Tag Archives: Tom Cable

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

2 Sep
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

We are so close to the season opener in St. Louis. The only thing standing in the Seahawks way is the preseason finale. On Thursday, for the 10th consecutive season, the Seahawks conclude their preseason slate against the Oakland Raiders. This is the final job interview for many players fighting to make our week one roster. The starters may play the first series of the game, if that, and then their nights will be done. The spotlight in the fourth week of the preseason is on the young guys. This week I will be focused on position battles. In this preview, I will gloss over what our opening day starting units may look like while noting which battles may be important to watch this week at each position. Let’s get to it.

Quarterbacks: If Tarvaris Jackson is able to play this week, the plans at the quarterback position will surely be set. If he can play, which to me is unlikely, Jackson may see a little bit of playing time before R.J. Archer takes over. If Jackson cannot go, then Archer will likely play almost the entire game. In the grand scheme of things, if Jackson is healthy enough to play this week that makes R.J. Archer’s performance extremely important. During the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks only carry two active quarterbacks on the roster with a third quarterback on the practice squad. Archer’s performance against the Raiders will be the difference between him making the active roster and him getting cut and re-signed to the practice squad.

Running Backs: If Thomas Rawls has any chance to steal Christine Michael’s or even Robert Turbin’s roster spot he must ball out on Thursday. It may be next to impossible for Rawls to make the team now that we know the Seahawks have interest in signing free agent running back Fred Jackson. Rawls started the preseason strong but has been overshadowed by the strong play of Michael the past two weeks. Michael and Rawls will both see a lot of playing time but I believe that Rawls will have to bust off several huge runs and at least one touchdown to even have a chance at earning a roster spot.

Wide Receivers: The trade of Kevin Norwood to the Carolina Panthers on Monday makes the wide receiver competition something to watch very closely this week. I believe 6 roster spots will go to wide receivers. I believe Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, and Ricardo Lockette will all have jobs on this team this year. With Paul Richardson starting the season on the PUP list, that means there are four receivers to watch in this game that are fighting for two spots. What will make the coaches decisions difficult is that they all play special teams. B.J. Daniels and Kevin Smith have seen their share of playing time on punt and kickoff returns while Kasen Williams has made a couple of clutch catches including one which set up Steven Hauschka’s game-winning field goal last week. Chris Matthews showed his potential in Super Bowl XLIX but has been a ghost in relation to these other players so far this preseason. Keep a tab on the number of snaps each of these guys see on offense this week. Their presence on the field alone could be a major indicator of who has the lead on the final wide receiver spots.

Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson are locks to make the team. The final tight end spot will go to either Cooper Helfet or Anthony McCoy. Given that McCoy has battled injuries over the past three seasons, and that Helfet had a solid season in 2014 it would make sense if it is Helfet’s job to lose. It very well may be. McCoy will get the opportunity to prove his worth this week. This is one spot that I think could go to either player.

Offensive Line: The release of Lemuel Jeanpierre affirms our starting offensive line going into the season. From left to right our starting line will be Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy, and Garry Gilliam. This week will give us a chance to see what our depth looks like along the offensive line. One guy to keep an eye on this week is undrafted rookie Kristjan Sokoli. Sokoli has made fantastic progress during training camp and is a favorite of Coach Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable. Unfortunately he is listed as our fourth string left guard, likely because he is still working on converting from defensive tackle to offensive guard (similar to J.R. Sweezy). Due to his standing on the depth chart Sokoli may be destined for a possible practice squad spot. Backup linemen Mark Glowinski and Terry Poole are our drafted rookies who are listed as the backups to Sweezy and Gilliam respectively. Expect to see them on the field a lot.

Defensive Line: The feel-good story of the offseason and training camp was the comeback of defensive tackle Jesse Williams. The third year lineman had a cancerous kidney removed back in May and amazingly has returned to game action this preseason; a remarkable recovery indeed. Unfortunately Williams has a very real chance of not making the team since he is listed as a fourth string defensive tackle. Along the defensive line on Thursday look for Williams, David King and Julius Warmsley. I believe one of these three players will claim one of the Seahawks musical chairs. The others will be left out once the music stops.

