Tag Archives: Byron Maxwell

Review: Seahawks 30, Raiders 24

2 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Usually when the Seahawks score 30 points in a game I am thrilled. It usually means we played a very sound game and should mean that we won fairly easily. Why is it then that I feel so shortchanged and worried? The Seahawks have yet to put together a complete victory and today they showed improvement in areas and showed regression in others. The Seahawks defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-24 on Sunday in a game that I believe should not have been as close as the final score indicates. Regardless, the Seahawks improve to 5-3 on the season, taking over sole possession of second place in the NFC West. With today’s loss the Raiders fall to 0-8. Here is the good and the bad that I took out of this week’s game.

Running Game Improves: Today offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell gave running back Marshawn Lynch a hefty dose of the ball and it paid dividends in controlling time of possession and making the difference on the scoreboard. Lynch ran the ball 21 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, his most productive game on the ground since week 3. Behind an offensive line missing two starters, Lynch did a great job finding running lanes and gaining yards after contact. What I also liked was the play calling which got Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael involved on early downs. Russell Wilson handed the ball off to his running back on first down 48% of the time, a significant improvement from the past few weeks.

Wilson Still Having Trouble Making Throws: For the second straight week, Russell Wilson struggled to connect with receivers on throws he has proved he can make. Today, among the incomplete passes that stick out in my mind, he overthrew wide receiver Jermaine Kearse multiple times and also failed to hit tight end Luke Willson on a play-action shotgun pass which would have picked up a first down and significant yards after the catch. Perhaps today the weather played a factor in Wilson’s performance but against a defense like Oakland’s a 179-yard performance with no touchdowns or interceptions feels very unsatisfactory. This season Wilson has had only four 200-yard passing games and of those, he has only thrown for over 300 yards once. It seems as though we cannot put a complete offensive game together; we can either run the ball effectively and struggle passing or vice versa. Could it be that Wilson is not yet 100 percent comfortable with his targets, particularly the rookie wide receivers? Time will tell as he become more familiar with them on a weekly basis.

Special Teams Regresses Terribly: The Seahawks special teams allowed yet another touchdown on Sunday, when Denico Autry of the Raiders blocked a Jon Ryan punt which was recovered by Oakland’s Brice Butler in the endzone for a touchdown. Given the recent struggles of the Seahawks special teams unit I pose this question: is the absence of special teams captain Heath Farwell making the difference in the poor play of this year’s squad compared to the shutdown play of last year’s unit? There are several new players in different positions on special teams which led head coach Pete Carroll to label special teams “a circus” after today’s win but Farwell was the anchor of last year’s unit. This is scary to me. The inability for the offense and defense to run away with games this season makes me think that it may be only a matter of time before these special teams mistakes cost us yet another game much like what happened in St. Louis.

Plug-and-Play Defense Survives: Today the Seahawks defense was introduced during pregame ceremonies and there were three new names to the lineup. Brock Coyle started at middle linebacker while Tharold Simon and DeShawn Shead took Byron Maxwell and Kam Chancellor’s spots respectively in the Legion of Boom. They played adequately. Among these three players Shead led the pack with 4 tackles and Coyle only recorded 2 tackles of his own. Coyle was helped out in large part by outside linebacker K.J. Wright who played a very Bobby Wagner-esque game. Wright made 13 tackles and also added a pass defensed. Bruce Irvin also started in place of Malcolm Smith and had a big impact, intercepting and returning a self-tipped Derek Carr pass to the house for a touchdown. All in all, the defense forced two Carr turnovers and survived the game despite allowing 17 points. We simply need to get healthy. I do not think it is crazy to think that if we had played any other team today we may not have come out victorious.

Thoughts on Oakland: The Oakland Raiders have potential on offense but they are not there yet. Derek Carr needs talent around him to put more points on the board. A new running attack would not hurt either, as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are not getting any younger. On defense the Raiders need to get younger. They are too old to stay consistently healthy although the play of second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden had me pretty impressed on Sunday. The Raiders will likely bring in a new head coach in 2015 to replace the current interim coach Tony Sparano. It seems like the Raiders are consistently rebuilding, and from where I am currently sitting, it may be a few more years before they can challenge for even a wild-card berth.

