Tag Archives: Clinton McDonald

Seahawks/Giants Preview

14 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

Site: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)

Kickoff: 10:00am

After failing to clinch the NFC West last week the Seahawks will have another chance to get the job done this week as they take on the New York Giants. The Seahawks are 11-2 while the Giants have struggled throughout this season. The Giants have a 5-8 record and with their loss last week to the San Diego Chargers, New York has been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Giants lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but it was Seattle who was on the winning end of their last meeting; a 36-25 Seahawks victory over the eventual world champion Giants in New Jersey in 2011. Traveling across the country and playing in the 10am Pacific Time slot is always a difficult challenge for the Seahawks but the motivation of coming off a loss last week makes this Seahawks team a group no team would like to get in the way of. In order to take care of business this week this is what the Seahawks need to do, as well as what the Giants need to do in order to upset this Seattle team.

Playing sound defensive football, especially after allowing 19 points in a losing effort last week is the first thing I need to see out of the Seahawks this week. Earl Thomas made it known after last week’s game that the entire team felt angry because they let that game get away from them so I would expect the Seahawks defense to come out completely motivated and they will look to make big plays early. It may be hard for Eli Manning to make deep throws because of the Legion of Boom likely looking to take their anger out by playing a phenomenal game this week. My main focus is something that has been improving on a week-by-week basis and that is the interior pass rush. Eli Manning leads the league in interceptions with 20. The Legion of Boom will make the long passing game hard for Manning this week but if the Seahawks can be consistent rushing the passer this week Manning will surely be forced into making bad throws especially if the Giants are trailing. Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald are two Seahawks defenders to watch this week. Mebane is overdue to get involved in the sack department since he has not recorded a sack yet this season, and McDonald was able to make Colin Kaepernick uncomfortable last week, sacking him once. Add effectiveness from Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Bruce Irvin as well and the Seahawks defense will spend a good chunk of game clock on the sidelines while they watch the offense work.

Last week against San Francisco Marshawn Lynch ran for 72 yards and a touchdown. Lynch has not run for more than 100 yards in a game since playing Atlanta in week 10 so this week it will be very important to keep feeding the beast. There should be a primary focus this week on the run not just because of Lynch but because of the weather forecast which is calling for potential snow during the game. The Giants defense has been improving each week and their passing defense now ranks in the top half of teams in the league in yards allowed per game. Although we will see Russell Wilson make plays this week I think Marshawn Lynch is due for perhaps his biggest workload of the season this week. A 100-plus yard rushing performance by Lynch could send the Seahawks well on their way to a victory this week. 25-30 carries is the range I expect to see Lynch get against the Giants.

Like I stated earlier, Giants quarterback Eli Manning ranks first in the NFL in interceptions thrown and this week poses a daunting challenge for Manning and the New York offense. In order for the Giants offense to be successful against the Seahawks this week I think Manning needs to play similarly to how Colin Kaepernick played the Seahawks last week; by going conservative. Out-routes will be Manning’s best friend this week and I anticipate that he will not try to test the Legion of Boom down the middle of the field, much like the way Kaepernick effectively played last week by throwing along the sidelines. Wide receiver Victor Cruz will be Manning’s most reliable target this week but also keep an eye out for Hakeem Nicks who caught 5 passes for 131 yards against San Diego last week because he may emerge as a dangerous sideline threat this week.

