Tag Archives: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

16 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 5:25pm

In week 7 last season the Seahawks came off a close win the previous week and played a division rival on Thursday Night Football. The Seahawks are now set for their déjà vu moment this season. On Thursday night, the Seahawks will face their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals for the first time this season. The Seahawks are 5-1 and are coming off a 20-13 win last week over the Tennessee Titans. The Cardinals are tied for third place in the NFC West as they hold a 3-3 record. They are coming off a 32-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 15-13 but in their last meeting in December 2012, the Seahawks demolished Arizona 58-0 in the Seahawks most lopsided victory of all-time. Although the Cardinals currently hold a worse record than at this point last season, many including myself believe Arizona is a much improved team this year and this could be a significant challenge and this could potentially be a trap game for the Seahawks. Here is what I think we need to see out of the Seahawks this week in order to have a good chance of coming home victorious.

There were a lot of things on offense last week that frustrated me. Upon reviewing the game film however, there were some aspects that are encouraging and are showing signs that our offense is indeed improving. Quarterback Russell Wilson did not have a flashy performance against the Titans but did manage to throw for 257 yards and record a passer rating of 98.5. He himself made no fundamental or mental mistakes including no turnovers. Over the past few weeks it seems to me that Wilson has not been as accurate on longer throws and because of that he has played more conservatively. This week I think it will be necessary for Wilson to get back to his 2012 self by confidently stretching the field. Facing a Cardinals defense that will try to take advantage of weakened offensive line, Wilson will be forced to make hurried throws. If the Seahawks offensive line can effective manage Arizona’s pass rush, Wilson could exploit the coverage of the Cardinals secondary. Look for Golden Tate to make a big impact and I think Jermaine Kearse’s height could make him a key contributor as well. Wilson has hit Kearse deep for touchdowns in two of the Seahawks first three road games.

The biggest key to an all-around good game from the offense could be the return of tight end Zach Miller. Miller has been a valuable asset in both the passing game and the running game as a blocker. Miller has been sidelined the past two games with a hamstring injury. Surprisingly, without Miller this season the Seahawks average 45 more yards rushing per game than with him. The Seahawks offense also average about 1.5 sacks less without Miller than with him. Given these numbers the Seahawks are averaging 3.3 more points more with Miller than without him. Adding Miller back into the mix could definitely help the Seahawks move the ball better and Miller’s presence could lead to more scoring opportunities. If we can take advantage and score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals the Seahawks will be in great shape.

There are three things on to keep an eye out for on defense this week. The first two are individual players. Defensive end Chris Clemons is unlikely to play this week after suffering a hyperextended elbow against Tennessee. If Clemons is out we are down to only three primary pass rushers. Bobby Wagner’s absence was also noticeable last week as the Seahawks used many different linebacker packages. Heath Farwell was who I expected to step in primarily for Wagner last week and he only recorded one tackle. Wagner was missed tremendously last week and I think it would be beneficial to limit the linebacker rotation to a small handful of players instead of the cornucopia of linebackers the Seahawks used against the Titans. With a smart veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer, the Cardinals may know how to exploit the Seahawks in the middle of the field more effectively than a Ryan Fitzpatrick if Wagner is not there to balance out our defense.

Most importantly in my opinion, I will be looking at the Seahawks fourth quarter defense. After shutting the Houston Texans down in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago the Seahawks have given up a long game-winning drive to the Indianapolis Colts and a 96-yard drive to the Titans last week which resulted in a field goal. Both of these drives came in the final 15 minutes of the game. If the game is close entering the final quarter of the game I will be extremely worried. The Cardinals were able to go down the field for a long game-winning scoring drive against us last year in Arizona and this year could spell the same fate with an improved Cardinals offense. The perfect way to avoid this is to run away with the game in the first three quarters. But what if the game is close? The Seahawks need to take it one play at a time and don’t panic every time Arizona moves the chains. Third downs will be very important and smart tackling could prevent disappointment. Do not go for the turnover, just focus on wrapping up the ball carrier. If we can force an Arizona turnover late in the game we will most likely win. Fundamental defense will be our biggest ally in these situations. Do not get fancy and play smart. Smart play and good fundamental execution will put us in good shape.

