Tag Archives: Josh Gabel

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

1 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

The Seahawks begin the month of November at home this week as they renew their old AFC West rivalry, hosting the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks are 4-3 and are coming off a crucial win in Carolina last week. The Raiders have had a very lackluster season thus far and they are the only winless team left in the National Football League at 0-7. Last week the Raiders fell on the road to the Cleveland Browns 23-13. Oakland leads the all-time series with Seattle 29-24. In their last regular season meeting the Raiders demolished the Seahawks 33-3 in October 2010. That was head coach Pete Carroll’s first season in Seattle and since losing to the Raiders in 2010 the Seahawks hold a .606 winning percentage. Meanwhile in the exact same span, the Raiders winning percentage is a mere .317. Here are some things I will be looking for out of the Seahawks this week, as well as a special report on the Oakland Raiders.

I have pleaded for the Seahawks to get quarterback Russell Wilson more involved in the running game the past couple of weeks but this week I do not think it will be necessary for Wilson to run for the Seahawks offense to be effective. Instead, this may finally be the week that we see Wilson spread the ball around and get rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood their most action of the season. Richardson and Norwood combined for 5 targets last week. Both Wilson and Coach Carroll have stated that they hope to get both of these receivers more involved this week, but I am interested to see if they use them to accentuate their specific abilities. Could Richardson be used on fly sweeps and bubble screens much like how Percy Harvin was used? I think it is definitely possible. Could we see Wilson try to stretch the field and let Norwood use his size as an advantage to catch deep balls? I think Wilson may look Norwood’s direction deep at least once this week. If these two receivers combine for 75 or more receiving yards I think the Seahawks are in for a very successful day through the air.

At the end of last week’s game the Seahawks dialed up the pressure on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and it worked like a charm in preserving the victory. This week the Seahawks defense needs to stick to that blueprint. At home in 2014 the Seahawks have averaged just over 1.5 sacks per game. This number must improve. After three home games last season the Seahawks averaged just above 2.5 sacks per game. Expect to see Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright blitz on early downs this week and keep an eye on Wright who will be back starting at outside linebacker. If Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr has time inside the pocket it will be interesting to see how his reads progress in the middle of the field. The Seahawks will start rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker this week, who has seen little playing time on defense this season. Coyle is a solid tackler who tries to get in on every play but he has a long way to go to challenge for Bobby Wagner’s permanent starting job. It is not unreasonable to think Carr will try to throw short passes in the middle of the field to test Coyle and if Carr can catch the Seahawks off-guard, those passes could turn into large chunks of yards for the Raiders.

There is one major thing the Seahawks absolutely cannot do this week; overlook the Raiders. The Raiders may be 0-7, they may be the worst team in the NFL on paper, but there may be potential for this being a trap game. Remember what happened when the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into CenturyLink Field last season? The 12th Man thought we would just roll right over them. Instead, the Buccaneers jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead putting all Seahawks fans on edge. The Seahawks cannot play relaxed this week and the fans must be just as loud and intense this week as our other games this season. The Raiders have only lost two games so far this season by more than two scores, including two close games against AFC powers New England and San Diego. Oakland will absolutely get up for this week’s game, the question is will the Seahawks force them to sit right back down or will Oakland be able to put up a legitimate fight.

This week is a very special game for me. One of my best friends, Josh Gabel, is a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan. For the past several years I have taken him to every Raiders/Seahawks preseason game but we have never had the opportunity to see our teams play each other in the regular season. There may be no better person I know to give an in-depth analysis of the Oakland Raiders than Josh. Instead of me giving you a paragraph on the Raiders and giving you an “X-Factor player to watch” this week I have instead invited Josh to be a guest contributor in this week’s preview. Here is what Josh has to say about his Raiders, along with what he is looking for in this week’s game:

At 0-7, the Oakland Raiders head to Seattle in the midst of a 13 game losing streak and an all but assured 11th consecutive non-winning season. A trip to the Clink sure doesn’t seem to be the solution to the Raiders’ woes. After two years of salary cap hell, Oakland brought in proven winners and recognizable (albeit past-their prime) names – guys like defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew – but have yet to see a return on their investment. With 13 new starters on both sides of the ball, this group has failed to mesh, costing head coach Dennis Allen his job and leaving general manager Reggie McKenzie’s future beyond this season in doubt.