Random Thoughts: Jerseys were just like I thought for both teams. Moving on… Today Walter Jones’ 4 offensive line mates from the 2005 Super Bowl XL season raised the 12th Man Flag. It was great to see Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray, and Sean Locklear back in Seattle all together. Personally I believe Hutchinson should get a turn to raise the flag by himself in the future. Also, I am assuming Locklear retired because he was in attendance today. How is that possible? He was a rookie in 2005, and even though he is currently 33 years old I think he could still be of service to a desperate team seeking offensive line depth. I guess that just goes to show you how short NFL careers are… I loved the Marysville-Pilchuck High School logo on the Seahawks touchdown flags and the moment of silence was nice also… The Ring of Honor ceremony for Walter Jones was awesome. Those navy blue blazers worn by all the Ring of Honor members look pretty good. Jones seemed to get more emotional for the ROH ceremony than he did for his jersey retirement 4 years ago… Another home game next week. I’m already looking forward to it!

Thanks for reading everyone. Check back next Saturday as I preview our week 10 matchup against the New York Giants. Go Seahawks!

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Seahawks/Rams Preview

18 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

Even though we are the defending world champions and even though we are playing one of the toughest schedules in the National Football League, for the first time in a long time the 12th Man is feeling a bit uncertain moving forward. After falling at home to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Seahawks now face two straight road games that are now even more important to win. This stretch starts on Sunday when the Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams in our first NFC West game of the season. The Seahawks are 3-2 on the season and with the loss last week we currently sit in 3rd place in the division. The Rams are 1-4 and are in last place in the NFC West. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 20-12 and in their last meeting the Seahawks defeated St. Louis in Seattle by a score of 27-9. Here is what to watch for in this week’s game.

This week there is one over-arching question that must be asked on both sides of the ball. How will injuries to core players affect our play? On the offensive side of the ball I am focusing on the Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks will be without Max Unger for the second consecutive week. Russell Okung is likely to play but he is still has a labrum injury lingering in his shoulder. It will be crucial for the offensive line to create running room for Marshawn Lynch and to give Russell Wilson a clean pocket to throw from. The Rams have a lot of talent along their defensive line and historically they have given Seattle problems when playing in St. Louis. Although the Seahawks only allowed two sacks of Russell Wilson last week, the talent the Rams will send his way is much better in my opinion than what the Dallas Cowboys had to offer. The running game must be effective for us to have any chance in winning this game. It starts with Marshawn Lynch. After only 10 carries in a losing effort last week, expect his workload to be dramatically higher this week. Even if Lynch struggles to get going early, I expect offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to not shy away from calling Lynch’s number especially after the criticism he was faced with after last week’s game.

On defense the Seahawks will be without at least one starter and possibly without one other starter. Bobby Wagner is suffering from turf toe and has been ruled out of this week’s game. Seattle will play the linebacker shuffle this week, moving K.J. Wright to middle linebacker with Malcolm Smith taking Wright’s spot as the starting “Will” linebacker. The Seahawks may also be without starting cornerback Byron Maxwell, who has not practiced all week while recovering from a calf strain. After Wagner exited last week’s game it felt as though our defense fell apart. The Seahawks defense allowed 23 points once Wagner departed in the second quarter. The tackling in the middle of the field worsened in the second half and the Cowboys skill position players found lots of room in the open field. It will be important for Wright to be an anchor in the middle of the field and make clean, fundamental tackles. Last week Rams quarterback Austin Davis was able to make clean throws to receivers Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis among others in the middle of the field against a banged up San Francisco defense. This week look for Davis to use these receivers and speedster Tavon Austin out wide to test the Legion of Boom especially if Maxwell is inactive. Marcus Burley will likely start for the Seahawks if Maxwell cannot go and it is very possible to think that Davis will look in the direction of a raw inexperienced starter rather than to throw in the direction of all-pro Richard Sherman.

