Tag Archives: Heath Farwell

2015 NFL Draft: Five Good Fits

29 Apr

Over the past 2 months I have scouted over 300 incoming rookies and analyzed hours upon hours of their game film dating back to the NFL Scouting Combine back in February. I have narrowed these players to a short list of about 35 players I would love to see the Seahawks draft this weekend. Of the players on my board, there is a shorter list of 5 players I believe would be perfect fits Darrell Bevell’s offense or Kris Richard’s defense. I would be over-the-moon ecstatic to see the Seahawks select any of the following players on either Friday or Saturday.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Laken Tominson, Offensive Guard, Duke

There is no question that the Seahawks are desperate for offensive line depth, especially after the trade of center Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints and losing guard James Carpenter to the New York Jets in free agency. Laken Tomlinson from Duke would be a perfect fit in the middle of the line. Tomlinson is a fantastic run blocker and an excellent pass blocker, especially down field on screen passes. He is a tough player who bullies his opponents. Offensive linemen usually do not get mentioned on the television broadcast of their games but Tomlinson’s name was brought up positively several times on each game of his I watched. I do not think he would come into camp as the definite starter at left guard, but I believe an open competition between him and Alvin Bailey could put Tomlinson in a fantastic position to win the job.

Projected Round: 3

Photo Credit: imgkid.com

Photo Credit: imgkid.com

Danielle Hunter, Defensive End, LSU

Explosive pass rushers can oftentimes be very hard to find after the first round. I believe that LSU’s Danielle Hunter is the best “second day” pass rusher available and could very much still be on the board when the Seahawks pick at #63 overall. Hunter is extremely fast off the line of scrimmage and he does not have any problems getting past his initial blocker. He does a great job of collapsing the pocket even if he himself cannot get to the quarterback. He has a relentless motor that I believe will not keep John Schneider wary of his on-field effort. Hunter is arguably the best defensive lineman I watched film on and could be a steal for the Seahawks at the end of the second round.

Projected Round: 3

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

Kenny Bell, Wide Receiver, Nebraska

In a talent-rich wide receiver class, Kenny Bell from Nebraska stood out to me. He is Nebraska’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and was a team captain in 2014. He was widely regarded as Nebraska’s most respected player during his time there which I believe would blend tremendously with the leadership the Seahawks possess, especially with Russell Wilson as his potential quarterback. On the field he possesses many traits that would put him right in the middle of the wide receiver rotation in 2015. Bell is 6’1 which would buck the trend of shorter receivers on our roster. Bell can line all over but could best be used on the outside as either a flanker or split end. Bell runs his routes with great timing and adjusts his routes extremely well to put himself in the best position to make the catch. He also has great hands and is nearly immune to dropping passes. That’s not to say he doesn’t drop a pass every once in a blue moon because he does. Bell’s most impressive on-field trait perhaps is his breakaway speed on vertical routes, which would give Wilson a very dependable and trustworthy weapon when throwing deep.

Projected Round: 5

Photo Credit: bluegoldsports.com

Photo Credit: bluegoldsports.com

Ben Heeney, Middle Linebacker, Kansas

To me, Heeney is a poor man’s Luke Kuechly. He carries many similar traits on the field to that of Kuechly but his projection as a day three pick goes to show there may be a bit of uncertainly. I like him and selecting him could provide a solid player to compete with Brock Coyle and Heath Farwell for the backup middle linebacker job. Heeney does a good job reading the quarterback’s eyes but he can be a bit hesitant committing where to go when the quarterback drops back to pass. He is a solid fundamental tackler and always seems to go low to wrap up the ball carrier. His biggest weakness is that he is not a bully, and his tenacity comes into question. Nevertheless I believe he would be a solid player to take a flyer on in the later rounds of the draft.

