Tag Archives: J.J. Watt

Review: Seahawks 23, Texans 20 (OT)

1 Oct

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Last season in Chicago the Seahawks drove 80 yards in overtime to beat the Bears 23-17. That game turned out to be a huge statement game and jump started the Seahawks to 5 straight wins to end the regular season. What happened on Sunday could carry huge momentum as we carry on with the 2013 season. The Seahawks came back from a 17 point halftime deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime in one of the biggest and most impressive comebacks in franchise history. With the win the Seahawks have started 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and keep a two game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Texans fall to 2-2 on the season. Here are my thoughts on the big points of Sunday’s amazing win.

Thoughts on the Offensive Line: I understand that the Seahawks offensive line went up against one of the best defenders in the NFL in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt this week. Watt recorded 4 tackles and only 0.5 sacks but the stat line does not show what I saw from the upper deck of Reliant Stadium. What I saw was Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus (my X-Factor player if you remember), and defensive tackle Antonio Smith completely dominating the Seahawks offensive line physically.  The Texans bull-rush technique was extremely effective throughout the game on Sunday. Russell Wilson was pressured 16 times by the Houston defense. Those 16 plays resulted in 5 sacks, 5 incompletions, 5 quarterback rushes, and one interception. These results contributed to a passer rating of 49.7 for Wilson, the third lowest passer rating of his career. The adjustments offensive line coach Tom Cable made at halftime worked because the Seahawks showed slight improvement by giving Wilson slightly more time to throw. With center Max Unger hopefully coming back this week I do not believe Wilson will have the kind of frustrating day against Indianapolis that he had in Houston.

Thoughts on the Defense: Just like with the offensive line, it was a night-and-day difference between the first half and the second half/overtime. After allowing 20 first half points the defense buckled down and did not allow another Texans score. In the second half and overtime the Seahawks forced 7 Houston punts, recovered a fumble, and cornerback Richard Sherman returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game 20-20. The pass rush also improved dramatically as Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril each recorded a sack of Matt Schaub in the second half. The resiliency the Seahawks defense showed against Houston proves that we have the capability to come back from any deficit. Seahawks fans should be very confident in this unit. This year, more than any other year, do not count this team out of any game regardless of the score or circumstances. They made a huge statement in Houston this week and with the schedule easing up a bit in the coming weeks, this is a perfect opportunity to get further ahead of the rest of the division.

The Michael Bennett Factor: With 10 seconds left in the first half Michael Bennett left the game on a stretcher with a lower back injury. Thankfully, the injury was not as serious as it looked and at halftime Bennett was in the Seahawks locker room. He told Richard Sherman “just come on, win this for me. I’m not going to be able to come back in this one.” This moment of inspiration and emotion was a tremendous motivating factor for the entire team and especially for the defense, as they went on to shutout the Texans offense for the remainder of the game. Without the injury I raise the question: would the Seahawks have the fire and inspiration to play the way they did in the second half? Luckily for the Seahawks the game resulted in victory and luckily for Bennett it looks like he may have a decent chance to play next week.

Thoughts on Houston: The Texans have a talented team but the offense is their weakest link. Head coach Gary Kubiak along with Texans fans do not seem to have confidence in Matt Schaub’s decision making and his play in-fact cost them a win. The defense will continue to be one of the best units in the NFL as long as they can stay healthy. If this team can get on a winning streak, they could become a dangerous contender later on in the season.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be detailed in a post about my weekend in Houston later this week. I only have only one random thought for this review. The Seahawks wore grey jerseys and grey pants this week. As I posted on Facebook before the game, I am the kind of fan who likes to wear the same jersey that the team is wearing for each game. I do not believe I have ever worn the wrong colored jersey to a Seahawks game in my life. I felt quite out of sorts this week in the stands, as I was wearing my white road jersey; the one I thought the team would be wearing.