Linebackers: I am putting the “you never know” label on the backup middle linebacker job. Brock Coyle won this job last year and he is probably going to earn his job back in 2015. Alex Singleton however refuses to back down without a fight. Singleton has been on the field a lot this preseason, appearing solely in the second half. I get a hunch that our coaching staff likes Singleton a lot but even a great outing on Thursday still makes him a longshot to earn a roster spot but like I said, you never know.

Cornerbacks: I get a weird feeling that surprises are on the horizon in this group. Cary Williams has struggled this preseason and if he did not make so much money I think he would be a serious candidate to be cut. Williams will make the team due to his cap number which puts pressure on our backups. Tharold Simon has played well thus far and Marcus Burley has seen his fair share of playing time with the starters. Two guys to watch are Will Blackmon and Tye Smith. Blackmon is a veteran who has bounced around the league and found himself back with the Seahawks for training camp. Smith is a rookie who was drafted in the 5th round back in May and has impressed me thus far. My guess is that we will keep 5 cornerbacks. One of these guys will make the team and the other will not.

Safeties: The free safety position is settled in my mind. Earl Thomas starts, Steven Terrell backs him up. Strong safety is still up in the air at this point but I believe the breakdown is simple. If Kam Chancellor does not report to the team by the time our roster is trimmed to 53, Dion Bailey will make the team as the presumed backup to starter DeShawn Shead. If Chancellor does report, Bailey will be left out of the picture. This is the only position on the team where the simple presence of one player will likely determine the fate of another player.

Random Thoughts: All College Navy everything for the Seahawks this week. The Raiders will wear white jerseys with silver pants… Curt Menefee and Brock Huard will have the call one last time this preseason. The game will be broadcast on Q13 FOX… Lunch at Tat’s Delicatessen before the game. I’ve never been there but by the looks of the menu I’ll probably enjoy their Philly cheesesteak… Pregame location is to be determined but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make our way to Hawks Nest for the first time this season… Off the top of my head I cannot remember a preseason which included terrible weather for both of our home games. The forecast is calling temperatures in the mid 60’s and a 50/50 chance of rain.

Prediction: The nice way we will be describing this game after the fact is that it will be a “defense battle.” Russell Wilson will fail to lead a scoring drive on his one possession of the game. R.J. Archer will once again struggle to lead touchdown drives but will progress as the game wears on. On defense the Seahawks backups will slightly outplay the Raiders defensive backups which will keep us in the game. The Seahawks will win another close game in the fourth quarter and will finish the preseason 2-2.

Seahawks 16, Raiders 13

Review: Colts 34, Seahawks 28

6 Oct
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Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

In the 93 year history of the National Football League only four teams have had an undefeated regular season. Hopefully that is something to remember as we disappointed Seahawks fans saw our team lose for the first time this season on Sunday. Seattle’s 34-28 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts drops the Seahawks to 4-1 on the season and we hold a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. There was some good, some bad, and a bit of frustration mixed into this week’s game. Here is what I saw.

First Half Offense Shows Improvement: The first 12:15 of the game could not have gone any better for the Seahawks. After getting on the board with a field goal, the Seahawks drove 64 yards on 8 plays capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. After forcing another Indianapolis three-and-out, Jermaine Kearse blocked Pat McAfee’s punt which resulted in a safety as the officials ruled that Jeron Johnson did not have complete control of the recovered blocked kick in the endzone. Instead of a touchdown and a 17-0 lead, the Seahawks had to settle for the safety and a 12-0 lead. Add in a Jermaine Kearse touchdown in the second quarter and the Seahawks scored 19 points in the first half; 13 more points than in the first half’s of their first two road games combined. I think that the fast start will pay dividends going forward as it shows that we are capable of getting out to an early lead and taking the initial momentum of the game.

Thoughts on the Zone-Blocking Scheme: One of the things I always look for is for the Seahawks to be effective in the running game. Today the Seahawks seemingly looked unstoppable on the ground. I don’t want to take anything away from Marshawn Lynch because he gained over half of his yards after initial contact but the fact the Seahawks had two 100 yard rushers (Lynch and Russell Wilson) shows how the zone-blocking scheme implemented by offensive line coach Tom Cable is supposed to work at its best. Even without Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger as well as starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, it is a telling sign that the talent along the offensive line is not the most important thing when it comes to running the ball with the zone-blocking scheme in place. Could you imagine if our 2005 offensive line (Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear) was blocking for Marshawn Lynch in the zone-blocking scheme now? Lynch may be a 2,000+ yard rusher with that unit. As our offensive line continues to get healthier, I think Marshawn Lynch’s production will only increase and both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael could also see improved statistics if they see playing time.