Projected Round: 6

Photo Credit: Rant Sports

Photo Credit: Rant Sports

Clayton Geathers, Safety, Central Florida

In a rather underwhelming class of safeties, I wound up getting really excited while watching tape of Central Florida’s Clayton Geathers. I believe Geathers is the closest thing to Kam Chancellor this draft has to offer. Geathers is a punisher who is not afraid to lay a big hit on a receiver going over the middle. He plays tight coverage and does a great job in pass coverage but at times he can be overeager. One play really stood out to me, an interception he made last season against the University of Houston. Geathers jumping in front of the pass, picking it off, and running it back to the house for a touchdown was almost a spitting image of Chancellor’s pick-six in the playoffs against Carolina. I believe he would fit extremely well in the Legion of Boom. He is absolutely my favorite defensive player available and would be an absolute steal in the last round of the draft. I project him as a 7th rounder but it honestly would not surprise me one bit to see him selected in round 5 or even as early as round 4 if a team is as in love with him as I am.

Projected Round: 7

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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!

Down to 75: Revisited

26 Aug
farwell flag

Seahawks LB Heath Farwell (carrying 12th Man Flag), Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

The Seahawks trimmed their roster to 75 on Tuesday afternoon. Among the 15 players taken off the active roster, 8 players had their contracts terminated, 3 were waived with an injury settlement, 3 were placed on injured reserve, and one was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. Here is the breakdown of today’s moves.

Contracts Terminated

RB Demitrius Bronson

WR Kevin Smith

OL Cory Brandon

OL Wade Smith

DL Jackson Jeffcoat

DB Mike Dobson

DB Terrell Thomas

DB Thomas Wolfe

Waived: Injury Settlement

WR David Gilreath

DT Michael Brooks

LB Horace Miller

Placed on IR

LB Heath Farwell

OL C.J. Davis

DB A.J. Jefferson

NFI

DB Eric Pinkins

Of the 15 players I predicted would be moved off the active roster, I was correct on 8 of them. Those players are bolded on the list above.

The only slight “surprise” of this roster trim is placing linebacker Heath Farwell on injured reserve with a groin injury that will require surgery. Farwell is the Seahawks special teams captain and one of the anchors of our kickoff coverage unit. Losing Farwell is a blow on special teams but the Seahawks definitely have the depth to replace him. With Farwell headed to IR, expect undrafted rookie linebacker Brock Coyle to make the team as Farwell’s replacement and the backup to starting middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

The Seahawks have until 1pm Saturday to set their week one active roster. To do so, they must trim their current roster from 75 to 53 players.

Review: Broncos 21, Seahawks 16

7 Aug
Photo Credit: denverbroncos.com

Photo Credit: denverbroncos.com

Payback is oh so sweet, isn’t it Denver? The Seahawks opened the 2014 preseason with a slight thud as they lose to the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos 21-16. The loss snaps the Seahawks 9-game preseason winning streak dating back to the 2011 season. I saw some good but quite a lot of bad on Thursday night. Here are my thoughts.

Thoughts on our Starting Units: On the whole I thought both the Seahawks starting offense and defense looked pretty average. On offense, Russell Wilson played two series and went 4/6 for 37 yards. There is definitely rust that still needs to be shaken off as Wilson failed to hit Doug Baldwin and Luke Willson on quick passes that definitely would have been made in the middle of the regular season. Wilson looked much better on his second series, where he put together a 14 play, 90 yard drive resulting in a Christine Michael touchdown run following a 45-minute lightning delay. What was also disappointing was that starting wide receivers Baldwin, Percy Harvin, and Jermaine Kearse made minimal impact in the first two drives, combining for two catches for 29 yards.

On defense, the Seahawks did a very good job stopping Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman to start off the game. The secondary did a decent job in coverage but it seemed that Peyton Manning had more success on his two drives of this game than he had during the entire Super Bowl back in February. Richard Sherman was not targeted at all, which gave Byron Maxwell and Jeron Johnson an opportunity to play an expanded role in coverage. Brock Coyle did a very nice job starting at middle linebacker, making 5 tackles, and his intensity on kickoff coverage makes me ponder the possibility of him making this team over current backup linebacker Heath Farwell. On the whole I expect to see much improvement next week when we play San Diego.

Too. Many. Penalties: I don’t know if it was just the referees trying follow the new penalty rules or if gameplay was straight up sloppy but there were enough flags thrown against both teams for me to tie them together, go up to the roof of my house, and shimmy down the side of said house unharmed. Seattle and Denver combined for 25 penalties, resulting in 226 penalty yards. The Seahawks had 13 of those penalties for 131 yards. Five of the Seahawks penalties were snap infractions, either false starts or defensive offsides. The quantity of these mental mistakes is unacceptable and will be a focus in practice this week. The Seahawks veterans also need to figure out a way to mentor younger players to keep their heads cool, as cornerback Tharold Simon was ejected after a Denver touchdown for striking a Broncos player in the head following the score. If we can cut our penalties down to about half next week that will show me that there was significant improvement made in practice next week.

