Tag Archives: Cortland Finnegan

Review: Panthers 31, Seahawks 24

17 Jan
Jonathan Stewart

Photo Credit: NFL.com

There is no doubt the Seattle Seahawks showed a tremendous amount of heart on Sunday. Unfortunately at the end of the day the deficit was too big and time was too little. The 2015 campaign comes to a close as the Carolina Panthers defeat the Seahawks 31-24, eliminating Seattle and advancing to next week’s NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by a team other than the Seahawks for the first time since 2012. For this preview I will break the game down into two huge chunks, the frustrating disaster that was the first half, and the incredible comeback which fueled the second half. Here are my final thoughts of the 2015 season.

The First Half: The Seahawks spotted the Panthers 31 points going into the halftime break. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and both the Seattle offense and defense were to blame. On the very first play of the game Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart broke through into the Legion of Boom and galloped all the way down to the Seattle 16-yard line, a gain of 59 yards. This set up a Stewart touchdown run 3 plays later giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead only two and a half minutes into the game. On the Seahawks first possession of the game Carolina stole away any momentum the Seahawks were trying to muster and held a tight grasp on it for the rest of the half. On second down Russell Wilson felt immediate pressure and forced a pass to the middle of the field in the direction of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had yet to turn around and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted the pass and ran it in for a touchdown. 14-0 Panthers less than three and a half minutes into the game. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove down the field and scored again on a Stewart 1-yard touchdown run. 21-0 Panthers. On the first play of Seattle’s next possession Wilson felt rushed again and threw a low pass which was intercepted by Cortland Finnegan. A Carolina field goal made it 24-0 Panthers with 12:37 left in the second quarter. The nightmare continued on Carolina’s next possession. After a Seahawks punt the Panthers drove 54 yards in 9 plays culminating with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. The Seahawks went into the halftime break down 31-0, their largest deficit in a game since 2010.

I noticed a few things in the first half that drove me crazy, some which we could control and others we really could not. For starters as the score went up I felt like our defense started to play panicked and tried to force their play. What I mean by this is instead of good fundamental tackling we would try to force takeaways by forcing the ball out which at times helped Carolina gain extra yards. Third down defense was also a problem, as Carolina converted 71 percent of their third down chances in the first half. On offense I found quarterback pressures and hurries to be particularly frustrating. One of the best facets of Russell Wilson’s game is his escapability and he did not do a good job of creating plays in the first half. He felt too comfortable in the pocket and trusted his offensive line almost to a fault. I also believe Wilson and the Seahawks offense discounted the speed of the Panthers defense. They absolutely swarmed him and ate him up in the first half, leading to two turnovers and a sack. The field also did not do the Seahawks any favors either. Players were slipping, sliding, and falling down throughout pregame warmups which led to harsh criticism which was discussed on the FOX broadcast in the early part of the game. Marshawn Lynch looked particularly uncomfortable playing on that sloppy surface, especially since the majority of his success running the ball depends on him being able to be shifty and cut sharply on the turf.

The Second Half: My hope was that if the Seahawks could somehow score 21 points in the third quarter to cut the Panthers lead to 10, we could put ourselves in position to potentially make the greatest comeback in NFL playoffs history a reality. For a time it looked like it might be doable. The Seahawks adjusted wonderfully coming out of the halftime break and came out firing. On the first offensive possession of the second half the Seahawks were set up thanks to a 50-yard kick return by Tyler Lockett. A personal foul by Carolina on the kickoff gave the Seahawks an additional 15 yards. On the fourth play of the drive Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown. After forcing the Panthers to punt the Seahawks took their next drive all the way down the field resulting in a touchdown pass to Lockett. Halfway through the third quarter the Seahawks were only 7 points away from my goal. It was 31-14 Carolina. At the pace we were going I thought an epic comeback was a real possibility at this point but after our next drive resulted in a punt it started to feel like it was going to be extremely difficult. The Seahawks got the ball back with 9:34 left in the game and we drove down the field to score a touchdown in 3 minutes and 28 seconds. With just over 6 minutes left in the game, two timeouts, needing two scores, and the Panthers getting the ball again the blueprint was set in terms of what we needed to do; force a Carolina punt, score, recover an onside kick, and score again. Step one was completed after Carolina held the ball for another 3 minutes. The Seahawks got the ball back with 2:49 left and kicked a field goal cutting the deficit to 7 with the clock reading 1:12. Just like last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks season continuing depended on recovering an onside kick. Steven Hauschka’s onside attempt was a good one but the ball was caught and held on to by Thomas Davis, sealing the victory for the Carolina Panthers.

