Tag Archives: Bryan Walters

Review: Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3

23 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

After what happened on Sunday afternoon it is hard for me to wonder what I was so worried about going into this week’s game. The Seattle Seahawks were able to keep their hopes at the NFC West division title alive as they easily defeated the Arizona Cardinals 19-3. With the win the Seahawks improve their record to 7-4 and with the Cardinals falling to 9-2 Seattle now sits two games behind Arizona for first place in the division. As refreshing as this win was and as great of a game we played on defense, I saw a few things on offense that still have me worried. Let me share my brief thoughts on this game.

Special Teams Sets Offense Up For Success: Bryan Walters and DeShawn Shead played key roles in the success of the Seahawks special teams unit on Sunday. Walters had his longest punt return of the season, a 21-yard return at the end of the first quarter. Shead blocked an Arizona punt which gave the Seahawks the ball on the Cardinals 24-yard line which ultimately led to a Steven Hauschka field goal. The Cardinals gave Seattle the ball 9 times on punts, punt blocks, and missed field goals on Sunday. Four of those first 6 drives started from inside Arizona territory, giving the Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense a short field to work with.

Offense Did Just Enough to Win: Going into this game I predicted that the entire Seahawks offense could be in for a rough day at the office from a statistical production standpoint. Thanks in large part to the special teams as previously noted, the offense was given fantastic field position on the majority of their drives. The frustrating part was seeing the Seahawks settle for 4 field goals on drives which started from the Arizona 49, the Seattle 44, the Arizona 48 and the Arizona 24 respectively. People get offended when they hear quarterback Russell Wilson referred to as a “game manager” but honestly that is what he had to be this week. Wilson played a fairly conservative game and the strategy worked well as he completed three-quarters of his passes, finishing the day 17/22 for 211 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Cooper Helfet. On the ground Wilson was Seattle’s leading rusher after the dominant front seven of the Cardinals was able to bottle up Marshawn Lynch for the majority of the game, as I thought was definitely possible. If the Seahawks had started more of their drives from deeper inside their own territory we would be talking about a much sloppier, defense-oriented game.

Wilson Got Dirty: Take away the fact that the Seahawks were at home and take away the fact that we were playing a very sub-par opposing offense. The Seahawks will not survive another game like the one we played on Sunday if our pass protection of Russell Wilson does not improve. Wilson was sacked 7 times on Sunday, 5 of which came in the first half alone. This is the second time in Wilson’s career that he has been sacked 7 or more times in a game. The Seahawks offensive line struggled to pick up on Arizona’s blitz schemes all day long and there were several instances where Russell Wilson had no time to throw because the defender was coming at him unblocked. Having Alvin Bailey and Patrick Lewis starting on the interior offensive line is a big problem and I never thought I would say this, but I am really missing James Carpenter at left guard. If the Seahawks are forced to start the duo of Bailey and Lewis again on Thursday night, the Seahawks offense is going to have to get creative to outwit the outstanding pass rush San Francisco will throw at them.

Good to Have You Back, Bobby: Today the Seahawks defense played one of their best games of the season. The run defense in particular played lights out football. One of the main factors on defense was the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner led all Seattle defenders in tackles with 8 and he was also able to hit Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton once. The Seahawks held Cardinals running back Andre Ellington to 26 rushing yards on Sunday, the lowest number of yards allowed to an opposing running back all season. One other stat to note is Arizona’s third down conversion rate which was a mere 25 percent on Sunday. With the exception of Brandon Mebane the Seahawks defense is now at full strength when we need it the most. Having Wagner back will stabilize the middle of the field and I believe we will see significant improvement in the short passing game in the coming weeks. Drew Stanton did not perform well enough through the air to give us a sample of our short to intermediate pass defense. Next week against Colin Kaepernick that may be a completely different story.

Thoughts on Arizona: I think this is going to be an interesting stretch of the season for the Arizona Cardinals. The goal? Survive long enough to outlast the emerging Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. I believe this team is a playoff-caliber team but I am not convinced that they can even hold on to win the NFC West. I understand not having Larry Fitzgerald really hurt their offense on Sunday but they had the talent in Michael Floyd and John Brown to be successful without him. This team will not get very far in the postseason the way they played today. Our week 16 matchup in Arizona will definitely give all of us a better gage as to where the Cardinals are headed come January.

Random Thoughts: All navy and all white for the Seahawks and Cardinals respectively this week just as I predicted… Gene Steratore is one of my favorite referees in the NFL but today I believe there were a few questionable calls that did not go in our favor and it seemed like those penalties all happened in a short window of time. In particular, I do not believe the pass interference called on cornerback Byron Maxwell was PI… 88 Keys is a great place to hang out before the game. Very spacious but there could have been more important games on the bigger televisions and projection screens… A lot of people were late for kickoff. There has to be a bigger effort for future 1:05pm starts to tell fans to get in their seats in time for the start of the game… Former UW and Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy raised the 12th Man flag this week. I’ve always been a fan of Milloy, the man who helped groom half of the Legion of Boom (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor)… The wiener dog races did not disappoint this year as the final heat ended in a photo finish… I need to get more sleep the night before home games. 5 hours of sleep had me feeling like a zombie on Sunday while at the game… We only have 4 days to get ready for once again the biggest game of our season which comes on Thanksgiving night.