The Arizona Cardinals feature a rather improved offense this year. A lot of this has to do with their new starting quarterback Carson Palmer. After 3 seasons with a rotating quarterback carousel, Palmer adds stability to a position and a team that has not made the playoffs since Kurt Warner led the Cardinals to back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009. The Cardinals do not boast an overly-impressive running game and it will be very tough to run on the Seahawks run defense. This makes the passing game my focus of the Arizona offense. Usually I like to pick an X-Factor player that flies under the radar but this week how can you not pick Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald is the Cardinals leading receiver with 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Fitzgerald will line up across from Richard Sherman this week and if there is one receiver who could give Sherman trouble it’s Fitzgerald. I expect Carson Palmer to test Sherman a lot on Thursday night by trying to get the ball to Fitzgerald. Look for the head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin to build a game plan that will feature creative ways to get Fitzgerald open.

Even though the Cardinals have gone 8-14 dating back to the start of last season, they feature one of the best defenses in the league. I think their defense is very underrated and they play extremely well at home. Patrick Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and the return of linebacker Karlos Dansby has added a dynamic tackler to the Cardinals linebacking corps. The Cardinals held Russell Wilson to 139 yards passing and also sacked Wilson 3 times in week one last season. There are two players on the Cardinals defense that are worthy of being X-Factor players to watch. Rookie cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has the second highest number of tackles on the Cardinals defense with 40 and his speed could present a problem for the Seahawks receivers. The best pass rusher the Cardinals have is defensive end Darnell Dockett who has 4 sacks this season. Dockett had a big impact when the Seahawks played in Arizona last season and it will be crucial to double team Dockett to prevent Russell Wilson from getting knocked down.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. No word on pant color yet… Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock have the call for NFL Network this week. After discussing broadcasters and analysts with a couple of friends last week, I came to the conclusion that Mayock is my favorite analyst on any network. He knows the game of football very well, knows the talent on the field being an NFL Draft expert, and can be critical of players; something you oftentimes do not see on a television broadcast. *Cough, Jon Gruden, cough.*… NFL Network features a 2-hour pregame show as well as live look-ins all day on their weekday shows. I look forward to Rich Eisen’s comedy, Kurt Warner’s Arizona bias, and Deion Sanders’ ridiculousness on TV this week… For those of you who do not know who Priyanka Chopra is you are going to find out right before Thursday’s game. Her single “In My City” is the theme song for Thursday Night Football and not only is it a catchy song, she is also a stone-cold fox… Why does it seem like the Seahawks never get to play at home for Thursday Night Football? Since TNF started in 2006 the Seahawks have only played a TNF game at home twice… The crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium is the loudest I have heard on any of my road trips. Add in the fact that Thursday’s game has been announced a sellout and that it is in primetime, the Seahawks may have trouble at the line of scrimmage this week. Hopefully not though… If the Seahawks can pull out a victory they will head into a mini-bye week before week 8 against the St. Louis Rams with a 6-1 record!… To anyone who is going to Thursday’s game and Saturday’s UW game at Arizona State, I am extremely jealous (that means you, Dad).

Prediction: Rushing yards will come at a premium this week for both teams. I think the Seahawks will struggle mightily at times on Thursday night. The Seahawks will ride a roller coaster consisting of solid plays and frustrating plays. The Cardinals will be able to move the ball effectively but I think Carson Palmer will throw at least two interceptions this week. After giving up a field goal to make it 21-19 Arizona, the Seahawks will successfully drive down the field and Steven Hauschka will kick a game-winning field goal with mere seconds remaining. The Seahawks will barely escape with a 6-1 record and will hold a 1.5 game lead on the rest of the NFC West heading into Sunday’s games.

Seahawks 22, Cardinals 21

Check back on Friday for my review of Thursday Night Football. Go Seahawks!

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Rant: Seahawks 20, Titans 13

13 Oct

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Through all of the bumps and bruises, the Seahawks reached down deep on Sunday as they pulled out a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks improve their record to 5-1 and still hold a one-game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The “average” Titans, as described by head coach Mike Munchak following today’s game, fall to 3-3 on the season. That seemed to be the only positive to come out of today’s events. On multiple different occasions today, both on the field and in the stands, I seemed to be extremely frustrated and was left scratching my head as well as being angry and extremely disappointed. I apologize in advance for the following rant folks. Let me explain…

Fumbles: I will get to the botched field goal a little bit later on but let me touch on the Seahawks inability to hold on to the ball from a broader perspective. The Seahawks fumbled the ball 4 times on Sunday. Two of these fumbles resulted in a turnover and/or points for the Titans. This number is beyond concerning and is absolutely unacceptable. The fumble by Derrick Coleman out of bounds and the fumble in the red zone by Marshawn Lynch (which was basically flipped right back to Russell Wilson by the Titans) illustrates a need to figure out how to carry the ball more securely, especially for Lynch, who has fumbled four times in scoring range dating back to last year’s playoffs. The Sidney Rice fumble and turnover is so baffling to me for a couple of reasons. First, from my view in the stands it looked as though Rice had gained enough yards for a first down. If that was the case, then why on Earth would you extend the ball out while it is mostly unprotected?! Secondly, I know it was next to impossible to see which direction the defender is trying to tackle you from but usually the receiver and defender are running towards each other. You are basically asking the defender to take the ball from you if you try to get fancy to gain extra yards. This fumble was a total brainfart by Rice and he needs to quit trying to be fancy and take the yards you have already gained. The risk definitely outweighs the reward. The risk? Turning the ball over deep into enemy territory. The reward? A gain of only ONE extra yard.

