Tag Archives: St. Louis Cardinals

Seahawks/Rams Preview

12 Sep
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The preseason-long wait is finally over. The two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks begin their journey for a third straight Super Bowl appearance on Sunday when they take on their NFC West rivals, the St. Louis Rams. In their meeting in St. Louis last season, the Seahawks came close to completing a massive comeback. Unfortunately some Rams trickery and possibly some help from the officials was enough to doom the Seahawks as they lost 28-26. No matter how good or bad the Rams are, they ALWAYS play Seattle tough at the Edward Jones Dome. Since the Seahawks and Rams became rivals in 2002, Seattle has beaten St. Louis by more than one score only twice at the dome. Given that this is the first game of the season, this will be a much more evenly matched game than you may think. Here is what I will be looking for this week.

It may be only week one, but believe it or not this may be the toughest road test the Seahawks will face all season. It is crucial that our offense does not struggle. This week on offense I am looking for the Seahawks to break from their traditional offensive approach. What I mean is this. The Seahawks tend to formulate a game plan and for the first half they stick to their blueprint no matter what happens. This sometimes means the Seahawks struggle, fall behind, then in the second half they adapt to what the opposing defense is doing and in the process call plays that will take advantage of the defense’s weaknesses, thus moving the ball and scoring points. I would not be surprised at all if the Seahawks try to establish the running game early and struggle, allowing the Rams to control the momentum early. I believe stretch runs, screens, and quick slants are the best plays to call for the Seahawks to thrive this week due to the uncertainty of our offensive line play against the Rams superior front seven. Given this, Tyler Lockett could make a big impact out of the slot this week. If the offense can put at least two touchdowns on the board and Marshawn Lynch can run for at least 70 yards, Seattle will be in fantastic shape.

It should be obvious what my defensive focus is on this week. Half of our Legion of Boom starters have turned over from last year. Strong safety Kam Chancellor continues his holdout, which means that Dion Bailey will start in his place. Cary Williams will start at cornerback opposite of Richard Sherman. If Rams quarterback Nick Foles gets good protection I expect him to challenge our secondary early. It also would not surprise me if the Seahawks play a good amount of nickel coverage with Marcus Burley this week to take away the potential speed threat of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey in the slot.

The St. Louis Rams enter this week’s game somewhat of a mystery on offense. They are led by a new quarterback, Nick Foles, who was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia over the offseason. Running back Tre Mason is questionable this week and rookie Todd Gurley will be inactive as he is still rehabbing from a torn ACL he sustained while at the University of Georgia last year. At this point it is looking like Benny Cunningham will start at running back. To make things even murkier, St. Louis will start two rookies along the offensive line. For the first time ever I am putting my X-Factor Players to Watch spotlight on these rookie linemen, left guard Jamon Brown and right tackle Rob Havenstein. Brown will have to deal with Brandon Mebane in the A gap while Havenstein will have his hands full with Michael Bennett on the outside. If Bennett can penetrate the line of scrimmage with ease the Rams could be in big trouble throughout the game. Short passes may be the best strategy for the Rams given the questions in pass protection and because of how poorly the Seahawks defended quick passes during the preseason, especially on third down. I believe Foles will look to his bigger receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick on the outside. Keep an eye on Quick in particular, as he will likely line up against Cary Williams.

If there is one thing the Seahawks should have learned in these games in St. Louis is to be on the lookout for special teams funny business. In 2012 the Rams successfully executed a fake field goal for a touchdown and the Seahawks lost by 6. Last season the Rams conducted a fake punt to perfection, baiting all the Seahawks special teamers to one side of the field with a decoy returner while Stedman Bailey fielded the punt on the other side of the field and ran straight down the sideline for an easy touchdown. Then late in the fourth quarter, punter Johnny Hekker lined up to punt but threw the ball for a first down, extending the Rams final drive. The Seahawks, as you know, lost by 2. I believe everything is fair game on special teams in this game. I believe three fake-outs in three years is enough for Pete Carroll and the coaching staff to finally put a heavy emphasis on trick plays in practice this week. The Seahawks will surely be on alert. I dare the Rams to try to catch us off guard on special teams.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks are finally telling the fans in advance what their uniform combo will be. We will be wearing white jerseys and college navy pants this week. Hopefully the Seahawks will give this kind of notice every week this season… The Rams will wear navy jerseys. My guess is they will wear navy pants with them… Kenny Albert and Daryl “Moose” Johnston have the call for FOX this week… The referee this week is Jeff Triplette. Since Bill Leavy has a new role with the NFL, I now believe Triplette is the worst referee in the league. Don’t be surprised to see many questionable and/or wrong calls this week… It will be nice to have a bunch of friends over for football this week. Barbeque and Bud Light all day long!… The Rams are yet another team threatening to relocate to Los Angeles next season and they may be in most dire need for hometown support. The Rams are struggling to fill seats at the Edward Jones Dome for this game and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the majority of the upper deck empty. Given the excitement around St. Louis for the Cardinals success and the fact that they play at the exact same time as the Rams on Sunday, support for the Rams will be visibly lacking, perhaps virtually nonexistent at the dome. Personally I would love to see the Rams move to Los Angeles because the NFL would kill two birds with one stone. The Rams moving to LA would mean that the NFL wouldn’t have to worry about division realignment (something that would have to occur if the Chargers and Raiders both moved to Los Angeles). In my mind a Rams move would also create a geographically perfect NFC West with teams in Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, and Los Angeles.