In just 3 days I will have my preview of Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers fresh on the blog. Check back Wednesday. Go Hawks!

Down to 53

30 Aug
Seahawks OL Garry Gilliam, Photo Credit: facebook.com/OneDeliciousLife

Seahawks OL Garry Gilliam, Photo Credit: facebook.com/OneDeliciousLife

The Seahawks have made their final cuts and the 53-man roster we currently hold (for now) is the group that will take the field in 5 days when the Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers. Here is a breakdown of the Seahawks transactions from Saturday.

Contracts Terminated

OT Eric Winston

CB Phillip Adams

 

Waived

QB B.J. Daniels

QB Terrelle Pryor

RB Demitrius Bronson (Bronson was re-added to the roster after the 75-man roster cut down)

RB Spencer Ware

FB Kiero Small

WR Arceto Clark

WR Chris Matthews

WR Bryan Walters

TE RaShaun Allen

TE Morrell Presley

OL Caylin Hauptmann

OL Nate Isles

OL Patrick Lewis

DL Benson Mayowa

DL Andru Pulu

DL Jimmy Staten

LB Korey Toomer

DB Akeem Auguste

DB Terrance Parks

DB Steven Terrell

 

Placed on Injured Reserve

DT D’Anthony Smith

The Seahawks also made a trade, trading a 2015 6th round draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Marcus Burley. Burley is in his second year after spending his rookie season on the practice squads of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and St. Louis Rams. Indianapolis signed Burley to a future contract following the 2013 season. With 5 other cornerbacks on the roster, I do not expect Burley to see much playing time right away and I could see him being waived and placed on our practice squad at some point this season.

To me, none of these moves are a shocking surprise. The only cut that slightly surprised me was that of offensive tackle Eric Winston who was signed during the first week of training camp as our potential starting right tackle. The dramatic improvement of rookie Justin Britt made Winston expendable and it is now clear that Britt will be our starting right tackle on Thursday night.

Among the players who made the Seahawks final roster here are some brief thoughts:

The decision to waive both Terrelle Pryor and B.J. Daniels opened up an extra roster spot at a talent-filled position such as wide receiver. The Seahawks kept 7 wide receivers on the active roster. Congratulations to Kevin Norwood and Phil Bates for snagging the final two spots.

I am surprised to see offensive lineman Stephen Schilling make the final roster. Schilling, a product of Bellevue High School, looked average at best during the preseason but he was also able to fill in at center, a position where the Seahawks are thinner than you would think. He will likely be a third stringer at both guard and center.

The Seahawks have the most talented roster from top to bottom in the National Football League. To make our final roster is impressive but making our final roster as an undrafted rookie is even more impressive. A huge congratulations goes out to offensive lineman Garry Gilliam and linebacker Brock Coyle for making the Seahawks roster. Both of these guys worked their butts off during training camp and their hard work has paid off big time. Gilliam will be a third string offensive lineman while Coyle will likely see playing time on special teams as well as being middle linebacker Bobby Wagner’s primary backup.

Review: Raiders 41, Seahawks 31

28 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks took their first offensive possession 80 yards in 1:45 to quickly take a 7-0 lead. What followed was a combination of poor defense, bad penalties, and overall terrible fundamental football. The Seahawks fell 41-31 to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night concluding their preseason with a 2-2 record. Before we turn the page to the regular season and our week 1 matchup with the Green Bay Packers, let’s take one final look back at Thursday’s loss.

Thoughts on the “Starting” Defense: My hope was to see the entire Seahawks starting defense play the first defensive series of the game. Every projected starter was on the field except Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett, and it was my expectation that the defense could easily halt what I believed to be a shaky-at-best Raiders starting offense. I was left surprised and disappointed. Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr led a 12 play, 68 yard drive culminating in a Latavius Murray touchdown run, tying the game at 7-7. Following this series the Legion of Boom exited the game and with select members of the starting unit still on the field later in the first quarter, they could not prevent a 36-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Denarius Moore on the next Oakland offensive play from scrimmage. The starting defense played with no visible motivation to stop the opposing offense. They played as if they just wanted the drive to end as quickly as possible so they could end their night without getting injured. I think that Green Bay may have been the overpowering thought on their minds instead of stopping the Oakland offense. As disappointing as this first part of the game was, I am fully confident the starters will shake this off and be ready for the Packers next week.

Backups “On the Bubble” Fail to Step Up: The play of the entire team was bad on the whole but select players who are fighting for the last roster spots did not improve their stock on Thursday night. I am singling out two players in particular; wide receiver Bryan Walters and cornerback Phillip Adams. Let’s start with Walters. The biggest mistake Walters made against the Raiders was fumbling a kickoff following a decent return, a fumble that was recovered by the Raiders. This mishap seemed to overshadow the rest of Walters’s night on special teams, as he returned 5 kicks total for 137 yards, an average return of 27.4 yards. He also led the Seahawks in receiving with 3 catches, 47 yards, and one touchdown. The unfortunate part of Walters’s night was that his fumble happened so early in the game that it made the rest of his night seem underachieving.

