Tag Archives: Calvin Johnson

Rant: Seahawks 13, Lions 10

6 Oct
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

A win is a win, right? It is true but why do I feel so frustrated and disappointed? The Seahawks survived a late charge by the Detroit Lions offense and thanks to Kam Chancellor forcing a fumble and K.J. Wright batting the ball (illegally) out of the endzone, the Seahawks survived to win 13-10. The victory gets the Seahawks to 2-2 and one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Lions fall to 0-4. There was one consistent negative in this game and it has my full attention in this week’s postgame review. The Seahawks offense line has struggled throughout the season but tonight I feel the line hit rock bottom. Things must change so the Seahawks can maximize the full potential of the offense. Instead of a traditional review, here is a rant dedicated solely to the Seahawks woeful offensive line.

Wilson Feels the Heat and Rawls Struggles: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked five times on Monday night and turned the ball over twice after fumbling. He was consistently flushed out of the pocket and the majority of his throws came on the run. Out of the shotgun there were multiple snaps that were low or to the side of him that he struggled to corral. The last straw came in the final minutes of the first half. After moving the ball inside the 10-yard line, Wilson was sacked twice which moved our goal-to-go opportunity back to the 33-yard line. Instead of a touchdown, we were forced to kick a long field goal. It is going to be incredibly difficult to keep Wilson healthy long-term if he continues to take the beating he has been subjected to so far this season. The saddest part is that there has been little or no improvement along the offensive line this season. I understand that in 3 of our first 4 games we have faced top-tier defensive lines but on a week to week basis there has been nothing to show me that we are going to get better any time soon. This line is a long way off from completely gelling. As far as the running game goes…

Photo Credit: The News Tribune

Photo Credit: The News Tribune

This picture sure says a lot doesn’t it? After rushing for over 100 yards last week running back Thomas Rawls did not produce nearly as well against the Lions. Rawls averaged a meager 2.8 yards per carry and his longest run of the night was only 10 yards. Rawls struggled because our offensive line could not provide adequate running lanes. I have heard a lot of talk about how our offensive line scheme is a “system blocking” style, meaning it does not necessarily matter who our personnel is along the line, you can plug in players at will as long as each lineman does their individual assignment within the zone-blocking scheme. If you can put 5 successful blocks together in unison you will have either excellent pass protection or solid run blocking. At some point it must matter who we have along the line because I am sick of seeing Justin Britt and Drew Nowak specifically getting blown up or struggling to block. It may soon be for the Seahawks and offensive line coach Tom Cable to consider personnel changes up front. In short and in closing, I just wish we still had Max Unger.

Controversy in Relation to the Offensive Line: The Seahawks dodged a massive bullet late in the game when safety Kam Chancellor knocked the football out of Calvin Johnson’s hands one yard short of the goal line. The ball bounced to the back of the endzone and linebacker K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the endzone for a touchback. The only problem is that Wright’s clutch play is illegal but fortunately it was not called. If a penalty had been enforced on Wright, Detroit would have maintained possession at the one-yard line. I believe the Lions would have successfully scored a touchdown and the Seahawks would have faced a 17-13 deficit with less than two minutes left. The Seahawks would have had to go the length of the field and score a touchdown in order to win the game. The way we blocked for Russell Wilson up to that point I would have had no confidence in our ability to drive down the field to take the lead. That potential situation would have taken away our running dimension, which would have allowed the Lions defense to stack the box and put immense pressure on Wilson, pressure that our horrible offensive line would definitely had not been able to handle. If it wasn’t for that non-call on the batted ball out of the endzone, there is no question in my mind the Seahawks would have lost and fallen to 1-3 on the season.

Random Thoughts: None.

What’s Next: Look out for my preview of our week 5 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday morning.