Really, Maragos?!: Steven Hauschka briefly left Sunday’s game with a concussion he suffered on kickoff coverage with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter. That injury ultimately led to a Titans touchdown and a mind-boggling switcheroo of personnel on the field goal unit. Typically the punter holds for the kicker on field goal attempts but when an injury occurs to the field goal kicker, it is common to see the punter replace the kicker and a quarterback (starter or backup) fill in for the punter as the holder. The best example I can think of this is Tony Romo in the 2006 playoffs. He started the 2006 season as the holder on field goal attempts because he was the backup quarterback at the time. Organically, I must raise the question, why was Chris Maragos the emergency holder?! It would make more sense in my opinion to have Tarvaris Jackson or B.J. Daniels hold for Jon Ryan but apparently (and unfortunately) that job belongs to Maragos. What is frustrating is that the snap did not slip out of his hands. He just simply dropped the ball. What is even more frustrating is the fact that Maragos tried to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. Why would you ever risk the possibility of turning the ball over and having the Titans run it back for a touchdown?! Maragos should have just fallen on the ball and gone to halftime with a 7-3 lead. Instead, Maragos tried to shovel pass the ball and make a miraculous play and it backfired to the max. Tennessee’s Jason McCourty returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Titans lead. I cannot remember the last time I saw as boneheaded of a play as that one.

“Can You Win the Game in the First Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Second Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Third Quarter?…”: As you probably know, this is part of one of Pete Carroll’s famous mantras. After the third quarter the Seahawks took control of the game, piling up 139 fourth quarter yards and scoring 10 points which ultimately determined the outcome of the game. As positive as these numbers are, the fourth quarter defense also left me frustrated. On Tennessee’s 14 play, 96 yard drive which resulted in a field goal towards the end of the game, the Seahawks defense could not stop Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Titans no-huddle offense. We have given up long scoring drives in the fourth quarter in each of our last two games. Fortunately it did not cost us a victory today but our defense needs to find a way to stay fresh for the entire game. With only 4 days to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, I am immensely skeptical about our ability to stop any defense when it matters the most. If the Seahawks are in a close game in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, I will definitely be afraid of the possibility of another win slipping away from us on the road.

Commentary, Skittles Celebrations Are Over: Before I get into this part of the rant, let me quote the NFL in-stadium code of conduct policy:

“When attending a game, you’re required to refrain from the following behaviors: Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature… Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.”

As you know or may have read about in one of my blog posts, I bring two large Ziploc bags full of Skittles to each home game and when Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown my guest and I throw handfuls of Skittles in the air in any and all directions to celebrate. These celebratory actions are simply that; celebratory. When I throw the Skittles, I am in no way whatsoever trying to hurt anyone or piss anyone off. Today after Lynch’s second touchdown of the game a middle-aged male fan sitting in the front few rows of the section to my right angrily complained to a security guard that a SINGLE Skittle hit him and his wife. Although security did not single me or anyone around me out as the main perpetrator, myself and the people around me were warned that they were going to camp out in our section and that if they saw anyone throw Skittles again they would be ejected from CenturyLink Field. I consider this to be a direct threat not to bring Skittles again or else I will be kicked out of the game.

Remember that my intentions are good, so someone please explain to me how celebrating by tossing Skittles into the air violates the NFL code of conduct policy?! In my opinion I do not see how you can justify the action of me throwing Skittles in celebration violates the league’s code of conduct policy. It is not unruly. It is not disruptive (as the entire stadium was in celebration mode). It is not illegal.

To the furious fan who ratted us out. I WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO HIT YOU! You were sitting one section over and at least 20 rows in front of us. If you think I was intentionally trying to hit you with a single Skittle from that distance you might as well sign me up to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars with that kind of accuracy.

I have been celebrating Marshawn Lynch’s touchdowns by throwing Skittles since the end of the 2011 season and I have NEVER had a single complaint from security or anyone else around me. The majority of people I have talked to think it is a very creative celebration and they have even joined in by bringing their own bags of Skittles to games to throw.