Much like with Bryan Walters, Phillip Adams also had a negative play overshadow the rest of his performance. Adams was the man Denarius Moore beat with ease on a double move on his first quarter touchdown catch. Adams looked hardly like a shutdown corner and looked to be light-years away from the talent of even Byron Maxwell. Adams led all defensive players with 6 tackles and he also added a pass defensed. In the box score, both of these players looked to have great nights but when you dive into the film, both of these players looked below average and in my opinion their job security could now be in serious jeopardy.

Penalties a Gigantic Problem: The Seahawks were flagged 12 times for 95 yards. Several of these penalties were stupid mental errors that should never happen. 25 percent of the Seahawks penalties were offside fouls on kickoffs, a penalty that the Seahawks were not penalized for once last season. This was a very frustrating game to watch as many of these penalties negated plays that would have picked up first downs and extended drives for the Seahawks offense. In the preseason the Seahawks averaged just under 10 penalties per game, and racked up an average of 83.5 penalty yards per game. After seeing a decrease in penalties from week 1 to week 3 of the preseason, the Seahawks penalties spiked dramatically in week 4 and I am now worried how clean of a game we will play next week. Penalties should be a primary focus in practice this week with the regular season on deck.

Road Worries?: The Seahawks went 0-2 on the road this preseason. I know it is the preseason but is it still too early to wonder if this team will struggle mightily on the road like they have in years past? Last season the Seahawks went 5-3 on the road, ending a streak of 7 straight seasons with a sub .500 record away from home. The way it is looking thus far the Seahawks could be in for a rude awakening when we hit the road in the regular season. I am confident but I am starting to wonder if last season’s performance on the road was simply an outlier on a history of struggles playing away from the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field.

A Silver Lining: Among all of the frustration there is still a crystal clear silver lining. Russell Wilson moved the ball with ease to start the game and that is what we have to look forward to for the rest of the season. Do you think we would have struggled like we did if Russell Wilson played longer? With Russell Wilson in command of the starting offense, I believe we have very little to worry about. Thursday was just a preseason game. Let’s see what this offense and this team can do once the regular season starts.

Thoughts on Oakland: The play of Derek Carr left me very impressed and I am wondering if it will be Carr not Matt Schaub who gets the nod as the Raiders week 1 starting quarterback. Carr showed incredible awareness, made smart reads, and completed passes on the money. The future may be bright in Oakland with Carr at the helm. The Raiders defense looked putrid to start but settled down and played a decent game overall. The Raiders look to be better than the 4-12 team that took the field last year. Having said this, at this point I still believe this team is incredibly raw and they are looking at anywhere between 5 and 7 wins in 2014.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks went with the Super Bowl XLVIII uniform combo; white jerseys and blue pants. My prediction was correct! The Raiders went with their classic black jersey/silver pants combination… Ed Hochuli was the referee this week and it was evident that he was still in preseason form. Hochuli made several mistakes announcing his calls ranging from pointing in the wrong direction after penalties to even calling the Raiders the “Los Angeles Raiders” at the coin flip. Hochuli was visibly frustrated with himself after realizing his third mistake, cussing himself out after turning off his microphone… The announced attendance at O.co Coliseum was 50,831 which greatly exceeded my expectations. I thought the Raiders would draw considerably lower for it being the last preseason game. The majority of the crowd also stayed through the end of the game which surprised me… Good thing we didn’t agree to a $5 bet before the game Josh.

The preseason is over. Thank the Lord. The Seahawks now have until 1pm Saturday to make the necessary moves to trim our active roster down to 53 players. I will hop back on with reaction to our roster moves this weekend. Also we are one week away from NFL Kickoff 2014. Look for my preview of our game against Green Bay next Wednesday. Thanks for reading and as always, Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Raiders Preview

27 Aug
raiders preview 2014

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders

Site: O.co Coliseum (Oakland, California)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks are one week away from kicking off the regular season. Two things stand in their way; final roster cuts and Thursday’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks have a 2-1 preseason record and are coming off a 34-6 throttling of the Chicago Bears. The Raiders are 1-2 and are back home after losing in Green Bay last week 31-21. This is the 9th straight season the Seahawks conclude the preseason against the Raiders and this is the first time since 2010 that the preseason finale is played in Oakland. The starters will see little to no playing time in this game. I expect Russell Wilson and the starting offense to play only the first series. These are the players and storylines I will be watching before the Seahawks set their regular season roster on Saturday.

The first defensive series of this game will likely be the only time our starting defense will play in full before the start of the regular season. Head Coach Pete Carroll is optimistic that middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin will be available this week. If that is the case, the Seahawks will start their entire projected starting defense against the Raiders. This unit will only see one series as a whole, with selected players possibly seeing expanded playing time. On the offensive side of the ball, I expect Russell Wilson will only lead one drive in the first quarter before turning the job over to Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor. With the way the Seahawks have been playing so far in the preseason, is it too farfetched to expect the Seahawks to hold a 7-0 lead after the first two drives of the game? That is my expectation for the first quarter of play on Thursday night.