Jackson vs. Pryor, Round One: One of the more underrated position battles going on in camp is who will be Russell Wilson’s backup this season. Terrelle Pryor has looked more impressive in practice with a combination of good speed on the ground and solid accuracy through the air. In this first game, however, I think Tarvaris Jackson has a leg up on Pryor. Jackson went 5/7 for 47 yards, earning an 89.6 passer rating. Jackson made safe decisions and was able to move the ball fairly well. Pryor has been known to be a good practice quarterback but be a “deer in the headlights” player during games. This was apparent on Thursday night. Pryor was very erratic through the air, underthrowing and throwing behind his targets several times. His decisions to keep the ball and run also seemed to fail, as he seemed to take too much time deciding whether or not to throw or to make something happen on the ground. If this first game is any indication, Jackson deserves to be the second-string quarterback next week, and Pryor will have to move the ball extremely well next week to keep his name in the conversation to be the backup. Another below average performance by Pryor next week and Jackson may have the backup quarterback job safe to himself.

Run Defense Struggles Mightily: Later on in the game, Broncos running backs Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs did a good job finding holes to run through while gaining large chunks of yards. Thompson and Bibbs combined for 77 second half rushing yards on 10 carries while making the Seattle backups look very mediocre. The entire team gave up 116 total rushing yards on the day. Could it be too early to wonder if the Seahawks are okay with their defensive line depth? After Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel exited the game, no defensive tackles made any tackles for the rest of the game; Thompson and Bibbs were able to make it to the second level of the Seahawks defense before the tackle was made more often than not.

Thoughts on Denver: It is hard to have any concrete thoughts on an opponent this early in the season, but the Denver Broncos showed that they can definitely get up for a big game. The Broncos fed off the energy of their crowd and played with a chip on their shoulder. Even the backups and rookies who may not have been on Denver’s Super Bowl squad last year played with payback on their minds. Barring injuries, I believe the Broncos will be competitive in every game they play and even though Peyton Manning’s offense may not come close to breaking the records broken last season, they will definitely put up solid numbers once again. As of now, I’m thinking our game against Denver in week 3 will be a much closer game than you might seem to think.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks matched their white road uniforms with wolf grey pants. The Seahawks did not wear this combo in any regular season or postseason game last year and I am starting to think it is because this combination is bad luck. Hopefully Thursday is the last time we see white/grey for a long time… During the 45-minute lightning delay, Q13 FOX switched from the Seahawks broadcast to a re-run of “Cops.” It was an episode that highlighted the King County state patrol so that was cool I guess (even though I wasn’t paying attention to the couple of minutes that I watched)… Actually I don’t know what was worse: Cops or the broadcast of the 49ers/Ravens game on NFL Network. They had the commentators watching the game on television and doing play-by-play from a studio in Los Angeles. It was almost unwatchable it was that bad… How many more weather delays are we going to have to deal with this season? Hopefully none… It was actually pretty funny hearing Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler scream “Omaha” on his snap counts. It is yet another category that I can confirm Osweiler is no Peyton Manning… I tried Twilight Summer Ale from Deschutes Brewery during the game. Good flavor but as far as “good beers to drink in the summer” go I’ll probably stick to hefeweizen from here on out… I can’t wait to get back to CenturyLink next week.

Check back next Thursday as I preview our second preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. I may hop on early next week as well. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Broncos Preview

6 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos

Site: Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver, Colorado)

Kickoff: 6:00pm

Six months ago the Seahawks wrapped up the best season in franchise history, winning Super Bowl XLVIII. The 2014 season starts against the same team that we ended our 2013 season against as the Seahawks head to Denver Thursday night to play the Broncos in the 2014 preseason opener. The Seahawks defeated the Broncos in the preseason last year, winning in convincing style 40-10 at CenturyLink Field. This will be the first of two games against the Broncos in 2014; the Seahawks and Broncos will meet in week 3 of the regular season in Seattle. Although this is only a preseason game there are many things to keep an eye on. Here are a few of the things I will be focusing on this week.

