Tag Archives: Matt Cassel

“Pre-Review”: Seahawks 13, Cowboys 12

3 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

For the first time ever on the blog I made a critically stupid mistake. I forgot to post my game preview before I left for Dallas last Friday. I am sorry to those regular readers who I could not provide pregame analysis to. Rather than posting just a review of our exhilarating 13-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, I am taking what I had written prior to the game and reflecting on my pregame analysis. That’s right. I am combining my preview with my review to make my first ever “Pre-Review.” Here is how this will work. Everything below that is in standard font is my unaltered pregame thoughts. After each paragraph I will have a bolded italicized section of review in which I reflect on what I was successful discussing and where I was off. Let’s take a look at how accurate I was at discussing this week’s game.

Success on offense for the Seahawks means one thing primarily and that is to give the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch. To prevent Russell Wilson getting beat up as much as he has been so far this season, giving the ball to Lynch will take immense pressure off of the passing game. This is the week to pound the rock because Lynch is riding a wave of momentum coming off his 122 yard performance in San Francisco last week. Lynch could be poised for another big game given the lackluster performance of Dallas’s run defense. With the exception of allowing only 7 rushing yards to Philadelphia back in week 2, the Cowboys allow an average of 120 rushing yards per game. Running Russell Wilson in read-option looks will also confuse the Cowboys defense and could help us control the momentum and time of possession. If the Seahawks allow Wilson to stay in the pocket and wait to go through his progressions he will surely be putting his body at risk. If the Seahawks cannot get the run game going it could make for a very long afternoon.

Marshawn Lynch ran for 71 yards on Sunday. Although it was not his most effective day running by any means, he was still able to take pressure off of Russell Wilson. Wilson was not sacked on Sunday, marking the first time he stayed perfectly clean since Super Bowl XLVIII. Read option was once again not present this week but the protection Wilson had allowed him to step up and make key throws including his touchdown pass to Luke Willson. These throws along with a couple of huge scrambles also allowed the Seahawks to move down the field rather easily on their final drive, leading to Steven Hauschka’s game-winning field goal. It was not the prettiest day on offense, but we were able to do just enough to win the game.

The Cowboys still have one of the better offensive lines in the league. Dallas quarterbacks have been sacked an average of only twice per game so far this season. Just like Marshawn Lynch riding momentum running the ball, the biggest key for the Seahawks on defense is for the pass rush to ride the wave of momentum they created last week. Seattle sacked 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick 6 times last week, a season high. In Dallas we must use the same package of rushers to confuse the Cowboys offensive line and get to quarterback Matt Cassel. I believe the only way the Cowboys can be effective on offense is to move the ball through the air, especially since starting running back Joseph Randle is out with a strained oblique. If the Seahawks can get to Cassel at least three of four times the defense will have what I consider to be a successful day.

Seattle only sacked Matt Cassel once but it may have been the biggest play of the game. Bruce Irvin’s sack of Cassel on 3rd down on the Cowboys final drive of the game virtually sealed the win for the Seahawks. With Dallas needing to go about 60 yards to get into manageable field goal range to win the game, it is logical to think that Cassel could have taken four shots down the field and hope for a pass interference call or a penalty that would have given Dallas a huge chunk of yards. Fortunately the indecisiveness of Cassel allowed the Seahawks pass rush to wear down the Cowboys offensive line and Irvin was able to chase him down, creating a 4th and 16 with less than 30 seconds left. Give credit to the Cowboys offensive line but with our next three games coming at home, I expect to see huge improvement in our pass rush coming off our bye week.

There are several things to keep your eye on when the Cowboys offense is on the field. Given their quarterback situation they will surely try to establish the run with running back Darren McFadden. If the Seahawks do a good job in shutting down the Cowboys rushing attack, it will be in Matt Cassel’s best interest to throw high percentage passes instead of trying to stretch the field. The purpose for throwing short would be to limit turnovers. Matt Cassel threw 3 interceptions in New York last week, two of which traveled 20 yards or more in the air. One final thing to watch out for is how the Cowboys will use wide receiver Dez Bryant if he is active. Bryant has been recovering from a fractured foot since the first week of the season but he may be rushed back into action this week given the progress in his recovery and the desperation Dallas is feeling to save their season. I believe if he plays Bryant will primarily be used as a decoy to confuse the Legion of Boom. Do not expect Bryant to make a big impact in the passing game.

