Tag Archives: Darren McFadden

“Pre-Review”: Seahawks 13, Cowboys 12

3 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

For the first time ever on the blog I made a critically stupid mistake. I forgot to post my game preview before I left for Dallas last Friday. I am sorry to those regular readers who I could not provide pregame analysis to. Rather than posting just a review of our exhilarating 13-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, I am taking what I had written prior to the game and reflecting on my pregame analysis. That’s right. I am combining my preview with my review to make my first ever “Pre-Review.” Here is how this will work. Everything below that is in standard font is my unaltered pregame thoughts. After each paragraph I will have a bolded italicized section of review in which I reflect on what I was successful discussing and where I was off. Let’s take a look at how accurate I was at discussing this week’s game.

Success on offense for the Seahawks means one thing primarily and that is to give the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch. To prevent Russell Wilson getting beat up as much as he has been so far this season, giving the ball to Lynch will take immense pressure off of the passing game. This is the week to pound the rock because Lynch is riding a wave of momentum coming off his 122 yard performance in San Francisco last week. Lynch could be poised for another big game given the lackluster performance of Dallas’s run defense. With the exception of allowing only 7 rushing yards to Philadelphia back in week 2, the Cowboys allow an average of 120 rushing yards per game. Running Russell Wilson in read-option looks will also confuse the Cowboys defense and could help us control the momentum and time of possession. If the Seahawks allow Wilson to stay in the pocket and wait to go through his progressions he will surely be putting his body at risk. If the Seahawks cannot get the run game going it could make for a very long afternoon.

Marshawn Lynch ran for 71 yards on Sunday. Although it was not his most effective day running by any means, he was still able to take pressure off of Russell Wilson. Wilson was not sacked on Sunday, marking the first time he stayed perfectly clean since Super Bowl XLVIII. Read option was once again not present this week but the protection Wilson had allowed him to step up and make key throws including his touchdown pass to Luke Willson. These throws along with a couple of huge scrambles also allowed the Seahawks to move down the field rather easily on their final drive, leading to Steven Hauschka’s game-winning field goal. It was not the prettiest day on offense, but we were able to do just enough to win the game.

The Cowboys still have one of the better offensive lines in the league. Dallas quarterbacks have been sacked an average of only twice per game so far this season. Just like Marshawn Lynch riding momentum running the ball, the biggest key for the Seahawks on defense is for the pass rush to ride the wave of momentum they created last week. Seattle sacked 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick 6 times last week, a season high. In Dallas we must use the same package of rushers to confuse the Cowboys offensive line and get to quarterback Matt Cassel. I believe the only way the Cowboys can be effective on offense is to move the ball through the air, especially since starting running back Joseph Randle is out with a strained oblique. If the Seahawks can get to Cassel at least three of four times the defense will have what I consider to be a successful day.

Seattle only sacked Matt Cassel once but it may have been the biggest play of the game. Bruce Irvin’s sack of Cassel on 3rd down on the Cowboys final drive of the game virtually sealed the win for the Seahawks. With Dallas needing to go about 60 yards to get into manageable field goal range to win the game, it is logical to think that Cassel could have taken four shots down the field and hope for a pass interference call or a penalty that would have given Dallas a huge chunk of yards. Fortunately the indecisiveness of Cassel allowed the Seahawks pass rush to wear down the Cowboys offensive line and Irvin was able to chase him down, creating a 4th and 16 with less than 30 seconds left. Give credit to the Cowboys offensive line but with our next three games coming at home, I expect to see huge improvement in our pass rush coming off our bye week.

