Tag Archives: Cooper Helfet

Review: Seahawks 39, Steelers 30

29 Nov
steelers review 2015

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Last week the Seahawks were fueled by rookie power. This week it was the veterans who stepped up huge. Doug Baldwin caught a career high 3 touchdowns and Jermaine Kearse added a pair of touchdown catches to help propel the Seahawks to a much-needed 39-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The win gives the Seahawks a 6-5 record, their first winning record of the season. It was great to see the Seahawks finally close out a close game in the fourth quarter after it looked like Pittsburgh would make a late charge. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.

Happy Birthday Russell: On his 27th birthday Russell Wilson went out and had the best game he could have possibly asked for. Wilson completed 21 of his 30 passes for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns. The best part? He did not turn the ball over once. Seattle’s offensive line did a tremendous job protecting Wilson. It also felt like the offensive game plan was designed to help Russell out in the pocket, meaning he may not have had as many progressions on each play which is a big factor in how long Wilson holds onto the ball. Wilson was also able to do something that has not been done all season. The Seahawks trailed two separate times in the fourth quarter and we were able to score 19 points in the final frame to re-take the lead twice and hold on to it. Our offense as a whole had played their best game of the season and could provide some serious momentum moving forward.

The Good News and the Bad News: The good news is that the Seahawks finished the game +4 in the turnover department. Those four turnovers, all of which interceptions, led to three Seahawks touchdowns. As much as I want to praise the Legion of Boom for forcing these turnovers, the bad news is that the Seahawks defense gave up 480 yards through the air and 538 total yards. According to this statistical category it was the worst outing for our defense all season. A lack of a pass rush directly contributed to our defensive struggles. In my game preview I emphasized the importance of putting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger or else he would have time to make deep throws, something which he thrives on. Roethlisberger threw deep several times on Sunday including a high-arching 69-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton. I think DeShawn Shead played a decent game in place of the inactive Cary Williams and it would not surprise me to see him start in Williams’s place once again next week.

Graham’s Injury and Moving Forward: The Seahawks were dealt a huge blow in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Russell Wilson threw a 24-yard pass to the back corner of the endzone intended for Jimmy Graham. Graham fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his right knee. After the game it was reported Graham tore his right patellar tendon, an injury that will require surgery and end his 2015 season. Many people have gotten on Graham’s case for not being the offensive machine he was in New Orleans but keep in mind that entering Sunday’s game Graham led all Seahawks receivers in receiving yards. Luke Willson will start in Graham’s place for the rest of the season and Cooper Helfet will likely see expanded playing time. As devastating this injury is I believe it is positive to stay optimistic. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on all three drives following Graham’s injury. Perhaps with Graham out some of our offensive chemistry from last season will be rediscovered.

Thoughts on Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Steelers offense can be one of the best in the league but if they want to compete for a wild-card spot their defense must play better than they did on Sunday. Unfortunately a lot of their talent is young which may not translate to a deep playoff run. This team is good enough to make the playoffs now but I would wait a couple more years before I would consider them legitimate super bowl contenders.

Random Thoughts: I was surprised that the fog did not completely burn off this afternoon. Sitting in the 300 level, I love when it is foggy because since you cannot see any surrounding buildings it feels like the stadium is in its very own cloud… There were way too many terrible towels but only a couple around me fortunately. No incidents between Steelers and Seahawks fans in my close vicinity also so that was good… Let me talk for a minute about that Steelers fake field goal/pooch punt formation/pass which was executed horribly and intercepted by Jeremy Lane. What in the world was that?! Why are you going for a fake that early in the game? A field goal would have given the Steelers a 6-0 lead but instead it led to Seattle’s first touchdown and a 7-3 Seahawks lead. Good on Lane for not biting and staying with eligible receiver Alejandro Villanueva on the outside. Worst play call I have seen from any team all season… NBA hall of famer and former SuperSonic Spencer Haywood raised the 12 flag on Sunday. I love when they honor former Sonics because it feels like they are keeping the spirit of the Sonics franchise alive… Two huge road games coming up. Two must-wins. Minnesota’s first up.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the Seahawks win and losses by Atlanta and Tampa Bay, the Seahawks currently hold the #6 seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Seahawks are 3 games behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West.

