Tag Archives: Zone-Read Option

Review: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 22

18 Oct

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Well the Seahawks sure proved me wrong. After I predicted that the Seahawks would barely squeak by with a win, Seattle dominated the Arizona Cardinals on both sides of the ball en route to an impressive 34-22 victory on Thursday night. The Seahawks extend their best start in franchise history as they improve to 6-1 on the season. The Cardinals fall to 3-4 on the season and are currently in last place in the NFC West. Here are the positives and one negative I took out of this week’s game.

Wilson Stretches Field and it Pays Off: Going into this game I felt that in order for Russell Wilson to be more effective he needed to throw the ball deeper for large gains. Tonight Wilson did a much better job of this. Wilson found Sidney Rice for a 31-yard touchdown on a beautiful rainbow pass into the endzone. Seven of Wilson’s passes went long for 16 yards or more. On the night Wilson went 18/29 for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think it was the most impressive performance by Russell Wilson so far this season. The zone-read also played perhaps its biggest role by the Seahawks offense in a game so far this season. Wilson’s quarterback keeper runs gained at least 4 yards each and three were converted for first downs. Even with sub-par offensive line play, Wilson did a good job of keeping plays alive. He was the catalyst of what seemed to be a drastically improved offense since playing Tennessee last Sunday. The offense will continue to get healthier and better. With the talent coming back in the coming weeks both on the offensive line and at the skill positions, Wilson will become increasingly dangerous and I am confident the offense will be firing on all cylinders.

Lynch Shines: Why does it seem like Marshawn Lynch really likes to go full Beast Mode in primetime? Lynch ran 21 times on Thursday night for 91 yards and a touchdown (he should have had 2 touchdowns but one was ruled down inside the 1-yard line). Lynch ran like a man on a mission. I was really impressed with his ability to shed tacklers and the fact that he was nearly able to put up 100 yards on the 5th best run defense in the NFL. Going forward against easier run defenses, the Seahawks are in a great position to put up big numbers, control the games coming up, and continuing to win games. Lynch is averaging 83 yards per game on the road so far this season and the team is averaging 150.5 rushing yards per game on the road. Like I stated, Lynch has a knack for stepping up in primetime and with our next game also in primetime Lynch could be due for another impressive performance next week.

Pass Rush Very Impressive: Want to know how impressive the Seahawks pass rush was on Thursday night? 8 different Seattle defenders recorded at least half of a sack against the Cardinals. That number is the most of any defensive unit against a team so far this season. Of our 4 primary pass rushers Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett each recorded one sack. Bruce Irvin also recorded 4 tackles and had a hit on quarterback Carson Palmer which resulted in an interception. 7 sacks is the most by the Seahawks in a game so far this season as they took advantage of a Cardinals offensive line that not only game up those sacks, but were also ineffective in the running game as Arizona backs Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington, as well as two scrambles by Carson Palmer only ran for 30 yards. It is dominant play by our front seven that allows our defense to get off the field and for the offense to work to put points on the board. I was very impressed by the Seahawks defense being that it was a road game and the Seahawks defense has struggled at times on the road this season. My confidence in our play on the road has never been higher.

Bring the Boom: The play of the Legion of Boom Thursday night was nothing short of spectacular. Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas each made interceptions and Richard Sherman nearly had an interception which was smartly batted away by Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd. The Legion of Boom recorded 22 of the Seahawks 60 tackles and also added 7 passes defensed. Carson Palmer came into this game having thrown 11 interceptions in his first 6 games and even though he threw 2 against the Seahawks it could have been a lot worse. The Seahawks seemed more determined to make sure no yards were gained after contact and they helped in creating only a 33% conversion rate on third down for Arizona. After letting long drives continue the past few weeks, the secondary, just like the pass rush, showed significant improvement in stopping those drives.

Fumbles Still A Problem: As well as the Seahawks played on Thursday night there is always room for improvement. It is evident that the Seahawks offense still has a problem holding onto the ball. Russell Wilson fumbled the ball 3 times, including a combination of ball security and a lack of awareness of what is developing around him. The Seahawks have fumbled the ball 8 times in the past 2 games which is still unacceptable. It is getting to the point where I am hoping the ball carrier just falls down on his own on big plays to prevent the possibility of fumbling the ball. As dangerous as we showed we can be and for all the praise we have received so far following this game, imagine what people would be saying after a game in which the Seahawks played like this and were turnover free.