Seahawks training camp has been going on for two weeks. With the first live game action since February on deck, it is reasonable to expect that the first team offense and defense may come out a bit rusty. That is what the preseason is for after all; to shake the rust off and get ready for the regular season. I am very interested to see a couple of different things on offense. First I am interested to see what kind of protection Russell Wilson gets in the passing game. If the unofficial Seattle Times depth chart is accurate, the Seahawks will start 3 linemen that did not start in 2013. Alvin Bailey is projected to start at left tackle with Caylin Hauptmann at left guard and rookie Justin Britt at right tackle. With this questionable offensive line, I could see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell using wide receiver Percy Harvin on quick throws or sweeps, especially if Wilson is feeling the pressure at the beginning of the serie(s). The second thing I want to see on offense is how running plays will be split between Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. I do not expect to see Marshawn Lynch until maybe next week against San Diego, so Turbin and Michael will see expanded playing time on Thursday. Turbin is listed ahead of Michael on the depth chart but it would not surprise me to see an alternating committee instead of Turbin playing with the second team offense and Michael playing strictly with the third team offense.

The Seahawks defense has made a name for themselves as being one of the deepest units in the NFL as a whole. Over the past couple of seasons backups such as Malcolm Smith and Byron Maxwell have taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them while solidifying themselves as reliable starters. On Thursday defensive backups will get their first opportunity to make a name for themselves and for some, prove that they are simply capable of making the 53-man roster. The Seahawks are projected to start Mike Morgan at outside linebacker and rookie Brock Coyle from Montana at middle linebacker. Coyle will start over incumbent special teamer Heath Farwell, which shows how far Coyle has progressed during training camp.

This will also be the first time the Seahawks show off their (semi) new look defensive line. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are now in Jacksonville, which opens up both starting defensive end spots to 2013 rotational players Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The Seahawks pass rush package now consists of Avril, Bennett, Bruce Irvin (who will not play on Thursday) and rookie defensive end Cassius Marsh.

The Denver Broncos are coming off one of the most impressive statistical seasons of any offensive unit in NFL history. After breaking numerous passing records, yet getting embarrassed by the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Denver spent a large amount of money in the offseason upgrading their defense with veteran talent. After the Seahawks defense only allowed 8 points to Denver in the Super Bowl, the Broncos made these moves in free agency to counter select NFC powers such as Seattle and San Francisco. The Broncos signed outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Aqib Talib among others to improve the Broncos pass rush and secondary respectively. From a Seahawks perspective, I view this game as a hollow preview of what could be coming when we play Denver in the regular season. I am curious to see just how improved the Broncos defense is compared to last season. My X-Factor player to watch for the Broncos this week is rookie cornerback Bradley Roby. Roby is the Denver’s 2014 first round draft pick and is currently slotted behind Aqib Talib on the depth chart. Roby has been playing really well during training camp and will likely see significant playing time on Thursday, especially later in the game.

Random Thoughts: This will be a mini uniform rematch from Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks will wear white jerseys and the Broncos will wear orange jerseys with white pants. The Seahawks pant color has yet to be announced but it would not surprise me at all if we wear blue pants just like in the Super Bowl… I am glad we get Denver at home in the regular season. We will see three of our preseason opponents in the regular season and in each instance the location of the game is different from the preseason to the regular season… I am curious to how the Seahawks will be received in Denver as the team that just beat the home team in the Super Bowl mere months earlier. I imagine it will be as hostile an environment as possible for a preseason game… Tony Corrente is the referee for this week’s game… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week. Menefee and Huard will call all 4 Seahawks preseason games on television this year. As always, the score and the outcome in the preseason does not matter. The only thing that truly matters is that we can fly home injury-free. If the Seahawks can avoid sustaining any major injuries we will have already won heading into another week of training camp.

