Tag Archives: Jeron Johnson

Cowboys/Seahawks Preview

11 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Who would have thought that going into week 6 the Dallas Cowboys would be 4-1? All of a sudden this week’s game has way more meaning than I originally thought it would. On Sunday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys come to Seattle to face the Seattle Seahawks. At 4-1 the Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East while the Seahawks sit at 3-1 and are tied for first place in the NFC West. Dallas leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but in their last meeting in September 2012 Seattle handled the Cowboys easily, winning 27-7 with Russell Wilson earning his first NFL victory. Two seasons, 30 victories, and one Vince Lombardi trophy later, Wilson will attempt to tame Dallas once again. Here is what I am looking for in this week’s game.

The Dallas Cowboys sport the NFL’s leading rusher, running back DeMarco Murray. Murray’s 134 yards per game average is the best in the league and the first priority of the Seahawks defense will be to stop him. Look for Kevin Williams and Jordan Hill to have an expanded role along the Seahawks defensive line this week along with starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. It will be on these three guys to plug holes to limit Murray’s production. It will be crucial to stop Murray on first and second downs to force quarterback Tony Romo to throw. Romo has had a history of making bad throws and turning the ball over in Seattle so it will be crucial for the Seahawks pass rushers to put extra pressure on to force Romo into mistakes. If the defense can do both of these things the Seahawks will be in excellent shape.

Going into this season many believed that the 2014 Dallas Cowboys defense could statistically be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Although they have not played terribly (yet), the Cowboys still rank in the bottom half in both pass defense and run defense. Dallas has given up an average of 122 rushing yards per game and if the Seahawks are successful running the ball much like they were last week this could be an easy win. On offense this week I believe the Seahawks will be victorious if Marshawn Lynch tops the 100 yard rushing plateau. Also keep an eye on Seattle’s use of the read option this week. Russell Wilson ran 14 read option plays against Washington last week and I think we will see more of it against a Cowboys team that has not faced a duel-threat quarterback since week 1 (Colin Kaepernick). I could see the Seahawks running between 5-10 read option plays. On these plays if Russell Wilson can run for 40-50 yards I believe we will be unbeatable. Expect to see Percy Harvin used just like he was last week, with expanded playing time lined up in the backfield.

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys on the offensive side of the ball everyone looks at DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant as the motor that makes the offense work. With the Seahawks primarily focusing on stopping Murray and with Richard Sherman likely covering Bryant, it would not surprise me to see Tony Romo throw to his other targets. Enter my “boom or bust” X-Factor player to watch, wide receiver Terrance Williams. I say Williams is “boom or bust” because he has been rather inconsistent on the stat line this season. On good days Williams can be dynamic, much like he has been the past two weeks when he caught a combined 8 passes for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the first three weeks of the season however, Williams struggled, catching only 8 passes for a combined 102 yards, a 34 yards per game average. With Williams likely matched up against Byron Maxwell for the majority of this game, it would not be surprising to see Romo throw in Williams’s direction to try to pick on Maxwell.

There is one pattern that I must address with the Dallas Cowboys coming to town this week. The Cowboys have played two meaningful games in Seattle since I became a season ticket holder in 2006. In both of these games the Cowboys have made at least one blunder on special teams. Everyone remembers the Tony Romo botched snap in the 2006 playoffs but many fans may not remember what happened the last time Dallas came to town. In our 2012 matchup Dallas kick returner Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff right into the arms of Earl Thomas. The Seahawks cashed in 7 plays later with a Steven Hauschka field goal. On the next Dallas possession, Bruce Irvin blocked a Chris Jones punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a Seahawks touchdown. The Cowboys special teams have a rich history of struggling at CenturyLink Field so it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks can score any points on special teams this week.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy blue this week with the Cowboys wearing their traditional white jerseys and metallic silver/blue pants… Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week. Brennaman will be paired with Aikman for the next three weeks while Joe Buck calls the National League Championship Series and World Series for FOX. Even though Brennaman will do the play-by-play, this will still be FOX’s “America’s Game of the Week” broadcasted to the majority of the country… Bill Leavy is this week’s referee. Now that the Seahawks have won a Super Bowl it wouldn’t surprise me if Leavy’s Seattle limitations have been lifted. For those of you who don’t know this will be only the third time Leavy has officiated a Seahawks game in Seattle since Super Bowl XL… This week we will have an extra 20 minutes before kickoff as the game starts at 1:25pm. Everyone be in their seats ready to go by kickoff!… October is breast cancer awareness month in the NFL and this week the giveaway is pink ribbon pins. I am also excited to show off my pink Strideline socks for the second time this season… I think I’m only going to bring the leftover streamers I didn’t use at the Broncos game. Don’t feel like going to buy more. I’ll have to stock back up fully for the Raiders game… If the Seahawks win this week we will be 4-1, the same record we had through our first 5 games last season.

