Tag Archives: Jermichael Finley

Packers/Seahawks Preview (NFL Kickoff 2014)

3 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

There are a lot of perks to winning the Super Bowl. You get expanded coverage on all the major sports television networks, you get to meet the President, and you get to host the football circus that is NFL Kickoff; the first regular season game of the year. That is what is on deck for the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks as they host the Green Bay Packers in NFL Kickoff 2014. The Packers lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 10-6 but the last matchup between these teams was by far the most memorable. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate “caught” a 24-yard Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12. The controversial ending ended the referee holdout and the difference that one game made in the final 2012 standings had a potential impact in the playoffs as the Packers eventually lost to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in a game that could have instead been played at Lambeau Field had the Packers defeated the Seahawks. With the entire city of Seattle watching, emotions will be high as the 2013 Super Bowl championship team will be honored before the game. After that it is all business. Here is what I will be focusing on this week.

The Green Bay offense versus the Seahawks defense will be the primary intriguing matchup this week but I am very interested in how the Seahawks offense plays against a talented Packers defense that to me has question marks. I believe the Seahawks will give the Packers a heavy dose of running back Marshawn Lynch early in the game in order to establish the running game, the tempo of the game, and to chew some time off the clock while trying to come up with points. Lynch will have a big impact in this ballgame and he will no doubt get the grand majority of the total carries. The passing game intrigues me with this matchup against the Packers for two big reasons. First, this is the first time since the Super Bowl that we go into a game with Percy Harvin in the offensive game plan. Harvin will not be used as just a wide receiver but as an “offensive weapon.” Do not be surprised to see Harvin lined up all over the field including out wide, in the slot, and even in the backfield. Secondly, I want to see Russell Wilson challenge the Packers secondary, specifically rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix may not start but he will see playing time whether he starts or not. In games against New Orleans and San Francisco last season, Wilson aired the ball out to challenge rookie safeties Kenny Vaccaro of the Saints and Eric Reid of the 49ers. This week could be no different. If he likes the matchup, do not be surprised to see Wilson go to vertical threats Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to challenge Clinton-Dix.

In their last meeting the Seahawks defense sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half. This week it will be just as crucial to pressure Rodgers and force him into sacks and mistakes. The Seahawks will use a pass rush rotation including Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin, and O’Brien Schofield. These four players will need to play a significant role but keep an eye specifically on Bennett. Although he will start at defensive end, I expect Bennett to be lined up as a pass rushing defensive tackle due to the uncertainty of the Green Bay offensive line. The Packers offensive line includes two players who have never played at CenturyLink Field. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has earned the starting job after being an injury fill-in in 2013. Green Bay will also start rookie Corey Linsley at center. Linsley will be my main focus among the Packers offensive line as he will have the difficult challenge of attempting to handle the 12th Man in his first career NFL game as well as handling a fierce interior pass rush. If the Packers cannot show they can protect Rodgers early it may be a long night for the Packers offense.

Despite the uncertainty on the line, the Green Bay Packers offense is one of the most talented and dangerous units in the league. The offense plays a very large part in why many experts believe the Packers can make a deep playoff run in 2014 and are serious contenders to win Super Bowl XLIX. By now you know the Packers are led by All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and this year he sports a more balanced attack. In addition to his dangerous downfield weapons Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Rodgers also one of the best up-and-coming running backs in second-year man Eddie Lacy who can be used to run the ball as well as catch passes out of the backfield. All three should see their share of targets but the Packers still have a big mystery to solve on offense. With the departure of tight end Jermichael Finley the Packers seem to have a void at the position. According to the Packers official depth chart, the starting tight end is listed as rookie Richard Rodgers but my X-Factor player to watch this week is veteran tight end Andrew Quarless. Quarless led all Packers tight ends in receiving with 6 catches, 70 yards, and a touchdown during the preseason. I believe he will be a more relied on target than Rodgers, especially deep in Seattle territory. If Green Bay can move the ball into scoring range, look for the Packers to potentially use a two tight end package with Quarless and Rodgers as well as Nelson and Cobb on the outside.