The fourth and final preseason game is a job interview for many players on both teams. A strong performance in the preseason finale could be the difference between making the 53-man roster to start the season or getting cut. My main interests going into this game include a single player and an entire position group. On defense my eye will be on defensive end Benson Mayowa. Mayowa impressed coaches and fans in the 2013 preseason with 11 tackles and 3.5 sacks but he has been virtually nonexistent thus far this year, recording only 4 tackles and ½ of a sack. Mayowa is fighting to fit into the pass rush rotation but with O’Brien Schofield, Greg Scruggs back from injury, and rookie Cassius Marsh, there may simply be no room for him. I believe Mayowa must have a very strong performance against Oakland to even be a consideration to make our 2014 roster.

After the Seahawks selected wide receiver Paul Richardson in the 2014 NFL Draft, conversations started about the depth and talent the Seahawks have loaded at wide receiver. This catapulted discussions that by the end of the preseason some tough roster decisions will have to be made and the Seahawks will be forced to release some strong talent at the position. The Seahawks will likely only keep 6 wide receivers on the active roster. Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse are all presumed locks to make the team, leaving three spots up for grabs to 8 different receivers. In my opinion, the Seahawks will also hold on to Richardson and Ricardo Lockette which will leave one final spot to be won by Phil Bates, Bryan Walters, or fellow rookie Kevin Norwood. What makes this position group difficult to cut is that each player adds their own unique talents and traits. Lockette has shown flashes of good speed and hands on offense, Walters is a solid special teams contributor with kick return capability, and Bates is one of Russell Wilson’s most reliable targets in practice. I will be watching Lockette, Bates, and Walters closely this week on offense.

The Oakland Raiders enter 2014 with an interesting mix of raw young talent and veteran leadership. The Raiders are led on offense by newly-acquired quarterback Matt Schaub however it will be rookie quarterback Derek Carr who sees the majority of playing time this week. The Raiders have also added offensive skill-position talent in running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver James Jones. On defense, the Raiders have added defensive linemen Antonio Smith and Justin Tuck to help a pass rush that was mostly ineffective in 2013. Oakland upgraded their linebacker corps by drafting Khalil Mack with the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft. The Raiders also upgraded their secondary by adding a pair of veteran cornerbacks; Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. All of these moves express the effort to improve a unit that gave up the 5th most passing yards per game last season. What makes this game hard to analyze is that even though we play the Raiders later this season, we will see a mere shell of the team that we will host on November 2nd, much like the shell of us that the Raiders will see this week. Seahawks/Raiders preseason matchups in past years have been mostly noncompetitive, with the Seahawks jumping out to a big early lead and holding it. If this game remains close later into the second half I believe that will point to the Raiders being an overall better team in 2014.

Random Thoughts: My Seahawks uniform prediction this week: white jerseys with blue pants. Just a guess… For one last time Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week… This trip marks only the 4th time the Seahawks have played in Oakland since moving to the NFC West in 2002… The baseball infield will be present this week since the Athletics have not concluded their season yet. The Raiders are now the only team in the NFL who has to deal with the dirt infield for the first half of their season. It’s just another reason why the Raiders either need to build a new stadium or move to, say, Los Angeles???… My guess is that the Seahawks will treat this week like a normal regular season game week since they start the season next Thursday. The Seahawks will likely play the Raiders on Thursday, watch film on Friday, trim the roster to 53 players on the off day Saturday, and begin practice and preparation for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Prediction: The Seahawks offense will drive down the field with ease and score a touchdown on their first series of the game. To counter, the starting defense will force Oakland to punt on their first drive of the game. The Seahawks backups led by Tarvaris Jackson will maintain the lead and the Seahawks will win, ending their preseason with a 3-1 record. The Seahawks will not light up the scoreboard like they have the past couple of weeks but they will hold a comfortable lead over the Raiders throughout the second half.

Seahawks 24, Raiders 7

Check back late Thursday night/early Friday morning for my game review. Enjoy the game and Go Hawks!

Bears/Seahawks Preview

21 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The third game of the preseason is always the most important. It is the opportunity for the starters to play into the second half and this game gives fans possibly the best preview of how their regular season will play out. In this year’s edition of the “dress rehearsal” game, the Seahawks host the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field. The Bears are a perfect 2-0 in the preseason and are coming off a 20-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks are 1-1 and are hoping to build upon last week’s dominant performance over the San Diego Chargers. Since the starters will play the majority of this game I expect a lot out of the Seahawks this week. Here is what I will be focusing on.