Prediction: A lot of people think the Cowboys can come into Seattle and make this a close game but I think otherwise. I think the Seahawks are primed for a decisive win. Marshawn Lynch will score two touchdowns and Michael Bennett will recover a Tony Romo fumble and take it to the house. The Seahawks will win this game to get to 4-1 and we will get ready for a huge test next week, our first division rivalry game of the season against St. Louis.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 13

Check back late Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

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Review: Seahawks 41, Chargers 14

16 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

If anyone jumped to conclusions after the poor performance in Denver last week, I hope Friday’s game eased your worries. In front of a revved up 12th Man the Seahawks dominated the San Diego Chargers 41-14. The Seahawks improve to 1-1 on the preseason while the loss drops San Diego to 1-1 as well. It was great to be back at CenturyLink Field and it was made even better given what occurred on the field tonight. Here are some of the things I took away from tonight’s game.

Wilson Thrives: Russell Wilson played for the first 25:55 of the game and he was able to successfully lead three scoring drives, resulting in 24 first half points. Wilson appeared to be in mid-season form and his stat line reflected such a notion, completing 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards. What impressed me was his ability to once again evade the pass rush and use his feet to make big plays happen. Wilson found tight ends Zach Miller and Luke Willson for large gains and after scrambling, found wide receiver Doug Baldwin in the back of the endzone for a touchdown which was later overturned. DangeRuss was even more dangerous on the ground, running in two touchdowns of his own. What was even better was that Wilson proved that the read option attack can still be very effective. After not using read option nearly as much in 2013 as we did in 2012, I am starting to wonder if the read option will make a triumphant return in a big way in 2014. Next week Russell Wilson will play into the third quarter and with a performance similar to Friday night’s, next week’s game could end in similar blowout fashion.

Turbin Steps Up: In my game preview I wondered about the possibility of Robert Turbin not making the team if he failed to put together a solid game this week. I am now thinking Turbin’s job is safe. After Marshawn Lynch was on the field for only the first offensive play of the game, Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell handed the keys to the car over to Turbin and he definitely made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Two things impressed me about Turbin’s performance on Friday night. First off, he found holes extremely easily and did not try to run through people has he has shown in the past. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, Turbin fought for extra yards several times which is something that is rather rare for a guy that has shown his running style is closer to Shaun Alexander than to Marshawn Lynch. I think Turbin’s performance against the Chargers solidifies him as the backup running back but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Christine Michael get the bulk of the carries next week to try to challenge Turbin yet again for that job.

Offensive Line Holds its Own: Despite the fact that Russell Okung and Max Unger sat out Friday’s game, the Seahawks makeshift offensive line did a fantastic job creating room in the running game and keeping Russell Wilson and the rest of the quarterbacks clean. The play of tonight’s o-line paved the way for 243 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns, and only one quarterback sack. What makes me breathe a sigh of relief is that this unit is going to get better once we get Okung and Unger back as well as solidifying who will be out starting right tackle come September.

Jackson vs. Pryor (Round Two): This topic is difficult to discuss because Tarvaris Jackson did not play. Terrelle Pryor got the second-string snaps and did an adequate job. His stat line through the air was not entirely impressive (1/4, 10 yards passing) and there is much room for improvement in that area but Pryor did impress me with his feet, running for 59 yards and a touchdown. One thing I would like to see Pryor improve on is his awareness of the line to gain after he slid just short of a first down in the fourth quarter. Pryor is improving but I discussed with a guy at the game it is possible that we gave him ample playing time tonight just to see if it is worth it to keep three quarterbacks on the roster after the preseason.