It was a gritty, heartwarming effort. The Seahawks were dead to rights and the resolve this team showed shows exactly why we are able to be competitive in any game we play. No deficit is too big for this team and we came one score shy of tying or perhaps even winning the game. Hindsight is 20/20, but if the Seahawks would have been able to kick a field goal in the first half (either Hausckha’s miss at the end of the first half or deciding to kick a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 5 late in the first half) and if Wilson would not have thrown one of his two interceptions there is a real possibility we are talking about a Seahawks victory instead. At the end of the day, turnovers may have been the primary culprit, which is what I was wary of in my game preview.

Thoughts on Carolina: This is a defense-driven football team and they are extremely good. With today’s performance I now am questioning whether or not the Seahawks have the best defense in the league. If not, that title definitely belongs to the Panthers. They will host the Cardinals next week and if they play exactly like how they did today, it will be the Carolina Panthers representing the NFC in Super Bowl 50. I look forward to playing the Panthers next season, arguably the best opponent we will play at CenturyLink Field in 2016.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will pick 25th, 26th, or 27th in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The pick better be used on the best offensive lineman available… The 2016 schedule will be released in April but here are our opponents next season. Home games at CenturyLink Field: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins. On the road: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New York Jets… 37 days until the start of the NFL Scouting Combine and 102 days until the NFL Draft.

Thank you guys once again for logging on and reading this season. It always means a lot to me that you read and care about what I write. On to 2016. Go Seahawks!

Titans/Seahawks Preview

12 Oct

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Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

After losing their first game of the season last week the Seahawks look to bounce back in week 6 as they finish their tour of the AFC South by hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks hold a one game lead in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. The Tennessee Titans come into this game a somewhat surprising 3-2 and are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise 9-6. Their last meeting came in week 17 of the 2009 season. Chris Johnson broke the 2,000 yard mark on the season as the Titans defeated the Seahawks 17-13. The Seahawks finished the season 5-11 and just days after the defeat Jim Mora was fired and Pete Carroll was hired as Seahawks head coach. Here are my keys to victory and some things to look for this week.

With Max Unger likely back this week, the Seahawks will have their healthiest starting offensive line in three weeks. Given this I hope to see better pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson which hopefully also translates into better production from Wilson. After 3 solid weeks, Wilson’s numbers slipped in his previous two games. Wilson threw for a combined 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis and last week was the first week since week 2 his completion percentage was under 50 percent in a game. Wilson also has not seemed to be as accurate so far this year as he was at the end of last season. I think the offensive line could make all the difference in the world. I expect the Seahawks passing game to get back on track this week and I would not be surprised to see Wilson throw for between 250 and 300 yards against the Titans.

This week is the first week that all of our pass rushers will play together in front of the 12th Man. This could spell disaster for Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though the defense struggled down the stretch last week, our front 7 still sacked Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble on a strip-sack. I think the pass rush will play a huge factor this week and Fitzpatrick will be sacked at least four times. One thing that could affect the Seahawks on defense this week is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is dealing with a low grade high-ankle sprain and head coach Pete Carroll suggested that Wagner’s final game status could be determined during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. If Wagner cannot play, Heath Farwell will most likely start at middle linebacker. Wagner is the leader of the defensive huddle and he may be the most important defensive player as he relays the defensive formations to the rest of the defense. Wagner also has the second most tackles so far this season behind safety Earl Thomas. I am confident in Harwell’s ability to fill in but look for Tennessee to try to take advantage of the “weaker” middle of the field by dumping passes off to tight end Delanie Walker and primary slot receiver Kendall Wright.

The Tennessee Titans have gotten off to a rather surprising start to the 2013 season. After starting the season 3-1 they lost in two aspects last week against Kansas City Chiefs. They lost the game, and they also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. Without Locker, the Titans now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick to command the offense. Ideally with a backup quarterback at the helm the offense will turn to their running back to carry the load to try to take some of the pressure on the quarterback. The Titans definitely have a running back capable of carrying the load in Chris Johnson but playing in Seattle, Johnson may be facing a long and tough day this week. The Titans will be forced to throw a lot this week especially if the Seahawks can build a lead early on in the game. On offense for Tennessee this week my X-Factor player to watch is wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, was a player I had my eye on at this year’s combine and the time before the NFL Draft. Hunter’s height and speed to break away from defenders made him a perfect #2 wide receiver immediately in my eyes. This week he will line up across both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner depending on the play. The Titans have a lot of wide receivers that will see playing time this week. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington receiving most of the attention, look for Hunter to possibly make a bigger impact than expected against the Legion of Boom.