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Lions/Seahawks Preview

4 Oct
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

For the second time this season and the first time at home, the Seahawks welcome the primetime lights to CenturyLink Field. This week the Seahawks welcome ESPN Monday Night Football to the Emerald City for our week 4 matchup against the Detroit Lions. After our win last week the Seahawks are 1-2. The Detroit Lions won 11 games a year ago but have gotten off to a very rocky start in 2015. They have stumbled out to a 0-3 record and coming out to Seattle will be no easy task. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with Detroit 7-5 but in their last meeting in 2012 the Lions got the best of the Seahawks, beating us 28-24 at Ford Field. The Seahawks are also 8-0 in regular season primetime games at CenturyLink Field under Pete Carroll, winning those games by an average of 18.5 points. Here are my points of emphasis going into this week’s game.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is battling a hamstring injury and reports earlier in the week indicate he has a 50/50 chance of playing. As great as it would be to see him active this week, I believe we can win without him. If he is inactive it will be important for quarterback Russell Wilson to get everyone involved. Giving Detroit a taste of their own medicine may be the best way to go about attacking their defense, making them play nickel and even dime coverage. Doug Baldwin could be a major beneficiary in the short passing game this week and I think we are well off using both Jermaine Kearse and Jimmy Graham in the intermediate and deep passing game on the outside. I believe getting off to a fast start and early lead will go a very long way in preserving a Seahawks victory. Detroit’s offense becomes very predictable if their opponent takes an early lead. Detroit hung tight in two of their first three games; week 1 in San Diego, and last week at home against Denver. In those two games combined, the Lions ran a very even balance of plays on first down, throwing on 55 percent of their first down opportunities. In their second game of the season, a 26-16 loss in which they were never really in the game, the Lions threw the ball on first down 90 percent of the time. An early lead for Seattle will likely force the Lions to completely abandon the run.

There are three things the Seahawks defense must do against this potentially powerful Lions offense. First, they must take away the edges, keeping plays in the middle of the field.  Detroit has added a lot of speed both at running back and wide receiver and the majority of their large chunks of yards come outside the numbers. The second thing Seattle must do is a no brainer, successfully cover Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson will line up across from Richard Sherman and even though Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has shied away from throwing the one-on-one jump ball up to Johnson, it may be in our best interest to shadow Johnson with double coverage. It would not surprise me to see defensive coordinator Kris Richard use K.J. Wright to drop back in coverage to help Sherman cover Johnson. The third thing we must do could go a long way in forcing turnovers. Have you ever heard of the phrase “you cannot make chicken salad out of chicken s—t?” After watching film of each of the Lions first three games, this phrase basically sums up Matthew Stafford in a nutshell. His 5 interceptions so far this season are tied for 2nd in the league. If Stafford feels pressure and tries to scramble, the chances of him throwing interceptions are great because instead of smartly throwing the ball away he tries to make something happen. It would be wise to dial up all sorts of pressure packages to try to confuse Detroit’s rather inexperienced offensive line. I cannot emphasize this enough. If we can successfully penetrate the Lions offensive line regularly it will go a long way in winning the turnover battle.

Since Matthew Stafford was drafted in 2009 the Lions have been known to be an extremely pass-heavy offense. Detroit will use packages including 3 or even 4 wide receivers and/or multiple tight ends. On the outside they will use Golden Tate in the quick passing game and tight end Eric Ebron gives them another weapon between the hashes. This year however they have made strides in balancing their offense out. After struggling to stop Bears running back Matt Forte early on last week I have doubts on whether or not the Seahawks will be able to contain the run again on Monday night. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the Detroit Lions this week is their rookie running back Ameer Abdullah. Regardless of the fact that running back Joique Bell has already been ruled out this week, there is no question in my mind Bell’s presence is a complete waste of a roster spot. Abdullah is Detroit’s best option at running back. His quickness and ability to bounce runs to the outside make him difficult to stop. His burst at the line of scrimmage is also scary as his speed and size allow him to gain extra yards after contact rather easily. Abdullah is also Detroit’s kick returner so it will be important for Steven Hauschka to kick the ball deep or out of the endzone to eliminate the possibility of Abdullah giving the Lions good starting field position. The best way for the Lions offense to be effective will be to keep the tempo up. If they can keep the Seahawks defense on the field and tire them out the Lions will have a chance to stay in this game.

After three weeks there are still questions regarding the Seattle offensive line. If Detroit wants to make an impact on defense they must be able to put pressure on Russell Wilson. They are fully equipped to do so. Even though they lost defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency they still have two very talented pass rushing ends in Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah. They also added defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to take Suh’s spot on the interior line. This week may also mark the return of leading tackler DeAndre Levy at outside linebacker. Levy has been out all season with a hip strain. He is a ball hawk who will make plays in coverage. The secondary is led by safety Glover Quin who led the NFL in interceptions in 2014. His two interceptions so far this season also puts him tied for the lead in picks in 2015. Much like forcing Matthew Stafford into turnovers is a key for the Seattle defense, the exact same can be said for the Detroit defense. I believe the team that wins the turnover battle will win this game.