Defense Struggles: After forcing three straight three-and-outs to open the game, I thought the Seahawks were going to run away with this game. Unfortunately there were three quarters and change left to play at this point. The Colts were 7/12 on third down on Sunday and Andrew Luck was very effective in picking apart the Seahawks defense on short passes later on in the game. After doing a decent job of stuffing Trent Richardson in the first half, the Seahawks were unable to stop Richardson for little or no gain when it mattered the most. Richardson’s longest run of the game was only 16 yards but his short yardage runs on first down made it easier for the Colts to convert over half of their third down attempts. I was very disappointed in the tackling this week, especially in the open field. This was never more evident than on T.Y. Hilton’s 73-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter when Earl Thomas overran Hilton, allowing Hilton to cut and walk in for the touchdown. Overall, our offense is what kept us in the game until the very end. I’m not taking anything away from Indianapolis, as they have dynamic playmakers on offense that are capable of scoring points, but allowing 31 points is unacceptable for this group. After allowing only 10 points in their first two games, the Seahawks have allowed 17, 20, and 31 points in each of their last three games respectively. Fixing fundamental problems on defense should be a focus in practice this week. With a home game on deck, this is a prime opportunity for the Seattle defense to get back to the way they were playing in their first couple of games.

Thoughts on Indianapolis: At the start of each season my friends and I like to predict the playoff field, seedings, and playoff matchups leading up to us predicting a Super Bowl champion. I predicted that the Colts would win the AFC South over the Houston Texans and this game proved why they belong at the top of their division. The Colts have very impressive talent on offense and what I believe to be an underrated defensive unit. Andrew Luck really impressed me against the Seahawks. The poise he showed rivals the current elite quarterbacks in the NFL and it will not be long before we mention Luck’s name with the likes of Rodgers, Brees, and Peyton Manning. The Colts are going to be good for a while and if they play like they did against the Seahawks, I would not be surprised to see them make a push for a division championship along with a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs this season.

Thoughts on the Officiating: I understand that there is no changing what the final outcome was today but I do believe that there were multiple calls that went against Seattle today that could have changed the outcome of the game. The calls I question were a pass interference call on Brandon Browner on third down and long, a pass interference call on Richard Sherman where receiver Reggie Wayne simply slipped and fell down on his own, and a pass interference non-call on our final drive (where the Indianapolis defender had his arm wrapped around the waist of receiver Sidney Rice) which would have given the Seahawks a fresh set of downs and would have gotten us closer to the endzone. Two of these calls occurred along the Colts sideline with the players and coaches signaling the officials to convince them to throw a flag and it seemed to work. Last week I mentioned the role the crowd can play in determining whether or not a flag is thrown and I feel like that may have cost us today. At the end of the day, the loss stands and the Seahawks will move forward and try to get better to make sure these situations do not come to fruition in future games.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks wore white jerseys and white pants just like I said they would in my game preview. It wasn’t so bright inside the stadium however because the roof was closed… As much as I enjoyed getting a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan on the FOX broadcast maybe they are our good luck charms. We are 2-0 so far this season when Myers and Ryan have the call… John Lynch didn’t really seem to have a lot of good things to say about either offense this week. Not surprising though since he was a defensive player who was taught to hate the opponent’s offense… I understand and appreciate the gesture of having pink penalty flags in honor of breast cancer awareness month but they are kind of an eyesore and also very confusing. Since the players towels are also pink there was confusion in this game as to whether or not a penalty flag was thrown or not. I say go back to the yellow flags for next week’s games… The Seahawks do not have another 10am kickoff until week 10 when we play Atlanta… The most encouraging thing I saw online after this loss was from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times. He stated that in the long run this game will not have any serious effect on the Seahawks playoff chances and that “the feeling was that Seattle needed to win one of two games at Houston and Indianapolis, and that’s what the Seahawks did.” My hope was that the Seahawks needed to be at least 3-2 after their first 5 games to stay in good shape in the division race. The fact that they are 4-1 is a huge plus and most Seahawks fans would accept that record in a heartbeat. Arguably the toughest road stretch of the season is over and in our next 4 games we have two against sub-.500 teams and two at home. That is something to think about moving forward. Don’t panic yet, 12th Man.

Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 23, Texans 20 (OT)

1 Oct

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Last season in Chicago the Seahawks drove 80 yards in overtime to beat the Bears 23-17. That game turned out to be a huge statement game and jump started the Seahawks to 5 straight wins to end the regular season. What happened on Sunday could carry huge momentum as we carry on with the 2013 season. The Seahawks came back from a 17 point halftime deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime in one of the biggest and most impressive comebacks in franchise history. With the win the Seahawks have started 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and keep a two game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Texans fall to 2-2 on the season. Here are my thoughts on the big points of Sunday’s amazing win.

Thoughts on the Offensive Line: I understand that the Seahawks offensive line went up against one of the best defenders in the NFL in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt this week. Watt recorded 4 tackles and only 0.5 sacks but the stat line does not show what I saw from the upper deck of Reliant Stadium. What I saw was Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus (my X-Factor player if you remember), and defensive tackle Antonio Smith completely dominating the Seahawks offensive line physically.  The Texans bull-rush technique was extremely effective throughout the game on Sunday. Russell Wilson was pressured 16 times by the Houston defense. Those 16 plays resulted in 5 sacks, 5 incompletions, 5 quarterback rushes, and one interception. These results contributed to a passer rating of 49.7 for Wilson, the third lowest passer rating of his career. The adjustments offensive line coach Tom Cable made at halftime worked because the Seahawks showed slight improvement by giving Wilson slightly more time to throw. With center Max Unger hopefully coming back this week I do not believe Wilson will have the kind of frustrating day against Indianapolis that he had in Houston.

Thoughts on the Defense: Just like with the offensive line, it was a night-and-day difference between the first half and the second half/overtime. After allowing 20 first half points the defense buckled down and did not allow another Texans score. In the second half and overtime the Seahawks forced 7 Houston punts, recovered a fumble, and cornerback Richard Sherman returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game 20-20. The pass rush also improved dramatically as Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril each recorded a sack of Matt Schaub in the second half. The resiliency the Seahawks defense showed against Houston proves that we have the capability to come back from any deficit. Seahawks fans should be very confident in this unit. This year, more than any other year, do not count this team out of any game regardless of the score or circumstances. They made a huge statement in Houston this week and with the schedule easing up a bit in the coming weeks, this is a perfect opportunity to get further ahead of the rest of the division.

The Michael Bennett Factor: With 10 seconds left in the first half Michael Bennett left the game on a stretcher with a lower back injury. Thankfully, the injury was not as serious as it looked and at halftime Bennett was in the Seahawks locker room. He told Richard Sherman “just come on, win this for me. I’m not going to be able to come back in this one.” This moment of inspiration and emotion was a tremendous motivating factor for the entire team and especially for the defense, as they went on to shutout the Texans offense for the remainder of the game. Without the injury I raise the question: would the Seahawks have the fire and inspiration to play the way they did in the second half? Luckily for the Seahawks the game resulted in victory and luckily for Bennett it looks like he may have a decent chance to play next week.

Thoughts on Houston: The Texans have a talented team but the offense is their weakest link. Head coach Gary Kubiak along with Texans fans do not seem to have confidence in Matt Schaub’s decision making and his play in-fact cost them a win. The defense will continue to be one of the best units in the NFL as long as they can stay healthy. If this team can get on a winning streak, they could become a dangerous contender later on in the season.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be detailed in a post about my weekend in Houston later this week. I only have only one random thought for this review. The Seahawks wore grey jerseys and grey pants this week. As I posted on Facebook before the game, I am the kind of fan who likes to wear the same jersey that the team is wearing for each game. I do not believe I have ever worn the wrong colored jersey to a Seahawks game in my life. I felt quite out of sorts this week in the stands, as I was wearing my white road jersey; the one I thought the team would be wearing.