Last week I called upon Robert Turbin to prove he can be Marshawn Lynch’s primary backup. He impressed. Turbin will likely see the bulk of the carries again this week but my primary focus on offense is Russell Wilson and the passing game. Wilson has been on the field for just over one half of play so far this preseason and his play has been very good, going 15/19 for 158 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Although Wilson has a clean stat line, many of his throws have been conservative, moving the ball in smaller chunks. This week I want to see signs of an aerial attack that could make the Seahawks offense a powerful two-headed monster come September. The speed of the Seahawks receivers is crucial to making this happen. Percy Harvin, Ricardo Lockette, and rookie Paul Richardson should all play with Wilson in the game and I want to see Wilson taking shots down the field to these targets for large chunks of yardage. With a banged up Lance Briggs and Kyle Fuller unlikely to play, and rookie Brock Vereen patrolling the middle of the secondary, the Seahawks could be in prime position to take advantage of a Bears defense that will be somewhat depleted come Friday night.

This week the Legion of Boom will play in full. The Seahawks defense has been missing strong safety Kam Chancellor for all of training camp and the preseason as he has been recovering from offseason hip surgery but this week Coach Carroll has said he expects Chancellor to play against Chicago. For how long remains to be seen. I expect Chancellor to be a bit rusty early on in the game but will settle down and it will be business as usual for the LOB. The Seahawks will still be without starting linebackers Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin this week but will hopefully have them back in time to play Oakland next week. Mike Morgan and Brock Coyle will likely start at linebacker once again this week. It will be crucial for the defense to play well early as the Bears are fully capable of putting points on the board. The 12th Man will once again have to be in mid-season form to help shut down Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense.

This week I am interested to see who will see playing time after the starters are pulled in the third quarter. With the first round of roster cuts coming early next week, this game would ideally be the final chance for a select group of players to prove themselves before the first judgment day of the preseason. It is this reason why I expect to see members of the second-string units to see playing time with the starters. Once the starters are pulled in the third quarter, my guess is that we will see third-stringers and undrafted players get a chance to prove they are worthy of sticking around for at least one more week. On offense I expect to see wide receivers Phil Bates and Bryan Walters as well as offensive linemen Stephen Schilling, Caylin Hauptmann, and Garry Gilliam see their fair share of playing time in the second half. On defense, I would like to see D’Anthony Smith, Michael Brooks, Korey Toomer, Phillip Adams, and Steven Terrell get their chance to prove they are worthy of making the first round of roster cuts.

The Chicago Bears come into this game undefeated on the preseason. The strength of the Bears offense gives the Seahawks a quality test for the starters to see in an expanded preseason opportunity. The Bears are led by quarterback Jay Cutler along with two of the best wide receivers in football, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Although the Legion of Boom will surely have their hands full with Marshall and Jeffery, the Seahawks defense will also have to take into account a newly signed Chicago wide receiver. This week my X-Factor Player to Watch for the Bears is wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes is entering his 9th NFL season. Most recently he spent the past 4 seasons with the New York Jets. Holmes was signed over the past week and on Wednesday it was reported by ESPN that Holmes may see playing time this week. If Holmes does see game action I am interested to see how the Bears use him in their pass-heavy offensive scheme, because it will be difficult for the Seahawks to prepare for Holmes’ presence on the field; something that is currently a complete mystery.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants with the Bears likely wearing white jerseys and navy pants. It has been 5 years since the Bears last played in Seattle. On that September Sunday the Seahawks wore these. Thank goodness we have graduated to our amazing Nike uniforms since… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX… Bill Leavy is the referee this week. Even though we finally got our first Lombardi Trophy, I will never forget how Leavy and his officiating crew ruined Super Bowl XL… My back is feeling better so hopefully I’ll be able to handle my medicine accordingly and have a couple of beers before the game, as I am meeting up with a small group of friends… The offense will likely be introduced this week after the defense was introduced last week… I do not expect any championship banners unveiled this week but it looked like a banner was going to be revealed last week, so I could be wrong… I may have to make it a gameday tradition to visit the Lombardi Trophy at Touchdown City before every game. Seeing it before last week’s game got me pretty emotional… I could not even begin to guess who will raise the 12th Man flag this week. My guess is a popular former Seahawks player… In two weeks we open the regular season at home. I can hardly wait!

Prediction: The Seahawks and Bears will trade touchdowns in the first quarter before the Seahawks start to pull away. Russell Wilson will throw for two touchdowns and Christine Michael will also add a touchdown later in the game. The Seahawks will improve to 2-1 with the preseason finale against Oakland looming next week.

Seahawks 30, Bears 17

Check back late Friday night/early Saturday morning for my game review. Thanks for reading and go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 27, Rams 9

29 Dec
Image

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

As I sit here sporting my own 2013 NFC West champions hat, allow me to once again congratulate the Seattle Seahawks on clinching our division title and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams 27-9 on Sunday in a game that may have felt close at the beginning but as the Seahawks continued to score and put the game away, you realized perhaps how big of a mismatch overall this game actually was. The Seahawks end the regular season tied for the best record in Seahawks history (13-3) and will host an NFC Divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field in two weeks. The Rams finish their season at 7-9 and are in surprisingly good shape heading into the offseason, given that they have the Washington Redskins first round pick in 2014 (#2 overall). Here are the noteworthy talking points I took out of this week’s game.

