Tag Archives: Alan Branch

OTA’s Wrap-Up: Week One

24 May

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The Seahawks finished up their first three full-squad practices of the 2013 offseason this week. Starting this week for the next four weeks the Seahawks will conduct practices throughout the week; the first three weeks being organized team activities and the final week being a mandatory minicamp. Here are some notes and thoughts from the first week of the Seahawks OTA’s.

Every member of the Seahawks was in attendance this week except for one. The one player missing was running back Marshawn Lynch. This OTA period was voluntary and Lynch exercised his right to not show up which is slightly disappointing given the fact that Lynch is one of the cornerstone pieces to our offense. Having said this, the rest of the roster was in attendance which is incredible for a voluntary camp. Coach Carroll also stated in his press conference on Monday that Lynch was present at the VMAC a couple weeks ago and that he looked to be in terrific shape. Carroll stated that Lynch would be working out in his own separate program this week. It is unclear if Lynch will be back in Seattle for next week’s practices.

The star of OTA’s this week was wide receiver Percy Harvin. According to online reports Harvin was able to blow past the Seahawks backup cornerbacks and he made a couple of spectacular catches early on in practice on Monday. The fact that Russell Wilson is throwing to Harvin early on shows a lot about the relationship between the two since Harvin was acquired from Minnesota. I will be keeping my eye on Sidney Rice throughout all of our offseason practices. I am still worried that Rice could be a salary cap casualty and will potentially be cut at the end of the preseason if the younger, cheaper receivers emerge to be deserving of roster spots. I have heard that the younger players especially rookies Chris Harper and Matt Austin looked rusty in these first practices. Nothing much about Rice’s performance in the first week of OTA’s was noted but I will be trying to get a better grasp of his performance in the coming weeks.

On the defensive side of the ball I am excited about how our depth chart will be shaped along the defensive line. Currently, defensive end Cliff Avril is out with a foot injury but he should be available to participate in training camp if not sooner. One of our two defensive tackle spots still seems to be up for grabs. Through our first three practices, I believe this defensive tackle spot is Jesse Williams’ to lose. The Seahawks drafted Williams in the 5th round last month and also have rookie Jordan Hill, Tony McDaniel, and Clinton McDonald rotating in at defensive tackle. I believe the Seahawks would like the open defensive tackle spot to be filled by someone who is a similar build to Alan Branch. Williams seems to be the best option at least to start OTA’s.

Outside linebacker will also be a position I am interested in throughout the offseason. Since the Seahawks did not draft a linebacker this year until the seventh round, this tells me that Coach Carroll and Coach Quinn have tremendous expectations for Malcolm Smith. Smith has been sitting behind Leroy Hill for two seasons and now with Hill gone, Smith is primed to step in smoothly and play right where the defense left off.

Portis Cut

The Seahawks cut quarterback Josh Portis this week after it was reported he was arrested on Cinco de Mayo for DUI. This was apparently the last straw for Coach Carroll and John Schneider. After this news was reported, another incident involving Portis came to light which made this roster cut more understandable. According to Sports Radio KJR, Portis overslept and missed both team busses on the Seahawks trip to Miami in week 12 last season. Portis showed up to the stadium only two hours before kickoff and has had a short leash with Coach Carroll ever since. His DUI arrest was the end of the line and I wouldn’t be surprised if Portis finds himself back in the Canadian Football League in 2013.

Opinion: Bruce Irvin’s Suspension

The news this week of Bruce Irvin’s four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs cannot go unnoticed. Irvin, as you may well know by now, was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It has been reported that Irvin tested positive for Adderall. Irvin is the sixth Seahawk to be suspended for performance enhancing drugs since the start of the 2011 season and the fourth confirmed player of these six to be suspended for the use of Adderall.

Last season Brandon Browner was suspended and Richard Sherman appealed and won his suspension for the use of Adderall. Although it did not affect the Seahawks in the standings, the loss of Browner and the near-loss of Sherman could have been an enormous blow to this team and their hopes to get to the playoffs and even to the super bowl. Every player in the Seahawks locker room should have taken last season’s events as a learning experience. It is absolutely dumbfounding to me how Bruce Irvin could be so stupid to take a drug that was the cause of his teammates suspension last season and just assume he would not get caught. Instead of learning from his teammates mistakes, Irvin rolled the dice hoping he could take the drug and pass the subsequent drug test. Instead his gamble did not pay off and he will miss the first four games of the 2013 season. I put 100 percent of the blame on Irvin. How could you display such poor judgment when you saw firsthand what happens if you get caught? The Seahawks need to get this drug problem fixed because if we keep going down this same road I am afraid it will cost us in the standings sooner rather than later. Get educated. Know the rules. And know the protocol to getting drug use approved if you truly need to take a supplement.

