Tag Archives: Anthony McCoy

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

2 Sep
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

We are so close to the season opener in St. Louis. The only thing standing in the Seahawks way is the preseason finale. On Thursday, for the 10th consecutive season, the Seahawks conclude their preseason slate against the Oakland Raiders. This is the final job interview for many players fighting to make our week one roster. The starters may play the first series of the game, if that, and then their nights will be done. The spotlight in the fourth week of the preseason is on the young guys. This week I will be focused on position battles. In this preview, I will gloss over what our opening day starting units may look like while noting which battles may be important to watch this week at each position. Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks: If Tarvaris Jackson is able to play this week, the plans at the quarterback position will surely be set. If he can play, which to me is unlikely, Jackson may see a little bit of playing time before R.J. Archer takes over. If Jackson cannot go, then Archer will likely play almost the entire game. In the grand scheme of things, if Jackson is healthy enough to play this week that makes R.J. Archer’s performance extremely important. During the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks only carry two active quarterbacks on the roster with a third quarterback on the practice squad. Archer’s performance against the Raiders will be the difference between him making the active roster and him getting cut and re-signed to the practice squad.

Running Backs: If Thomas Rawls has any chance to steal Christine Michael’s or even Robert Turbin’s roster spot he must ball out on Thursday. It may be next to impossible for Rawls to make the team now that we know the Seahawks have interest in signing free agent running back Fred Jackson. Rawls started the preseason strong but has been overshadowed by the strong play of Michael the past two weeks. Michael and Rawls will both see a lot of playing time but I believe that Rawls will have to bust off several huge runs and at least one touchdown to even have a chance at earning a roster spot.

Wide Receivers: The trade of Kevin Norwood to the Carolina Panthers on Monday makes the wide receiver competition something to watch very closely this week. I believe 6 roster spots will go to wide receivers. I believe Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, and Ricardo Lockette will all have jobs on this team this year. With Paul Richardson starting the season on the PUP list, that means there are four receivers to watch in this game that are fighting for two spots. What will make the coaches decisions difficult is that they all play special teams. B.J. Daniels and Kevin Smith have seen their share of playing time on punt and kickoff returns while Kasen Williams has made a couple of clutch catches including one which set up Steven Hauschka’s game-winning field goal last week. Chris Matthews showed his potential in Super Bowl XLIX but has been a ghost in relation to these other players so far this preseason. Keep a tab on the number of snaps each of these guys see on offense this week. Their presence on the field alone could be a major indicator of who has the lead on the final wide receiver spots.

Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson are locks to make the team. The final tight end spot will go to either Cooper Helfet or Anthony McCoy. Given that McCoy has battled injuries over the past three seasons, and that Helfet had a solid season in 2014 it would make sense if it is Helfet’s job to lose. It very well may be. McCoy will get the opportunity to prove his worth this week. This is one spot that I think could go to either player.

Offensive Line: The release of Lemuel Jeanpierre affirms our starting offensive line going into the season. From left to right our starting line will be Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy, and Garry Gilliam. This week will give us a chance to see what our depth looks like along the offensive line. One guy to keep an eye on this week is undrafted rookie Kristjan Sokoli. Sokoli has made fantastic progress during training camp and is a favorite of Coach Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable. Unfortunately he is listed as our fourth string left guard, likely because he is still working on converting from defensive tackle to offensive guard (similar to J.R. Sweezy). Due to his standing on the depth chart Sokoli may be destined for a possible practice squad spot. Backup linemen Mark Glowinski and Terry Poole are our drafted rookies who are listed as the backups to Sweezy and Gilliam respectively. Expect to see them on the field a lot.

Defensive Line: The feel-good story of the offseason and training camp was the comeback of defensive tackle Jesse Williams. The third year lineman had a cancerous kidney removed back in May and amazingly has returned to game action this preseason; a remarkable recovery indeed. Unfortunately Williams has a very real chance of not making the team since he is listed as a fourth string defensive tackle. Along the defensive line on Thursday look for Williams, David King and Julius Warmsley. I believe one of these three players will claim one of the Seahawks musical chairs. The others will be left out once the music stops.