Later this week I will post an in-depth summary of my weekend trip to Houston for the game. Be sure to check back for that. Also, my preview of next week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will be posted Saturday morning. Go Hawks!

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Offensive Linemen

16 Jul

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

Current Offensive Linemen on Roster (15): Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Max Unger, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Mike Person, Rishaw Johnson, Alvin Bailey, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith, Michael Bowie, Jake Bscherer

There are many parts of the offensive line that are worth noting as the Seahawks get ready to start training camp. The starting unit returns two pro bowlers in Russell Okung and Max Unger. The Seahawks also drafted three offensive linemen this year in Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith, and Michael Bowie. Here are a couple things I will be looking for from the offensive line during training camp.

The most important thing to keep an eye on is who will line up with the starting offense. Last year the Seahawks flip-flopped often at right guard between John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy. This year it is crucial for the Seahawks to solidify their starters before breaking camp at the end of August. The health of James Carpenter also adds a wrinkle into the plans of the starting offensive line. Offensive line coach Tom Cable was interviewed on 950 KJR during OTA’s and he stated that the current starting line consisted of Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini from left to right. If Carpenter is going to start at left guard, it makes me less worried about the depth we have. I believe Paul McQuistan is one of the more underrated lineman on the Seahawks roster. If he is going to be benched in favor of Carpenter, we now have McQuistan and Moffitt, two proven starters, as backups in the event our starters get hurt. After that however, we are significantly thinner from a talent perspective. Lemuel Jeanpierre is the only other offensive lineman with starting experience in Seattle and time will tell how the three drafted rookies as well as Mike Person, Alvin Bailey, Rishaw Johnson, and Jake Bscherer will fit during training camp.

I expect to see the rookies get more playing time during the preseason than any other rookies on the roster. It is unclear at this point where these players stack up on the depth chart. There will be a handful of offensive lineman who will not make it past final roster cuts so the reps that they see in practice will be vital in shaping their status on the team.

One last thing I will have my eye on is the health of this position group. Last year for the most part, our entire offensive line stayed healthy. This was one of the primary reasons to our overall continuity and how we were able to go 11-5 and make the playoffs. Injuries along the offensive line will destroy your chances to win. It will be crucial for every lineman to make out of each practice and each preseason game healthy or else the Seahawks will struggle once the regular season rolls around.

Check back tomorrow as I will preview the Seahawks running backs!

Camp Notes 8/3: Offensive Line Expectations

3 Aug

There is not a whole lot to note after today’s practice. I was not able to attend practice and the live stream online was very spotty.

I did get to see group drills of the offensive lineman and today. While watching the offensive line practice, I started to think about how far along this group has come since Pete Carroll took over as head coach and the progress the line has made since Tom Cable came in before last season. A lot of people look at our offensive line from 2005 and hope that that is where the Seahawks can get back to. Between 2006 and 2010 the Seahawks offensive line lacked talent and continuity from a fan’s perspective. This was proven given the Seahawks pathetic running game during that period. After Marshawn Lynch’s breakthrough performance in the second half of last season, a lot of attention has been put back on the offensive live. I believe that Coach Carroll has brought in the guys that he wants to be anchoring the line and an emphasis on the zone blocking scheme and not the players themselves has been an interesting point in regards to the growth of this unit.

I do not believe the talent is the biggest issue with this group but the continuity will. Last year we lost three of our starting five offensive linemen to season-ending injuries. The players who took the starters spots stepped in and did a phenomenal job. This year, with a full offseason under their belts, I expect this healthy, talented offensive line to provide the time for the starting quarterback and the holes for Marshawn Lynch to be explosive. Explosive enough to lead this team to contending for the NFC West title. You cannot beat the 2005 Seahawks offensive line, and not unit has come close or will ever come close for a very long time, but we can definitely be successful with who we have on this roster right now. I am very much looking forward to how the offensive line plays this upcoming season, and what effect they will have on the overall improvement of our offense.

Tomorrow I will once again be watching practice from home. According to Tony Ventrella of seahawks.com the team will conduct tomorrow’s practice and will take place in a simulated game on Sunday.

Also: Be sure to check out my piece coming tomorrow afternoon on the hall of fame enshrinement of former Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. I can assure you, you will not want to miss it. See you guys tomorrow!