Tag Archives: Zach Miller

Broncos/Seahawks Preview

20 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

This Sunday marks one of the most anticipated matchups at this point in the young 2014 NFL season. For only the 6th time in NFL history the two teams that squared off in the previous year’s Super Bowl meet in the regular season. This time around it is the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks playing host to the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos. The Seahawks come into this week’s game at 1-1 and are coming off a 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos are 2-0 and are coming off a win at home over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 38-20 but by now you already know what happened the last time these two teams met in a meaningful game, a 43-8 Seahawks win in Super Bowl XLVIII. Of those previous 5 Super Bowl rematches, the defending champion is 3-2. Here is what I will be focused on from section 340 this week.

I think a lot of Seahawks fans are thinking “if we play the Broncos exactly like how we did in the Super Bowl we should win easily again.” I am adamant that this approach will not work and it not what I expect the Seahawks offense to do this week. In the Super Bowl Russell Wilson only threw for 206 yards and this week I think it is crucial for him to take advantage of the third worst passing defense in the league so far this season. If he is healthy Marshawn Lynch will see his share of opportunities but I believe that Seattle must rely on the passing game to move the ball down the field and score points. If the defense struggles like they did against San Diego more will be required of Wilson to throw the ball to go blow-for-blow with the Broncos offense. Percy Harvin will have a big impact in this game but look for Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to have a significant impact on the outside. The Broncos will start Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at cornerback this week, two players who did not play in the Super Bowl hence they do not have the experience of going up against Seattle’s receivers. Look for Baldwin and Kearse to make a large impact throughout this week’s game.

After being picked apart by Philip Rivers last week, the challenge does not get any easier with Peyton Manning coming into town this week for the Seahawks defense. There are a couple of specific things on the defensive side of the ball I am looking for. First I want the Seahawks enforcers to come out and make a physical statement early in the game. A lot of players in the locker room believe that when strong safety Kam Chancellor hit Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route early on in Super Bowl XLVIII the game was already over; that the Broncos were intimidated and that threw them off their game for the rest of the night. Laying the wood early could do the exact same thing this time around, especially at home. I’m calling on Chancellor and our entire linebacker corps to make hard, clean hits on Denver’s skill position players to take away any momentum the Broncos may have. Secondly I want to see how the Seahawks defense handles a potential no-huddle offense led by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. It would not surprise me the least bit to see Manning try to get to the line of scrimmage fast to try to silence the crowd. If the Broncos offense is successful in the no-huddle, I could see the Seahawks struggling, at least in the early part of the game.

The defense of the Denver Broncos sports many new faces this year. After the butt-kicking they endured in the Super Bowl, the Broncos made large financial commitments to high-profile free agents to help their defense become more competitive, especially in big games. My X-Factor player to watch this week is one of those new players, defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Ware leads all Broncos defenders in sacks so far this season with 1.5 and after watching film of last week’s game Ware’s presence on the field cannot go unnoticed. Although he is 32 years old, Ware proved in the preseason against the Seahawks that he can still chase down even the most mobile quarterbacks, sacking Russell Wilson once in the first quarter. For the entire Denver pass rushing unit, the key will be to try to contain Wilson inside the pocket. If you let Wilson scramble he will find ways to get away and make throws which will kill the Broncos defense. If the Broncos are going to be successful in putting pressure on the Seahawks offense, much like how San Diego was successful last week, you must stop the run, force third downs, and keep the quarterback in the pocket.

There is one matchup that I rank above all else this week: Peyton Manning versus the 12th Man. As surprising as it may be, this week will be the first time Manning plays a full game at CenturyLink Field. His prior two trips to the Clink include a preseason game last season and a game in December 2005 where Manning played in a preseason capacity. In that game, Manning’s Colts had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Manning only played the first couple of series before turning the game over to backup Jim Sorgi. This will be Manning’s first “true” dose of the 12th Man and I have no idea how he will handle our crowd. Other than Peyton Manning, the last 10 opposing Super Bowl winning quarterbacks are a combined 5-12 playing at CenturyLink Field. The last of these quarterbacks to beat the Seahawks in Seattle was Eli Manning’s New York Giants all the way back in 2010. With the complicated snap counts the Broncos use and the silent counts they will have for this specific game it will be crucial for the 12th Man to be constantly deafening to try to frustrate Manning and confuse the entire Denver offense.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear navy jerseys and navy pants while the Broncos will wear white jerseys and white pants this week… Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have the call for CBS this week with Tracy Wolfson patrolling the sidelines. This is the Sunday afternoon game of the week and the majority of the country will get to see this game on television. The only major cities that will not see Broncos/Seahawks on CBS are Phoenix, Kansas City, Jacksonville, and Miami… Bill Vinovich is this week’s referee… In addition to this being a Super Bowl rematch, this will also be a Super Bowl reunion. I will be taking my friend James to this week’s game. James and I both went to New York for the Super Bowl back in February so we are both excited to see two meaningful Broncos/Seahawks games in two different seasons, but only 7 months apart of each other… I know this sounds crazy but hear me out. What if instead of booing the Broncos when they run out of the tunnel, the 12th Man gives them a roaring cheer? All the Broncos did was be the final team on our way to our first Super Bowl championship. It probably won’t happen but I think that would be an interesting way to maybe throw Denver off guard. Kind of a “thank you for our first Lombardi Trophy, Denver”… Speaking of tunnels, it is rumored that the Seahawks may run out of the tunnel as a team for every game for the rest of the season. I personally do not like this idea because one of the main parts of pregame is to get the 12th Man fired up. The best way the Seahawks do this is by introducing the individual members either the starting offense or defense. Introducing the entire team kind of takes the fun out of all the pregame festivities in my opinion… Looks like it will be a hot one on Sunday with a game time temperature in the mid-80’s. Dress appropriately… With an early bye week this year this week’s game is of even greater importance. It would be terrible start the season 1-2 with 13 straight games ahead of us following the bye week.