In the 9 NFL Kickoff games hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion, only the 2012 New York Giants have lost in front of their hometown fans. Hosting the first game of the NFL season provides an interesting emotional challenge. During pregame, the team is introduced in front of the entire country watching on television and shortly afterwards, the world championship banner is unveiled to a stirring emotional roar from the crowd. Almost immediately following these special festivities however, it is time to shift the mind to play a football game. Against a quality opponent such as the Green Bay Packers and with no prior experience playing in this game, I wonder if the Seahawks will be able to handle all of the pregame distractions adequately in order to win the football game. It would not surprise me to see the Seahawks get off to a slow start but then pick up the pace later in the game; I mean it is week 1 after all. If the Seahawks can show they can put the pregame emotions behind them and score quickly we will be in very good shape for the rest of the game.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants this week with the Packers wearing white jerseys and yellow pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week with Michele Tafoya patrolling the sidelines. In addition, the entire “Football Night in America” crew will be in Seattle this week for pregame and halftime coverage. That will be neat… This may have deserved its own little paragraph because I feel it is of great importance but here it goes. If you are attending the game PLEASE skip the Pharrell Williams/Soundgarden concert. The concert takes place at 4:30pm and immediately following the concert at 5:30pm CenturyLink Field goes live to the nation on NBC to start pregame festivities. I want to see everybody with a ticket in their seats by 5pm to be a part of a truly special series of ceremonies. That and we need everyone ready for the start of the game… If you are attending the game the Seahawks are strongly advising fans to enter the stadium through the southwest gate and touchdown city. All areas north of the stadium are going to be a nightmare due to concert traffic and people who do not have tickets to the game. It may be best just to stay and tailgate south of the stadium to avoid any congestion… Hawks Nest Bar at 12pm on gameday. Be there… I think it would be really cool if instead of unveiling a world championship banner in the rafters, the Seahawks raise a special championship “banner flag” instead of the normal 12th Man flag. That probably won’t happen though as there are now 3 covered banners already hanging in the rafters at CenturyLink… I wonder if the Seahawks will mix alumni day with the Kickoff festivities. Traditionally the Seahawks honor past players at the home opener… The question must be asked: who will raise the 12th Man flag this week? It is confirmed that former head coach Mike Holmgren will be in attendance this week and he is more than a viable option to raise the flag but his potential participation in the tradition has not been confirmed. Traditionally because the home opener is alumni day the Seahawks let a prominent member of the franchise’s past raise the flag. If I got to choose who gets to raise the flag, my vote would go to the two retired members of the 2013 world championship team, wide receiver Sidney Rice and fullback Michael Robinson. How cool would it be to see those guys wearing their Super Bowl rings raise the flag with the presence of the Vince Lombardi trophy? That would be very special.

Prediction: I am going to be bold. This game will NOT end in a Hail Mary touchdown. Yep, I went there. Instead I believe this will not be the offensive shootout people may think will happen. The Seahawks defense will do a decent job putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers but Rodgers will still manage to throw for a pair of touchdowns. Russell Wilson will throw a touchdown to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch will add a touchdown on the ground. The Seahawks will take advantage of Green Bay turnovers and turn them into additional points. The game will be close for the majority of the night, but a couple of late Seattle field goals will doom the Packers. The Seahawks will go to 1-0 and take a couple of days off before preparing for their week 2 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Seahawks 23, Packers 14

Check back late Thursday night/early Friday morning for me Packers/Seahawks review. To everyone attending have a great time. For everyone watching on television, enjoy the game! Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 14, Packers 12

27 Sep

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I have watched Seahawks games for 22 years. I have been a season ticket holder for the last seven seasons. I have NEVER witnessed a more epic finish than what happened on Monday Night. I have dubbed the Seahawks victory over the Green Bay Packers the “Monday Night Miracle” after Golden Tate scored on a Hail Mary as time expired to give the Seahawks the lead and the win. I will get to my analysis, feelings, and opinion of Tate’s catch later on in this post. Other than this play, one of the greatest moments in Seahawks history, here are my thoughts about the rest of the game.

Pass Rush: Present: In my preview posts, I always state that the pass rush is the biggest key on defense. If you can put pressure on the quarterback the chances of getting him to be uncomfortable throwing and/or forcing him to commit turnovers skyrockets. The Seahawks sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half; 4 by Chris Clemons, 2 from Bruce Irvin, and 2 from Brandon Mebane. It honestly got to the point where the performance of the Seahawks defense was laughable in the stands. It really was that amazing. In the second half the defense recorded no sacks, which is unfortunate. The next phase of improving the pass rush will be to display consistency throughout the entire game. Can you imagine if the Seahawks continued to sack Rodgers throughout the second half? It would have been the greatest defensive performance in team history.

Shutting Them Down: The pass rush is only one part of the Seahawks defense’s night. The defense, which entered the game allowing only 13.5 points per game, held the explosive Green Bay offense to only 12 points. The Packers averaged 35 points per game last season. Considering the weapons Green Bay has, I am beyond satisfied with the defensive performance. The leading receiver for the Packers was tight end Jermichael Finley and he only had 60 yards receiving. The Seahawks now have the 4th best overall defense in the league. With another road test coming next, the Seahawks need to make sure that the defense keeps on rolling. If they can do that, they will prove to me and the 12th Man that they can be successful both at home and on the road.