Prediction: I expect rust. I expect penalties. What I do not expect is for the Seahawks to lie down. Marshawn Lynch will catch a touchdown out of the backfield in the red zone and Jermaine Kearse will add a deep touchdown of his own. Steven Hauschka will miss one extra point but will redeem himself in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard field goal. The game will come down to a 57-yard field goal attempt off the foot of Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, which he will hook wide right. The Seahawks will survive and start the season 1-0 for the third straight season.

Seahawks 16, Rams 14

Seahawks/Rams Preview

18 Oct
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 10:00am

Even though we are the defending world champions and even though we are playing one of the toughest schedules in the National Football League, for the first time in a long time the 12th Man is feeling a bit uncertain moving forward. After falling at home to the Dallas Cowboys last week, the Seahawks now face two straight road games that are now even more important to win. This stretch starts on Sunday when the Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams in our first NFC West game of the season. The Seahawks are 3-2 on the season and with the loss last week we currently sit in 3rd place in the division. The Rams are 1-4 and are in last place in the NFC West. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 20-12 and in their last meeting the Seahawks defeated St. Louis in Seattle by a score of 27-9. Here is what to watch for in this week’s game.

This week there is one over-arching question that must be asked on both sides of the ball. How will injuries to core players affect our play? On the offensive side of the ball I am focusing on the Seahawks offensive line. The Seahawks will be without Max Unger for the second consecutive week. Russell Okung is likely to play but he is still has a labrum injury lingering in his shoulder. It will be crucial for the offensive line to create running room for Marshawn Lynch and to give Russell Wilson a clean pocket to throw from. The Rams have a lot of talent along their defensive line and historically they have given Seattle problems when playing in St. Louis. Although the Seahawks only allowed two sacks of Russell Wilson last week, the talent the Rams will send his way is much better in my opinion than what the Dallas Cowboys had to offer. The running game must be effective for us to have any chance in winning this game. It starts with Marshawn Lynch. After only 10 carries in a losing effort last week, expect his workload to be dramatically higher this week. Even if Lynch struggles to get going early, I expect offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to not shy away from calling Lynch’s number especially after the criticism he was faced with after last week’s game.

On defense the Seahawks will be without at least one starter and possibly without one other starter. Bobby Wagner is suffering from turf toe and has been ruled out of this week’s game. Seattle will play the linebacker shuffle this week, moving K.J. Wright to middle linebacker with Malcolm Smith taking Wright’s spot as the starting “Will” linebacker. The Seahawks may also be without starting cornerback Byron Maxwell, who has not practiced all week while recovering from a calf strain. After Wagner exited last week’s game it felt as though our defense fell apart. The Seahawks defense allowed 23 points once Wagner departed in the second quarter. The tackling in the middle of the field worsened in the second half and the Cowboys skill position players found lots of room in the open field. It will be important for Wright to be an anchor in the middle of the field and make clean, fundamental tackles. Last week Rams quarterback Austin Davis was able to make clean throws to receivers Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis among others in the middle of the field against a banged up San Francisco defense. This week look for Davis to use these receivers and speedster Tavon Austin out wide to test the Legion of Boom especially if Maxwell is inactive. Marcus Burley will likely start for the Seahawks if Maxwell cannot go and it is very possible to think that Davis will look in the direction of a raw inexperienced starter rather than to throw in the direction of all-pro Richard Sherman.

This season the St. Louis Rams defense is not putting up the numbers like they did a season ago but they are still an intimidating bunch, especially the front seven. Last season Rams defensive end Robert Quinn ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 19. That dominant performance earned him a new contract but so far Quinn has not earned his newfound money. Quinn has only 12 tackles so far this season with no sacks. The only sack the Rams have recorded this season belongs to my X-Factor player to watch, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald, from the University of Pittsburgh, was a first-round pick of the Rams back in May. He along with Michael Brockers form one of the best up-and-coming defensive tackle combinations in all of football. Just like Robert Quinn, Donald has also recorded 12 tackles including 4 tackles for loss. I loved Donald coming out of college because of his potential as an interior pass rusher and with Max Unger out this could be the perfect opportunity for Donald to show what all the hype was about back before the draft. Donald vs. Seahawks center Stephen Schilling is a matchup to keep an eye on this week. If Donald is successful in getting through the middle of the Seahawks offensive line it could be a frustrating day once again for Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the Seattle offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks have confirmed via their Twitter that they will wear white jerseys and wolf grey pants this week… The Rams will wear navy blue jerseys with either white or navy blue pants… Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Tony Siragusa have the call for FOX this week… Brad Allen is this week’s referee. Allen is one of 4 rookie referees in the NFL this season… I was hoping the St. Louis Cardinals would extend the National League Championship Series into Sunday. It would have been great for the entire city of St. Louis to be infatuated with playoff baseball, virtually making this week’s Rams game an afterthought. That will not be the case however, after the Cardinals season came to an end on Thursday night… In the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks are 2-2 playing the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome… St. Louis would have been an interesting road trip to do. Game tickets are dirt cheap but round-trip airfare to St. Louis is a bit on the pricey side. I have given some thought into doing a spontaneous short-notice weekend trip to St. Louis for the game this year and in previous years but have never done it… I have been to every NFC West for a Seahawks game except for St. Louis… I am not in panic mode yet but if the Seahawks lose this game I am sure this entire city will be panicking. My word of encouragement: Never lose faith in this team.