Instead of reveling in the excitement of celebrating a touchdown with fellow Seahawks fans, you choose be a “Debbie Downer” and get pissed off over what I believe to be the smallest thing possible.

By attending a Seahawks home game you are subjecting yourself to witnessing way worse behavior in the stands. If you can tolerate witnessing excessive alcohol consumption, hearing foul language constantly throughout the game, and seeing potentially intense heckling by other fans around you, why can’t you tolerate feeling the slightest “pelt” of a Skittle that hit you from at least 200 feet away?! It’s not like I threw them as hard as I could directly into your face!

It is incredibly disheartening that one butt hurt fan can ruin such a fun tradition for an entire group of fans. Of all the frustrating moments today, this one REALLY got my blood boiling. Absolutely infuriating. It is with great anger, frustration, and sadness to say that I will not be bringing Skittles to anymore Seahawks games.

Thoughts on Tennessee: The Seahawks had their hands full with the Titans at home today. Just imagine what could have happened if Jake Locker was healthy? Chris Johnson will make this team incredibly dangerous if he can perform like his 2009 self. Also, their defense might be one of the most underrated units in all of football. I think that the Tennessee Titans have solid young talent and if they play as tough as they did today, I think they might challenge for an AFC Wild-Card spot.

Random Thoughts: Pre-gaming started at 9am at King Street Bar and Oven. Good to know you can call ahead to reserve a table. All of the tables were reserved when we got there… “Hawk Shots” are the King Street staple drink and they taste like straight candy. Pretty easy on the wallet as well… King Street Bar and Oven are famously known for their calzones and today I tried the house favorite “Sicilian” calzone; three different meats and cheese baked into a homemade pesto-brushed crust. It was the best pregame meal I have had in a very long time…The only problem I had with this bar was that they only showed one morning game on all of the televisions. I wanted to watch Rams/Texans not Packers/Ravens… The giveaway this week was “crazy hair” which is basically a headband with lime green hair-like fuzz on the top of it. I left mine at my seat after the game and I can’t say I’m sad I did so… Like all Seahawks home games I was right again. Blue jerseys and blue pants for the home team this week… Blake Lewis of American Idol fame sung the national anthem on Sunday. I was only slightly surprised he didn’t burst into full beat-box mode halfway through… Any other week the 12th Man flag raisers would have been great. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to host the Eastlake Little League team to raise the flag because both Will Ferrell and Macklemore were in attendance at Sunday’s game. I was really hoping one of those two guys would do the honors. Unfortunately they did not and I was pretty bummed out about that… Kevin Lee was also in attendance at his first ever Seahawks game this week. For those who may not know or may not remember, Kevin was featured on ESPN’S “My Wish” series over the summer and the Seahawks invited him back to Seattle for this week’s game… Nice to have you back, 60 degrees and sunshine… Time to get back to work, Seahawks. We have a lot to get fixed before we play again on Thursday night.

Programming Note: Check back on WEDNESDAY for my preview of Thursday Night Football between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Talk to you very soon, 12th Man. Go Hawks!

Titans/Seahawks Preview

12 Oct

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Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

After losing their first game of the season last week the Seahawks look to bounce back in week 6 as they finish their tour of the AFC South by hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks hold a one game lead in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. The Tennessee Titans come into this game a somewhat surprising 3-2 and are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise 9-6. Their last meeting came in week 17 of the 2009 season. Chris Johnson broke the 2,000 yard mark on the season as the Titans defeated the Seahawks 17-13. The Seahawks finished the season 5-11 and just days after the defeat Jim Mora was fired and Pete Carroll was hired as Seahawks head coach. Here are my keys to victory and some things to look for this week.

With Max Unger likely back this week, the Seahawks will have their healthiest starting offensive line in three weeks. Given this I hope to see better pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson which hopefully also translates into better production from Wilson. After 3 solid weeks, Wilson’s numbers slipped in his previous two games. Wilson threw for a combined 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis and last week was the first week since week 2 his completion percentage was under 50 percent in a game. Wilson also has not seemed to be as accurate so far this year as he was at the end of last season. I think the offensive line could make all the difference in the world. I expect the Seahawks passing game to get back on track this week and I would not be surprised to see Wilson throw for between 250 and 300 yards against the Titans.