Last season Richard Sherman led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions with 8. This year, the Titans feature a guy in their secondary that could wind up leading the league in interceptions by season’s end. Cornerback Alterraun Verner has intercepted 4 passes so far this season and I believe he has established himself as the permanent replacement to former Titan Cortland Finnegan. What is interesting about the Titans defense is that they have a handful of guys that are effective in rushing the passer and another handful of guys that are effective getting to the play and making tackles. My X-Factor player to watch on defense is a guy who falls into both of these categories, outside linebacker Zach Brown. Brown, a second year man from the University of North Carolina, has recorded a team-high 3 sacks so far this season and also ranks third on the team in tackles with 29. Brown has also forced one fumble. Watching him on film, Brown does a very good job at being the first defender to figure out what type of play the offense will run. He does a good job of getting to the ball and is has more of an impact on running plays than on passing plays. I expect Brown to rush to the right side of the Seahawks offensive line to catch J.R. Sweezy and Michael Bowie off guard.

Random Thoughts: This is the first home game in three weeks and the only home game in the three weeks upcoming. Talk about a bummer from a fan’s perspective but I would rather knock out the majority of our road games now so we can enjoy back-to-back home games on two separate occasions later on in the season… The Seahawks will wear blue uniforms and blue pants this week… Carl Cheffers is the referee for Sunday’s game… Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for CBS this week. They are CBS’s #2 crew, meaning they get the privilege to broadcast one playoff game each season so these guys are pretty good all things considered. Should be a good call if you’re watching from home… I’m changing up my pregame plans this week. I’ll be a bar north of the stadium, probably King Street Bar and Oven. I don’t think I’ve been there since the 2012 preseason… Oh yeah, pregaming starts at 9am sharp… I need to get more pink Seahawks stuff to wear for breast cancer awareness month. All I have is an NFL logo pink ribbon pin and a bracelet… Sunday is a 1:05 start, not a 1:25 start. I’ve stated in the past that this 20 minute difference is actually pretty significant and not as many fans are in their seats for the start of the game if it is a 1:05 start. To all the people going to this week’s game please keep this in mind. Be in your seats by 1:00pm (okay, 12:45 just to be safe).

Prediction: Last season the Seahawks lost a close game to the Miami Dolphins and responded by winning 6 straight games before losing to Atlanta in the playoffs. I think that the Titans may open up this game with an early lead but the Seahawks will regain complete control shortly thereafter. Earl Thomas will intercept a deep pass and the Seahawks defensive front seven will force two fumbles. On offense, Sidney Rice will lead the receivers in yardage with 80 and a touchdown. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will both run for touchdowns and the Seahawks will get ready for the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-1 record.

Seahawks 30, Titans 13

Check back Sunday night for a review of the Seahawks game against the Titans. I will be blogging a lot in the coming week as the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week in week 7. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 20, Rams 13

31 Dec

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Well it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Seahawks got the job done. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-13 in the regular season and home finale on Sunday. The Seahawks finish the regular season 11-5 and finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005. The Rams fall to 7-8-1 and finish in third place in the NFC West this season. The game was very close throughout and to be honest I left the stadium more frustrated and worried than happy that we won. I am looking at the pros and cons of this game and trying to shed some light on what needs to change against Washington next week. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.

Sweezy’s Struggles: The Rams out-sacked the Seahawks 6-0 on Sunday and a lot of the Rams success getting to quarterback Russell Wilson came up the middle. At least four of their sacks came after dominating Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. One of the guys who sits in front of me got my attention that St. Louis was using Chris Long in designed interior pass rushes, predominantly against Sweezy. Sweezy struggled throughout the majority of the game and Russell Wilson was under constant pressure. If Sweezy is slated to start next week against the Redskins, I am very scared that London Fletcher will be able to exploit the sub-par play of J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks offensive line has not looked this perplexed all season and for the majority of this game they looked like the Seahawks offensive lines of 2008 and 2009 where they could not get the running game going and supply enough time for the quarterback to throw. I hope that John Moffitt will be available next week to start at the right guard spot. If Sweezy gets the start again next week, the Seahawks may have a difficult time moving the ball and scoring points.