Prediction: I could see this game going down to the wire, much like some of our previous games played in St. Louis. I think it will be incredibly difficult for the Seahawks running game to get going once again this week and it will be up to Russell Wilson to extend Seahawks drives. The only Seahawks touchdown will belong to Wilson on a scramble from inside the redzone. The Seahawks defense will play a much more sound game this week, including three sacks of Austin Davis. The Rams will win the turnover battle however and that could cost the Seahawks a chance to win the game late. Of course I hope I am wrong, but I believe the Rams will win a tight, physical game and the Seahawks will lose back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 7 and 8 of the 2012 season.

Rams 17, Seahawks 16

Check back on Sunday night for my review of this game. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 14, Rams 9

29 Oct
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Three hours of stress was relieved when the Seahawks defense held the Rams offense on the Seattle 1-yard line with 4 seconds left as the Seahawks escaped on the road once again. This week, an ugly and frustrating 14-9 win over the St. Louis Rams. As ugly as this game was we got out of there injury-free and with the win. It’s over 12th Man. No need to worry about what-if’s or should-have’s. Regardless of how it looked the Seahawks improve to 7-1 and continue to hold a one game lead over San Francisco for first place in the NFC West. The Rams fall to 3-5 and are in last place in the division. There is a lot to discuss after this one. Here are my thoughts.

Back to the Drawing Board (Offensive Line): After how they played on Monday night, if I was Paul McQuistan or Michael Bowie I would be seriously worried about my short-term job security. McQuistan and Bowie alone allowed 6 of the Rams 7 sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson. These sacks developed because Rams defensive linemen Chris Long and Robert Quinn had the speed to simply run around the edge and collapse the pocket within a split-second. Russell Wilson had no time to throw and after his first 20 plays, only one was not considered to be either a quarterback pressure or a sack. It was a way worse performance than the first half in Houston. I was in Houston and trust me, if you think that game looked bad this one looked way worse. If I am the Seahawks I think I would at least consider starting Alvin Bailey in place of Bowie next week. McQuistan is stuck at left tackle until Russell Okung comes back in a few weeks. One more thing that must happen is for the Seahawks not to panic by trying to rush Breno Giacomini back on the field. We can survive (sometimes barely) without him over the next couple weeks but our offense will improve once we get healthy.

Back to the Drawing Board (Run Defense): Zac Stacy recorded his first 100+ yard rushing performance of the season and the Seahawks run defense allowed 200 total rushing yards to the Rams on Monday night. It was my belief that with Kellen Clemens at quarterback the Rams would try to keep the ball on the ground to take the pressure off the passing game and it worked. Between Stacy, Clemens, Daryl Richardson, and Chris Givens, the Rams averaged 5.4 yards per carry; a 2-yard improvement of their YPC average in their previous games. If it wasn’t for solid defense deep in our territory the Rams would have traded their field goals for touchdowns and we would have lost. This performance by our defense left me scratching my head because their inability to stop the Rams on the ground was very abnormal and uncharacteristic of a unit that came into Monday night as the 5th best run defense in the league. With a home game coming up and facing a backup running back, the Seahawks defense will have a great chance to reboot and get back to the way they are used to playing.

Turnover Battle Has Minimal Impact: The Seahawks won the turnover battle 2-0 and we wound up winning the game but did winning the turnover battle have as big of impact on the outcome of this game as our other wins? Not really in my eyes. Our two turnovers were interceptions by Bruce Irvin and Richard Sherman. In the two offensive drives following those interceptions, the Seahawks could only score 7 total points. Those points did determine the outcome of the game but considering that the Seahawks were only 2/11 on third down and recorded 6 offensive three-and-outs the frustration of our offense throughout the game seemed to negate those much-needed turnovers. On the other side the Seahawks did not turn the ball over in this game and that also helped in keeping the Rams to only 9 points. Regardless of our offensive line play, turning turnovers into points on our next offensive possessions could have blown this game wide open and the Seahawks could have given themselves some breathing room heading into the waning minutes of the game.