There are several things to keep your eye on when the Cowboys offense is on the field. Given their quarterback situation they will surely try to establish the run with running back Darren McFadden. If the Seahawks do a good job in shutting down the Cowboys rushing attack, it will be in Matt Cassel’s best interest to throw high percentage passes instead of trying to stretch the field. The purpose for throwing short would be to limit turnovers. Matt Cassel threw 3 interceptions in New York last week, two of which traveled 20 yards or more in the air. One final thing to watch out for is how the Cowboys will use wide receiver Dez Bryant if he is active. Bryant has been recovering from a fractured foot since the first week of the season but he may be rushed back into action this week given the progress in his recovery and the desperation Dallas is feeling to save their season. I believe if he plays Bryant will primarily be used as a decoy to confuse the Legion of Boom. Do not expect Bryant to make a big impact in the passing game.

Darren McFadden had a very nice outing on Sunday. McFadden finished the day with 64 yards rushing on 20 carries and also added 49 yards receiving out of the backfield. It felt as though his performance single-handedly kept the Cowboys in the game. Dez Bryant’s production was just about what I thought it would be. Richard Sherman blanketed Bryant the entire game and he had 4 passes defensed; one of which could have been easily intercepted. Bryant finished the day with two catches for 12 yards but given Sherman’s stat line it was clear Cassel was trying to throw in Bryant’s direction often. Bryant was not a “decoy” per se, but given that the most productive receiver was Terrance Williams with 20 yards receiving just goes to show how inept the Dallas passing game was.

The Dallas Cowboys defense features some well-known names at each level.  They include defensive end Greg Hardy, linebacker and leading tackler Sean Lee, linebacker Rolando McClain, and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. My focus will be on the Dallas pass rush and the middle level of their defense. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the Cowboys is outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens is a phenomenal tackler and also makes an impact getting to the quarterback. So far this season Hitchens has recorded 20 tackles, which is good for third on Dallas’s defense. He is also one of only four Cowboys with multiple sacks on the year. Only Hardy and defensive tackle Jack Crawford have more. Along with Hardy on the left side it is Hitchens’s presence that leads me to believe the Seahawks will throw more towards the right side of the field.

Greg Hardy gets the headlines this week because of his tipped interception. Anthony Hitchens was my X-Factor Player to Watch and he did virtually nothing this week. The only thing he was credited for was one quarterback hit on Russell Wilson. Barry Church had probably the best day of any Cowboys defender in my eyes, racking up a season-high 10 tackles.

Random Thoughts: None

Prediction: I think the Cowboys have enough fire power to keep this game close. In the end however the fact that Matt Cassel is their starting quarterback gives the overall edge to the Seahawks. Both Cassel and Russell Wilson will throw a pair of interceptions but the Seahawks running game will blow Dallas’s out of the water. Marshawn Lynch will run for 105 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Lockett will also return a punt for a touchdown. The Cowboys will play a sloppy game on both sides of the ball and will not be able to get going until late into the second half. The Seahawks will head into the bye 4-4 and will have a week off before we play the first of three straight home games to kick off the second half of the season.

Seahawks 23, Cowboys 14

As it turns out the Cowboys did have enough fire power to keep this game close and as it turns out the presence of Matt Cassel did ultimately give the edge to the Seahawks. In hindsight if Tony Romo had played in the game the Seahawks would probably have gotten blown out. The game did not turn out to be as sloppy as I predicted but once again the Seahawks won even though they lost the turnover battle 1-0. At the end of the day the Seahawks are heading into the bye with a 4-4 record and on the whole I am satisfied.

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Review: Seahawks 30, Raiders 24

2 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

1 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks begin the month of November at home this week as they renew their old AFC West rivalry, hosting the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks are 4-3 and are coming off a crucial win in Carolina last week. The Raiders have had a very lackluster season thus far and they are the only winless team left in the National Football League at 0-7. Last week the Raiders fell on the road to the Cleveland Browns 23-13. Oakland leads the all-time series with Seattle 29-24. In their last regular season meeting the Raiders demolished the Seahawks 33-3 in October 2010. That was head coach Pete Carroll’s first season in Seattle and since losing to the Raiders in 2010 the Seahawks hold a .606 winning percentage. Meanwhile in the exact same span, the Raiders winning percentage is a mere .317. Here are some things I will be looking for out of the Seahawks this week, as well as a special report on the Oakland Raiders.