Wilson Ties Manning: With Russell Wilson’s touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter, he tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a rookie with 25. As incredible of an accomplishment as this is, it is too bad because Wilson had a chance to break Manning’s record. On the Seahawks final scoring drive of the game with less than three minutes left, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Wilson ran a play-action fake and scrambled to the left into the endzone for the touchdown. Before crossing into the endzone he pumped because he saw Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin both covered so he decided to run it in. You could tell Russell wanted the record but settled for the rush touchdown when no passing options were available. I for one would have liked to see a touchdown pass. I can guarantee Wilson thought the same way but at the end of the day Wilson ran it in, gave the Seahawks a 7 point lead and held on to win the game, which is much better than any individual accolade.

Defense Needs To Improve Drastically: The Seahawks put virtually no pressure on Sam Bradford until the final drive of the game. The Rams also did a good job converting third downs and Steven Jackson was able to bust out for some significantly good sized runs. The silver lining of the day is that we only gave up 13 points and we were able to stop two St. Louis drives inside the 5-yard line and the Rams had to settle for Greg Zuerlein field goals. Next week the Seahawks cannot afford to have a defensive performance like they did today because the Redskins will rip us apart in the running game. I was hoping to see Bruce Irvin get more involved but he was a non-factor. The stars of the game on defense belong to Bobby Wagner for recording 10 tackles and Richard Sherman who picked off his 8th pass of the season. Sherman becomes the first player in NFL history to have 8 interceptions, three forced fumbles, one sack, and 20 passes defensed in a single season. If the Seahawks do not make it to Super Bowl XLVII, I fully expect Sherman to make the NFC pro bowl roster because those numbers are definitely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

Rams Show Potential For The Future: Although the Rams finish with a losing record once again, they have quietly shown flashes of what NFL fans should expect out of them in the coming years. In 2013 Jeff Fisher will be in his second year in St. Louis and will have had more time to put together the roster he wants to build. The Rams have two first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the young nucleus they have on both sides of the ball will continue to get better. In particular I look at the way their offensive line played in a hostile environment today and I think they will make Sam Bradford a pro bowl caliber quarterback very soon. Steven Jackson’s contract status is up in the air and it would not be surprising to see Jackson and the Rams part ways after the season. With Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield the Rams may be looking at a couple of rising stars. On defense, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, and the emerging Janoris Jenkins look like a solid core of defensive players. If they can add another big-time player on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason, St. Louis could challenge for a playoff spot. The Rams proved this year that they can compete against all the teams in the NFC West and were only a couple of losses away from being contenders for the playoffs this year. I still think Seattle and San Francisco are the royalty of the division but the St. Louis Rams could be serious contenders for at least a wild-card berth as soon as next season.

Random Thoughts: I believe the Seahawks were screwed out of 14 points this week. I did not see holding on Anthony McCoy on Zach Miller’s touchdown pass in the second quarter and I thought the 44-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter should have stood because I did not see holding on the play by Breno Giacomini. The officiating as a whole was not very good this week. Shame on you Jeff Triplette… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid rose the 12th Man flag this week… Russell Wilson was presented with the 2012 Steve Largent Award. My guess is that he will be a repeat winner no question about it… I was extremely disappointed about the level of excitement in the stands this week. I noted at halftime on Facebook that it felt like the intensity level was less than half of what it was last week against San Francisco. There were possible scenarios out of our control that could have given us a higher seed and a division championship if we had won. That alone should have been enough motivation for the fans to go all out but overall the noise was abnormally now. Very disappointing… I underdressed for the first time this season. I should have worn another coat under my jersey, worn gloves, and brought hand warmers. Either those things or maybe I should have drank more to get a warm beer belly going… The pregame giveaway was ponchos. What a ridiculous giveaway especially on a day where the skies were clear. I bought Mark, one of the guys who sits in front of me, a beer before the game as a token of appreciation for dealing with the behavior of my guest last week. He was extremely grateful… Good news. Mark and his friend Mike renewed their seats for the 2013 season so I will be sitting behind them for a fourth straight year which will be fun… All the season ticket holders around me made a promise that we would be back in three weeks for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s all pray we will play for a trip to the Super Bowl at home against Minnesota!