Penalties Become a Problem Again: Some penalties were inopportune and were simply bad calls. The Seahawks were flagged 10 times for 83 yards and two of these penalties grabbed my attention because they extended St. Louis drives and turned into points for the Rams. The first occurred late in the third quarter. It was a holding call on Brandon Browner on a 3rd and 17. The penalty gave St. Louis an automatic first down and Greg Zuerlein ended the drive with a 27-yard field goal with 12:51 left in the game. The second penalty was a personal foul on K.J. Wright that was considered a hit on a defenseless receiver (even though I don’t believe it was). Wright’s shoulder pad made slight contact with Austin Pettis’s facemask and the Rams were rewarded an automatic first down. Fortunately the drive stalled when Zuerlein missed a 50-yard field goal wide right. I thought that the Seahawks had fixed their penalty problems after the first couple of games but Seattle seemed to relapse against St. Louis. We need to make penalties and smart play a point of emphasis this week in practice because we need to clean this up. We may have won this week but in order to give us a better and less stressful chance to win it will surely help to play mistake-free football in the coming weeks.

Grow Up, Golden: On Golden Tate’s 80-yard touchdown catch he taunted the Rams secondary by waving safety Rodney McLeod with about 25 yards left to run. Tate was told by Coach Carroll on the sideline that we are better people than that and that taunting is unacceptable. After the game Tate admitted his mistake while calling himself and the action “immature.” I understand the “heat of the moment” excuse but I agree with Carroll in that there is no place for that on the field. Tate is not Deion Sanders or even Terrell Owens. I remember an interview NFL Network conducted with Andrew Luck before the 2012 season while touring the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The visit made Luck take a step back and realize that he is “just a scrub rookie quarterback who hasn’t accomplished squat” so far in the league. In my opinion Tate has not earned the right to show off in the fashion he did on Monday night. Maybe he needs to take a step back much like Luck did and realize that there are much more important parts of being an NFL player than being flashy. He attracted mass amounts of negative attention from people around the league and he will lose the respect of those people if he keeps up this kind of behavior. I am a believer that Tate will not let this happen again and keep the emotions to himself when he makes a game-altering play moving forward.

Rams Pass Offense Goes Conservative: A little earlier I noted that I thought the Rams would try to keep the ball on the ground to take the pressure off Kellen Clemens, which they did effectively. The Rams passing game also played conservative just like I thought they would. Kellen Clemens did not throw a pass that traveled more than 20 feet in the air. He took advantage of Seattle’s oftentimes soft zone coverage and was able to pick up moderate chunks of yardage that wound up extending drives. Clemens ended the night 15/31 for 158 yards along with his 2 interceptions. Clemens did not do anything flashy and overly spectacular and quite frankly he didn’t need to. His conservative play nearly won the game for St. Louis. Clemens’s play reminded me a lot of how Alex Smith plays quarterback in Kansas City. It might be beneficial for the Rams and Clemens to open up the playbook a little bit because if they do and are effective they could win a few more games, especially the way their defense is playing.

Thoughts on St. Louis: Overall the Rams did not look anything like the team that lost badly to Carolina in week 7. Without Sam Bradford the Rams may be stuck in mediocrity for the rest of the season but their defense is impressive and their pass rush is scary good. Making a playoff push may not be likely this season but just like they were projected by some to challenge for a playoff berth this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar hype surrounding this team to start the 2014 season.

Random Thoughts: I must say I am disappointed that on the Rams last drive of the game that the Seahawks defense did not blitz as much as I thought they should. In those kinds of situations I think you should be sending the dogs on all-out blitzes to either sack the quarterback or try to force him into committing a turnover. If I were Dan Quinn I would have definitely put extreme pressure on Clemens on that last drive… Right at the end of “Monday Night Countdown” ESPN’s Suzy Kolber stated that there were more Seahawks fans in attendance than Rams fans. Props to everyone who flew down from Seattle for yet another strong showing on the road… Game 5 of the World Series ended at the start of the 4th quarter. I was worried some St. Louis Cardinals fans would walk over to the Seahawks/Rams games in the final quarter and would give the Rams more of a home-field advantage down the stretch. Luckily that factor did not seem to make much of a difference… I heard through Twitter and television that the Rams were offering free hot dogs and 2 for 1 beers at the game. Too bad I wasn’t there because I would have definitely taken advantage of that promotion… Was it just me or did Jon Gruden make the broadcast kind of awkward?… Let me tell you barbeque pulled pork marinated with root beer in a crockpot is one delicious recipe. I highly recommend it… I recommend everyone go listen to Eminem’s new song “The Monster.” You’ll understand why I mention it once you hear it… The Seahawks have won more regular season road games so far this season than they did all of last season. The Seahawks can be no worse than 4-4 on the road this season and I have my sights on at least a 6-2 record on the road this season… Our reward for winning these road games is getting to play at home in January… Taking the rest of the season one game at a time may be difficult challenge with the possibility of home-field advantage looking us square in the face… It will be nice to get back to CenturyLink Field this week. Half of our season is in the books and 5 of our remaining 8 games are at home. That makes us one of the most dangerous teams in the league going forward. Don’t doubt that.