Linebackers: I am putting the “you never know” label on the backup middle linebacker job. Brock Coyle won this job last year and he is probably going to earn his job back in 2015. Alex Singleton however refuses to back down without a fight. Singleton has been on the field a lot this preseason, appearing solely in the second half. I get a hunch that our coaching staff likes Singleton a lot but even a great outing on Thursday still makes him a longshot to earn a roster spot but like I said, you never know.

Cornerbacks: I get a weird feeling that surprises are on the horizon in this group. Cary Williams has struggled this preseason and if he did not make so much money I think he would be a serious candidate to be cut. Williams will make the team due to his cap number which puts pressure on our backups. Tharold Simon has played well thus far and Marcus Burley has seen his fair share of playing time with the starters. Two guys to watch are Will Blackmon and Tye Smith. Blackmon is a veteran who has bounced around the league and found himself back with the Seahawks for training camp. Smith is a rookie who was drafted in the 5th round back in May and has impressed me thus far. My guess is that we will keep 5 cornerbacks. One of these guys will make the team and the other will not.

Safeties: The free safety position is settled in my mind. Earl Thomas starts, Steven Terrell backs him up. Strong safety is still up in the air at this point but I believe the breakdown is simple. If Kam Chancellor does not report to the team by the time our roster is trimmed to 53, Dion Bailey will make the team as the presumed backup to starter DeShawn Shead. If Chancellor does report, Bailey will be left out of the picture. This is the only position on the team where the simple presence of one player will likely determine the fate of another player.

Random Thoughts: All College Navy everything for the Seahawks this week. The Raiders will wear white jerseys with silver pants… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard will have the call one last time this preseason. The game will be broadcast on Q13 FOX… Lunch at Tat’s Delicatessen before the game. I’ve never been there but by the looks of the menu I’ll probably enjoy their Philly cheesesteak… Pregame location is to be determined but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make our way to Hawks Nest for the first time this season… Off the top of my head I cannot remember a preseason which included terrible weather for both of our home games. The forecast is calling temperatures in the mid 60’s and a 50/50 chance of rain.

Prediction: The nice way we will be describing this game after the fact is that it will be a “defense battle.” Russell Wilson will fail to lead a scoring drive on his one possession of the game. R.J. Archer will once again struggle to lead touchdown drives but will progress as the game wears on. On defense the Seahawks backups will slightly outplay the Raiders defensive backups which will keep us in the game. The Seahawks will win another close game in the fourth quarter and will finish the preseason 2-2.

Seahawks 16, Raiders 13

Advertisements

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Receivers

18 Jul

Image

*This is part four of my 8-part Seahawks Training Camp preview series*

Current Receivers on Roster (19): Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Stephen Williams, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, Greg Herd, Justin Veltung, Arceto Clark, Zach Miller (TE), Sean McGrath (TE), Luke Willson (TE), Cooper Helfet (TE), Darren Fells (TE), Victor Marshall (TE)

Many people believe that the wide receiver group is the most improved group on the Seahawks roster. With the addition of Percy Harvin, the Seahawks have the potential to be one of the most dangerous offenses in the National Football League. With all of the talent at the receiver and tight end positions it is hard to figure out who will fit in the Seahawks plans in 2013. All thirteen wide receivers will show over the next month why they deserve one of the five or six wide receiver roster spots. Here is what I will be looking for and what I expect to see out of the wide receivers.

I am very excited to see the different receiver formations during training camp and the preseason. As of right now, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are our starting split end and flanker, respectively. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are officially the backups with the rest of the wide receivers following. Among our returning wide receivers is Jermaine Kearse, who was active for the Seahawks final 8 regular season games and both of their postseason games last season. Also returning is Phil Bates. Bates spent last season on the practice squad after an impressive training camp last season. New veteran additions include Brett Swain who was signed on April 8th after being released by San Francisco, and Stephen Williams who was signed to a future contract days after our playoff loss to Atlanta. Williams previously spent three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Our rookies at the position include 4th round draft pick Chris Harper from Kansas State and undrafted free agents Greg Herd from Eastern Washington and Justin Veltung from Idaho.