Next week the Seahawks will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I will be back with a wrap-up post next weekend on week two of Seahawks OTA’s. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

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Rookie Minicamp Wrap-Up

12 May
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TE Luke Willson

The Seahawks were one of several NFL teams who conducted their 2013 rookie minicamp this past weekend. There were 65 players who participated in the minicamp; our 9 draft picks, 11 undrafted free agents, and 45 try-out players. Although none of our veteran players participated in minicamp this weekend, it was good to see our new players on the field together to work through some of the basic parts of the playbook and to get used to the Seahawks faster practice pace. Although I was not down at the VMAC for this camp, I was able to see a little bit of camp online and kept up through various reporters and coach and player press conferences. Here are some notes I took out of this year’s rookie minicamp.

After Friday’s practice, running back Christine Michael and defensive tackle Jordan Hill spoke to the media. One of the commonalities among the comments they made about their first practice with the Seahawks was the tempo of practice. The number one difference between college practice and NFL practice is the go-go-go pace of practice. There is not much rest time in between drills here in Seattle and you could tell some players had trouble adjusting to the change in tempo. I don’t really want to say they looked totally sluggish and worn out as the number of drills and reps stacked up but they definitely looked tired; at least more tired than what practice looks like during training camp.

The star of this weekend’s minicamp was 5th round draft pick Luke Willson. Willson, a tight end from Rice, made two great catches along the sideline on the first day of minicamp and impressed Coach Carroll and Coach Bevell throughout the weekend. When he addressed the media after Saturday’s practice, I could tell that we drafted not only a talented football player but a smart person. Willson is very well spoken and seems to have great knowledge for the game of football. What is also impressive is that he grew up in Canada playing hockey and he also turned down a professional baseball contract in order to pursue a professional football career. I’m excited to see him perform in person but just from these facts, we drafted one heck of a naturally gifted athlete.

According to Coach Carroll, both Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams impressed at defensive tackle this weekend. I didn’t see any of their on-field highlights but this news triggers the idea of having one of these two rookies winning the starting defensive tackle job that was left vacant when Alan Branch signed with Buffalo.

The number one quarterback at this minicamp was Jerrod Johnson. Johnson is technically the fourth-string backup on the 90-man roster but he was the only quarterback on the active roster who participated in this minicamp. Johnson comes to Seattle after brief stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The biggest thing I took out of Johnson’s highlights was his velocity. Johnson does not float the ball and the velocity and accuracy on his deep throws impressed me. Johnson looks like a fast, athletic quarterback who could mirror Russell Wilson on the scout team offensive unit; however the film from this weekend shows something different. Johnson’s pocket presence was noteworthy. He did not scramble on any of the throws I saw on film. Although we have five sessions of organized team activities and one more full minicamp on the horizon, I think it is possible Johnson will make the initial training camp roster and the Seahawks will start training camp with four quarterbacks.

One off-field note that you may have already heard about. Richard Sherman was spotted on a wave runner on Friday. Sherman was watching practice and scouting the rookies from the shores of Lake Washington. Am I surprised about this? No, not really. In fact if I had to guess one player watching practice from the lake on a wave runner, I would put my money on Sherman ten times out of ten.

Next Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday the Seahawks will conduct the first three sessions of organized team activities (OTA’s). Check back in a couple weeks for a wrap-up report from the first full-team practices of 2013!

Thoughts on the Rookie Class of 2013

28 Apr
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Seahawks RB Christine Michael

The 2013 NFL Draft is in the books. After making two trades during the draft, the Seahawks selected 11 players and added 9 undrafted free agents to the roster, which make up the Seahawks 2013 rookie class. Here are some thoughts about a few of the players the Seahawks drafted and what I think about our picks.

If there’s one thing myself and other Seahawks fans have learned over the past three years it’s this; do not doubt head coach Pete Carroll and DEFINITELY do not doubt general manager John Schneider. Having said this, I am a little flustered about our first selection. The Seahawks selected Texas A&M running back Christine Michael with the last pick of round 2 (pick #62). With a backfield that already includes pro bowler Marshawn Lynch and second-year power back Robert Turbin, I felt there were bigger positional needs to be addressed at the point in the draft especially given the talent that was still on the board at the end of the second round. Michael reminds me of Falcons running back Steven Jackson. After watching film I noted that Michael is a physical running back who is really hard to tackle. He bounces off tackles and has excellent breakaway speed. The one thing I didn’t like while watching Michael’s film is his footwook. He didn’t show his ability to juke defenders and make cuts for extra yards. One other puzzling note is the fact that Michael was not a part of the return game at Texas A&M. With Leon Washington gone and the draft of Michael, it still looks as though Percy Harvin and Golden Tate will be used on kickoff and punt returns this season.