Darren McFadden had a very nice outing on Sunday. McFadden finished the day with 64 yards rushing on 20 carries and also added 49 yards receiving out of the backfield. It felt as though his performance single-handedly kept the Cowboys in the game. Dez Bryant’s production was just about what I thought it would be. Richard Sherman blanketed Bryant the entire game and he had 4 passes defensed; one of which could have been easily intercepted. Bryant finished the day with two catches for 12 yards but given Sherman’s stat line it was clear Cassel was trying to throw in Bryant’s direction often. Bryant was not a “decoy” per se, but given that the most productive receiver was Terrance Williams with 20 yards receiving just goes to show how inept the Dallas passing game was.

The Dallas Cowboys defense features some well-known names at each level.  They include defensive end Greg Hardy, linebacker and leading tackler Sean Lee, linebacker Rolando McClain, and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. My focus will be on the Dallas pass rush and the middle level of their defense. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the Cowboys is outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens is a phenomenal tackler and also makes an impact getting to the quarterback. So far this season Hitchens has recorded 20 tackles, which is good for third on Dallas’s defense. He is also one of only four Cowboys with multiple sacks on the year. Only Hardy and defensive tackle Jack Crawford have more. Along with Hardy on the left side it is Hitchens’s presence that leads me to believe the Seahawks will throw more towards the right side of the field.

Greg Hardy gets the headlines this week because of his tipped interception. Anthony Hitchens was my X-Factor Player to Watch and he did virtually nothing this week. The only thing he was credited for was one quarterback hit on Russell Wilson. Barry Church had probably the best day of any Cowboys defender in my eyes, racking up a season-high 10 tackles.

Random Thoughts: None

Prediction: I think the Cowboys have enough fire power to keep this game close. In the end however the fact that Matt Cassel is their starting quarterback gives the overall edge to the Seahawks. Both Cassel and Russell Wilson will throw a pair of interceptions but the Seahawks running game will blow Dallas’s out of the water. Marshawn Lynch will run for 105 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Lockett will also return a punt for a touchdown. The Cowboys will play a sloppy game on both sides of the ball and will not be able to get going until late into the second half. The Seahawks will head into the bye 4-4 and will have a week off before we play the first of three straight home games to kick off the second half of the season.

Seahawks 23, Cowboys 14

As it turns out the Cowboys did have enough fire power to keep this game close and as it turns out the presence of Matt Cassel did ultimately give the edge to the Seahawks. In hindsight if Tony Romo had played in the game the Seahawks would probably have gotten blown out. The game did not turn out to be as sloppy as I predicted but once again the Seahawks won even though they lost the turnover battle 1-0. At the end of the day the Seahawks are heading into the bye with a 4-4 record and on the whole I am satisfied.

Vikings/Seahawks Preview

16 Nov
Image

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

After the Seahawks 33-10 win last week over the Atlanta Falcons, they come home this week for one more game before their late bye week. This week also begins a stretch where the Seahawks play 4 out of their last 6 regular season games at home. They start this stretch against the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks continue their best start in franchise history as they enter this week’s game with a 9-1 record. Minnesota has not had similar fortune. After going 10-6 and making the playoffs last season, the Vikings enter this game at 2-7 and are in last place in the NFC North. Having said this, the Vikings are coming off of a win last Thursday night as they defeated the Washington Redskins 34-27. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with Minnesota 7-5. Their last meeting came last November. After allowing 80 rushing yards and a touchdown to running back Adrian Peterson on Minnesota’s first offensive drive of the game, the Seahawks buckled down and beat the Vikings 30-20. Two weeks ago many including myself thought the Seahawks would easily beat Tampa Bay at home but barely squeaked by with a win. The Seahawks cannot overlook the Vikings like they overlooked the Buccaneers. Here is what needs to happen for the Seahawks to get to 10-1 on the season.