Up Next: With San Francisco’s win over Arizona, the Seahawks are locked in to the 5th seed in the NFC. They head to the nation’s capital next week to take on the NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

I hope to have my preview of the Seahawks wild-card playoff game against Washington up by late Saturday morning. Also, don’t be surprised to see me hop on the blog later on in the week to share my thoughts about practice leading up to next week’s game. Go Hawks!

Review: Rams 19, Seahawks 13

1 Oct

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On Sunday, the Seahawks showed that there may have been a hangover following Monday night’s win. The Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams 19-13 and in the process the Seahawks fall to 2-2 and are now technically in last place in the NFC West. The Rams improve to 2-2 and take over 3rd place in the division. What may ultimately hurt the most however is that the Seahawks are now 0-2 in divisional play. This game showed great promise early on but those feelings quickly faded, as the Seahawks failed to do many things that are crucial to staying competitive and winning the game. Let’s get to the thoughts I took from this game.

We Couldn’t Get Off The Field: The Rams converted 5 third downs today and they all seemed to be at the most crucial of times. The most frustrating conversions were a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 13 in the second quarter. This conversion set up a Greg Zeurlein field goal at the end of the half to give the Rams a 13-7 lead. The second conversion came in the fourth quarter. Sam Bradford completed a 17-yard pass to Austin Pettis on 3rd and 14 which set up Zeurlein’s fourth field goal of the day, which gave the Rams a 19-13 lead. These two stops could have been easily avoided because our secondary gave the Rams receivers too much space to create a play. Our run defense was steady throughout most of the game but did give up a couple big runs to Steven Jackson. Overall I am pleased with the defense but unfortunately we could not perform when it mattered the most, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Wilson Needs To Be More Aware: Russell Wilson may be too comfortable in the pocket. Wilson was sacked twice on Sunday, but he was also flushed out of the pocket multiple times and his second interception of the day could have been avoided if he was quicker in deciding where to throw the ball. Wilson also is not taking chances down the field. Mike Martz on the FOX broadcast said that the Seahawks “are almost nonexistent in the 20+ yards per play zone. They thrive in the 10-15 yard range.” Russell threw three interceptions today, although two of them were not his fault. It is getting to the point where I am considering describing the Seahawks offensive as anemic. Marshawn Lynch is our offense. We may be in big trouble if Wilson cannot improve his numbers, which of course starts with him processing his decision making and being fully aware of everything going on around him.

No, Breno!: In my preview post, I explained the importance of Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini keeping a cool head because Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan likes to trash talk and get under the skin of opposing players. Despite the importance and concern I had, Giacomini was flagged twice for personal foul penalties. The first of these penalties, as a matter of fact, came as Giacomini shoved Finnegan about five seconds after Marshawn Lynch was tackled and the whistle blew. Watching Breno get out of control has become a serious worry for me. Our opponent clearly knows what to do to tick Giacomini off and the effort to push him to the edge is never-ending. I don’t know what else to say about this except for that Breno needs to seriously take a step back and see how his “heat of the moment” actions are actually hurting his team in the long run. With a very young and talented Carolina Panthers defense up next, Giacomini needs to get a sense of perspective and fast.

It’s A Fake!: Pete Carroll claimed in his postgame press conference that he tried to call timeout to prevent the Rams fake field goal touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the second quarter. Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful in getting the timeout granted and the Seahawks unfortunately gave up 7 points that should never be allowed to happen. What is the most frustrating about this is that Amendola lined up in the huddle and spread out wide to the sideline. None of the Seahawks special teams players noticed Amendola break from the huddle, allowing him to float unguarded for the easy touchdown. These mental mistakes are very uncharacteristic for a special teams unit that has shown to be dominant so far this season. Kudos to the Rams for perfectly executing this play. As a fan it is extremely embarrassing to give up a touchdown as easy as that. I don’t expect any other team to be able to successfully try a trick play like that again this season. If we do give up another trick play I can assure you I will be ripping out chunks of my beautiful red hair.

Two Can Play That Game… We Think: What a ballsy call by Coach Carroll by calling an onside kick to start the second half. Hindsight is 20/20 and of course it did not pan out the way we would have hoped but I actually like the play call. The Seahawks entered halftime trailing 13-7 and were faced with the possibility of giving the Rams the ball to start the second half with all of the momentum on their side. Why not take a shot to get the ball back and swing momentum back in our favor? The Seahawks only gave up a field goal on that drive, which is okay considering the excellent field position we gave the Rams. Although I like the call in this situation it doesn’t mean I would like to see it again. Let’s save the onside kicks for when we are trailing at the end of the game.