Every year after the draft I like to pick one guy, usually from the later rounds of the draft, who I think could have a major impact with the Seahawks in his rookie season and beyond. Two years ago I picked Richard Sherman and I could not have been more right. I think the reason why I like Sherman so much is he made me look very intelligent. Last year however I picked defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who did not see much playing time on defense last season. This season my impact rookie prediction is defensive tackle Jesse Williams from the University of Alabama. Williams was taken with our first 5th round pick (#137 overall). Williams was projected to be a 3rd round pick but slipped all the way to the 5th round. The Seahawks traded up with the Detroit Lions to snag him. Williams is a 6-3, 325 pound defensive tackle who I feel resembles Alan Branch the most. Williams may be called upon early and often on running downs to plug the holes vacated by Branch.

Coming into the draft, I felt that the two most important positions to fill were outside linebacker and offensive line. The Seahawks did not draft any true linebackers in 2013 and the first offensive lineman drafted came in round 7. The Seahawks already have one of the best offensive lines in the league but the foundation of any offense is the offensive line and it never hurts to add depth. The Seahawks took three offensive linemen in the final round of the draft, selecting Ryan Seymour of Vanderbilt, Jared Smith of New Hampshire, and Michael Bowie of Northeast Oklahoma State. These guys probably won’t see any playing time on offense this season but they could have an impact on special teams. I like Seymour the most out of these three picks because he is a hybrid lineman who has spent the most time playing guard, which in my opinion is our weakest spot along the offensive line.

Going into the final day of the draft there were still 30 players on my “big board” who I thought could fit well with what the Seahawks do. The Seahawks only took one of my highlighted players; defensive end/linebacker Ty Powell from Harding. I noted Powell after the Scouting Combine in February because he ran a fast 40-yard dash and also did 28 bench press reps. His combination of speed and strength caught my eye and after watching game film of Powell I was further impressed. Although he played against weak competition at Harding, I liked how Powell played both defensive end and outside linebacker and he did an excellent job penetrating the line and also dropping into coverage on passing plays. He also recorded 8.5 sacks and 40 tackles during the 2012 season. He could also play a big role on special teams with the Seahawks in 2013.

Prior to the draft it was believed that the Seahawks already had a roster that could compete for a championship. After drafting 11 players and adding 9 undrafted rookie free agents, it must be preached that it is going to be extremely difficult for these 20 players to make the 2013 53-man roster. I would not be surprised to see all of our undrafted rookies and over half of our draft picks get cut before the end of the preseason. Although this possibility does not favor these players, it is a situation that Pete Carroll and John Schneider strived for when they arrived in Seattle; to build the roster that includes so much talent that a good number of rookie draft picks are in jeopardy of even making the team.

Thoughts on the Seahawks Defensive Signings

28 Mar
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DE Cliff Avril

The Seahawks kicked off the NFL league year with a bang by acquiring Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings. I haven’t jumped on the blog since the first day of free agency but since my last post the Seahawks have made a few great signings. The Seahawks were clearly on a mission to improve our pass rush and our defensive line through free agency and that is exactly what they have done so far. Here are some brief thoughts on Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Tony McDaniel.

I love the signing of Cliff Avril the most of any of our signings. Avril hit the open market as one of the top pass rushers available and we were able to sign him for two years and only $15 million. Last season Avril turned down a contract extension offered by the Detroit Lions which would have paid him $10 million a year. These numbers made it hard to believe that the Seahawks would be in play for any veteran defensive ends such as Avril, John Abraham, and Dwight Freeney, among others because of the money I thought they would be asking for. Signing Avril for $8.5 million a year is a bargain in my opinion and a signing that set the market for the rest of defensive end free agent group. Avril and Bruce Irvin will battle for the starting defensive end spot while Chris Clemons is rehabbing his torn ACL. I think Irvin is expected to be the starter but no matter whom is the starter both Irvin and Avril will make significant contributions to the Seahawks pass rush this season.