This week is the first week that all of our pass rushers will play together in front of the 12th Man. This could spell disaster for Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though the defense struggled down the stretch last week, our front 7 still sacked Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble on a strip-sack. I think the pass rush will play a huge factor this week and Fitzpatrick will be sacked at least four times. One thing that could affect the Seahawks on defense this week is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is dealing with a low grade high-ankle sprain and head coach Pete Carroll suggested that Wagner’s final game status could be determined during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. If Wagner cannot play, Heath Farwell will most likely start at middle linebacker. Wagner is the leader of the defensive huddle and he may be the most important defensive player as he relays the defensive formations to the rest of the defense. Wagner also has the second most tackles so far this season behind safety Earl Thomas. I am confident in Harwell’s ability to fill in but look for Tennessee to try to take advantage of the “weaker” middle of the field by dumping passes off to tight end Delanie Walker and primary slot receiver Kendall Wright.

The Tennessee Titans have gotten off to a rather surprising start to the 2013 season. After starting the season 3-1 they lost in two aspects last week against Kansas City Chiefs. They lost the game, and they also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. Without Locker, the Titans now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick to command the offense. Ideally with a backup quarterback at the helm the offense will turn to their running back to carry the load to try to take some of the pressure on the quarterback. The Titans definitely have a running back capable of carrying the load in Chris Johnson but playing in Seattle, Johnson may be facing a long and tough day this week. The Titans will be forced to throw a lot this week especially if the Seahawks can build a lead early on in the game. On offense for Tennessee this week my X-Factor player to watch is wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, was a player I had my eye on at this year’s combine and the time before the NFL Draft. Hunter’s height and speed to break away from defenders made him a perfect #2 wide receiver immediately in my eyes. This week he will line up across both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner depending on the play. The Titans have a lot of wide receivers that will see playing time this week. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington receiving most of the attention, look for Hunter to possibly make a bigger impact than expected against the Legion of Boom.

Last season Richard Sherman led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions with 8. This year, the Titans feature a guy in their secondary that could wind up leading the league in interceptions by season’s end. Cornerback Alterraun Verner has intercepted 4 passes so far this season and I believe he has established himself as the permanent replacement to former Titan Cortland Finnegan. What is interesting about the Titans defense is that they have a handful of guys that are effective in rushing the passer and another handful of guys that are effective getting to the play and making tackles. My X-Factor player to watch on defense is a guy who falls into both of these categories, outside linebacker Zach Brown. Brown, a second year man from the University of North Carolina, has recorded a team-high 3 sacks so far this season and also ranks third on the team in tackles with 29. Brown has also forced one fumble. Watching him on film, Brown does a very good job at being the first defender to figure out what type of play the offense will run. He does a good job of getting to the ball and is has more of an impact on running plays than on passing plays. I expect Brown to rush to the right side of the Seahawks offensive line to catch J.R. Sweezy and Michael Bowie off guard.

Random Thoughts: This is the first home game in three weeks and the only home game in the three weeks upcoming. Talk about a bummer from a fan’s perspective but I would rather knock out the majority of our road games now so we can enjoy back-to-back home games on two separate occasions later on in the season… The Seahawks will wear blue uniforms and blue pants this week… Carl Cheffers is the referee for Sunday’s game… Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for CBS this week. They are CBS’s #2 crew, meaning they get the privilege to broadcast one playoff game each season so these guys are pretty good all things considered. Should be a good call if you’re watching from home… I’m changing up my pregame plans this week. I’ll be a bar north of the stadium, probably King Street Bar and Oven. I don’t think I’ve been there since the 2012 preseason… Oh yeah, pregaming starts at 9am sharp… I need to get more pink Seahawks stuff to wear for breast cancer awareness month. All I have is an NFL logo pink ribbon pin and a bracelet… Sunday is a 1:05 start, not a 1:25 start. I’ve stated in the past that this 20 minute difference is actually pretty significant and not as many fans are in their seats for the start of the game if it is a 1:05 start. To all the people going to this week’s game please keep this in mind. Be in your seats by 1:00pm (okay, 12:45 just to be safe).

Prediction: Last season the Seahawks lost a close game to the Miami Dolphins and responded by winning 6 straight games before losing to Atlanta in the playoffs. I think that the Titans may open up this game with an early lead but the Seahawks will regain complete control shortly thereafter. Earl Thomas will intercept a deep pass and the Seahawks defensive front seven will force two fumbles. On offense, Sidney Rice will lead the receivers in yardage with 80 and a touchdown. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will both run for touchdowns and the Seahawks will get ready for the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-1 record.

Seahawks 30, Titans 13

Check back Sunday night for a review of the Seahawks game against the Titans. I will be blogging a lot in the coming week as the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week in week 7. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 50, Bills 17

17 Dec

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The phrase of the day used during the Seahawks/Bills broadcast by commentator John Lynch was “shellac.” This is the perfect word to describe Sunday’s game. The Seattle Seahawks shellacked the Buffalo Bills in Toronto 50-17. With the win, the Seahawks improve to 9-5 on the season and Buffalo falls to 5-9. In their last two games against Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks have outscored these two teams by a combined score of 108-17. They also are the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 50 or more points in two consecutive games. The Seahawks are suddenly red-hot with two home games remaining to wrap up the regular season. Here are my talking points from Sunday’s game.