I have pleaded for the Seahawks to get quarterback Russell Wilson more involved in the running game the past couple of weeks but this week I do not think it will be necessary for Wilson to run for the Seahawks offense to be effective. Instead, this may finally be the week that we see Wilson spread the ball around and get rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood their most action of the season. Richardson and Norwood combined for 5 targets last week. Both Wilson and Coach Carroll have stated that they hope to get both of these receivers more involved this week, but I am interested to see if they use them to accentuate their specific abilities. Could Richardson be used on fly sweeps and bubble screens much like how Percy Harvin was used? I think it is definitely possible. Could we see Wilson try to stretch the field and let Norwood use his size as an advantage to catch deep balls? I think Wilson may look Norwood’s direction deep at least once this week. If these two receivers combine for 75 or more receiving yards I think the Seahawks are in for a very successful day through the air.

At the end of last week’s game the Seahawks dialed up the pressure on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and it worked like a charm in preserving the victory. This week the Seahawks defense needs to stick to that blueprint. At home in 2014 the Seahawks have averaged just over 1.5 sacks per game. This number must improve. After three home games last season the Seahawks averaged just above 2.5 sacks per game. Expect to see Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright blitz on early downs this week and keep an eye on Wright who will be back starting at outside linebacker. If Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has time inside the pocket it will be interesting to see how his reads progress in the middle of the field. The Seahawks will start rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker this week, who has seen little playing time on defense this season. Coyle is a solid tackler who tries to get in on every play but he has a long way to go to challenge for Bobby Wagner’s permanent starting job. It is not unreasonable to think Carr will try to throw short passes in the middle of the field to test Coyle and if Carr can catch the Seahawks off-guard, those passes could turn into large chunks of yards for the Raiders.

There is one major thing the Seahawks absolutely cannot do this week; overlook the Raiders. The Raiders may be 0-7, they may be the worst team in the NFL on paper, but there may be potential for this being a trap game. Remember what happened when the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into CenturyLink Field last season? The 12th Man thought we would just roll right over them. Instead, the Buccaneers jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead putting all Seahawks fans on edge. The Seahawks cannot play relaxed this week and the fans must be just as loud and intense this week as our other games this season. The Raiders have only lost two games so far this season by more than two scores, including two close games against AFC powers New England and San Diego. Oakland will absolutely get up for this week’s game, the question is will the Seahawks force them to sit right back down or will Oakland be able to put up a legitimate fight.

This week is a very special game for me. One of my best friends, Josh Gabel, is a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan. For the past several years I have taken him to every Raiders/Seahawks preseason game but we have never had the opportunity to see our teams play each other in the regular season. There may be no better person I know to give an in-depth analysis of the Oakland Raiders than Josh. Instead of me giving you a paragraph on the Raiders and giving you an “X-Factor player to watch” this week I have instead invited Josh to be a guest contributor in this week’s preview. Here is what Josh has to say about his Raiders, along with what he is looking for in this week’s game:

At 0-7, the Oakland Raiders head to Seattle in the midst of a 13 game losing streak and an all but assured 11th consecutive non-winning season. A trip to the Clink sure doesn’t seem to be the solution to the Raiders’ woes. After two years of salary cap hell, Oakland brought in proven winners and recognizable (albeit past-their prime) names – guys like defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew – but have yet to see a return on their investment. With 13 new starters on both sides of the ball, this group has failed to mesh, costing head coach Dennis Allen his job and leaving general manager Reggie McKenzie’s future beyond this season in doubt.