Run Defense Forces Clemens to Throw: At the end of the third quarter I was told to take a look at the stat board in the south end of the stadium. I couldn’t believe what it said; the St. Louis Rams had -1 rushing yards through the first 45 minutes of the game. One of the points in my Rams game preview was to eliminate the running game to force Kellen Clemens to throw. The Seahawks mastered this aspect of the game plan. When it was all said and done, the Rams only ran for 13 yards and running back Zac Stacy’s longest run of the game was a meager 7 yards. Bobby Wagner played a great game covering the run as he finished the day with 12 tackles. Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel also made a significant impact at the line of scrimmage, combining for 9 tackles and 3 quarterback hits. What pleased me the most about the Seahawks run defense was the ability to stop Stacy up the middle. The Rams seemed to have a focus of running up the gut just like how the Arizona Cardinals ran against us last week. The Seattle defense clearly made the proper adjustments and Stacy could not get anything going all game long. The Seahawks were able to force Clemens to throw two interceptions including one that was returned by linebacker Malcolm Smith 37 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks now have recorded 11 interceptions in their last 3 games.

Shorthanded, Tate Steps Up: Although Jermaine Kearse was active against the Rams, he saw no playing time while nursing an ankle injury. The Seahawks started Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin at wide receiver this week with Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters also seeing a handful of plays. It was Tate however that stepped up and played a game that the Seahawks needed badly on the offensive side of the ball, also confirming the talent and potential depth the Seahawks will carry into the playoffs. Tate caught 8 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. How dominant was Tate’s performance on Sunday? When you crunch the numbers, Tate caught 75 percent of the yards thrown by quarterback Russell Wilson. I was pleased with the way the Seahawks used Tate this week as he was used in the screen game and in the deep vertical passing game. Even though it is likely Percy Harvin will be out for the playoffs, Golden Tate’s performance on Sunday should allow the 12th Man to rest easy. With Kearse likely back in time for our first playoff game, the Seahawks receiving corps may be in better shape than ever heading into January football.

Offensive Line Still a Weakness: One stat category that the Rams dominated over the Seahawks this week was sacks. St. Louis recorded 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, including Robert Quinn’s league leading 19th sack of the season. This week the interior offensive line played a much better game and from my seats it looked as though both tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini had a hard time stopping the outside pass rush of the Rams. The Seahawks had aspects of their offensive game plan to work around any potential struggles protecting Wilson but he was still hit way too often. I need to see more consistency in the playoffs because the Seahawks will have a hard time moving the ball if the offensive line cannot block the ferocious playoff-caliber defenses Seattle is sure to face.

Langford Seals the Win: With a Seahawks holding a 13-3 lead with 3:10 left in the third quarter the game on paper seemed to be far from over. A 10-point deficit with over a full quarter left to play is surely enough time to overcome and take the lead. However, the stupidity of the Rams Kendall Langford cost the Rams a score, and the momentum of the entire game. After stopping Robert Turbin on a run for no gain, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on St. Louis linebacker Alec Ogletree, while explaining and arguing with the officials, Rams defensive end Kendall Langford accidentally stuck his arm out and knocked the hat off of one of the referee’s heads. Langford was flagged unnecessarily for unsportsmanlike conduct and was ejected from the game due to the physical contact with the official, even though it was clearly unintentional. While trying to plead his case to head referee Jeff Triplette, Langford threw his helmet to the ground in frustration and was once again penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. After these three consecutive dead-ball penalties, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Two plays later Marshawn Lynch punched it in for a touchdown to give the Seahawks a 20-3 lead. These penalties got the crowd fired up to a fever pitch that had not been felt or heard until this point in the game and it was obvious that the Seahawks were in the Rams heads from this point forward. The actions by Langford on this sequence virtually handed control of the entire game to the Seahawks and ultimately emotionally propelled Seattle to victory.

Thoughts on St. Louis: It is amazing that 3 years ago a 7-9 team would have been a division champion in our division. This year the 7-9 Rams finish in last place in the NFC West and I honestly believe they would have been division contenders in about half of the divisions in the NFL. With two top 15 draft picks on deck in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Rams will be able to plug some holes, primarily on offense, that could give them a significant chance to contend in the NFC West next season. Be on the lookout for a healthy Sam Bradford and a rested Rams defense that could also be one of the league’s best in 2014.

Random Thoughts: Congratulations to Earl Thomas who won the 2013 Steve Largent Award… I had a really great time with my sister throughout the day on Sunday and I could clearly tell that she was having a lot of fun also. Definitely something to remember for future seasons; that my sister is a fun guest to take… The randomly chosen season-ticket holders that got to be on the field for pregame introductions also got to run out of the tunnel prior to. I was extremely jealous. That would be a dream come true to get to run out of the tunnel in front of 68,000 screaming fans just like the players get to… The Seahawks Pro Shop was a madhouse following the game. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the 2013 division champion shirts and hats. They had plenty of both so I was happy I could get a hat. Thanks again for the early birthday present Kelle!… Seahawks halftime shows are still embarrassing to watch… 2 slices of pizza and a Bud Light inside the stadium is $23.75. I don’t think I need to explain how bad of a rip off that is. The price speaks for itself… I think the 12th Man should be rooting for the New Orleans Saints to beat Philadelphia next Saturday night. New Orleans is probably the easiest matchup for the Seahawks at home in the playoffs, at least for the Divisional round. I absolutely cannot wait for our first playoff game in 13 days. There is a distinct difference between a regular season game and a playoff game in regards to the overall stadium atmosphere. I have a feeling that this is going to be a very fun January.