The O in Oakland has gone missing so far in 2014. The Raiders offense is putting up a meager 15.0 PPG, which is good for 31st in the league. Many of these struggles can be traced to an unwillingness to run the ball.  Oakland is averaging only 69.6 rushing yards per game, which should be attributed more play-calling than ineffectiveness. Despite Darren McFadden’s respectable 4.0 yards per carry, Oakland passes 67% of the time. On a team with no playmakers at the skill positions (save for the occasional Andre Holmes highlight), passing the ball at such a high rate is a recipe for losing. Rookies Derek Carr (leads all rookie QBs in passing yards, TDs, and QB Rating) & Gabe Jackson (7 starts on a top 5 pass blocking offensive line) along with the aforementioned Holmes are bright spots for the team’s future. The coaching staff may trust Carr with the keys to the offense, but Oakland will continue to stall without a commitment to the run. Things don’t get much better on the other side of the ball.

Oakland is near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive category. They can’t stop the run (130.1 YPG) or get after the QB (7 sacks, tied for 29th). With all of the money McKenzie gave to Tuck, Woodley, and Antonio Smith, it is very disappointing to see such a lack of production. The lone bright spot on this defense is that number 5 overall pick Khalil Mack has lived up to his high draft so far, but not necessarily as expected. Coming out of the University of Buffalo, Mack was known being a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage. Though Mack has yet to register a sack, he has been credited with 22 QB pressures and is Pro Football Focus’ highest rated linebacker against the run, with 8.5 tackles for a loss. It will be interesting to see if Mack can down Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. With the offense struggling, the Raiders defense has to get off the field more; Oakland is tied for last in the league on 3rd down, giving up a 48% conversion rate. The Raiders have to find a way to pressure Russell Wilson without losing containment, a task that is much easier said than done.

Whether it’s “Play like Carcass for Marcus [Mariota]” or (my preference) “Down the Pooper for [Amari] Cooper”, Raiders fans are looking forward to May’s draft earlier than ever before. A win in Seattle would do wonders for Reggie McKenzie’s future as head of football decisions. Is it likely? No. But, rest assured, Sunday is going to feel like a good old fashioned AFC West showdown.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy jerseys and navy pants this week. Oakland will sport their classic white jersey/silver pants combo… Kevin Harlan will provide the play-by-play and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon will provide the color commentary for CBS this week… Ed Hochuli and his gigantic biceps will do the officiating this week… This will be the first “cold” home game of the season. I recommend sweatshirts and jeans… Two reminders for the 12’s this week. First remember this weekend is daylight savings time. Turn your clocks back one hour and get an extra hour of sleep. Second, remember this week is a 1:25pm kickoff. Give yourself a little extra time to get to the stadium but shame on you if you are not in your seats by kickoff… Given the circumstances of this special Raiders/Seahawks regular season matchup, we have a full slate ahead of us on Sunday. Tentative schedule includes McDonald’s breakfast, being at the bar around the time they open between 8 and 8:30, the game, then dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s going to be a great day… Walter Jones will become the 11th Seahawk to be inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. The ceremony will take place at halftime. What is interesting is that Jones will be the first player to have his number retired BEFORE having his name put in the Ring of Honor. This is the first Ring of Honor ceremony I will get to be a part of since I became a season ticket holder in 2006 (Cortez Kennedy Was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2006 but I was unable to attend the game). This season the Seahawks have had a pattern of having a 12th Man Flag raiser that is somehow associated to the opposing team or opposing city. With the Raiders in town I expect a former Seahawk from the 1980’s to raise the flag this week. I have no specific guess though… With a win the Seahawks will close out the first half of the season with a 5-3 record.

Prediction: Honestly, I see the Seahawks rolling in this game. Oakland may be able to keep it close in the first half but Seattle will eventually run away with this game. Marshawn Lynch will run for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson will add two passing touchdowns and the Seahawks defense will force 3 Raiders turnovers. The Seahawks will get to 5-3 and we will get ready to face the New York Giants next week.

