Tag Archives: Sean Lee

“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.

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Hawk Notes 9/19: Roster Moves, My Opinion of Tate’s Fine

19 Sep

Yesterday the Seahawks announced a few roster moves. Cornerback Danny Gorrer has been signed to the 53-man roster and to make room we have released running back Kregg Lumpkin. Gorrer is a journeyman player who most recently played for the Baltimore Ravens the past two seasons. He has also spent time with the New Orleans Saints and the St. Louis Rams. With the injury Sunday to Byron Maxwell, Gorrer will most likely take Maxwell’s spot and play primarily on special teams.

The Seahawks also released wide receiver Ricardo Lockette and linebacker Allen Bradford from the practice squad and brought back linebacker Korey Toomer and offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson to the practice squad.

Today wide receiver Golden Tate was fined $21,000 for his block on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win. In real time it looked like a vicious crushing blow but when the play is slowed down I cannot see any evidence of it being a dirty hit. Tate hit Lee in the chest and led with his shoulder. Only helmet-to-helmet hits or hits where the tackler leads with his helmet are subject to fines so this fine does not make any sense to me. Coach Carroll said today that Tate will appeal the fine and rightfully so.

Like I said, this fine does not make any sense to me. In an era where player safety is at the forefront of the issues in the National Football League I do not understand how Tate is supposed to do anything different. According to the official reasoning, Tate was fined for hitting a “defenseless player,” but when you are actively trying to run down and tackle a player (in this case Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson) how does that make a defender defenseless? I hope that Tate wins this appeal because he definitely deserves to. If not, then I hope Tate’s teammates step up to help pay the fine; a commonality among plays that should not warrant a fine in the minds of other players and fans.

Tomorrow the Seahawks start preparation for Monday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. I hope to be back on tomorrow night with notes from practice.

Review: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7

17 Sep

After struggling on the road in week one, the Seahawks returned home and completely dominated the Dallas Cowboys 27-7. It started with a fumbled kickoff and that was enough to fuel the 12th Man and the Seahawks took advantage of the opportunity and never looked back. I took a lot of positives out of this game. Here are some of my thoughts after this great win.

“They Just Can’t Play Here:” That was a statement from my friend Alan regarding Dallas’s special teams after the Cowboys fumbled the opening kickoff. The biggest headline leading into this game was the Tony Romo botched snap six years ago and the Cowboys continued their special teams struggles into this game. The Cowboys kickoff fumble turned into three points, then later in the quarter Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith blocked a punt and Jeron Johnson returned it 5 yards for a touchdown. Seahawks special teams 10, Dallas 0 after the first quarter. I have to believe that the crowd plays a part in the terrible play by Dallas’s special teams, not to take anything away from our special teams. It is amazing looking back into hindsight that those scores alone would have been enough to beat Dallas yesterday.

My Russell Wilson Evaluation: After getting off to a slow start, Russell Wilson shined in the second half. He ended the game 15/20 for 151 yards and a touchdown. His 75% completion percentage in a single game is the highest for a Seahawks rookie quarterback in franchise history. His stat line may not be the most impressive, but his decision making is what really caught my eye. Each of his throws were right on the money and he did not force any throws into double or triple coverage. Through eight quarters, Wilson has only turned the ball over once and that one turnover came on a hail mary before halftime of the Arizona game. In his last 73 games dating back to USC, when Pete Carroll teams win the turnover battle their record is 70-3. When we take care of the ball like we do we have a great chance to win or at least be competitive. This is turning into my favorite attribute of Russell Wilson’s play. His numbers may not be the best but the way he plays the game mentally gives us our best chance to win.

Our Defense Continues To Prove It Can Be A Top 5 Unit: Through two games the Seahawks have allowed an average of 13.5 points per game. At this pace the Seahawks could be a very tough team to pick against as the season extends and teams potentially get thinner and tired. I was very impressed by the way we tackled. One play in particular; a second quarter swing pass from Tony Romo to DeMarco Murray where K.J. Wright went for the tackle, and was able to wrap him up long enough for Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor to come over and help make the tackle without letting Murray get away. I think our tackling has improved as a whole but there is still some work to do. Our run defense continues to be dominant, only giving up 49 rushing yards to the Cowboys. The pass rush did not meet my expectations this week because Romo was only sacked once. This needs to change soon especially since Green Bay comes to town next week.