What’s Next: Look for my preview of next week’s crucial game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday morning.

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

2 Sep
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks 16, Raiders 13

Review: Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3

23 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Seahawks 13, Panthers 9

26 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

After two weeks of uncertainty including two losses and various reports of locker-room tension, the Seahawks took a huge step forward to silencing their critics. Although it was incredibly frustrating and hard to watch, the Seahawks came away with a huge 13-9 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Seahawks improve to 4-3 on the season while the Panthers fall to 3-4-1. Even though we were victorious there is still much to improve on moving forward. Here are my positive and negative thoughts I took away from this week’s game.

YAC Makes Me Puke: Today the Seahawks had a serious problem tackling the ball carrier at the first point of contact. On several occasions throughout Sunday’s game the Panthers were able to break out of Seattle’s tackles and fight for extra yardage. Many of these plays set the Panthers up for manageable second down situations, leading to 17 total first downs. Carolina is equipped with several big, physical skill position players so it is not surprising that the Panthers do a good job in picking up yards after contact. What was frustrating however was that the Seattle defense did not have an answer for quarterback Cam Newton, running back Jonathan Stewart, and the rest of the Carolina offense as the game wore on. A common thing I saw in this game was that the Seahawks tried to wrap up Newton and Stewart above the waist, allowing them to shed tackles easier and for them to use their sneaky elusiveness to make plays and pick up extra yards. Fundamentals need to be tightened up in practice this week because these small plays have come back to bite the Seahawks historically.

Thoughts on Russell Wilson: With the exception of a couple specific throws, it seemed like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was out of sync with his receivers throughout Sunday’s game. Being known as one of the more accurate passers in the NFL, Wilson struggled to hit his receivers, often underthrowing them. There were a couple of short slant routes that were thrown in between two receivers and it is possible that miscommunication among the wide receivers may have been at fault. The Carolina defense did an excellent job of playing tight coverage and it was difficult for Wilson to find open receivers all game long. All in all, Wilson finished 20/32 for 199 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. I will give Wilson some credit though as he did a fantastic job leading the Seahawks down the field for the game-winning score, including a beautiful touchdown pass to tight end Luke Willson. That reception was proof that Wilson’s throws were improving as the game wore on. Once again the Seahawks offense played their best football at the end of the game.

9 Points That Should Have Been: There were two plays that should have been made which would have put 9 extra points on the board for the Seahawks. First was the fake read-option pass which worked with Ricardo Lockette in our week 1 win over Green Bay. Wilson showed run from the read-option formation and then threw in the direction of a wide open Cooper Helfet. The pass was underthrown however, and Helfet was unable to stop his route, come back, and make the catch. Upon further review it looked as though Wilson could not get a proper grip on the football because he had to make the throw before he crossed the line of scrimmage. The pass came out of his hand funny and the ball was poorly underthrown. It would have been an easy touchdown but instead the Seahawks settled for a field goal which tied the game at 6-6. The second play came on first down from the Carolina 8-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Michael Bennett was able to penetrate the Panthers offensive line and he had Cam Newton dead in his tracks in the endzone which would have resulted in a safety and given Seattle an 8-6 lead. Instead, Newton was somehow able to shed Bennett’s sack and escape, leading to a throwaway. Although it did not result in a sack and two points, it was this play that set the Seahawks up for phenomenal defensive play on the Panthers next and last drive of the game.

Irvin Prevents Potential Last Minute Magic: Lately it seems like all Bruce Irvin is useful for is racking up roughing the passer penalties and lining up offsides… multiple times… in the same game. Today however, Irvin made two huge plays that preserved the Seahawks victory. The first was a sack of Cam Newton on the Panthers final drive of the game. A 2nd and 10 which turned into a 3rd and 18. Irvin thought that was so much fun that he went back for seconds on the very next play. In a moment where I have been begging Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to dial up extra pressure late in the game, Irvin was successful in sacking Newton again, which set up an improbable 4th and 25. In games against Peyton Manning and Tony Romo earlier this season, Seattle has played relaxed defense late which cost us crucial late-game points. The decision by Quinn to send the house in addition to the play by Irvin made sure that the Carolina Panthers would not drive down the field to make this finish interesting, much like Denver and Dallas had respectively.

