Tag Archives: Dwight Freeney

Cardinals/Seahawks Preview

14 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

What a way to kick off the second half of the season. There is little doubt that this game is the biggest game of our season thus far, given the opponent and the potential implications of winning or losing. In front of a nationally televised audience the Seahawks host the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. After two straight wins heading into the bye the Seahawks sit at 4-4. The Arizona Cardinals have jumped out of the gate to a 6-2 start and hold a two game lead on Seattle for the division lead. The all-time series with the Cardinals is tied 16-16. The Seahawks have won their last two games against Arizona including a 35-6 walloping of the Cardinals in week 16 last season to take control of the NFC West lead. The Cardinals are a tough opponent and have recent history of beating the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field so this game is certainly no gimme. Here is what I will be watching for on Sunday night.

The common narrative heading into this game has been the Seahawks lack of efficiency in the red zone so far this season. In our first 8 games the Seahawks have taken 18 drives into the red zone. Of those drives, half of them have resulted in field goals and only 5 have resulted in touchdowns. The last Seahawks red zone touchdown came on Marshawn Lynch’s one yard run in the first quarter against San Francisco two weeks ago. Our red zone touchdown percentage of 27.8 is the worst in the league. Seattle also only averages just over two visits to the red zone per game; also dead last in the league. The Seahawks need to capitalize on our trips deep into Arizona territory. Settling for field goals will make it tougher on us especially later on in the game. With the improving play of our offensive line, expect quarterback Russell Wilson to have more confidence throwing towards key red zone targets Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Kearse. If Marshawn Lynch can also get going to extend drives the Seahawks will be in fantastic shape.

The Arizona Cardinals have a very good passing game, oftentimes using three or more receivers. On defense this week for the Seahawks I am looking at what our personnel will look like when we use nickel or dime packages, and just how often will we use at least 5 guys in the secondary. Of course the Seahawks are well known for playing a “cover 3” defense but given the talent Arizona has at the receiver position it may be necessary for DeShawn Shead or Marcus Burley to play more. Playing an extra member of the Legion of Boom may work to our advantage, especially if we can confuse Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer in coverage. Forcing interceptions may be difficult this week though. Palmer has thrown over three times as many touchdowns as he has interceptions. Sacks may also come at a premium, as the Cardinals offensive line has done a great job protecting their quarterback. Arizona has surrendered only 11 sacks so far, an average of 1.4 sacks per game.

On offense the Arizona Cardinals have two of the most explosive units in football. The signing of running back Chris Johnson has propelled the Cardinals to the 9th best rushing unit in the league. My focus this week will be on Arizona’s fourth ranked passing offense led by quarterback Carson Palmer. Arizona averages 292 passing yards per game, and 66.3 percent of Palmer’s completions have been caught by the three headed monster of Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd. My X-Factor Player to Watch spotlight will be on Fitzgerald this week as his role is the most interesting in my eye. Fitzgerald leads all Arizona receivers in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. The majority of Fitzgerald’s time however has been spent in the slot rather than on the outside. This is where a fifth Seahawks defender will come into play; to help cover Fitzgerald in the middle of the field. Fitzgerald catching passes means the Cardinals will be moving the ball in small chunks while tiring out the Seahawks defense at the same time.

Although Arizona leads the NFC West and they have good talent on the defensive side of the ball, after watching film I still consider this unit to be a “poor mans” Seahawks defense. The Cardinals are using the Seahawks blueprint to create their defense and it is working. The pass rush continues to be exceptional with Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, and Dwight Freeney. Linebacker Kevin Minter has great range as he is the second best tackler on the team and also leads all Arizona defenders in tackles for loss. What scares me the most though is the play of the Cardinals secondary. Patrick Peterson continues to be one of the best cornerbacks in football. Tyrann Mathieu is probably their most versatile defender doing everything from rushing the passer to playing in deep coverage. If there is one defender to watch it is strong safety Deone Bucannon. In his second year out of Washington State, Bucannon has gone from reserve safety to the leading tackler on the team with 56 through their first 8 games. Bucannon is a hard hitter in coverage and also displays impressing ball-hawking skills. If the Seahawks throw deep do not be surprised to hear Bucannon’s name on the broadcast.