Cleaning Up Our Laundry: After getting flagged 13 times in Arizona, the Seahawks only got penalized 5 times against Dallas for a total of 35 yards. There were only 10 penalties combined in the game which makes me wonder was there that significant of change in one week’s time or were the replacement referees just letting them play? I am very satisfied with this stat but I was concerned multiple times in this game about Breno Giacomini. Giacomini is a very fiery competitor and at times he can let the opponent get under his skin. He was flagged twice in the preseason for personal fouls on one drive and it looked like that could have happened again a couple times yesterday. These are the penalties that kill drives and kill games. All in all I am hoping this game is a sign that we have cleaned up our mistakes, however that big of a positive difference in only one week’s time is going to keep me cautiously optimistic heading into future games.

Our Best Receiver: I was asked by Alan in the middle of the game who I thought is our best wide receiver. After a little bit of thought I answered Golden Tate. He looked at me surprised but I explained my opinion that whenever Tate gets the ball in his hands there is a chance he can make something explosive happen. He can make plays when given the opportunity and I think he may have the best hands on the team. Tate can even make a huge block when the time warrants him, just like he did when he leveled Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee:

Image

Tate is an emerging talent that I will predict right now will be our leading receiver by the end of the season.

Same Old Romo, Same Old Cowboys: According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, the Cowboys have a .500 winning percentage dating back to the 1990’s. Going off of this stat I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that after the Cowboys surprisingly beat the defending world champion New York Giants they would slump off and lose to the Seahawks. The Cowboys may be the most inconsistent and overrated team in all of football, and it drives me crazy when I hear talk that Tony Romo is an elite quarterback in the NFL. 23/40 for 251 yards and one touchdown and one interception is not elite in my book. Dallas is an average team at best. They can challenge for the NFC East title but in no way are they legitimate super bowl contenders, at least not at this point in the season.

Random Thoughts: I woke up at the earliest time for a week of football in two years (5:45am). By the time I got home for Sunday Night Football I was beat… One of my roomates made bloody Mary’s before leaving for the tailgate. Tomato juice and vodka at 7:30 in the morning is not my idea of a good time… Alan, Jake, and I tailgated about two blocks north of the stadium with Jake’s brother Chris and his friends. Usually I am used to going to the bars before Seahawks games because parking lot tailgating is either too expensive or too bare but Sunday was one of the best tailgates I have been at in a long time. It felt like a college atmosphere, almost as if we were prefunking for a Husky football game… Alan bought a Marshawn Lynch jersey before the game. Great investment in my opinion… The alumni day ceremony was one of the worst I have seen. Everything seemed rushed and because of limited time, the Cowboys were introduced halfway through the ceremony… The Seahawks defense was introduced to the crowd to a roaring ovation… Former Seahawk Paul Johns sung the National Anthem. Johns sings the anthem on alumni day almost every year… Shawn Springs raised the 12th Man flag, continuing the tradition that a talented and popular former Seahawk raises the flag at the home opener… Two rows down there was a lady who got super drunk and obnoxious, calling out Seahawks fans for not starting trash talk with Cowboys fans in the fourth quarter. I’m all for having a good time at a game but when you get mad at other Seahawks fans for not being a$$holes towards the opposing fans, I have a problem with that… I brought six bags of Skittles into the game for whenever Marshawn Lynch did something great. We threw four bags worth of Skittles when he scored his fourth quarter touchdown… One fan across the aisle looked back in anger because I think one of our Skittles hit him or went down his back. If you are going to make a big deal about a single Skittle, then I’m sorry. I’ll buy you some tissues for the Green Bay game sir… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants on Sunday. I don’t think we will wear gray at home this season… The giveaway was a mini 12th Man flag. Mine ripped before the game even started… The halftime show was the Red Bull skydiving team. I’m always entertained to watch people jump out of airplanes for our entertainment… After the game we went back to the tailgate, drank a couple more beers, then bussed back home to Wallingford… I am very disappointed that the other NFC West teams all won on Sunday. It makes the division look better and we get more national media coverage but it does not help the Seahawks gain any ground on taking the division lead.

I believe the Seahawks are off the next two days and preparation for next week’s Monday night matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Check back this week for my notes heading into week 3. Go Seahawks!