Wilson Makes History: Russell Wilson made Seahawks history in only the first half of Sunday’s game. Wilson became the first quarterback in Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns in a game. He accomplished this feat with touchdown runs of 14, 25, and 13 yards respectively, all of which came in the first 24:29 of play. The zone-read option had a tremendously positive effect in this game overall as Wilson ended the day with 92 rushing yards in addition to his 205 passing yards and one passing touchdown. There is no question Wilson has the hot hand and a lot of the success has been because the offensive line has given Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With a dominant pass rush in the San Francisco 49ers coming to town next weekend, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson needs to make sure the hot hand sticks around as Wilson needs to make sure he is quickly decisive next week.

Seahawks Defense Dominant, For The Most Part: The Seahawks jumped out to a quick early lead but temporarily let Buffalo back into the game with a touchdown rushed in by C.J. Spiller and a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson. With a 14 point halftime lead, I was critical of the Seahawks defense needing to show that they would not slack in the second half no matter what the scoreboard read. They did not disappoint. In the second half, the Defense picked off two Fitzpatrick passes; one by linebacker K.J. Wright and one by safety Earl Thomas which was returned for a touchdown. They also shut out the Bills in the last 30 minutes of football as the offense continued to pile on points, making the lead more comfortable. The pass rush still was not as dominant as I would have liked to have seen although Chris Clemons had 2.5 sacks and Jason Jones also added half a sack. The Seahawks defense got the job done overall on the scoreboard and with the defense on a roll, with a huge primetime game on deck, the 12th Man will be able to boost the defense into another good performance next week, hopefully.

My Thoughts On The Fake Punt: After last week’s accusations that the Seahawks ran up the score on Arizona, I defended Pete Carroll and the Seahawks with the opinion that it is the defense’s job to stop our offense. If they can’t then we should be entitled to put up any number of points if the opportunity presents itself. This week however, there was another play that has the national media wondering if the Seahawks were deliberately trying to run up the score when other options could have been taken. The play under review is the Seahawks fake punt in the fourth quarter. With the Seahawks leading 47-17 with roughly 11 minutes left in the game the Seahawks faced 4th down and 4 yards to go. In punt formation, Clint Gresham direct-snapped the ball to Chris Maragos who then handed the ball off to Michael Robinson for a 29-yard gain. The Seahawks ended the drive with a Steven Hauschka field goal. Coach Carroll said after the game that he regrets calling for the fake punt. Bills head coach Chan Gailey had no comment about the play in his postgame press conference. I agree with Coach Carroll. There is no need to pull plays like that with a 30-point lead that is virtually guaranteed to hold up. The primary reason why I do not approve of the play call is because we used it in a situation where we did not need to use it. Knowing it would be that effective I think it would have been much more beneficial to save the play and use it when closer circumstances arise such as next week or sometime in the playoffs.

The Bills And The Toronto Effect: I’ll keep my thoughts on the play of the Buffalo Bills brief. The offense never really got off to a rhythm but C.J. Spiller did show flashes of gutsy running. Ryan Fitzpatrick started off making good throws but struggled as the game wore on. The defense started strong, sacking Russell Wilson twice in the first quarter. Buffalo’s defense just could not figure out how to stop the zone-read option and that killed them for 28 total points.

If I were a Buffalo Bills fan I would be furious at the NFL about the fact that a home game is taken away and moved to Toronto. Watching the game on television there was NO home-field advantage for the Bills and at times the cheering was louder for the Seahawks than for the Bills. At one point after a positive Buffalo play I remember seeing a section of fans where nobody was clapping or cheering. The people in attendance seemed to be casual spectators who looked like they would rather be watching Toronto Maple Leafs re-runs at home than be at the Rogers Centre watching NFL football. You can speculate all you want about how that game would have looked if it were played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. I think it definitely would have been tougher for the Seahawks and could have been a closer ballgame. The Bills Toronto series is an experiment that has failed on the whole. I understand the revenue streams it brings in for the Bills and for the NFL, but the league is doing a disservice playing a game in international waters each year. I think it is a fair assumption that Canadians just do not care about the National Football League.

