Tag Archives: James Laurinaitis

Rams/Seahawks Preview

26 Dec
rams preview 2015 #2

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks wrap up the home portion of their 2015 season on Sunday against a familiar December opponent. Seattle concludes their home slate against the division rival St. Louis Rams for the fifth time in the last six years. The Seahawks are 9-5 and have a playoff berth already wrapped up. The Rams are at the tail end of yet another mediocre season under head coach Jeff Fisher with a record of 6-8. Seattle leads the all-time series 21-14 but the Rams bested the Seahawks in week one, coming back to defeat the Kam Chancellor-less squad in overtime 34-31. 15 weeks later the Seahawks are a completely different team and the Rams have added a dynamic force on their offensive unit. Here is what I will be watching out for on Sunday.

Look for the Seahawks offense to try to mirror what it accomplished last week against Cleveland. Christine Michael will likely be the lead back and will see anywhere from 15 to 20 carries. The talk of the town has been the phenomenal play of quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin. If Wilson can continue to avoid turning the ball over I believe our offense will put the team in good position to win. On defense my number one focus will be to watch how well our starters match the speed of the Rams offense. On the ground the combo of Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin has combined for 1,413 yards and 13 touchdowns. St. Louis likes to use Austin in the backfield and on end arounds so the Seahawks must be quick on the outside. The presence of Kenny Britt at receiver also equips St. Louis with an explosive downfield threat. Richard Sherman will likely cover Britt on Sunday. If the Seahawks can hold the Rams to under 300 yards of total offense it will be a successful day.

As I previously mentioned, the Rams have a weapon on the offensive side of the ball that was not available when these two teams faced off back in September. He is the guy I will keep my focus on more than any other Rams offensive player. Since his debut in week 3, running back Todd Gurley is on pace for 1,200 yards, has been named to the Pro Bowl, and is the front runner to win offensive rookie of the year. He is the closest thing to Marshawn Lynch that has come into the league in recent years and he has the talent to make even the toughest run defenses look silly. I believe Gurley will see at least 20 carries and if the Rams find success in the running game they will continue to feed him the ball. Getting solid production out of Gurley in this game will take a ton of pressure off of quarterback Case Keenum.

The mystery of the St. Louis Rams comes from their defense. Over the past few seasons the Rams have been hyped to be potential contenders for the NFC West crown. I believe a lot of this hype comes from the talent they possess on the defensive side of the ball. Yet somehow the pool of talent cannot seem to band together to help the team win football games. They remind me of the pre-Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49ers; they have the talent but it is not being utilized correctly. The Rams defense will be represented in the Pro Bowl by defensive tackle/interior pass rusher Aaron Donald who leads the team with 11 sacks and also has the fourth most tackles on the defense with 64. The middle of the defense is anchored by veteran James Laurinaitis but the secondary is what I will have my eye on. Safety Mark Barron leads the team in tackles and cornerback Janoris Jenkins has recorded 14 passes defensed. The Rams other starting cornerback also has 14 passes defensed but has also done more on the stat sheet. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the St. Louis Rams is cornerback Trumaine Johnson. In just his fourth season, Johnson has emerged as one of the Rams best players. This season he has already shattered his personal best for interceptions in a single season with 6. He has intercepted a pass in each of his last three games and one of his interceptions occurred against the Seahawks in week one. Johnson will likely shadow the red-hot Doug Baldwin and with the trust Russell Wilson has had going to Baldwin over the past 5 weeks, particularly on third down, Johnson will absolutely see opportunities to make an impact in this game.

Random Thoughts: College navy jerseys and pants for the Seahawks. The Rams will wear white jerseys and will likely wear navy pants… Chris Myers and Ronde Barber will lead the broadcast on FOX… The referee for this week’s game is John Hussey… The gameday theme is fan appreciation which means the Seahawks will be giving away a wide array of prizes to the fans in attendance. In all the years I’ve been a season ticket holder I’ve only won something on fan appreciation day once; a 12 car flag in 2008… The Steve Largent Award will also be presented during pregame festivities. Russell Wilson won it last year and it is possible he could win it again… It’s disappointing this final regular season home game will be a goodbye to everyone I sit around until August of next year. I’ve been so used to having home playoff games to look forward to the past couple of years that this year feels slightly abnormal… If the Seahawks win they will have reached the 10-win mark. If that’s the case the Seahawks will have won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. What an amazing feat that would be.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West last week, meaning at best the Seahawks can be the #5 seed. With a win over the Rams the Seahawks will maintain their position as the #5 seed. The Seahawks can clinch the #5 seed with a win and a Minnesota Vikings loss. The Seahawks will fall to the #6 seed if they lose and the Vikings win. Here are this week’s other games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Washington (7-7) at Philadelphia (6-8) (Game to be played Saturday night)

