailgating in the parking lots for the second straight year… On Saturday night a group called “Houston Seahawks” is organizing a 12th Man rally at a Buffalo Wild Wings a couple miles away from our hotel and I’m really excited for it. It will be cool to be in a different city but it will feel like I am right at home… I have seen 6 straight losses on the road. It would be nice to finally break that streak.

Prediction: This game will be close all the way until the end. Unfortunately, I think that J.J. Watt and the Houston defense will succeed in rattling Russell Wilson. The Texans will win the turnover battle 3-1 and it will feel like they will have a commanding lead in the game because of it, even though the game will be close. The Seahawks will get the ball one last time in the final two minutes but the final drive will stall at about midfield. The Seahawks will head home with their first loss of the season and for the 7th straight time, I will sit at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday afternoon disappointed (I hope I am wrong, obviously).

Texans 23, Seahawks 20

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Since I will not be around a computer all weekend I will not be able to post my Texans review until Tuesday afternoon most likely. Enjoy the game everyone! I’ll be sure to bring some 12th Man love to the lone-star state. Go Seahawks!

Jaguars/Seahawks Preview

21 Sep

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Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Although it is not wise to look past any game, it is understandable if most fans look past this matchup. The Seahawks host the Jacksonville Jaguars this week in a matchup that features the largest point spread in an NFL game since the New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins in December 2007. After Seattle’s 29-3 victory over San Francisco last week, the Seahawks are 2-0 and have sole possession of first place in the NFC West. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-2 and are coming off a sloppy 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks hold the all-time advantage over the Jaguars with a 4-2 record. In their last meeting in 2009, arguably the worst season of Seahawks football I have witnessed, the Seahawks defeated Jacksonville 41-0. With this game viewed as a guaranteed win by the majority of experts and fans, here are some things to watch that are crucial in order to avoid one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.

With Russell Okung out this week, it is extremely important to make sure Russell Wilson stays healthy because pass protection could be a weakness. It has been announced that Paul McQuistan will start at left tackle for Okung this week. Taking McQuistan’s spot at left guard will be James Carpenter. I personally do not agree with the personnel along the offensive line this week because I am a strong believer that shifting players to different positions interrupts continuity. If it was my decision, I would keep McQuistan at guard and start rookie Alvin Bailey at left tackle. Nevertheless, the number one key on offense this week will be to stretch the field and score touchdowns while keeping Russell Wilson on his feet. Last week against San Francisco Wilson struggled to get the passing game going early. The best case scenario is for the Seahawks starting offense to play into the third quarter, build a three or four score lead, and pull the starters before further opportunities for them to potentially get hurt arise. Against a putrid Jacksonville defense this should not be a problem in my eyes. Also along the offensive line I am hoping the Seahawks have made great strides in trying to eliminate holding penalties, a big negative of our offense last week. Eliminating offensive penalties will allow us to score faster, and thus get the starters out of the game sooner.

I think we will see a diverse distribution of passes from Russell Wilson this week. My receivers to keep an eye on this week are Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams. I expect these two guys to see extended snaps this week because of the possibility of the starters being rested in the second half. Kearse and Williams both did not record a catch last week and the offense got off to a shaky start. By lining Kearse and Williams up and expanding the play calling, the Seahawks may be able to make more of an offensive statement early this week.

Last week the Seahawks defense held the 49ers to 3 points even without Chris Clemons and Brandon Browner. This week I expect to see more of the same against the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL. Browner has been practicing this week but will be a game time decision. In a surprising move to me, Chris Clemons will make his season debut this week. The highlighted matchup this week will be Richard Sherman vs. Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts. Sherman held Anquan Boldin to only one catch last week even though that catch did not come while Sherman was defending him. Shorts is the only noteworthy weapon on the outside for Jacksonville so do not be surprised if the Jaguars cannot get anything going in the passing game. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were effective rushing the passer last week so I am not overly worried about our pass rush this week, especially at home. My primary defensive focus this week is in the linebacker corps. Through week 2, Bobby Wagner is averaging 7.5 tackles per game, K.J. Wright is averaging 5 tackles per game, and Malcolm Smith is averaging 2.5 tackles per game. I would love to see Smith make an impact early in the game. Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne likes to throw short passes to his checkdown receivers in the middle of the field so this is a prime opportunity for the linebackers to boost their stats. A 6-8 tackle game from each of our linebackers is a prime target range this week. Our defense will be very successful if Wagner, Wright, and Smith can record tackles in this range.