Consistency is the key during training camp at the wide receiver position. If you can make your catches and not make mistakes running routes or catching the ball, the chances of you sticking around longer into camp increase greatly. Phil Bates is the best example of this last season. Having said this, the Seahawks will most likely only keep five or six wide receivers for the 53-man roster. I see Harvin, Rice, Tate, and Baldwin as locks to make the final roster. This means that 9 players will compete for one or two roster spots. As each practice goes by, I will report who is developing as deserving of one of these spots.

The Seahawks are not as strong at tight end from a depth perspective as the wide receivers. With the loss of Anthony McCoy to a season ending injury during OTA’s, the Seahawks only have one tight end, Zach Miller, who caught a pass during the regular season and postseason last year. The Seahawks did use a draft pick on Rice tight end Luke Willson to add depth and they also return backups Cooper Helfet and Sean McGrath, who spent time with the Seahawks during the preseason last year. The Seahawks also signed former pro basketball player Darren Fells, however the jury is still out on his football ability since he has not played football since high school. I am excited to see how Willson fits in to the offense both as a receiver and as a blocker. It would be really cool to see Miller and Willson a two tight end formation similar to what the New England Patriots have done in the past. I could see only two tight ends making the final roster. If that is the case, put my money on Miller and Willson making the team.

For the next four days, I will shift my focus on the Seahawks defense. Up next, a preview of the Seahawks defensive line. Thanks for reading! Go Seahawks!

OTA Wrap-Up 5/29

30 May

Image

The Seahawks held their second practice of the week indoors on Wednesday at the VMAC. It was the Seahawks 5th total practice of the OTA period. Here are a couple notes from today both on and off the field.

The Seahawks came out of their Wednesday practice completely healthy. One note I found interesting through what I have seen online is that Brady Quinn saw some time with all offensive units today. It will be fun to see how Quinn performs in training camp and in the preseason to see if he truly is a viable option to backup Russell Wilson once the regular season starts.

The off-the-field note worth mentioning today regards tight end Anthony McCoy. As I noted in my wrap-up report yesterday, McCoy was placed on the waived/injured list and would have to clear waivers before being placed on the Seahawks injured reserve list. McCoy cleared waivers today and is now on IR. I think McCoy has potential to be a regular impact player next season and I am glad no team claimed him.

Check back late Friday night for another OTA wrap-up report of the Seahawks last practice of week two!

OTA Wrap-Up 5/28

29 May

Image

After a break during Memorial Day weekend, the Seahawks hit the field for three more practices this week. Here are some notes from today’s practice.

The Seahawks practiced for about an hour and a half outside. One of the first items to note is the presence of running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was absent from OTA’s last week to work out independently. It is good to see him back on the field with the rest of the team. As expected, Lynch stepped right back into the starting offensive unit.

One player who seemed to struggle mightily today was rookie tight end Luke Willson. With Anthony McCoy presumably out for the season with a torn Achilles, Willson could very well win the job as second-string tight end this season. It is still early so I am not jumping to conclusions and I expect Willson to bounce back and have a better day Wednesday.

Speaking of Anthony McCoy, he was placed on the waived/injured list today. He will have to clear waivers before being placed on the Seahawks injured reserve list. Any team can claim McCoy during the waiver period. I do not expect any team to claim him but a team could surprise if they think McCoy could make a future impact with the team in 2014.

The only player absent from practice today was offensive lineman John Moffitt. Moffitt was excused from practice by the coaching staff for “personal reasons.” Those personal reasons came to light later in the day. It was reported that Moffitt had an appearance in court this afternoon after being charged with criminal trespassing and obstruction after an incident last summer. Moffitt reportedly urinated in a parking garage and was caught by security. A security camera later confirmed Moffitt’s identity. Here is my take on John Moffitt and his situation. He comes off as a goofy, fun-loving guy thanks to the “Real Robinson Report.” However, he was benched last season in favor of rookie J.R. Sweezy who had never played offense before coming to Seattle. He has also tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and has now been charged with a misdemeanor during his time in Seattle. I am now starting to think his silly, immature demeanor in the locker room might translate to the football field and in his personal life. If Moffitt cannot beat out Sweezy in training camp this summer, he might find himself on the waiver wire after final roster cuts.