Random Thoughts: Nothing special as far as uniforms go this week. Seattle will go all College Navy and the Lions will wear white tops with silver pants… Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden have the call for ESPN with Lisa Salters reporting from the sidelines… The referee this week will be Tony Corrente… Even though ratings for Monday Night Football have dropped since ESPN took over the broadcast in 2006, MNF is still a very special game to attend. It is the only game of the day and they entire nation is tuned in. This will be the 8th and a half Monday Night Football game I attend live. If you’re wondering what “and a half” means, I could attend only the second half of a Monday Night game against St. Louis in 2011 because I had a final exam to take at the University of Washington. My professor would not let me reschedule so I missed Doug Baldwin block a punt for a touchdown, the only exciting highlight of that game… A pregame lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings before the game will certainly be fun… This week I am taking my friend Josh to the game. He has gone to a game with me every year since 2007. I note his presence because of the games we have attended the past two years. Since the beginning of 2013 the Seahawks have a 19-2 record at home. Our two losses in this span were to Arizona in 2013 and Dallas in 2014. I took Josh to both of those games. He has certainly been Mr. Unlucky over the past couple of years. I’m confident we will turn this run of misfortune around this season!

Prediction: I said the team that wins the turnover battle will win this game. The Seahawks will intercept Matthew Stafford three times which will lead to three separate scores. The Seahawks will finally play a satisfying first half and by halftime the game will have already been won. Russell Wilson will throw two touchdowns and Fred Jackson will also run one in from the redzone. The Seahawks will get to 2-2 and get ready for Cincinnati in week 5.

Seahawks 27, Lions 13

Commentary: Who Will it Be?

1 Jan
From L-R: Panthers QB Cam Newton, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Lions WR Calvin Johnson

From L-R: Panthers QB Cam Newton, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Lions WR Calvin Johnson

The Seahawks and the 12th Man will not know until late Sunday afternoon who we will play in our NFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, January 10th. One of three teams will be traveling to Seattle for that playoff game. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions this Sunday, the winner of Saturday’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers will play the Seahawks. If Detroit beats Dallas, the Lions will play the Seahawks on January 10th. Here is a brief breakdown of all three potential opponents including who I personally would like to play, and who I think the Seahawks will probably face in their first playoff game.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers became the second team in modern NFL history to win their division and enter the playoffs with a losing record. Unlike the 2010 Seahawks who went into their Wild-Card playoff game double digit underdogs to the New Orleans Saints, the 7-8-1 Panthers are 5.5 point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals this week. The Panthers are the team I believe the Seahawks will face next Saturday night. Carolina has won 4 straight games and getting to play at home against a backup quarterback gives them an advantage. With a win, the Panthers will record their first playoff win since defeating the Chicago Bears in the 2005 NFC Divisional playoffs.

The Pros: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the only quarterback of the Seahawks potential opposing quarterbacks to have never played at CenturyLink Field. The fact that he would be playing in front of a playoff revved 12th Man makes the idea of the Seahawks advancing to the NFC Championship Game highly likely. The Seahawks are 3-0 against Carolina all-time at CenturyLink Field.

The Cons: I do not know how Bears fans felt when they hosted the 2010 Seahawks in the NFC Divisional playoffs but I would be a little worried that the 12’s would not treat this game like a true playoff game because of the Panthers record. The fact of the matter is that the Panthers were good enough to get into the playoffs. It shouldn’t matter what their regular season record says. At the end of the day, it’s still win or go home.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are making their first playoff appearance since 2009 but they are stumbling into the playoffs, having lost their last two regular season games with Ryan Lindley at quarterback. I think it is possible that if they can beat Carolina this week, Drew Stanton will be back as the starting quarterback by the time they would play Seattle. The Seahawks have beaten both Stanton and Lindley this season. Stanton played the game in Seattle and went 14/26 for 149 yards and one interception. The Cardinals defense is arguably the best of these three potential opponents and could give the Seahawks the closest game.

