Tag Archives: Stephen Williams

Seahawks/Texans Preview

28 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans

Site: Reliant Stadium (Houston, Texas)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks now enter a brutal stretch where 4 of their next 5 games are on the road. This stretch starts Sunday when the Seahawks head to Houston to take on the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans. The Seahawks are 3-0 and are coming off a 45-17 butt-kicking of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are 2-1 after a 30-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore last week. This is the third matchup all-time between the Seahawks and the Texans. They have split the two previous matchups. The last time they played was in 2009 when the Seahawks lost in Houston 34-7. That loss to the Texans was the first of 4 straight blowout losses that ultimately cost former head coach Jim Mora his job. We may look back on this game later this season and say this was one of the biggest tests of the season. Here are some things to watch for against the Texans this week.

The biggest key for the Seahawks to be successful on offense this week is to mobilize Russell Wilson. It may be a necessity considering the Seahawks offensive line and the talent Houston displays along the defensive line. All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt already has 3 sacks this season after recording a Texans team record 20.5 sacks last season. His size and strength gives him the ability to overpower the offensive line and get to the quarterback easier than a lot of other defensive players around the league. Having Wilson scramble to make throws could limit Watt’s role in Houston’s defensive game plan significantly. Wilson is the shortest quarterback Watt has ever played against so Wilson will also need to make sure to elevate his passes to prevent Watt from knocking them down. One other way to limit Watt’s impact is to be successful in the running game. The Seahawks have the highest running rate in the NFL so far this season (57% run, 43% pass). Getting Marshawn Lynch going early could benefit the entire offense to chew clock, score points, and rest the defense. If Lynch struggles, I believe Darrell Bevell will change to a more pass-heavy offensive scheme to try to improve the offense.

In my Jaguars review I briefly touched on how the Seahawks used many different receivers and how using all those weapons could come in handy against the Texans. Looking at Houston’s secondary, cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are 5-11 and 5-10, respectively. Due to the undersized Texans secondary I am looking at Sidney Rice and Stephen Williams to make a big impact on the outside this week. Given the height advantage these two receivers have, Rice and Williams have the perfect opportunity to exploit Houston’s cornerbacks and gain large chunks of yards if Russell Wilson is confident enough to throw the ball in their direction. If Wilson is flushed out of the pocket, Doug Baldwin becomes an even bigger impact player. Lining up in the slot, Baldwin leads all Seahawks receivers with 177 receiving yards on the season. Baldwin is very good at improvising if plays are not executed as planned and he has an uncanny ability to get open if Wilson is looking downfield for a receiver while being chased. Keep an eye on these three receivers on Sunday.

On defense this week my focus isn’t really on individual matchups but on certain trends that need to come to fruition in order to be successful. The Seahawks tend to struggle a bit on the road no matter who the opponent is so the following things must happen to prevent our first loss of the season. First, they need to limit the number of penalties. On the road, penalties such as pass interference and personal foul penalties are called more often due to the reaction and influence of the home crowd. The Seahawks need to play clean football and make sure the defense can get off the field and the offense can stay on the field longer. Second, the defense needs to limit big plays. Fortunately for the Seahawks this point may not be as difficult as the common person would think. Starting Texans running back Arian Foster’s longest run of the season is only 16 yards and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ 30-yard catch against San Diego in week one is the longest catch by a Texans starting wide receiver this season. Third and most important, the Seahawks need to get off the field on third downs. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season (11 total), the opponent has converted 43.8 percent of third down opportunities. In road games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season which resulted in a loss (6 total), the opponent converted 47.1 percent of third down opportunities. Although the margin between these numbers is small, they are both close to a 50 percent third down conversion rate which is utterly unacceptable. The Seahawks will not win this game if they cannot get off the field on third down. Stopping Foster, Andre Johnson, and running back Ben Tate is necessary in these situations because they are on the field for most of Houston’s third down chances.

In regards to the individual matchups between the Texans offense and the Seahawks defense, Arian Foster will face one of the best run stopping defenses in the NFL. Foster is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry so far this season. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is nursing an injured shin and will be a game-time decision on Sunday. If Johnson is active, he will line up across from Richard Sherman and DeAndre Hopkins will line up across from Brandon Browner. If Johnson is inactive, Sherman will defend Hopkins and Browner will defend the Texans number three receiver Lestar Jean.