The big news of the day came off the field. While meeting with the media after practice, safety Kam Chancellor revealed that fullback Michael Robinson called a players-only meeting to discuss the recent off-the-field issues facing the team. Robinson, along with Chancellor, preached maturity and the ability to know to make right decisions if they want to do big things this season. I like the leadership of both of these players, especially Chancellor. Since being rewarded with a contract extension Chancellor has been a more vocal leader both on and off the field. I believe Chancellor will be a positive long-term influence on some of the younger players in the Seahawks locker room.

Senior Bowl Review: Five To Watch

17 Feb
Image

Margus Hunt

It has been a nice break but I am back and blogging for the 2013 season! A week before the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers to claim Super Bowl XLVII, the best seniors eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft were invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl, for those who are not familiar or interested in the game, is an all-star game featuring upcoming NFL Draft prospects. Unless specially invited, all of the players who participate are seniors in college. The Senior Bowl is a big event for players who are expected to be drafted in the later rounds of the draft. Based on their play in this game their draft stock can rise or fall a great amount. Last season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson participated in the Senior Bowl and played well. He was eventually taken in the third round (75th overall) by the Seahawks which was higher than his projected range of selection before the Senior Bowl and other scouting events.

After watching the game, I have made a preliminary short-list of players who I would be interested in having the Seahawks draft. These five players are players who impressed me while I watched the game and also who I think Coach Carroll and John Schneider may be interested in based on areas of need on the roster at this point and the physical attributes of each of the players.

Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU

Ansah is the only player on my list who I believe we would have to trade up in the draft to take. Before the Senior Bowl, Ansah was projected in many mock drafts as a pick in the 20-30 overall range. The Seahawks pick 25th in the first round and would have been in play for Ansah in their own slot. After this game however, I believe Ansah’s stock has risen dramatically. “Ziggy” as he is known at BYU, had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He was also named defensive player of the game. Ansah always seemed to be around the play and when he contributed he was a monster. Ansah is 6-5, 274 pounds and as a senior last year at BYU he recorded 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Although the sacks total is not that high he played tough. His most valuable asset in my opinion is his speed. He can penetrate the offensive line quickly and make plays. More tests and drills will be conducted at the combine and at his pro day between now and the draft but at this point, I believe he will not be around if the Seahawks stay at 25. It will take a trade to move up if Ansah will be playing in a Seahawks uniform in 2013.

My Projection: 10-15 Overall.

Margus Hunt, Defensive End, SMU

This is a guy who really intrigues me. Margus Hunt is a 6-8 defensive end who recorded 9 sacks last season at SMU. His height was highlighted multiple times during the broadcast and is my focus as to why I have included him on this list. The obvious comparison is to Houston defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt is a dominant pass rusher and an expert at batting passes down. His ability to jump up to bat passes down has earned him the nickname “J.J. Swat” for good reason. Imagine Hunt on our defensive line. As a replacement for the injured Chris Clemons, I could see Hunt as a pass rushing force alongside Bruce Irvin and his height makes it easy to speculate he could have an effect at the line of scrimmage similar to J.J. Watt. Although he is not projected to be a first round pick by many “experts” I could definitely see Hunt being another “reach” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Don’t be surprised to see Hunt’s name tied to the Seahawks between now and the draft.

My Projection: Round 1-2.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Cornerback, Connecticut

I am not expecting the Seahawks to re-sign Marcus Trufant over the offseason. If that is the case the Seahawks may be in the market for another cornerback. Enter Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The 6-1, 192 pound cornerback from Connecticut caught my eye with his decent play in zone coverage, however there have been on-the-field red flags concerning his speed and his ability to play man coverage. Because of these concerns, some have said his draft stock has fallen. If that turns out to be true he could turn out to be one of John Schneider’s classic mid-round steals of the draft. Wreh-Wilson would not be a starter with the Seahawks but I think he could be a guy who could play in the nickel package effectively.