Random Thoughts: The grey uniforms look very sharp. I wish we would have worn them for a game at home… I have to give a shout-out to rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane started at cornerback on Sunday in place of injured starter Walter Thurmond. The Bills tested Lane early, as in on the first play of the game. Lane stayed right over the top of Bills receiver T.J. Graham and made a play with a pass-defensed. Lane did an outstanding job in place of Thurmond this week. It’s good to know Lane can step in and do a good job if his number is called… I love 1pm road games. I’m not as tired throughout the course of the day if the Seahawks play in the afternoon. I always fight the temptation to take a nap during the 1pm games if the Seahawks play at 10am… My friend Brent came over for Sunday’s game. He just got back from Pittsburgh for winter break so it was nice to have him over to the house for the first time. My roommates and I haven’t seen him since the summer… Football is not meant to be played in baseball stadiums. Just saying… Tarvaris Jackson just looked silly wearing a Bills hat and sweatshirt on the sidelines. How do you go from starting quarterback one year to inactive week after week the next year?… It’s nice to see Zach Miller get involved in scoring plays. That’s why we paid him the big bucks. That is his second touchdown in as many games… I did not track my consolation bracket fantasy football matchup. When you barely miss the playoffs, what’s the point… The Seahawks only had 4 penalties for 32 yards. That is always a beautiful stat to see. Let’s keep that up next week against San Francisco… Speaking of San Francisco, I hate the fact that they beat New England on Sunday Night Football, meaning next week’s game will not determine the leader of the NFC West. It is still an important game no question about it because we can clinch a playoff berth, but at this point I have a hard time dealing with the notion that the environment at CenturyLink Field next weekend will not be nearly as intense as it would be if we were playing the 49ers for the division lead.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win over Buffalo, the Seahawks improve to 9-5. If the season ended right now the Seahawks would be the 5th seed in the NFC and would play the Washington Redskins in D.C. in the NFC wild-card playoffs. If the Seahawks win one of their last two games they will clinch a playoff spot. Things can still change however as the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants are all still in contention for playoff spots. Here are next week’s games with potential NFC playoff implications:

San Francisco (10-3-1) at Seattle (9-5)

Washington (8-6) at Philadelphia (4-10)

Minnesota (8-6) at Houston (12-2)

Chicago (8-6) at Arizona (5-9)

New Orleans (6-8) at Dallas (8-6)

New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore (9-5)

This week is hate week as the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers next weekend on Sunday Night Football. Look for my preview of the 49ers/Seahawks game on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Bills Preview

15 Dec

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills

Site: Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks conclude their regular season road schedule north of the border in Toronto this week as they take on the Buffalo Bills. For the Bills, this is their annual “Bills Toronto Series” game which will take place at Rogers Centre; home of Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The Seahawks are riding in on a two-game winning streak and an 8-5 overall record. The Bills have not been as fortunate. Although they are still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff picture, they have a record of 5-8 and need a lot of help to make their microscopic playoff dreams a reality. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Bills 6-5. Their last meeting was kickoff weekend of the 2008 season when Buffalo trounced the Seahawks 34-10. This game is a must-win if the Seahawks want to keep their hopes of the NFC West title alive. Here are my focuses of this weekend’s game.

I think a lot of people look at last week’s 58-0 win over Arizona and expect our offense to keep its strong offensive momentum going against the Bills. I hate to break it to you 12th Man but there is no chance we will be nearly as dominant as last week you should still be satisfied if we are still able to move the ball and put up points at a normal rate. I look at the Chicago game two weeks ago to compare how to go about playing the Bills this week. There are two big things to look at this week on offense. First, the wide receivers. According to Coach Carroll, Sidney Rice is dealing with a bruised foot and has been held out of practice all week. Rice says he expects to play but his status is uncertain. He started the week with his foot in a boot. The boot has since come off but he is still questionable. If Rice can go, things will be normal on the outside and I could see Rice having a big game this week. If he cannot go, the wide receiver field will be somewhat switched up. Coach Carroll said in his Friday press conference that Charly Martin has been placed on injured reserve, ending his 2012 season. No receiver roster move was made after putting Martin on IR. Jermaine Kearse could see expanded playing time if Rice cannot play. I do not think Doug Baldwin will start because we will want to have some height starting on the outside. Let’s pray Rice will be able to play, since Kearse has not started a game in his NFL career.

Over the past three weeks, the Buffalo Bills have given up an average of 72 rushing yards per game. Before that stretch however, Buffalo had the worst run defense in the NFL. It is time for their run defense to get back to its original ways. Running back Marshawn Lynch is set to play in his first game against the Bills since he was traded from Buffalo to Seattle at the 2010 trade deadline. After a three touchdown performance last week I expect to see a lot of Lynch early this week. If Lynch gets off to a fast start, it is likely we will put up points, get out to an early lead, and be able to stick to the game plan and not make too many changes later on in the game. If the Bills are successful in stopping Lynch, the plan will change and I would not be surprised to see a lot of zone-read option plays where Russell Wilson tries to run.