When looking at the Houston Texans, most look directly at their defense and J.J. Watt. Although Watt is the most important player on defense for Houston, my Texans X-Factor player to watch this week is outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus, the Texans 2012 first round draft pick, is tied for the third most tackles by a Texans defender so far this season with 13. He also has one sack. Mercilus is the Texans weak-side linebacker meaning he will line up on the right side of the defensive formation and will blitz from Russell Wilson’s blind side. If Paul McQuistan struggles at left tackle this week for the Seahawks, Mercilus could wind up having a big day for the Texans solely from getting to Wilson behind the line of scrimmage.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. I am not sure about our pant color… The nice thing about the Texans is that they post their uniform combinations for the entire season on their website. That makes it easier to know what we are going to wear opposite of them… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week… Tony Corrente is the referee this week… I get the sense from a lot of my friends that 10am kickoffs in Seattle are kind of a pain in the ass. In Houston this week the game is a noon kickoff. The game I went to in 2011 in Dallas against the Cowboys was a noon kickoff and it was kind of too bad because I am used to going to Seahawks games here in Seattle at 1pm. It feels like the entire day gets going earlier when you go to a game that starts at noon… My hotel is walking distance from Reliant Stadium, much like my set up last season in Arizona. I’ll be pre-gaming in my hotel room instead of tailgating in the parking lots for the second straight year… On Saturday night a group called “Houston Seahawks” is organizing a 12th Man rally at a Buffalo Wild Wings a couple miles away from our hotel and I’m really excited for it. It will be cool to be in a different city but it will feel like I am right at home… I have seen 6 straight losses on the road. It would be nice to finally break that streak.

Prediction: This game will be close all the way until the end. Unfortunately, I think that J.J. Watt and the Houston defense will succeed in rattling Russell Wilson. The Texans will win the turnover battle 3-1 and it will feel like they will have a commanding lead in the game because of it, even though the game will be close. The Seahawks will get the ball one last time in the final two minutes but the final drive will stall at about midfield. The Seahawks will head home with their first loss of the season and for the 7th straight time, I will sit at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday afternoon disappointed (I hope I am wrong, obviously).

Texans 23, Seahawks 20

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Since I will not be around a computer all weekend I will not be able to post my Texans review until Tuesday afternoon most likely. Enjoy the game everyone! I’ll be sure to bring some 12th Man love to the lone-star state. Go Seahawks!

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Jaguars/Seahawks Preview

21 Sep

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Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

Although it is not wise to look past any game, it is understandable if most fans look past this matchup. The Seahawks host the Jacksonville Jaguars this week in a matchup that features the largest point spread in an NFL game since the New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins in December 2007. After Seattle’s 29-3 victory over San Francisco last week, the Seahawks are 2-0 and have sole possession of first place in the NFC West. The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-2 and are coming off a sloppy 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks hold the all-time advantage over the Jaguars with a 4-2 record. In their last meeting in 2009, arguably the worst season of Seahawks football I have witnessed, the Seahawks defeated Jacksonville 41-0. With this game viewed as a guaranteed win by the majority of experts and fans, here are some things to watch that are crucial in order to avoid one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.

With Russell Okung out this week, it is extremely important to make sure Russell Wilson stays healthy because pass protection could be a weakness. It has been announced that Paul McQuistan will start at left tackle for Okung this week. Taking McQuistan’s spot at left guard will be James Carpenter. I personally do not agree with the personnel along the offensive line this week because I am a strong believer that shifting players to different positions interrupts continuity. If it was my decision, I would keep McQuistan at guard and start rookie Alvin Bailey at left tackle. Nevertheless, the number one key on offense this week will be to stretch the field and score touchdowns while keeping Russell Wilson on his feet. Last week against San Francisco Wilson struggled to get the passing game going early. The best case scenario is for the Seahawks starting offense to play into the third quarter, build a three or four score lead, and pull the starters before further opportunities for them to potentially get hurt arise. Against a putrid Jacksonville defense this should not be a problem in my eyes. Also along the offensive line I am hoping the Seahawks have made great strides in trying to eliminate holding penalties, a big negative of our offense last week. Eliminating offensive penalties will allow us to score faster, and thus get the starters out of the game sooner.

I think we will see a diverse distribution of passes from Russell Wilson this week. My receivers to keep an eye on this week are Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams. I expect these two guys to see extended snaps this week because of the possibility of the starters being rested in the second half. Kearse and Williams both did not record a catch last week and the offense got off to a shaky start. By lining Kearse and Williams up and expanding the play calling, the Seahawks may be able to make more of an offensive statement early this week.