This season the St. Louis Rams defense is not putting up the numbers like they did a season ago but they are still an intimidating bunch, especially the front seven. Last season Rams defensive end Robert Quinn ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 19. That dominant performance earned him a new contract but so far Quinn has not earned his newfound money. Quinn has only 12 tackles so far this season with no sacks. The only sack the Rams have recorded this season belongs to my X-Factor player to watch, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald, from the University of Pittsburgh, was a first-round pick of the Rams back in May. He along with Michael Brockers form one of the best up-and-coming defensive tackle combinations in all of football. Just like Robert Quinn, Donald has also recorded 12 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. I loved Donald coming out of college because of his potential as an interior pass rusher and with Max Unger out this could be the perfect opportunity for Donald to show what all the hype was about back before the draft. Donald vs. Seahawks center Stephen Schilling is a matchup to keep an eye on this week. If Donald is successful in getting through the middle of the Seahawks offensive line it could be a frustrating day once again for Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have confirmed via their Twitter that they will wear white jerseys and wolf grey pants this week… The Rams will wear navy blue jerseys with either white or navy blue pants… Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Tony Siragusa have the call for FOX this week… Brad Allen is this week’s referee. Allen is one of 4 rookie referees in the NFL this season… I was hoping the St. Louis Cardinals would extend the National League Championship Series into Sunday. It would have been great for the entire city of St. Louis to be infatuated with playoff baseball, virtually making this week’s Rams game an afterthought. That will not be the case however, after the Cardinals season came to an end on Thursday night… In the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks are 2-2 playing the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome… St. Louis would have been an interesting road trip to do. Game tickets are dirt cheap but round-trip airfare to St. Louis is a bit on the pricey side. I have given some thought into doing a spontaneous short-notice weekend trip to St. Louis for the game this year and in previous years but have never done it… I have been to every NFC West for a Seahawks game except for St. Louis… I am not in panic mode yet but if the Seahawks lose this game I am sure this entire city will be panicking. My word of encouragement: Never lose faith in this team.

Prediction: I could see this game going down to the wire, much like some of our previous games played in St. Louis. I think it will be incredibly difficult for the Seahawks running game to get going once again this week and it will be up to Russell Wilson to extend Seahawks drives. The only Seahawks touchdown will belong to Wilson on a scramble from inside the redzone. The Seahawks defense will play a much more sound game this week, including three sacks of Austin Davis. The Rams will win the turnover battle however and that could cost the Seahawks a chance to win the game late. Of course I hope I am wrong, but I believe the Rams will win a tight, physical game and the Seahawks will lose back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season.

Rams 17, Seahawks 16

Check back on Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

Review: Cowboys 30, Seahawks 23

12 Oct
Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Photo Credit: dallascowboys.com

Over the past few years the Seattle Seahawks have played games on the road where the defense could not get off the field on third down. Never had I seen those kinds of defensive failures in a game played at CenturyLink Field.

Until today.

The Seahawks lost only their second home game since 2011 on Sunday, falling to the Dallas Cowboys 30-23. While the Cowboys maintain a share of the NFC East lead with a 5-1 record, the Seahawks are now 3-2 and by the end of Monday night’s game they could be sitting in 3rd place in the NFC West. The Seahawks struggled mightily in multiple aspects of this game while still being able to score 23 points. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s game.

Offensive Talking Points: There are few positive notes this week on offense. Russell Wilson played a very safe game, throwing for only 126 yards and one interception. Wilson also added the Seahawks only offensive touchdown of the game, scrambling for 9 yards to tie the game at 17-17 at the start of the third quarter. Jermaine Kearse led all receivers with 3 catches for 62 yards but Wilson had a difficult time connecting with his receivers, leaving the pocket to try to create space for the majority of the game. One major disappointment was the ineffectiveness of the running game and Marshawn Lynch. Feeding the beast is more often than not the reason why the Seattle offense is so successful, so to see Lynch with a stat line consisting of only 10 carries for 61 yards, it is frustrating. If you take away Lynch’s 32-yard scamper, he ran the ball for an average of only 3.2 yards per carry. Looking ahead to next week is scary, as the Seahawks and Lynch will face a front-7 even better next week when they take on St. Louis.

What Did I Say About the Dallas Special Teams?: In my preview post I noted how the Dallas Cowboys always make a crucial mistake on special teams that costs them points when playing in Seattle. Sunday was no different as Doug Baldwin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Mike Morgan returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Seahawks a 10-0 lead. At that point it looked like the Seahawks were going to run away with this game and it is shocking that we could have that much momentum and lose it the way we did. The Seahawks also recovered a Dwayne Harris muffed punt which led to a touchdown in the third quarter. My hope is that the Seahawks can expose future opponents on punt formations as well as they did on Sunday, as it could pay dividends later on in the season and could also lead to scoring opportunities.