Defensive Thoughts: The defense showed significant improvement as a whole unit from last week to this week. I am becoming a big fan of middle linebacker Brock Coyle’s playing style after he contributed to nearly every play he was on the field for. Jeron Johnson also really impressed me in the secondary after he made a couple of Kam Chancellor-esque hits on Chargers receivers. Johnson moved from cornerback to safety this offseason and it is clear that Johnson will be Chancellor’s backup this season. The defense fed off the energy of the 12th Man all night long and confirmed my belief that we have the best defense in the National Football League especially when we play at home.

Thoughts on San Diego: The San Diego Chargers offense is a unit that is very hard to diagnose. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers played only one series before backup Kellen Clemens took over and Rivers looked fairly mediocre. San Diego’s receivers and running backs have great potential but Rivers will have to have another solid year for the Chargers to consistently put points on the board and in essence, remain competitive. The San Diego defense needs a lot of work, especially in the running game. The Chargers will face many elite running backs this season such as Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, and Frank Gore. It will be a long season for the Chargers if they cannot fix their glaring defensive problems.

Random Thoughts: All blue for the Seahawks and white/navy for the Chargers just like I thought… The raisers of the 12th Man flag were first responders of the Oso mudslide and the Eastern Washington wildfires… One interesting note, the Seahawks are starting to shy away from the phrase “12th Man.” The fans were referenced as “12’s” and the flag was referenced as the “12 flag” instead of the “12th Man Flag” by the public address announcer… For a short time before heading downtown it felt like it might be in store for that weather uncertainty I hate so much; when you don’t know if you want to bring a sweatshirt because it might be too cold but you don’t want to be stuck carrying it everywhere if it is too warm. Those kinds of games are the worst… We went to Hawks Nest Bar and Elysian Fields before the game but since I’m on antibiotics I couldn’t drink. Instead, I had the best couple of Diet Coke’s I’ve ever had… I almost witnessed a fight during on the concourse during halftime. I went to get a bite to eat and there were two guys who were circled up and they looked like they were about to box. When I walked past the same area after getting my food, the area was patrolled by about a half-dozen police officers with both fist fighters leaning against separate walls, handcuffed. Don’t be stupid at sporting events boys and girls… In the rafters was a banner covered up by a black tarp. After seeing it before the game I assumed that the Seahawks were going to raise our 2013 NFC West champions banner but they held off. We’ll see if any banners are unveiled next week… CenturyLink Field made a couple of significant upgrades over the offseason. The scoreboards hanging off of the upper deck at midfield now display a new design. The old design consisted of the both team names and their respective scores, one on top of the other, on a football texture background. The new scoreboard display is navy blue with both team logos and their respective scores side by side with the score in the team’s color scheme. (For example the Chargers score was displayed with the lightning bolt and yellow score number. The Seahawks score was displayed with our logo and our score in action green). Also, the stat boards in both endzones have been replaced with new video boards, giving the stadium 6 video boards instead of just 2. They are very bright and beautiful. They are certainly noticeable and I personally like them a lot.

Check back next Thursday as I preview our third preseason game, the dress rehearsal game, against the Chicago Bears. Go Hawks!

Review: Broncos 21, Seahawks 16

7 Aug
Photo Credit: denverbroncos.com

Photo Credit: denverbroncos.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17

9 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Although the NFC West championship and home field advantage is still all but certain, if for any reason we completely fall apart and miss out on either of these two scenarios this is the game the Seahawks and their fans will look back on as the turning point in the season. The Seahawks 7 game losing streak has come to an end and our quest for the division title must wait at least one more week as the Seahawks fell to the San Francisco 49ers 19-17 on Sunday. The Seahawks fall to 11-2 and now lead the 9-4 49ers by 2 games in the NFC West. There are a lot of frustrating moments that may have ultimately changed the outcome of the game. This is what I saw.

2nd Half Defense Does its Part: Over the past couple of seasons the Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the league when it comes to halftime adjustments and improvements. The defense stepped up and shut down the 49ers offense in the second half, holding them to only 3 points (for the sake of this section, forget those points were the ultimate difference in the game). The defensive pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was cranked up as Clinton McDonald and Chris Clemons each recorded a crucial sack on third down plays in the fourth quarter. Byron Maxwell once again stepped up in place of Walter Thurmond, recording 5 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and an interception. Overall the Seahawks defense only allowed 19 points to a solid 49ers offense which should be enough in order to win. Unfortunately the Seahawks failed to get any momentum going on offense to parallel the effort of the defense.