Seahawks Divisional Playoff Outlook: With the win on Sunday, the Seahawks are the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs and will host an NFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, January 11th. Kickoff is slated for 1:35pm. There are three teams the Seahawks could potentially face in the Divisional round, depending on how the following Wild-Card matchups play out:

The Seahawks will play the Green Bay Packers if…

Green Bay defeats San Francisco AND Philadelphia defeats New Orleans

The Seahawks will play the San Francisco 49ers if…

San Francisco defeats Green Bay AND Philadelphia defeats New Orleans

The Seahawks will play the New Orleans Saints if…

New Orleans defeats Philadelphia

I will jump back on the blog in the upcoming week if any notable Seahawks news breaks and once we know which team we will play in the Divisional playoffs. Enjoy the bye week and enjoy Wild-Card weekend everybody. Now the fun really starts. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Falcons Preview

9 Nov
Image

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons

Site: Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia)

Kickoff: 10:00am

On January 13th in the NFC Divisional playoffs, the Seahawks erased a 27-7 deficit and with 31 seconds remaining in regulation, the Seahawks held a 28-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons. If they had held Atlanta it would have been the biggest comeback in franchise history and would have carried the Seahawks to the NFC Championship Game. Key words: would have. The Seahawks could not protect 35 yards in less than 30 seconds and the Falcons kicked a game winning field goal to win the game and end Seattle’s season.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

On Sunday, the Seahawks return to the Georgia Dome to face a 2-6 Falcons team that has arguably been the NFL’s most disappointing team of the 2013 season. The Seahawks are 8-1 and are looking to maintain their NFC West lead and while the Falcons have not mailed their season in just yet, they are looking to play spoiler and try to build some sort or momentum into the weeks ahead. Seattle leads the all-time series with Atlanta 8-6. Here is what you need to watch for this week against the Falcons.

Last week at home the Seahawks patchwork offensive line did not allow a sack of quarterback Russell Wilson but the pressure provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense did flush him out of the pocket on many plays. Two weeks ago against the Rams, Wilson was sacked 7 times. That game was on the road and parallels what Wilson and the offensive line faces again this week. Until Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini come back from their injuries I feel obligated to continually make the Seahawks offensive line and passing game my number one thing to watch on offense, especially in road games. After the pressure patterns that have forced Wilson out of the pocket the past couple of weeks, I believe screen passes must be a focal point of our offensive gameplan against the Falcons. Last week against Tampa Bay Doug Baldwin led all Seahawks receivers with 75 receiving yards and a touchdown. Baldwin must make a big impact again this week. Of passes caught by wide receivers last week, all but one went to three different receivers (Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Jermaine Kearse). Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters made no impact in last week’s game and I believe it will be the same story this week in Atlanta. The wild-card this week will be Golden Tate. Tate can catch screen passes while also creating room to run in the open field and he can go up and grab deep passes. If Baldwin is used short and if Kearse is targeted for moderate-length passes, it will be Tate that Atlanta should worry the most about, as he can catch any type of pass that Darrell Bevell calls.

“Roddy White? Top 100? No. I just don’t think he’s a top 100 player.” This came from cornerback Richard Sherman during NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2013” countdown during this past offseason. After Sherman’s trash talk going into last year’s Divisional playoff game and after White beat Sherman on a deep 47-yard touchdown early in that game there has been subtle tension between these two players over the past 10 months. Call it a rivalry or call it a competition, this matchup will be the one to keep an eye out for when the Seahawks are on defense. White has not played since October 7th when he injured his hamstring and he believes he will be ready to go this week. With Julio Jones out for the season, White, regardless of his health status, instantly becomes the Falcons number one wide receiver moving forward with Harry Douglas on the opposite side.

Although I suggest keeping an eye on Sherman and White, that does not mean I think that is the most important matchup for the Seahawks on defense. The secondary has done a good job shutting down receivers wide and deep the past few weeks and this week should be no different. What hurt us down the stretch of last year’s playoff game could be the same thing that gives the Seahawks defense problems this week; stopping the middle of the field and shutting down Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. If Seattle can stop the Atlanta running game to force third downs, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan likes to throw in Gonzalez’s direction in the middle of the field. A strong performance by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright could limit Gonzalez’s effectiveness and will force punts. Man-to-Man coverage and limiting separation for the Falcons wide receivers could be a big ally for the Seahawks this week. Expect a conservative passing game from Ryan this week to prevent throwing into the Legion of Boom.