As always I start with the Seahawks offense and the biggest key for Russell Wilson and the rest of the offense this week is to carry their offensive momentum from last week’s game into this week’s game. On paper that should not be a problem. The Seahawks will have Russell Okung, Max Unger, and Breno Giacomini back this week starting on the offensive line. This is great news for Marshawn Lynch. If you think he was productive the last few weeks with a makeshift offensive line, just imagine how productive he will be going forward with our starting line back. This is also great news for Wilson, as the pass protection should improve greatly, giving him more time in the pocket to make throws down the field. It also helps that the Vikings pass defense ranks 5th worst in the NFL, allowing an average of 286 passing yards per game. I think it may take a little bit of time for Wilson to get re-acclimated to his starting offensive line, thus you may see him panic and make quick throws to his receivers early on. If pass protection is strong early, Wilson will settle down fast and be able to confidently stand in the pocket to make throws as the game goes on.

At the other skill positions the primary storyline this week is the return and Seahawks debut of wide receiver Percy Harvin. According to the NFL Network, Harvin is expected to start this week. As exciting as it is to have Harvin back in the lineup, he has not played in a live game for a full calendar year and he must get back to game speed and it may take some time to do so. Harvin will play but I do not expect to see the kind of jaw dropping performance this week that Seahawks fans knew they were getting when we acquired him. I do not expect Harvin to return kicks and he may be on a limited snap count this week. In my opinion I expect to see Harvin on the field between 12 to 15 plays and I would be satisfied to see him catch between 40-55 yards worth of passes. Adding Harvin could also benefit the passing game by using him as a decoy. Golden Tate has put together a solid string of performances over the past couple of weeks and Jermaine Kearse has proven to be Russell Wilson’s go-to guy deep down the field. The different ways Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell use our wide receivers create different options for how to play Harvin both on the outside and in the slot. In short, Percy Harvin will make an impact in our offense this week, the question is what kind and how big of an impact.

The number one key for the Seattle defense this week is to prove that last week’s 64 rushing yards allowed to the Atlanta Falcons was not a “fluke” performance. The run defense will face their biggest challenge this week and it will be essential to shut Adrian Peterson down and force Minnesota to throw. Mistakes could be made by the Vikings if the Seahawks can effectively take away the running game, and the Legion of Boom should be on high alert for passes dangerously thrown into coverage. Speaking of the Legion of Boom, I am curious to see Walter Thurmond start in place of the injured Brandon Browner. If there is one position group that can afford to lose a starter it is cornerback. Thurmond started for Browner in the Seahawks first two games of the season and had 5 tackles and 2 passes defensed in that span. With Thurmond starting and Jeremy Lane nursing an injured hip, Byron Maxwell might be forced to play nickel corner this week. If this is the case, expect the Vikings to have three or more receivers on the field more often to try to take advantage of our defensive formations.

There is no secret to how the Minnesota Vikings offense works; give the ball to Adrian Peterson and let him run wild. With the Vikings quarterback situation up in arms (Christian Ponder is expected to start Sunday with Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel as backups) the only way I think the Vikings can win this game is for Peterson to carry the team on his back, putting up a couple hundred rushing yards and scoring multiple touchdowns.  Peterson deserves the bulk of the offensive workload no question about it but there is another guy on Minnesota’s offense that deserves to be my X-Factor player to watch this week. After the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks over the offseason, they needed to plug that hole and try to replace Harvin’s production. Minnesota used one of their three first round picks to try to do so. My X-Factor player to watch for the Vikings this week is rookie wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is a height/weight/speed player who caught my eye leading up to this year’s draft. Although raw, I thought Patterson would be a good fit in Seattle and although he does not have the prettiest of stats so far this season, the potential is there to confirm my personal pre-draft thoughts. Patterson’s most productive game as a receiver came week 3 against Cleveland when he caught 2 passes for 49 yards. Patterson has not caught more than 3 passes in a game so far this season but the Vikings have done a better job getting him involved in the offense, which was evident last week against Washington when he caught his first career touchdown pass. It will be necessary for the Seahawks to play a solid game on special teams because Patterson is not afraid to return kickoffs deep out of the endzone. Patterson has returned 2 kickoffs for touchdowns this season. Peterson and Patterson will be responsible for the majority of Minnesota’s offensive production this week. Shutting both of them down will go a long way in preserving a Seahawks victory.