Random Thoughts: With the aura of primetime football comes a primetime broadcast crew. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call on NBC. Michele Tafoya will report on both teams from the sideline. The Seahawks will wear all-navy and the Cardinals will likely wear white jerseys and white pants. I highly doubt we will see Arizona break out the red pants… Clete Blakeman is this week’s referee… Ah finally; primetime football after daylight savings time. It will be dark. It will be loud. It will be the most bonkers atmosphere of the 2015 season. I cannot wait… The game theme is military appreciation. 91-year old Corporal Clayton Pitre will raise the 12 flag prior to kickoff… No bars this week since I’m taking my dad. Lunch downtown then probably either Pyramid or Safeco Field for pregame beers most likely so that should be a nice little change of pace… This game is the biggest game because of the possible ramifications. A win and the Seahawks are one game behind Arizona and our hopes of a division title remain intact. A loss means we are three games behind Arizona, they will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, and we can virtually kiss our chances at a division title goodbye. We will be solely focused on a Wild-Card berth if we lose this game and I am not ready to turn my attention to the 5 or 6 seed. A loss is not acceptable.

Prediction: In the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks are 9-0 in primetime with a combined score of 245-94. I do not expect this game to be a blowout but I also do not expect a loss at home in primetime. Russell Wilson will be sacked 4 times but will make two deep throws to set up Marshawn Lynch touchdown runs. Carson Palmer will throw for one touchdown, Chandler Catanzaro will kick a field goal and the Arizona defense will also add a safety. In the end however, Steven Hauschka will kick two fourth quarter field goals and the Seahawks will win their third straight game, improving their record to 5-4.

Seahawks 24, Cardinals 12

Advertisements

Seahawks/Chargers Preview

7 Aug

Image

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers

Site: Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, California)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chargers 23, Seahawks 13

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

Thoughts on the Seahawks Defensive Signings

28 Mar
Image

DE Cliff Avril

The Seahawks kicked off the NFL league year with a bang by acquiring Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings. I haven’t jumped on the blog since the first day of free agency but since my last post the Seahawks have made a few great signings. The Seahawks were clearly on a mission to improve our pass rush and our defensive line through free agency and that is exactly what they have done so far. Here are some brief thoughts on Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Tony McDaniel.

I love the signing of Cliff Avril the most of any of our signings. Avril hit the open market as one of the top pass rushers available and we were able to sign him for two years and only $15 million. Last season Avril turned down a contract extension offered by the Detroit Lions which would have paid him $10 million a year. These numbers made it hard to believe that the Seahawks would be in play for any veteran defensive ends such as Avril, John Abraham, and Dwight Freeney, among others because of the money I thought they would be asking for. Signing Avril for $8.5 million a year is a bargain in my opinion and a signing that set the market for the rest of defensive end free agent group. Avril and Bruce Irvin will battle for the starting defensive end spot while Chris Clemons is rehabbing his torn ACL. I think Irvin is expected to be the starter but no matter whom is the starter both Irvin and Avril will make significant contributions to the Seahawks pass rush this season.

After the Avril signing I figured we had found a replacement for Clemons and that our shopping for defensive ends was over. I was wrong. The Seahawks then went out and signed Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett to a one-year $5 million contract. Bennett was signed by Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2009 but was released at the trading deadline of that season. Tampa Bay picked him up and he had a solid impact with the Buccaneers from 2009-2012 recording 15 sacks; 9 of which came last season. Over the past few days it has come to light that the reason the Seahawks were able to sign Bennett to such a cheap deal is because he played with a torn rotator cuff last season. According to Seahawks general manager John Schneider, surgery is not on the table for the time being and it is not required for Bennett to play in 2013. Although a defensive end, I think the Seahawks may want to try to use him as an interior pass rusher, similarly to Jason Jones who left in free agency to the Detroit Lions. I consider Bennett to be Jones’s replacement.

Today it was announced the Seahawks signed former Miami defensive tackle Tony McDaniel to a one-year contract. McDaniel is a 6-7, 305 pound run stuffer who was an undrafted free agent in 2006. I think this signing means the Seahawks will not attempt to re-sign Alan Branch who is a similar physical build to McDaniel.

If the season were to start today, I predict that the starting defensive line will consist of Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril. Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, and Chris Clemons when healthy will all be used on passing downs, giving the Seahawks four or five exceptional pass rushers on the field at the same time. I am a fan of all of these moves, especially since their contracts are not huge hits to the salary cap and they still give us the freedom to go out and make other signings. Before the signing of McDaniel, the Seahawks had $6.8 worth of salary cap space according to ProFootballTalk.