Tag Archives: David Bakhtiari

Packers/Seahawks Preview (NFL Kickoff 2014)

3 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

There are a lot of perks to winning the Super Bowl. You get expanded coverage on all the major sports television networks, you get to meet the President, and you get to host the football circus that is NFL Kickoff; the first regular season game of the year. That is what is on deck for the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks as they host the Green Bay Packers in NFL Kickoff 2014. The Packers lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 10-6 but the last matchup between these teams was by far the most memorable. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate “caught” a 24-yard Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12. The controversial ending ended the referee holdout and the difference that one game made in the final 2012 standings had a potential impact in the playoffs as the Packers eventually lost to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in a game that could have instead been played at Lambeau Field had the Packers defeated the Seahawks. With the entire city of Seattle watching, emotions will be high as the 2013 Super Bowl championship team will be honored before the game. After that it is all business. Here is what I will be focusing on this week.

The Green Bay offense versus the Seahawks defense will be the primary intriguing matchup this week but I am very interested in how the Seahawks offense plays against a talented Packers defense that to me has question marks. I believe the Seahawks will give the Packers a heavy dose of running back Marshawn Lynch early in the game in order to establish the running game, the tempo of the game, and to chew some time off the clock while trying to come up with points. Lynch will have a big impact in this ballgame and he will no doubt get the grand majority of the total carries. The passing game intrigues me with this matchup against the Packers for two big reasons. First, this is the first time since the Super Bowl that we go into a game with Percy Harvin in the offensive game plan. Harvin will not be used as just a wide receiver but as an “offensive weapon.” Do not be surprised to see Harvin lined up all over the field including out wide, in the slot, and even in the backfield. Secondly, I want to see Russell Wilson challenge the Packers secondary, specifically rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix may not start but he will see playing time whether he starts or not. In games against New Orleans and San Francisco last season, Wilson aired the ball out to challenge rookie safeties Kenny Vaccaro of the Saints and Eric Reid of the 49ers. This week could be no different. If he likes the matchup, do not be surprised to see Wilson go to vertical threats Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to challenge Clinton-Dix.

In their last meeting the Seahawks defense sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half. This week it will be just as crucial to pressure Rodgers and force him into sacks and mistakes. The Seahawks will use a pass rush rotation including Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin, and O’Brien Schofield. These four players will need to play a significant role but keep an eye specifically on Bennett. Although he will start at defensive end, I expect Bennett to be lined up as a pass rushing defensive tackle due to the uncertainty of the Green Bay offensive line. The Packers offensive line includes two players who have never played at CenturyLink Field. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has earned the starting job after being an injury fill-in in 2013. Green Bay will also start rookie Corey Linsley at center. Linsley will be my main focus among the Packers offensive line as he will have the difficult challenge of attempting to handle the 12th Man in his first career NFL game as well as handling a fierce interior pass rush. If the Packers cannot show they can protect Rodgers early it may be a long night for the Packers offense.

Despite the uncertainty on the line, the Green Bay Packers offense is one of the most talented and dangerous units in the league. The offense plays a very large part in why many experts believe the Packers can make a deep playoff run in 2014 and are serious contenders to win Super Bowl XLIX. By now you know the Packers are led by All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and this year he sports a more balanced attack. In addition to his dangerous downfield weapons Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Rodgers also one of the best up-and-coming running backs in second-year man Eddie Lacy who can be used to run the ball as well as catch passes out of the backfield. All three should see their share of targets but the Packers still have a big mystery to solve on offense. With the departure of tight end Jermichael Finley the Packers seem to have a void at the position. According to the Packers official depth chart, the starting tight end is listed as rookie Richard Rodgers but my X-Factor player to watch this week is veteran tight end Andrew Quarless. Quarless led all Packers tight ends in receiving with 6 catches, 70 yards, and a touchdown during the preseason. I believe he will be a more relied on target than Rodgers, especially deep in Seattle territory. If Green Bay can move the ball into scoring range, look for the Packers to potentially use a two tight end package with Quarless and Rodgers as well as Nelson and Cobb on the outside.