The New York Giants defense is a mystery to me as a unit this season. Although they are one of the older, more experienced defenses in the league they still have playoff caliber talent. Mental lapses, ineffectiveness, and injuries have doomed the Giants all season long. The Giants give up an average of 337 yards per game to opposing offenses and in their 8 losses they allow close to 34 points per game, certainly one of the worst averages among all NFL teams. Justin Tuck continues to be the most well-known and most productive defender New York has to offer. Tuck has recorded a team high 8.5 sacks this season but the lack of production by the rest of his defensive teammates allows opposing quarterbacks to stand in the pocket, make throws, and continue drives. Fundamental tackling and forcing Russell Wilson turnovers will help the Giants prevail with a win this week. Having said this, my X-Factor player to watch for the New York Giants this week is Safety Antrel Rolle. Rolle leads all Giants defenders in tackles with 79; about 6 per game. Rolle has also intercepted 5 passes which also leads all Giants in that category. Rolle has been New York’s best all-around player on defense this week and it will be important for him to tackle smart to prevent big gains of yardage and to fly around in the secondary, similarly to Earl Thomas, in order to confuse Russell Wilson and have a chance to take advantage of any potential Seattle offensive mistakes.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week. Pant color has become a total crapshoot on the road but if I have to make a prediction, I say we will wear blue pants… The Giants will wear blue jerseys and I would not be surprised to see them wear their new white pants again this week… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch will have the call for FOX this week and Erin Andrews will patrol the sidelines. It was just announced this week that the Burkhardt/Lynch/Andrews team has earned the right to call one of two NFC Divisional playoff games on FOX on either January 11th or 12th. Good for this team. I would agree that they deserve this opportunity. I have enjoyed their broadcasts on Seahawks road games this season… Expect all questionable calls to go against the Seahawks this week. That’s right friends you guessed it. The referee for this week’s game is Bill Leavy. You know, the guy who helped prevent us win our first Super Bowl 8 years ago. Yeah. That guy… My cousins are going to be at this weekend’s game. I’m jealous. Oh well, maybe I’ll get the chance to go to the next Seahawks game at MetLife Stadium!… This will be the first game of the season that I get to watch with my best friends/roommates from last year. That will be a lot of fun. Looking forward to it Jake, Alan, and Clayton… I would love to see it snow during this week’s game. Not like the Detroit/Philadelphia game from last week but a light dusting would do for me… It’s really cool to think that if things go as planned in the coming weeks this will be the last Seahawks road trip until Super Bowl XLVIII should we make it. Let’s take care of business this week so we can maintain the wiggle room to clinch sooner rather than later. I do not want to see us lose, essentially thrusting our final two games into must-win games.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and a first round bye with a win over the Giants and a 49ers loss to Tampa Bay. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Giants, a 49ers loss to Tampa Bay, and a Saints loss to St. Louis. Here are this week’s games to watch that could affect the entire NFC Playoff picture. Teams to note are bolded.

Seattle (11-2) at New York Giants (5-8)

San Francisco (9-4) at Tampa Bay (4-9)

New Orleans (10-3) at St. Louis (5-8)

Philadelphia (8-5) at Minnesota (3-9-1)

Chicago (7-6) at Cleveland (4-9)

New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina (9-4)

Green Bay (6-6-1) at Dallas (7-6)

Arizona (8-5) at Tennessee (5-8)

Baltimore (7-6) at Detroit (7-6)

Prediction: There is a sense of urgency and the team knows it. They let last week slip away and I believe that this week they will not let the Giants get anything going to start. The Seahawks will build a lead and although New York may make it close, this game will be the Seahawks game to lose. Marshawn Lynch will run for a pair of touchdowns and Kam Chancellor will force a fumble which will be recovered by Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks will win but with a predicted San Francisco win, the Seahawks will have to wait one more week to clinch the NFC West at home against Arizona.

Seahawks 26, Giants 17

Check back late Sunday night/early Monday morning for my Giants review. Thanks for reading and Go Seahawks!

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Review: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17

9 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Although the NFC West championship and home field advantage is still all but certain, if for any reason we completely fall apart and miss out on either of these two scenarios this is the game the Seahawks and their fans will look back on as the turning point in the season. The Seahawks 7 game losing streak has come to an end and our quest for the division title must wait at least one more week as the Seahawks fell to the San Francisco 49ers 19-17 on Sunday. The Seahawks fall to 11-2 and now lead the 9-4 49ers by 2 games in the NFC West. There are a lot of frustrating moments that may have ultimately changed the outcome of the game. This is what I saw.

2nd Half Defense Does its Part: Over the past couple of seasons the Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the league when it comes to halftime adjustments and improvements. The defense stepped up and shut down the 49ers offense in the second half, holding them to only 3 points (for the sake of this section, forget those points were the ultimate difference in the game). The defensive pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was cranked up as Clinton McDonald and Chris Clemons each recorded a crucial sack on third down plays in the fourth quarter. Byron Maxwell once again stepped up in place of Walter Thurmond, recording 5 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and an interception. Overall the Seahawks defense only allowed 19 points to a solid 49ers offense which should be enough in order to win. Unfortunately the Seahawks failed to get any momentum going on offense to parallel the effort of the defense.