Prediction: Although this game will not be as lopsided as the Super Bowl, I am still confident in the Seahawks bouncing back to beat the Broncos this week. Russell Wilson will outgain Peyton Manning through the air and will throw two touchdowns to Jermaine Kearse and one to Zach Miller. The Seahawks will go to 2-1 heading into their early bye.

Seahawks 33, Broncos 24

Check back late Sunday night for by Broncos review. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game everybody. Go Hawks!

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Review: Seahawks 41, Chargers 14

16 Aug
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

If anyone jumped to conclusions after the poor performance in Denver last week, I hope Friday’s game eased your worries. In front of a revved up 12th Man the Seahawks dominated the San Diego Chargers 41-14. The Seahawks improve to 1-1 on the preseason while the loss drops San Diego to 1-1 as well. It was great to be back at CenturyLink Field and it was made even better given what occurred on the field tonight. Here are some of the things I took away from tonight’s game.

Wilson Thrives: Russell Wilson played for the first 25:55 of the game and he was able to successfully lead three scoring drives, resulting in 24 first half points. Wilson appeared to be in mid-season form and his stat line reflected such a notion, completing 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards. What impressed me was his ability to once again evade the pass rush and use his feet to make big plays happen. Wilson found tight ends Zach Miller and Luke Willson for large gains and after scrambling, found wide receiver Doug Baldwin in the back of the endzone for a touchdown which was later overturned. DangeRuss was even more dangerous on the ground, running in two touchdowns of his own. What was even better was that Wilson proved that the read option attack can still be very effective. After not using read option nearly as much in 2013 as we did in 2012, I am starting to wonder if the read option will make a triumphant return in a big way in 2014. Next week Russell Wilson will play into the third quarter and with a performance similar to Friday night’s, next week’s game could end in similar blowout fashion.

Turbin Steps Up: In my game preview I wondered about the possibility of Robert Turbin not making the team if he failed to put together a solid game this week. I am now thinking Turbin’s job is safe. After Marshawn Lynch was on the field for only the first offensive play of the game, Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell handed the keys to the car over to Turbin and he definitely made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Two things impressed me about Turbin’s performance on Friday night. First off, he found holes extremely easily and did not try to run through people has he has shown in the past. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, Turbin fought for extra yards several times which is something that is rather rare for a guy that has shown his running style is closer to Shaun Alexander than to Marshawn Lynch. I think Turbin’s performance against the Chargers solidifies him as the backup running back but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Christine Michael get the bulk of the carries next week to try to challenge Turbin yet again for that job.

Offensive Line Holds its Own: Despite the fact that Russell Okung and Max Unger sat out Friday’s game, the Seahawks makeshift offensive line did a fantastic job creating room in the running game and keeping Russell Wilson and the rest of the quarterbacks clean. The play of tonight’s o-line paved the way for 243 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns, and only one quarterback sack. What makes me breathe a sigh of relief is that this unit is going to get better once we get Okung and Unger back as well as solidifying who will be out starting right tackle come September.

Jackson vs. Pryor (Round Two): This topic is difficult to discuss because Tarvaris Jackson did not play. Terrelle Pryor got the second-string snaps and did an adequate job. His stat line through the air was not entirely impressive (1/4, 10 yards passing) and there is much room for improvement in that area but Pryor did impress me with his feet, running for 59 yards and a touchdown. One thing I would like to see Pryor improve on is his awareness of the line to gain after he slid just short of a first down in the fourth quarter. Pryor is improving but I discussed with a guy at the game it is possible that we gave him ample playing time tonight just to see if it is worth it to keep three quarterbacks on the roster after the preseason.