The O in Oakland has gone missing so far in 2014. The Raiders offense is putting up a meager 15.0 PPG, which is good for 31st in the league. Many of these struggles can be traced to an unwillingness to run the ball.  Oakland is averaging only 69.6 rushing yards per game, which should be attributed more play-calling than ineffectiveness. Despite Darren McFadden’s respectable 4.0 yards per carry, Oakland passes 67% of the time. On a team with no playmakers at the skill positions (save for the occasional Andre Holmes highlight), passing the ball at such a high rate is a recipe for losing. Rookies Derek Carr (leads all rookie QBs in passing yards, TDs, and QB Rating) & Gabe Jackson (7 starts on a top 5 pass blocking offensive line) along with the aforementioned Holmes are bright spots for the team’s future. The coaching staff may trust Carr with the keys to the offense, but Oakland will continue to stall without a commitment to the run. Things don’t get much better on the other side of the ball.

Oakland is near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive category. They can’t stop the run (130.1 YPG) or get after the QB (7 sacks, tied for 29th). With all of the money McKenzie gave to Tuck, Woodley, and Antonio Smith, it is very disappointing to see such a lack of production. The lone bright spot on this defense is that number 5 overall pick Khalil Mack has lived up to his high draft so far, but not necessarily as expected. Coming out of the University of Buffalo, Mack was known being a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage. Though Mack has yet to register a sack, he has been credited with 22 QB pressures and is Pro Football Focus’ highest rated linebacker against the run, with 8.5 tackles for a loss. It will be interesting to see if Mack can down Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. With the offense struggling, the Raiders defense has to get off the field more; Oakland is tied for last in the league on 3rd down, giving up a 48% conversion rate. The Raiders have to find a way to pressure Russell Wilson without losing containment, a task that is much easier said than done.

Whether it’s “Play like Carcass for Marcus [Mariota]” or (my preference) “Down the Pooper for [Amari] Cooper”, Raiders fans are looking forward to May’s draft earlier than ever before. A win in Seattle would do wonders for Reggie McKenzie’s future as head of football decisions. Is it likely? No. But, rest assured, Sunday is going to feel like a good old fashioned AFC West showdown.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy jerseys and navy pants this week. Oakland will sport their classic white jersey/silver pants combo… Kevin Harlan will provide the play-by-play and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon will provide the color commentary for CBS this week… Ed Hochuli and his gigantic biceps will do the officiating this week… This will be the first “cold” home game of the season. I recommend sweatshirts and jeans… Two reminders for the 12’s this week. First remember this weekend is daylight savings time. Turn your clocks back one hour and get an extra hour of sleep. Second, remember this week is a 1:25pm kickoff. Give yourself a little extra time to get to the stadium but shame on you if you are not in your seats by kickoff… Given the circumstances of this special Raiders/Seahawks regular season matchup, we have a full slate ahead of us on Sunday. Tentative schedule includes McDonald’s breakfast, being at the bar around the time they open between 8 and 8:30, the game, then dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s going to be a great day… Walter Jones will become the 11th Seahawk to be inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. The ceremony will take place at halftime. What is interesting is that Jones will be the first player to have his number retired BEFORE having his name put in the Ring of Honor. This is the first Ring of Honor ceremony I will get to be a part of since I became a season ticket holder in 2006 (Cortez Kennedy Was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2006 but I was unable to attend the game). This season the Seahawks have had a pattern of having a 12th Man Flag raiser that is somehow associated to the opposing team or opposing city. With the Raiders in town I expect a former Seahawk from the 1980’s to raise the flag this week. I have no specific guess though… With a win the Seahawks will close out the first half of the season with a 5-3 record.

Prediction: Honestly, I see the Seahawks rolling in this game. Oakland may be able to keep it close in the first half but Seattle will eventually run away with this game. Marshawn Lynch will run for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson will add two passing touchdowns and the Seahawks defense will force 3 Raiders turnovers. The Seahawks will get to 5-3 and we will get ready to face the New York Giants next week.