After the Avril signing I figured we had found a replacement for Clemons and that our shopping for defensive ends was over. I was wrong. The Seahawks then went out and signed Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett to a one-year $5 million contract. Bennett was signed by Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2009 but was released at the trading deadline of that season. Tampa Bay picked him up and he had a solid impact with the Buccaneers from 2009-2012 recording 15 sacks; 9 of which came last season. Over the past few days it has come to light that the reason the Seahawks were able to sign Bennett to such a cheap deal is because he played with a torn rotator cuff last season. According to Seahawks general manager John Schneider, surgery is not on the table for the time being and it is not required for Bennett to play in 2013. Although a defensive end, I think the Seahawks may want to try to use him as an interior pass rusher, similarly to Jason Jones who left in free agency to the Detroit Lions. I consider Bennett to be Jones’s replacement.

Today it was announced the Seahawks signed former Miami defensive tackle Tony McDaniel to a one-year contract. McDaniel is a 6-7, 305 pound run stuffer who was an undrafted free agent in 2006. I think this signing means the Seahawks will not attempt to re-sign Alan Branch who is a similar physical build to McDaniel.

If the season were to start today, I predict that the starting defensive line will consist of Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril. Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, and Chris Clemons when healthy will all be used on passing downs, giving the Seahawks four or five exceptional pass rushers on the field at the same time. I am a fan of all of these moves, especially since their contracts are not huge hits to the salary cap and they still give us the freedom to go out and make other signings. Before the signing of McDaniel, the Seahawks had $6.8 worth of salary cap space according to ProFootballTalk.

Seahawks Free Agent Priorities

10 Mar

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On Tuesday at 1:00pm the 2013 NFL league year officially begins. At this time all 32 teams can sign free agents to contracts. The Seahawks have roughly $17 million of salary cap space to fill and it is possible the Seahawks will look to sign some notable names over the next few months. As nice as it will be to use free agency to improve the roster for 2013, the first thing teams need to look at is their own players that are set to become free agents. This year the Seahawks have 13 players who are set to become free agents. I have tiered our own free agents from a scale of 1 to 4 based on how big of a priority they are through my eyes. Tier 1 is players who I think should be the top priority for the Seahawks to re-sign. Tier 4 is players who I feel we don’t necessarily need and who I think we could afford to lose if they decide to sign with another team. All our free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise noted.

Tier One

DT Alan Branch

DT Jason Jones

K Steven Hauschka

DT Clinton McDonald (Restricted)

The Seahawks would be losing a ton of defensive line depth if these three players all leave. Alan Branch is the only starter among this group and he is the biggest named free agent for the Seahawks this offseason. If the Seahawks re-sign Branch we maintain our continuity among the defensive starters and assures that our incredible run defense stays intact. Jason Jones played sparingly last season because he was injured. He recorded only 7 tackles and added 3 sacks. Jones would be a great interior pass rush force and it is unfortunate we were not able to see his potential last season. He would surely help out Bruce Irvin in getting to the quarterback since Chris Clemons will miss a significant portion of the 2013 season. Steven Hauschka was impressive last year but his range is not what I expect out of a kicker. If he can improve his leg strength and prove he can kick from 50+ yards out consistently I would definitely sign him to a multi-year contract. Clinton McDonald is a restricted free agent this season and I expect him to be back with the Seahawks in 2013. I would not give any of these players big money but I think Branch and Hauschka are most likely to get multi-year contracts. Jones and McDonald may get smaller deals.

Tier Two

CB Marcus Trufant

LS Clint Gresham (Restricted)

CB Chris Maragos (Restricted)

Marcus Trufant was cut last offseason but restructured his contract to stay with Seattle. With the emergence of Jeremy Lane, Trufant may have lost his spot on the roster. Trufant is getting older but played decently in the nickel package last season. I believe Trufant will test the open market to see which team will give him the best deal. If the market is not what he was expecting and if the Seahawks would like to have him back for his 11th season with the team, Trufant may find himself in the same role as last season; playing on a limited basis on a one-year contract. I think both Clint Gresham and Chris Maragos are more important pieces to our team than people probably believe. If you remember last year’s Monday Night Football game between San Diego and Oakland you understand why I want Gresham back with the Seahawks next year. In that MNF game, Oakland’s long snapper was hurt in the second quarter. The replacement long snapper could not get the ball to the punter and holder and cost the Raiders opportunities to score points. It also gave the Chargers great field position. I did not realize how important the long snapper is to a team before that game and I now have a greater appreciation for Gresham’s job. He did not botch a single snap last season. Chris Maragos is a key contributor on special teams and made a lot of great plays on kickoffs last season. He seems to be around every single play and works really hard to be in a position to make plays.