My Projection: Round 4

David Quessenberry, Offensive Tackle, San Jose State

Luckily the Seahawks offensive line did not suffer any lingering injuries in 2012, helping keep continuity intact. If there had been injuries last season, I think our offensive line depth was not the best and could be subject to changes during the offseason. If there was one offensive lineman I would like to see us draft for value this year it is David Quessenberry. He is the most versatile lineman in the draft in my opinion. He played three years at offensive tackle at San Jose State but practiced at offensive guard during Senior Bowl practice. He played both positions during the game. He can also be used at center if needed. Physically he looks the part (6-5, 294 pounds) and plays the part with surprising quickness and good blocking technique. Among centers and guards eligible for the 2013 draft, Quessenberry is the #3 rated pass protector/blocker and the #5 rated run blocker according to waterfootball.com. I think Quessenberry would be a great addition to our offensive line group.

My Projection: Round 4

Jack Doyle, Tight End, Western Kentucky

I believe the Seahawks need a couple more offensive weapons for Russell Wilson. I would like to see us draft a wide receiver primarily and if we are looking for another tight end, Jack Doyle may be our choice. Doyle is more of a receiving tight end than a blocking tight end; by using him that could free up our other receivers. He is 6-6 and led the Hilltoppers in receiving yards last season with 530. Western Kentucky also runs a west-coast offense so Doyle would be somewhat familiar with the Seahawks offensive playbook. Jack Doyle could definitely be a value pick and be a solid number two option opposite Zach Miller, should the Seahawks decide to part ways with Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah.

My Projection: Round 6-7

Review: Seahawks 20, Rams 13

31 Dec

Image

Well it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Seahawks got the job done. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-13 in the regular season and home finale on Sunday. The Seahawks finish the regular season 11-5 and finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005. The Rams fall to 7-8-1 and finish in third place in the NFC West this season. The game was very close throughout and to be honest I left the stadium more frustrated and worried than happy that we won. I am looking at the pros and cons of this game and trying to shed some light on what needs to change against Washington next week. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.

Sweezy’s Struggles: The Rams out-sacked the Seahawks 6-0 on Sunday and a lot of the Rams success getting to quarterback Russell Wilson came up the middle. At least four of their sacks came after dominating Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. One of the guys who sits in front of me got my attention that St. Louis was using Chris Long in designed interior pass rushes, predominantly against Sweezy. Sweezy struggled throughout the majority of the game and Russell Wilson was under constant pressure. If Sweezy is slated to start next week against the Redskins, I am very scared that London Fletcher will be able to exploit the sub-par play of J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks offensive line has not looked this perplexed all season and for the majority of this game they looked like the Seahawks offensive lines of 2008 and 2009 where they could not get the running game going and supply enough time for the quarterback to throw. I hope that John Moffitt will be available next week to start at the right guard spot. If Sweezy gets the start again next week, the Seahawks may have a difficult time moving the ball and scoring points.

Wilson Ties Manning: With Russell Wilson’s touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter, he tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a rookie with 25. As incredible of an accomplishment as this is, it is too bad because Wilson had a chance to break Manning’s record. On the Seahawks final scoring drive of the game with less than three minutes left, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Wilson ran a play-action fake and scrambled to the left into the endzone for the touchdown. Before crossing into the endzone he pumped because he saw Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin both covered so he decided to run it in. You could tell Russell wanted the record but settled for the rush touchdown when no passing options were available. I for one would have liked to see a touchdown pass. I can guarantee Wilson thought the same way but at the end of the day Wilson ran it in, gave the Seahawks a 7 point lead and held on to win the game, which is much better than any individual accolade.