2nd Half Offense Fails to Show: When I went to Houston back in September the Seahawks were down by 17 points at halftime. Although I was surprised and disappointed I never gave up hope that the Seahawks could comeback because prior to that game they had proven that they could come back facing a deficit of at least 20 points. The Seahawks trailed the 49ers by 2 points at halftime and my overall feeling was that Darrell Bevell and Russell Wilson would make the necessary adjustments for the offense to comeback, take the lead, and potentially blow this game wide open. That never happened. The Seahawks only scored 3 points of their own in the second half and missed opportunities denied Seattle the chance to extend drives and perhaps put points on the board. Marshawn Lynch only ran for 72 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and it felt as though the Seahawks number one priority this week was to move the ball through the air even though Russell Wilson only threw the ball 25 times for 199 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. I give lots of credit to the San Francisco secondary, especially cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Eric Reid for their impressive blanket coverage on all Seahawks receivers. As the game went along the belief remained that the Seahawks would make a run at taking control of the game because I knew they could but as the minutes ticked off the clock the worse our chances became and by the time we got the ball back for our final drive it was too little too late and the clock had struck midnight.

Penalties Doom Seahawks: While watching Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN in my hotel room prior to leaving for Candlestick Park, one analyst boldly predicted that this week’s Seahawks/49ers game would break an NFL record for most number of penalties in a single game. It sure felt like he was right but the calls that went against the Seahawks came at the worst times. Instead of extending drives, penalties backed the Seahawks so far back that the drives predictably stalled and the Seahawks were forced to punt, trading potential points for goose-eggs and a change of possession. In a nutshell, I strongly believe that the 49ers did not beat the Seahawks but that the Seahawks beat the Seahawks. Two Marshawn Lynch first down runs were called back for holding, a long completion to Golden Tate was called back for offensive pass interference because Tate pushed off of his defender, and on a 4th and 5 while in punt formation it appeared that a 49er defender jumped offside, which caused the Seahawks to point towards the other side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of a 5-yard offsides penalty and an automatic first down, it was ruled a false start and the Seahawks backed up 5 yards. In total, the Seahawks committed 9 penalties for 85 yards. About half of those penalty yards came on long, potential game altering plays.

The Gamble and the Two Plays that Changed the Game: After the Seahawks took a 17-16 lead the 49ers got the ball back with 6:20 left in the game. The Seahawks had two timeouts to work with and with the way the defense had been playing, I felt that it was entirely possible that we could force a quick drive and get the ball back to attempt to pad our lead. Instead, the 49ers gave the ball to running back Frank Gore who galloped 51 yards on the fourth play of the drive and all of a sudden the 49ers went from having the ball in their own territory to having the ball in the red zone, well within field goal range. After Kendall Hunter ran for one yard on the next play coach Carroll decided to take our second timeout and it was clear how he was going to play the end of the game; use both timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the 49ers with enough time to allow them to kick a field goal and for us to go down the field into field goal range for Steven Hauschka to win the game. Carroll used the Seahawks final timeout after a 2-yard run by Gore and all the Seahawks needed to do was stop San Francisco to set up a 49ers field goal with 2:00 left. Instead Carroll’s gamble backfired and the Seahawks allowed the second most important play of the game; a first down scramble by Kaepernick to give San Francisco a fresh set of downs and the ability to run the clock down under a minute, kick a field goal, and leave the Seahawks virtually no time to go down the field and score. If I was Pete Carroll I would have waited to use our timeouts after the two minute warning which would have given us about one extra minute of game clock. I do not blame Carroll for the decision he made because he had trust in a unit that had not given up any points in the second half up until this point in the game. Unfortunately it nipped the Seahawks in the bud.

49ers Played Like They Wanted it More: On Saturday night, Mitch Levy of Sports Radio 950 KJR tweeted that the attitudes and body language of 49ers players in interviews leading up to this week’s game showed a team that was uptight; so uptight that, as Levy stated “you can’t get a blade of grass up their asses.” San Francisco sure did not play like that at all. The 49ers came out firing with full confidence and I got the sense that they did a remarkable job preparing for what the Seahawks were going to throw at them on both sides of the ball.  They fed off the energy of their home crowd and scoring 16 points in the first half alone gave their defense extreme confidence to shut the Seahawks offense down. The 49ers did not play as an uptight team, but as a team that had a “we have nothing to lose” mentality when in reality this was a game they definitely needed to win to continue to control their own destiny in the NFC wild-card race.