Tier Three

LB Leroy Hill

TE Cameron Morrah

We are now getting into the area of players who I don’t think the Seahawks need moving forward. Leroy Hill was recently arrested for the fourth time during his Seahawks tenure. Last offseason he was arrested for marijuana possession in Atlanta and I commented how I think he screwed up a great chance to show the coaching staff and front office that he has cleaned himself up off the field. With this recent arrest I think he just punched his ticket out of Seattle and on to a different team. Add the emergence of linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan and you have a recipe where the Seahawks can afford to let Hill walk. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010, I have thought that Cameron Morrah’s job could be in danger since he was not brought in by this regime. I think the Seahawks are looking to move toward a two tight end set similar to the New England Patriots. Morrah was hurt for a good part of last year so I’ll cut him some slack since he was not able to show what he could do on the field but things are not looking good for him. The Seahawks signed tight end Darren Fells to a 3-year contract last week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks draft a tight end during the draft. If Morrah is not signed by a team by draft weekend and the Seahawks do indeed draft a tight end, Morrah will not be back in 2013.

Tier Four

WR Deon Butler (Restricted)

DE Patrick Chukwurah

K Ryan Longwell

OG Frank Omiyale

Two of the players in tier four were injury replacements during the playoffs. These two players, Patrick Chukwurah and Ryan Longwell, do not have a future with this team in my opinion. They were simply emergency roster fillers who we hoped could make an impact during the playoffs. Deon Butler appeared in one game last season but did not record a catch. With Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and a need for another vertical weapon on the outside, I do not see a spot for Butler next season. Frank Omiyale was seen as a challenger for a starting guard spot during training camp last season. He could not beat out Paul McQuistan at LG and John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy at RG so he was used as a substitute in 2013. With James Carpenter back healthy, Omiyale may not be back with the Seahawks next season and I personally do not think we need him.

Now that the league year is about to begin, I hope to be back on the blog more often. If the Seahawks make any notable moves in free agency or any significant news comes out of Seahawks headquarters, I will hop on to give my opinion about what is going on. Let’s go 2013! Go Hawks!

Review: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

14 Jan

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Let me tell you one thing I hate about watching Seahawks football in the playoffs. When they lose they don’t just lose. They raise it into some kind of an art form. In 2003 the Seahawks lost on a pick-six in overtime to the Green Bay Packers. In 2006 the Seahawks held a 10-point fourth quarter lead to the Chicago Bears, blew it, and lost on a Robbie Gould walk-off field goal in overtime. Add Sunday’s game to the list of heartbreakers. The Seahawks defense could not hold the Atlanta Falcons offense with 25 seconds left in regulation and a Matt Bryant field goal erased the 2nd biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. Atlanta wins. Atlanta plays San Francisco for the NFC championship next week. Seattle heads home and starts thinking about 2013. It’s simple as that. As a fan I have held myself together after this loss way better than in past postseason heartbreakers. Maybe it hasn’t settled in just yet. Maybe I’m just more mature and can handle these games better. Nevertheless I am extremely frustrated in our defense and I am extremely disappointed overall. I have broken my analysis and thoughts down into 3 parts; the first 3 quarters, the first 14:29 of the 4th quarter, and the final 31 seconds of the season.

The First 45: After getting off to a slow start in Washington last week I was prepared to be calm and not to worry if the same thing were to happen against Atlanta. It did. The Falcons jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and in the second quarter after Matt Bryant’s second field goal of the day, the Seahawks had the ball deep in Atlanta territory and rather than kicking a field goal to cut the lead to 13-3, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll elected to go for it to gain some offensive momentum. On 4th down and 1, the Falcons stacked 8 men in the box, assuming a quick handoff. They were right on the money. The Falcons stuffed Michael Robinson on the fullback dive for a loss of one and a Seahawks turnover on downs. There is no doubt in my mind they saw that play on film, as the Seahawks have ran it in their last two games. Matt Ryan then connected with wide receiver Roddy White for a 47-yard touchdown on Atlanta’s next drive with 4:16 left in the half. This was a 10 point swing and gave the Falcons a 20-0 lead, the largest deficit for the Seahawks all season long. On the Seahawks next possession the Seahawks drove deep into Falcons territory but due to poor clock management and a mistake by Russell Wilson taking a sack on 3rd down, the Seahawks ran out of time and went into the half trailing 20-0.