Seahawks 33, Raiders 14

Review: Seahawks 21, Raiders 3

31 Aug

It would have been better if we shut them out. Nevertheless I am extremely satisfied to write that the Seahawks defeated the Oakland Raiders Thursday night by a score of 21-3. The Seahawks finish the preseason a perfect 4-0 while the Raiders end the preseason at 1-3. There is a bit for me to touch on, and I’ll start with the brief play of the starting units.

Wilson showed signs of rookie jitters: Although Russell Wilson performed fairly Thursday night, there were a couple of plays I’m sure he would like to have back. There seemed to be a breakdown of communication on one play between him and Golden Tate. I don’t know if Wilson let the pass get away from him or if Tate ran the wrong route, but the pass sailed incomplete. It would have been an Oakland interception if there was a defender in the vicinity but there wasn’t. Another pass, which had me shaking my head, was a play-action rollout to the right. Wilson then targeted tight end Kellen Winslow and sailed the ball over his head. Winslow wasn’t more than ten yards straight ahead of Wilson, and it is a throw I’ve seen Wilson make numerous times in practice. I consider Russell Wilson’s 5/11 for 72 yards to be fair, but I would have liked to see the Seahawks get into the endzone. The only points registered in the first quarter were off a 25-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. Wilson committed no turnovers which is definitely a plus. Since his interception in the Tennessee game, Wilson has gone three games without a turnover. That is great momentum heading into the regular season.

I call out Irvin, he steps up: When I posted the halftime score on Facebook, I noted that I wanted to see more involvement from Bruce Irvin in the second half. That is exactly what he did. Irvin recorded 1.5 sacks and had a quarterback pressure in the second half. His countermoves seemed to be working quite well but you have to take into account it was against Oakland back-ups. Like with Russell Wilson’s lack of turnovers, it is good to have momentum in his direction going to the regular season.

No notable stat lines at WR: No wide receiver overly impressed Thursday night. With the exception of running back Vai Taua catching balls out of the backfield, no receiver had more than two catches. Tight end Cooper Helfet scored his second touchdown of the preseason and Kris Durham had a nice catch heading towards the sidelines for 25 yards. No bubble receiver made significant strides to lock down a roster spot. Going off of this headline…

Running game was a huge point of emphasis: Although the ratio of run plays to pass plays was narrow, it seemed like the Seahawks were trying to run the ball as much as they could. In the second half for example, the Seahawks ran 22 rush plays and 13 passing plays. The Seahawks ran the ball 63% of their second half plays compared to 50% in the first half. Kregg Lumpkin got the bulk of the carries, running for 71 yards on 20 carries. It will be interesting to see how offensive plays are split up between rush and pass, especially when Marshawn Lynch is on the field.

Portis sees expanded playing time: Josh Portis entered the game with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter. Portis got double the amount of playing time I was hoping to see him get but he did not do as good of a job as I would have liked to see. Portis finished the night 1/6 for 10 yards in the air, and had 4 rushes for 23 yards. Those rushes were more like scrambles, as Portis did not seem to locate his targets very well. Portis stood in the pocket for a good amount of time and it didn’t look to me like he bailed from the pocket prematurely, but his rushes were definitely not designed. It is good to have another mobile quarterback in case of emergency, but Josh Portis has a long way to go to make the 12th Man comfortable, should he see playing time in the regular season.

Oakland as a whole did not look like anything special: For starters, I would have liked to have seen Carson Palmer attempt a pass but that was not the case. The starting offense only played one series and could not get anything going. I believe the idea that you don’t want to take too many risks in the final preseason game but any Raiders fan in attendance should have walked away very disappointed. Not only did Palmer not throw a pass, but Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Denarius Moore all did not even suit up. The Raiders only managed three points in the final minutes; supplied but backup kicker Eddy Carmona (Sebastian Janikowski didn’t even suit up!). The Oakland depth is not very talented in my opinion. Their best performer was linebacker Nathan Stupar, who made 11 tackles. Offensively, Mike Goodson was the leading rusher (26 yards on 8 carries) and Eddie McGee was their leading receiver (3 catches for 36 yards). Both Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor looked rusty and/or conservative. In Pryor’s case, his best plays were made after he was flushed out of the pocket and was scrambling. Like I posted in my game preview, if the Raiders get hurt on offense they will definitely be in trouble this season.