Defensive Thoughts: The defense showed significant improvement as a whole unit from last week to this week. I am becoming a big fan of middle linebacker Brock Coyle’s playing style after he contributed to nearly every play he was on the field for. Jeron Johnson also really impressed me in the secondary after he made a couple of Kam Chancellor-esque hits on Chargers receivers. Johnson moved from cornerback to safety this offseason and it is clear that Johnson will be Chancellor’s backup this season. The defense fed off the energy of the 12th Man all night long and confirmed my belief that we have the best defense in the National Football League especially when we play at home.

Thoughts on San Diego: The San Diego Chargers offense is a unit that is very hard to diagnose. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers played only one series before backup Kellen Clemens took over and Rivers looked fairly mediocre. San Diego’s receivers and running backs have great potential but Rivers will have to have another solid year for the Chargers to consistently put points on the board and in essence, remain competitive. The San Diego defense needs a lot of work, especially in the running game. The Chargers will face many elite running backs this season such as Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, and Frank Gore. It will be a long season for the Chargers if they cannot fix their glaring defensive problems.

Random Thoughts: All blue for the Seahawks and white/navy for the Chargers just like I thought… The raisers of the 12th Man flag were first responders of the Oso mudslide and the Eastern Washington wildfires… One interesting note, the Seahawks are starting to shy away from the phrase “12th Man.” The fans were referenced as “12’s” and the flag was referenced as the “12 flag” instead of the “12th Man Flag” by the public address announcer… For a short time before heading downtown it felt like it might be in store for that weather uncertainty I hate so much; when you don’t know if you want to bring a sweatshirt because it might be too cold but you don’t want to be stuck carrying it everywhere if it is too warm. Those kinds of games are the worst… We went to Hawks Nest Bar and Elysian Fields before the game but since I’m on antibiotics I couldn’t drink. Instead, I had the best couple of Diet Coke’s I’ve ever had… I almost witnessed a fight during on the concourse during halftime. I went to get a bite to eat and there were two guys who were circled up and they looked like they were about to box. When I walked past the same area after getting my food, the area was patrolled by about a half-dozen police officers with both fist fighters leaning against separate walls, handcuffed. Don’t be stupid at sporting events boys and girls… In the rafters was a banner covered up by a black tarp. After seeing it before the game I assumed that the Seahawks were going to raise our 2013 NFC West champions banner but they held off. We’ll see if any banners are unveiled next week… CenturyLink Field made a couple of significant upgrades over the offseason. The scoreboards hanging off of the upper deck at midfield now display a new design. The old design consisted of the both team names and their respective scores, one on top of the other, on a football texture background. The new scoreboard display is navy blue with both team logos and their respective scores side by side with the score in the team’s color scheme. (For example the Chargers score was displayed with the lightning bolt and yellow score number. The Seahawks score was displayed with our logo and our score in action green). Also, the stat boards in both endzones have been replaced with new video boards, giving the stadium 6 video boards instead of just 2. They are very bright and beautiful. They are certainly noticeable and I personally like them a lot.

Check back next Thursday as I preview our third preseason game, the dress rehearsal game, against the Chicago Bears. Go Hawks!

49ers/Seahawks Preview (NFC Championship Game)

18 Jan
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: (5) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 3:30pm

Not very often do you get an opportunity like this, even less often at home. It has been 8 years since the Seahawks played the Carolina Panthers in the 2005 NFC Championship Game and personally I have been waiting for the Seahawks to get back on this national stage ever since. I became a season-ticket holder in 2006 and for all the games I have been to over the past 8 seasons, opportunities like the one presenting itself on Sunday makes having tickets and going to games during the bad years absolutely worth it. In front of a nationally televised audience on FOX, the Seahawks will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game. If the Seahawks lose the season is over, but if the Seahawks win they punch their ticket to New York for Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2nd. The all-time series between the Seahawks and 49ers is tied 15-15. Their last meeting came on December 8th when San Francisco defeated Seattle 19-17 in the final seconds at Candlestick Park. This is the first meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. There are many storylines that have gained momentum from both a local and a national perspective in the days leading up to this game. Here are my thoughts as we head into the biggest home game in franchise history.