Seahawks 33, Raiders 14

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

28 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

For the 8th straight season and the 3rd straight at home, the Seahawks conclude the preseason against their former division rivals the Oakland Raiders. In their last 7 preseason meetings the Seahawks are 6-1. Seattle’s only loss came in 2010 in Oakland. Last week the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-10 while the Raiders lost at home to the Chicago Bears 34-26. The last preseason game is mainly for players who are on the bubble to make the week one roster to show what they’ve got to impress the coaching staff and convince them they deserve the chance to be on the team. Here are some things to watch on Thursday night.

If you are watching the game on television this week and want to watch Russell Wilson and the rest of the starters, make sure your TV is on right at 7. Don’t blink either because you might miss it. The starters are only expected to see a series this week (if they play at all) and then the backups will play the rest of the game. As is the case with most of the other teams around the league, the last preseason game is a tryout for the backups to prove that they are one of the best 53 men on the roster. There are several guys who are fighting for a Seahawks uniform come September but I spotlight five players to keep an eye out for on Thursday night. I believe these players are on the bubble to make the final roster and a strong performance on Thursday night could be the difference between a trip with the Seahawks to Carolina for week one and perhaps a spot on the waiver wire.

Spencer Ware: Ware is battling Michael Robinson for the starting fullback job. I do not expect Ware to beat Robinson out but he will get a good look on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if Seattle keeps Ware on the active roster or if they release him, potentially with the hope they can place him on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Cooper Helfet: With the Seahawks weak tight end corps, Helfet is battling Sean McGrath for the 3rd and final tight end spot. Helfet’s numbers in the preseason have almost mirrored McGrath’s. In three preseason games, Helfet has three catches for 47 yards while McGrath has three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Helfet needs to outperform McGrath this week and if he does he could win a spot on the roster.

Rishaw Johnson: Among a position group filled with young talent, Johnson may be an odd man out. Johnson’s main competition at offensive guard are rookies Jared Smith and Ryan Seymour. The mistakes guard Lemuel Jeanpierre made against Green Bay may have raised Johnson’s stock.

Heath Farwell: If Farwell gets cut it would come as a shock to me. It is possible though. Farwell is a tremendous asset on special teams and his roster status may not come down to his play at linebacker. If the coaching staff thinks someone can make a stronger impact then Farwell on special teams, he will most likely be cut come the end of the weekend.

Jaye Howard: Howard remains a bubble player to me even after the news that Jesse Williams has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the 2013 season with a knee injury. The emergence of Jordan Hill I believe will determine if Howard is a Seahawk this season or not. Hopefully Howard will get a good amount of playing time this week to prove he can be solid depth to a defensive tackle group that has all of a sudden become one of the weaker groups on this team from a depth perspective.

The Oakland Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season. They have a new quarterback in Matt Flynn, whom they traded for from Seattle during the offseason but this week the spotlight is on another Raiders quarterback who is suddenly a strong candidate to start Oakland’s first game. Due to arm soreness (where have I heard this before…) Flynn will not play on Thursday night. Instead Terrelle Pryor will start for the Raiders. Pryor is viewed as a lock to be the backup quarterback in Oakland this season but due to poor play and injury by Flynn, Pryor is now in a position to make his case to be the Raiders starting quarterback this season. It would be the second time in as many years that the presumed starter, Flynn, would be beat out by one of his backups. I think that Pryor will see an extended amount of playing time and if he is successful in moving the ball I predict he will be Oakland’s starter week one.

When you are a 4-12 team and still in rebuilding mode you are going to have a plethora of weaknesses on your team. For the Raiders, no weakness is greater than along the offensive line. The Raiders lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer to a torn triceps earlier in the preseason. Rookie Menelik Watson will start at left tackle for Oakland Thursday night. As sad as it may be to say, even though Veldheer arguably Oakland’s best offensive lineman, it is skeptical to believe Veldheer would be good enough to be Seattle’s starting RIGHT tackle. The running game will be my focus for Oakland this week. I am not expecting a whole lot out of running backs Rashad Jennings and Jeremy Stewart but if they can move the ball my optimism would grow if I was a Raiders fan heading into the regular season.