In the 9 NFL Kickoff games hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion, only the 2012 New York Giants have lost in front of their hometown fans. Hosting the first game of the NFL season provides an interesting emotional challenge. During pregame, the team is introduced in front of the entire country watching on television and shortly afterwards, the world championship banner is unveiled to a stirring emotional roar from the crowd. Almost immediately following these special festivities however, it is time to shift the mind to play a football game. Against a quality opponent such as the Green Bay Packers and with no prior experience playing in this game, I wonder if the Seahawks will be able to handle all of the pregame distractions adequately in order to win the football game. It would not surprise me to see the Seahawks get off to a slow start but then pick up the pace later in the game; I mean it is week 1 after all. If the Seahawks can show they can put the pregame emotions behind them and score quickly we will be in very good shape for the rest of the game.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants this week with the Packers wearing white jerseys and yellow pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week with Michele Tafoya patrolling the sidelines. In addition, the entire “Football Night in America” crew will be in Seattle this week for pregame and halftime coverage. That will be neat… This may have deserved its own little paragraph because I feel it is of great importance but here it goes. If you are attending the game PLEASE skip the Pharrell Williams/Soundgarden concert. The concert takes place at 4:30pm and immediately following the concert at 5:30pm CenturyLink Field goes live to the nation on NBC to start pregame festivities. I want to see everybody with a ticket in their seats by 5pm to be a part of a truly special series of ceremonies. That and we need everyone ready for the start of the game… If you are attending the game the Seahawks are strongly advising fans to enter the stadium through the southwest gate and touchdown city. All areas north of the stadium are going to be a nightmare due to concert traffic and people who do not have tickets to the game. It may be best just to stay and tailgate south of the stadium to avoid any congestion… Hawks Nest Bar at 12pm on gameday. Be there… I think it would be really cool if instead of unveiling a world championship banner in the rafters, the Seahawks raise a special championship “banner flag” instead of the normal 12th Man flag. That probably won’t happen though as there are now 3 covered banners already hanging in the rafters at CenturyLink… I wonder if the Seahawks will mix alumni day with the Kickoff festivities. Traditionally the Seahawks honor past players at the home opener… The question must be asked: who will raise the 12th Man flag this week? It is confirmed that former head coach Mike Holmgren will be in attendance this week and he is more than a viable option to raise the flag but his potential participation in the tradition has not been confirmed. Traditionally because the home opener is alumni day the Seahawks let a prominent member of the franchise’s past raise the flag. If I got to choose who gets to raise the flag, my vote would go to the two retired members of the 2013 world championship team, wide receiver Sidney Rice and fullback Michael Robinson. How cool would it be to see those guys wearing their Super Bowl rings raise the flag with the presence of the Vince Lombardi trophy? That would be very special.

Prediction: I am going to be bold. This game will NOT end in a Hail Mary touchdown. Yep, I went there. Instead I believe this will not be the offensive shootout people may think will happen. The Seahawks defense will do a decent job putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers but Rodgers will still manage to throw for a pair of touchdowns. Russell Wilson will throw a touchdown to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch will add a touchdown on the ground. The Seahawks will take advantage of Green Bay turnovers and turn them into additional points. The game will be close for the majority of the night, but a couple of late Seattle field goals will doom the Packers. The Seahawks will go to 1-0 and take a couple of days off before preparing for their week 2 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Seahawks 23, Packers 14

Check back late Thursday night/early Friday morning for me Packers/Seahawks review. To everyone attending have a great time. For everyone watching on television, enjoy the game! Go Seahawks!

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Seahawks/Packers Preview

22 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is the most anticipated preseason game this season. On Friday night in front of a nationally televised audience, the Seahawks head to Green Bay to take on the Packers in a rematch of last year’s 14-12 Seahawks victory on Monday Night Football. The game was highlighted by Golden Tate’s disputed touchdown catch on the final play of the game. The play, ruled a simultaneous catch by Tate and defender M.D. Jennings, was awarded to the Seahawks even though Jennings appeared to have more control over the ball. The game did not have any effect on the Seahawks at the end of the season but a Green Bay win would have given the Packers the number two seed in the NFC playoffs and could have changed the landscape of how last season ended in the National Football League. There are some notable things to be watching in this game so let’s get right to it.

The starters will see the most playing time of the preseason this week. Both starting units will play into the third quarter on Friday night. What makes this noteworthy is our opponent. The Green Bay Packers are the defending NFC North champions and are expected by many to win their division once again in 2013 and compete to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII. For the starters to get the majority of their preseason playing time against the starting defense on a team that is also very talented is the best thing for the Seahawks. From this standpoint I am excited for two things specifically. I am excited to see how Russell Wilson handles the Green Bay defense and I am excited to see how our defense matches up against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense. If we can hold the Packers offense and keep our offense on the field, that can only be a sign of good things to come in the regular season.