The absolute number one key for the Seahawks this week comes on defense. In the last two 49ers/Seahawks games played in Seattle, the Seahawks have held 49ers running back Frank Gore to a total of 44 rushing yards. What I’ve noticed when you dig into all of Colin Kaepernick’s career starts is that he has been successful because of a dynamic rushing attack helping him. When opposing defenses are able to shut the San Francisco running game (especially Gore) down, Kaepernick becomes extremely vulnerable. Once again the number one key for the Seahawks is to stop Gore. Unlike last week where I wanted to see the Seahawks force the New Orleans Saints to run, forcing Colin Kaepernick to throw will help the Seahawks mightily. In Kaepernick’s 28 career starts he has thrown only 11 interceptions. 4 of those interceptions have come in his two starts in Seattle. The Legion of Boom will be Kaepernick’s worst nightmare if the Seahawks run defense allows it to. My target rushing total for Frank Gore this week is between 50-60 yards. If the Seahawks can hold Gore to under 60 yards on the ground, we will be in fantastic shape.

The Seattle offense is a unit that has not lit up the stat sheet recently but they have been efficient enough to win football games. There are three things I need to see out of the Seahawks offense this week. The first thing is for Marshawn Lynch to have a productive day at the office. Unlike Frank Gore, Lynch has been very efficient running the ball against the 49ers in Seattle. In the same two game span that Gore has rushed for 44 total yards, Lynch has rushed for 209 total yards and has also added 3 touchdowns. I fully expect the majority of fans to panic if the Seahawks cannot get the running game going early but it will be necessary to be patient through the first half to try to get Lynch large chunks of yards. The second necessity for the Seahawks offense this week is to protect Russell Wilson. Wilson was sacked 3 times last week and he has been sacked 18 times in his last 6 games. The last time the Seahawks and 49ers played in Seattle, the Seahawks were without two starting offensive lineman and lost Russell Okung to a foot injury early in the game. This week the entire starting offensive line is healthy and I expect significant improvement in pass protection. Keep an eye on the left guard position this week as Michael Bowie is expected to start again after playing a great game last week in his first career start at that position. The third thing I need to see out of the offense this week is an extension of my second offensive key, only the weight of this key falls more on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. There have been instances throughout the past few games where when Wilson drops back to pass, at times he seems to bail from the pocket and move around to try to make throws while at other times he seems a bit too overconfident being patient in the pocket. In those instances he will wait for a receiver to get open and by the time he decides on his read he is either on the ground sacked or throwing the ball away. Wilson needs to be more aware of what is going on around him to know how much time he has to throw. Confidence in the pocket and connecting on throws down the field will help the Seahawks greatly this week.

The San Francisco 49ers come into the NFC Championship Game red-hot and firing on all cylinders. My 49ers preview is rather broad this week as there are only three things that I believe will help the 49ers be more effective this week. The first key is to ride the wave of momentum that comes with an 8-game winning streak. San Francisco comes into the NFC Championship Game as perhaps the more confident team, which comes naturally riding a long winning streak. My other two 49ers keys will be the most important to keep that momentum going.

The 49ers need to handle the crowd noise much better than they have in their last two visits to CenturyLink Field. Shorter verbiage and hand signals will be necessary this week and I would not be surprised to see the 49ers use a no-huddle package, especially early in the game. San Francisco will want to take the 12th Man out of the game as early as possible so it will be very important to score early. On offense for San Francisco this week there is only one player that I believe is deserving of my X-Factor player to watch, and that is the most important player that was not on the field the last time the 49ers played in Seattle. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has elevated the 49ers passing game to extraordinary levels since returning from a torn Achilles on December 1st. Crabtree has averaged 62 receiving yards in 7 games this season and he has also been targeted an average of 8 times per game. It is hard to believe how big of a difference Crabtree has made since returning; the 49ers have not lost since his return. Taking Crabtree away will limit Colin Kaepernick’s weapons to tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