The Seahawks got the ball to start the second half and went right down the field and scored on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Golden Tate. 20-7 Atlanta. That score was huge for the Seahawks because without it I firmly believe Atlanta would have taken the ball and scored again making it a 4-score game early in the second half. Instead, the Seahawks were able to put their first points on the board and this drive sparked some serious offense momentum to come later on in the game. In an ideal situation, the defense can piggy back on the momentum being brought by the offense but they proved they still had trouble stopping the powerful Atlanta offense early in the second half. After Tate’s touchdown the Falcons drove 80 yards in 7:36 culminating in a 5-yard pass from Ryan to Jason Snelling. 27-7 Atlanta. After this scoring drive everything seemed to change. Little did we know that the Seahawks would come back from the 2nd largest deficit in NFL playoff history.

The Next 14:29: The tables turned in the fourth quarter thanks to great offensive play and a couple big plays by our defense. Big catches by Golden Tate and Zach Miller along with a couple solid runs by Robert Turbin set up a Russell Wilson touchdown run to cut the lead to 27-14 Atlanta. Earl Thomas then came up with a big interception on the Falcons next possession and to be honest I had a feeling that we were going to come back. Nothing was certain, but I could see our defense was drastically improving. If they kept it up and the offense stayed steady, I thought we would be in great shape to come back. Wilson found Miller in the endzone with 9:13 left in the game and the Seahawks cut the lead to one score; 27-21 Atlanta. After an Atlanta 3-and-out and a Seahawks drive which stalled at midfield, the next crucial play was a 3rd and 8 on Atlanta’s next drive. Ryan fired to his right and the ball was low and ahead of Roddy White, forcing the Falcons to punt and would give Seattle the chance to take the lead with a touchdown. The key plays on this final Seattle drive in my mind were a 19-yard pass to Golden Tate, and a 24-yard pass to Marshawn Lynch on a 3rd and 5 to keep the drive alive. That Lynch catch-and-run put the ball inside the Atlanta 5-yard line with under a minute to go. Lynch punched it in on the next play and with 31 seconds left, the Seahawks held their first lead of the game, 28-27.

Hindsight is 20/20 but I wish there was a way the Seahawks could have taken another 15 or so seconds off the clock. With a one point lead, 31 seconds left, and 2 Falcon timeouts available, I immediately thought back to the Chicago game in week 13. Nothing is guaranteed, I thought. One blown coverage and it could spell trouble. That game against the Bears should have never gone to overtime. Bad defensive coverage allowed Brandon Marshall to catch a long pass to put the Bears in field goal range. They tied the game but the Seahawks held on to win in overtime. The Miami and Detroit games also flashed in my mind, as in these two games all we needed was our defense to protect the entire length of the field to hold on for the win. They couldn’t in either game and we lost both.

The Final 31 Seconds: This should really be “the final 26 seconds” since Atlanta started their final drive from the Seattle 28-yard line after the kickoff and that is how much time was left after the kickoff. Matt Bryant’s season-long field goal was from 55 yards out, meaning if he got to about the 37-yard line, the Falcons would have been in field goal range. By these numbers, the Seahawks had 26 seconds to protect 35 yards. Play number one was a 22-yard completion to Harry Douglas and an Atlanta timeout with 19 seconds left. The Seahawks now had to protect 13 yards with 19 seconds left. The next play is a 19-yard completion to Tony Gonzalez, putting Atlanta into field goal range. How in the world can you play as soft of coverage to let two Falcons receivers catch 20-yard passes each in a 13 second span? This is so perplexing it gives me a headache and just adds to the heartbreak that is now settling in as I write this. Matt Bryant lined up for the field goal to give Atlanta the lead back and Coach Carroll called a timeout to ice the kicker. The ball was snapped anyway and Bryant hooked the kick wide right. Carroll was seen upset on the sideline because he didn’t think Bryant should have been able to kick the ball before the actual kick. This was no doubt a mulligan and Bryant made sure his second kick would be more accurate. Unfortunately it was. The kick sailed right down the middle and in a 23 second span, the Seahawks went from epic comeback and a date with San Francisco to trailing once again. Atlanta 30-28. With 8 seconds left the Seahawks were given a gift. Bryant’s squib kick was batted and covered by Mike Morgan of the Seahawks and with 6 seconds left with the ball at mid-field, the Seahawks had a chance for a miracle. After a quick sideline pass to Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson heaved a Hail Mary into the endzone. I thought to myself “what are the chances of having two Hail Mary’s go our way in one season?” The thought was too good to be true. The Falcons subbed in wide receiver Julio Jones to play defense and the Hail Mary was intercepted by Jones in the endzone. Game over. Season over. Seahawks lose in heartbreaking fashion to conclude their season once again.