The Pros: Now that Jim Harbaugh has left the NFC West, the coach the Seahawks should now love to hate the most is Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Arians has stated that he believes the Cardinals can with the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton, but that was when the Cardinals controlled the division by 3 games over the Seahawks. Things have fallen on hard times in Arizona since and it would be awesome to beat this team and the likely NFL coach of the year for a third time this season. This is likely the beginning of an intense rivalry with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cons: This may be the future of our division rivalries but it simply does not have as “hateful” of a feel that playing the San Francisco 49ers three times last year had. I think we would beat Arizona in this playoff game handedly, possibly making the later parts of the game kind of boring.

Detroit Lions: The Lions have not played in Seattle since 2009. They have a talented defense that is capable of stopping Marshawn Lynch. The Lions boast the most explosive offense of any of these three teams and would provide the best and most exciting challenge for the Seahawks defense and the Legion of Boom. I for one would love to see Richard Sherman go up against Calvin Johnson, and to see the return of former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. This is the matchup that I would most like to see.

The Pros: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has played in Seattle before but that was when the Seahawks were not very good. He has only played in one playoff game and he lost. The playoff inexperience of the Lions could give the Seahawks a significant leg up in this matchup.

The Cons: None.

Review: Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)

3 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Lions 28, Seahawks 24

29 Oct

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Of all of our losses so far this season, this was the most frustrating to watch. This was a game the Seahawks definitely should have won. Unfortunately, bad defense doomed Seattle this weekend and the Lions scored a go-ahead touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to beat the Seahawks 28-24. The Seahawks fall to 4-4 on the season while the Lions improve to 3-4. Let’s jump right in to what I saw out of the team on Sunday.

3rd Down Defense Was Pitiful: Detroit converted 75% of their 3rd down attempts and it always seemed like they would just squeak the ball over the line to gain. On one of the Lions touchdown drives in the second half, the Lions converted two 3rd and 8’s and a 3rd and 11. The short passing game is what torched the Seahawks the most in this game. I give Detroit credit as they were successfully able to use both of their tight ends in a short passing scheme that the Seahawks just could not adjust to. Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew hurt the Seahawks short and Titus Young hurt the Seahawks long and on the outside. Young ended the game with 99 yards and the game-winning touchdown. If the Seahawks would have been able to limit the Lions 3rd down efficiency, I believe we could have taken at least 10 points off of Detroit’s score.

Wilson Shows His True Potential: The Seahawks scored 24 points on Sunday which is the most points they have scored in a single game on the road this season. Russell Wilson played a key role in making this happen. Wilson finished 25/35 for 236 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. The scoring drives he led were all done with good length in terms of distance and time consumed and most of his throws were incredibly accurate. The only knock I have on Wilson coming out of this game is his lobs. A lot of his swing passes and screen passes are lob passes that spend too much time floating in the air. His one interception on Sunday may have had a chance to be a completed pass if he put more zip on the ball. That and the fact that if he would have thrown a second or two sooner. Nevertheless Wilson has not proved that he maturing at a rapid rate and that he can play with some of the best defenses in the league. I understand that the Lions are now only 3-4, but they have great talent on defense that make it hard for opposing quarterbacks to function successfully.

Beast Is Back: Marshawn Lynch ran for 105 yards and a touchdown on Sunday; the first touchdown he has scored since the Rams game in week 4. I understand that minus the 77-yard touchdown run, Lynch only had 28 yards on 11 carries but we were successfully able to expose Detroit’s run defense to an extent. I think that the Seahawks offensive line struggled mightily against the run and were overmatched because they were going up against Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Lynch running for over 100 yards and scoring a touchdown is a step in the right direction in regards to getting a consistent running game going. We need to get Lynch into the endzone more often. Hopefully this performance will get some momentum going, especially since our next two games are at home.

Detroit’s Offense Can Get Them Back Into Playoff Contention: One of the knocks on the Lions offense is that although they can successfully move the ball, they turn the ball over deep into their opponent’s territory at the most inopportune times. Matthew Stafford only threw one interception on Sunday and the Lions did not fumble at any point. It is always about the ball. The Lions with Stafford and Calvin Johnson can gain some ground in the NFC playoff picture if they can limit turnovers like they did on Sunday. As you can see, taking care of the ball helped lift Detroit to the win. If this trend continues, do not be surprised to see the Detroit Lions in the playoff race come December.