Defense Needs To Improve Drastically: The Seahawks put virtually no pressure on Sam Bradford until the final drive of the game. The Rams also did a good job converting third downs and Steven Jackson was able to bust out for some significantly good sized runs. The silver lining of the day is that we only gave up 13 points and we were able to stop two St. Louis drives inside the 5-yard line and the Rams had to settle for Greg Zuerlein field goals. Next week the Seahawks cannot afford to have a defensive performance like they did today because the Redskins will rip us apart in the running game. I was hoping to see Bruce Irvin get more involved but he was a non-factor. The stars of the game on defense belong to Bobby Wagner for recording 10 tackles and Richard Sherman who picked off his 8th pass of the season. Sherman becomes the first player in NFL history to have 8 interceptions, three forced fumbles, one sack, and 20 passes defensed in a single season. If the Seahawks do not make it to Super Bowl XLVII, I fully expect Sherman to make the NFC pro bowl roster because those numbers are definitely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

Rams Show Potential For The Future: Although the Rams finish with a losing record once again, they have quietly shown flashes of what NFL fans should expect out of them in the coming years. In 2013 Jeff Fisher will be in his second year in St. Louis and will have had more time to put together the roster he wants to build. The Rams have two first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the young nucleus they have on both sides of the ball will continue to get better. In particular I look at the way their offensive line played in a hostile environment today and I think they will make Sam Bradford a pro bowl caliber quarterback very soon. Steven Jackson’s contract status is up in the air and it would not be surprising to see Jackson and the Rams part ways after the season. With Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield the Rams may be looking at a couple of rising stars. On defense, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, and the emerging Janoris Jenkins look like a solid core of defensive players. If they can add another big-time player on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason, St. Louis could challenge for a playoff spot. The Rams proved this year that they can compete against all the teams in the NFC West and were only a couple of losses away from being contenders for the playoffs this year. I still think Seattle and San Francisco are the royalty of the division but the St. Louis Rams could be serious contenders for at least a wild-card berth as soon as next season.

Random Thoughts: I believe the Seahawks were screwed out of 14 points this week. I did not see holding on Anthony McCoy on Zach Miller’s touchdown pass in the second quarter and I thought the 44-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter should have stood because I did not see holding on the play by Breno Giacomini. The officiating as a whole was not very good this week. Shame on you Jeff Triplette… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid rose the 12th Man flag this week… Russell Wilson was presented with the 2012 Steve Largent Award. My guess is that he will be a repeat winner no question about it… I was extremely disappointed about the level of excitement in the stands this week. I noted at halftime on Facebook that it felt like the intensity level was less than half of what it was last week against San Francisco. There were possible scenarios out of our control that could have given us a higher seed and a division championship if we had won. That alone should have been enough motivation for the fans to go all out but overall the noise was abnormally now. Very disappointing… I underdressed for the first time this season. I should have worn another coat under my jersey, worn gloves, and brought hand warmers. Either those things or maybe I should have drank more to get a warm beer belly going… The pregame giveaway was ponchos. What a ridiculous giveaway especially on a day where the skies were clear. I bought Mark, one of the guys who sits in front of me, a beer before the game as a token of appreciation for dealing with the behavior of my guest last week. He was extremely grateful… Good news. Mark and his friend Mike renewed their seats for the 2013 season so I will be sitting behind them for a fourth straight year which will be fun… All the season ticket holders around me made a promise that we would be back in three weeks for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s all pray we will play for a trip to the Super Bowl at home against Minnesota!

Up Next: With San Francisco’s win over Arizona, the Seahawks are locked in to the 5th seed in the NFC. They head to the nation’s capital next week to take on the NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

I hope to have my preview of the Seahawks wild-card playoff game against Washington up by late Saturday morning. Also, don’t be surprised to see me hop on the blog later on in the week to share my thoughts about practice leading up to next week’s game. Go Hawks!

49ers/Seahawks Preview

22 Dec

Image

Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:20pm

When the 2012 schedule was released back in April a lot of people circled September 24th’s game against Green Bay and October 14th’s game against New England on their calendars as “must-see” games. I definitely saw those games as big games but this week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers was the game I looked at and got the most excited about. I had thoughts of two incredibly talented teams playing in week 16 with playoff implications and possibly the NFC West division title on the line. Although the division lead is not on the line at this time, the Seahawks have a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win. The matchup is so intriguing, the National Football League flexed this game into Sunday Night Football two weeks ago making it the game of the week. The 49ers are 10-3-1 and beat the AFC East champion New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football last week by a score of 41-34. The Seahawks are 9-5 and are coming off an impressive 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto last week. San Francisco leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 14-13. In their last meeting back in week 7, the 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-6 in a defensive duel on Thursday Night Football. 9 weeks have passed since that October night at Candlestick Park and the Seahawks are a completely different team, especially on offense. Here is what I will be looking for on Sunday night.