Thoughts on Carolina: The Carolina Panthers defense played a very sound game this week. I think their defense can lead this team but the offense could cost them points and perhaps even wins. In a very weak division thus far, I believe the NFC South could come down to “which team does not screw up the most.” Right now the Panthers lead the division with a losing record. Their only competition for the division title will once again be the New Orleans Saints. Having said this, Cam Newton must improve under pressure. He played the final drive of this game, specifically the 4th and 25 play as if he knew the Panthers had already lost. If the quarterback play improves, the Panthers may be able to get into the playoffs as the NFC South champions.

Random Thoughts: For the first time in 2014 the Seahawks wore their wolf grey jerseys and wolf grey pants. The looked slick as always but in my opinion they don’t look as cool when it is sunny. Nevertheless the Seahawks are now 4-0 all-time when wearing wolf grey… The Panthers wore their black jerseys and silver pants as expected… I think referee Walt Coleman called a pretty average game. Not a big fan of that guy… Dan Fouts is not a very good color commentator for CBS. Still better than a FOX broadcast with Chris Myers though… My Bellevue neighborhood lost power late Saturday night so I trekked to Seattle to watch the game, as I had no TV access on the eastside. That is a first… The Seahawks split the road trip. Too bad we couldn’t take both games and honestly if I knew we were going to split these two games I wish we would have beaten St. Louis and lost to Carolina… Now that our back-to-back road games are in the books it is time for back-to-back home games. In fact the Seahawks play 3 out of their next 4 games at home. It is time to get some momentum going at CenturyLink Field and get back in the division race!

Check back next Saturday as I preview the Seahawks week 9 matchup with the Oakland Raiders. Thanks for reading as always. Go Seahawks!

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.

 

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

28 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

For the 8th straight season and the 3rd straight at home, the Seahawks conclude the preseason against their former division rivals the Oakland Raiders. In their last 7 preseason meetings the Seahawks are 6-1. Seattle’s only loss came in 2010 in Oakland. Last week the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-10 while the Raiders lost at home to the Chicago Bears 34-26. The last preseason game is mainly for players who are on the bubble to make the week one roster to show what they’ve got to impress the coaching staff and convince them they deserve the chance to be on the team. Here are some things to watch on Thursday night.

If you are watching the game on television this week and want to watch Russell Wilson and the rest of the starters, make sure your TV is on right at 7. Don’t blink either because you might miss it. The starters are only expected to see a series this week (if they play at all) and then the backups will play the rest of the game. As is the case with most of the other teams around the league, the last preseason game is a tryout for the backups to prove that they are one of the best 53 men on the roster. There are several guys who are fighting for a Seahawks uniform come September but I spotlight five players to keep an eye out for on Thursday night. I believe these players are on the bubble to make the final roster and a strong performance on Thursday night could be the difference between a trip with the Seahawks to Carolina for week one and perhaps a spot on the waiver wire.

Spencer Ware: Ware is battling Michael Robinson for the starting fullback job. I do not expect Ware to beat Robinson out but he will get a good look on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if Seattle keeps Ware on the active roster or if they release him, potentially with the hope they can place him on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Cooper Helfet: With the Seahawks weak tight end corps, Helfet is battling Sean McGrath for the 3rd and final tight end spot. Helfet’s numbers in the preseason have almost mirrored McGrath’s. In three preseason games, Helfet has three catches for 47 yards while McGrath has three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Helfet needs to outperform McGrath this week and if he does he could win a spot on the roster.

Rishaw Johnson: Among a position group filled with young talent, Johnson may be an odd man out. Johnson’s main competition at offensive guard are rookies Jared Smith and Ryan Seymour. The mistakes guard Lemuel Jeanpierre made against Green Bay may have raised Johnson’s stock.