Later this week I will post an in-depth summary of my weekend trip to Houston for the game. Be sure to check back for that. Also, my preview of next week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will be posted Saturday morning. Go Hawks!

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Seahawks/Texans Preview

28 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans

Site: Reliant Stadium (Houston, Texas)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks now enter a brutal stretch where 4 of their next 5 games are on the road. This stretch starts Sunday when the Seahawks head to Houston to take on the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans. The Seahawks are 3-0 and are coming off a 45-17 butt-kicking of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are 2-1 after a 30-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore last week. This is the third matchup all-time between the Seahawks and the Texans. They have split the two previous matchups. The last time they played was in 2009 when the Seahawks lost in Houston 34-7. That loss to the Texans was the first of 4 straight blowout losses that ultimately cost former head coach Jim Mora his job. We may look back on this game later this season and say this was one of the biggest tests of the season. Here are some things to watch for against the Texans this week.

The biggest key for the Seahawks to be successful on offense this week is to mobilize Russell Wilson. It may be a necessity considering the Seahawks offensive line and the talent Houston displays along the defensive line. All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt already has 3 sacks this season after recording a Texans team record 20.5 sacks last season. His size and strength gives him the ability to overpower the offensive line and get to the quarterback easier than a lot of other defensive players around the league. Having Wilson scramble to make throws could limit Watt’s role in Houston’s defensive game plan significantly. Wilson is the shortest quarterback Watt has ever played against so Wilson will also need to make sure to elevate his passes to prevent Watt from knocking them down. One other way to limit Watt’s impact is to be successful in the running game. The Seahawks have the highest running rate in the NFL so far this season (57% run, 43% pass). Getting Marshawn Lynch going early could benefit the entire offense to chew clock, score points, and rest the defense. If Lynch struggles, I believe Darrell Bevell will change to a more pass-heavy offensive scheme to try to improve the offense.

In my Jaguars review I briefly touched on how the Seahawks used many different receivers and how using all those weapons could come in handy against the Texans. Looking at Houston’s secondary, cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are 5-11 and 5-10, respectively. Due to the undersized Texans secondary I am looking at Sidney Rice and Stephen Williams to make a big impact on the outside this week. Given the height advantage these two receivers have, Rice and Williams have the perfect opportunity to exploit Houston’s cornerbacks and gain large chunks of yards if Russell Wilson is confident enough to throw the ball in their direction. If Wilson is flushed out of the pocket, Doug Baldwin becomes an even bigger impact player. Lining up in the slot, Baldwin leads all Seahawks receivers with 177 receiving yards on the season. Baldwin is very good at improvising if plays are not executed as planned and he has an uncanny ability to get open if Wilson is looking downfield for a receiver while being chased. Keep an eye on these three receivers on Sunday.

On defense this week my focus isn’t really on individual matchups but on certain trends that need to come to fruition in order to be successful. The Seahawks tend to struggle a bit on the road no matter who the opponent is so the following things must happen to prevent our first loss of the season. First, they need to limit the number of penalties. On the road, penalties such as pass interference and personal foul penalties are called more often due to the reaction and influence of the home crowd. The Seahawks need to play clean football and make sure the defense can get off the field and the offense can stay on the field longer. Second, the defense needs to limit big plays. Fortunately for the Seahawks this point may not be as difficult as the common person would think. Starting Texans running back Arian Foster’s longest run of the season is only 16 yards and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ 30-yard catch against San Diego in week one is the longest catch by a Texans starting wide receiver this season. Third and most important, the Seahawks need to get off the field on third downs. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season (11 total), the opponent has converted 43.8 percent of third down opportunities. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season which resulted in a loss (6 total), the opponent converted 47.1 percent of third down opportunities. Although the margin between these numbers is small, they are both close to a 50 percent third down conversion rate which is utterly unacceptable. The Seahawks will not win this game if they cannot get off the field on third down. Stopping Foster, Andre Johnson, and running back Ben Tate is necessary in these situations because they are on the field for most of Houston’s third down chances.