Random Thoughts: I was running on 3 hours sleep on Sunday. I had just enough energy to make it through the Seahawks game then I napped at my dad’s house through the majority of the afternoon games. Even though I am disappointed the Seahawks lost, a nap definitely helped take my mind off of the game… The Seahawks wore the white jersey/blue pants combination for the first time since playing in Denver during the preseason. I actually like this look the best on the road. Still waiting for an appearance by the white pants though… The broadcast crew of Chris Myers and Tim Ryan made several errors during their broadcast. Also impressively, I made statistical comments to my dad right before they did on the broadcast. I seriously need to start looking for a sports radio internship… The FOX cameras kept showing defensive line coach Todd Wash thinking that it was defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. It was funny that they made that mistake several times during the game… I really thought stupid penalties by Detroit were going to launch us to an easy win. They were caught offsides three times on our first offense drive. The undisciplined defense of the Lions improved in a hurry though which was unfortunate to see… We are now halfway through the season and we ended the first half at 4-4. In our next 8 games we play 5 at home and 3 of our last 4 games are against division opponents all at home. Last year we were 2-6 after the first half of the season and we got hot enough to be in playoff contention in week 16. I think we still have a great chance to make a run at a playoff spot… Yeah, just did the math. The combined record of our opponents in the second half of the season is currently 33-26. Of that record, the teams that we play at home are a combined 20-18. I think we are in great shape… It would have been fun to go to Detroit for my road trip only because it would have been really cool to go to a World Series game as well as the Seahawks game… Tomorrow night’s Monday Night Football game is going to be huge. I think it would be in the 12th Man’s best interest to be rooting like crazy for the Arizona Cardinals. I do not believe the Cardinals can hang in the division race in the long term. Therefore, any loss by San Francisco would greatly benefit us. If we can escape this week and remain only one game back of first place in the NFC West, I will feel even more comfortable about our chances of taking the division going forward.

The Seahawks will go over film on Monday, take a day off on Tuesday and start game planning for next Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday. I hope to have my preview of the Vikings game up next Saturday afternoon. Have a good week everybody. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Lions Preview

27 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

Site: Ford Field (Detroit, Michigan)

Kickoff: 10:00am

After a long break the Seahawks head back to the scene of the crime to take on the Detroit Lions. This is the second time the Seahawks have been to Detroit since that dreary February evening in 2006. The last time these two teams played was in 2009 in Seattle where the Seahawks came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Lions 32-20. The Seahawks lead the all-time series against Detroit 7-4. The 4-3 Seahawks are looking to end the first half of the season with a victory while the 2-4 Lions are looking to gain momentum and regain some ground in the surprisingly deep NFC North. Here is what I will be looking for from both teams this Sunday.

It is no surprise by now that Russell Wilson struggles mightily on the road. In 4 road contests so far this season, Wilson has 7 interceptions. Limiting turnovers will be crucial this week but the biggest key on offense this week will be to control time of possession. The Seahawks do a good job of scoring points and taking time off of the clock in the first half but in the second half we struggle to do these two things. If we can establish long possessions in the second half, it will be likely that we will be able to put up points later on in the game. Just like what the 49ers were able to do last week, long possessions will tire out the Lions defense which will also be to our benefit.

In order for us to maintain long possessions we have to be able to effectively run the football. I feel Marshawn Lynch is overdue for a big game. He has not scored multiple touchdowns in any game so far this season and I think he could break off for a few decent size runs and he can get into the endzone more than once. If Lynch can do this Russell Wilson will not be forced to throw the ball late in the game and the pressure on Wilson’s shoulders will be limited.

This week the Seahawks will be without wide receiver Doug Baldwin who is nursing an ankle injury. Charly Martin will take Baldwin’s place in the lineup. My prediction for our leading receiver this week is Sidney Rice. Russell Wilson looked Rice’s direction a lot in San Francisco last Thursday and he will be targeted a lot again this week. Rice will go up against Lions cornerback Chris Houston. Houston is coming off his most productive game so far this season, making 6 tackles on Monday night against Chicago. Although I am predicting Rice will be the most productive receiver this week, do not be surprised if the catches, targets, and yardage numbers are close together this week among all of the wide receivers since both Russell Wilson and Coach Carroll have talked about spreading the ball around more in practice this week.