Cowboys Offensive Line Better Than Advertised: DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys running game was very hard to stop throughout the game, thanks in large part to the play of the Dallas offensive line. The line paved the way for 162 total rushing yards and a Murray touchdown in the fourth quarter. The line also did a magnificent job of protecting Tony Romo as he was only sacked once. In the trenches it was Dallas that bullied the Seahawks defensive line throughout the game and at the end of the day the leading tackler along the Seattle defensive line was Tony McDaniel with 4. What scares me about the Cowboys success in the running game today is that it gives future Seahawks opponents a game’s worth of film as a blueprint to designing a game plan to run the ball just as effectively.

Third Down Woes: The Seahawks simply could not get off the field on third down this week. The Cowboys converted 9 of their 15 third down attempts (60%) with 5 of them coming with 8 yards to go or more. The Seahawks could not get to Tony Romo as he had a comfortable pocket to throw out of for the entire game. Putting pressure on Romo would have been a sure-fire way to create turnovers and although the Seahawks won the turnover battle this week, the plays Dallas were able to convert ultimately cost us the game.

The Play That Could Have Changed the Game: Among the many opportunities that slipped through the Seahawks fingers this week, one play literally slipped through the fingers of Byron Maxwell and it could have changed the entire outlook on the game. With the Cowboys facing a 2nd and goal in the first quarter Tony Romo fired a pass to the left side which was nearly intercepted by Maxwell. From my view Maxwell had 100 yards clearly in front of him and if he could have held onto the ball he would have returned it the length of the field for a touchdown, giving Seattle a 17-0 lead and the chances of us keeping our foot on the throat of the Dallas Cowboys would have been much greater. Instead Maxwell dropped the potential interception and Romo connected with Gavin Escobar for a touchdown on the very next play; a 14-point swing just like that.

The Play that Did Change the Game: The Cowboys faced an improbable 3rd and 20 late in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks held a 23-20 lead at the time and a stop on this play would have forced Dallas to punt and the Seahawks would have had time to try for insurance points on their next drive. Instead, after escaping the wrap of Bruce Irvin, Romo found Terrance Williams for a toe-tapping 23-yard reception. The spectacular catch by Williams extended the Cowboys drive and DeMarco Murray was able to score later on in the drive to give the Cowboys a lead that they would hold onto for good. As great of a catch as it was by Williams, how in the world could the Seahawks secondary play so soft to even allow Williams to have a chance at making the catch?! Simply frustrating.

Thoughts on Dallas: If they can keep up this dominant offensive pace, the Cowboys could be a very dangerous team going forward. The NFC East will come down to either Dallas or Philadelphia and barring injury I think the Cowboys are fully capable of winning the division. They know they can come into Seattle and win, so that makes Dallas a dangerous team if they make the playoffs as a wild-card team also. I do not think this team is capable of making a Super Bowl caliber run in the playoffs but they could certainly make January football interesting and intriguing.

Random Thoughts: Seahawks in navy, Cowboys in white just as expected… 5 Bud Light’s in a bucket for $20 is the best pregame deal at the bars. Can’t beat that value… Don’t blame this game on the officiating. I still hold a grudge against Bill Leavy as most other Seahawks fans do as well but the Seahawks beat themselves on this day… The starting offense was introduced this week. Good to see Jermaine Kearse get the opportunity to run out of the tunnel individually for the first time in his career… There were no intriguing morning games this week with the Cardinals playing in the afternoon and the 49ers and Rams playing on Monday night… A lot of Seahawks fans bailed after we failed to score at the end of the game, even with one timeout and the two-minute warning left. Did the Broncos game not teach you anything about leaving the stadium early???… There were a good number of Cowboys fans at the game this week so that was a little discouraging. I wonder how long it took the bandwagon to get here… I thought we would win this game, and when we did I thought we would be in good shape to split our next two games, both on the road. Now with this loss I think it is necessary for us to win both of our next two games. It will be tough but I think we can do it.

Check back on Saturday for a preview of the Seahawks week 7 matchup with the St. Louis Rams. Thanks for reading and Go Hawks!

Cowboys/Seahawks Preview

11 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Who would have thought that going into week 6 the Dallas Cowboys would be 4-1? All of a sudden this week’s game has way more meaning than I originally thought it would. On Sunday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys come to Seattle to face the Seattle Seahawks. At 4-1 the Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East while the Seahawks sit at 3-1 and are tied for first place in the NFC West. Dallas leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but in their last meeting in September 2012 Seattle handled the Cowboys easily, winning 27-7 with Russell Wilson earning his first NFL victory. Two seasons, 30 victories, and one Vince Lombardi trophy later, Wilson will attempt to tame Dallas once again. Here is what I am looking for in this week’s game.