Random Thoughts: A preview of the Vikings defense does not warrant its own paragraph so I will place them here in random thoughts this week. The Vikings defense has struggled as a unit throughout the course of this season but keep an eye on veteran defensive end Jared Allen and linebacker Chad Greenway. Both have put up good numbers to lead this subpar group this season… Blue jerseys and blue pants once again for the Seahawks this week. The Vikings will most likely wear purple pants with their white jerseys… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week… Jerome Boger is the referee this week. Don’t be surprised if Boger frustrates you at some point during the game. He does not do nearly as good of a job explaining his calls than other referees. In my opinion he is one of the worst referees in the NFL overall… For those attending this game remember that it is a 1:25 kickoff this week. I like having that extra 20 minutes to get to my seats… Gates will open 3 hours before the rest of our home games this season. Hopefully that chops down waiting time when I go in about an hour before kickoff… This week’s game theme is military appreciation. A full-sized American flag will be unraveled during the national anthem along with a Purple Heart ceremony during halftime. Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall will raise the 12th Man Flag this week. It is tradition that a notable local veteran raises the flag on military appreciation day… I will definitely be scoreboard watching throughout the game. Although I don’t want to see either team win, I would rather see New Orleans win than San Francisco. We’ve got to take care of the division first before we can start to think about home field advantage in the playoffs… I am taking a buddy of mine who is a Chicago Bears fan primarily and a Seahawks fan on the side. We’ll have to make sure the Ravens/Bears game is on at the bar during the morning slate of games for his enjoyment. As always let’s take care of the Vikings early and stay healthy!

Prediction: The Seahawks will take care of business this week and although we will not dominate like we did against the Falcons, they won’t have us biting our nails in nervously like they had us doing against Tampa Bay two weeks ago. Russell Wilson will throw for 300+ yards and Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will each have a touchdown catch. Marshawn Lynch will run for at least 85 yards and a touchdown as well. Adrian Peterson will put up two touchdowns on the ground but it won’t nearly be enough as Seattle will win and head into the bye week 10-1.

Seahawks 33, Vikings 17

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: Going into this week the Seahawks have a 2 ½ game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. They also lead the New Orleans Saints by 1 ½ games for the number one seed in the NFC Playoffs. Here are this week’s games that could impact the NFC Playoff race overall. Teams to note are bolded.

Minnesota (2-7) at Seattle (9-1)

San Francisco (6-3) at New Orleans (7-2)

Detroit (6-3) at Pittsburgh (3-6)

Baltimore (4-5) at Chicago (5-4)

Washington (3-6) at Philadelphia (5-5)

New England (7-2) at Carolina (6-3)

Be sure to check back late Sunday night/early Monday morning for my review of our game against the Minnesota Vikings. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!

Patriots/Seahawks Preview

13 Oct

Image

Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

Tom Brady faces off against the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time in his career this Sunday as the Patriots come to town in a huge test of top offense vs. top defense. The Patriots enter the game 3-2 and they are coming off a 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks return home from Carolina where they beat the Panthers 16-12 last week. The Patriots lead the all-time series 8-7. The last time these two teams played was in 2008. The Patriots defeated the 2-win Seahawks 24-21 on December 7th, 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback for the Patriots. Here are the storylines I will be looking at this week in arguably the most anticipated home game this season.