Injury Analysis: Linebacker K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot on Sunday and there is an estimated recovery time of at least six weeks. If that is the case, Wright could make it back in time to play in Super Bowl XLVIII should the Seahawks make it. Wright however remains hopeful that he will be healthy enough to return in time for the start of the playoffs, as was portrayed on his Twitter shortly after Sunday’s game. Max Unger and Jeron Johnson also exited the game this week and both did not return. Unger is dealing with a strained pectoral muscle and Johnson pulled a hamstring. To my knowledge their statuses for next week against the New York Giants is unknown. Losing Wright, a starter on defense, hurts but Malcolm Smith stepped in for Wright and did a good job. Unger is the man I would be the most worried about. Unger is the anchor of the offensive line and if the Seahawks are going to be without him for any length of time, we may see shades of the Seahawks teams that struggled against St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Thoughts on San Francisco: The 49ers looked like a team that could make the playoffs as a wild-card and make a run deep into the playoffs, assuming of course that they do not run into Seattle along that road. The defense played a really good football game and if Frank Gore is feeling it he is extremely hard to stop. The addition of Michael Crabtree back into the lineup also adds firing power to the cannon of Colin Kaepernick. If the 49ers have to come to Seattle in the playoffs they will most likely lose but I would not be surprised to see the 49ers make it to at least the divisional round if not the NFC Championship Game if they are able to play like they did on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: All of my random thoughts will come in an in-depth feature post on my entire weekend trip to San Francisco. I hope to have that post published by mid-week. Stay tuned!

In addition to “Weekend in San Francisco 2013” post in the middle of this week, make sure to check back on Saturday as I preview next week’s matchup with the New York Giants. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 23, Texans 20 (OT)

1 Oct

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Last season in Chicago the Seahawks drove 80 yards in overtime to beat the Bears 23-17. That game turned out to be a huge statement game and jump started the Seahawks to 5 straight wins to end the regular season. What happened on Sunday could carry huge momentum as we carry on with the 2013 season. The Seahawks came back from a 17 point halftime deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime in one of the biggest and most impressive comebacks in franchise history. With the win the Seahawks have started 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and keep a two game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Texans fall to 2-2 on the season. Here are my thoughts on the big points of Sunday’s amazing win.

Thoughts on the Offensive Line: I understand that the Seahawks offensive line went up against one of the best defenders in the NFL in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt this week. Watt recorded 4 tackles and only 0.5 sacks but the stat line does not show what I saw from the upper deck of Reliant Stadium. What I saw was Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus (my X-Factor player if you remember), and defensive tackle Antonio Smith completely dominating the Seahawks offensive line physically.  The Texans bull-rush technique was extremely effective throughout the game on Sunday. Russell Wilson was pressured 16 times by the Houston defense. Those 16 plays resulted in 5 sacks, 5 incompletions, 5 quarterback rushes, and one interception. These results contributed to a passer rating of 49.7 for Wilson, the third lowest passer rating of his career. The adjustments offensive line coach Tom Cable made at halftime worked because the Seahawks showed slight improvement by giving Wilson slightly more time to throw. With center Max Unger hopefully coming back this week I do not believe Wilson will have the kind of frustrating day against Indianapolis that he had in Houston.

Thoughts on the Defense: Just like with the offensive line, it was a night-and-day difference between the first half and the second half/overtime. After allowing 20 first half points the defense buckled down and did not allow another Texans score. In the second half and overtime the Seahawks forced 7 Houston punts, recovered a fumble, and cornerback Richard Sherman returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game 20-20. The pass rush also improved dramatically as Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril each recorded a sack of Matt Schaub in the second half. The resiliency the Seahawks defense showed against Houston proves that we have the capability to come back from any deficit. Seahawks fans should be very confident in this unit. This year, more than any other year, do not count this team out of any game regardless of the score or circumstances. They made a huge statement in Houston this week and with the schedule easing up a bit in the coming weeks, this is a perfect opportunity to get further ahead of the rest of the division.