Random Thoughts: The highlight in the stands was a guy in the row in front of me and two seats to the left. He had just bought a new white Seahawks jersey and in the first quarter, the lady sitting next to us accidentally spilled her entire tray of nachos down his back. He seemed to be a good sport about it and they even exchanged phone numbers, as she wanted to pay to have the jersey dry cleaned. I felt really bad for him but initially I had a hard time fighting giggles. A couple sprays of Shout should get that gross pump cheese right out… Russell Wilson’s ovation was great when the offense was introduced. It was by far the loudest of any starter. I can only imagine what it will sound like in the regular season… Got two more autographs on the visor; linebacker K.J. Wright and long snapper Clint Gresham. My buddy Josh scored the best John Hancock between the both of us, as he got 3-time super bowl winning quarterback Jim Plunkett to sign his Raiders football… I paid $19 for two slices of pizza and a bottle of water inside the stadium. If anyone wants to argue why you think that is a reasonable price please give me your best shot. Absolutely ridiculous… Josh and I hung out at King Street Bar and Oven before the game. The beer was lukewarm and their house specialty the “Hawk Shot” is incredibly sweet. It was like drinking Kool-Aid… The weather was very comfortable. Not muggy up at the seats either. That was a nice change… Nobody overly annoying around us Thursday night, although the lady who spilled her nachos was not very knowledgeable, as she was cheering for starters in the second half, well after they had left the game… A couple of emotional thoughts from Thursday’s game: The Seahawks honored George Hickman before the national anthem with a moment of silence. Also, in the second half a deployed soldier surprised his family at the game and was greeted to a loud ovation. It was a great sight to see… Six Washington State Olympians raised the 12th Man flag. The most notable athlete was boxer Queen Underwood… I went on another Seahawks apparel binge after the game. I bought a new sweatshirt. It looks really really good on me (ladies)!

So that’s a wrap on the preseason. Tomorrow the coaching staff and front office have until 6pm to cut the roster down to 53 players. I am planning on having the roster posted tomorrow night and will explain my thoughts on who is staying and who is leaving.

The Seahawks will most likely take tomorrow off and will be at practice later this weekend as they start game planning and preparation for the season opener on September 9th against the Arizona Cardinals.

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

30 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks conclude the 2012 preseason Thursday night when the Oakland Raiders come to town to battle the Seahawks. This is the seventh straight year the Seahawks finish the preseason against the Raiders. The Seahawks have gone 5-1 against Oakland during this stretch. The final preseason game is meant for the backups fighting for a roster spot to show the coaching staff that they deserve to make the cut. This storyline is not the focus this year for the Seahawks however, as Russell Wilson has been named our starting quarterback and will start Thursday night. It is not known how much playing time he will see but I don’t expect it to be more than three drives. Here is what I will be focusing on Thursday night.

Russell Wilson will make his first start since being named the Seahawks starting quarterback. I do not expect him to play for long but I expect the offense to move the ball and be able to score points with Wilson leading the way. The Seahawks scored on each of their first six possessions last week against Kansas City. At home, the Seahawks should not have a big problem being able to move the ball. Oakland however has a very fast and talented defense. I want to see Wilson scramble and see what happens when that fast Oakland defense chases after him. In terms of the other quarterbacks, Matt Flynn will most likely play the bulk of the game. Some may not think it is such a big deal, but I am interested in seeing what kind of effort Flynn puts into his performance. He obviously cannot be happy that he will be backing up Wilson, so a lack of effort would have me concerned, especially if Flynn has to step in at some point during the regular season. Josh Portis will also see a little bit of playing time. For Portis, I want to see him throw more even if the situation doesn’t warrant it. Coach Carroll should give the 12th Man a taste of Portis’ arm.