The one-on-one matchup I am looking forward to the most this weekend is Lions receiver Calvin Johnson vs. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Browner is definitely the tallest defender Johnson has had to face this season and Browner may turn out to be the most physical defender also. After last week’s game 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that the Seahawks defensive backs were playing unnecessarily physical against his receivers. After fueling their fire with those comments, I would expect both Browner and Richard Sherman to try to jam their receivers frequently. As a matter of fact, I am worried that this may lead to stupid penalties this week. If illegal contact and pass interference is called against the Seahawks defense this week, the game plan may change and the Lions may try to take advantage of our looser play on defense.

Although the Detroit Lions are only 2-4, they possess some talented players on both sides of the football. On offense the Lions field general is 4th year quarterback Matthew Stafford. After a 5,000+ passing yard season last year, Stafford has struggled this year. Stafford is averaging 293 yards per game and has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5). Stafford’s biggest target is the previously mentioned Calvin Johnson, who also has not been producing as well as previous seasons. Johnson has only one touchdown so far this season. If the Seahawks are successful in shutting Johnson down the Lions may be in trouble. They lost receiver Nate Burleson to a season-ending leg injury last week and their other receivers include Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles. Young is a fast, talented receiver who can make plays happen but the Lions depth at receiver is not good overall.

The Lions running game is my focus this week when they have the ball. Much like San Francisco, Detroit runs with a trap-blocking scheme. This style of blocking makes it difficult for the defense to detect where the ball carrier is between the holes and tackles. Frank Gore was able to run for over 130 yards last week against the Seahawks and if nothing has been done to improve the run defense, I am afraid Mikel Leshoure will have his way with the Seahawks run defense this week. Leshoure is a physical back who will not go down easily. We must make sure our tackling is on point this week. If Leshoure can consistently get going, the Seahawks defense will give up points and will put added pressure on our own offense.

The Lions defense is led by tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The Lions average just fewer than 3 sacks per game on defense which is good news for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line. The talent on defense for Detroit leaves me questioning how effective Marshawn Lynch will be this week. Overall, I do not think the Lions defense will have as big of an impact as a lot of people think.

One final note on the Lions, they had trouble with punt returns against Chicago. Stefan Logan may be pulled from his punt return duties this week. If he is not however, look for Jon Ryan to sky some punts to see if we can get Logan to cough up the ball again.

Random Thoughts: I love the fact that Richard Sherman changed his Twitter name to “Optimus Prime” this week. Megatron does not know what is coming his way… The last time we played in Detroit we barely escaped with a win. I understand it is hard to win on the road in a different time zone but I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggle… Uniform prediction of the week: once again, white jerseys and grey pants… It is looking like I’ll be watching the game back in Bellevue at my dad’s house. I haven’t watched a game with him since we went to the Arizona game on the road last month. I’m looking forward to spending the day watching football over there… I lost my dinner bet last week. I’m leaning towards my pasta specialty: Angel hair with homemade meat sauce. Maybe I’ll experiment with a pesto sauce as well. Date and time TBD… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call this week for FOX. This duo calls a pretty good game so I’m not too disappointed about the play-by-play assignment this week… I need a win in fantasy football this week. I can’t afford to fall to 3-5… I consider this game to be the last of our “tough” games on our schedule. At the beginning of the season I predicted that we would be 3-5 at the halfway point. We have a chance to be 5-3. That is incredible to me. Even if we lose and go to 4-4, I’ll be satisfied overall but I’ll be disappointed about this one game after the fact.

Prediction: The Seahawks are now averaging just under 13 points per game on the road. Unfortunately, I think that the trap-blocking scheme the Lions have in place will be tough for the Seahawks defense to handle. Mikel Leshoure will run for more yards than Marshawn Lynch and the Lions success running the ball puts pressure on Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense. I expect this game to once again be close nearing the end of the game, but I don’t think we have enough fire power on offense to pull this one out.

Lions 23, Seahawks 17

Look for my review of this game on the blog sometime Monday. Enjoy the game everybody and as always, thank you so much for reading. Go Hawks!

“NOT Detroit. How many times do I have to go to that city?!”- One of the guys I go on my annual Seahawks road trip with when asked about which game he wanted to go to this season.

Review: Seahawks 14, Packers 12

27 Sep

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I have watched Seahawks games for 22 years. I have been a season ticket holder for the last seven seasons. I have NEVER witnessed a more epic finish than what happened on Monday Night. I have dubbed the Seahawks victory over the Green Bay Packers the “Monday Night Miracle” after Golden Tate scored on a Hail Mary as time expired to give the Seahawks the lead and the win. I will get to my analysis, feelings, and opinion of Tate’s catch later on in this post. Other than this play, one of the greatest moments in Seahawks history, here are my thoughts about the rest of the game.