Random Thoughts: I really thought we had this game. I was ready to book airfare and buy tickets to San Francisco for the NFC Championship game next week. Instead, I have to save my money for road trips in 2013… I started to get a little tired of Richard Sherman on Sunday. He played great defense for the majority of the game but do you really need to run your mouth and give the psycho gesture after EVERY pass defensed? I love you Sherm, but that was a little much in my opinion… Good broadcast by FOX this week… Rob Riggle’s picks segment during the FOX pregame show was the funniest of the season in my opinion. I wasn’t surprised at all when he picked the Seahawks to win since he has personal ties with Coach Carroll… The Seahawks will pick 25th in the first round in the 2013 NFL Draft… Looking at our opponents next season I think we can easily challenge for 12+ wins, win the NFC West, and be legitimate contenders for home-field advantage in next year’s playoffs… Here’s a quick draft chat. I hope we can draft either a tall wide receiver or a young run-stuffing defensive tackle in the first round, like a young Alan Branch… I was disappointed with the play of Bruce Irvin today. Opposing offensive lines did a good job this season of pushing Irvin to the outside and making him a non-factor and Atlanta was no different on Sunday. That gives Bruce something to work on and improve at during the offseason… I liked the blitz packages with Earl Thomas, Marcus Trufant, and Winston Guy that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley dialed up on Sunday. I just wish we would have done more of it. It is a gamble but seemed to work when enabled on Sunday… Zach Miller really impressed me today. He had the best game of his Seahawks career; 8 catches for 142 yards and one touchdown… I wanted this one so bad. It really stings knowing we were 31 seconds away from playing for the NFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XLVII. How we weren’t able to stop the Falcons offense in such a short period of time is beyond me. Back to the drawing board to get ready for 2013.

Well folks the season has unfortunately come to an end. Thank you to everyone who took their time to read my blog this season. I genuinely appreciate your support and feedback. I will say though that even though this is a wrap on the 2012 season does not mean that this is a wrap on the blog. Over the next few days I will put together a list of my top-10 moments from this season in a season review post. I hope to have it published sometime next weekend. After that I’ll take a break until after the Super Bowl but I’ll hop on if any Seahawks news breaks between now and the Super Bowl. Once again thank you so much for reading. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)

3 Dec

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The Seahawks were able to bounce back from their loss in Miami and defeat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime on Sunday. This game was a nail-biter and it turned out to be what I would consider to be an instant classic. The Seahawks are now 7-5, in full control of the final NFC wild-card spot while the Bears fall to 8-4 and have the 5th seed in the NFC. There was a good mix of great things and bad things that happened to the Seahawks in this game. This is what I saw.

Déjà Vu: The Seahawks had a 10-7 lead at halftime but the feel of the first half felt eerily similar to the first half of the Miami game. The Seahawks went the first 27 minutes of the first half without scoring. They did put up 219 yards of offense in the first half; about 70 yards more than in Miami. The nicest thing I saw in the first half was that the offense was able to move the ball. The Seahawks only had one first half drive of less than 10 yards. Scoring 10 points in the first half on the road against a superlative Chicago defense is decent but I was hoping for more in order for us to remain competitive throughout the entire game. It was good to see us correct mistakes that doomed us in Miami and carried those adjustments into the rest of this week’s game.

52:27 Of Russell Wilson Dominance: This may seem a bit repetitive because this section reflects some stats that occurred in the first half, but you will be impressed with these numbers. From the end of the first quarter on, the Seahawks had 404 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and all 23 points against the Bears on the road. Russell Wilson had his most impressive performance of the season hands down. Wilson ended the day 23/37 for 293 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wilson also added 71 rushing yards on 9 carries. Wilson showed tremendous poise and seemed comfortable in the pocket all day long. For the most part the Seahawks offensive line did a great job protecting Wilson. Two of Wilson’s throws in particular caught my attention, both to Sidney Rice. One was in the first half down the sideline which was one of Trent Dilfer’s “dimes” on Sportscenter Sunday night. The second pass, Rice laid out on 2nd down and 11 to convert for a first down. The drive ultimately ended in points. With a favorable schedule on the horizon and only one more regular season road game, Wilson is headed for a terrific finish and strong consideration for offensive rookie of the year.