In my “Making Memories” post earlier this week, I recall the 2005 NFC Championship Game in great detail. One of the things I mentioned is how I never sat down throughout the duration of the game and the 12th Man did not let up on the Carolina offense all game long. I cannot stress the importance of duplicating that stadium environment again this week. At last week’s Divisional playoff game many fans left following Marshawn Lynch’s final touchdown assuming the game was all but over. For a playoff game I find that behavior utterly pathetic. This week cannot and hopefully will not be the same as last week. I hope to spend the majority of the game on my feet regardless of who has the ball. I expect every single fan to scream when San Francisco has the ball. I expect no fan to leave before the fourth quarter clock hits zero. If everything goes right this should be the biggest party in the city. I hope you will not want to leave as the game gets closer to the finish. In addition, I want this game to be the loudest Seahawks game I have attended up to this point in my life. We the 12th Man WILL have a voice in deciding the outcome of this game. Do not doubt that. We also owe it to the guys on the field to give it our all. If we stay consistently ear-drum-bursting loud this week, the 49ers will have no chance communicating and coming into our house and stealing a victory.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will likely wear blue jerseys and blue pants for the final time this season. I say “likely” because should the Seahawks win, they will be designated as the road team in Super Bowl XLVIII. The 49ers will wear their classic white jersey/gold pants look… Gene Steratore is this week’s referee. He called the Seahawks week 8 game against the Rams in St. Louis and Steratore’s crew loosely called that game. He let the players play. Hopefully the same goes this way because if the game is called tight the Seahawks may be in trouble… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews covering the sidelines. In addition, the entire “FOX NFL Sunday” pregame crew will be attendance this week and they will do their pregame show from inside the stadium, an annual tradition, starting at 3pm… The giveaway this week is white rally towels. All I can say is hallelujah. I’ve been waiting to get the chance to wave a rally towel all season and it is entirely fitting that chance comes in the biggest home game of the season… Ann Wilson from “Heart” will sing the national anthem before the game which actually surprises me because I thought FOX would bring in the most recent American Idol or X-Factor winner to sing it like they have done in the past… The halftime show is one that I am very much looking forward to. Grammy nominated and Seattle recording artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will perform at halftime, which turns the NFC Championship Game into a mini Super Bowl in my opinion. Hopefully the Seahawks take control of the game in the first half so I can actually enjoy Mack’s halftime performance… In my opinion there is only one group that I think should have the honor to raise the 12th Man flag this week. Back when we played Tampa Bay in November, the Seahawks honored the 30th anniversary of the first playoff team in franchise history. Members of the 1983 Seahawks stood at the flagpole while Steve Largent did the honors of raising the flag. This week should hold the exact same concept. The only group that I see fit to raise the 12th Man flag this week is members of the 2005 Seahawks led by head coach Mike Holmgren, the first Seahawks team to play in the Super Bowl. I will be extremely disappointed if this does not happen. Even if they do not celebrate the entire team, Coach Holmgren deserves the chance to raise the flag this week… Goal for Sunday: Try to meet up with all of my friends that I know are going to the game… Streamers are a must once again this week. Gotta go all out… If we win, the Halas Trophy presentation will be really awesome to be a part of again… Let this sink in: We are 60 minutes away from playing in the biggest game in Seahawks franchise history.

Prediction: There is no doubt that this will be a physical game and it may be close until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. Zach Miller will catch a first quarter touchdown to make it 7-0 Seahawks. A Steven Hauschka field goal will extend the lead to 10-0 before the 49ers score on a Michael Crabtree touchdown pass in the final two minutes of the half. Halftime score: Seahawks 10, 49ers 7.

In the second half the Seahawks will take full control in the running game. Marshawn Lynch will run for a pair of touchdowns, the second of which coming in the final 5 minutes of the game. That will be the dagger. Vernon Davis will catch a garbage time touchdown under the two-minute warning but by then it will be far too late. The Seahawks will win, hoist the Halas Trophy, and will head to Super Bowl XLVIII as the 2013 NFC Champions.

Seahawks 24, 49ers 14

Whether we win or lose check back late Sunday night for my review of the NFC Championship Game. Whether you are watching on television or at the game, enjoy this one everybody because hopefully this will be a game we all look back on as one of the best in team history. Go Seahawks!

Buccaneers/Seahawks Preview

2 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks return home to start the second half of the season as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon. After escaping St. Louis with a win the Seahawks currently hold a 7-1 record and have a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stumble into Seattle with more than 99 problems, if you know what I mean. The Buccaneers are 0-7, the seat head coach Greg Schiano is sitting on is white-hot, and on the field the Buccaneers have looked more like the Tampa Bay “Yuckaneers” of the 1970’s, 1980’s, and early 1990’s. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with Tampa Bay 7-4. In their last meeting in 2009, a terrible 2-win Buccaneers team came into Seattle and crushed the unraveling Seahawks 24-7. Once again the Seahawks are heavily favored and practically no one is giving Tampa Bay a chance to win this game. Remember though most people also gave the St. Louis Rams no chance of winning last week and they were one yard away from winning. Here is what the Seahawks must do to avoid a colossal upset and what to know about the Buccaneers.

 It’s obvious that a big key on offense this week is to better pass-protect quarterback Russell Wilson so I will spare my obvious analysis of this point. With the loss of Sidney Rice for the rest of the season to a torn ACL and the absence of Percy Harvin for at least one more week, the Seahawks will have to search for a new way to move the ball through the air this week. This will be that much more important because Tampa Bay allows only 95 rushing yards per game; 7th best in the NFL. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will be our primary receivers and Jermaine Kearse will have a more prominent role in the offense against Tampa Bay. Kearse could have a big impact because of his height. Although Tate can be a play-maker on the outside the Seahawks need a guy with great vertical range who can jump up and get passes. Baldwin will ideally be used out of the slot meaning Kearse will line up opposite Tate for the majority of the snaps he sees. I do not expect recently activated wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to see much playing time at all, if any. If the Buccaneers can do a good job of staying with their receivers down the field, Wilson and the Seahawks offense will be forced to use screen passes to move the ball through the air. Look for Zach Miller and Luke Willson to potentially make a big impact in the short passing game.