Since installing a heavy zone-read look, this will be the toughest defense Russell Wilson and the zone-read will have faced all season. The biggest reason why is because San Francisco runs a similar offense. San Francisco’s defense will be practicing against as close to an accurate simulation of the Seahawks as humanly possible. Russell Wilson needs to make sure that the momentum carries over from the past two weeks. If he gets rattled in the pocket, he needs to take a deep breath and improvise. My concern is that if Wilson is flushed out of the pocket, the speed of the 49ers defense will catch Wilson behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in decent sized chunks of yardage lost. Russell Wilson will be the single reason that determines how effective our offense is this week. Marshawn Lynch could have a big impact but the run defense is the bread and butter of the San Francisco defense. I think using a plethora of receivers this week will benefit the offense. If Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Anthony McCoy, and Zach Miller can each catch a couple of passes, the offense will be highly effective. Spread the wealth this week Russell, and don’t be afraid to take shots down the field.

On defense this week, the Seahawks will be playing the cornerback shuffle once again. Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant have been held out of practice all week with injuries but Richard Sherman will be available after having his Adderall suspension ruling delayed until at least next week after his appeal on Friday. If Thurmond and Trufant are both inactive, our starting cornerbacks Sunday night will be Sherman and Jeremy Lane. Lane started last week and was tested early. He passed the tests Buffalo threw at him and he solidified the confidence Coach Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has in him. The defensive line is also banged up this week. Defensive tackle Jason Jones was placed on injured reserve this week, taking away a significant interior pass-rush threat. Greg Scruggs will see an expanded role at defensive tackle this week. The 49ers have a good offensive line but at home, the pressure put on a quarterback is significantly amplified. Add-in the primetime factor and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least 5 or 6 sacks of Colin Kaepernick this week. Look for Chris Clemons to have an impact as usual but also have an eye on K.J. Wright this week. Wright is most effective in coverage but I predict he will have a sack early in Sunday night’s game.

The San Francisco 49ers have also seen significant changes in their offense since our matchup in October. For starters, Colin Kaepernick is the new starting quarterback after replacing a concussed Alex Smith in week 10. Kaepernick is 4-1-1 since week 10 and the 49ers have used a similar offensive scheme as the Seahawks. What is most impressive about Kaepernick in my mind is his arm strength. He is not afraid to sling the ball down the field. This was evident last week as he threw three touchdown passes of 24 yards or more; a 24-yard pass to Randy Moss, a 27-yard pass to Delanie Walker, and a 34-yard pass to Michael Crabtree. Add in the fact that he can take off and run provides an extra threat to the Seattle defense. The Seahawks must focus on play-action looks this week. The 49ers do a good job at disguising runs and throws and anything is fair game at any time. Like the Seahawks, San Francisco also has a wide variety of weapons at the running back and receiver positions. Expect Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis to all get involved in this game evenly. We held San Francisco to 13 points on the road in week 7. Although the 49ers average close to 27 points per game on the road, coming into CenturyLink Field, it is very possible to think they may struggle.

I have to be a realist. As much as it hurts me to admit, the San Francisco 49ers have the best defense in the league. The San Francisco defensive line is my main focus this week. It may seem obvious, but the man the Seahawks MUST contain this week is Aldon Smith. Smith is tied for first in the league with 19.5 sacks on the season; 3 shy of Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record. Smith will mostly line up against Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung. Okung has done a decent job shutting down edge pass-rushers this season but Smith will be Okung’s toughest challenge to date. Aldon Smith had one sack against the Seahawks in their first meeting. One thing to note is the health of nose tackle Justin Smith. With San Francisco leading New England 31-3 last week, Justin Smith left the game with an arm injury. Without Smith on defense in the second half, the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points and nearly came back to win. Early indications from Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area point to Justin Smith being unavailable this week for San Francisco. This is where the Seahawks must take advantage. If Marshawn Lynch can do some damage up the middle, the 49ers will have a difficult time on defense.

