Tag Archives: Ian Eagle

Seahawks/Panthers Preview

25 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Site: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Kickoff: 10:00am

For the third straight season, the Seahawks travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. After two straight losses the Seahawks currently sit at 3-3, 3rd in the NFC West. After winning the NFC South a season ago the Panthers currently sit atop the division once again this season. Following their loss to the Green Bay Packers last week, Carolina sports a 3-3-1 record. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Panthers 5-2. Their last meeting came on opening day last season when the Seahawks went into Bank of America Stadium and squeaked out a 12-7 victory to get their 2013 season started on the right foot. With this week’s game coming on the road and the Seahawks looking at a possible 3-4 record, I am calling this week’s game a must-win. Here is what I will be looking for out of both the Seahawks and Panthers this week.

In their three road games this season the Seahawks defense has allowed an average of 25 points per game. With the same core group on the defensive side of the ball over the past 3 seasons the Seahawks have allowed only 19 total points in our road games against the Panthers in 2012 and 2013. This week the Seahawks need to do what they have done in these prior two games; get off the field on third down and do not let Panthers quarterback Cam Newton pick up large chunks of yardage both on the ground and through the air. Last season against Seattle the Panthers were 45% effective on third down. The Rams were 44% effective on third down last week which is unacceptable. If the Seahawks can hold Carolina to under 40% effectiveness on third down we will be able to force changes in possession, giving the ball to our offense to try to score points.

The biggest concern for the Seahawks defense this week will be stopping Cam Newton’s legs as well as his arm. I include his arm because of the comfort opposing quarterbacks have had in the pocket in recent weeks.  The Seahawks have proven that they can shut Newton down on the ground; Newton has averaged 40 rushing yards per game in two games against Seattle. If the Panthers win this game I believe it will be on the arm of Cam Newton. With as shaky as the Seahawks have played in the middle of the field recently, look for Newton to test the Seahawks linebackers on short/intermediate range throws this week. Greg Olsen and Brandon Williams, Carolina’s two tight ends, could be in for big games if Newton has time to make throws. I am calling upon the Seahawks pass rush as well as linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith to step up. If the linebackers struggle it could once again be a long day for the Seahawks.

Last week the Seahawks fed the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch 18 times for 53 yards. It was not until the second half that the offensive coaching staff got quarterback Russell Wilson involved in the running game. The play in the running game will determine how well the Seahawks offense plays once again this week, but the pocket protection for Wilson must improve so Wilson does not have to run so much. Center Max Unger will likely be inactive once again this week so the Seahawks will start the same line combination they did in St. Louis last week. Until this makeshift line can prove that they can give Wilson a clean pocket consistently, in addition to avoid falling into an early deficit, Wilson may run more early on in the game. This week I believe rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson will have a larger impact after catching 4 passes last week. Richardson could be Wilson’s unsung go-to guy this week, possibly in roles that Percy Harvin held prior to his trade to New York. Also keep an eye on the blocking of fill-in fullback Robert Turbin. Turbin filled in last week at fullback on short notice after starter Derrick Coleman broke his foot during pregame warmups. In my opinion Turbin is built like a fullback and with a week’s worth of practice and preparation under his belt I think Turbin carries the potential to help open up big running lanes for Lynch.

Perhaps above all else, the Seahawks cannot let the off-the-field noise that has come in the days since the Percy Harvin trade get to them on the field. There have been numerous reports over the past week about tension between different players and the potential of a broken locker room. What makes all this talk worse is the fact that we have lost two straight games. To get back on the right track, we need to win this week. A win can help silence the critics and hopefully bring the positive dawn of the post-Harvin era.

Last season the Carolina Panthers defense carried them to a 12-4 record and an NFC South division championship. Even after losing key members of their defensive unit the Panthers still have the talent that is keeping them on top of the division even if their total defense rankings do not highlight it (22nd in passing, 26th in rushing). The Panthers provide a good combination of pass rush (15 total sacks) and secondary play (7 interceptions). Middle Linebacker Luke Kuechly continues to be a dominant tackler, patrolling the middle of the field and being in on almost every play. With the shaky play of the Seahawks offensive line I have decided to focus my attention on the Carolina defense to the pass rush. My X-Factor player to watch for the Panthers this week is defensive end Charles Johnson. Johnson is in his 8th season with the Panthers he has recorded double digit sacks in three different seasons including the past two. So far this season Johnson has recorded 3 sacks, one in each of their last 3 games. Johnson will likely line up across from Seahawks rookie right tackle Justin Britt, who has struggled keeping defenders from penetrating the line on passing downs.