Russell Wilson has continued to improve each week despite lackluster statistics. This week he faces the Patriots and their 30th ranked pass defense. With a beastly front four which includes Vince Wilfork, it may be difficult to run the ball this week. If this is the case, Wilson will be on the spot to make plays. I would definitely look for Wilson to scramble if given the opportunity. This may be a week where Wilson runs for close to 50 yards. One of the biggest keys this week, just like any other week is to limit turnovers. If the Seahawks can keep the ball for as long as they can and limit the time Tom Brady is in control of the Patriots offense, we will have more room to breathe and will put increasing pressure on New England. The longer we have the ball, the more pressure put on Brady and the Patriots.

The Seahawks boast the number one overall defense in the National Football League. This year especially, the Seahawks defense has done a great job of making opposing quarterbacks look silly. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 8 times in the first half alone and the explosive Packers offense was only able to score 12 points. With a beat up offensive line including a hurt Logan Mankins, the Seahawks have the potential to have a stellar day. Behind the roar of the 12th Man, expect the defense to put immense pressure on Tom Brady to flush him out of the pocket or make snap decisions. Bruce Irvin is the man to watch this week. In 5 games this season Irvin has 4.5 sacks. He is on pace for 14.5 sacks on the season. After a multi-sack game during the last home game I would not be surprised at all to see him repeat those numbers this weekend.

Expect the nickel package to be used more this weekend. The Patriots like to use all of their weapons in different packages and formations. The Patriots will use Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Woodhead all throughout the game. The only set matchup I see is Lloyd vs. Brandon Browner; the number one cornerback. Marcus Trufant may have a big role this week. Trufant is the number three cornerback on the depth chart and is used primarily in the nickel package. With the cornucopia of receivers the Patriots have at their disposal, we may see more secondary players on the field at irregular times. With the difference in normality within certain defensive packages against this complex New England offense, players that normally do not make an impact may be able to make plays this week if the rush can force Brady into bad decisions.

The Patriots have the number one ranked offense in the National Football League. The Patriots are averaging close to 35 points per game yet they have already lost two games on the road. Tom Brady is Tom Brady. There is no debating that. However keep in mind the following facts: This is the farthest trip for the Patriots this season and their only cross-country trip. Tom Brady has never played at CenturyLink Field before. He is facing the number one defense in the league. I do not expect Brady to have as bad of a game as Tony Romo or Aaron Rodgers but he has the capability to do effective things that will frustrate the Seahawks defense. For example…

The no-huddle offense has become a staple of the New England offense this season. According to Coach Carroll, the no-huddle offense is difficult to run with a roaring crowd; mainly due to the difficulty of communication between coach and quarterback. If the Patriots can put up some points early and put the Seahawks in a disadvantage, I would expect to see no-huddle called to sink us even further.

Random Thoughts: This is the first time I will be back at CenturyLink Field since Monday Night Football against the Packers. We are coming off a win and are in striking distance of the Cardinals and 49ers. I expect the crowd to be in their seats early and be as loud as the past two games… It is the only home game during the month of October for breast cancer awareness… This will be the best halftime ceremony I have ever been a part of. Cortez Kennedy will have his #96 jersey retired. I’ll have to remember to bring a couple tissues. I teared up during Walter Jones’s jersey retirement… I am super excited to see Tom Brady play live for the first time. This will be one of those games where I look back and can tell my kids “I got to see one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time play”… Don’t sleep on the Patriots running game. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are two great backs that can both have a big impact this weekend for New England… I have 30.5 ounces worth of Skittles ready to throw on Sunday. Don’t let me down Marshawn… Tailgating will be done in a parking lot like before the Cowboys game. Very excited… There is a Washington Huskies home game the day before against the USC Trojans. Looks like I’ll have to save my voice for Sunday… Might have to break out the sweatshirt and jeans for the first time this week. Only supposed to get up to 60 degrees on Sunday… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue this week. They’ve worn the blue practice jersey’s all week during practice… Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have the call for CBS this week. Words cannot express how happy I am that I won’t have to sit through THAT commentary… The pregame giveaway is a lanyard. Was hoping for something a little bit cooler for a game against a team like the New England Patriots… I predict that Bill Belichick will wear his famous gray hoodie… The Seahawks are looking to get to 4-2 for the first time since 2010. A win would be huge going forward, especially since we play the San Francisco 49ers on the road next on five days rest.