Prediction: I think that the Broncos will be as fired up as possible coming into this game. They want to stick it to us after we embarrassed them back in February. I could see the Seahawks starting the game with the ball and struggling early. If the Seahawks win this game, I expect it to be on the arm and legs of a much improved Terrelle Pryor. The Seahawks have not lost a preseason game since 2011 but I believe our 10-game preseason winning streak will come to an end this week. The final score will be close but the Broncos will be able to do just enough more on offense to walk away with the victory.

Broncos 27, Seahawks 17

Check back on Friday for my review of our preseason opener, as well as an early preview of the week ahead as we get set to host the San Diego Chargers next week. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

16 Oct

Image

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 5:25pm

In week 7 last season the Seahawks came off a close win the previous week and played a division rival on Thursday Night Football. The Seahawks are now set for their déjà vu moment this season. On Thursday night, the Seahawks will face their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals for the first time this season. The Seahawks are 5-1 and are coming off a 20-13 win last week over the Tennessee Titans. The Cardinals are tied for third place in the NFC West as they hold a 3-3 record. They are coming off a 32-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 15-13 but in their last meeting in December 2012, the Seahawks demolished Arizona 58-0 in the Seahawks most lopsided victory of all-time. Although the Cardinals currently hold a worse record than at this point last season, many including myself believe Arizona is a much improved team this year and this could be a significant challenge and this could potentially be a trap game for the Seahawks. Here is what I think we need to see out of the Seahawks this week in order to have a good chance of coming home victorious.

There were a lot of things on offense last week that frustrated me. Upon reviewing the game film however, there were some aspects that are encouraging and are showing signs that our offense is indeed improving. Quarterback Russell Wilson did not have a flashy performance against the Titans but did manage to throw for 257 yards and record a passer rating of 98.5. He himself made no fundamental or mental mistakes including no turnovers. Over the past few weeks it seems to me that Wilson has not been as accurate on longer throws and because of that he has played more conservatively. This week I think it will be necessary for Wilson to get back to his 2012 self by confidently stretching the field. Facing a Cardinals defense that will try to take advantage of weakened offensive line, Wilson will be forced to make hurried throws. If the Seahawks offensive line can effective manage Arizona’s pass rush, Wilson could exploit the coverage of the Cardinals secondary. Look for Golden Tate to make a big impact and I think Jermaine Kearse’s height could make him a key contributor as well. Wilson has hit Kearse deep for touchdowns in two of the Seahawks first three road games.

The biggest key to an all-around good game from the offense could be the return of tight end Zach Miller. Miller has been a valuable asset in both the passing game and the running game as a blocker. Miller has been sidelined the past two games with a hamstring injury. Surprisingly, without Miller this season the Seahawks average 45 more yards rushing per game than with him. The Seahawks offense also average about 1.5 sacks less without Miller than with him. Given these numbers the Seahawks are averaging 3.3 more points more with Miller than without him. Adding Miller back into the mix could definitely help the Seahawks move the ball better and Miller’s presence could lead to more scoring opportunities. If we can take advantage and score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals the Seahawks will be in great shape.

There are three things on to keep an eye out for on defense this week. The first two are individual players. Defensive end Chris Clemons is unlikely to play this week after suffering a hyperextended elbow against Tennessee. If Clemons is out we are down to only three primary pass rushers. Bobby Wagner’s absence was also noticeable last week as the Seahawks used many different linebacker packages. Heath Farwell was who I expected to step in primarily for Wagner last week and he only recorded one tackle. Wagner was missed tremendously last week and I think it would be beneficial to limit the linebacker rotation to a small handful of players instead of the cornucopia of linebackers the Seahawks used against the Titans. With a smart veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer, the Cardinals may know how to exploit the Seahawks in the middle of the field more effectively than a Ryan Fitzpatrick if Wagner is not there to balance out our defense.

Most importantly in my opinion, I will be looking at the Seahawks fourth quarter defense. After shutting the Houston Texans down in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago the Seahawks have given up a long game-winning drive to the Indianapolis Colts and a 96-yard drive to the Titans last week which resulted in a field goal. Both of these drives came in the final 15 minutes of the game. If the game is close entering the final quarter of the game I will be extremely worried. The Cardinals were able to go down the field for a long game-winning scoring drive against us last year in Arizona and this year could spell the same fate with an improved Cardinals offense. The perfect way to avoid this is to run away with the game in the first three quarters. But what if the game is close? The Seahawks need to take it one play at a time and don’t panic every time Arizona moves the chains. Third downs will be very important and smart tackling could prevent disappointment. Do not go for the turnover, just focus on wrapping up the ball carrier. If we can force an Arizona turnover late in the game we will most likely win. Fundamental defense will be our biggest ally in these situations. Do not get fancy and play smart. Smart play and good fundamental execution will put us in good shape.