Last week the Seahawks defense held the 49ers to 3 points even without Chris Clemons and Brandon Browner. This week I expect to see more of the same against the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL. Browner has been practicing this week but will be a game time decision. In a surprising move to me, Chris Clemons will make his season debut this week. The highlighted matchup this week will be Richard Sherman vs. Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts. Sherman held Anquan Boldin to only one catch last week even though that catch did not come while Sherman was defending him. Shorts is the only noteworthy weapon on the outside for Jacksonville so do not be surprised if the Jaguars cannot get anything going in the passing game. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were effective rushing the passer last week so I am not overly worried about our pass rush this week, especially at home. My primary defensive focus this week is in the linebacker corps. Through week 2, Bobby Wagner is averaging 7.5 tackles per game, K.J. Wright is averaging 5 tackles per game, and Malcolm Smith is averaging 2.5 tackles per game. I would love to see Smith make an impact early in the game. Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne likes to throw short passes to his checkdown receivers in the middle of the field so this is a prime opportunity for the linebackers to boost their stats. A 6-8 tackle game from each of our linebackers is a prime target range this week. Our defense will be very successful if Wagner, Wright, and Smith can record tackles in this range.

Where do I start with the Jacksonville Jaguars? Their offense is averaging 5 points per game while the defense is allowing an average of 23.5 points per game. Jacksonville has not played an opponent that is considered a playoff contender so far this season. With this game being played in Seattle, it could be another long game for the road team. On offense the Jaguars may be without three of their best players. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is recovering from a hand laceration and will not start this week. Chad Henne will start at quarterback. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew injured his foot against Oakland last week and has not practiced this week. I would be very surprised if Jones-Drew plays against the Seahawks. Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett would take Jones-Drew’s carries if he cannot go this week. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon is serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. With Blackmon out, Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders will be Jacksonville’s starting wide receivers.

On defense there is only one player I put a spotlight on this week. Defensive end Jason Babin recorded 18 sacks with Philadelphia just two seasons ago. So far this season he only has one sack. Babin is by far the Jaguars best pass rusher and could make an impact with a weaker Seahawks offensive line. It may be wise for Paul McQuistan and James Carpenter to double team Babin on passing downs if he is initially effective getting to Russell Wilson.

If there is one thing to take from the Jacksonville Jaguars it is this. Head coach Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks last season. When you coach your own players and leave for other opportunities like Bradley did, your now former players possibly become available later on down the road. The Jaguars have three defensive players on their active roster that spent training camp with the Seahawks this season; players that were cut during final roster cuts at the end of August. There is no question that Bradley and Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich will be picking the brains of cornerback Will Blackmon, safety Winston Guy, and linebacker Kyle Knox for information about the Seahawks defensive packages. I do not think the Jaguars will have a significant advantage based on the information these three guys provide but you may see better adjustments than other teams would make if the Jaguars defense struggles to stop the Seahawks offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants again this week at home… Hopefully the weather will be nicer this week although the forecasts aren’t looking too promising. It’s looking like another overcast day in the low 60’s on Sunday… The referee this week is Bill Vinovich. Vinovich was the referee for the Seahawks week 16 game against San Francisco last year… Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker have the call for CBS this week. I know nothing about how good their broadcasts are… Sunday is my Dad’s birthday which will be special. I’ve never taken him to a Seahawks game on his birthday… I’m excited to get to know the people sitting next to me even better this week. Since I let my dad take my aisle seat when I take him, I’ll be next to the new season ticket holders to my left… The group next to me consists of two guys and two girls. The girl that was sitting closest to us last week was really cute, really nice, and very knowledgeable about football. Sounds like she meets my qualifications wouldn’t you say?… I hope the 12th Man can get the noise up high again this week. I remember playing St. Louis last year the week after hosting the 49ers on Sunday Night Football and the noise was nowhere near the level it was at the previous week. I know it’s the Jaguars but let’s make it just as loud for them as it was for San Francisco last week… One thing I forgot to mention in my 49ers review that I wanted to share. One of the coolest things I saw last week was on the big screen after the game. The Seahawks locker room camera showed owner Paul Allen exchange handshakes and hugs with the Seahawks players one by one as they re-entered the locker room following the game. That was really cool to see the connections and relationships between the players and the owner… I might have to bring a lot of Skittles this week. Against a weak Jaguars defense, Marshawn Lynch is primed to put up big numbers… The Seahawks haven’t started a season 3-0 since 2006. They won the NFC West that year.

Prediction: Russell Wilson will be done by the middle of the third quarter. The offense will get into a strong groove that they hope will be a solid tune-up for Houston in week 4. Marshawn Lynch will run for two touchdowns and Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Jermaine Kearse will all catch touchdown passes. The defense will sack Chad Henne 6 times and Richard Sherman will record his second interception of the season. If the San Francisco 49ers could only score 3 points against our defense last week, how on Earth could you think the Jaguars will score any points at all? The Seahawks beat the Jaguars 41-0 the last time they met. The scoreboard will mirror the scoreboard from 4 seasons ago. That’s right. For the first time ever, I am predicting a shutout.