On defense, the game we must play this week is “confuse the rookie.” The quarterback of the Buccaneers is rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon, the man who replaced Russell Wilson at North Carolina State after Wilson transferred to Wisconsin. Glennon took over for Josh Freeman who was traded to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this season. One of the biggest confidence boosters from my perspective is the thought of a rookie quarterback coming into CenturyLink Field to play his first game here. With our defense and the crowd noise, first timers playing Seattle tend to struggle more than in their previous games. Look for the Seahawks to blitz more than they did last week. Heavy blitzes resulted in 7 sacks of Carson Palmer two weeks ago but Kellen Clemens was only sacked 3 times last week. Dialing up extra blitz packages this week and sending a wide array of pass-rushers on different plays will result in an increase in sack production and may confuse Glennon to make bad decisions. Forcing turnovers could be the determining factor in the outcome of this game. If the Seahawks can strip the ball and force interceptions, we will win this game no doubt about it (as long, of course, as the offense can turn those turnovers into points).

With a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon, a back-up running back in Mike James, and a coach that is on the verge of completely losing the locker room, I believe that the Buccaneers offense is a complete mess coming into this game. The Buccaneers average only 14 points per game. It will be terribly difficult to score points on Seattle this week, especially since the Seahawks have not allowed a touchdown for two weeks. The only way Tampa Bay has a realistic chance of winning this game will be because of a dominant performance by their defense. On paper the Buccaneers have lots of talent on defense. Linebacker Lavonte David leads Tampa Bay in tackles and sacks while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has recorded two sacks of his own. Before the season started it was highlighted that this game would feature the two best cornerbacks in the league as Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis would share the same field in this game. Sherman has maintained his title as one of the best cornerbacks in the league but Revis has slipped slightly. Revis leads all Tampa Bay defenders in passes defensed with 6 but he has only recorded one interception. My X-Factor player to watch for Tampa Bay this week is linebacker Mason Foster. Foster, from the University of Washington, Has done a little of everything on defense this year, making him a player that definitely warrants an offenses undivided attention on every play. Foster is 4th in tackles on Tampa Bay’s defense with 42, he has recorded 2 sacks and he can also drop back into coverage, which was highlighted in week 2 when he intercepted a pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.

Random Thoughts: Blue jerseys and blue pants for the Seahawks this week. The Buccaneers will most likely wear their unique (or weird looking depending on who you talk to) bronze colored pants with their white jerseys… Kenny Albert and Daryl “Moose” Johnston have the call for FOX this week with Tony Siragusa reporting from the sidelines. Is it possible that because the Seahawks have such an impressive record we have been rewarded by no longer being subjected to play-by-play and commentary from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan?! Hopefully so since they have only broadcasted two of our games this year, the last one coming in week 4… Mike Carey is the referee this week. Carey is my favorite referee in the league although his crew has made some questionable calls against the Seahawks the past couple of years. The reason why I like Carey so much is his intense pointing when announcing penalties and the way he rolls his hands when he states what down it will be following said penalties… To everyone attending this week’s game remember it is a 1:05 start NOT a 1:25 start. Like I always say that 20 minute span makes all the difference. I recommend you make sure you are at your seats by 12:50 at the latest; at least 15 minutes early… For the first time this season I will not have an issue with the warmth and the weather. No doubt a sweatshirt, jeans, and perhaps a knit hat will be necessary this week to keep warm… Hawks Nest Bar and Grill pregame. Be there… The Seahawks will be honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1983 Seahawks; the first Seahawks team to make the playoffs. That season the Seahawks went 12-4 and advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game. If it turns out to be a halftime ceremony it will surely be one to remember. Let’s get out of this game healthy and with a win to get to 8-1. Come on boys!

Prediction: The Seahawks offense will improve from last week but will not handle the Buccaneers like most people think they should (think the Cardinals game last December). There will be a lot of field goals in this game, which is good for me since Steven Hauschka is my fantasy football kicker. The Seahawks defense will play a very good game sacking Mike Glennon 5 times and recording 2 interceptions; one from Richard Sherman and one by K.J. Wright. The Seahawks will get to 8-1 with a big road test against the Atlanta Falcons looming next week.

Seahawks 26, Buccaneers 3

Look for my review of the Buccaneers/Seahawks game late Sunday night or in the wee hours of Monday morning. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

16 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 5:25pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seahawks 22, Cardinals 21

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

Review: Seahawks 45, Jaguars 17

22 Sep

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Well that went just as I expected. The Seahawks defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 45-17 Sunday in a game that was over by halftime. Although the defense gave up 17 points (all during garbage time) the offense clicked as a whole for the first time all season. The Seahawks improve to 3-0 on the season while the Jaguars fall to 0-3. With the losses by San Francisco, St. Louis, and Arizona the Seahawks now hold a two game lead over the rest of the NFC West. There is a lot of good and some bad I took out of Sunday’s game. Here are my observations.