2nd Half Offense Fails to Show: When I went to Houston back in September the Seahawks were down by 17 points at halftime. Although I was surprised and disappointed I never gave up hope that the Seahawks could comeback because prior to that game they had proven that they could come back facing a deficit of at least 20 points. The Seahawks trailed the 49ers by 2 points at halftime and my overall feeling was that Darrell Bevell and Russell Wilson would make the necessary adjustments for the offense to comeback, take the lead, and potentially blow this game wide open. That never happened. The Seahawks only scored 3 points of their own in the second half and missed opportunities denied Seattle the chance to extend drives and perhaps put points on the board. Marshawn Lynch only ran for 72 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and it felt as though the Seahawks number one priority this week was to move the ball through the air even though Russell Wilson only threw the ball 25 times for 199 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. I give lots of credit to the San Francisco secondary, especially cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Eric Reid for their impressive blanket coverage on all Seahawks receivers. As the game went along the belief remained that the Seahawks would make a run at taking control of the game because I knew they could but as the minutes ticked off the clock the worse our chances became and by the time we got the ball back for our final drive it was too little too late and the clock had struck midnight.

Penalties Doom Seahawks: While watching Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN in my hotel room prior to leaving for Candlestick Park, one analyst boldly predicted that this week’s Seahawks/49ers game would break an NFL record for most number of penalties in a single game. It sure felt like he was right but the calls that went against the Seahawks came at the worst times. Instead of extending drives, penalties backed the Seahawks so far back that the drives predictably stalled and the Seahawks were forced to punt, trading potential points for goose-eggs and a change of possession. In a nutshell, I strongly believe that the 49ers did not beat the Seahawks but that the Seahawks beat the Seahawks. Two Marshawn Lynch first down runs were called back for holding, a long completion to Golden Tate was called back for offensive pass interference because Tate pushed off of his defender, and on a 4th and 5 while in punt formation it appeared that a 49er defender jumped offside, which caused the Seahawks to point towards the other side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of a 5-yard offsides penalty and an automatic first down, it was ruled a false start and the Seahawks backed up 5 yards. In total, the Seahawks committed 9 penalties for 85 yards. About half of those penalty yards came on long, potential game altering plays.

The Gamble and the Two Plays that Changed the Game: After the Seahawks took a 17-16 lead the 49ers got the ball back with 6:20 left in the game. The Seahawks had two timeouts to work with and with the way the defense had been playing, I felt that it was entirely possible that we could force a quick drive and get the ball back to attempt to pad our lead. Instead, the 49ers gave the ball to running back Frank Gore who galloped 51 yards on the fourth play of the drive and all of a sudden the 49ers went from having the ball in their own territory to having the ball in the red zone, well within field goal range. After Kendall Hunter ran for one yard on the next play coach Carroll decided to take our second timeout and it was clear how he was going to play the end of the game; use both timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the 49ers with enough time to allow them to kick a field goal and for us to go down the field into field goal range for Steven Hauschka to win the game. Carroll used the Seahawks final timeout after a 2-yard run by Gore and all the Seahawks needed to do was stop San Francisco to set up a 49ers field goal with 2:00 left. Instead Carroll’s gamble backfired and the Seahawks allowed the second most important play of the game; a first down scramble by Kaepernick to give San Francisco a fresh set of downs and the ability to run the clock down under a minute, kick a field goal, and leave the Seahawks virtually no time to go down the field and score. If I was Pete Carroll I would have waited to use our timeouts after the two minute warning which would have given us about one extra minute of game clock. I do not blame Carroll for the decision he made because he had trust in a unit that had not given up any points in the second half up until this point in the game. Unfortunately it nipped the Seahawks in the bud.

49ers Played Like They Wanted it More: On Saturday night, Mitch Levy of Sports Radio 950 KJR tweeted that the attitudes and body language of 49ers players in interviews leading up to this week’s game showed a team that was uptight; so uptight that, as Levy stated “you can’t get a blade of grass up their asses.” San Francisco sure did not play like that at all. The 49ers came out firing with full confidence and I got the sense that they did a remarkable job preparing for what the Seahawks were going to throw at them on both sides of the ball.  They fed off the energy of their home crowd and scoring 16 points in the first half alone gave their defense extreme confidence to shut the Seahawks offense down. The 49ers did not play as an uptight team, but as a team that had a “we have nothing to lose” mentality when in reality this was a game they definitely needed to win to continue to control their own destiny in the NFC wild-card race.