Another Average Night: Russell Wilson once again did not put up highly impressive numbers against the Packers. Wilson ended the night 10/21 for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson did not even break triple digit yardage numbers until the final drive of the game. Once again however, Wilson committed no turnovers. In three games, Wilson has 4 touchdowns and only one interception. It is now to the point where I have to critique Wilson in terms of his stats. Throwing for only 130 yards cannot become the norm for Wilson. Russell must show improvement throwing the ball and completing passes. The defense is holding this team upright and they can only go so strong for so long. Sooner or later whether it is because of seasonal wear-and-tear, the defense will not be able to hold the fort down. It is up to Wilson to improve his numbers. If he can throw for at least 250 yards per game, I think the Seahawks have a great chance of winning the game.

The Special Teams Is Exciting: It feels like every time the opponent lines up to punt or to kick a field goal, the Seahawks have a chance to block it. On Monday night, the Seahawks came incredibly close to blocking both a punt and a field goal. On the attempted field goal block, one Seahawk hurdled the Packers center and I was so convinced he was going to block it I jumped up before the ball sailed through the uprights. Against the Cowboys, the Seahawks special teams could have singlehandedly won the game and it is a huge relief to know that this very important unit is good enough to significantly alter the outcome of the game. The season is young, but I think the special teams will make much more noise throughout the rest of the season.

In Primetime, The 12th Man Never Disappoints: I tip my cap to myself and the rest of the people in attendance on Monday night. Most everybody was in their seats by the time pregame ceremonies rolled around. The scene was really cool with everybody waving their rally towels. The most impressive thing though was that very few people left the stadium after the Seahawks failed to convert on 4th down right after the two-minute warning. Not to criticize Seattle sports fans, but usually at that point in a game most fans usually leave to avoid getting stuck in traffic heading home. Not on Monday night though. I am very happy that everyone around me stayed and we all got to witness one of the most incredible plays not just in Seahawks history but in NFL history.

Let’s Talk About The Final Play: Before the Seahawks lined up to run the final play of the game, I looked up one row across the aisle from me. There was a Packers fan who started chanting “S**t Hawks! S**t Hawks!” He had been chanting this throughout the game and of course it made me mad. I started thinking to myself and praying that the behavior by those types of fans is exactly the reason why the Packers do not deserve to win this game. The Seahawks had played lights-out all game long and they played too hard not to win.

Wilson took the snap and after rolling to the left he planted and fired a Hail Mary to the corner of the end zone. From my view, I thought that Golden Tate had out jumped all 5 Packers defenders and had made the catch. After investigating the scene I saw the side judge call touchdown and I went absolutely crazy. I didn’t even see the back judge call interception and touchback. I was focused on seeing the ref call touchdown. As soon as the side judge did, my eyes were attracted to his arms and the fans around me went into full party and celebration mode. Everyone around me including myself didn’t bother watching the play on the big screen as it was reviewed; we were too happy that we had won the game. When the replacement referee confirmed the call on the field, round two of celebrations in the stands took place. My buddy Elliott and I could not believe what had just happened. As we walked down the aisle to the concourse, I heard people scream “I love Golden Tate!” and “Russell Wilson will NEVER buy a drink in this city ever again!” I then headed back home to re-watch the end of the game.

Upon arriving at home I watched the replay of Tate’s catch over and over and over again. Here is my opinion about what happened:

I don’t think Golden Tate caught the ball. I think that the refs clearly missed his offensive pass interference and although the NFL rulebook states that in the event of simultaneous possession the tie goes to the passers, I don’t think there was simultaneous possession in this case. I think M.D. Jennings of the Packers had two hands on the ball initially and Tate only had one hand on it. Upon descent to the ground, Tate was able to sneak in his other hand around the ball to give it the look that both players had their hands on the ball.

There is one view I have seen that shows that the officials may have made the right call. Although Jennings had full possession of the ball initially, he had both feet off the ground. Golden Tate had two hands on the ball and both feet on the ground before Jennings did, meaning Tate completed the entire “act of a catch” before Jennings did. Over the last couple of seasons there have been a couple questionable touchdown/non-touchdown calls because the receiver did/did not complete the entire act of a catch. Most notably, a Calvin Johnson reception for the Lions in Chicago against the Bears that did not count because he let go of the ball before getting up off of the ground. In this instance, from this one view it looks like Tate completed the catch and the Seahawks were correctly awarded the touchdown.

