Tag Archives: Rich Gannon

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

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Jets/Seahawks Preview

10 Nov

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Matchup: New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks have a chance to head into their bye week at 6-4 and on a two-game winning streak. In their way this week is the New York Jets. The Jets are coming off their bye and are sitting at 3-5 and they are looking to get back into the AFC playoff picture. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Jets 9-8. In their last meeting, the Seahawks defeated the Jets and their quarterback Brett Favre 13-3 in December of 2008. That game was most famous for being in the middle of the worst snowstorm stretch in Seattle history. It was also Coach Holmgren’s final home game coached for the Seahawks. There is a lot to be looking for out of both teams this week. Here is what I’ll be watching for.

Marshawn Lynch is 119 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau for the second straight year. The New York Jets defense is giving up an average of 141 rushing yards per game. It is no surprise given these numbers that running the ball will have a big impact on the productivity on offense this week. I do not think Russell Wilson will have to put up big numbers passing this week. My hope is that we can have a 55/45 mix in terms of running and passing the ball. The Jets defense is banged up and all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is out for the season. Outside of Lynch, I think Sidney Rice will have a big game this week. Russell Wilson has been looking more towards Rice’s direction recently and I think it is only a matter of time before Rice really breaks out and puts up numbers that challenge for the best wide receiver numbers in the NFL in a given week. The key to Wilson’s play this week will not to be too eager to throw the ball, especially if he gets into a comfortable rhythm. This is the type of game could get sloppy with multiple turnovers if the Seahawks are overconfident. If the Seahawks offense has more than 2 turnovers, the game may be closer than I hope.

I watch film of the New York Jets and I see an offense and a quarterback that can get flustered fast and try to force passes. Of course one of the most important aspects of a successful defense is establishing a pass rush but if that does not work this week, the Seahawks can get off the field if they can shut down New York’s receivers. If Mark Sanchez finds an open receiver, he will make a throw. But what happens if Sanchez cannot find an open read? Sanchez will hold on to the ball and try to force throws into coverage. The faces of Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman will not have wider smiles if this happens this week. I expect at least two interceptions thrown by Sanchez this week. Stopping Shonn Greene will also be a focus this week given our struggles in the running game the past three weeks. I think the key to victory on defense however begins with forcing Mark Sanchez into mistakes. I will even go on a limb right now and make the bold prediction that Tim Tebow will be the Jets quarterback late in the fourth quarter, as Sanchez will struggle mightily this week.

On special teams, I am interested to see if the Jets do anything differently in order to stop Leon Washington. Washington previously played for New York before being traded to Seattle on draft day 2010. Because of this, the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan would know better than anybody how to stop Washington. Leon has struggled recently, especially on punt returns. It would be nice to see him break off a couple decent returns but I am not expecting anything extraordinary.

The New York Jets have been labeled my many fans and critics as “The Circus” given the always-contending mentality of Rex Ryan and the fact that they sport the league’s most popular backup quarterback, Tim Tebow. This year the Jets have gotten off to a shaky start at 3-5. The Sanchez vs. Tebow debate rises every week that Sanchez struggles and the Jets also have lost two of their best players for the season due to injury; cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. It is the Jets’ offense that has my attention this week. New York is averaging just shy of 20 points per game on the road this season and they are 1-2 in the process. I put my spotlight on the Jets receiver corps this week. Without Holmes, the Jets available receivers are Jason Hill, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and rookie Stephen Hill. None of these receivers have proven themselves to be Sanchez’s go-to target and the leading receiver, Kerley, only has 30 catches for 478 yards on the season. As I noted earlier in my preview, if the Seattle defense can stay on top of New York’s receivers all game long, Sanchez will have a difficult time. All-in-all, the Jets defense does not scare me one bit. 20 points per game may be an okay amount on the road, but I expect the Seahawks to hold them for significantly less this week.

One more quick note, this week the Seahawks need to keep up the momentum at home. This is the first home game where the Seahawks are unanimously picked to win by all the experts on every sports network. After beating Minnesota last week, a mental letdown would be the worst thing for this team, especially since our next two games after the Jets are on the road.

Random Thoughts: This week is “salute to service” military appreciation week around the NFL. The Seahawks will participate in a card stunt during the national anthem just like last season. The Seahawks will also wear camouflage accessories on the field and World War II vet Joe Moser will raise the 12th Man flag… I got my customized authentic Seahawks home jersey in the mail this week. It looks so cool. I can’t wait to wear it on Sunday… Speaking of uniforms, expect the Seahawks to wear blue/blue again this week… I am taking my dad to this weekend’s game. One slight negative to taking my dad is I give up my aisle seat for him. I am more than happy to do it but when you sit in that seat 9 out of 10 times a season, sitting in seat 2 feels really weird… The Washington Huskies play Utah at 7:30 Saturday night. I was praying the Huskies game would be an afternoon game. Now I have to decide how hard to go Saturday to make sure I am rested and ready to go for Sunday… The temperature is supposed to be in the high 40’s at gametime. It looks like I’ll be able to wear the beanie I got with my season tickets for the first time this week… I am sick of all these 1:05 starts. It’s nice to have an extra 20 minutes if the game starts at 1:25 instead. The good thing I guess is the rest of our games are 1:25 kickoffs, barring a game being flexed into Sunday Night Football… No word on the pregame giveaway at this point. Odds are the giveaway will be military themed though… Marv Albert and Rich Gannon have the call for CBS this week. Given Marv’s primary broadcasting focus is basketball, how many times do you think he will call the Seahawks the Sonics?… It will be nice to have a bye after this game. If we can beat the Jets and win in either Miami or Chicago, we have a tremendous chance of making a push for a playoff spot.

Prediction: I have no reason to believe the Seahawks will lose this game. We are better than New York in all three phases of the game. Like I predicted earlier, Lynch will get to the 1,000 yard mark, he will score a touchdown, and Tim Tebow will be quarterbacking the Jets by the end of the game. Rex Ryan will make a statement in his postgame press conference about how the Jets play was embarrassing, and the Seahawks will head into the bye week with a 6-4 record.

Seahawks 28, Jets 9

Check back Monday for my review of the Jets game. Enjoy the game everybody! Go Seahawks!

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!