We have played the San Francisco 49ers once already this season in primetime. This week it is our turn to remind the country that we have the best home-field advantage in the National Football League. As a fan, late season games are also more fun in primetime because the sun sets well before the game even starts. Ever since this game was flexed into Sunday Night Football a couple of weeks ago, I have been picturing what the scene will look like during pre-game and I can see it now: the Sea Gals performing to their annual Christmas routine, the San Francisco 49ers being introduced to a chorus of extremely loud boos, the bone-chilling bass that gets blasted over the public address system, the long pause between team introductions while SNF is on a television commercial break, the warning that the 12th Man is now live to the nation on NBC, the blasting of “Bittersweet Symphony” over the PA as we are welcomed to CenturyLink Field by PA announcer Randy Rowland, the epic pre-game video played right before the Seahawks are about to run on to the field, and the majestic green and blue fireworks that shoot off as the starters are introduced onto the field. The 12th Man will be going absolutely nuts during this sequence and I absolutely cannot wait.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys this week. Pant color is TBD (most likely blue)… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week. I’ll be sure to set my DVR… The referee this week is Bill Vinovich. Vinovich has been absent from the sidelines since 2006 due to personal health reasons. He will be working with Bill Leavy’s crew… No pre-game giveaway this week. I’m disappointed that rally towels will not be given out. I thought this would be a big enough game to do towels… The starting defense will most likely be introduced this week since the offense was introduced against Arizona two weeks ago. I could see the offense being introduced though, since NBC would want to get a good shot of Russell Wilson running out of the tunnel… The people around me better be ready for a heavy Skittles shower, I plan to break my personal record for most Skittles brought (and thrown) when MoneyLynch scores. Please don’t let me down beast!… Sunday night’s halftime show: Mattress racing. #KillMe… There are rumors floating around Twitter about who will be raising the 12th Man flag before the game. I have heard it may be Macklemore & Ryan Lewis or Shaun Alexander. I would be content with either of those choices but I think Alexander would be more epic… Sunday will be a 5-hour energy kind of day. My wake-up call will be set for 6am, a mere 11 hours before kickoff… For the second consecutive year I will be playing for my fantasy football consolation bracket championship. AKA, the “I don’t give a crap bowl”… This will be the 3rd primetime game between the 49ers and Seahawks in Seattle since I’ve been a season ticket holder. The first was in 2006 on Thursday Night Football when San Francisco dominated the Seahawks 24-14 in the midst of a monsoon (later known as the Hanukkah Eve Storm). The second was a 24-0 shutout win by the Seahawks on Monday Night Football in 2007… When the 49ers beat the Patriots last week, I was upset because that meant this week’s game would not be for the NFC West lead. However local sports radio has lifted my spirits because of the Seahawks playoff scenario generator. If we had been in position to win the division and did in fact win it, we would most likely host a wild-card game and then play the Packers in Green Bay in the divisional playoffs. That may be the hardest scenario for the Seahawks. If the Seahawks get the 5th seed which they are positioned to do, they would play on the road against the NFC East champion in the wild-card round, and then most likely play Atlanta at the Georgia Dome in the divisional playoffs. Although the former gets us a home playoff game, the latter is the easier path to the NFC Championship game in my opinion. With the momentum the Seahawks currently have, it may be for the best that we have to travel throughout the playoffs which actually gets me pretty excited.

Prediction: This will be a drama-filled game. No team will completely dominate the other and the scoring and stats will be pretty even. It will all come down to the last play of the game. With the Seahawks holding a 21-20 lead with 5 seconds left, San Francisco’s David Akers will line up for a 45-yard field goal. The kick will have the distance but will sail wide left, sending the Seahawks to the playoffs and the CenturyLink Field crowd erupting into complete pandemonium.

Seahawks 21, 49ers 20

I apologize if I do not publish my 49ers review on Monday since it is Christmas Eve. If I do not have the time Sunday night or Monday, expect my review to be posted on Wednesday afternoon after Christmas. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody. Thanks so much for reading. Go Seahawks!