Where do I start with the Jacksonville Jaguars? Their offense is averaging 5 points per game while the defense is allowing an average of 23.5 points per game. Jacksonville has not played an opponent that is considered a playoff contender so far this season. With this game being played in Seattle, it could be another long game for the road team. On offense the Jaguars may be without three of their best players. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is recovering from a hand laceration and will not start this week. Chad Henne will start at quarterback. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew injured his foot against Oakland last week and has not practiced this week. I would be very surprised if Jones-Drew plays against the Seahawks. Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett would take Jones-Drew’s carries if he cannot go this week. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon is serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. With Blackmon out, Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders will be Jacksonville’s starting wide receivers.

On defense there is only one player I put a spotlight on this week. Defensive end Jason Babin recorded 18 sacks with Philadelphia just two seasons ago. So far this season he only has one sack. Babin is by far the Jaguars best pass rusher and could make an impact with a weaker Seahawks offensive line. It may be wise for Paul McQuistan and James Carpenter to double team Babin on passing downs if he is initially effective getting to Russell Wilson.

If there is one thing to take from the Jacksonville Jaguars it is this. Head coach Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks last season. When you coach your own players and leave for other opportunities like Bradley did, your now former players possibly become available later on down the road. The Jaguars have three defensive players on their active roster that spent training camp with the Seahawks this season; players that were cut during final roster cuts at the end of August. There is no question that Bradley and Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich will be picking the brains of cornerback Will Blackmon, safety Winston Guy, and linebacker Kyle Knox for information about the Seahawks defensive packages. I do not think the Jaguars will have a significant advantage based on the information these three guys provide but you may see better adjustments than other teams would make if the Jaguars defense struggles to stop the Seahawks offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants again this week at home… Hopefully the weather will be nicer this week although the forecasts aren’t looking too promising. It’s looking like another overcast day in the low 60’s on Sunday… The referee this week is Bill Vinovich. Vinovich was the referee for the Seahawks week 16 game against San Francisco last year… Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker have the call for CBS this week. I know nothing about how good their broadcasts are… Sunday is my Dad’s birthday which will be special. I’ve never taken him to a Seahawks game on his birthday… I’m excited to get to know the people sitting next to me even better this week. Since I let my dad take my aisle seat when I take him, I’ll be next to the new season ticket holders to my left… The group next to me consists of two guys and two girls. The girl that was sitting closest to us last week was really cute, really nice, and very knowledgeable about football. Sounds like she meets my qualifications wouldn’t you say?… I hope the 12th Man can get the noise up high again this week. I remember playing St. Louis last year the week after hosting the 49ers on Sunday Night Football and the noise was nowhere near the level it was at the previous week. I know it’s the Jaguars but let’s make it just as loud for them as it was for San Francisco last week… One thing I forgot to mention in my 49ers review that I wanted to share. One of the coolest things I saw last week was on the big screen after the game. The Seahawks locker room camera showed owner Paul Allen exchange handshakes and hugs with the Seahawks players one by one as they re-entered the locker room following the game. That was really cool to see the connections and relationships between the players and the owner… I might have to bring a lot of Skittles this week. Against a weak Jaguars defense, Marshawn Lynch is primed to put up big numbers… The Seahawks haven’t started a season 3-0 since 2006. They won the NFC West that year.

Prediction: Russell Wilson will be done by the middle of the third quarter. The offense will get into a strong groove that they hope will be a solid tune-up for Houston in week 4. Marshawn Lynch will run for two touchdowns and Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Jermaine Kearse will all catch touchdown passes. The defense will sack Chad Henne 6 times and Richard Sherman will record his second interception of the season. If the San Francisco 49ers could only score 3 points against our defense last week, how on Earth could you think the Jaguars will score any points at all? The Seahawks beat the Jaguars 41-0 the last time they met. The scoreboard will mirror the scoreboard from 4 seasons ago. That’s right. For the first time ever, I am predicting a shutout.

Seahawks 41, Jaguars 0

I cannot promise my game review will be done by Sunday night, but I am not totally eliminating the chances. If not Sunday night, check back for my game review on Monday morning. Let’s go Seahawks!