The response from what happened on Monday night has been unbelievable to me. As a Seahawks fan we have had many games that have come down to close calls go negatively towards us over the years. To have this play go in our favor I honestly had trouble understanding the feeling of the victory. It is incredible to see the national attention we have gotten over the last 48 hours since the last play of the game. We have been the top story on SportsCenter, the Today Show, and even President Barack Obama tweeted his opinion about the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, the Seahawks won and the Packers lost. As great a game as this was and for the memories that will live on forever, it is time to move on, get over it, and focus on our next game.

My Opinion Of The Replacement Refs: I’ll keep this brief. After almost three weeks of questionable calls, it was only a matter of time a call made by the replacement officials would determine the outcome of a game. Although the result of Monday night’s game went in our favor, I still believe the job done by the replacements have been utterly ridiculous and it is time for the real referees to return. As of now it looks like the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have agreed on a new contract which will end the lockout. This is ultimately the best case scenario for the league.

Random Thoughts: I did not prefunk before the game. We were running a little late and wanted to get into the stadium in time to get a rally towel and to see pregame… The Steve Sabol tribute was really cool to see again. The ovation was really nice and well deserved. Sabol, the president of NFL Films died this past week after a battle with brain cancer. He was 69… It was weird to see Trent Dilfer raise the 12th Man flag. Usually in the flag raiser video the person’s accomplishments are listed. The most memorable accomplishment for Dilfer was his 2003 Steve Largent Award. I loved Dilfer when he was a Seahawk but I personally do not think he has the appropriate accolades to be raising the flag for a regular season game, much less a Monday Night Football game… The offense was introduced and Russell Wilson got the loudest ovation once again. What a thrill that must have been for him… I was asked to sit down by the person behind me for the second straight week. This week it was a Packers fan probably in his late 50’s or early 60’s. Of course I ignored him and he must have dealt with it because he didn’t make a complaint through the rest of the game… Beer is too expensive inside the stadium. Period… There were way too many penalties by the Seahawks this week. That must change going forward. Most of the penalties are discipline penalties that should be easily avoided… There were WAY TOO MANY Packers fans in attendance. Probably worse than the number of Cowboys fans at the home opener… Marshawn Lynch did not score a touchdown, but that did not prevent me from ripping open a king-size bag of Skittles and throwing them at the end of the game when Tate scored the game winning touchdown… The 2005 NFC Championship Game will most likely always be my favorite Seahawks game that I attended, but there is no question this game is the most exciting game I have ever been to. It will probably take another Hail Mary reception at the end of a game to de-thrown this as the most exciting game I have ever been to.

I apologize that this review post is a little bit late. I just started my first week of school and have been up to my neck in readings for my classes. This will not stop me from writing my preview post of the game next weekend against the St. Louis Rams. Look for that preview most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. What an incredible game. Go Seahawks!

Packers/Seahawks Preview

23 Sep

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Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

The Seahawks have a big task ahead of them in week 3, as they host the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers in front of a nationally televised audience on Monday night. The Seahawks are coming off a much needed win last weekend over Dallas and the Packers are also coming off a dominating victory over Chicago last Thursday night. The Seahawks are 5-10 all-time against Green Bay. In their last meeting, the Seahawks were blown out by the Packers at Lambeau Field 48-10 in 2009. Here is what I will be looking for this week.

This week the Seahawks need to make sure the best players start along the offensive line. This means having Russell Okung at full strength. Although the Packers have struggled recently as a whole on defense they have some pretty spectacular players. Clay Matthews in particular is a player the Seahawks must keep in check. Through two games Matthews already has 6 sacks. I always touch on the fact that Russell Wilson can make plays happen with his feet but it would be much easier to have the offensive line give him the time and the protection to make throws from within the pocket. In addition to Matthews, the Seahawks also have to keep a keen eye on B.J Raji along the defensive line and Tramon Williams in the secondary. Raji can singlehandedly give Marshawn Lynch fits this week and Williams can make the Seahawks pay if Russell Wilson is not on target with his throws.

I have heard a lot of talk early this week about the Seahawks perhaps using a ground-and-pound strategy this week. Marshawn Lynch is averaging 103.5 yards per game and I have no reason to believe why Lynch will not break 100 yards again against the Packers. Maintaining a steady run game against the Packers enables many things that would carry momentum to a victory. If the Seahawks are effective running the ball, expect them to win the time of possession battle and put themselves in position for many scoring drives. However going off of this point…

The Seahawks cannot afford to settle for field goals on every drive. I have full confidence in our defense to keep the Packers offense in check but I do expect the Packers to score touchdowns. Russell Wilson needs to improve in the passing game. The Seahawks rank last in the NFL in passing yards per game and a strong performance by Russell Wilson will put us in a great position to win. This week I predict that Sidney Rice will be our leading receiver. I think the Packers will give up a couple big plays that will carry Rice over 100 receiving yards this week.