Seahawks 41, Jaguars 0

I cannot promise my game review will be done by Sunday night, but I am not totally eliminating the chances. If not Sunday night, check back for my game review on Monday morning. Let’s go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 22, Raiders 6

30 Aug

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After 36 days of training camp and 4 practice games, the preseason is finally over. The Seahawks finish the preseason 4-0 for a second straight season after defeating the Oakland Raiders 22-6 at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. Although the offensive starters only played one series, it was enough to gage our level of readiness for the regular season. Here are some things I took out of Thursday night’s game.

Wilson is Ready: It took only six plays but the starting offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson proved that they are ready to go for the regular season. Wilson went 3/3 for 68 yards, including a 50-yard deep pass to Stephen Williams. Wilson also added an 11-yard run for a first down. The thing that stands out was how easy Wilson made the opening drive look. Granted it was against a very unimpressive Oakland defense but I felt like the drive told the 12th Man “see, I still have it. I’m ready. See you in the regular season.” The offense was able to stay healthy for the most part. Stephen Williams left the game after his long reception due to a concussion. Regardless, all projected starters made it through the drive without a hitch and I am convinced we can go out and move the ball in the regular season just like how we have done in the preseason.

Hauschka is Ready: I remember during training camp last season kicker Steven Hauschka could barely kick a 58-yard field goal. Months later, the final play in Atlanta last season could have been a 65-yard field goal attempt to win the game and send the Seahawks to the NFC Championship game if Hauschka was healthy. It seems as though Hauschka trained this offseason to prepare for such a possibility. During training camp Hauschka was able to kick 58-yard field goals with ease and tonight he booted 5 field goals; 3 of which from 50 yards or more. His first kick, a 56-yard field goal was a career high and looked strong enough to have been good from at least 60 yards out. Hauschka is definitely a better kicker than he was last year and he will be a valuable asset to put up points if drives stall in the opponents territory.

Who Helped Their Stock: After Thursday’s game I would be stunned if Benson Mayowa does not make the team. Mayowa recorded another sack in the second half and did a great job applying pressure to Raiders quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Tyler Wilson. Thanks to Mayowa, Wilson made several forced throws off of his back foot. Given the recent injuries along the defensive line, Mayowa could find himself on the week one roster. If the Seahawks decide to cut Mayowa, I believe he will not clear waivers and he will be on an active roster somewhere else in the NFL for week one.

Who Hurt Their Stock: For the past several weeks I have mentioned that I believe wide receiver Chris Harper needs to make more of an impact in the preseason. He may have stamped his ticket out of Seattle on Thursday night. Harper dropped two wide open passes, one of which was an underthrown pass into the endzone which would have surely been a touchdown. The ball hit Harper in the chest and he could not bring it in. Harper, in my eyes, is the sixth wide receiver on the current roster. It is up to the coaches to determine if 5 or 6 wide receivers make the week one roster. If only five make the team, Harper will be cut.

Oakland Scouting Report: The Oakland Raiders did not show me anything special from any of their units this week. Terrelle Pryor was unable to conjure up a touchdown drive and the starting defense could not stop the Seahawks offense. Pryor had a golden opportunity to show the Raiders coaching staff he could win the starting quarterback job. He played pretty mediocre football, going 3/8 for 31 yards and one interception. The only highlight I saw out of Oakland was their ability stop the Seahawks running game. The Raiders only allowed 53 rushing yards while gaining 126 rushing yards of their own. As a whole however, I think it is going to be a long season for Oakland Raiders fans. At this point I would not be surprised to see them in contention for the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were able to limit their penalties significantly this week. 8 penalties total for 65 yards… The Seahawks wore blue pants and blue jerseys this week again… There was very interesting scene at the bar before the game. A Seattle rap group which I believe calls themselves “Neva Scared” filmed footage of their music video for their Seahawks themed anthem. It was kind of cool but was low budget and not very impressive. Just a hunch, but I don’t think they’ll be the next Macklemore & Ryan Lewis… The starting defense was introduced this week… My buddy Josh was only able to get one Raiders autograph before the game. He had terrible luck, as a thunder and lightning storm along with heavy rain postponed pregame warm-ups for both teams. The funny thing though was the rain stopped shortly thereafter and was clear for the rest of the night… You can clearly tell who season ticket holders are and who are not. Maybe it is appropriate to try to start “the wave” in the first quarter at a Husky game or during a Mariners game but NOT during a Seahawks game. In general, preseason games are more for the casual fan who are not fortunate enough to get tickets to a regular season game… At the end of the game the following was announced to the crowd: “we’ll see you on September 15th when your Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday Night Football, host the San Francisco 49ers.” This got a pretty loud cheer from the scattered fans leaving the game. I am already getting excited about the home opener. Can’t overlook the season opener though. Speaking of which… 10 days until the season opener!

The Seahawks have until 3pm on Saturday to make their final roster cuts to get the active roster down to 53 players. I will publish another roster analysis post Saturday night or Sunday morning. And make sure to check back on Saturday, September 7th as I preview our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Go Seahawks!