Green Bay (10-4) at Arizona (12-2)

New York Giants (6-8) at Minnesota (9-5)

Prediction: The Rams have not won in Seattle since my 15th birthday. That draught will continue on Sunday. The game will be tied at halftime due to a strong first half by Todd Gurley but Russell Wilson will come out of the intermission on fire, throwing for touchdowns on our first two second half possessions. The Seahawks will get to 10-5 and will send the 12’s home happy one last time this season.

Seahawks 27, Rams 16

Review: Seahawks 20, Rams 13

31 Dec

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Well it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Seahawks got the job done. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-13 in the regular season and home finale on Sunday. The Seahawks finish the regular season 11-5 and finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005. The Rams fall to 7-8-1 and finish in third place in the NFC West this season. The game was very close throughout and to be honest I left the stadium more frustrated and worried than happy that we won. I am looking at the pros and cons of this game and trying to shed some light on what needs to change against Washington next week. Here is what I took out of Sunday’s victory.

Sweezy’s Struggles: The Rams out-sacked the Seahawks 6-0 on Sunday and a lot of the Rams success getting to quarterback Russell Wilson came up the middle. At least four of their sacks came after dominating Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy. One of the guys who sits in front of me got my attention that St. Louis was using Chris Long in designed interior pass rushes, predominantly against Sweezy. Sweezy struggled throughout the majority of the game and Russell Wilson was under constant pressure. If Sweezy is slated to start next week against the Redskins, I am very scared that London Fletcher will be able to exploit the sub-par play of J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks offensive line has not looked this perplexed all season and for the majority of this game they looked like the Seahawks offensive lines of 2008 and 2009 where they could not get the running game going and supply enough time for the quarterback to throw. I hope that John Moffitt will be available next week to start at the right guard spot. If Sweezy gets the start again next week, the Seahawks may have a difficult time moving the ball and scoring points.

Wilson Ties Manning: With Russell Wilson’s touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter, he tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes by a rookie with 25. As incredible of an accomplishment as this is, it is too bad because Wilson had a chance to break Manning’s record. On the Seahawks final scoring drive of the game with less than three minutes left, the Seahawks had the ball on the St. Louis 1-yard line. Wilson ran a play-action fake and scrambled to the left into the endzone for the touchdown. Before crossing into the endzone he pumped because he saw Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin both covered so he decided to run it in. You could tell Russell wanted the record but settled for the rush touchdown when no passing options were available. I for one would have liked to see a touchdown pass. I can guarantee Wilson thought the same way but at the end of the day Wilson ran it in, gave the Seahawks a 7 point lead and held on to win the game, which is much better than any individual accolade.

Defense Needs To Improve Drastically: The Seahawks put virtually no pressure on Sam Bradford until the final drive of the game. The Rams also did a good job converting third downs and Steven Jackson was able to bust out for some significantly good sized runs. The silver lining of the day is that we only gave up 13 points and we were able to stop two St. Louis drives inside the 5-yard line and the Rams had to settle for Greg Zuerlein field goals. Next week the Seahawks cannot afford to have a defensive performance like they did today because the Redskins will rip us apart in the running game. I was hoping to see Bruce Irvin get more involved but he was a non-factor. The stars of the game on defense belong to Bobby Wagner for recording 10 tackles and Richard Sherman who picked off his 8th pass of the season. Sherman becomes the first player in NFL history to have 8 interceptions, three forced fumbles, one sack, and 20 passes defensed in a single season. If the Seahawks do not make it to Super Bowl XLVII, I fully expect Sherman to make the NFC pro bowl roster because those numbers are definitely worthy of a trip to Hawaii.