In regards to the individual matchups between the Texans offense and the Seahawks defense, Arian Foster will face one of the best run stopping defenses in the NFL. Foster is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry so far this season. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is nursing an injured shin and will be a game-time decision on Sunday. If Johnson is active, he will line up across from Richard Sherman and DeAndre Hopkins will line up across from Brandon Browner. If Johnson is inactive, Sherman will defend Hopkins and Browner will defend the Texans number three receiver Lestar Jean.

When looking at the Houston Texans, most look directly at their defense and J.J. Watt. Although Watt is the most important player on defense for Houston, my Texans X-Factor player to watch this week is outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus, the Texans 2012 first round draft pick, is tied for the third most tackles by a Texans defender so far this season with 13. He also has one sack. Mercilus is the Texans weak-side linebacker meaning he will line up on the right side of the defensive formation and will blitz from Russell Wilson’s blind side. If Paul McQuistan struggles at left tackle this week for the Seahawks, Mercilus could wind up having a big day for the Texans solely from getting to Wilson behind the line of scrimmage.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. I am not sure about our pant color… The nice thing about the Texans is that they post their uniform combinations for the entire season on their website. That makes it easier to know what we are going to wear opposite of them… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week… Tony Corrente is the referee this week… I get the sense from a lot of my friends that 10am kickoffs in Seattle are kind of a pain in the ass. In Houston this week the game is a noon kickoff. The game I went to in 2011 in Dallas against the Cowboys was a noon kickoff and it was kind of too bad because I am used to going to Seahawks games here in Seattle at 1pm. It feels like the entire day gets going earlier when you go to a game that starts at noon… My hotel is walking distance from Reliant Stadium, much like my set up last season in Arizona. I’ll be pre-gaming in my hotel room instead of tailgating in the parking lots for the second straight year… On Saturday night a group called “Houston Seahawks” is organizing a 12th Man rally at a Buffalo Wild Wings a couple miles away from our hotel and I’m really excited for it. It will be cool to be in a different city but it will feel like I am right at home… I have seen 6 straight losses on the road. It would be nice to finally break that streak.

Prediction: This game will be close all the way until the end. Unfortunately, I think that J.J. Watt and the Houston defense will succeed in rattling Russell Wilson. The Texans will win the turnover battle 3-1 and it will feel like they will have a commanding lead in the game because of it, even though the game will be close. The Seahawks will get the ball one last time in the final two minutes but the final drive will stall at about midfield. The Seahawks will head home with their first loss of the season and for the 7th straight time, I will sit at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday afternoon disappointed (I hope I am wrong, obviously).

Texans 23, Seahawks 20

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Since I will not be around a computer all weekend I will not be able to post my Texans review until Tuesday afternoon most likely. Enjoy the game everyone! I’ll be sure to bring some 12th Man love to the lone-star state. Go Seahawks!

Senior Bowl Review: Five To Watch

17 Feb
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Margus Hunt

It has been a nice break but I am back and blogging for the 2013 season! A week before the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers to claim Super Bowl XLVII, the best seniors eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft were invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl, for those who are not familiar or interested in the game, is an all-star game featuring upcoming NFL Draft prospects. Unless specially invited, all of the players who participate are seniors in college. The Senior Bowl is a big event for players who are expected to be drafted in the later rounds of the draft. Based on their play in this game their draft stock can rise or fall a great amount. Last season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson participated in the Senior Bowl and played well. He was eventually taken in the third round (75th overall) by the Seahawks which was higher than his projected range of selection before the Senior Bowl and other scouting events.

After watching the game, I have made a preliminary short-list of players who I would be interested in having the Seahawks draft. These five players are players who impressed me while I watched the game and also who I think Coach Carroll and John Schneider may be interested in based on areas of need on the roster at this point and the physical attributes of each of the players.

Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU

Ansah is the only player on my list who I believe we would have to trade up in the draft to take. Before the Senior Bowl, Ansah was projected in many mock drafts as a pick in the 20-30 overall range. The Seahawks pick 25th in the first round and would have been in play for Ansah in their own slot. After this game however, I believe Ansah’s stock has risen dramatically. “Ziggy” as he is known at BYU, had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He was also named defensive player of the game. Ansah always seemed to be around the play and when he contributed he was a monster. Ansah is 6-5, 274 pounds and as a senior last year at BYU he recorded 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Although the sacks total is not that high he played tough. His most valuable asset in my opinion is his speed. He can penetrate the offensive line quickly and make plays. More tests and drills will be conducted at the combine and at his pro day between now and the draft but at this point, I believe he will not be around if the Seahawks stay at 25. It will take a trade to move up if Ansah will be playing in a Seahawks uniform in 2013.

My Projection: 10-15 Overall.

Margus Hunt, Defensive End, SMU

This is a guy who really intrigues me. Margus Hunt is a 6-8 defensive end who recorded 9 sacks last season at SMU. His height was highlighted multiple times during the broadcast and is my focus as to why I have included him on this list. The obvious comparison is to Houston defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt is a dominant pass rusher and an expert at batting passes down. His ability to jump up to bat passes down has earned him the nickname “J.J. Swat” for good reason. Imagine Hunt on our defensive line. As a replacement for the injured Chris Clemons, I could see Hunt as a pass rushing force alongside Bruce Irvin and his height makes it easy to speculate he could have an effect at the line of scrimmage similar to J.J. Watt. Although he is not projected to be a first round pick by many “experts” I could definitely see Hunt being another “reach” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Don’t be surprised to see Hunt’s name tied to the Seahawks between now and the draft.

My Projection: Round 1-2.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Cornerback, Connecticut

I am not expecting the Seahawks to re-sign Marcus Trufant over the offseason. If that is the case the Seahawks may be in the market for another cornerback. Enter Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The 6-1, 192 pound cornerback from Connecticut caught my eye with his decent play in zone coverage, however there have been on-the-field red flags concerning his speed and his ability to play man coverage. Because of these concerns, some have said his draft stock has fallen. If that turns out to be true he could turn out to be one of John Schneider’s classic mid-round steals of the draft. Wreh-Wilson would not be a starter with the Seahawks but I think he could be a guy who could play in the nickel package effectively.

My Projection: Round 4

David Quessenberry, Offensive Tackle, San Jose State

Luckily the Seahawks offensive line did not suffer any lingering injuries in 2012, helping keep continuity intact. If there had been injuries last season, I think our offensive line depth was not the best and could be subject to changes during the offseason. If there was one offensive lineman I would like to see us draft for value this year it is David Quessenberry. He is the most versatile lineman in the draft in my opinion. He played three years at offensive tackle at San Jose State but practiced at offensive guard during Senior Bowl practice. He played both positions during the game. He can also be used at center if needed. Physically he looks the part (6-5, 294 pounds) and plays the part with surprising quickness and good blocking technique. Among centers and guards eligible for the 2013 draft, Quessenberry is the #3 rated pass protector/blocker and the #5 rated run blocker according to waterfootball.com. I think Quessenberry would be a great addition to our offensive line group.

My Projection: Round 4

Jack Doyle, Tight End, Western Kentucky

I believe the Seahawks need a couple more offensive weapons for Russell Wilson. I would like to see us draft a wide receiver primarily and if we are looking for another tight end, Jack Doyle may be our choice. Doyle is more of a receiving tight end than a blocking tight end; by using him that could free up our other receivers. He is 6-6 and led the Hilltoppers in receiving yards last season with 530. Western Kentucky also runs a west-coast offense so Doyle would be somewhat familiar with the Seahawks offensive playbook. Jack Doyle could definitely be a value pick and be a solid number two option opposite Zach Miller, should the Seahawks decide to part ways with Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah.

My Projection: Round 6-7