Broncos/Seahawks Preview

16 Aug

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Matchup: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks return home for their 2013 CenturyLink Field debut on Saturday night when they host the defending AFC West champion Denver Broncos. Last week the Seahawks backups were able to put their foot on the throats of the San Diego Chargers en route to a 31-10 victory. The Broncos are coming off a 10-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With a victory on Saturday night, the Seahawks will break a franchise record for most consecutive preseason wins. A win over Denver would be Seattle’s 7th straight preseason win dating back to 2011. Here are some things I will have my eyes on while in attendance at the game this weekend.

According to King 5 sports, the Seahawks starters may play into the second quarter on Saturday night and some starters may even play the entire first half. After a dismal performance by the first-team units last week, I am looking to see a lot of improvement on both sides of the ball. On offense, I want to see improvement mostly from the offensive line. Russell Wilson had to create space because his protection broke down several times last week. If Max Unger is back in the lineup Saturday night, definitely expect to see better pass protection for Russell Wilson. I also would like to see the Seahawks run at least a couple of zone-read option plays. Wilson and the starting offense ran no zone-read option plays against San Diego. In my Chargers review I wondered if the Seahawks would wait until the regular season to progress the playbook. Against a talented defense like Denver’s I think it would be wise to run a couple zone-read plays to see the level of effectiveness.

On defense the first team defense gave up a long drive to Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense which resulted in a field goal to start last week’s game. We were missing several starters on defense last week including Cliff Avril and Bobby Wagner, but this week I expect to see more significant improvement than the offense. At home, even in the preseason, the defense can play at a “lights out” level. I hope to see better quarterback pressure and a minimum of two sacks in the first half. With Avril continuing to recover from an ailing foot I am anxious to see who will step up as a defensive end pass rusher. Possibly look for Michael Bennett to stretch outside this week to play defensive end. I am also hoping that his play last week against the Chargers has earned undrafted rookie Benson Mayowa an opportunity to see first half playing time with the first and second string units. His improvement in practice this week has earned him some playing time earlier in the game in my opinion.

There are several position battles continuing this week to keep your eye on. After last week I believe Tarvaris Jackson has a leg up on Brady Quinn for the backup quarterback job. Quinn will have to play very well and make no mistakes this week. If Jackson continues to impress later in the game he will win the job in no time. Expect to see Robert Turbin get a good amount of playing time this week as well. Turbin practiced for the first time during training camp this week and there are some people who believe rookie Christine Michael could beat out Turbin for the backup running back spot. Last week Stephen Williams impressed at wide receiver. There are several other receivers who need to step up but the man I continue to watch is Chris Harper. Fourth round picks usually make the roster but with the talent and depth the Seahawks have, Harper may be in jeopardy of not making the team. A strong game against Denver can do nothing but help him to make the team moving forward.

The Denver Broncos enter Seattle with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Denver has come a long way from the Tim Tebow era two seasons ago and now feature four-time NFL most valuable player Peyton Manning at quarterback. The Broncos also welcome new weapon Wes Welker to the offense. We will not see much of the offense and even less of Manning this week. Instead, we will see a lot of backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. The Denver offense could only score 10 points last week. Granted, they played one of the best defenses in the league in the San Francisco 49ers but the Broncos backups are in a similar situation to the Seahawks backups. They need to show improvement or else with the 12th Man behind the Seahawks defense, it will be a long night for the Broncos. USA Today is reporting that the Broncos have a pistol package installed in their offense and that could definitely be a weapon if they choose to use it since they did not run a pistol style formation last season.

The Broncos defense is also a very strong unit and it will be interesting to see who steps up as a pass rusher given that Elvis Dumervil signed with Baltimore during free agency. I am excited to see Von Miller, assuming he plays in the first half and I am especially excited to see Champ Bailey, most likely one last time. The Broncos defense did a good job of shutting down San Francisco’s offense last week. They did not allow a touchdown. Red zone offense will be my focus for the Denver defense. If they are effective and can hold the Seahawks to field goals, they will be in good shape once the regular season rolls around.