Thoughts on Arizona: The Arizona Cardinals showed potential for the future. Key words: For the future. Carson Palmer is believed to be an upgrade to John Skelton or Kevin Kolb but he played no better than those two guys on Thursday night. If Arizona can build the offense in the next year or two and keep the core members of the defense together, they could contend at that time. I do not see how you can possibly think the Cardinals will contend this season. After the game got away from them in the third quarter there seemed to be no sense of urgency on the field and a lack of belief from the fans in the stadium. The Cardinals were driving to try to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter and although they went no-huddle they drove at a speed that could warrant a huddle if needed. In addition, no Arizona fans seemed to care that their team could have made the game closer than the final score showed. Having seen the on-the-field product on the field and to see the incredible presence of the 12th Man after the game on the NFL Network postgame show, I would be quite embarrassed if I was a fan of the Arizona Cardinals.

Random Thoughts: For the second time this season the Seahawks broke out the wolf grey jersey’s and pants this week. I may be wrong but I think it is NFL uniform policy that teams can only wear their alternate jersey twice per season. If that is the case, we will be seeing the Seahawks in white for the remainder of their road games… Terry McAulay was the referee on Thursday night… The number of Seahawks fans in Arizona was incredible. My Dad was in attendance and texted me pictures of Glendale throughout the day. It looks like a raging party that will surely carry into the weekend as the Huskies get set to take on Arizona State on Saturday… The shots of the Arizona desert and sunset on the NFL Network broadcast looked amazing. I am big fan of their broadcast production… Russell Wilson was MVP of the game and was presented a bag of gifts by the NFL Network personalities after the game. For those who didn’t see it he was awarded the following gifts: A Leon Sandcastle bobblehead, a Thursday Night Football hat, a Kurt Warner VHS tape, and a Deion Sanders “Prime Time” CD… Oh and they gave Wilson a present intended for Marshawn Lynch; a box of Skittles… It feels so good to be 6-1. If we can get past St. Louis next week to get to 7-1 I may want to make some hefty predictions and/or guarantees. Stay tuned… Speaking of our next game against the Rams it is fun to know that the entire nation will once again get to watch this fun, exciting brand of football the Seahawks are delivering to us… After watching the various postgame shows on television, people are finally starting to believe that we WILL be serious Super Bowl contenders this season. I can’t wait to see how next week unfolds.

With our early-week game this week I will take a few days off from the blog. If anything breaking happens (Percy Harvin *cough*) I will hop back on. Until next week’s preview of Monday Night Football against the St. Louis Rams, Go Hawks!

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Review: Seahawks 12, Panthers 7

8 Sep

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These are the kinds of games we will be looking back on in November and December and be thanking God we were able to pull it out. The Seahawks escaped with a 12-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The win gives the Seahawks a 1-0 record and the Panthers start their season 0-1. There is a lot to talk about and a lot I pulled from this game. Here are my observations from this nail biter.

Running Game Needs To Improve: I will cut Marshawn Lynch a little bit of slack on this one because the Carolina Panthers front 7 is extremely talented in stuffing the run. Lynch ran for only 43 yards this week while the entire Seahawks team rushed for only 70 yards total. At times I felt that Robert Turbin had more success running the ball then Lynch did. I have a hard time diagnosing what the main problem was. As talented as the Panthers defense is, the Seahawks offensive line struggled at times to open holes and protection in both phases of the offense was shaky throughout the game. At home next week against another stout defense, the running game needs to improve or else we will struggle putting up points and extending drives once again.

Thoughts on Russell Wilson: Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards and one touchdown on Sunday but there was one head-scratching element and one frustrating element Wilson displayed during the game. The head-scratching element was that Wilson ran the ball only 5 times for 7 yards. None of these rushes were zone-read keepers. Even though the Seahawks running game was below average throughout the game, I thought Wilson would try to trick the Panthers defense by faking hand offs and keeping the ball, especially in the second half when it had been established that Seattle was having trouble on the ground. The frustrating element of Wilson’s game was that he seemed to be too comfortable in the pocket at times. Wilson was sacked twice and also fumbled the ball deep into Carolina territory. In these instances and others throughout the game, Wilson tried to stay in the pocket and waited for something to open up rather than scramble to create space to get his receivers open. When he did scramble, he didn’t seem comfortable committing to throwing to any of his receivers. The Panthers defense showed their presence by using their speed and quickness. Wilson needs to be more decisive next week because holding the ball for too long will result in lost yards and missed opportunities.

Dark Horses: Sidney Rice and Golden Tate were the starting wide receivers on Sunday but it was Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse who made the biggest impact in the passing game this week. Baldwin led the Seahawks receivers in receptions and yards, catching 7 passes for 91 yards. Kearse reeled in the only Seahawks touchdown of the game, a 43-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to give the Seahawks the lead for good. I think these two players will have a lasting impact this season; more of an impact than a lot of people thought. Without Percy Harvin, Baldwin and Kearse were given the opportunity to prove themselves as valuable assets in the passing game and both proved their value this week. Look for them to see expanded playing time in the coming weeks.