The Dallas Cowboys sport the NFL’s leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray. Murray’s 134 yards per game average is the best in the league and the first priority of the Seahawks defense will be to stop him. Look for Kevin Williams and Jordan Hill to have an expanded role along the Seahawks defensive line this week along with starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. It will be on these three guys to plug holes to limit Murray’s production. It will be crucial to stop Murray on first and second downs to force quarterback Tony Romo to throw. Romo has had a history of making bad throws and turning the ball over in Seattle so it will be crucial for the Seahawks pass rushers to put extra pressure on to force Romo into mistakes. If the defense can do both of these things the Seahawks will be in excellent shape.

Going into this season many believed that the 2014 Dallas Cowboys defense could statistically be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Although they have not played terribly (yet), the Cowboys still rank in the bottom half in both pass defense and run defense. Dallas has given up an average of 122 rushing yards per game and if the Seahawks are successful running the ball much like they were last week this could be an easy win. On offense this week I believe the Seahawks will be victorious if Marshawn Lynch tops the 100 yard rushing plateau. Also keep an eye on Seattle’s use of the read option this week. Russell Wilson ran 14 read option plays against Washington last week and I think we will see more of it against a Cowboys team that has not faced a duel-threat quarterback since week 1 (Colin Kaepernick). I could see the Seahawks running between 5-10 read option plays. On these plays if Russell Wilson can run for 40-50 yards I believe we will be unbeatable. Expect to see Percy Harvin used just like he was last week, with expanded playing time lined up in the backfield.

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys on the offensive side of the ball everyone looks at DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant as the motor that makes the offense work. With the Seahawks primarily focusing on stopping Murray and with Richard Sherman likely covering Bryant, it would not surprise me to see Tony Romo throw to his other targets. Enter my “boom or bust” X-Factor player to watch, wide receiver Terrance Williams. I say Williams is “boom or bust” because he has been rather inconsistent on the stat line this season. On good days Williams can be dynamic, much like he has been the past two weeks when he caught a combined 8 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the first three weeks of the season however, Williams struggled, catching only 8 passes for a combined 102 yards, a 34 yards per game average. With Williams likely matched up against Byron Maxwell for the majority of this game, it would not be surprising to see Romo throw in Williams’s direction to try to pick on Maxwell.

There is one pattern that I must address with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town this week. The Cowboys have played two meaningful games in Seattle since I became a season ticket holder in 2006. In both of these games the Cowboys have made at least one blunder on special teams. Everyone remembers the Tony Romo botched snap in the 2006 playoffs but many fans may not remember what happened the last time Dallas came to town. In our 2012 matchup Dallas kick returner Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff right into the arms of Earl Thomas. The Seahawks cashed in 7 plays later with a Steven Hauschka field goal. On the next Dallas possession, Bruce Irvin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a Seahawks touchdown. The Cowboys special teams have a rich history of struggling at CenturyLink Field so it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can score any points on special teams this week.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy blue this week with the Cowboys wearing their traditional white jerseys and metallic silver/blue pants… Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week. Brennaman will be paired with Aikman for the next three weeks while Joe Buck calls the National League Championship Series and World Series for FOX. Even though Brennaman will do the play-by-play, this will still be FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week” broadcasted to the majority of the country… Bill Leavy is this week’s referee. Now that the Seahawks have won a Super Bowl it wouldn’t surprise me if Leavy’s Seattle limitations have been lifted. For those of you who don’t know this will be only the third time Leavy has officiated a Seahawks game in Seattle since Super Bowl XL… This week we will have an extra 20 minutes before kickoff as the game starts at 1:25pm. Everyone be in their seats ready to go by kickoff!… October is breast cancer awareness month in the NFL and this week the giveaway is pink ribbon pins. I am also excited to show off my pink Strideline socks for the second time this season… I think I’m only going to bring the leftover streamers I didn’t use at the Broncos game. Don’t feel like going to buy more. I’ll have to stock back up fully for the Raiders game… If the Seahawks win this week we will be 4-1, the same record we had through our first 5 games last season.