Prediction: Bear Bryant once said “defense wins championships.” This is not a championship game by any means but it may feel like it. The Seahawks will prove that this statement is true. Tom Brady will be sacked 6 times. The offense will not be spectacular but we will do a good enough job in the red zone to put up points and put continued pressure on the Patriots. I have seen the Seahawks beat iconic quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner live. By Sunday night, Tom Brady will be added to this list.

Seahawks 26, Patriots 21

My review will be up on Monday Afternoon. I will be working on my preview for next week’s Thursday night game against San Francisco in a crammed timeframe so bear with me. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Seahawks!

“God bless America and God bless the Seattle Seahawks.”- Cortez Kennedy

Review: Seahawks 44, Chiefs 14

25 Aug

What a dominating performance. The Seahawks annihilated the Chiefs tonight in Kansas City by a final score of 44-14. The Seahawks improve to 3-0 in the preseason for the first time since 2009 and for only the third time since 1990. It is hard to critique this game in any way because of how well all three units played. Here are a few of the many thoughts I noted during Friday’s game.

Russell Wilson will start soon: Russell Wilson is my player of the game without a doubt. Wilson played an amazing three quarters of football on Friday night. Wilson ended 13/19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 58 yards on the ground. After the game, Coach Carroll said that he expects the quarterback competition to stretch into next week with a starter named most likely a day or two after we play Oakland and for good reason. In my eyes this quarterback competition is as close to a photo finish as possible. Wilson proved that he was prepared and ready to handle a game situation with the starters on the field. “If you are prepared, there is no reason to be nervous” Wilson said after the game. Wilson’s preparation and execution this entire preseason has been an impressive strength that I believe could earn him the starting job. It will be interesting to see what kind of playing time the quarterbacks will get next week. If Wilson has another strong outing next week whether he is the starter or the backup, I am predicting he will be the starting quarterback against the Arizona Cardinals on September 9th.

No wide receivers went over the top this week: I think this is a good thing though. 5 wide receivers made catches this week. None were more impressive than Terrell Owens’s over-the-shoulder catch for a 40 yard gain. I am interested to see which (if any) wide receivers are cut during the first wave of roster cuts on Monday. If the coaching staff decides to part ways with a couple of receivers on Monday, I think it will be easier to predict which wideouts will make the 53-man roster. Last season in the last preseason game against Oakland, many believed that Golden Tate was fighting for a roster spot and needed to have a good game. He had a good game and kept his spot. Next week I believe all eyes will be on Terrell Owens. If he gets a good amount of playing time, and makes a few good catches I think Owens has a good chance to make the regular season roster. It was nice to see Sidney Rice back and his one catch for 8 yards was superb. Wilson looked Rice’s way immediately and if Rice can stay healthy and Wilson is the starter, expect that connection to pay dividends during the regular season. I noted that Ricardo Lockette did not see any playing time in the first half with the starting unit. To my memory he only had one target in the entire game; a streak down the near sideline in the fourth quarter on a pass thrown by Tarvaris Jackson. I am starting to wonder whether Lockette’s roster spot is in jeopardy. After Lockette has been praised by the coaching staff, you have to wonder why he would not get any looks with the starters.

Dominating Defense: In the first four Kansas City offensive possessions the Seahawks forced 3 three-and-outs. In addition, Earl Thomas returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown and Cordarro Law forced a fumble deep in Chiefs territory. Back during our NFC West dynasty years when the opponent was facing third and long it was almost a sure thing that the Seahawks would stop them and force a change in possession. Watching this game I feel the same way I did a few years back. I have full confidence in our defense to make sure we do not allow significant yardage on third down.