Random Thoughts: It is going to feel so good to be back in my seat at CenturyLink. This is my 8th season as a season ticket holder and I have seen every game in that time from the same seat… I’m not bringing a bag in this week but it’s going to be a pain trying to get in the stadium due to the new league wide bag rule. I’ve seen some stadiums really have trouble being organized… Remember to “stuff the bus” for the back-to-school supply drive this week… Will the Seahawks wear a different color pant at home this week? They wore blue jerseys and blue pants for all 10 home games last season… I am excited to see Peyton Manning again, even if it is only for a couple drives. I love being able to watch all-time greats play live. I saw Manning play the Seahawks in Indianapolis in 2009, a 34-17 Seahawks loss… I am taking one of my best friends and roommates Clayton to the game. He has never been to an NFL game before so I’m excited for him. He’s not that big into football but he’s told me how excited he is on multiple occasions already… There is an unnamed referee retiring after the 2013 season so the NFL is conducting on-the-field tryouts of potential future NFL referees during the preseason. The Broncos/Seahawks game will be officiated by Ronald Torbert. I know nothing about him… The weather forecast for gameday is a high of 73 degrees and a chance of rain during the game. It has only rained during one preseason game I have ever gone to… The starting unit that gets introduced Saturday night will be the unit introduced before the home opener against San Francisco. I hope it is the offense… Not sure what the pregame tailgating plan is yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make camp at the Hawks Nest Bar and Grill before the game… This will be the last game I attend while living in my Seattle house. I’m moving back to the Eastside at the end of the month. A lot of fun bus rides and tailgates last season with my roommates before the games. I will definitely miss those experiences.

Prediction: The Seahawks backups have shown they can make plays and I expect nothing less this week, especially at home. Russell Wilson will lead one impressive scoring drive in the first half and Peyton Manning will struggle getting offense momentum at the beginning of the game. The Seahawks will extend their franchise record preseason winning streak on Saturday night.

Seahawks 26, Broncos 21

Look for a review of the Seahawks preseason home opener on Sunday afternoon. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 31, Chargers 10

9 Aug

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After getting off to a slow start, the Seahawks warmed up and put the pedal to the metal. The Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-10 in their preseason debut on Thursday night. Here are a few observations from last night’s game.

Starting Defense Looked Shaky: The Chargers started the game with the ball and Philip Rivers drove the ball 74 yards on 13 plays before settling for a field goal. Even without Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks starting pass rush was virtually nonexistent in the first quarter. Third and fourth down defense was especially frustrating. The Seahawks were unable to stop the Chargers opening drive, allowing them to convert a fourth and short which ultimately led to the field goal. One highlight from the first quarter was Richard Sherman playing a pass that fell incomplete through the endzone. Nevertheless, the starting unit needs to show me more and next week at home is a perfect place to show improvement.

Advantage Jackson: When you throw for 128 yards and two touchdowns in one half and have a nearly perfect passer rating, you will earn my praise. That is what you did tonight Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson, tonight’s third string quarterback, had one of the more impressive nights of any Seahawk. His touchdown passes to Stephen Williams and Derrick Coleman were right on the money and, in my opinion, have earned him the chance to back-up Russell Wilson next week against Denver. Brady Quinn did throw a touchdown pass tonight, however his touchdown drive started inside the red zone. I was hoping to see Quinn put together a solid lengthy drive regardless of whether we scored or not. I think Quinn will need to show more in order to win the back-up quarterback job. For now, Jackson deserves the chance to play with the number two’s.

Names to Keep an Eye On: Three Seahawks caught my eye on Thursday night. Stephen Williams was Seattle’s leading receiver, catching two balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. His cuts were impressive as he was able to create separation with his defender to make the catches. Williams should be seriously considered to be the fifth or sixth receiver to make the team. On defense, two undrafted rookies really impressed me. Linebacker John Lotulelei made a pair of tackles and always seemed to be around the play. He showed great instincts and was not afraid to go after the ball carrier. One play stuck in my mind. Lotulelei had a chance to drive Chargers running back Fozzy Whittaker backward and strip the ball, but Lotulelei stayed low and made the wrap-around tackle. This was a perfect display of smart fundamental tackling. Benson Mayowa made up for Seattle’s weak first half pass rush by adding a sack of his own in the second half. Mayowa showed great speed and was very hard for the Chargers offensive line to contain. Definitely keep an eye on these three guys as the preseason continues.

Mathews vs. Whittaker: If I were a Chargers fan, I would think starting running back Ryan Mathews might be dangerously close to losing his job. Whittaker, the 2nd year running back from Texas, showed incredible quickness and was sneaky in getting through holes on his way to running for 38 yards on 14 carries tonight. His size and quickness reminded me of New Orleans running back Darren Sproles. If Whittaker performs like he did tonight Ryan Mathews, who ran for a measly 19 yards tonight, could start the season on the bench. Whittaker will definitely be a part of the San Diego offense come September.