The Michael Bennett Factor: With 10 seconds left in the first half Michael Bennett left the game on a stretcher with a lower back injury. Thankfully, the injury was not as serious as it looked and at halftime Bennett was in the Seahawks locker room. He told Richard Sherman “just come on, win this for me. I’m not going to be able to come back in this one.” This moment of inspiration and emotion was a tremendous motivating factor for the entire team and especially for the defense, as they went on to shutout the Texans offense for the remainder of the game. Without the injury I raise the question: would the Seahawks have the fire and inspiration to play the way they did in the second half? Luckily for the Seahawks the game resulted in victory and luckily for Bennett it looks like he may have a decent chance to play next week.

Thoughts on Houston: The Texans have a talented team but the offense is their weakest link. Head coach Gary Kubiak along with Texans fans do not seem to have confidence in Matt Schaub’s decision making and his play in-fact cost them a win. The defense will continue to be one of the best units in the NFL as long as they can stay healthy. If this team can get on a winning streak, they could become a dangerous contender later on in the season.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be detailed in a post about my weekend in Houston later this week. I only have only one random thought for this review. The Seahawks wore grey jerseys and grey pants this week. As I posted on Facebook before the game, I am the kind of fan who likes to wear the same jersey that the team is wearing for each game. I do not believe I have ever worn the wrong colored jersey to a Seahawks game in my life. I felt quite out of sorts this week in the stands, as I was wearing my white road jersey; the one I thought the team would be wearing.

Later this week I will post an in-depth summary of my weekend trip to Houston for the game. Be sure to check back for that. Also, my preview of next week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will be posted Saturday morning. Go Hawks!

Down to 53

31 Aug

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have our team. For week one at least. The Seahawks and the rest of the teams in the NFL had until 3pm pacific time Saturday to shrink their rosters down to 53 players. The Seahawks waived 18 players, terminated the contracts of 4 others and also made one trade.

Waived: Phil Bates (WR), Michael Brooks (DT), Dewayne Cherrington (DT), Arceto Clark (WR), Darren Fells (TE), Winston Guy (S), Chris Harper (WR), Cooper Helfet (TE), Jaye Howard (DT), Rishaw Johnson (OG), Sean McGrath (TE), Ron Parker (CB), Ty Powell (LB), Ryan Seymour (OG), DeShawn Shead (S), Sealver Siliga (DT), Jared Smith (OG), Bryan Walters (WR).

Contracts Terminated: Clinton McDonald (DT), Brady Quinn (QB), Michael Robinson (FB), Antoine Winfield (CB).

Trade: The Seahawks traded a future conditional draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith.

The Seahawks also moved defensive end Chris Clemons from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster.

Some Brief Thoughts: The move that makes the least sense to me is releasing fullback Michael Robinson. I understand that Robinson was due make a base salary of $2.5 million dollars in 2013 which would qualify him as one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL. By cutting Robinson, the Seahawks reportedly save $1 million of cap space this season. Having said this, the Seahawks are in “win now” mode and some think this season carries a “super bowl or bust” label. Robinson was a pro bowler two years ago and a pro bowl alternate last season. He is definitely the best option at fullback of players available to the Seahawks. By releasing Robinson, I believe you are weakening a very valuable position to Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I am holding out hope that no other team will sign Robinson for the money he was due to make and he will sign a new contract to come back to Seattle.

Of the players that were waived, three stick out in my mind; Winston Guy, Cooper Helfet, and Sean McGrath. Guy seemed to come on strong during the playoffs last season, playing in a limited role as a rookie. His spared play during the preseason could mean that the Seahawks coaching staff thinks Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, and Jeron Johnson showed enough to convince the front office that they can add great depth to the secondary by themselves. I would not be surprised however if Guy is retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The cuts of Helfet and McGrath together make me scratch my head. The Seahawks now only have two tight ends on the active roster (Zach Miller and Luke Willson) and I was certain one of these players would make the final roster. One of these guys will make the practice squad. It just makes sense. The depth at tight end is too weak not to carry one on the practice squad.