Heath Farwell: If Farwell gets cut it would come as a shock to me. It is possible though. Farwell is a tremendous asset on special teams and his roster status may not come down to his play at linebacker. If the coaching staff thinks someone can make a stronger impact then Farwell on special teams, he will most likely be cut come the end of the weekend.

Jaye Howard: Howard remains a bubble player to me even after the news that Jesse Williams has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the 2013 season with a knee injury. The emergence of Jordan Hill I believe will determine if Howard is a Seahawk this season or not. Hopefully Howard will get a good amount of playing time this week to prove he can be solid depth to a defensive tackle group that has all of a sudden become one of the weaker groups on this team from a depth perspective.

The Oakland Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season. They have a new quarterback in Matt Flynn, whom they traded for from Seattle during the offseason but this week the spotlight is on another Raiders quarterback who is suddenly a strong candidate to start Oakland’s first game. Due to arm soreness (where have I heard this before…) Flynn will not play on Thursday night. Instead Terrelle Pryor will start for the Raiders. Pryor is viewed as a lock to be the backup quarterback in Oakland this season but due to poor play and injury by Flynn, Pryor is now in a position to make his case to be the Raiders starting quarterback this season. It would be the second time in as many years that the presumed starter, Flynn, would be beat out by one of his backups. I think that Pryor will see an extended amount of playing time and if he is successful in moving the ball I predict he will be Oakland’s starter week one.

When you are a 4-12 team and still in rebuilding mode you are going to have a plethora of weaknesses on your team. For the Raiders, no weakness is greater than along the offensive line. The Raiders lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer to a torn triceps earlier in the preseason. Rookie Menelik Watson will start at left tackle for Oakland Thursday night. As sad as it may be to say, even though Veldheer arguably Oakland’s best offensive lineman, it is skeptical to believe Veldheer would be good enough to be Seattle’s starting RIGHT tackle. The running game will be my focus for Oakland this week. I am not expecting a whole lot out of running backs Rashad Jennings and Jeremy Stewart but if they can move the ball my optimism would grow if I was a Raiders fan heading into the regular season.

Random Thoughts: With this being the final game preseason game comes my annual five dollar bet on the game with my Raiders friend Josh. I have never lost and he has never seen the Raiders win in Seattle. I expect to win again this season. If we can beat Denver by 30 at home during the preseason, I think this will be an easy bet to win… The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants most likely this week… The weather forecast looks bleak, even for a preseason game. I’ve seen a game time temperature of 71 degrees and a 40 percent chance of rain… It’s going to be a busy day Thursday. On tap: lunch at Dixie’s BBQ in Bellevue, pre-gaming at a bar downtown, getting into the stadium right as the gates open so I can watch warm-ups and Josh can get autographs at the Raiders tunnel, and finally the game… My friend James is also taking his girlfriend Christine to her first game. The best part? They are sitting two rows down and three seats to the left of me. That will be a lot of fun I imagine… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week… No word on the referee… The starting defense will be introduced this week during pregame introductions… Sidney Rice is the only Seahawk on my fantasy team and he is my #3 wide receiver… I think I like the Marshawn Lynch “Madden 25” commercial than the one Russell Wilson is in. Lynch is just a goofier guy and the advertisement he is in is slightly more ridiculous… This is your final warm-up, 12th Man. Make sure you shake the rust off on Thursday because the next time we all get together it will be to break the Guinness world record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.” (I broke that story, you know). I’m not trying to overlook the Raiders game but I’m just saying make sure you know what is on deck for the next game.

Prediction: The game will get off to a slow start but Tarvaris Jackson, Brady Quinn, and Christine Michael will warm-up and score multiple touchdowns. The defense will feed off the 12th Man and will not have any trouble stopping Oakland’s running game. Overall, I expect this game to be a cakewalk and could be over by halftime.

Seahawks 37, Raiders 10

My game review will be posted Friday afternoon. Check back this weekend for an analysis of the Seahawks final roster cuts. Then a week from this Saturday be sure to check back for my preview of “Back to Football” weekend and our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Receivers

18 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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