Pass Rush: Present: In my preview posts, I always state that the pass rush is the biggest key on defense. If you can put pressure on the quarterback the chances of getting him to be uncomfortable throwing and/or forcing him to commit turnovers skyrockets. The Seahawks sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half; 4 by Chris Clemons, 2 from Bruce Irvin, and 2 from Brandon Mebane. It honestly got to the point where the performance of the Seahawks defense was laughable in the stands. It really was that amazing. In the second half the defense recorded no sacks, which is unfortunate. The next phase of improving the pass rush will be to display consistency throughout the entire game. Can you imagine if the Seahawks continued to sack Rodgers throughout the second half? It would have been the greatest defensive performance in team history.

Shutting Them Down: The pass rush is only one part of the Seahawks defense’s night. The defense, which entered the game allowing only 13.5 points per game, held the explosive Green Bay offense to only 12 points. The Packers averaged 35 points per game last season. Considering the weapons Green Bay has, I am beyond satisfied with the defensive performance. The leading receiver for the Packers was tight end Jermichael Finley and he only had 60 yards receiving. The Seahawks now have the 4th best overall defense in the league. With another road test coming next, the Seahawks need to make sure that the defense keeps on rolling. If they can do that, they will prove to me and the 12th Man that they can be successful both at home and on the road.

Another Average Night: Russell Wilson once again did not put up highly impressive numbers against the Packers. Wilson ended the night 10/21 for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson did not even break triple digit yardage numbers until the final drive of the game. Once again however, Wilson committed no turnovers. In three games, Wilson has 4 touchdowns and only one interception. It is now to the point where I have to critique Wilson in terms of his stats. Throwing for only 130 yards cannot become the norm for Wilson. Russell must show improvement throwing the ball and completing passes. The defense is holding this team upright and they can only go so strong for so long. Sooner or later whether it is because of seasonal wear-and-tear, the defense will not be able to hold the fort down. It is up to Wilson to improve his numbers. If he can throw for at least 250 yards per game, I think the Seahawks have a great chance of winning the game.

The Special Teams Is Exciting: It feels like every time the opponent lines up to punt or to kick a field goal, the Seahawks have a chance to block it. On Monday night, the Seahawks came incredibly close to blocking both a punt and a field goal. On the attempted field goal block, one Seahawk hurdled the Packers center and I was so convinced he was going to block it I jumped up before the ball sailed through the uprights. Against the Cowboys, the Seahawks special teams could have singlehandedly won the game and it is a huge relief to know that this very important unit is good enough to significantly alter the outcome of the game. The season is young, but I think the special teams will make much more noise throughout the rest of the season.

In Primetime, The 12th Man Never Disappoints: I tip my cap to myself and the rest of the people in attendance on Monday night. Most everybody was in their seats by the time pregame ceremonies rolled around. The scene was really cool with everybody waving their rally towels. The most impressive thing though was that very few people left the stadium after the Seahawks failed to convert on 4th down right after the two-minute warning. Not to criticize Seattle sports fans, but usually at that point in a game most fans usually leave to avoid getting stuck in traffic heading home. Not on Monday night though. I am very happy that everyone around me stayed and we all got to witness one of the most incredible plays not just in Seahawks history but in NFL history.

Let’s Talk About The Final Play: Before the Seahawks lined up to run the final play of the game, I looked up one row across the aisle from me. There was a Packers fan who started chanting “S**t Hawks! S**t Hawks!” He had been chanting this throughout the game and of course it made me mad. I started thinking to myself and praying that the behavior by those types of fans is exactly the reason why the Packers do not deserve to win this game. The Seahawks had played lights-out all game long and they played too hard not to win.

Wilson took the snap and after rolling to the left he planted and fired a Hail Mary to the corner of the end zone. From my view, I thought that Golden Tate had out jumped all 5 Packers defenders and had made the catch. After investigating the scene I saw the side judge call touchdown and I went absolutely crazy. I didn’t even see the back judge call interception and touchback. I was focused on seeing the ref call touchdown. As soon as the side judge did, my eyes were attracted to his arms and the fans around me went into full party and celebration mode. Everyone around me including myself didn’t bother watching the play on the big screen as it was reviewed; we were too happy that we had won the game. When the replacement referee confirmed the call on the field, round two of celebrations in the stands took place. My buddy Elliott and I could not believe what had just happened. As we walked down the aisle to the concourse, I heard people scream “I love Golden Tate!” and “Russell Wilson will NEVER buy a drink in this city ever again!” I then headed back home to re-watch the end of the game.