With the trade of John Moffitt to the Denver Broncos, J.R. Sweezy has officially won the starting right guard spot. Although I am disappointed in the trade, I am glad we were able to get it done now. Every starting offensive line spot has now been solidified and the job now is to build continuity between these five guys. Sweezy is still a bit raw and I thought Moffitt was a better fit for the time being (which is why I am disappointed) but in the long run I think this will be good for the team. It will be interesting to see what kinds of blitz packages Green Bay will dial up, specifically in Sweezy’s direction. Do not be surprised to see Clay Matthews attempt to rush up the middle and through Sweezy. If Sweezy can maintain his ground, our offense will be in good shape.

I will have special interest in the starters and the overall playing time of certain Seahawks defenders this week. Benson Mayowa started at defensive end against Denver last week and could get the start again in Green Bay. We will see a lot of Mayowa and linebacker John Lotulelei as well as linebacker Allen Bradford. Bradford can play all three linebacker spots and will mainly be competing for the backup middle linebacker spot. Bradford has impressed throughout the preseason although he has not gained as much attention as Mayowa and Lotulelei. If Bradford can also impress on special teams Heath Farwell, Bradford’s primary competition, could be out of a job come time for roster cuts. Antoine Winfield is another man to watch. According to defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Winfield is currently the starting nickel corner in front of Walter Thurmond. An impactful game by Winfield could solidify his roster spot, a spot that was considered to be unstable during the first week of training camp.

For the Green Bay Packers I am mostly interested in their offense. Green Bay has some serious question marks along the offensive line considering starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Packers offensive line was a point of weakness last season. The Seahawks can confirm that given their 8 first half sacks of Aaron Rodgers in their matchup last season. According to the Packers official depth chart rookie David Bakhtiari is in line to start at left tackle in place of Bulaga on Friday night. Look for the Seahawks to send increased pressure to Bakhtiari’s side to see how he handles it. The Packers also drafted two rookie running backs this year. According to the Packers website DuJuan Harris is currently the starter but make sure to watch how Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin fit into Green Bay plans both in the backfield and on special teams.

Random Thoughts: I hope Golden Tate is ready to hear the boo birds. Packers fans still remember what happened last season and if social media is any indication, Tate will be showered with boos throughout the game. I hope we see Tate score a touchdown to see what kind of fun he has planned for the fans regarding his touchdown celebration… How many times will we see the replay of last year’s game during the broadcast? I say five… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week… Ian Eagle and Phil Simms have the call for CBS this week… No word yet on who the referee for this week’s game is… It’s too bad we’re playing in Green Bay during the preseason. Of all the regular season road games I have been to, I am waiting for the chance to see the Seahawks play at Lambeau. Maybe it will happen next season… I have my fantasy football draft on Sunday night. Here’s to an injury-free week of football!

Prediction: I think the game will go back and forth until the backups come into the game. I think the Packers will hold a 10 point lead at the time the starters exit the game and the Seahawks will close the gap with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Unfortunately I think the Packers hold on for a victory this week and snap the Seahawks preseason winning streak.

Packers 31, Seahawks 27

Check back on Saturday for a review of the game. Go Hawks!

Combine Thoughts Part One

6 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The first part is my thoughts on the offensive players who participated*

The NFL Scouting Combine took place last week where I counted over 325 players participated in both the on-the-field football drills and the off-the-field team interviews. At the combine, a player’s draft stock can either rise or fall depending on how they perform on the field and if they can impress coaches and general managers in a meeting room. This year’s broadcast and coverage of combine drills put a focus on the 40-yard dash, bench press, and various football drills depending on the position. Of course I am not a part of the coaching staff or front office so I can only judge character and off the field traits based on what I hear. I can only go off of what I see.

The first two days of the 2013 combine focused on offensive players. I have noted some players who I believe helped themselves at the combine and who I would have an eye on for the Seahawks to draft; broken down by position. An example of a player who can help their draft stock is a player who can put up above-average numbers in both the 40-yard dash and bench press. Those two drills are the most important activities in my eyes.

Offensive Line

Jeff Baca (UCLA)

David Bakhtiari (Colorado)

Emmett Cleary (Boston College)

Reid Fragel (Ohio St.)