Prediction: A lot of people think the Cowboys can come into Seattle and make this a close game but I think otherwise. I think the Seahawks are primed for a decisive win. Marshawn Lynch will score two touchdowns and Michael Bennett will recover a Tony Romo fumble and take it to the house. The Seahawks will win this game to get to 4-1 and we will get ready for a huge test next week, our first division rivalry game of the season against St. Louis.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 13

Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 36, Packers 16

4 Sep
Photo Credit: seattletimes.com

Photo Credit: seattletimes.com

What a way to start our title defense! In front of a nationally televised audience the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers in decisive fashion on Thursday night by a final score of 36-16. The Seahawks start their 2014 season 1-0 while the Packers start their third straight season 0-1. Although the Seahawks won in dominating fashion I believe there is still a lot of room for improvement. Nevertheless, I believe we confirmed to any and every doubter that we are still a force capable of repeating as Super Bowl champions. Here are the positives and negatives I took from Thursday’s game.

Every Weapon Will Be Used: One of the reasons why the Seahawks have the potential to be so dangerous this season is that quarterback Russell Wilson will use every weapon in his arsenal. That was evident on Thursday night when he hit wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a 33-yard touchdown in the second quarter and fullback Derrick Coleman for a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There are probably few people who thought either Lockette or Coleman would have a touchdown in this game let alone both of them. Meanwhile Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, two receivers who see more playing time than Lockette, combined for 4 catches and only 22 yards. The Seahawks are not afraid to use every single offensive skill position player at any time during the game. This makes the Seahawks a very scary team to game plan around and try to prepare for moving forward.

Lynch Has Not Missed a Step: On the drive home from the game, Dave “Softy” Mahler, Dick Fain, and Hugh Millen of Sports Radio 950 KJR agreed that they thought Marshawn Lynch looked “like a guy playing for a contract” and that he has not slowed down at all. I agree completely. Lynch was the most effective player on offense this week rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Lynch, like always, ran like a man on a mission and if there was any rumblings of a potential running back by committee if Lynch were to struggle, he quickly squashed them. Barring injury, Lynch will continue to be the feature back in this offense and from my perspective our running game has picked up right where it left off at the end of the 2013 season.

Pass Rush Can Improve: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and O’Brien Schofield all recorded sacks on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers this week. Although the Seahawks pass rush looked effective, there is much room for improvement. The reason I say this is because of the Green Bay offensive line. With two players making their CenturyLink Field debut and right tackle Bryan Bulaga leaving the game with a sprained knee in the first half, I thought the Seahawks would be able to take advantage with a revved up 12th Man behind them to sack Rodgers in a similar fashion to the 8 sacks we recorded against the Packers two seasons ago. One of my main focuses going into this game was the interior pass rush and in this game the grand majority of the Seahawks defensive pressure came on the outside. I would like to see an improvement next week along the inside of the defensive line, using a 3rd down package with Bennett as well as young defensive tackle talent like Jordan Hill.

Did Thomas Lose His Job?: Before I go any further, no I am not talking about his free safety job. I am talking solely about his spot as the Seahawks punt returner. Forget that Richard Sherman may have been blocked into him, Earl Thomas muffed a first quarter punt which was recovered by Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and eventually led to a touchdown to give Green Bay a 7-3 lead. The punt that Thomas muffed should definitely have been signaled for a fair catch but Thomas tried to make something out of what clearly looked to be nothing. Thomas returned one more punt for a 3-yard return later in the game. I no doubt believe that Thomas can make special plays happen on special teams but he simply needs to be smarter about the way he goes about handling his punt return duties. One more mistake by Thomas on special teams and I believe will see the next man up at punt returner, who happens to be Richard Sherman.

Where Are You Sherm?: It is going to be very difficult for Richard Sherman to hold the title of “best shutdown corner in the game” from a statistical perspective if teams continue to avoid him, much like what the Green Bay Packers did on Thursday night. Sherman was not targeted once against the Packers, which created opportunities for Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane to take advantage of. Maxwell had 5 tackles, 2 passes defensed and an interception on Thursday night while Lane recorded 4 tackles of his own in the nickel slot. This could be a common occurrence especially early in the season. Maxwell will be tested often and if he plays shutdown football, opposing defenses may have no choice but to throw in Sherman’s direction as well. Sherman’s chances will depend on the play of the rest of the receivers. Although he played well against the Packers, if Maxwell struggles he will be picked on constantly and it will be extremely difficult for Richard Sherman to see passes thrown his way.