Monday afternoon I surpassed 20,000 all-time views on this blog. Thank you for everyone for reading. I appreciate all the comments and feedback. Look for my preview of our week 9 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday morning. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Rams Preview

27 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams

Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)

Kickoff: 5:40pm

For the second consecutive the week the Seahawks hit the road for a nationally televised primetime game. The Seahawks share the Monday Night spotlight with the St. Louis Rams this week in the first matchup between these two teams this season. The Seahawks are 6-1 and are coming off a 34-22 win over the Arizona Cardinals in week 7. The Rams are 3-4 and not only did they lose to the Carolina Panthers last week, they also lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL, which has ended his 2013 season. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 18-12. Their last meeting came in the final regular season game of 2012. The Seahawks struggled but persevered, beating St. Louis 20-13 to finish the 2012 season at 11-5. There are several things to think about and look for this week both on and off the field. Let’s take a look at what I am looking at in week 8.

As the weeks and wins have gone by the confidence in the locker room is as high as ever. My number one key to a victory this week is for the Seahawks to simply take this game one play at a time and not be overconfident. Before the season started I was ready to pencil in this game as a loss given the fact that it was a primetime game most likely in front of a sold out crowd in a place where we have struggled to win over the past few years against a team that could challenge for an NFC Wild-Card berth. Over the past 7 weeks these circumstances have changed dramatically and the Seahawks are now large favorites to win this game. I do not want to say this is a trap game but to show that we are a disciplined football team, we need to play just like how we played last week in Arizona; field-stretching offense, a dominating pass rush, and no turnovers.

On offense this week the buzz has been around the possibility of Percy Harvin being active and playing for the first time this season. We have invested $67 million dollars in Harvin and although he has been cleared to come back, it has been announced he will not be active against St. Louis. Realistically, I expect Harvin to make his Seahawks debut in two weeks against the Atlanta Falcons. Not only will Harvin not play but I am curious to see the role Golden Tate is able to play this week after injuring his shoulder last week. He has been practicing this week but if the injury is still nagging it could affect how Tate plays. Sidney Rice is primed to have a breakout performance this week. Rice made an impact last week catching a long touchdown from Russell Wilson. With the offense building momentum and Wilson trusting his receivers more, Rice could be Wilson’s primary deep threat should he decide to stretch the field against a St. Louis defense that gives up an average of 247 passing yards per game. An effective offensive performance may not be easy as the Rams have great talent throughout their defense and they play well at home given their 2-1 record inside the Edward Jones Dome. However they do boast the third-worst running defense in the league. Marshawn Lynch will be a focal point in our offensive gameplan and great production from Lynch will take the pressure off of Wilson and the passing game.

The St. Louis Rams offensive line has given up an average of just over 2 sacks per game. The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer 7 times last week. It will be necessary to put large amounts of pressure on the quarterback this week because I believe after watching tape of Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens that pressure will force him into making bad throws more than your typical backup quarterback. That will be a focus of the defense this week; how to force Clemens to make bad decisions. Much like with the offense, in a game where we are heavily favored it will be crucial to play mistake-free football. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to stop the battered Rams offense this week so if we can avoid bad penalties and end drives without giving up large amounts of yardage and points we will be victorious.

The St. Louis Rams are in a big pickle on offense. With Sam Bradford out for the season with a torn ACL, Kellen Clemens will be the starting quarterback going forward. With Clemens suddenly thrown into the starting rotation it would be logical to think the Rams will want to run the ball to take the pressure off of the quarterback. The problem is that the Seahawks boast the 5th ranked run defense in the National Football League. Regardless, my X-Factor player of the Rams offense is running back Zac Stacy. Stacy has seen expanded playing time the past three weeks and has now surpassed Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead as the Rams starting running back. After two weeks gaining at least 78 yards, Stacy only gained 53 yards on 17 carries last week. His average yards per carry have also steadily decreased over the past 3 games. One thing that Stacy does extremely well is breaking tackles. It will be important for the Seahawks defense to wrap Stacy up to prevent him from gaining yards after contact; something that the Seahawks improved at greatly last week.

I do not expect the St. Louis wide receivers to have a major impact, especially first-round rookie Tavon Austin who has been a major disappointment so far this season. If Kellen Clemens plays a conservative game which I believe he will, I expect tight end Jared Cook will see the majority of the targets short and in the middle of the field.