Props To Zuerlein: Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein made four field goals on Sunday, which also tallies to 18 fantasy football points (distances of 58, 48, 60, and 24 respectively). All of his kicks were right down the middle and each had plenty of extra distance. Zuerlein pretty much singlehandedly beat the Seahawks on Sunday. I understand the kicker is not the sexiest position and does not attract the most attention from the media and fans, but St. Louis definitely has a keeper at the position for a long time to come. This guy is definitely proving the Rams made the right choice in releasing Josh Brown during the offseason.

Random Thoughts: I had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast. Quite a ways off from the breakfast I was thinking about cooking for me and my roommates… Warren Sapp’s “Bold Prediction” on NFL Gameday Morning today was that the Seahawks would set an all-time NFL record by sacking Sam Bradford 13 times today. We only sacked him twice. I wonder how many more games it will take to get the other 11 sacks to fulfill Sapp’s prediction… Like I was hoping was NOT going to happen, Mike Martz spent most of his commentary time hyping up the Rams… Martz was also quoted during the broadcast saying that “the score doesn’t matter until the fourth quarter. It is 0-0 until the fourth quarter.” Let me test this theory. Hey Mike, if the Rams scored 30 points in quarters 1-3 and the only score in the fourth quarter was a Seahawks touchdown does that mean the Seahawks win the game 7-0?… It was amazing to see how many empty seats there were inside the Edward Jones Dome on television. Granted, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing a very important game at the exact same time right across the street, but still you should be able to drum up more support than what I saw on TV on Sunday. I guess a baseball game with playoff implications is more important to a St. Louis sports fan than a football team that has won 16 games in 6 seasons… The patterns of small attendance for Rams games in St. Louis makes me wonder if the team is going to be at the top of the list of candidates that could move to Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles just approved a new stadium in the downtown “L.A. Live” area… The game went fast which was nice. I honestly like a fast game especially when it is a 10am kickoff… Mike Carey and his officiating crew did a very good job calling Sunday’s game. I am really happy to see the actual referees back on the field… The Seahawks wore the white jersey/gray pants combination again on Sunday. I would like to see the Seahawks try out the white jersey/blue pants combo again like they did in Denver during the preseason… Although the Seahawks are technically in last place in the NFC West, we are only one game behind San Francisco and two games behind Arizona for the division lead. I am optimistic we can catch up… I lost my fantasy game by 3 points this week. Thanks a lot, Ramses Barden… Hey Rams fans see you in Week 17. We’ll be ready for the rematch no doubt.

If I get some free time outside of school this week look for an update or two about what is going on at Seahawks headquarters. If not, look for my preview of next Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Rams Preview

29 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams

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

Kickoff: 10:00am

It is time to get back to business. After last week’s thrilling win over Green Bay, the Seahawks travel to St. Louis to face the division rival Rams. The Seahawks enter this game at 2-1, tied for second place in the NFC West. The Rams are in last place in the division with a record of 1-2. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 17-11. Their last meeting was last season. On December 12th, 2011 the Seahawks defeated the Rams on Monday Night Football by a score of 30-13. Here is what I will be looking for and expecting out of the Seahawks this week.

On the road, it is imperative that the Seahawks focus on protecting the ball. I do not believe this will be an issue. Russell Wilson has done an outstanding job making sure there are no mistakes and no turnovers. Like I proposed last week, I think our best option on offense this week is to establish the running game with Marshawn Lynch. Although this is important I also would not be surprised to see some peculiar calls in certain situations. I think we might see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell split the 1st down play calls 50/50 between passing and rushing. Something else I would like to see the Seahawks run this week is more no-huddle. On our final drive against Green Bay, Wilson was effective in moving the ball in chunks without a huddle. If we can keep the Rams guessing, I would fully believe to see no-huddle formations called, especially early on in the game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Golden Tate continue to emerge as our best overall receiver this week. Tate has arguably become Russell Wilson’s favorite target and it would not surprise me at all if Tate leads the Seahawks in receptions on Sunday. Having said this, it would be great to have Wilson spread the ball around more effectively then he has in the first three games. If the Rams defense can frustrate the Seahawks running game, the passing game becomes extremely necessary. I think Wilson will have his hands full and may throw a couple interceptions.