The Arizona Cardinals feature a rather improved offense this year. A lot of this has to do with their new starting quarterback Carson Palmer. After 3 seasons with a rotating quarterback carousel, Palmer adds stability to a position and a team that has not made the playoffs since Kurt Warner led the Cardinals to back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009. The Cardinals do not boast an overly-impressive running game and it will be very tough to run on the Seahawks run defense. This makes the passing game my focus of the Arizona offense. Usually I like to pick an X-Factor player that flies under the radar but this week how can you not pick Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald is the Cardinals leading receiver with 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Fitzgerald will line up across from Richard Sherman this week and if there is one receiver who could give Sherman trouble it’s Fitzgerald. I expect Carson Palmer to test Sherman a lot on Thursday night by trying to get the ball to Fitzgerald. Look for the head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin to build a game plan that will feature creative ways to get Fitzgerald open.

Even though the Cardinals have gone 8-14 dating back to the start of last season, they feature one of the best defenses in the league. I think their defense is very underrated and they play extremely well at home. Patrick Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and the return of linebacker Karlos Dansby has added a dynamic tackler to the Cardinals linebacking corps. The Cardinals held Russell Wilson to 139 yards passing and also sacked Wilson 3 times in week one last season. There are two players on the Cardinals defense that are worthy of being X-Factor players to watch. Rookie cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has the second highest number of tackles on the Cardinals defense with 40 and his speed could present a problem for the Seahawks receivers. The best pass rusher the Cardinals have is defensive end Darnell Dockett who has 4 sacks this season. Dockett had a big impact when the Seahawks played in Arizona last season and it will be crucial to double team Dockett to prevent Russell Wilson from getting knocked down.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. No word on pant color yet… Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock have the call for NFL Network this week. After discussing broadcasters and analysts with a couple of friends last week, I came to the conclusion that Mayock is my favorite analyst on any network. He knows the game of football very well, knows the talent on the field being an NFL Draft expert, and can be critical of players; something you oftentimes do not see on a television broadcast. *Cough, Jon Gruden, cough.*… NFL Network features a 2-hour pregame show as well as live look-ins all day on their weekday shows. I look forward to Rich Eisen’s comedy, Kurt Warner’s Arizona bias, and Deion Sanders’ ridiculousness on TV this week… For those of you who do not know who Priyanka Chopra is you are going to find out right before Thursday’s game. Her single “In My City” is the theme song for Thursday Night Football and not only is it a catchy song, she is also a stone-cold fox… Why does it seem like the Seahawks never get to play at home for Thursday Night Football? Since TNF started in 2006 the Seahawks have only played a TNF game at home twice… The crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium is the loudest I have heard on any of my road trips. Add in the fact that Thursday’s game has been announced a sellout and that it is in primetime, the Seahawks may have trouble at the line of scrimmage this week. Hopefully not though… If the Seahawks can pull out a victory they will head into a mini-bye week before week 8 against the St. Louis Rams with a 6-1 record!… To anyone who is going to Thursday’s game and Saturday’s UW game at Arizona State, I am extremely jealous (that means you, Dad).

Prediction: Rushing yards will come at a premium this week for both teams. I think the Seahawks will struggle mightily at times on Thursday night. The Seahawks will ride a roller coaster consisting of solid plays and frustrating plays. The Cardinals will be able to move the ball effectively but I think Carson Palmer will throw at least two interceptions this week. After giving up a field goal to make it 21-19 Arizona, the Seahawks will successfully drive down the field and Steven Hauschka will kick a game-winning field goal with mere seconds remaining. The Seahawks will barely escape with a 6-1 record and will hold a 1.5 game lead on the rest of the NFC West heading into Sunday’s games.

Seahawks 22, Cardinals 21

Check back on Friday for my review of Thursday Night Football. 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!