I am sad to see that Antoine Winfield was cut but at the same time I am excited. Winfield’s release tells me the Seahawks are confident in the young talent they have to fill Winfield’s shoes. I am excited to see Brady Quinn cut. He was very unimpressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Keeping Quinn would have been a wasted roster spot. Maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else (are you listening Bills and Jets fans?).

My Practice Squad: The Seahawks now have until the end of the weekend to fill their 8-man practice squad. Using only the players we waived today here are the 8 players I think the Seahawks should retain: Phil Bates, Winston Guy, Chris Harper, Jaye Howard, Rishaw Johnson, Ron Parker, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith.

 

Seahawks/Chargers Preview

7 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers

Site: Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, California)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

Welcome to another season of Seahawks football on the blog! The Seahawks kick off the preseason tomorrow night in San Diego as they take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers finished 2nd in the AFC West in 2012, posting a 7-9 record. Unfortunately this mark was not good enough to save some jobs and the winds of change hit San Diego. Norv Turner was fired as head coach and former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was named head coach. Ken Whisenhunt, the former Arizona head coach is now the Chargers offensive coordinator. The Seahawks finished 11-5 last season and lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The Seahawks and Chargers last met in the preseason in 2011 when the Seahawks defeated San Diego 24-17. Even though it is the preseason here are a few things I will still have my eye on.

Russell Wilson will only see a series or two to start the game. I think we will quite a bit of Tarvaris Jackson and even more of Brady Quinn tomorrow night. Jackson was listed as the number two quarterback on the newly-released depth chart last week. The coaching staff knows what they have in Jackson and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jackson play through the first half and Quinn play the entire second half. Winning is secondary in the preseason but if the Seahawks cannot score early in the game with the first and second string units, the Seahawks will struggle to win. Based on what I have seen during training camp, Quinn has consistently struggled to move the ball during 11-on-11 drills and is very timid to make vertical throws, often choosing to check down to the running back or slot receiver. If Quinn can lead the Seahawks on a couple scoring drives he will have a much greater chance in my eyes to win the backup quarterback job.

With Percy Harvin out and Sidney Rice questionable after his knee procedure in Switzerland, many of the Seahawks young receivers will get a chance to show what they can do on Thursday night. I will be focusing on three receivers tomorrow night; Jermaine Kearse, Chris Harper, and Stephen Williams. Kearse is projected to earn a roster spot behind Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin since Percy Harvin will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The coaching staff likes Kearse a lot and he is seen as a sleeper who can stretch the field. Chris Harper is our 4th round rookie who in my opinion has not impressed much during training camp. With the play of our other receivers fighting to make the roster, Harper could wind up being a casualty when it comes time for roster cuts. Harper will need to play well during the preseason to prove he belongs on the team when we open the season against Carolina. Stephen Williams is arguably having the best camp of any wide receiver. All three quarterbacks have developed chemistry with Williams and he could also be a vertical threat. I expect to see a lot of Stephen Williams on Thursday night.

On defense for the Seahawks, I am focusing on three spots. Defensive end, defensive tackle, and outside linebacker are the positions with the most question marks on defense. Tony McDaniel will get the start at defensive tackle alongside Brandon Mebane on Thursday night. McDaniel will most likely compete with Jesse Williams and Clinton McDonald for the starting defensive tackle spot. Malcolm Smith will start at outside linebacker with Bruce Irvin taking his spot on passing downs. Smith is the favorite to win this job, replacing Leroy Hill who spent 8 seasons starting at outside linebacker. Cliff Avril is nursing a foot injury and will not play Thursday night. Mike Morgan and Michael Bennett will see time at defensive end with Red Bryant on the other side.

For the San Diego Chargers, they spent the offseason trying to fix their once-dominant offense. Mike McCoy was hired as head coach, coming over from Denver where he coached one of the most explosive offenses in 2012. The Chargers used their first round draft pick on offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, which goes to show how poor the Chargers offensive line has been over the past few years and, in effect, how bad the offense has struggled as a whole. With a stronger offensive line, running back Ryan Mathews looks to bounce back after another disappointing 2012 campaign and Philip Rivers also looks to bounce back after two sub-par seasons. I am curious to see how backup running back Danny Woodhead fits into the Chargers plans. I expect to see a lot of Woodhead on Thursday night.