Upon arriving at home I watched the replay of Tate’s catch over and over and over again. Here is my opinion about what happened:

I don’t think Golden Tate caught the ball. I think that the refs clearly missed his offensive pass interference and although the NFL rulebook states that in the event of simultaneous possession the tie goes to the passers, I don’t think there was simultaneous possession in this case. I think M.D. Jennings of the Packers had two hands on the ball initially and Tate only had one hand on it. Upon descent to the ground, Tate was able to sneak in his other hand around the ball to give it the look that both players had their hands on the ball.

There is one view I have seen that shows that the officials may have made the right call. Although Jennings had full possession of the ball initially, he had both feet off the ground. Golden Tate had two hands on the ball and both feet on the ground before Jennings did, meaning Tate completed the entire “act of a catch” before Jennings did. Over the last couple of seasons there have been a couple questionable touchdown/non-touchdown calls because the receiver did/did not complete the entire act of a catch. Most notably, a Calvin Johnson reception for the Lions in Chicago against the Bears that did not count because he let go of the ball before getting up off of the ground. In this instance, from this one view it looks like Tate completed the catch and the Seahawks were correctly awarded the touchdown.

The response from what happened on Monday night has been unbelievable to me. As a Seahawks fan we have had many games that have come down to close calls go negatively towards us over the years. To have this play go in our favor I honestly had trouble understanding the feeling of the victory. It is incredible to see the national attention we have gotten over the last 48 hours since the last play of the game. We have been the top story on SportsCenter, the Today Show, and even President Barack Obama tweeted his opinion about the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, the Seahawks won and the Packers lost. As great a game as this was and for the memories that will live on forever, it is time to move on, get over it, and focus on our next game.

My Opinion Of The Replacement Refs: I’ll keep this brief. After almost three weeks of questionable calls, it was only a matter of time a call made by the replacement officials would determine the outcome of a game. Although the result of Monday night’s game went in our favor, I still believe the job done by the replacements have been utterly ridiculous and it is time for the real referees to return. As of now it looks like the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have agreed on a new contract which will end the lockout. This is ultimately the best case scenario for the league.

Random Thoughts: I did not prefunk before the game. We were running a little late and wanted to get into the stadium in time to get a rally towel and to see pregame… The Steve Sabol tribute was really cool to see again. The ovation was really nice and well deserved. Sabol, the president of NFL Films died this past week after a battle with brain cancer. He was 69… It was weird to see Trent Dilfer raise the 12th Man flag. Usually in the flag raiser video the person’s accomplishments are listed. The most memorable accomplishment for Dilfer was his 2003 Steve Largent Award. I loved Dilfer when he was a Seahawk but I personally do not think he has the appropriate accolades to be raising the flag for a regular season game, much less a Monday Night Football game… The offense was introduced and Russell Wilson got the loudest ovation once again. What a thrill that must have been for him… I was asked to sit down by the person behind me for the second straight week. This week it was a Packers fan probably in his late 50’s or early 60’s. Of course I ignored him and he must have dealt with it because he didn’t make a complaint through the rest of the game… Beer is too expensive inside the stadium. Period… There were way too many penalties by the Seahawks this week. That must change going forward. Most of the penalties are discipline penalties that should be easily avoided… There were WAY TOO MANY Packers fans in attendance. Probably worse than the number of Cowboys fans at the home opener… Marshawn Lynch did not score a touchdown, but that did not prevent me from ripping open a king-size bag of Skittles and throwing them at the end of the game when Tate scored the game winning touchdown… The 2005 NFC Championship Game will most likely always be my favorite Seahawks game that I attended, but there is no question this game is the most exciting game I have ever been to. It will probably take another Hail Mary reception at the end of a game to de-thrown this as the most exciting game I have ever been to.

I apologize that this review post is a little bit late. I just started my first week of school and have been up to my neck in readings for my classes. This will not stop me from writing my preview post of the game next weekend against the St. Louis Rams. Look for that preview most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. What an incredible game. Go Seahawks!