Rams Show Potential For The Future: Although the Rams finish with a losing record once again, they have quietly shown flashes of what NFL fans should expect out of them in the coming years. In 2013 Jeff Fisher will be in his second year in St. Louis and will have had more time to put together the roster he wants to build. The Rams have two first round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft and the young nucleus they have on both sides of the ball will continue to get better. In particular I look at the way their offensive line played in a hostile environment today and I think they will make Sam Bradford a pro bowl caliber quarterback very soon. Steven Jackson’s contract status is up in the air and it would not be surprising to see Jackson and the Rams part ways after the season. With Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield the Rams may be looking at a couple of rising stars. On defense, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, and the emerging Janoris Jenkins look like a solid core of defensive players. If they can add another big-time player on the defensive side of the ball over the offseason, St. Louis could challenge for a playoff spot. The Rams proved this year that they can compete against all the teams in the NFC West and were only a couple of losses away from being contenders for the playoffs this year. I still think Seattle and San Francisco are the royalty of the division but the St. Louis Rams could be serious contenders for at least a wild-card berth as soon as next season.

Random Thoughts: I believe the Seahawks were screwed out of 14 points this week. I did not see holding on Anthony McCoy on Zach Miller’s touchdown pass in the second quarter and I thought the 44-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in the fourth quarter should have stood because I did not see holding on the play by Breno Giacomini. The officiating as a whole was not very good this week. Shame on you Jeff Triplette… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid rose the 12th Man flag this week… Russell Wilson was presented with the 2012 Steve Largent Award. My guess is that he will be a repeat winner no question about it… I was extremely disappointed about the level of excitement in the stands this week. I noted at halftime on Facebook that it felt like the intensity level was less than half of what it was last week against San Francisco. There were possible scenarios out of our control that could have given us a higher seed and a division championship if we had won. That alone should have been enough motivation for the fans to go all out but overall the noise was abnormally now. Very disappointing… I underdressed for the first time this season. I should have worn another coat under my jersey, worn gloves, and brought hand warmers. Either those things or maybe I should have drank more to get a warm beer belly going… The pregame giveaway was ponchos. What a ridiculous giveaway especially on a day where the skies were clear. I bought Mark, one of the guys who sits in front of me, a beer before the game as a token of appreciation for dealing with the behavior of my guest last week. He was extremely grateful… Good news. Mark and his friend Mike renewed their seats for the 2013 season so I will be sitting behind them for a fourth straight year which will be fun… All the season ticket holders around me made a promise that we would be back in three weeks for the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s all pray we will play for a trip to the Super Bowl at home against Minnesota!

Up Next: With San Francisco’s win over Arizona, the Seahawks are locked in to the 5th seed in the NFC. They head to the nation’s capital next week to take on the NFC East champion Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

I hope to have my preview of the Seahawks wild-card playoff game against Washington up by late Saturday morning. Also, don’t be surprised to see me hop on the blog later on in the week to share my thoughts about practice leading up to next week’s game. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Rams Preview

29 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

It is time to get back to business. After last week’s thrilling win over Green Bay, the Seahawks travel to St. Louis to face the division rival Rams. The Seahawks enter this game at 2-1, tied for second place in the NFC West. The Rams are in last place in the division with a record of 1-2. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 17-11. Their last meeting was last season. On December 12th, 2011 the Seahawks defeated the Rams on Monday Night Football by a score of 30-13. Here is what I will be looking for and expecting out of the Seahawks this week.

On the road, it is imperative that the Seahawks focus on protecting the ball. I do not believe this will be an issue. Russell Wilson has done an outstanding job making sure there are no mistakes and no turnovers. Like I proposed last week, I think our best option on offense this week is to establish the running game with Marshawn Lynch. Although this is important I also would not be surprised to see some peculiar calls in certain situations. I think we might see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell split the 1st down play calls 50/50 between passing and rushing. Something else I would like to see the Seahawks run this week is more no-huddle. On our final drive against Green Bay, Wilson was effective in moving the ball in chunks without a huddle. If we can keep the Rams guessing, I would fully believe to see no-huddle formations called, especially early on in the game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Golden Tate continue to emerge as our best overall receiver this week. Tate has arguably become Russell Wilson’s favorite target and it would not surprise me at all if Tate leads the Seahawks in receptions on Sunday. Having said this, it would be great to have Wilson spread the ball around more effectively then he has in the first three games. If the Rams defense can frustrate the Seahawks running game, the passing game becomes extremely necessary. I think Wilson will have his hands full and may throw a couple interceptions.