Given the talent of the Seahawks and the worries of the Rams offense, the Rams defense has been greatly overshadowed in the days leading up to this game. St. Louis has a quite talented defense and they boast a solid mix of pass-rushing talent and good secondary play. Given the newfound confidence in Russell Wilson to stretch the field he will challenge the Rams secondary throughout the game. My defensive X-Factor player for the Rams is cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Johnson has the height of Legion of Boom cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner as well as using his body to record 31 tackles; 4th most of any St. Louis defender. Johnson also has one interception on the season. Given the height factor, expect Johnson to line up across from Sidney Rice for most of the game. If the Seahawks can avoid turning the ball over to this feisty Rams secondary and if the offensive line can protect Russell Wilson effectively we will be in good shape this week.

There is one final note that cannot go unnoticed. The Seahawks/Rams game will be taking place at the exact same time of game 5 of the World Series. What makes this even more interesting is that the Edward Jones Dome and Busch Stadium are only one mile apart. St. Louis has been known for a long time as a true “baseball city” and even when the Rams have shown the slightest bit of success not many people seem to notice or care. I have heard rumors that the Rams will struggle to fill half of the stadium’s capacity on Monday night which could turn out to be a huge advantage for the Seahawks. There is surely a large part of the greater St. Louis area that would rather watch the Cardinals play in the World Series on television then actually attend the Rams game. Not only could this negatively affect the Rams on Monday, a poor showing of Rams fans could also propel the NFL to look into the possibility of a potential relocation of the Rams to a city like Los Angeles; something that has been talked about by the league as a possibility for the past few years.

Random Thoughts: All bets are off but I expect the Seahawks to wear white jerseys this week… Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden have the call for ESPN… The referee for this week’s game is Gene Steratore… A win will solidify the Seahawks first non-losing record on the road for the first time since 2005 and it’s only October! That is pretty crazy… A win would also improve the Seahawks record against NFC rivals to 3-0 on the season… As much as I am a fan of primetime games it will be nice to get back to Sunday games starting next week… Here’s a thought from the “It’s a small world but not really” department: Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens currently wears #10 but during his stint with the Washington Redskins in 2011 he wore #1 in honor of his longtime friend Andy Collins who passed away in August of 2011. Collins wore #1 playing quarterback for Occidental College from 2004-2006. Collins was married to current Indiana Pacers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam, whose father Dave was my speech teacher at Newport High School in 2005. What a strange yet interesting link between myself and Kellen Clemens… Hopefully the Seahawks can leave St. Louis injury-free. With our entire team getting healthier as a whole each week the last thing you want to see is a giant setback that could jeopardize our progress.

Prediction: The Rams defense will show its presence early but the Seahawks will move the ball effectively shortly thereafter. The Seahawks defense will completely shut down the Rams offense and the crowd will make a minimal impact on the game. Marshawn Lynch will run for 125 yards and a touchdown and Bobby Wagner will intercept a pass and record a sack of his own in his return to the lineup. The Seahawks will head home 7-1 and will start preparations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Seahawks 31, Rams 9

Late Monday night or early Tuesday morning is when I will have my Rams preview up for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy Monday Night Football everyone. Go Hawks!

Gameday In San Francisco

23 Oct

On Thursday I broke a record for the earliest I have woken up on a Seahawks gameday. My previous record of 4:15am was broken by my 3:30am alarm at my house in Wallingford. The only reason why I was up that early is because of my flight to San Francisco the morning of the game. After showering, dressing up in my Seahawks jersey and other attire, and doing some final packing, my roommate Jake gave me a ride to the airport. My flight left at 6:15am and I checked in and got through security with just enough time to grab my Sea-Tac airport signature meal, breakfast from Wendy’s, and head to the gate.

I had never flown Virgin America prior to this trip. I must say I was incredibly impressed with the luxury and the features that came with the flight which included satellite television, a map showing where you were, a full beverage service, and lighting that made every passenger feel like they were sitting in first class. Aaron Levine of Q13 Fox was seated in the front of the plane and before we took off we engaged in a friendly Twitter chat.

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You can see part of the plane’s interior lighting at the bottom of the screen picture just to give you an idea of what it was like on my flight down.

I landed in San Francisco at around 8:30am. After de-boarding the plane I headed for the SFO tram which connected me to the airport BART station. I had never traveled via the BART before and at first I was confused how everything worked from getting your pass to knowing which train to get on and where to get off. After a good half an hour train ride I arrived in downtown San Francisco. I had a hard time figuring out the streets at first but I finally found my hotel after doing about a 4-mile loop walk. After checking in to the hotel I headed down to the Embarcadero (The street that runs along the San Francisco waterfront) and took a walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. I had not been to the Wharf since I went to San Francisco with my dad in 2007 so it was a treat to hang out and see what had changed and what was still the same from 5 years earlier. After taking some pictures and looking through some shops (which included a huge sports apparel/memorabilia store on Pier 39) I had an early lunch at In-N-Out.