Thoughts on Green Bay: Take away the fact that the Green Bay Packers had to come into the NFL’s most hostile environment on opening night to play the defending world champions in front of a 12th Man that may have been louder than I have ever heard. This Packers team has an offense that will be able to effectively move the ball and they gained solid defensive momentum early in the game when they held a short lead. The running game must improve however. Running back Eddie Lacy only ran for 34 yards on Thursday night and not being able to run the ball effectively could extremely limit the Packers offense, relying on Aaron Rodgers more than they would like. With a banged up offensive line this may be difficult but as long as Rodgers can stay healthy, I believe this team is still better than the Bears, Lions, and Vikings. This team is still my favorite to win the NFC North.

Random Thoughts: John Parry was the referee this week. I apologize I could not figure out the referee before the game for the second consecutive week. Parry and his crew went into Thursday’s game known for throwing the most defensive holding penalties during the preseason, which some believed could have hurt the Seahawks. The Seahawks were flagged 4 times throughout the game and none of them were for defensive holding… The Westlake Center Buffalo Wild Wings has by far the best service of any “B-Dubs” I’ve been to. Maybe it was because we were one of the first parties seated for the day and the restaurant was mostly empty. Nevertheless, great service and great food too… The atmosphere at the Hawks Nest Bar and Grill never disappoints, especially before a primetime game. It was awesome in that building before the game… The pregame ceremony and celebration did not disappoint. There was one thing about pregame that I really liked and one thing that I really did not like. I liked how the Seahawks told everybody with tickets to be in their seats by 5pm for the pregame celebration but the pregame ceremonies did not start until NBC went live at 5:30. Smart thinking Seahawks. The thing I found slightly disappointing what that they unveiled the banner simultaneous to the team running out of the tunnel. I wish they would have waited until right before the game started to drop the banner… That may have been the most fun I’ve had at a Seahawks game ever. The crowd was so merry and confident. It was a truly special night all around.

The Seahawks take an extended break before getting to work on the San Diego Chargers next week. Enjoy this weekend’s games everyone. Go Hawks!

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!

Review: Seahawks 34, Bears 6

23 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

The Seahawks took the field Friday night against the Chicago Bears and looked as if they just picked up right where they left off last week against San Diego. The Seahawks, led in large part by their powerful starting offense, beat the Bears 34-6 improving their record to 2-1 on the preseason. The Seahawks conclude the home portion of the preseason defeating their opponents by a combined score of 75-20 and after the game Head Coach Pete Carroll made it be known that the Seahawks “are as ready as I can get them.” With the first round of roster cuts coming up next, let’s take a look at the positives I took from this game.

Wilson is Ready for the Regular Season: With quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks got off to a red-hot start and by the time Wilson exited the game in the third quarter the Seahawks had built a very comfortable 31-0 lead. After a strong performance last week, Wilson outdid himself this week going 15/20 for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson added 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Throughout the first half Wilson stayed poised as he kept plays alive and made accurate throws. The offensive line also did a very nice job keeping Wilson upright as he was only sacked once and for the most part, Wilson was able to stand in the pocket comfortably. Russell Wilson looked to already be in mid-season form and his play over the past two weeks has gotten me even more excited about the potential effectiveness of our offense all season long.

Lynch is Ready for the Regular Season: Marshawn Lynch played for only one series on Friday night but he too showed that he is ready for week 1. Lynch capped off a 7 play, 61 yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run giving the Seahawks an early 7-0 lead. If you were to pick one player that does not necessarily need to play in the preseason, it is Lynch. However, seeing him carry the ball reaffirms my confidence as a fan that Lynch is ready for the regular season and does not need to be out on the field and risk getting hurt. He has perfected his craft and although it is nice to see him get some carries to perhaps shake the rust off, it is not at all necessary for him to play.