Random Thoughts: With this being the final game preseason game comes my annual five dollar bet on the game with my Raiders friend Josh. I have never lost and he has never seen the Raiders win in Seattle. I expect to win again this season. If we can beat Denver by 30 at home during the preseason, I think this will be an easy bet to win… The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants most likely this week… The weather forecast looks bleak, even for a preseason game. I’ve seen a game time temperature of 71 degrees and a 40 percent chance of rain… It’s going to be a busy day Thursday. On tap: lunch at Dixie’s BBQ in Bellevue, pre-gaming at a bar downtown, getting into the stadium right as the gates open so I can watch warm-ups and Josh can get autographs at the Raiders tunnel, and finally the game… My friend James is also taking his girlfriend Christine to her first game. The best part? They are sitting two rows down and three seats to the left of me. That will be a lot of fun I imagine… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call for Q13 FOX this week… No word on the referee… The starting defense will be introduced this week during pregame introductions… Sidney Rice is the only Seahawk on my fantasy team and he is my #3 wide receiver… I think I like the Marshawn Lynch “Madden 25” commercial than the one Russell Wilson is in. Lynch is just a goofier guy and the advertisement he is in is slightly more ridiculous… This is your final warm-up, 12th Man. Make sure you shake the rust off on Thursday because the next time we all get together it will be to break the Guinness world record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.” (I broke that story, you know). I’m not trying to overlook the Raiders game but I’m just saying make sure you know what is on deck for the next game.

Prediction: The game will get off to a slow start but Tarvaris Jackson, Brady Quinn, and Christine Michael will warm-up and score multiple touchdowns. The defense will feed off the 12th Man and will not have any trouble stopping Oakland’s running game. Overall, I expect this game to be a cakewalk and could be over by halftime.

Seahawks 37, Raiders 10

My game review will be posted Friday afternoon. Check back this weekend for an analysis of the Seahawks final roster cuts. Then a week from this Saturday be sure to check back for my preview of “Back to Football” weekend and our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/49ers Preview

17 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Site: Candlestick Park (San Francisco, California)

Kickoff: 5:20pm

The Seahawks conclude their road slate of division games on Thursday night against the defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks enter the game with a 4-2 record and are coming off a thrilling 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday. The 49ers are also 4-2 and are coming off an embarrassing loss to the New York Giants 26-3 in what was a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. The all-time series between these two teams is tied 13-13. Here is what I will be looking for down in San Francisco on Thursday night in this crucial game.

This biggest key for Russell Wilson this week will be limiting turnovers. The Seahawks will be going up against the best defense they have faced all season and much like the guys we have on defense, the 49ers have a lot of talented weapons that can do everything from rushing the passer, stopping the run, and intercepting passes thrown into the secondary. Honestly, I expect Wilson to struggle this week. Wilson always preaches preparation and how being prepared translates to how well he performs on the field. The Seahawks have only had 4 days to prepare for San Francisco, and I don’t think the factors of this game such as limited preparation, travel, and tough opponent are in Wilson’s favor. I think Wilson will take chances down the field like he did last week but he will not have the same success rate. I will predict Russell Wilson will throw for one touchdown and one interception against this tough 49ers defensive unit.

I hope the Seahawks will try to establish the running game early and if Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin are unable to get things going consistently, Russell Wilson will be forced to throw more than the coaching staff would like him to. If Lynch can put up numbers like he did in the first couple weeks of the season, our offense will be in good shape. I get this feeling that Lynch is due to burst out and run for a couple gains of at least 40 yards. It may be tough this week but I would never count it against him. There was a drive against New England where the Seahawks used Robert Turbin for four straight plays. I do not know if it was a package specifically designed for Turbin or if we were just giving Lynch a rest but I liked switching up the personnel. I think if the Seahawks use Turbin in a more expanded role, we can confuse the 49ers defense and we will have more success running the ball in this game.

Something that I think needs to be preached that may be overlooked by other fans is the fact that this game is a primetime game on the road. Why do Seahawks fans love going to Sunday Night, Monday Night and Thursday Night games so much? It is because we are the only game going on at that time, we are being broadcast all around the country, and we want to prove to the rest of the country that we have the best fans and the best home-field advantage in the National Football League. This time however, the Seahawks are on the road which means it is the “49er Faithful” that has all of these things on their side. To be effective on the road in primetime, we need to make a statement early. Whether this means we convert a big play or we score we need to keep the 49ers fans silent early and often. If we can do this, we will have an even greater chance of coming home 5-2.