A fulfilled desire: In my preview yesterday, it was my hope to see the Seahawks amp up their pass rush. I called for a minimum of two sacks in the first half. Thanks to Greg Scruggs and Mike Morgan, the Seahawks were able to sack Matt Cassel twice in the first 13:42. Unfortunately we could not get to the quarterback after the first quarter but the defense as a whole made enough big plays to make sure the Chiefs did not come relatively close to touching our lead. My hope was satisfied but I want to see more pressure but the pass rush specialists next week.

Special special teams: The Seahawks special teams looked great Friday night. Three big points coming from special teams. First, I only counted two kickoffs that were returned past the 20-yard-line. We did a great job tackling and closing running lanes on kickoff coverage. Secondly, Golden Tate may have earned the punt return job this season. Tate returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown. Third, Jon Ryan did not have his first punt until the 13:20 mark in the fourth quarter. Ryan only had two punts total Friday night which speaks volumes to the efficiency of both the offense and the defense.

Kansas City outlook: If Friday night is any indication, the Chiefs may struggle mightily this season. Although the weapons are there, it didn’t seem like Matt Cassel clicked with any of them consistently. I realize the AFC West has been deemed wide open by a lot of people but with terrible play like on Friday night, the Chiefs may be heading towards the cellar and a high draft pick in 2013. The best player for Kansas City Friday night was Dexter McCluster. McCluster, who apparently has been converted into a slot receiver, led the Chiefs with 7 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. If Cassel’s reads are all unavailable, expect a lot of checkdowns to McCluster this season. Even for a secondary option, Cassel seemed most comfortable when throwing McCluster’s way.

Random Thoughts: I spent a lot of time talking about the “faithful” Chiefs fans and the atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium this week. I understand it is the preseason but it was pathetic to see well over half the seats empty. The Chiefs are the hottest ticket in Kansas City and even for a preseason game they should be able to draw more fans than what showed up Friday… Golden Tate wins the award for most entertaining player this week. Tate was shown stumbling around like a sloppy drunk after his punt return due to shortness of breath. He was struggling to find an oxygen mask. Later in the broadcast Tate was shown picking his nose. I wonder if he found some buried treasure… It is safe to assume the white jersey/gray pants combination will stick around. The combo actually looked pretty good on the field… The Seahawks escaped in great health once again. The only injury of note was cramps in the calf of cornerback Brandon Browner. He will be fine… Penalties really hurt Kansas City. Tamba Hali was called for consecutive roughing the passer penalties and multiple pass interference penalties. The Seahawks surrendered only 37 yards worth of penalties tonight. A great improvement compared to the Denver game… The Twitter hashtag #RussellMania was trending in Seattle during the first half. It is good to see the 12th Man getting excited for this kid whether he is our starting quarterback or not. Had two pints of Mac & Jack’s tonight. Delicious. Need I say more?

Upcoming: Look for a brief Seahawks fantasy outlook this weekend and I will also post my predictions for the first round of roster cuts. I will choose and explain my choices for which 15 players will be cut on Monday. Expect the fantasy outlook post on Saturday and the roster cuts prediction post on Sunday. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Chiefs Preview

24 Aug

Image

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Site: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)

Kickoff: 5:00pm

The Seahawks travel to Kansas City this Friday night to take on the Chiefs in week 3 of the 2012 preseason. The Seahawks enter this game at 2-0 on the preseason and are coming off an impressive 30-10 win over Denver last week. The Chiefs are 1-1 in the preseason and are coming off a 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams last weekend. Here are some things I will be keeping an eye on this week.