With another appeal delay on tap, cornerback Richard Sherman is expected to play once again this week on defense. As with every road game, the biggest key this week is stopping the Bills offense especially on third down. This week the Seahawks appear to be healthy but two starters in the secondary have been hurt in practice this week. Cornerback Walter Thurmond is dealing with an ankle injury and safety Kam Chancellor is dealing with a groin injury. I am hoping both these guys can play but I believe Chancellor is the one guy who must play due to his ability to get to the play and stop the offense from gaining positive yards because he is such a hard hitter. Getting back to the defensive play on third down, I am hoping Bruce Irvin can have a big impact. Irvin leads all rookies in sacks with 8 and he himself predicted a double-digit sack season. If Irvin can record two sacks and get a couple more from a mix including Chris Clemons, Bobby Wagner, and Brandon Mebane, the defense will be in great shape.

The Buffalo Bills primary strength on offense is the running game. Buffalo holds the 6th best run offense in the league and this week due to the injury of Fred Jackson last week, the load will be entirely on C.J. Spiller. Spiller is a very talented running back who can be explosive especially if he gets loose. Spiller ranks first in the league in yards per carry with a 6.6 average. It will be very important for the Seahawks front four to penetrate Buffalo’s offensive line to make initial contact in the backfield to stop Spiller. Buffalo’s quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick who is averaging only 200 yards passing per game. Before last week against St. Louis, Fitzpatrick struggled as he did not throw for more than 168 yards in their prior 3 games and he has thrown only 4 touchdown passes in his last 4 games.

The Buffalo defense sports some great talent but their unit has been banged up as of late. The Bills biggest offseason acquisition was defensive end Mario Williams who signed a 6-year $100 million contract during the offseason. Williams is having a decent year but has arguably not lived up to the expectations of his contract. He has 37 total tackles and 10.5 sacks so far this season. Other than Williams, the Bills have other notable names staring on defense including Marcell Dareus, Nick Barnett, Jairus Byrd, Leodis McKelvin, and 2012 first-round pick Stephon Gilmore. Barnett and McKelvin are the two biggest names to keep an eye on because they have either not practiced or practiced on a limited basis this week. The Buffalo defense has the talent to make special plays happen. It will be up to Russell Wilson to exploit the flaws within this deep Buffalo defensive unit.

The biggest story in the Buffalo media this week is not the return of Marshawn Lynch surprisingly. Instead, it is the rumor that backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is not smart enough to handle the Bills offense. Jackson, who was acquired from the Seahawks at the end of training camp this year, has been Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup all season and this week will be a unique tool for Chan Gailey and the Buffalo coaching staff to use to try to exploit the Seattle offense that he had learned prior to being traded. Gailey downplayed the notion that a player with ties to another team can help a whole lot in trying to predict what that team will throw at you. I think it will be really funny if Fitzpatrick has to leave the game and Jackson comes in to replace him.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have not won three road games in a given regular season since 2007… The Seahawks will debut the alternate grey uniforms this week. The jerseys will be paired with grey pants. According to seahawks.com this will be the only game the grey uniforms will be worn this season, which dashes my hopes of us doing a “grey out” for the San Francisco game… It will be nice to have this game be a 1:05 pacific kickoff for an east coast game. The last east coast game to start at 1:05 was the Carolina game in week 5. We won that game… The Bills have only won one game in their Toronto Series since it started. Their only win came last year against Washington. Let’s make sure that stat does not become a winning streak… How did Richard Sherman not win NFC player of the week last week? Two interceptions is not good enough for the NFL anymore?… Dick Stockton and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. It’s nice to have a break from the inseparable duo of Chris Myers and Tim Ryan… The referee this week is Scott Green… This week’s game will be played in a dome and will most likely feature the smallest crowd at an NFL game this season. Rogers Centre only seats about 50,000 people anyway… Please New England, beat the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.

Prediction: The Seahawks should know what is potentially at stake this week. I do not see us losing focus, especially since we are coming off an impressive road win in Chicago and a complete annihilation of Arizona at home last week. This week, the offense will not be nearly as impressive but will put up a decent amount of points. The defense will struggle on third down like they usually do but they will be able to stop the Buffalo offense when it matters most.

Seahawks 31, Bills 17

Check back for my review of the Buffalo game and an updated playoff outlook on Monday afternoon. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Seahawks!