The San Francisco 49ers have gotten off to a strong start this season after a surprising 13-3 campaign in 2011. At the forefront is the 49ers defense led by middle linebacker Patrick Willis and pass-rush extraordinaire Aldon Smith. San Francisco is giving up an average of just under 16 points per game and has given up an average of only 9.7 points in their last three games. If the Seahawks offensive line has trouble pass blocking, especially since James Carpenter and Paul McQuistan will play left guard and right guard respectively, the 49ers may have their way with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I think a successful game for the Seahawks would be to limit San Francisco to three sacks or less. To be honest, I think a more reasonable estimate and prediction would be that the 49ers will sack Russell Wilson 5 or 6 times on Thursday night. The man I will be keeping the keenest eye on this week will be NaVarro Bowman. Bowman leads San Francisco in tackles with 60 on the season, averaging 10 per game. As an outside linebacker, Bowman does an exceptional job of scouting out where the play is developing, especially when the Seahawks line up in packages sporting slot receivers or multiple tight ends. If we can get Bowman stuck in traffic, the Seahawks could put together decent sized chunks of yardage on their drives.

The San Francisco offense is the biggest question mark in my eyes. Quarterback Alex Smith is having another solid season so far, completing 67.7 percent of his passes and throwing 4 more touchdowns than interceptions (8 touchdowns, 4 interceptions). I think the biggest threat on offense for the 49ers is their cornucopia of wide receivers. Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Randy Moss all have the potential to make big plays but the man I am scared most of is their offseason acquisition Mario Manningham. Manningham will most likely line up against Richard Sherman this week and because of all of the chatter that Sherman has stirred this week, I would not be surprised to see Smith try to test him by throwing to Manningham. Having said this, I have full confidence that the “Legion of Boom” will be able to handle the 49ers receivers. Smith will complete passes and make solid gains from time to time, but I fully expect the Seahawks secondary to make sure that there are no gains of 25+ yards this week.

One more brief note, 49ers kicker David Akers has been struggling recently. If the 49ers are stuck in long field goal range, Akers may not be as effective. The Seahawks must take advantage of these opportunities and the field position given to them, especially if Akers struggles.

Random Thoughts: This will be my second Seahawks road trip of the season. I have seen 5 straight road losses live… The weather is supposed to be nice on Thursday night with a game-time temperature in the mid to high 70’s. Even though it’s a night game maybe I’ll come back home with one of my famous redhead sunburns… Candlestick is the worst stadium I have ever been to. Having said this I am tagging along for the Jaguars/Raiders game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland on Sunday with my best friend Josh, so maybe that opinion will change soon… Let me make this point very clear. If there is one thing I hate more than the San Francisco 49ers it is the fans of the San Francisco 49ers. They are hands down the rudest fans in the NFL; at least that I have witnessed and dealt with live. I expect way more drunks in the stands at the Stick on Thursday night since they’ve had all day to drink in the parking lot… My weekly uniform prediction: I have heard rumblings on Twitter that the Seahawks are going to wait to wear their grey alternate uniforms until December. With this in mind, my guess is white jersey/grey pants… If I don’t make it back home assume I’m in a San Francisco hospital recovering from stab wounds or gunshot wounds. Another person got hurt attending a 49ers home game last week. I am astonished these incidents keep on happening. For as sad as they are it is almost laughable to me that security cannot do the one job they are trained to do… If you have not seen the hilarious picture of Richard Sherman trash talking Tom Brady after last week’s game here it is:

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I looked at this picture and laughed out loud for a good while. Something about Sherman’s facial expression cracks me up. Just another reason why he is my favorite Seahawk… I’ve got a dinner bet on this game. Although I love to cook it’d be nice to actually win a bet for once. Your move, Seahawks. Help me out here… Hopefully I can get on national NFL Network broadcast this week. That would be pretty cool. Keep an eye out for me ;).