After picking up some beer at a downtown Safeway, my friend Josh and I took a cab to Candlestick Park and arrived in the massive parking lot shortly after 2:30pm. After looking around for a group of Seahawks fans, we found a group of 5 Seahawks fans currently living in the Northgate neighborhood of Seattle who had flown down the previous day for the game. One of the guys works in the suites at CenturyLink Field and was in the Red Zone Suites during the Monday Night Miracle in week 3. He showed us a couple pictures of the ESPN broadcast with him in the background. We joked that he got to see himself on television thousands of times in the days following and he agreed while laughing along. Josh and I drank 3 Pyramid Hefeweizen’s and a shot of Crown Royal each (which I struggled with, since all I’ve been drinking recently is Fireball…). I was not heckled much outside the stadium during the tailgate. The only thing possibly worth noting is that a couple of 49ers fans were playing catch and the ball was overthrown and dribbled over towards where we were. The 49er fan chasing after the ball got close and screamed to us “don’t touch it!!” No worries though man, I wouldn’t touch your red and gold ball with a fifty foot pole.

After tailgating for about an hour and a half we decided to head into the stadium. We sat on an aisle with a family of Seahawks fans to our left and friendly San Francisco fans sitting in the row above us. The site from my seats was nostalgic because last season I sat in the exact same spot only one section over to the left. Here is the view from my seats at Candlestick Park; Section 51, Row 1, Seat 3.

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The game got off to a good start but the Seahawks got tired and fell apart in the second half. There were chants of “Seahawks suck!” multiple times in the second half but nothing too bad was said in my direction. The best heckling story I have is when I was having my picture taken at halftime. I knelt down at the staircase in front of our section and as I was getting my picture taken, a 49ers fan in my section screamed “Ginger on three! ONE, TWO, THREE!” Of course I just laughed it off and kept on cheering for the Seahawks. No beers were thrown in my face and no threats of physical harm were sent my way. Most importantly, I was not shot or stabbed as I was leaving the stadium. Great success in staying alive. Of course I was disappointed that we had lost and I did my best not to let it get into my head too badly but I ultimately failed, as I was unable to shake off the loss in order to have a good time for the duration of my trip. We got out of the Candlestick Park parking lot relatively slowly and got back to the hotel pretty late.

Among other stops on my trip to San Francisco was a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, and we ate at well-known San Francisco restaurants such as Taqueria La Cumbre, Boudin Bakery, and Capurro’s, which was recommended by Coach Carroll during his Seahawks press conference the day before Thursday night’s game. I also had the opportunity to buy a standing-room only ticket for game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday afternoon between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants but I decided to turn the opportunity down.

I flew back to Seattle on Sunday night and it was the shortest flight I have ever been on. We took off from SFO at about 10:45pm and we landed at Sea-Tac at roughly 12:15am Monday morning. I might be flying United more often! After getting a ride back home I unloaded my bags and went to bed, thus ending my long weekend in San Francisco.

Next year is the final season of San Francisco 49ers football at Candlestick Park before they move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Santa Clara. There is no doubt I will make one last visit to the Stick next season to see the Seahawks play. It will surely be a special trip and hopefully I can make the trip with many of my friends.

Programming Note: Look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions most likely on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

Review: Rams 19, Seahawks 13

1 Oct

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On Sunday, the Seahawks showed that there may have been a hangover following Monday night’s win. The Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams 19-13 and in the process the Seahawks fall to 2-2 and are now technically in last place in the NFC West. The Rams improve to 2-2 and take over 3rd place in the division. What may ultimately hurt the most however is that the Seahawks are now 0-2 in divisional play. This game showed great promise early on but those feelings quickly faded, as the Seahawks failed to do many things that are crucial to staying competitive and winning the game. Let’s get to the thoughts I took from this game.

We Couldn’t Get Off The Field: The Rams converted 5 third downs today and they all seemed to be at the most crucial of times. The most frustrating conversions were a 14-yard gain on 3rd and 13 in the second quarter. This conversion set up a Greg Zeurlein field goal at the end of the half to give the Rams a 13-7 lead. The second conversion came in the fourth quarter. Sam Bradford completed a 17-yard pass to Austin Pettis on 3rd and 14 which set up Zeurlein’s fourth field goal of the day, which gave the Rams a 19-13 lead. These two stops could have been easily avoided because our secondary gave the Rams receivers too much space to create a play. Our run defense was steady throughout most of the game but did give up a couple big runs to Steven Jackson. Overall I am pleased with the defense but unfortunately we could not perform when it mattered the most, which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Wilson Needs To Be More Aware: Russell Wilson may be too comfortable in the pocket. Wilson was sacked twice on Sunday, but he was also flushed out of the pocket multiple times and his second interception of the day could have been avoided if he was quicker in deciding where to throw the ball. Wilson also is not taking chances down the field. Mike Martz on the FOX broadcast said that the Seahawks “are almost nonexistent in the 20+ yards per play zone. They thrive in the 10-15 yard range.” Russell threw three interceptions today, although two of them were not his fault. It is getting to the point where I am considering describing the Seahawks offensive as anemic. Marshawn Lynch is our offense. We may be in big trouble if Wilson cannot improve his numbers, which of course starts with him processing his decision making and being fully aware of everything going on around him.