On defense, San Diego filled a hole at outside linebacker by signing free agent Dwight Freeney. Freeney adds veteran leadership to a position group that is more-or-less inexperienced and also adds a punch rushing the passer. One of the most notable additions for the Chargers this offseason was the drafting of linebacker Manti Te’o. Te’o and Donald Butler will both start at inside linebacker and it will be interesting to see how Te’o moves around the field, given one of his weaknesses before the draft was his tackling.

Random Thoughts: First and foremost, it feels so good to be back… The Seahawks will have 9 days off before coming home to play Denver. They will then have only 6 days off before playing Green Bay and another 6-day short week before ending the preseason against Oakland… The weather forecast for Thursday night is high 60’s and partly cloudy at kickoff. We have played in the sun every time we have gone to San Diego to play in the preseason… I have been to Qualcomm Stadium to see the Mariners play the San Diego Padres 10 years ago. How that stadium ever hosted a super bowl I’ll never understand. It is a dump (but not as bad of a dump as Candlestick)… The Seahawks will wear white uniforms Thursday night. No word on pant color yet… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call on Q13 FOX this week. They will call 2 more Seahawks preseason games… I do not care if we win this game. All I hope is that we can leave San Diego injury free.

Prediction: I think the Seahawks will look a bit rusty at the beginning of the game but we will put together a couple lengthy drives that will result in points. I expect to see Brady Quinn struggle but improve as the game goes on. Unfortunately however I think that the continuity Chargers backup quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Brad Sorensen is stronger than the continuity Quinn has and that will be the difference in the game.

Chargers 23, Seahawks 13

Check back on Friday for a review of the Seahawks first preseason game of the season! Go Seahawks!

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Defensive Linemen

19 Jul

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

Current Defensive Linemen on Roster (14): Cliff Avril, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, Greg Scruggs, Jaye Howard, Clinton McDonald, Jesse Williams, Jordan Hill, Kenneth Boatright, Michael Brooks, Benson Mayowa

The Seahawks defensive line was one of the more consistent groups on the team last season. This season the Seahawks hope to improve on one of the best run stopping units and the acquisitions made during the offseason also display Seattle’s commitment to improving the pass rush. Here are some storylines to follow during training camp.

With Bruce Irvin officially moving to outside linebacker, it is easier to predict where new Seahawks Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett will line up on passing downs. Avril will most likely fill in for Red Bryant while Bennett will play along the inside. The starting defensive line will initially consist of Avril and Bryant on the outside with a rotation of Bennett, Brandon Mebane, and Tony McDaniel on the inside. When it comes to the starters, my focus while watching practice will be who will rotate in with each defensive unit.

One unknown factor heading into training camp is the health of defensive end Chris Clemons. Clemons, who tore his ACL during the Wild-Card playoff game against Washington, is ahead of schedule in his recovery and it was reported earlier in the offseason that he may be available to play week one against Carolina. If that is the case, the Seahawks will have to re-arrange the formations for passing downs to fit Clemons, Avril, and Bennett on the field. For the time being, Clemons is still recovering therefore I will not consider him to counted on for the preseason and the first regular season game. If he does get back for any time during training camp, it will definitely be a pleasant surprise to all Seahawks fans. Another injury to note, although he is still listed on the active roster, defensive end Greg Scruggs tore his ACL during the offseason and will most likely miss the 2013 season.

From a depth perspective, the Seahawks seem to be pretty stacked at defensive line. The Seahawks used two mid-round draft picks on Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams and Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill. I believe Williams could challenge for the second starting defensive tackle spot and Hill will be a quality backup used in the defensive tackle rotation. The Seahawks also return Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard along the d-line although Howard did not see much time last season.

Among the Seahawks undrafted free agents is Kenneth Boatright. Boatright, from Southern Illinois, has the best chance of any undrafted player to make the final roster. If there is a spot for him, Boatright will be added in with Avril, Clemons, Irvin, and Bennett to a very talented pass rush formation. Of all of our defensive linemen, Boatright is the man who I am most excited to see during training camp and the preseason.

My training camp preview series will resume on Monday with a look at the safeties. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

OTA’s Wrap-Up: Week One

24 May

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

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

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

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

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

Portis Cut

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

Opinion: Bruce Irvin’s Suspension

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

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

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