Prediction: I am 1-1 seeing the Seahawks play live in San Francisco. Here are the scores of the games I’ve seen:

2007: Seahawks 23, 49ers 3

2011: 49ers 33, Seahawks 17

This game will be a defensive duel. The Seahawks have been in every game at the end all season long and that will not change on Thursday night. One of the primary reasons why the Seahawks struggled in San Francisco last season was they could not put pressure on Alex Smith and force him to commit turnovers. The winner of the turnover battle wins this game and with this being a defensive duel, there will be multiple turnovers. At the end of the day the Seahawks win the turnover battle 3-2 and come home with sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

Seahawks 16, 49ers 10

I will not have access to a computer until late Sunday night when I get home from the Bay Area. Expect two posts early next week. I will post my review of the Seahawks/49ers game most likely Monday afternoon. Also, just like I did with my trip to Arizona last month I will chronicle my weekend in San Francisco in a detailed post. It will surely be a must-read. Look for that post most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Seahawks!

“SEATTLE SEAHAWKS GINGER FROOOO!!!”- Drunk 49ers fan at Candlestick in awe of my afro from last year’s game.

Review: Seahawks 21, Raiders 3

31 Aug

It would have been better if we shut them out. Nevertheless I am extremely satisfied to write that the Seahawks defeated the Oakland Raiders Thursday night by a score of 21-3. The Seahawks finish the preseason a perfect 4-0 while the Raiders end the preseason at 1-3. There is a bit for me to touch on, and I’ll start with the brief play of the starting units.

Wilson showed signs of rookie jitters: Although Russell Wilson performed fairly Thursday night, there were a couple of plays I’m sure he would like to have back. There seemed to be a breakdown of communication on one play between him and Golden Tate. I don’t know if Wilson let the pass get away from him or if Tate ran the wrong route, but the pass sailed incomplete. It would have been an Oakland interception if there was a defender in the vicinity but there wasn’t. Another pass, which had me shaking my head, was a play-action rollout to the right. Wilson then targeted tight end Kellen Winslow and sailed the ball over his head. Winslow wasn’t more than ten yards straight ahead of Wilson, and it is a throw I’ve seen Wilson make numerous times in practice. I consider Russell Wilson’s 5/11 for 72 yards to be fair, but I would have liked to see the Seahawks get into the endzone. The only points registered in the first quarter were off a 25-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. Wilson committed no turnovers which is definitely a plus. Since his interception in the Tennessee game, Wilson has gone three games without a turnover. That is great momentum heading into the regular season.

I call out Irvin, he steps up: When I posted the halftime score on Facebook, I noted that I wanted to see more involvement from Bruce Irvin in the second half. That is exactly what he did. Irvin recorded 1.5 sacks and had a quarterback pressure in the second half. His countermoves seemed to be working quite well but you have to take into account it was against Oakland back-ups. Like with Russell Wilson’s lack of turnovers, it is good to have momentum in his direction going to the regular season.

No notable stat lines at WR: No wide receiver overly impressed Thursday night. With the exception of running back Vai Taua catching balls out of the backfield, no receiver had more than two catches. Tight end Cooper Helfet scored his second touchdown of the preseason and Kris Durham had a nice catch heading towards the sidelines for 25 yards. No bubble receiver made significant strides to lock down a roster spot. Going off of this headline…

Running game was a huge point of emphasis: Although the ratio of run plays to pass plays was narrow, it seemed like the Seahawks were trying to run the ball as much as they could. In the second half for example, the Seahawks ran 22 rush plays and 13 passing plays. The Seahawks ran the ball 63% of their second half plays compared to 50% in the first half. Kregg Lumpkin got the bulk of the carries, running for 71 yards on 20 carries. It will be interesting to see how offensive plays are split up between rush and pass, especially when Marshawn Lynch is on the field.

Portis sees expanded playing time: Josh Portis entered the game with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter. Portis got double the amount of playing time I was hoping to see him get but he did not do as good of a job as I would have liked to see. Portis finished the night 1/6 for 10 yards in the air, and had 4 rushes for 23 yards. Those rushes were more like scrambles, as Portis did not seem to locate his targets very well. Portis stood in the pocket for a good amount of time and it didn’t look to me like he bailed from the pocket prematurely, but his rushes were definitely not designed. It is good to have another mobile quarterback in case of emergency, but Josh Portis has a long way to go to make the 12th Man comfortable, should he see playing time in the regular season.