Russell Wilson starts at quarterback for the Seahawks this week and as a fan, I am a mix of nervous and excited. I know Wilson is competing for the starting quarterback job with Matt Flynn but in my opinion he has very little to lose. Not many people including myself gave Wilson a good chance of winning the job. A strong performance by Wilson this week could potentially earn him the job but if he struggles he will most likely earn the backup quarterback job, the position that I thought he would win from the start. I am most interested to see Wilson’s on-field chemistry with the starting wide receivers and how he handles increased speed and pressure coming from Kansas City’s starting defense. One of the highlights of Wilson’s play thus far is his pocket presence and ability to keep plays alive. What I hope does not happen is Wilson trying to do too much, meaning he will force passes into tight holes or tuck the ball and run prematurely if the pocket collapses. Kansas City does not have the best defense in the league. They do not have the worst either. This is a very solid test for Wilson and if he performs well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start next week against Oakland and to see the quarterback competition stretched into next week.

Bobby Wagner has locked down the starting middle linebacker job. With all the uncertainty around that position battle behind him, Wagner can now concentrate on calling the first-team defense and building a rap with the rest of the starting defense. On defense this week, I am most interested to see if the Seahawks can finally establish a steady pass rush. My goal for this game is at least two sacks in the first half. I do not care if it is Bruce Irvin or Chris Clemons or even Red Bryant getting to the quarterback. I just want this unit to show us fans that we can be dominant in both aspects of the defensive game plan. So far, that has not happened even though the run defense and the secondary have done an exceptional job in proving dominance. One last defensive element I would like to see this week is the handling of the no-huddle offense. Last week Peyton Manning was very successful in picking our defense apart when running out of the no-huddle. If Matt Cassel and the Chiefs run no-huddle Friday night, I want to know we can stop them. We need to make sure the right personnel are on the field and make sure we can get stops, especially if the Chiefs are passing.

Special teams is gradually becoming an area of concern for me. We gave up a punt return touchdown in week one and had two Jon Ryan punts blocked in Denver last week. My worries would be eased significantly if we make sure there are no big returns by Kansas City return men and if we make sure any holes along the line are filled on punt coverage. I am not sure if Dexter McCluster will be returning kicks this week but if he is we have to be solid because McCluster can be a very explosive threat if he has daylight in front of him.

The Chiefs will be playing on offense this week with full health. After winning the AFC West in 2010, Kansas City fell into last place last year, primarily because of their losses on the offensive side of the ball. Last year they lost quarterback Matt Cassel, star running back Jamaal Charles, and up-and-coming tight end Tony Moeaki; all of whom are healthy to start the 2012 campaign. The Chiefs have a new head coach in Romeo Crennel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has just ended his offseason holdout. When you also include free agent acquisition Peyton Hillis, the Chiefs have the weapons to be an explosive offense this season. I will be looking to see how all of these players click under a new head coach in the first half.

On defense, the Chiefs are led by stud linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry who has returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for the majority of the 2011 season. Russell Wilson needs to make sure he is spot on with his throws because if not, Johnson, Berry, and the rest of the Kansas City defense will make him pay for his mistakes.

Random Thoughts: Like I blogged about on Wednesday, the Seahawks have a difficult time playing at Arrowhead Stadium. They have never played there under Coach Carroll therefore I am curious to know whether the team will do anything differently in preparation and during the game to handle the raucous red sea… The Seahawks announced that they will wear white jerseys and gray pants this week. In my opinion that may be the strangest of all our possible uniform combinations… One person who may be split on who to root for this week is actor Rob Riggle. Riggle is a diehard Chiefs fan and graduate of the University of Kansas. However, Riggle made an appearance at Seahawks training camp last season because of his friendship with Coach Carroll. My guess is Riggle will be pulling for the Chiefs. POW!… I will be watching from home on Friday. My dad offered to buy a growler of Mac & Jacks and of course I will never turn down beer as fine as that while watching a Seahawks game!

Prediction: Russell Wilson will do a decent job but not good enough to extend the quarterback competition for much longer. Matt Flynn will come in to play most of the second half and will completely dominate the Kansas City backups and the Seahawks will escape Arrowhead with a rare victory.

Seahawks 31, Chiefs 17

As always my review post will most likely come Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. I greatly appreciate your comments and support. Go Seahawks!