Random Thoughts: No word yet on jersey combination for the Seahawks this week. With 5 road games left and 2 opportunities to wear wolf grey that gives the Seahawks a 40% chance of wearing wolf grey this week… The Panthers will wear black jerseys with silver pants… Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have the call for CBS this week. That’s right, this week’s Seahawks game has been cross-flexed from FOX to CBS. This will be the first Seahawks road game broadcasted on CBS since 2001, and personally this will be the first time I watch a regular season Seahawks game on CBS since Christmas Eve 2005… Walt Coleman is the referee this week… Second straight 10am kickoff. I really have a love/hate relationship with 10am kickoffs. The only question this week is do I get up earlier to watch Falcons/Lions which kicks off from London at 6:30am… After this week we play 3 of our next 4 games at home. These road stretches where we don’t play at home for 3-plus weeks are miserable… I’m pulling for the Eagles this week. Please, please, please beat the Cardinals for us!

Prediction: The Seahawks running game will finally get going early this week. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson will combine for 140 yards but unfortunately too many drives will stall or result in field goals. The defense will play a much tighter game overall. The Seahawks will win the turnover battle 2-1 and the Seahawks will pull out a very close victory.

Seahawks 19, Panthers 17

Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!

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Review: Seahawks 17, Packers 10

24 Aug

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The Seahawks extended their preseason winning streak to a franchise best 8 games Friday night, defeating the Green Bay Packers 17-10 at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks will now head home and prepare for another short week as they get set to take on the Oakland Raiders next Thursday night. Before we move on to next week, let’s take a look back at some good things and bad things from Friday night’s victory.

Finish: The Seahawks did a very nice job moving the ball in the first half of the game but were unsuccessful in finishing drives. With Russell Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks could only score 10 points. Seattle had two drives into the red zone and we were unable to score touchdowns on both of those drives. The nice thing about these long drives was our ability to convert on third down. The Seahawks converted 5 of their 12 third downs on Friday night. As effective as we were on third down and our overall efficiency moving the ball, when the regular season comes around it will be much more difficult to keep drives alive, especially on the road. The Packers have a “middle of the pack” defense and the Seahawks will see much better defenses early on in the regular season. If we can turn field goals into touchdowns, we will be in a much better position to win the games that turn out to be close.

Michael Shines: Christine Michael put an exclamation point on his case to be the primary backup to Marshawn Lynch on Friday night. Michael got 11 of the running backs 27 carries against the Packers and made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Michael’s most impressive runs came on handoffs right up the middle and his quickness is also worth mentioning. Michael’s blockers did such a good job that on a couple of his big first down runs, he was able to run right around the offense line and break into the second and third levels of the defense easily. I am starting to think we will see more of Michael in games this season. He will not be splitting carries evenly with Lynch but I would not be shocked to see Michael get close to ten carries per game. He will see a lot of playing time next week and another impressive performance could earn him the number two running back spot.

Sweezy Needs to Improve: On consecutive plays early on in the game, right guard J.R. Sweezy was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul late hit then penalized 10 yards for holding. Sweezy is still showing signs of a young, raw player with a great amount of potential but someone who is struggling to handle a job that was confirmed to be his earlier in the week when the Seahawks traded John Moffitt to Denver. Sweezy’s primary struggle on Friday night was preventing Green Bay’s interior pass rush. Two of the three sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson occurred within the middle three offensive lineman. From what I saw, Sweezy did a good job run blocking but his pass blocking still needs some work. With one more preseason game before the Seahawks head to Carolina, I think it would be wise to let Sweezy play longer than any other starter on offense against Oakland next week to get as much game experience under his belt as possible. However, it wasn’t just Sweezy who was responsible for drawing penalties against the Packers…

Penalties are Unacceptable: Let me be more specific about this point. Penalties occur in every game. It may be time to panic however, when you are penalized 14 times for 182 yards. When you rack up close to 200 yards in penalties in one game you have a very minimal chance of winning. Most of the Seahawks penalties against the Packers were fixable mistakes. Holding was the primary problem for the Seahawks on offense. A lot of our penalties came later on in the game with our backups in. Offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre had multiple holding penalties and linebacker John Lotulelei also got flagged for a 15-yard personal foul late hit which should have been avoided since the tackle had been made well before Lotulelei jumped into the pile for one last shot. Penalties have been a problem throughout the preseason. In three games the Seahawks have been called for 34 penalties for a total of 354 yards, an average of 118 yards per game. This is the highest average in the NFL this preseason. Making this many mistakes will definitely cost us games in the regular season. Limiting penalties must be the number one priority during practice this week. If the Seahawks do not show improvement against Oakland, we may be in trouble come week one.