Wilson Back on Track: Russell Wilson made one mistake on Sunday. Luckily that mistake, a deflected interception by Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, was after the Seahawks had gained full control of the game. Wilson went 14/21 for 202 yards, threw 4 touchdowns and one interception on Sunday in what I consider to be his all-around best game of the season. Wilson did a good job standing firm in the pocket and finding his open receivers than scrambling to help them get open. This is evident by Wilson’s minimal rushing numbers; two carries for 14 yards. After failing to score a touchdown in the first half of our previous two games, Wilson found Zach Miller for two touchdowns and Sidney Rice for a touchdown in the first half on Sunday. It was key to see Wilson shake the rust off in the first half because a slow first half start on the road in the next two weeks could spell trouble for the Seahawks. Wilson was pulled at the end of the third quarter, and therefore escaped uninjured which was also one of my keys heading into Sunday’s game.

Everyone Gets Involved: Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson used a diverse array of running backs and receivers against the Jaguars on Sunday. Seven different players caught passes and five different players had at least one carry on the ground. Golden Tate led all receivers with 5 receptions for 88 yards. Zach Miller had two touchdown catches but it was rookie tight end Luke Willson who made a surprise impact this week. Willson caught 5 passes for 76 yards. Three of Willson’s catches came on play action roll outs where the defense bit on the fake run and Willson was left wide open. On the ground, Marshawn Lynch ran for 69 yards and rookie Christine Michael got his first action of the season, carrying the ball 9 times for 37 yards. On Michael’s carries it seemed to be bang or bust. Michael dances a lot to try to make running room which cost him yards on a couple of his carries while he was also able to break into the second level of the Jacksonville defense on two occasions. I think it was great for over a dozen offensive skill position players to get on the stat sheet because it gives the our next opponent, the Houston Texans, more to analyze and consider when creating a game plan for next week.

Thoughts on the Offensive Line: Overall I think the offensive line played an average football game. You could tell that they were missing the presence of Russell Okung though. Russell Wilson was sacked twice which should not happen at home against the likes of the Jacksonville defense. The Seahawks ran for a total of 156 yards which is an excellent sign that the offensive line can continue to play efficiently. The makeshift offensive line survived the game uninjured as a whole and the same group is expected to start next weekend.

Defense Looked Good But I Expect Better: The Seahawks introduced the starting defense before the game and I was surprised by a couple of names that ran out of the tunnel individually. Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril were announced as our starting defensive ends and O’Brien Schofield was announced as one of our starting outside linebackers in place of Malcolm Smith. The Seahawks loaded up the pass rush today and with the addition of Clemons allowed defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to dial up different blitz packages. The Seahawks sacked Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne three times, half of what I predicted for the defense this week. Through the first quarter the Seahawks defense allowed -9 yards. In the remaining 45 minutes, they gave up 274 total yards. This is unacceptable to me. The starters played into the fourth quarter but looked quite relaxed with little sense of urgency. Seattle was leading big and the defense played like they knew the game was in the bag, leading to 17 Jacksonville points. I am worried that the attitude and play of the defense will translate into bad habits we cannot afford to develop moving forward.

Clemons Gets Extended Playing Time: This was the first game Chris Clemons played since tearing his ACL against Washington Redskins in last season’s playoffs. Having said this, I did not expect to see Clemons play the entire game on Sunday. My expectation was for Clemons to see preseason-like playing time on Sunday, playing a light load until about halftime to get his feet wet. Instead, Clemons played 60 minutes and recorded one quarterback hit.

Penalty Watch: The Seahawks improved drastically this week in the laundry department. 4 penalties for 24 yards is a huge success for this team. The week of preparation leading up to Sunday’s game paid dividends. It is key to build on this success. If we can limit ourselves to 5 penalties or less next week in Houston, it could make for another good game.

Thoughts on Jacksonville: Let’s try to look past the fact that the Jaguars lost by 26 points and the game was virtually over by halftime. If I was a Jaguars fan I would be frustrated that our record is 0-3 after three games but I could see a lot of potential in this team for the future. Jacksonville’s defense has been heavily overhauled since head coach Gus Bradley took over but they have a good mix of veteran leadership and young, raw playmaking talent. On offense, the Jaguars scored 17 points thanks in large part to running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver Cecil Shorts. It may take a season or two for the Jaguars to be competitive with the rest of the National Football League but if they can add another talented receiver, more depth at offensive line, and a new quarterback, the Jaguars are headed in the right direction. For the time being however, the Jaguars look like a 2-3 win team this season and will most likely be headed for the Jadeveon Clowney/Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes.