Injury Analysis: Linebacker K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot on Sunday and there is an estimated recovery time of at least six weeks. If that is the case, Wright could make it back in time to play in Super Bowl XLVIII should the Seahawks make it. Wright however remains hopeful that he will be healthy enough to return in time for the start of the playoffs, as was portrayed on his Twitter shortly after Sunday’s game. Max Unger and Jeron Johnson also exited the game this week and both did not return. Unger is dealing with a strained pectoral muscle and Johnson pulled a hamstring. To my knowledge their statuses for next week against the New York Giants is unknown. Losing Wright, a starter on defense, hurts but Malcolm Smith stepped in for Wright and did a good job. Unger is the man I would be the most worried about. Unger is the anchor of the offensive line and if the Seahawks are going to be without him for any length of time, we may see shades of the Seahawks teams that struggled against St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Thoughts on San Francisco: The 49ers looked like a team that could make the playoffs as a wild-card and make a run deep into the playoffs, assuming of course that they do not run into Seattle along that road. The defense played a really good football game and if Frank Gore is feeling it he is extremely hard to stop. The addition of Michael Crabtree back into the lineup also adds firing power to the cannon of Colin Kaepernick. If the 49ers have to come to Seattle in the playoffs they will most likely lose but I would not be surprised to see the 49ers make it to at least the divisional round if not the NFC Championship Game if they are able to play like they did on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: All of my random thoughts will come in an in-depth feature post on my entire weekend trip to San Francisco. I hope to have that post published by mid-week. Stay tuned!

In addition to “Weekend in San Francisco 2013” post in the middle of this week, make sure to check back on Saturday as I preview next week’s matchup with the New York Giants. Go Hawks!

Review: Colts 34, Seahawks 28

6 Oct
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Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

In the 93 year history of the National Football League only four teams have had an undefeated regular season. Hopefully that is something to remember as we disappointed Seahawks fans saw our team lose for the first time this season on Sunday. Seattle’s 34-28 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts drops the Seahawks to 4-1 on the season and we hold a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. There was some good, some bad, and a bit of frustration mixed into this week’s game. Here is what I saw.

First Half Offense Shows Improvement: The first 12:15 of the game could not have gone any better for the Seahawks. After getting on the board with a field goal, the Seahawks drove 64 yards on 8 plays capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. After forcing another Indianapolis three-and-out, Jermaine Kearse blocked Pat McAfee’s punt which resulted in a safety as the officials ruled that Jeron Johnson did not have complete control of the recovered blocked kick in the endzone. Instead of a touchdown and a 17-0 lead, the Seahawks had to settle for the safety and a 12-0 lead. Add in a Jermaine Kearse touchdown in the second quarter and the Seahawks scored 19 points in the first half; 13 more points than in the first half’s of their first two road games combined. I think that the fast start will pay dividends going forward as it shows that we are capable of getting out to an early lead and taking the initial momentum of the game.

Thoughts on the Zone-Blocking Scheme: One of the things I always look for is for the Seahawks to be effective in the running game. Today the Seahawks seemingly looked unstoppable on the ground. I don’t want to take anything away from Marshawn Lynch because he gained over half of his yards after initial contact but the fact the Seahawks had two 100 yard rushers (Lynch and Russell Wilson) shows how the zone-blocking scheme implemented by offensive line coach Tom Cable is supposed to work at its best. Even without Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger as well as starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, it is a telling sign that the talent along the offensive line is not the most important thing when it comes to running the ball with the zone-blocking scheme in place. Could you imagine if our 2005 offensive line (Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear) was blocking for Marshawn Lynch in the zone-blocking scheme now? Lynch may be a 2,000+ yard rusher with that unit. As our offensive line continues to get healthier, I think Marshawn Lynch’s production will only increase and both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael could also see improved statistics if they see playing time.

Defense Struggles: After forcing three straight three-and-outs to open the game, I thought the Seahawks were going to run away with this game. Unfortunately there were three quarters and change left to play at this point. The Colts were 7/12 on third down on Sunday and Andrew Luck was very effective in picking apart the Seahawks defense on short passes later on in the game. After doing a decent job of stuffing Trent Richardson in the first half, the Seahawks were unable to stop Richardson for little or no gain when it mattered the most. Richardson’s longest run of the game was only 16 yards but his short yardage runs on first down made it easier for the Colts to convert over half of their third down attempts. I was very disappointed in the tackling this week, especially in the open field. This was never more evident than on T.Y. Hilton’s 73-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter when Earl Thomas overran Hilton, allowing Hilton to cut and walk in for the touchdown. Overall, our offense is what kept us in the game until the very end. I’m not taking anything away from Indianapolis, as they have dynamic playmakers on offense that are capable of scoring points, but allowing 31 points is unacceptable for this group. After allowing only 10 points in their first two games, the Seahawks have allowed 17, 20, and 31 points in each of their last three games respectively. Fixing fundamental problems on defense should be a focus in practice this week. With a home game on deck, this is a prime opportunity for the Seattle defense to get back to the way they were playing in their first couple of games.

Thoughts on Indianapolis: At the start of each season my friends and I like to predict the playoff field, seedings, and playoff matchups leading up to us predicting a Super Bowl champion. I predicted that the Colts would win the AFC South over the Houston Texans and this game proved why they belong at the top of their division. The Colts have very impressive talent on offense and what I believe to be an underrated defensive unit. Andrew Luck really impressed me against the Seahawks. The poise he showed rivals the current elite quarterbacks in the NFL and it will not be long before we mention Luck’s name with the likes of Rodgers, Brees, and Peyton Manning. The Colts are going to be good for a while and if they play like they did against the Seahawks, I would not be surprised to see them make a push for a division championship along with a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs this season.

Thoughts on the Officiating: I understand that there is no changing what the final outcome was today but I do believe that there were multiple calls that went against Seattle today that could have changed the outcome of the game. The calls I question were a pass interference call on Brandon Browner on third down and long, a pass interference call on Richard Sherman where receiver Reggie Wayne simply slipped and fell down on his own, and a pass interference non-call on our final drive (where the Indianapolis defender had his arm wrapped around the waist of receiver Sidney Rice) which would have given the Seahawks a fresh set of downs and would have gotten us closer to the endzone. Two of these calls occurred along the Colts sideline with the players and coaches signaling the officials to convince them to throw a flag and it seemed to work. Last week I mentioned the role the crowd can play in determining whether or not a flag is thrown and I feel like that may have cost us today. At the end of the day, the loss stands and the Seahawks will move forward and try to get better to make sure these situations do not come to fruition in future games.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks wore white jerseys and white pants just like I said they would in my game preview. It wasn’t so bright inside the stadium however because the roof was closed… As much as I enjoyed getting a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan on the FOX broadcast maybe they are our good luck charms. We are 2-0 so far this season when Myers and Ryan have the call… John Lynch didn’t really seem to have a lot of good things to say about either offense this week. Not surprising though since he was a defensive player who was taught to hate the opponent’s offense… I understand and appreciate the gesture of having pink penalty flags in honor of breast cancer awareness month but they are kind of an eyesore and also very confusing. Since the players towels are also pink there was confusion in this game as to whether or not a penalty flag was thrown or not. I say go back to the yellow flags for next week’s games… The Seahawks do not have another 10am kickoff until week 10 when we play Atlanta… The most encouraging thing I saw online after this loss was from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times. He stated that in the long run this game will not have any serious effect on the Seahawks playoff chances and that “the feeling was that Seattle needed to win one of two games at Houston and Indianapolis, and that’s what the Seahawks did.” My hope was that the Seahawks needed to be at least 3-2 after their first 5 games to stay in good shape in the division race. The fact that they are 4-1 is a huge plus and most Seahawks fans would accept that record in a heartbeat. Arguably the toughest road stretch of the season is over and in our next 4 games we have two against sub-.500 teams and two at home. That is something to think about moving forward. Don’t panic yet, 12th Man.

Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Down to 53

31 Aug

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have our team. For week one at least. The Seahawks and the rest of the teams in the NFL had until 3pm pacific time Saturday to shrink their rosters down to 53 players. The Seahawks waived 18 players, terminated the contracts of 4 others and also made one trade.