Rogers Gaines (Tennessee St.)

Eric Herman (Ohio)

Joe Madsen (West Virginia)

Vince Painter (Virginia Tech)

Brian Schwenke (California)

J.C. Tretter (Cornell)

With offensive lineman my number one priority is strength. I like an offensive lineman at the combine who can do at least 27 bench press reps. In my opinion I do not believe any of these lineman will be picked in the first round. I am looking for value at this position much like was the case with J.R. Sweezy last season. The guys on this list who really caught my eye were Vince Painter and Brian Schwenke. Painter was one of only four offensive linemen at the combine who ran a 40-yard dash under five seconds. He also tied for 5th for most bench press reps among his position group. A guy who can put up numbers in the top 5 in both categories is a guy whose stock will rise and a guy I would be interested in for the Seahawks to take a look at. Brian Schwenke may be one of the best guards available in this year’s draft and is currently projected to be a 2nd round pick. He is a Pac-12 guy so Coach Carroll may be more familiar with him than other prospects. Schwenke could be a guy who could challenge Paul McQuistan for the starting LG spot.

Tight End

Chris Gragg (Arkansas)

Vance McDonald (Rice)

Dion Sims (Michigan St.)

With the signing of TE Darren Fells, I think it is safe to say the Seahawks will not be in the market to take a tight end early in the draft. You can scratch both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz off the board. I think it would still be possible to add more competition to the tight end position later on in the draft. Any of these three guys I think I would like to see in Seattle. I think another vertical threat would help Russell Wilson. If Fells does not pan out, it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks attack the tight end position in this year’s draft.

Quarterback

E.J. Manuel (Florida St.)

Matt Scott (Arizona)

I am split on Matt Flynn. I think he is a reliable backup in the event Russell Wilson gets hurt but he runs a different offensive package. Without a third quarterback currently on the roster I think it would be beneficial to bring in another athletic quarterback who could step in and mirror Wilson’s offense. These are the only two quarterbacks I would be interested in. E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and ran the second fastest 40-yard dash behind potential top 5 pick Geno Smith. Manuel is expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Matt Scott was a player who surprised me. He ran a sub 4.70 40YD and looked pretty good in the on-the-field quarterback drills. If Scott is still available in round 5, I think it is realistic to think the Seahawks could use a pick on Scott.

Running Back

Giovani Bernard (North Carolina)

D.J. Harper (Boise St.)

Onterio McCalebb (Auburn)

Kerwynn Williams (Utah St.)

The Seahawks have their franchise running back set in stone with Marshawn Lynch. They also have their 3rd down power back locked in with Robert Turbin. Leon Washington is still a solid kick returner but is getting older. Could it be time to start thinking about replacing Washington? These four guys I think could have the potential to come into Seattle and make an impact in 2013. My spotlight is on Onterio McCalebb. McCalebb ran unofficial 40YD times of 4.27 and 4.21; the fastest running back at the combine. His stock is sure to rise but imagine him returning kicks for the Seahawks. With his speed and footwork (which looked good in running back drills), McCalebb could be a nightmare for defenders to try to tackle and he could set the Seahawks up for great field position. Kerwynn Williams could be a guy to keep an eye on because he was teammates with Robert Turbin in college.

Wide Receiver

Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech)

Mark Harrison (Rutgers)

Justin Hunter (Tennessee)

Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)

Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech)

In my opinion, unless an offensive lineman projected to be a top 15 pick falls to the Seahawks at 25th overall, the only offensive position the Seahawks will be looking at in the first round is wide receiver. I am really high on both Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Patterson and Hunter are 6’2” and 6’4” respectively and could be long, tall vertical threats that could line up opposite Sidney Rice. In order to draft Patterson the Seahawks will have to trade up and given the conservative draft strategy of general manager John Schneider it is highly unlikely that will happen. The only way I see us trading up to take Patterson is if Patterson really impressed the Seahawks in his combine interview and if the price is right to pull the trigger on a trade. Hunter is a more realistic pick. Hunter is projected to be a mid-2nd or early 3rd round pick and could be one of our choices on day two of the draft. I like Hunter because of his leaping ability. He tied for first in the vertical jump among wide receivers with a jump of 39.5 inches. I think we need another tall receiver who can jump high to make catches.

Tomorrow I will post part two of my combine thoughts. Part two focuses on the defensive participants.