Our pass rush has not shown significant improvement acceptable to my standards. Because we are up against a talented gun slinging quarterback this week I think our pass rush will struggle again this week. On defense, if we can hold the Packers offense to less than 150 yards in each half I think we will be in great shape. Look for our secondary to be in the spotlight on Monday night. I will not predict any interceptions or big plays but I think all four starting secondary players will play up to expectations.

The Green Bay Packers are a very talented team. Aaron Rodgers is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league and the weapons he has around him scare me this week. Cedric Benson saw expanded play last week so I would expect to see the Packers try to establish the running game early. As far as receivers, Rodgers has Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, and Jermichael Finley to throw to. All five of these guys can put up big numbers and all can find a way to get open. Jennings will most likely be back this week after missing the Chicago game with a groin injury. If we cannot put pressure on Rodgers, these receivers will put up big numbers.

The Seahawks this week will be keeping a close eye on the Packers special teams. Last week, Green Bay ran a fake field goal that turned into a touchdown pass and a relatively easy seven points. I do not expect Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to pull trick plays out of his hat again this week but the Seahawks need to be aware that fake plays are included in the Green Bay playbook.

The Seahawks have not lost a home game on Monday Night Football since 2004. Since then the Seahawks are 4-0 at home on Monday night. This week the 12th Man will be on fire and it will be up to the Seahawks to make sure we stay that way. Bad play and Green Bay scores will take the fans out of the game so the Seahawks need to keep up their Monday night momentum. Best case scenario to keep the crowd alive is to score. Score early, score often.

Random Thoughts: The last time the Seahawks played on Monday night I showed up at halftime due to a final exam for school. This year I am sacrificing my first day of the 2012 school year to be at the game. It better just be syllabus day in both of my Monday classes… The Seahawks are giving out white rally towels to the first 50,000 fans this week. Looks like I may have to cut my prefunction short this week to make sure I get one… Kris Allen of 2009 American Idol fame is singing the national anthem Monday night. Usually for primetime games the home team is able to book a well-known artist so Allen is a breath of fresh air in my opinion… There has been buzz online this week about the possibility of Chris Hansen raising the 12th Man flag on Monday night. The new Seattle arena is on track to be officially approved on Monday so I think it would be only fitting to have Hansen raise the flag. However, according to multiple Twitter reports, former Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer will be raising the flag. Dilfer works as an analyst on Monday Night Countdown so he will be in town for the game… I have been used to cold weather primetime home games recently. It will be nice to go to a primetime game with no sweatshirt and shorts instead of jeans… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue this week. I want to know what games we will be wearing gray for… Honestly I don’t want Greg Jennings to play for Green Bay. I would be fully content with starting DeSean Jackson and Mike Williams of Tampa Bay in fantasy football this week… The offense will be introduced this week. I cannot wait for Russell Wilson to run onto the field on national television in front of the 12th Man and all the fans who cheered him on at the University of Wisconsin… I will be bringing lots of Skittles this week. Fair warning: If anyone is sitting in or around section 340 on Monday night, be prepared for a Skittles shower if Beast Mode scores a touchdown… I’m so happy I won’t have to listen to Jon Gruden’s horrible analysis on television… Maybe if we win I’ll try to go down to field level to get a picture with Stuart Scott of ESPN. That would be pretty cool, even though I have heard he can be a d**k sometimes… Speaking of ESPN, it will be nice to get a lot of national media coverage this weekend leading up to the game. I just hope all the talk is not about the Packers. Who am I kidding? Of course it will be. The Seahawks get ZERO national media respect… If we win the talk on ESPN better not be about how the Packers lost. That happened last week against the Cowboys. Nobody wanted to acknowledge the fact that we played an incredible game. Stupid east coast bias.

Prediction: This game will be a lot closer than most people think. At this point however, I’m not convinced the Seahawks can pull it off. They have the pieces and the talent to win but I am not convinced right now that it will all come together. The lack of a pass rush will be the difference in this game. I think we could be in for a track meet early on in the game. I see Aaron Rodgers passing for at least 275 yards and a couple touchdowns. The Seahawks will be competitive throughout the entire game but the Packers will sneak out of Seattle with a victory.

Packers 31, Seahawks 27

Check back Tuesday afternoon as I review the Monday night matchup with the Packers and preview the next upcoming week of practice. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Seahawks!

ESPN: CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?