Waived: Phil Bates (WR), Michael Brooks (DT), Dewayne Cherrington (DT), Arceto Clark (WR), Darren Fells (TE), Winston Guy (S), Chris Harper (WR), Cooper Helfet (TE), Jaye Howard (DT), Rishaw Johnson (OG), Sean McGrath (TE), Ron Parker (CB), Ty Powell (LB), Ryan Seymour (OG), DeShawn Shead (S), Sealver Siliga (DT), Jared Smith (OG), Bryan Walters (WR).

Contracts Terminated: Clinton McDonald (DT), Brady Quinn (QB), Michael Robinson (FB), Antoine Winfield (CB).

Trade: The Seahawks traded a future conditional draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith.

The Seahawks also moved defensive end Chris Clemons from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster.

Some Brief Thoughts: The move that makes the least sense to me is releasing fullback Michael Robinson. I understand that Robinson was due make a base salary of $2.5 million dollars in 2013 which would qualify him as one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL. By cutting Robinson, the Seahawks reportedly save $1 million of cap space this season. Having said this, the Seahawks are in “win now” mode and some think this season carries a “super bowl or bust” label. Robinson was a pro bowler two years ago and a pro bowl alternate last season. He is definitely the best option at fullback of players available to the Seahawks. By releasing Robinson, I believe you are weakening a very valuable position to Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I am holding out hope that no other team will sign Robinson for the money he was due to make and he will sign a new contract to come back to Seattle.

Of the players that were waived, three stick out in my mind; Winston Guy, Cooper Helfet, and Sean McGrath. Guy seemed to come on strong during the playoffs last season, playing in a limited role as a rookie. His spared play during the preseason could mean that the Seahawks coaching staff thinks Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, and Jeron Johnson showed enough to convince the front office that they can add great depth to the secondary by themselves. I would not be surprised however if Guy is retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The cuts of Helfet and McGrath together make me scratch my head. The Seahawks now only have two tight ends on the active roster (Zach Miller and Luke Willson) and I was certain one of these players would make the final roster. One of these guys will make the practice squad. It just makes sense. The depth at tight end is too weak not to carry one on the practice squad.

I am sad to see that Antoine Winfield was cut but at the same time I am excited. Winfield’s release tells me the Seahawks are confident in the young talent they have to fill Winfield’s shoes. I am excited to see Brady Quinn cut. He was very unimpressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Keeping Quinn would have been a wasted roster spot. Maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else (are you listening Bills and Jets fans?).

My Practice Squad: The Seahawks now have until the end of the weekend to fill their 8-man practice squad. Using only the players we waived today here are the 8 players I think the Seahawks should retain: Phil Bates, Winston Guy, Chris Harper, Jaye Howard, Rishaw Johnson, Ron Parker, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith.

 

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Safeties

22 Jul

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*This is part six of my 8-part Seahawks Training Camp series*

Current Safeties on Roster (6): Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Winston Guy, Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos, Ray Polk

At the end of training camp, it is likely that there will be only one safety that will get cut. Last season, Ray Polk was the only safety not on the Seahawks roster. Let’s take a quick look back at the impact the other five players had. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor were the starting safeties. Thomas made the pro bowl while Chancellor put up a season that was worthy of a 5-year, $35 million contract extension which he signed back in April. Winston Guy got playing time at the end of last season and showed off his incredible speed and ability to drop back into coverage during the playoffs. Jeron Johnson and Chris Maragos played exceptionally well in special teams, with Johnson returning a blocked punt for a touchdown against Dallas.

This Season the Seahawks return all five of their safeties from last season. Here is what I will be looking at during training camp.

Thomas and Chancellor are the starters and will see the most snaps in practice. The player I will have my eye on the closest is Winston Guy. Guy is the backup free safety to Earl Thomas and he is coming into his second season. Guy has the opportunity to prove how much he has learned from year one to year two during camp. I expect to see him get a lot of playing time during the preseason. If Thomas is lost to injury this season, Guy will step in to the starting lineup and will have to prove he is capable of filling his incredibly big shoes.

Ray Polk is the unknown man coming into training camp. Polk is an undrafted rookie from Idaho who had a strong rookie minicamp back in May, especially among the undrafted rookies. If Polk can survive the first couple weeks of camp, I think we will get a good long look at him at the end of training camp and how he performs in the preseason game against Oakland, where he will get to play most of the game.

Tomorrow I will take a look at the youngest position groups on the team, the linebackers.