If there is one thing I hope the Seahawks defense has done this week in preparation for this weekend’s game, it’s that I hope they took a good amount of time breaking down the Rams film from their game last week against Chicago. The Bears defense was able to sack Rams quarterback Sam Bradford 6 times. The Seahawks defense, coming off an 8 sack performance last week, can take a lot from the Bears approach on how to penetrate the Rams offensive line. I think the defense will have a very successful day. The defense and the special teams have had some of their best performances recently in St. Louis and I expect nothing less this week.

One potential head-to-head battle I will be keeping my eye on is Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan against Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini. When you think of head-to-head matchups you probably don’t think of a cornerback versus an offensive lineman but there is a reason why I bring up these two guys in particular. Finnegan is an outstanding player who is probably best known for his trash-talking abilities. Finnegan can get under the opponent’s skin very easily and it is this ability that helped earn him a spot of the player’s top 100 players of 2012. Through 7 games this season (both preseason and regular season) it is clear to me that Breno Giacomini is the one player that always is a candidate to draw personal foul penalties. I think Finnegan will be at full force trying to get Giacomini to snap and commit a penalty that could really hurt the Seahawks. Definitely be on the lookout this weekend for Finnegan vs. Giacomini.

The St. Louis Rams may not have one of the best defenses, but they have some of the best individually talented players in the league. Chris Long is one of the games most prolific and underrated pass rushers who could definitely take advantage on a Seahawks offensive line that continues to shuffle personnel in different situations. James Laurinaitis is another guy who will direct traffic up the middle. The linebacker out of Ohio State is also an underrated talent that makes his fair share of plays when given the opportunity. With Long, Laurinaitis, and Finnegan all on defense and each on different levels of this side of the ball, I could see St. Louis’s defensive packages and schemes to confuse Russell Wilson.

On offense, the Rams identity continues to be running back Steven Jackson. Jackson is one of the biggest and most athletic running backs the Seahawks will have to face this season. Given this I do not expect Jackson’s physicality to be a problem for our run defense. We have not given up a rushing touchdown to Jackson in St. Louis in the Pete Carroll era. This stat impresses me tremendously and this year our run defense is as strong as ever. There is a great chance that we will shut Jackson down once again in my opinion. A connection to look out for is Sam Bradford to wide receiver Danny Amendola. Amendola was Bradford’s favorite target in Bradford’s rookie season in 2010. An injury sidelined Amendola for all of 2011 but so far in 2012, the chemistry has picked up right where it left off in 2010. Expect Bradford to look in Amendola’s direction more than any other Rams receiver.

Random Thoughts: James Carpenter is back this week and will play. What an amazing comeback for a guy who tore his ACL and made a full recovery in only 10 months… Mike Carey will be the referee this week. Carey is my favorite ref and usually calls a good game. I say usually because last season he called the Seahawks game against the Browns where Carey’s crew made a couple big calls that may have altered the outcome of the game… Welcome back refs, glad to have you back… It is still a mystery what jersey the Seahawks will wear this week. My guess is white… This is the first of 5 games with a 10am pacific start. Perhaps I will make a full breakfast feast for me and my roommates. Maybe not… Our rivalry with the Rams has died off in recent years which is too bad. Still though, I always enjoy beating them… This game was our alternate choice for my annual Seahawks road trip. Given this, they will probably win. Don’t get me wrong of course I want to see the Seahawks win but it kind of sucks to think I could have been there… We need to limit our penalties. If we can limit our penalties to a range between 5 and 7, I think we will be in decent shape. NO 15-yarders though please!… Ron Pitts and Mike Martz are the play-by-play/commentary team for FOX this week for the Seahawks game. This will be the first week I listen to television commentary during the game. With Martz doing the commentary, I expect it to be a love fest for the Rams, as Martz won a championship as the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999 and took them to the Super Bowl as a head coach in 2001.

Prediction: The Seahawks defense is way too strong of a group and will pummel down on Bradford throughout the entire game. Russell Wilson will not have spectacular numbers but I see him throwing for at least 225 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson will be held to 40 yards or less by the Seahawks run defense. The Seahawks break away from the Rams in the second half, and head back to Seattle with a 3-1 record.

Seahawks 27, Rams 14

Look for my review post on Monday afternoon. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Hawks!