Thomas Returning Punts? It Will Probably Happen: During mini-camp when Coach Carroll said that Earl Thomas was going to get the first opportunity to return punts, many fans scoffed at the idea; they didn’t want to see our All-Pro free safety get hurt in situations where the opponent is running full speed trying to take your head off. Three weeks into the preseason and it is looking more and more like Thomas will be our punt returner when the Seahawks play the Packers in two weeks. Thomas’s play on special teams Friday night greatly boosted his chances at getting the return job. Thomas returned two punts, one of which a 59-yard return in the closing minutes of the first half. Earl Thomas has the explosiveness that no other candidate for the punt return job has and I believe this one punt return against the Bears has earned him the job once the regular season starts. Having Thomas return punts is high risk/high reward in my eyes. The risk is the aforementioned risk of injury. The reward is explosive runs for large gains and great field position; something that will make it much easier for Russell Wilson to lead touchdown drives.

Jackson vs. Pryor (Round 3): This competition should be over. In my opinion, one play on Friday night completely took Terrelle Pryor’s name out of contention to be Russell Wilson’s backup. With 5:06 remaining in the game, a Bears defender went unblocked on a blitz and Pryor threw up a duck that was easily intercepted by Bears cornerback C.J. Wilson. It was a terrible decision by Pryor to throw and that kind of decision making gives Tarvaris Jackson a significant leg up on Pryor to win the backup quarterback job. Coach Carroll constantly preaches that it is “all about the ball” and Pryor seemed to be inept in that moment. He could have taken the sack or throw the ball out of bounds for intentional grounding and the Seahawks would have been penalized but kept possession of the ball. Instead the ball was intercepted and the Bears took over on offense. It is now a question of whether Pryor will stay on as our 3rd quarterback or will he be cut before the regular season starts. He will have one last chance next week to prove he is worthy of a roster spot. If I were Pryor however, I would seriously be questioning my job security after a performance like the one he had against Chicago.

Lane Shines: The defensive player of the game this week was without a doubt cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane led all Seahawks defenders with 6 tackles including 3 passes defensed and a 41-yard interception return that cost the Bears a goal-to-go scoring opportunity. On one of his passes defensed he showed outstanding vertical ability, out jumping the receiver and nearly picking off his second pass of the game. Lane and fellow cornerback Tharold Simon have been battling to be the primary nickel corner and Lane has taken big step in securing that job. After an average first half of the preseason, Lane’s performance against the Bears fully re-assures my confidence that if Richard Sherman or Byron Maxell were to get hurt, the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom will be in good hands.

Thoughts on Chicago: I have one point to make in regards to the Chicago Bears. If Jay Cutler gets hurt, the Bears are screwed. With Cutler in the game on Friday night the Bears passed the ball 79% of the time. This will be a heavy passing offense and if Cutler goes down the Bears will have no choice but to have either Jordan Palmer or Jimmy Clausen lead this dominantly passing offensive unit. When completely healthy I believe this offense is good enough to stay competitive and win games. If any of the Bears skill position weapons (Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery) go down, the Bears will be a very vulnerable team.

Random Thoughts: I got the uniform combinations right once again. Navy/navy for the Seahawks, white/navy for the Bears… CenturyLink Field had two banners ready to be unveiled this week but they held off on both once again. All three of our 2013 banners will be unveiled before we play the Packers… Nice to see the majority of the crowd booed referee Bill Leavy at the beginning of the game, re-affirming that the majority of Seahawks fans have not put Super Bowl XL entirely behind them… The Seahawks are selling beer in souvenir cups that look like a total rip off. The cups look like they hold anywhere from 8-10 ounces of beer. In other words, they seem tiny. They cost the normal beer price though… Elysian Fields before the game once again this week. I Actually got to have a couple of beers. It was a fun and festive atmosphere, even more so than last week… If you are around downtown Seattle I highly recommend Chuck’s Hole-in-the-Wall BBQ on James Street. I made a second appearance there for lunch on Friday and the brisket/pulled pork/chicken combo platter did not disappoint… Not as many Bears fans in attendance as I thought there were going to be so that was nice… I understand the NFL bag policy but the fact that I could not bring in a sweatshirt I had bought earlier in the day which was in a white plastic bag is kind of ridiculous. It’s just a sweatshirt and it’s just a bag… If you walk through Pioneer Square you can see light post banners advertising NFL Kickoff 2014. I simply cannot wait for a week from Thursday. It is going to be a rocking party all day long!

The Seahawks have until 1pm Tuesday to cut their roster from 90 players to 75 players. Check back later this weekend for a new post as I predict which 15 players will not be on the team when we play Oakland next week. Thanks for reading. Go Hawks!