If there is one thing I hope the Seahawks defense has done this week in preparation for this weekend’s game, it’s that I hope they took a good amount of time breaking down the Rams film from their game last week against Chicago. The Bears defense was able to sack Rams quarterback Sam Bradford 6 times. The Seahawks defense, coming off an 8 sack performance last week, can take a lot from the Bears approach on how to penetrate the Rams offensive line. I think the defense will have a very successful day. The defense and the special teams have had some of their best performances recently in St. Louis and I expect nothing less this week.

One potential head-to-head battle I will be keeping my eye on is Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan against Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini. When you think of head-to-head matchups you probably don’t think of a cornerback versus an offensive lineman but there is a reason why I bring up these two guys in particular. Finnegan is an outstanding player who is probably best known for his trash-talking abilities. Finnegan can get under the opponent’s skin very easily and it is this ability that helped earn him a spot of the player’s top 100 players of 2012. Through 7 games this season (both preseason and regular season) it is clear to me that Breno Giacomini is the one player that always is a candidate to draw personal foul penalties. I think Finnegan will be at full force trying to get Giacomini to snap and commit a penalty that could really hurt the Seahawks. Definitely be on the lookout this weekend for Finnegan vs. Giacomini.

The St. Louis Rams may not have one of the best defenses, but they have some of the best individually talented players in the league. Chris Long is one of the games most prolific and underrated pass rushers who could definitely take advantage on a Seahawks offensive line that continues to shuffle personnel in different situations. James Laurinaitis is another guy who will direct traffic up the middle. The linebacker out of Ohio State is also an underrated talent that makes his fair share of plays when given the opportunity. With Long, Laurinaitis, and Finnegan all on defense and each on different levels of this side of the ball, I could see St. Louis’s defensive packages and schemes to confuse Russell Wilson.

On offense, the Rams identity continues to be running back Steven Jackson. Jackson is one of the biggest and most athletic running backs the Seahawks will have to face this season. Given this I do not expect Jackson’s physicality to be a problem for our run defense. We have not given up a rushing touchdown to Jackson in St. Louis in the Pete Carroll era. This stat impresses me tremendously and this year our run defense is as strong as ever. There is a great chance that we will shut Jackson down once again in my opinion. A connection to look out for is Sam Bradford to wide receiver Danny Amendola. Amendola was Bradford’s favorite target in Bradford’s rookie season in 2010. An injury sidelined Amendola for all of 2011 but so far in 2012, the chemistry has picked up right where it left off in 2010. Expect Bradford to look in Amendola’s direction more than any other Rams receiver.

Random Thoughts: James Carpenter is back this week and will play. What an amazing comeback for a guy who tore his ACL and made a full recovery in only 10 months… Mike Carey will be the referee this week. Carey is my favorite ref and usually calls a good game. I say usually because last season he called the Seahawks game against the Browns where Carey’s crew made a couple big calls that may have altered the outcome of the game… Welcome back refs, glad to have you back… It is still a mystery what jersey the Seahawks will wear this week. My guess is white… This is the first of 5 games with a 10am pacific start. Perhaps I will make a full breakfast feast for me and my roommates. Maybe not… Our rivalry with the Rams has died off in recent years which is too bad. Still though, I always enjoy beating them… This game was our alternate choice for my annual Seahawks road trip. Given this, they will probably win. Don’t get me wrong of course I want to see the Seahawks win but it kind of sucks to think I could have been there… We need to limit our penalties. If we can limit our penalties to a range between 5 and 7, I think we will be in decent shape. NO 15-yarders though please!… Ron Pitts and Mike Martz are the play-by-play/commentary team for FOX this week for the Seahawks game. This will be the first week I listen to television commentary during the game. With Martz doing the commentary, I expect it to be a love fest for the Rams, as Martz won a championship as the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999 and took them to the Super Bowl as a head coach in 2001.

Prediction: The Seahawks defense is way too strong of a group and will pummel down on Bradford throughout the entire game. Russell Wilson will not have spectacular numbers but I see him throwing for at least 225 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson will be held to 40 yards or less by the Seahawks run defense. The Seahawks break away from the Rams in the second half, and head back to Seattle with a 3-1 record.

Seahawks 27, Rams 14

Look for my review post on Monday afternoon. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Hawks!