One of the weaknesses of the Seattle defense over the past two weeks has been stopping the run. They’ve given up an average of 202.5 rushing yards per game over this span. That does not bode well against the Falcons as they feature two very talented, yet very different running backs; power back Steven Jackson and the speedy, agile Jacquizz Rodgers. Having said this, the Falcons rank last in the league in rushing yards per game. If the Falcons are competitive and make this a close game, I believe it will be because of Jackson and Rodgers. The difference in running styles could be a disadvantage for a Seahawks defense that tends to gravitate towards making bone-rattling hits instead of fundamental tackling. The potential absence of defense end Red Bryant could also play a factor in the effectiveness of the Falcons running game. On the other hand, the Seahawks have seen Jackson twice a year dating back to 2004 so they understand what it takes to stop him. I believe if the Falcons offense shows they can be productive in the running game early on, they will try to ride Jackson and Rodgers for most of the game. One other thing to note in the Atlanta running game is the way carries are split. In their last two games, Steven Jackson has gotten 77.4 percent of the carries while Jacquizz Rodgers has gotten the remaining 22.6 percent. I think it is safe to expect a more even split-up of carries this week and the hotter hand could wind up seeing more playing time. To start the game however, expect Steven Jackson to get the first chance in the backfield and if he gets off to a cold start, they may hold off on giving Rodgers carries to try to see if they can get Jackson going later on in the first half.

The Falcons have added many new faces on defense this season and they feature an interesting mix of veteran leadership and youth in each level of the defense. According to the official Falcons depth chart on their website, their three starting linebackers have 4 years of NFL experience combined, including two rookies. It will be necessary to spotlight how the Falcons use these young linebackers when rushing the passer. Although Atlanta averages only 2 sacks per game they are facing their easiest challenge of the season as they will go up against both Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie on the left and right sides respectively. My X-Factor player to watch this week for the Falcons is rookie outside linebacker Joplo Bartu. Bartu is tied for 3rd on the team with 2.5 sacks on the season and has also recorded 42 tackles which ranks 2nd on the team. Although veteran pass rushers Osi Umenyiora and Corey Peters have been productive and cannot go unnoticed, Bartu adds a dynamic in the second level of the Atlanta defense that could give both our passing game and running game trouble. Don’t be surprised to see the Falcons use Bartu in blitz formations against Seahawks right tackle Michael Bowie. Whether he blitzes on any given play or not, the confusion that Bartu could potentially create could allow Umenyiora, Peters, or a different Falcons defensive end to beat Bowie off of the line, creating problems for Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: After this game 4 of our remaining 6 games are at home. I may be stating the obvious but that is a huge advantage for us moving forward… Along the same lines (sort of) I am going to one of our remaining two road games so after we play Atlanta I will only watch one more regular season Seahawks game on television… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. The last Seahawks game they broadcasted was our loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week 5. Bad omen? Maybe… Bill Vinovich is the referee this week… My prediction: white jerseys and white pants this week, the same combination we wore in Atlanta in the playoffs last season… It’s sad that Tony Gonzalez came back for one final season to a “contender” but the Falcons season has not gone as they planned. If I were him I would have asked for a trade to a contending team at the trade deadline… This is our first 10am start since losing to the Colts… Only one more 10am kickoff after this game… A win in fantasy football this week would put me at 4-6 and a playoff push could be in my future… The Falcons do something that really annoys me. Try to hear the Georgia Dome PA announcer when the Seahawks offense faces a 3rd down. The announcer says ttttttthhhhhhhhiiiiiiirrrrrrrddddddd down with increasing pitch tone, kind of like a game show announcer if you know what I mean. Hopefully we won’t face many third downs on offense… Go Panthers. Go Cowboys… Once again, here’s the bold prediction I have told my friends and I have posted on the blog before. If we beat Atlanta this week, we will win the NFC West and will be well on our way to home field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

Prediction: I hope you guys are back to full health after the heart attacks the Seahawks gave us last week because this week is going to be the exact same story. Over the past couple of seasons there seems to be one game per year that leaves me beyond angry; closer to pissed off. It was our 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and our 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2012. I get a bad feeling that it could be this game this season. The Falcons will be effective in the running game and I believe we will have significant trouble stopping the Falcons offense on third down. This game will go to overtime and the Falcons will drive down the field on their first possession and score a touchdown. If the Seahawks can win the turnover battle I think we can win but I think the Falcons will find a way to pull this one out.

We have played terrible football overall the past two weeks and unfortunately this week on the road is when I think it will finally nip us in the bud. We are the better team. Unfortunately we are not completely healthy and we would definitely win this game if we were completely healthy. Of course I hope I am wrong but with the way Seattle has played the past couple of weeks you need to take a good look in the mirror if you seriously expect the Seahawks beat the Falcons easily this week, especially on the road in a hostile environment.

Falcons 26, Seahawks 20 (OT)

Check back Sunday night for my Seahawks/Falcons review and a quick look at week 11 against the Minnesota Vikings. Enjoy the game and go Seahawks!