The Packers Could Have a Quarterback Battle on Their Hands: Let me be clear that I do not mean Aaron Rodgers is in jeopardy of losing the starting job. I think Vince Young outplayed current backup quarterback Graham Harrell on Friday night and it is Young who I believe deserves the backup quarterback job in Green Bay. Young’s mobility is a big advantage now in an era where the zone-read option and quarterbacks who can run are turning into the brightest stars in the league. Young had a passer rating of 130.7 Friday night while also adding 3 rushes for 39 yards. Young was a more accurate passer than Harrell, failing to complete only one of his 7 passes. The one thing that is apparent to me however is that Young is more eager to run. It does not seem to take much for him to feel the pocket breaking down which is leading to him scrambling somewhat prematurely. The Green Bay brass like Harrell a lot but I think Young is a better fit to backup Aaron Rodgers in the short term.

Projected Roster Cuts: The Seahawks have to cut their roster down from 90 players to 75 players by the end of the weekend. Here are 15 players who I think will get cut during this first wave of roster cuts: Donavon Kemp, Arceto Clark, Bryan Walters, Kyle Nelson, Martin Parker, Dewayne Cherrington, Michael Brooks, Andrei Lintz, Darren Fells, Perez Ashford, Ron Parker, Kyle Knox, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and Jaye Howard.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were introduced to a chorus of boos but once the game started everybody seemed to forget about why they were booing… Golden Tate got the loudest ovation of boos when he was announced as our punt returner in the first quarter… I counted only 4 mentions of last year’s game during the broadcast. I was pleased with that number. I thought they would mention it at least a dozen times… I am not a fan of Ian Eagle’s play-by-play but I am a fan of Phil Simms’s commentary. Good thing both games on CBS during the regular season are home games… The Seahawks wore white jerseys and grey pants this week. That combo was last seen week 7 of last year in San Francisco… Time to put away the white road jersey for a few weeks. We won’t see that jersey again until week 4 in Houston… The new upper deck at Lambeau looks really nice. I can’t wait to go to Green Bay and see the stadium for myself… Time for another short week. I already cannot wait for next Thursday night when we play Oakland… Good to make it through another week without any significant injuries… My fantasy football draft is Sunday night. I haven’t taken a Seahawk for at least three seasons. Maybe this year that will change.

This week I will publish a reflection piece about the first wave of roster cuts. I’ll give you my take on the decisions that were made and whether I agree with them or not. Also, be sure to check back on Wednesday as I preview next week’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders.

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!

Patriots/Seahawks Preview

13 Oct

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Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

Tom Brady faces off against the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time in his career this Sunday as the Patriots come to town in a huge test of top offense vs. top defense. The Patriots enter the game 3-2 and they are coming off a 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks return home from Carolina where they beat the Panthers 16-12 last week. The Patriots lead the all-time series 8-7. The last time these two teams played was in 2008. The Patriots defeated the 2-win Seahawks 24-21 on December 7th, 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback for the Patriots. Here are the storylines I will be looking at this week in arguably the most anticipated home game this season.

Russell Wilson has continued to improve each week despite lackluster statistics. This week he faces the Patriots and their 30th ranked pass defense. With a beastly front four which includes Vince Wilfork, it may be difficult to run the ball this week. If this is the case, Wilson will be on the spot to make plays. I would definitely look for Wilson to scramble if given the opportunity. This may be a week where Wilson runs for close to 50 yards. One of the biggest keys this week, just like any other week is to limit turnovers. If the Seahawks can keep the ball for as long as they can and limit the time Tom Brady is in control of the Patriots offense, we will have more room to breathe and will put increasing pressure on New England. The longer we have the ball, the more pressure put on Brady and the Patriots.