Defense Sputters When They Absolutely Can’t: The Seahawks defense played well enough to hold on for the win. Having said this, we continue to give up big plays at the worst times. I will get to the Brandon Marshall catch with 18 seconds left in regulation in a moment but let’s first talk about our third down defense, our pass rush, and our unfortunate penalties.

Once again the Seahawks did a terrible job of stopping the Bears on third down, especially in the first half. Chicago was able to convert half of their third downs on Sunday. The biggest reason why the Bears could move the ball is our constant lack of quarterback pressure on the road. The Seahawks only recorded one sack which was primarily because Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled a handoff to Matt Forte and had to run back and recover it. The Seahawks would have had this game under control for the majority of the time if they had been able to put consistent pressure on Cutler. We had been successful doing this over the past couple years. I do not see how we were so ineffective this time around.

There were also a couple of big penalties that cost the Seahawks in the Bears second touchdown drive. The Bears came up one yard short of a first down at the beginning of their first third quarter drive on 3rd and 8 but because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on Bruce Irvin, it gave the Bears a first down. Later on in the drive, Alan Branch was called for roughing the passer when he tried to tackle Cutler as he was sliding. The Bears of course ended the drive with a touchdown to Matt Forte to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.

Perhaps the most talked about play of the day was the 56-yard reception by Bears receiver Brandon Marshall with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks had an entire breakdown in coverage on this play. The Seahawks played prevent-man defense and they were able to let Marshall get free on one-on-one coverage. Instead of going for an interception or even a tackle, cornerback Richard Sherman instead decided to go for the interception. Because of this, Marshall was able to break free for an additional 20+ yards. This play set up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. This play “never should have happened in the first place” according to Coach Carroll and there is no doubt he is right. Our defense must continue to improve and it will be nice for them to get back home next weekend after 4 weeks away from CenturyLink Field.

He’s A Beast: There is no other way to describe Brandon Marshall. In my preview, I predicted Marshall would have ten catches and ultimately torch the Seahawks. Marshall did have ten catches for 165 yards. It does not matter who is covering him, Marshall is big enough to grab any ball thrown in his direction, much like Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. The Cutler-Marshall combination is deadly and will be the biggest offensive factor in determining how long the Bears stick around in the playoffs.

Chicago’s Defense Still Good, But Aging: Here is a warning to any team or fan of a team who could be looking at a matchup with the Chicago Bears later on this season: they are still dominant but they get dramatically tired. In the Seahawks final two offensive drives of the game, Russell Wilson was shredding Chicago’s defense apart and you could visibly tell they were getting tired. Most notably the linebackers seemed the most gassed. Lance Briggs got banged up late in the game and Brian Urlacher had to leave the Seahawks overtime drive. He may have been hurt but to me watching on television he just looked exhausted. If the Bears are going to contend for a super bowl, this has to be the year. This group will not stick together much longer. They can play well against almost every team but they get worn down, which ultimately cost them against the Seahawks on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks debuted the white jersey/white pants uniform combination on Sunday. It looked really good. Hopefully the white pants stick around… My dad came over to my house for this game and I really enjoyed his company. It always makes it better when we win… My roommate had the time of his life being in attendance at Soldier Field on Sunday. I am super jealous he got to see the Seahawks win and I saw them lose twice on the road. I told him he is our good luck charm within the house and maybe we should look into going to Toronto in two weeks for the Bills game (that won’t happen, but it’s a nice little idea isn’t it?)… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan called a good game on the FOX broadcast this week. Much better than in past weeks… The Bears have an annoying fight song… With our win and San Francisco’s loss I am starting to get excited about the possibility of holding on to win the NFC West. Still a lot of football to be played but we have a chance… I am also starting to get excited about the possibility that the NFL and NBC will flex the Seahawks week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers into Sunday Night Football. That would be so amazing.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are now 7-5 and have a full game lead for the 6th seed in the NFC. The Seahawks are also 1 ½ games behind San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It is very possible we could catch them in the coming weeks. Still in the hunt behind the Seahawks are the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next week’s games to be keeping an eye on with potential playoff implications:

Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5)

Miami (5-7) at San Francisco (8-3-1)

Dallas (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5)

Chicago (8-4) at Minnesota (6-6)

Philadelphia (3-9) at Tampa Bay (6-6)

The Seahawks now have four games left; three of which are at home in front of the 12th Man. It all starts next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Check back on Saturday afternoon for my preview of next week’s game. It’s really time to start believing everybody. Go Seahawks!