Oakland as a whole did not look like anything special: For starters, I would have liked to have seen Carson Palmer attempt a pass but that was not the case. The starting offense only played one series and could not get anything going. I believe the idea that you don’t want to take too many risks in the final preseason game but any Raiders fan in attendance should have walked away very disappointed. Not only did Palmer not throw a pass, but Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Denarius Moore all did not even suit up. The Raiders only managed three points in the final minutes; supplied but backup kicker Eddy Carmona (Sebastian Janikowski didn’t even suit up!). The Oakland depth is not very talented in my opinion. Their best performer was linebacker Nathan Stupar, who made 11 tackles. Offensively, Mike Goodson was the leading rusher (26 yards on 8 carries) and Eddie McGee was their leading receiver (3 catches for 36 yards). Both Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor looked rusty and/or conservative. In Pryor’s case, his best plays were made after he was flushed out of the pocket and was scrambling. Like I posted in my game preview, if the Raiders get hurt on offense they will definitely be in trouble this season.

Random Thoughts: The highlight in the stands was a guy in the row in front of me and two seats to the left. He had just bought a new white Seahawks jersey and in the first quarter, the lady sitting next to us accidentally spilled her entire tray of nachos down his back. He seemed to be a good sport about it and they even exchanged phone numbers, as she wanted to pay to have the jersey dry cleaned. I felt really bad for him but initially I had a hard time fighting giggles. A couple sprays of Shout should get that gross pump cheese right out… Russell Wilson’s ovation was great when the offense was introduced. It was by far the loudest of any starter. I can only imagine what it will sound like in the regular season… Got two more autographs on the visor; linebacker K.J. Wright and long snapper Clint Gresham. My buddy Josh scored the best John Hancock between the both of us, as he got 3-time super bowl winning quarterback Jim Plunkett to sign his Raiders football… I paid $19 for two slices of pizza and a bottle of water inside the stadium. If anyone wants to argue why you think that is a reasonable price please give me your best shot. Absolutely ridiculous… Josh and I hung out at King Street Bar and Oven before the game. The beer was lukewarm and their house specialty the “Hawk Shot” is incredibly sweet. It was like drinking Kool-Aid… The weather was very comfortable. Not muggy up at the seats either. That was a nice change… Nobody overly annoying around us Thursday night, although the lady who spilled her nachos was not very knowledgeable, as she was cheering for starters in the second half, well after they had left the game… A couple of emotional thoughts from Thursday’s game: The Seahawks honored George Hickman before the national anthem with a moment of silence. Also, in the second half a deployed soldier surprised his family at the game and was greeted to a loud ovation. It was a great sight to see… Six Washington State Olympians raised the 12th Man flag. The most notable athlete was boxer Queen Underwood… I went on another Seahawks apparel binge after the game. I bought a new sweatshirt. It looks really really good on me (ladies)!

So that’s a wrap on the preseason. Tomorrow the coaching staff and front office have until 6pm to cut the roster down to 53 players. I am planning on having the roster posted tomorrow night and will explain my thoughts on who is staying and who is leaving.

The Seahawks will most likely take tomorrow off and will be at practice later this weekend as they start game planning and preparation for the season opener on September 9th against the Arizona Cardinals.

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

30 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks conclude the 2012 preseason Thursday night when the Oakland Raiders come to town to battle the Seahawks. This is the seventh straight year the Seahawks finish the preseason against the Raiders. The Seahawks have gone 5-1 against Oakland during this stretch. The final preseason game is meant for the backups fighting for a roster spot to show the coaching staff that they deserve to make the cut. This storyline is not the focus this year for the Seahawks however, as Russell Wilson has been named our starting quarterback and will start Thursday night. It is not known how much playing time he will see but I don’t expect it to be more than three drives. Here is what I will be focusing on Thursday night.

Russell Wilson will make his first start since being named the Seahawks starting quarterback. I do not expect him to play for long but I expect the offense to move the ball and be able to score points with Wilson leading the way. The Seahawks scored on each of their first six possessions last week against Kansas City. At home, the Seahawks should not have a big problem being able to move the ball. Oakland however has a very fast and talented defense. I want to see Wilson scramble and see what happens when that fast Oakland defense chases after him. In terms of the other quarterbacks, Matt Flynn will most likely play the bulk of the game. Some may not think it is such a big deal, but I am interested in seeing what kind of effort Flynn puts into his performance. He obviously cannot be happy that he will be backing up Wilson, so a lack of effort would have me concerned, especially if Flynn has to step in at some point during the regular season. Josh Portis will also see a little bit of playing time. For Portis, I want to see him throw more even if the situation doesn’t warrant it. Coach Carroll should give the 12th Man a taste of Portis’ arm.