The Seahawks boast the number one overall defense in the National Football League. This year especially, the Seahawks defense has done a great job of making opposing quarterbacks look silly. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 8 times in the first half alone and the explosive Packers offense was only able to score 12 points. With a beat up offensive line including a hurt Logan Mankins, the Seahawks have the potential to have a stellar day. Behind the roar of the 12th Man, expect the defense to put immense pressure on Tom Brady to flush him out of the pocket or make snap decisions. Bruce Irvin is the man to watch this week. In 5 games this season Irvin has 4.5 sacks. He is on pace for 14.5 sacks on the season. After a multi-sack game during the last home game I would not be surprised at all to see him repeat those numbers this weekend.

Expect the nickel package to be used more this weekend. The Patriots like to use all of their weapons in different packages and formations. The Patriots will use Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Woodhead all throughout the game. The only set matchup I see is Lloyd vs. Brandon Browner; the number one cornerback. Marcus Trufant may have a big role this week. Trufant is the number three cornerback on the depth chart and is used primarily in the nickel package. With the cornucopia of receivers the Patriots have at their disposal, we may see more secondary players on the field at irregular times. With the difference in normality within certain defensive packages against this complex New England offense, players that normally do not make an impact may be able to make plays this week if the rush can force Brady into bad decisions.

The Patriots have the number one ranked offense in the National Football League. The Patriots are averaging close to 35 points per game yet they have already lost two games on the road. Tom Brady is Tom Brady. There is no debating that. However keep in mind the following facts: This is the farthest trip for the Patriots this season and their only cross-country trip. Tom Brady has never played at CenturyLink Field before. He is facing the number one defense in the league. I do not expect Brady to have as bad of a game as Tony Romo or Aaron Rodgers but he has the capability to do effective things that will frustrate the Seahawks defense. For example…

The no-huddle offense has become a staple of the New England offense this season. According to Coach Carroll, the no-huddle offense is difficult to run with a roaring crowd; mainly due to the difficulty of communication between coach and quarterback. If the Patriots can put up some points early and put the Seahawks in a disadvantage, I would expect to see no-huddle called to sink us even further.

Random Thoughts: This is the first time I will be back at CenturyLink Field since Monday Night Football against the Packers. We are coming off a win and are in striking distance of the Cardinals and 49ers. I expect the crowd to be in their seats early and be as loud as the past two games… It is the only home game during the month of October for breast cancer awareness… This will be the best halftime ceremony I have ever been a part of. Cortez Kennedy will have his #96 jersey retired. I’ll have to remember to bring a couple tissues. I teared up during Walter Jones’s jersey retirement… I am super excited to see Tom Brady play live for the first time. This will be one of those games where I look back and can tell my kids “I got to see one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time play”… Don’t sleep on the Patriots running game. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are two great backs that can both have a big impact this weekend for New England… I have 30.5 ounces worth of Skittles ready to throw on Sunday. Don’t let me down Marshawn… Tailgating will be done in a parking lot like before the Cowboys game. Very excited… There is a Washington Huskies home game the day before against the USC Trojans. Looks like I’ll have to save my voice for Sunday… Might have to break out the sweatshirt and jeans for the first time this week. Only supposed to get up to 60 degrees on Sunday… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue this week. They’ve worn the blue practice jersey’s all week during practice… Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have the call for CBS this week. Words cannot express how happy I am that I won’t have to sit through THAT commentary… The pregame giveaway is a lanyard. Was hoping for something a little bit cooler for a game against a team like the New England Patriots… I predict that Bill Belichick will wear his famous gray hoodie… The Seahawks are looking to get to 4-2 for the first time since 2010. A win would be huge going forward, especially since we play the San Francisco 49ers on the road next on five days rest.

Prediction: Bear Bryant once said “defense wins championships.” This is not a championship game by any means but it may feel like it. The Seahawks will prove that this statement is true. Tom Brady will be sacked 6 times. The offense will not be spectacular but we will do a good enough job in the red zone to put up points and put continued pressure on the Patriots. I have seen the Seahawks beat iconic quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner live. By Sunday night, Tom Brady will be added to this list.

Seahawks 26, Patriots 21

My review will be up on Monday Afternoon. I will be working on my preview for next week’s Thursday night game against San Francisco in a crammed timeframe so bear with me. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Seahawks!

“God bless America and God bless the Seattle Seahawks.”- Cortez Kennedy