Random Thoughts: Christine Michael reminds me of former Washington Husky running back Louis Rankin. Michael likes to stutter and shuffle his feet at the line of scrimmage and wait for holes to open up… One other note on Michael, his spins to attempt to break tackles have the potential for him to be scary dangerous this season… Okay one final note on Michael, it’s too bad he didn’t get the chance to run back a kickoff Thursday night. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do next week… The Seahawks ran no zone-read option plays with Russell Wilson on the field. It will be interesting to see if we open up the playbook a little bit next week or if we’ll save it for closer to the regular season… The Seahawks wore blue pants with their white jerseys, a combination that was unsuccessful in both the preseason and regular season in 2012… When preseason games are on local television you see a lot of the same advertisements. The award for most annoying commercial goes to the “anything you can do I can do better” Bing commercial. If you watched the game you know what I am talking about… Malcolm Smith got called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver tonight. Smith’s helmet hit the receiver below the shoulder. Hopefully the referees are shaking the cobwebs off because those kinds of calls are going to tick a lot of people off if they are called once the regular season starts… One of the best sounds of the night was hearing the Seahawks fans in attendance chant “SEA!…. HAWKS!” in the background of the broadcast and hearing Chargers fans boo. I don’t think I’ve seen or heard more Seahawks fans at a road game in my life… Countdown to the first game at CenturyLink: 8 days!

I will be quite busy this week as I have some school work to finish up and I am heading to Eastern Washington in the middle of next week so I cannot guarantee I will hop on the blog during the week. If not, check back next Friday as I preview next week’s game against the Denver Broncos. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Chargers Preview

7 Aug

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers

Site: Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, California)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

Welcome to another season of Seahawks football on the blog! The Seahawks kick off the preseason tomorrow night in San Diego as they take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers finished 2nd in the AFC West in 2012, posting a 7-9 record. Unfortunately this mark was not good enough to save some jobs and the winds of change hit San Diego. Norv Turner was fired as head coach and former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was named head coach. Ken Whisenhunt, the former Arizona head coach is now the Chargers offensive coordinator. The Seahawks finished 11-5 last season and lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The Seahawks and Chargers last met in the preseason in 2011 when the Seahawks defeated San Diego 24-17. Even though it is the preseason here are a few things I will still have my eye on.

Russell Wilson will only see a series or two to start the game. I think we will quite a bit of Tarvaris Jackson and even more of Brady Quinn tomorrow night. Jackson was listed as the number two quarterback on the newly-released depth chart last week. The coaching staff knows what they have in Jackson and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jackson play through the first half and Quinn play the entire second half. Winning is secondary in the preseason but if the Seahawks cannot score early in the game with the first and second string units, the Seahawks will struggle to win. Based on what I have seen during training camp, Quinn has consistently struggled to move the ball during 11-on-11 drills and is very timid to make vertical throws, often choosing to check down to the running back or slot receiver. If Quinn can lead the Seahawks on a couple scoring drives he will have a much greater chance in my eyes to win the backup quarterback job.

With Percy Harvin out and Sidney Rice questionable after his knee procedure in Switzerland, many of the Seahawks young receivers will get a chance to show what they can do on Thursday night. I will be focusing on three receivers tomorrow night; Jermaine Kearse, Chris Harper, and Stephen Williams. Kearse is projected to earn a roster spot behind Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin since Percy Harvin will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The coaching staff likes Kearse a lot and he is seen as a sleeper who can stretch the field. Chris Harper is our 4th round rookie who in my opinion has not impressed much during training camp. With the play of our other receivers fighting to make the roster, Harper could wind up being a casualty when it comes time for roster cuts. Harper will need to play well during the preseason to prove he belongs on the team when we open the season against Carolina. Stephen Williams is arguably having the best camp of any wide receiver. All three quarterbacks have developed chemistry with Williams and he could also be a vertical threat. I expect to see a lot of Stephen Williams on Thursday night.

On defense for the Seahawks, I am focusing on three spots. Defensive end, defensive tackle, and outside linebacker are the positions with the most question marks on defense. Tony McDaniel will get the start at defensive tackle alongside Brandon Mebane on Thursday night. McDaniel will most likely compete with Jesse Williams and Clinton McDonald for the starting defensive tackle spot. Malcolm Smith will start at outside linebacker with Bruce Irvin taking his spot on passing downs. Smith is the favorite to win this job, replacing Leroy Hill who spent 8 seasons starting at outside linebacker. Cliff Avril is nursing a foot injury and will not play Thursday night. Mike Morgan and Michael Bennett will see time at defensive end with Red Bryant on the other side.

For the San Diego Chargers, they spent the offseason trying to fix their once-dominant offense. Mike McCoy was hired as head coach, coming over from Denver where he coached one of the most explosive offenses in 2012. The Chargers used their first round draft pick on offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, which goes to show how poor the Chargers offensive line has been over the past few years and, in effect, how bad the offense has struggled as a whole. With a stronger offensive line, running back Ryan Mathews looks to bounce back after another disappointing 2012 campaign and Philip Rivers also looks to bounce back after two sub-par seasons. I am curious to see how backup running back Danny Woodhead fits into the Chargers plans. I expect to see a lot of Woodhead on Thursday night.