Random Thoughts: No surprise here, the Seahawks wore blue jerseys and blue pants this week… As if I didn’t get enough of the bad weather last week, it rained again this week. Luckily it was slightly colder than last week which made it definite sweatshirt-under-jersey weather… There were actually way more Jaguars fans than I thought I would see… I had lunch with my dad for his birthday at the Pyramid Alehouse this week. I highly recommend the fish n’ chips… There were three people in my section that were escorted out by alcohol enforcement this week. That’s a new record and a surprise to me. What about the Jacksonville Jaguars makes people want to get extra rowdy?… Jack Sikma raised the 12th Man flag before the game… The Jaguars overhauled their uniforms this past offseason and they look atrocious, especially their “black and tan” helmet. Whoever thought that helmet looked good during the design process should be fired… I had Sidney Rice on my bench in fantasy football this week. As if my week could not have been any worse, instead of adding Zach Miller to my starting lineup to replace the injured Vernon Davis, I picked up Davis’s backup Vance McDonald. Miller had 12.5 fantasy points. McDonald had 0.6… There was a huge roar when the 49ers score was announced to the crowd in the 4th quarter. With San Francisco playing St. Louis on the road on a short week without two of their star defensive players in week 4, there is a good chance they could start the season 1-3… “If the Seahawks win next week in Houston, we will win the division.”- My dad (one of the most pessimistic Seahawks fans you would ever meet, by the way).

I will publish my preview of next weekend’s game against the Houston Texans early Saturday morning. Hope everyone enjoyed the game! Thanks for reading as always. Go Seahawks!

Down to 53

31 Aug

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have our team. For week one at least. The Seahawks and the rest of the teams in the NFL had until 3pm pacific time Saturday to shrink their rosters down to 53 players. The Seahawks waived 18 players, terminated the contracts of 4 others and also made one trade.

Waived: Phil Bates (WR), Michael Brooks (DT), Dewayne Cherrington (DT), Arceto Clark (WR), Darren Fells (TE), Winston Guy (S), Chris Harper (WR), Cooper Helfet (TE), Jaye Howard (DT), Rishaw Johnson (OG), Sean McGrath (TE), Ron Parker (CB), Ty Powell (LB), Ryan Seymour (OG), DeShawn Shead (S), Sealver Siliga (DT), Jared Smith (OG), Bryan Walters (WR).

Contracts Terminated: Clinton McDonald (DT), Brady Quinn (QB), Michael Robinson (FB), Antoine Winfield (CB).

Trade: The Seahawks traded a future conditional draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith.

The Seahawks also moved defensive end Chris Clemons from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster.

Some Brief Thoughts: The move that makes the least sense to me is releasing fullback Michael Robinson. I understand that Robinson was due make a base salary of $2.5 million dollars in 2013 which would qualify him as one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL. By cutting Robinson, the Seahawks reportedly save $1 million of cap space this season. Having said this, the Seahawks are in “win now” mode and some think this season carries a “super bowl or bust” label. Robinson was a pro bowler two years ago and a pro bowl alternate last season. He is definitely the best option at fullback of players available to the Seahawks. By releasing Robinson, I believe you are weakening a very valuable position to Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I am holding out hope that no other team will sign Robinson for the money he was due to make and he will sign a new contract to come back to Seattle.

Of the players that were waived, three stick out in my mind; Winston Guy, Cooper Helfet, and Sean McGrath. Guy seemed to come on strong during the playoffs last season, playing in a limited role as a rookie. His spared play during the preseason could mean that the Seahawks coaching staff thinks Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, and Jeron Johnson showed enough to convince the front office that they can add great depth to the secondary by themselves. I would not be surprised however if Guy is retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The cuts of Helfet and McGrath together make me scratch my head. The Seahawks now only have two tight ends on the active roster (Zach Miller and Luke Willson) and I was certain one of these players would make the final roster. One of these guys will make the practice squad. It just makes sense. The depth at tight end is too weak not to carry one on the practice squad.

I am sad to see that Antoine Winfield was cut but at the same time I am excited. Winfield’s release tells me the Seahawks are confident in the young talent they have to fill Winfield’s shoes. I am excited to see Brady Quinn cut. He was very unimpressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Keeping Quinn would have been a wasted roster spot. Maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else (are you listening Bills and Jets fans?).

My Practice Squad: The Seahawks now have until the end of the weekend to fill their 8-man practice squad. Using only the players we waived today here are the 8 players I think the Seahawks should retain: Phil Bates, Winston Guy, Chris Harper, Jaye Howard, Rishaw Johnson, Ron Parker, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith.