Tag Archives: John Lotulelei

Seahawks/Panthers Preview

7 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

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

Kickoff: 10:00am

The 38th season of Seahawks football kicks off Sunday as the Seahawks head to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. Seattle leads the all-time series against Carolina 4-2. These two teams last met last October. Thanks to an errant pass by Cam Newton on 4th and goal, the Seahawks escaped with a 16-12 victory to improve their record to 3-2. It is very important for the Seahawks, this season more than any other, to take each game one at a time. We cannot afford to start slow like against Arizona last season because these early season games could come back to cost you big time at the end of the season heading into the playoffs. Here are some keys to this week’s game.

Given the handful of injuries and Bruce Irvin’s four-game suspension, I am most interested to see what our starting defensive unit looks like this week. Specifically, I am curious to know who will start at the “Leo” defensive end position. Chris Clemons has been ruled out by Coach Pete Carroll this week. Cliff Avril has been nursing a hamstring injury but he has been practicing this week. His status for Sunday’s game is still up in the air. Michael Bennett is also nursing an injury to his toe. I expect Bennett to play this week but he will see snaps at defensive tackle for most of the game. If Avril is unable to play, the starting defensive end will be O’Brien Schofield. I would be more comfortable having Schofield start over rookie Benson Mayowa simply because he has prior starting experience. He started at outside linebacker on a good Arizona Cardinals defense last season. I am not sure if Mayowa is ready to be thrown into the starting rotation. Mayowa would be best used exclusively on passing downs. I believe using Mayowa at defensive end and Schofield at outside linebacker on third down would be the best pass rushing option if Avril is unavailable. If Avril is available, our third down pass rush package could consist of Mayowa on the other side of the line with Schofield at outside linebacker.

The number one key for the Seahawks offense this week is avoiding a slow start. Last season when we opened up the season at Arizona, many including myself believed that we could handle the Cardinals easily which would entail jumping out to a strong, early lead. Instead the Seahawks scored only 3 points in the first half and lost the game after scoring only 16 total points. Avoiding a slow start in essence means limiting the Panthers to build any kind of momentum. If the Seahawks can score a minimum of 14 points in the first half, I will consider us to be in good shape. A sub-key to achieving this goal will be to control the tempo of the game and win the time of possession battle. In a week one situation, you do not want to give Cam Newton and the Panthers offense time to move the ball. If Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch can be effective in the run game, it bodes well for the Seahawks to control the time of possession battle and to jump out to an early lead.

One more thing to keep an eye out for this week is Jermaine Kearse on special teams. It was announced on Monday that Jermaine Kearse would get the first crack at filling Leon Washington’s shoes as the Seahawks kick returner. Kearse’s one kick return in the preseason was returned for a touchdown. That one kickoff return earned him the chance to be the Seahawks kick returner to start the regular season.  I am interested to see what the rotation will be if Kearse struggles. I would not be surprised to see Golden Tate to get the next chance at returning kicks. Tate will return punts on Sunday.

Like last year against the Panthers, the player that the Seahawks defense should be most worried about is quarterback Cam Newton. I predicted a Seahawks loss in Carolina last season, based on the notion that I thought Cam Newton was going to go off, throwing for multiple touchdowns and rushing for a significant amount of yards. Although Newton did not play well last season, especially against the Seahawks, the potential remains there for him to break out at any time. If we were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers later in the season, I would probably feel more confident in the Seahawks being able to beat them. In week one however, any outcome is possible regardless of who you we playing and where we are playing. The Seahawks defense must use their speed to slow Newton down and limit his running lanes if he is forced out of the pocket. If we are successful in taking Newton’s feet away we will definitely have a better chance to win. I am not expecting much out of our pass rush this week but if Newton can buy time and is going to scramble, the movement of our linebackers and secondary, not the defensive line, will be the key to our defense this week.

The Carolina Panthers have a very young, yet talented defense. Each level has one player that cannot go unnoticed this week. Along the defensive line is rookie Star Lotulelei. Star, the cousin of Seahawks linebacker John Lotulelei, was Carolina’s first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Lotulelei showed a lot of physicality during the preseason and beat out former Seahawk Colin Cole and fellow rookie Kawann Short for the second defensive tackle job. Lotulelei will be effective in stuffing the run if he can beat the man across from him. I expect the Panthers to line Lotulelei up against right guard J.R. Sweezy. In the second level the Panthers boast the 2012 defensive rookie of the year, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly led the Panthers in tackles last year and he does a great job of getting to the play. I am looking to see how Kuechly handles the zone-read option. The Seahawks had not installed the zone-read option when these two teams played last season. If the Seahawks are effective in fooling Kuechly, it will bode well for us extending our drives and scoring points. The man to watch in Carolina’s secondary is cornerback Josh Thomas. Thomas lost his starting job in the middle of last season and with the release of veteran Drayton Florence at the end of the preseason, Thomas earned his starting job back for the start of this season. Expect Sidney Rice to line up against Thomas this week and I believe Russell Wilson will try to test Thomas early and often by throwing to Rice in the first half.

One of the things I felt was crucial during the playoffs last season was the Seahawks mindset that every game was a win-or-go-home playoff situation. I think it would benefit us tremendously if we come out and show the same sense of urgency against the Panthers. If we put playoff level effort and show playoff level urgency in every regular season game, we will be better off in the long run.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys this week. With a game time temperature expected to be in the high 80’s or low 90’s, the Seahawks will most likely wear either white pants or grey pants this week. The Seahawks wore the blue jersey/grey pants combo in Carolina last season… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week. Sigh… Jeff Triplette is this week’s referee… This is the only game I’ll be watching from home in the first month of the season… I don’t like these 10am kickoffs. But it is the first week of the season so my adrenaline will be flowing all day Sunday… 2 games on NFL Red Zone in the afternoon: Packers/49ers and Cardinals/Rams. I get to watch and keep track of the entire NFC West this week and I’m pretty pumped about that… If anyone is interested in my television routine on a gameday where the Seahawks play on the road, here it is: NFL GameDay Morning on NFL Network from 6am-8am, ESPN Fantasy Now on ESPN2 from 8am-9am, FOX NFL Sunday from 9am-10am, the Seahawks game from 10am-1pm, NFL Red Zone from 1pm-4:30pm (the Seahawks game and Red Zone are flipped when the Seahawks play at 1pm), Football Night in America on NBC from 4:30pm-5:30pm, and Sunday Night Football following… Call me a fan or call me a fanatic… If the Seahawks lose and the 49ers win I am going to be pissed.

Prediction: A lot of my friends believe the Seahawks are going to blow out the Panthers. I think we will win but it will be a very close game. The Seahawks and Panthers will both get off to slow starts in the first half but the Seahawks ability to wear down the Panthers defense with long drives will be the difference. The Seahawks will score touchdowns; the Panthers will kick field goals. The Seahawks will head home 1-0 and will start preparation for a huge game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 16

Check back on Monday for my review of the Panthers game. Enjoy the weekend everybody. Welcome back football! Go Seahawks!

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Review: Seahawks 17, Packers 10

24 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks/Packers Preview

22 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is the most anticipated preseason game this season. On Friday night in front of a nationally televised audience, the Seahawks head to Green Bay to take on the Packers in a rematch of last year’s 14-12 Seahawks victory on Monday Night Football. The game was highlighted by Golden Tate’s disputed touchdown catch on the final play of the game. The play, ruled a simultaneous catch by Tate and defender M.D. Jennings, was awarded to the Seahawks even though Jennings appeared to have more control over the ball. The game did not have any effect on the Seahawks at the end of the season but a Green Bay win would have given the Packers the number two seed in the NFC playoffs and could have changed the landscape of how last season ended in the National Football League. There are some notable things to be watching in this game so let’s get right to it.

The starters will see the most playing time of the preseason this week. Both starting units will play into the third quarter on Friday night. What makes this noteworthy is our opponent. The Green Bay Packers are the defending NFC North champions and are expected by many to win their division once again in 2013 and compete to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII. For the starters to get the majority of their preseason playing time against the starting defense on a team that is also very talented is the best thing for the Seahawks. From this standpoint I am excited for two things specifically. I am excited to see how Russell Wilson handles the Green Bay defense and I am excited to see how our defense matches up against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers offense. If we can hold the Packers offense and keep our offense on the field, that can only be a sign of good things to come in the regular season.

With the trade of John Moffitt to the Denver Broncos, J.R. Sweezy has officially won the starting right guard spot. Although I am disappointed in the trade, I am glad we were able to get it done now. Every starting offensive line spot has now been solidified and the job now is to build continuity between these five guys. Sweezy is still a bit raw and I thought Moffitt was a better fit for the time being (which is why I am disappointed) but in the long run I think this will be good for the team. It will be interesting to see what kinds of blitz packages Green Bay will dial up, specifically in Sweezy’s direction. Do not be surprised to see Clay Matthews attempt to rush up the middle and through Sweezy. If Sweezy can maintain his ground, our offense will be in good shape.

I will have special interest in the starters and the overall playing time of certain Seahawks defenders this week. Benson Mayowa started at defensive end against Denver last week and could get the start again in Green Bay. We will see a lot of Mayowa and linebacker John Lotulelei as well as linebacker Allen Bradford. Bradford can play all three linebacker spots and will mainly be competing for the backup middle linebacker spot. Bradford has impressed throughout the preseason although he has not gained as much attention as Mayowa and Lotulelei. If Bradford can also impress on special teams Heath Farwell, Bradford’s primary competition, could be out of a job come time for roster cuts. Antoine Winfield is another man to watch. According to defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Winfield is currently the starting nickel corner in front of Walter Thurmond. An impactful game by Winfield could solidify his roster spot, a spot that was considered to be unstable during the first week of training camp.

For the Green Bay Packers I am mostly interested in their offense. Green Bay has some serious question marks along the offensive line considering starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Packers offensive line was a point of weakness last season. The Seahawks can confirm that given their 8 first half sacks of Aaron Rodgers in their matchup last season. According to the Packers official depth chart rookie David Bakhtiari is in line to start at left tackle in place of Bulaga on Friday night. Look for the Seahawks to send increased pressure to Bakhtiari’s side to see how he handles it. The Packers also drafted two rookie running backs this year. According to the Packers website DuJuan Harris is currently the starter but make sure to watch how Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin fit into Green Bay plans both in the backfield and on special teams.

Random Thoughts: I hope Golden Tate is ready to hear the boo birds. Packers fans still remember what happened last season and if social media is any indication, Tate will be showered with boos throughout the game. I hope we see Tate score a touchdown to see what kind of fun he has planned for the fans regarding his touchdown celebration… How many times will we see the replay of last year’s game during the broadcast? I say five… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week… Ian Eagle and Phil Simms have the call for CBS this week… No word yet on who the referee for this week’s game is… It’s too bad we’re playing in Green Bay during the preseason. Of all the regular season road games I have been to, I am waiting for the chance to see the Seahawks play at Lambeau. Maybe it will happen next season… I have my fantasy football draft on Sunday night. Here’s to an injury-free week of football!

Prediction: I think the game will go back and forth until the backups come into the game. I think the Packers will hold a 10 point lead at the time the starters exit the game and the Seahawks will close the gap with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. Unfortunately I think the Packers hold on for a victory this week and snap the Seahawks preseason winning streak.

Packers 31, Seahawks 27

Check back on Saturday for a review of the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 40, Broncos 10

18 Aug

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We are going to be just fine. That was the main thought that rolled through my mind at halftime of Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos. If Saturday was any indication, the Seahawks will be a strong Super Bowl contender this season. The starters carried the Seahawks to a 33-7 halftime lead on their way to a 40-10 victory. Here of some things to take out of Saturday night’s win.

Kearse Solidifies Roster Spot: After the injury to Percy Harvin it was widely believed that second year wide receiver Jermaine Kearse would move up the depth chart and would comfortably make the opening day roster. After Saturday’s game his roster spot has never been more comfortable. Kearse impressed on both offense and special teams against Denver. Kearse caught only one pass but it was a 12-yard touchdown that included perfect route execution; an out route to the corner of the endzone. Kearse also returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Jermaine Kearse could be a dark horse to be one of Russell Wilson’s deadliest weapons in 2013. His height, speed, and hands along with his exceptional special teams skills are tremendous assets to a team and coaching staff that values all of these traits to the highest level. I expect Kearse to see a lot of snaps with the first team offense this week during practice and it will be interesting to see what role he plays next week against Green Bay.

Fullback Confusion: It was announced earlier this week that wide receiver Phil Bates would be converted to fullback. After having only one fullback on the roster last year (Michael Robinson), the Seahawks suddenly have four fullbacks on the roster; Robinson, Bates, Spencer Ware, and Derrick Coleman who saw playing time at fullback on Saturday night. This position battle confuses me more than any other position battle. I think that next season would be an appropriate time to add youth to the position, a time where Michael Robinson could become expendable. There is no question in my mind the fullback job should belong to Robinson in 2013. He has been playing at a pro-bowl caliber level the past two seasons and continues to be one of the most respected players in the locker room. Playing time at fullback the next two weeks could be an indicator to show what direction the Seahawks are heading this season but anyone who thinks Robinson should be cut is crazy in my opinion.

Defense Shows Up: Even with the no-huddle offense there was little that could faze the 12th Man and the Seahawks starting defense. The first two Denver possessions resulted in a three-and-out and a fumble recovery. By the time the Broncos got the ball back for their third offensive drive, it was 10-0 Seattle. The starting pass rush still needs improvement but the secondary played incredible football. I was very impressed with Brandon Browner and Bobby Wagner. Browner returned a fumble 107 yards for a touchdown and Wagner made 7 tackles in the first half. For a lot of the game I felt like I was back in the 2012 season. Dominant defensive play by the starters made me feel very comfortable and optimistic about what is to come this season.

Rookie Stand-Outs: Benson Mayowa, John Lotulelei, and Allen Bradford continued their preseason success this week and linebacker Kyle Knox added his name to my short list of players to watch for the remainder of the preseason. Knox recorded 3 tackles and also sacked Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. With the first wave of roster cuts coming in the next week, these four players have earned the right to stick with the team through the preseason in my eyes.

Super Bowl Preview?: All I will say is this. I think we proved a lot tonight that we can compete with a Super Bowl contender, even if the starters only played one half. If we see Denver in the Super Bowl I think we can easily handle them.

Random Thoughts: It was good to be at the Hawks Nest Bar before the game. Gameday’s are crazy in there… The new bag check policy was not as bad as I thought it would be. Even though I didn’t have a bag there was no problem getting into the stadium… The Seahawks have new fireworks during pregame introductions this year. Not sure if I like them or not. No loud cannon which I am a fan of… The Seahawks wore blue pants with their blue jerseys. Get used to it. We probably won’t see another uniform combination at home all season… It was great to see Peyton Manning play live most likely for one last time. Maybe I’ll get to see him against the Seahawks in New Jersey in February… To the jackass about 15 rows below me who was so wild and out of control you pushed a handicapped woman into the aisle, hitting her head on the concrete steps and having the paramedics called to shut down the entire aisle during the end of the first half and through halftime, thanks a lot. Hope not to see you at the Oakland game in two weeks.

I will be back on the blog next Thursday with a preview of next week’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 31, Chargers 10

9 Aug

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After getting off to a slow start, the Seahawks warmed up and put the pedal to the metal. The Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-10 in their preseason debut on Thursday night. Here are a few observations from last night’s game.

Starting Defense Looked Shaky: The Chargers started the game with the ball and Philip Rivers drove the ball 74 yards on 13 plays before settling for a field goal. Even without Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks starting pass rush was virtually nonexistent in the first quarter. Third and fourth down defense was especially frustrating. The Seahawks were unable to stop the Chargers opening drive, allowing them to convert a fourth and short which ultimately led to the field goal. One highlight from the first quarter was Richard Sherman playing a pass that fell incomplete through the endzone. Nevertheless, the starting unit needs to show me more and next week at home is a perfect place to show improvement.

Advantage Jackson: When you throw for 128 yards and two touchdowns in one half and have a nearly perfect passer rating, you will earn my praise. That is what you did tonight Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson, tonight’s third string quarterback, had one of the more impressive nights of any Seahawk. His touchdown passes to Stephen Williams and Derrick Coleman were right on the money and, in my opinion, have earned him the chance to back-up Russell Wilson next week against Denver. Brady Quinn did throw a touchdown pass tonight, however his touchdown drive started inside the red zone. I was hoping to see Quinn put together a solid lengthy drive regardless of whether we scored or not. I think Quinn will need to show more in order to win the back-up quarterback job. For now, Jackson deserves the chance to play with the number two’s.