On defense, San Diego filled a hole at outside linebacker by signing free agent Dwight Freeney. Freeney adds veteran leadership to a position group that is more-or-less inexperienced and also adds a punch rushing the passer. One of the most notable additions for the Chargers this offseason was the drafting of linebacker Manti Te’o. Te’o and Donald Butler will both start at inside linebacker and it will be interesting to see how Te’o moves around the field, given one of his weaknesses before the draft was his tackling.

Random Thoughts: First and foremost, it feels so good to be back… The Seahawks will have 9 days off before coming home to play Denver. They will then have only 6 days off before playing Green Bay and another 6-day short week before ending the preseason against Oakland… The weather forecast for Thursday night is high 60’s and partly cloudy at kickoff. We have played in the sun every time we have gone to San Diego to play in the preseason… I have been to Qualcomm Stadium to see the Mariners play the San Diego Padres 10 years ago. How that stadium ever hosted a super bowl I’ll never understand. It is a dump (but not as bad of a dump as Candlestick)… The Seahawks will wear white uniforms Thursday night. No word on pant color yet… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard have the call on Q13 FOX this week. They will call 2 more Seahawks preseason games… I do not care if we win this game. All I hope is that we can leave San Diego injury free.

Prediction: I think the Seahawks will look a bit rusty at the beginning of the game but we will put together a couple lengthy drives that will result in points. I expect to see Brady Quinn struggle but improve as the game goes on. Unfortunately however I think that the continuity Chargers backup quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Brad Sorensen is stronger than the continuity Quinn has and that will be the difference in the game.

Chargers 23, Seahawks 13

Check back on Friday for a review of the Seahawks first preseason game of the season! Go Seahawks!

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Receivers

18 Jul

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*This is part four of my 8-part Seahawks Training Camp preview series*

Current Receivers on Roster (19): Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Stephen Williams, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, Greg Herd, Justin Veltung, Arceto Clark, Zach Miller (TE), Sean McGrath (TE), Luke Willson (TE), Cooper Helfet (TE), Darren Fells (TE), Victor Marshall (TE)

Many people believe that the wide receiver group is the most improved group on the Seahawks roster. With the addition of Percy Harvin, the Seahawks have the potential to be one of the most dangerous offenses in the National Football League. With all of the talent at the receiver and tight end positions it is hard to figure out who will fit in the Seahawks plans in 2013. All thirteen wide receivers will show over the next month why they deserve one of the five or six wide receiver roster spots. Here is what I will be looking for and what I expect to see out of the wide receivers.

I am very excited to see the different receiver formations during training camp and the preseason. As of right now, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are our starting split end and flanker, respectively. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are officially the backups with the rest of the wide receivers following. Among our returning wide receivers is Jermaine Kearse, who was active for the Seahawks final 8 regular season games and both of their postseason games last season. Also returning is Phil Bates. Bates spent last season on the practice squad after an impressive training camp last season. New veteran additions include Brett Swain who was signed on April 8th after being released by San Francisco, and Stephen Williams who was signed to a future contract days after our playoff loss to Atlanta. Williams previously spent three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Our rookies at the position include 4th round draft pick Chris Harper from Kansas State and undrafted free agents Greg Herd from Eastern Washington and Justin Veltung from Idaho.

Consistency is the key during training camp at the wide receiver position. If you can make your catches and not make mistakes running routes or catching the ball, the chances of you sticking around longer into camp increase greatly. Phil Bates is the best example of this last season. Having said this, the Seahawks will most likely only keep five or six wide receivers for the 53-man roster. I see Harvin, Rice, Tate, and Baldwin as locks to make the final roster. This means that 9 players will compete for one or two roster spots. As each practice goes by, I will report who is developing as deserving of one of these spots.

The Seahawks are not as strong at tight end from a depth perspective as the wide receivers. With the loss of Anthony McCoy to a season ending injury during OTA’s, the Seahawks only have one tight end, Zach Miller, who caught a pass during the regular season and postseason last year. The Seahawks did use a draft pick on Rice tight end Luke Willson to add depth and they also return backups Cooper Helfet and Sean McGrath, who spent time with the Seahawks during the preseason last year. The Seahawks also signed former pro basketball player Darren Fells, however the jury is still out on his football ability since he has not played football since high school. I am excited to see how Willson fits in to the offense both as a receiver and as a blocker. It would be really cool to see Miller and Willson a two tight end formation similar to what the New England Patriots have done in the past. I could see only two tight ends making the final roster. If that is the case, put my money on Miller and Willson making the team.

For the next four days, I will shift my focus on the Seahawks defense. Up next, a preview of the Seahawks defensive line. Thanks for reading! Go Seahawks!