Eight undrafted rookies remain on the Seahawks roster. The final preseason game is their chance to show the coaching staff that they deserve a spot on the roster, along with everybody else that is currently on the team. Of the eight undrafted rookies that remain, I believe the player in the best position to make the team is defensive end Cordarro Law. Law had a solid training camp has been involved in some big plays during the preseason. I’m not saying he is a lock by any means, but if there is only one spot open and it is going to go to an undrafted rookie, I believe that spot should go to Law.

With final roster cuts occurring 18 hours between the end of Thursday’s game and the deadline, the players who get a good amount of playing time need to show they can contribute. Last season for example, Golden Tate was considered a bubble player who needed to prove to the coaching staff he belonged on the team. In last year’s Oakland game he caught 5 passes for 79 yards and kept his roster spot. I’ll keep the focus on wide receivers for this section. In my eyes the only locks to make the roster are Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate. Three or four spots are up for grabs and there are eight players fighting for them. Passes will come at a premium on Thursday night and the receivers must take advantage because if they don’t they will most likely find themselves on the waiver wire come Friday.

The Oakland Raiders enter 2012 much different than in past years. The 2012 campaign will be the first full season without the presence of longtime owner Al Davis, who passed away last October. The Raiders have also hired Dennis Allen to be their head coach. Allen, previously the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, is the first defensive minded head coach in Oakland in easily four decades, as Davis was the primary signal caller on defense previously. The Oakland defense is led by lineman Richard Seymour. Along with lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Rolando McClain, and safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to make stops and win games.

I would expect a lot of Raiders fans to be excited about the offense. The Raiders are quarterbacked by former first round draft pick Carson Palmer, who was traded to Oakland from Cincinnati last season. Palmer is arguably the most talented and consistent quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon a decade ago. Along with Palmer, the Raiders line up Darren McFadden in the backfield. McFadden is an excellent running back who can be explosive but has been sidelined in prior seasons due to injury (I’ll touch on that next). Also on offense are wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, among others.

The primary concern I see for the Raiders this season is health. If Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden can stay healthy there is no reason not to expect the Raiders to make a run at the AFC West especially since the rest of their division is pretty even. No team stands out more than another. If not, the Raiders will struggle. I do not see the Raiders making a huge jump but they will be significantly better on the field and I am predicting they will have a slightly better record in 2012.

Random Thoughts: The defense was introduced before the first preseason game; therefore the offense will most likely be introduced on Thursday night. I cannot wait to hear the ovation for Russell Wilson… I need to get my visor filled with a couple more autographs. It is a bit uneven still. Hopefully I’ll take care of that on Thursday… The Raiders game is always fun because it is tradition I take my friend Josh who is a huge Raiders fan. We always make a small friendly wager on the game and I have not lost a bet yet. Hopefully that continues this season… The guy who sits in front of me may or may not be in attendance Thursday night. Hopefully he is because I want to discuss fantasy football among other topics before the regular season starts… I want to be free of annoying people in the vicinity of my seats. The last thing I need is a headache on gameday… Looks like the Hawks Nest will be the prefunking spot again this week, but it will be brief as Josh is taking a half day off of work and we want to get into the stadium early for autographs… I like to make fun of Raiders fans. The best part? They are in OUR house; therefore they do not do anything.

Prediction: Russell Wilson leads two scoring drives; Matt Flynn takes over and leads the Seahawks to more points. I will win my annual wager with Josh and the Seahawks will head into the regular season coming off an undefeated preseason.

Seahawks 24, Raiders 7

I hope to have my review post up by Friday afternoon but bear with me because I will be packing for the majority of the day. I’m moving back to Seattle starting Saturday morning! Also I hope to post about our final roster cuts and which players I am surprised made or did not make the team. Thanks for reading!