Names to Keep an Eye On: Three Seahawks caught my eye on Thursday night. Stephen Williams was Seattle’s leading receiver, catching two balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. His cuts were impressive as he was able to create separation with his defender to make the catches. Williams should be seriously considered to be the fifth or sixth receiver to make the team. On defense, two undrafted rookies really impressed me. Linebacker John Lotulelei made a pair of tackles and always seemed to be around the play. He showed great instincts and was not afraid to go after the ball carrier. One play stuck in my mind. Lotulelei had a chance to drive Chargers running back Fozzy Whittaker backward and strip the ball, but Lotulelei stayed low and made the wrap-around tackle. This was a perfect display of smart fundamental tackling. Benson Mayowa made up for Seattle’s weak first half pass rush by adding a sack of his own in the second half. Mayowa showed great speed and was very hard for the Chargers offensive line to contain. Definitely keep an eye on these three guys as the preseason continues.

Mathews vs. Whittaker: If I were a Chargers fan, I would think starting running back Ryan Mathews might be dangerously close to losing his job. Whittaker, the 2nd year running back from Texas, showed incredible quickness and was sneaky in getting through holes on his way to running for 38 yards on 14 carries tonight. His size and quickness reminded me of New Orleans running back Darren Sproles. If Whittaker performs like he did tonight Ryan Mathews, who ran for a measly 19 yards tonight, could start the season on the bench. Whittaker will definitely be a part of the San Diego offense come September.

Random Thoughts: Christine Michael reminds me of former Washington Husky running back Louis Rankin. Michael likes to stutter and shuffle his feet at the line of scrimmage and wait for holes to open up… One other note on Michael, his spins to attempt to break tackles have the potential for him to be scary dangerous this season… Okay one final note on Michael, it’s too bad he didn’t get the chance to run back a kickoff Thursday night. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do next week… The Seahawks ran no zone-read option plays with Russell Wilson on the field. It will be interesting to see if we open up the playbook a little bit next week or if we’ll save it for closer to the regular season… The Seahawks wore blue pants with their white jerseys, a combination that was unsuccessful in both the preseason and regular season in 2012… When preseason games are on local television you see a lot of the same advertisements. The award for most annoying commercial goes to the “anything you can do I can do better” Bing commercial. If you watched the game you know what I am talking about… Malcolm Smith got called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver tonight. Smith’s helmet hit the receiver below the shoulder. Hopefully the referees are shaking the cobwebs off because those kinds of calls are going to tick a lot of people off if they are called once the regular season starts… One of the best sounds of the night was hearing the Seahawks fans in attendance chant “SEA!…. HAWKS!” in the background of the broadcast and hearing Chargers fans boo. I don’t think I’ve seen or heard more Seahawks fans at a road game in my life… Countdown to the first game at CenturyLink: 8 days!

I will be quite busy this week as I have some school work to finish up and I am heading to Eastern Washington in the middle of next week so I cannot guarantee I will hop on the blog during the week. If not, check back next Friday as I preview next week’s game against the Denver Broncos. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Linebackers

23 Jul

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

Current Linebackers on Roster (12): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith, Heath Farwell, Mike Morgan, Allen Bradford, Korey Toomer, Kyle Knox, Ty Powell, John Lotulelei, Craig Wilkins

Leroy Hill spent 8 seasons as a starting linebacker for the Seahawks dating back to their NFC Championship season in 2005. Hill was not re-signed for the 2013 season. Instead, the three projected starters this season, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, and Malcolm Smith, have the same amount of experience COMBINED than Hill had alone. The Seahawks linebackers are the youngest group of any unit on the roster but that does not mean they are the least talented. Here are some things to watch in the linebacker group during training camp.

With the news that Bruce Irvin is moving to outside linebacker, it will be interesting to see how he fits in in the linebacker rotation. Irvin will most likely still be used in passing situations and he will be a big complement to Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Chris Clemons when healthy. Having Irvin in the second level of the defense could really benefit the entire defense. Irvin looked a bit lost as a defensive end last season and I think it will be more of a natural fit to have him rush the passer from the outside linebacker spot.

“I’m ready.” That was the tweet Malcolm Smith sent to Bobby Wagner yesterday afternoon. Interpret it anyway you want but I think there is only one true meaning. Smith is ready to compete for the other starting outside linebacker spot. Smith will most likely compete with Mike Morgan and Korey Toomer for the job. This is the most interesting position battle to me because this is the only spot in my eyes that could still be considered up for grabs. During practice on Thursday, I will be focused on this position group more than any other position on the team.

Tomorrow I conclude my Seahawks Training Camp preview series with a look at the cornerbacks. Go Seahawks!