Eight undrafted rookies remain on the Seahawks roster. The final preseason game is their chance to show the coaching staff that they deserve a spot on the roster, along with everybody else that is currently on the team. Of the eight undrafted rookies that remain, I believe the player in the best position to make the team is defensive end Cordarro Law. Law had a solid training camp has been involved in some big plays during the preseason. I’m not saying he is a lock by any means, but if there is only one spot open and it is going to go to an undrafted rookie, I believe that spot should go to Law.

With final roster cuts occurring 18 hours between the end of Thursday’s game and the deadline, the players who get a good amount of playing time need to show they can contribute. Last season for example, Golden Tate was considered a bubble player who needed to prove to the coaching staff he belonged on the team. In last year’s Oakland game he caught 5 passes for 79 yards and kept his roster spot. I’ll keep the focus on wide receivers for this section. In my eyes the only locks to make the roster are Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate. Three or four spots are up for grabs and there are eight players fighting for them. Passes will come at a premium on Thursday night and the receivers must take advantage because if they don’t they will most likely find themselves on the waiver wire come Friday.

The Oakland Raiders enter 2012 much different than in past years. The 2012 campaign will be the first full season without the presence of longtime owner Al Davis, who passed away last October. The Raiders have also hired Dennis Allen to be their head coach. Allen, previously the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, is the first defensive minded head coach in Oakland in easily four decades, as Davis was the primary signal caller on defense previously. The Oakland defense is led by lineman Richard Seymour. Along with lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Rolando McClain, and safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to make stops and win games.

I would expect a lot of Raiders fans to be excited about the offense. The Raiders are quarterbacked by former first round draft pick Carson Palmer, who was traded to Oakland from Cincinnati last season. Palmer is arguably the most talented and consistent quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon a decade ago. Along with Palmer, the Raiders line up Darren McFadden in the backfield. McFadden is an excellent running back who can be explosive but has been sidelined in prior seasons due to injury (I’ll touch on that next). Also on offense are wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, among others.

The primary concern I see for the Raiders this season is health. If Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden can stay healthy there is no reason not to expect the Raiders to make a run at the AFC West especially since the rest of their division is pretty even. No team stands out more than another. If not, the Raiders will struggle. I do not see the Raiders making a huge jump but they will be significantly better on the field and I am predicting they will have a slightly better record in 2012.

Random Thoughts: The defense was introduced before the first preseason game; therefore the offense will most likely be introduced on Thursday night. I cannot wait to hear the ovation for Russell Wilson… I need to get my visor filled with a couple more autographs. It is a bit uneven still. Hopefully I’ll take care of that on Thursday… The Raiders game is always fun because it is tradition I take my friend Josh who is a huge Raiders fan. We always make a small friendly wager on the game and I have not lost a bet yet. Hopefully that continues this season… The guy who sits in front of me may or may not be in attendance Thursday night. Hopefully he is because I want to discuss fantasy football among other topics before the regular season starts… I want to be free of annoying people in the vicinity of my seats. The last thing I need is a headache on gameday… Looks like the Hawks Nest will be the prefunking spot again this week, but it will be brief as Josh is taking a half day off of work and we want to get into the stadium early for autographs… I like to make fun of Raiders fans. The best part? They are in OUR house; therefore they do not do anything.

Prediction: Russell Wilson leads two scoring drives; Matt Flynn takes over and leads the Seahawks to more points. I will win my annual wager with Josh and the Seahawks will head into the regular season coming off an undefeated preseason.

Seahawks 24, Raiders 7

I hope to have my review post up by Friday afternoon but bear with me because I will be packing for the majority of the day. I’m moving back to Seattle starting Saturday morning! Also I hope to post about our final roster cuts and which players I am surprised made or did not make the team. Thanks for reading!