No, Breno!: In my preview post, I explained the importance of Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini keeping a cool head because Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan likes to trash talk and get under the skin of opposing players. Despite the importance and concern I had, Giacomini was flagged twice for personal foul penalties. The first of these penalties, as a matter of fact, came as Giacomini shoved Finnegan about five seconds after Marshawn Lynch was tackled and the whistle blew. Watching Breno get out of control has become a serious worry for me. Our opponent clearly knows what to do to tick Giacomini off and the effort to push him to the edge is never-ending. I don’t know what else to say about this except for that Breno needs to seriously take a step back and see how his “heat of the moment” actions are actually hurting his team in the long run. With a very young and talented Carolina Panthers defense up next, Giacomini needs to get a sense of perspective and fast.

It’s A Fake!: Pete Carroll claimed in his postgame press conference that he tried to call timeout to prevent the Rams fake field goal touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the second quarter. Nevertheless, he was unsuccessful in getting the timeout granted and the Seahawks unfortunately gave up 7 points that should never be allowed to happen. What is the most frustrating about this is that Amendola lined up in the huddle and spread out wide to the sideline. None of the Seahawks special teams players noticed Amendola break from the huddle, allowing him to float unguarded for the easy touchdown. These mental mistakes are very uncharacteristic for a special teams unit that has shown to be dominant so far this season. Kudos to the Rams for perfectly executing this play. As a fan it is extremely embarrassing to give up a touchdown as easy as that. I don’t expect any other team to be able to successfully try a trick play like that again this season. If we do give up another trick play I can assure you I will be ripping out chunks of my beautiful red hair.

Two Can Play That Game… We Think: What a ballsy call by Coach Carroll by calling an onside kick to start the second half. Hindsight is 20/20 and of course it did not pan out the way we would have hoped but I actually like the play call. The Seahawks entered halftime trailing 13-7 and were faced with the possibility of giving the Rams the ball to start the second half with all of the momentum on their side. Why not take a shot to get the ball back and swing momentum back in our favor? The Seahawks only gave up a field goal on that drive, which is okay considering the excellent field position we gave the Rams. Although I like the call in this situation it doesn’t mean I would like to see it again. Let’s save the onside kicks for when we are trailing at the end of the game.

Props To Zuerlein: Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein made four field goals on Sunday, which also tallies to 18 fantasy football points (distances of 58, 48, 60, and 24 respectively). All of his kicks were right down the middle and each had plenty of extra distance. Zuerlein pretty much singlehandedly beat the Seahawks on Sunday. I understand the kicker is not the sexiest position and does not attract the most attention from the media and fans, but St. Louis definitely has a keeper at the position for a long time to come. This guy is definitely proving the Rams made the right choice in releasing Josh Brown during the offseason.

Random Thoughts: I had a bowl of cheerios for breakfast. Quite a ways off from the breakfast I was thinking about cooking for me and my roommates… Warren Sapp’s “Bold Prediction” on NFL Gameday Morning today was that the Seahawks would set an all-time NFL record by sacking Sam Bradford 13 times today. We only sacked him twice. I wonder how many more games it will take to get the other 11 sacks to fulfill Sapp’s prediction… Like I was hoping was NOT going to happen, Mike Martz spent most of his commentary time hyping up the Rams… Martz was also quoted during the broadcast saying that “the score doesn’t matter until the fourth quarter. It is 0-0 until the fourth quarter.” Let me test this theory. Hey Mike, if the Rams scored 30 points in quarters 1-3 and the only score in the fourth quarter was a Seahawks touchdown does that mean the Seahawks win the game 7-0?… It was amazing to see how many empty seats there were inside the Edward Jones Dome on television. Granted, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing a very important game at the exact same time right across the street, but still you should be able to drum up more support than what I saw on TV on Sunday. I guess a baseball game with playoff implications is more important to a St. Louis sports fan than a football team that has won 16 games in 6 seasons… The patterns of small attendance for Rams games in St. Louis makes me wonder if the team is going to be at the top of the list of candidates that could move to Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles just approved a new stadium in the downtown “L.A. Live” area… The game went fast which was nice. I honestly like a fast game especially when it is a 10am kickoff… Mike Carey and his officiating crew did a very good job calling Sunday’s game. I am really happy to see the actual referees back on the field… The Seahawks wore the white jersey/gray pants combination again on Sunday. I would like to see the Seahawks try out the white jersey/blue pants combo again like they did in Denver during the preseason… Although the Seahawks are technically in last place in the NFC West, we are only one game behind San Francisco and two games behind Arizona for the division lead. I am optimistic we can catch up… I lost my fantasy game by 3 points this week. Thanks a lot, Ramses Barden… Hey Rams fans see you in Week 17. We’ll be ready for the rematch no doubt.

If I get some free time outside of school this week look for an update or two about what is going on at Seahawks headquarters. If not, look for my preview of next Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!