Schofield Holds down the Fort, But Road Defense Still a Weakness: Cliff Avril was inactive against Carolina, thrusting O’Brien Schofield into the starting lineup at defensive end this week. Schofield did not overly impress me but I think he did a solid job. Schofield recorded the Seahawks only sack of Cam Newton this week. I do not believe Schofield is meant to be a long-term solution at defensive end should Avril miss any more time, but he did his job adequately today and the Seahawks were able to pull out a win. As for the rest of the defense, we looked eerily similar to last year’s road defense. This is not a good thing. The Seahawks couldn’t put pressure on Newton when it mattered the most, on third down. Carolina converted 5 of their 11 third downs; a 45.5% conversion rate. Tackling also needs to improve, as Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert were able to gain yards after contact on most of their rushes. The defense needs to do a better job contacting the runner at the line of scrimmage or behind it to prevent the opportunity to gain extra yards. Luckily for the Seahawks, we have two straight home games before our next road game in Houston.

Awareness is Key: On both Carolina fumbles that were recovered by the Seahawks, I noticed incredible awareness by the Seattle defenders to know that the ball had been knocked out and that the play was still live. Both fumbles included at least three Seahawks to pounce on the loose ball and in both instances it was not even a question as to which team recovered the ball. I was very impressed by the instincts the Seahawks defense showed this week.

Penalty Watch: The Seahawks had 9 penalties for a total of 99 yards this week; 6 of them coming in the second half. Most of our penalties occurred at inopportune times, such as on third downs that instead of stopping Carolina drives, extended them. As sad as it is to say, the number of penalties is improving from where we were in the preseason but needs to get a lot better in a big hurry or else it will cost us these close games.

Thoughts on Carolina: I think that the Carolina Panthers have a defense that the coaching staff can rely on all season long. It is a unit that is capable of getting them to the playoffs. Having said this, the Panthers will go only as far as Cam Newton and the offense takes them. The Panthers running game was impressive this week but they do not have a solidified feature back given that Jonathan Stewart is out with an injury. Cam Newton was held to 125 passing yards this week and that will definitely not cut it over the course of the season. If Newton improves and shows stable, consistent improvement, the Panthers could be a dark horse pick for an NFC wild-card berth this season.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks haven’t won in week one on the road since 2006 when the Seahawks beat Detroit 9-6… The heat didn’t play as big of a factor later on in the game as I thought it would… We stayed healthy throughout the course of the game. I always love to see that… Where was Christine Michael???… The Seahawks wore grey pants with their blue jerseys this week… I am running on pure adrenaline as I’m writing this. Sunday Night Football is currently on and I’ve been up since 6am… I’ve always thought Bank of America Stadium is one of the most boring looking stadiums in the NFL. It’s just a bowl with three levels. No notable decorations either… The Seahawks have 4 more 10am kickoffs this season. Good thing we showed we can win on the road early on in the season… My fantasy team is going to struggle this season… I say it every season and I’ll say it again. Thank God for NFL Red Zone. I got to watch every NFC West team this week since the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams all played in the 1:25pm slot after the Seahawks game… Speaking of the 49ers, I’m disappointed they pulled out a win over Green Bay but my attitude could be a lot worse if the Seahawks had lost… Next week is going to be HUGE. Nothing I say will convince you otherwise. With sole possession of first place in the NFC West potentially on the line, I am already getting excited thinking about next week’s game.

If you hate the San Francisco 49ers like I know you do, make sure you check back Tuesday for a very special post. With the 49ers coming to town next week for our home opener, I take you into my past as I explain where my hatred of the San Francisco 49ers comes from. I promise you, it will definitely be a must-read for any true Seahawks fan.

I will publish my preview of next week’s Sunday night home opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Panthers Preview

7 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Site: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The 38th season of Seahawks football kicks off Sunday as the Seahawks head to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. Seattle leads the all-time series against Carolina 4-2. These two teams last met last October. Thanks to an errant pass by Cam Newton on 4th and goal, the Seahawks escaped with a 16-12 victory to improve their record to 3-2. It is very important for the Seahawks, this season more than any other, to take each game one at a time. We cannot afford to start slow like against Arizona last season because these early season games could come back to cost you big time at the end of the season heading into the playoffs. Here are some keys to this week’s game.

Given the handful of injuries and Bruce Irvin’s four-game suspension, I am most interested to see what our starting defensive unit looks like this week. Specifically, I am curious to know who will start at the “Leo” defensive end position. Chris Clemons has been ruled out by Coach Pete Carroll this week. Cliff Avril has been nursing a hamstring injury but he has been practicing this week. His status for Sunday’s game is still up in the air. Michael Bennett is also nursing an injury to his toe. I expect Bennett to play this week but he will see snaps at defensive tackle for most of the game. If Avril is unable to play, the starting defensive end will be O’Brien Schofield. I would be more comfortable having Schofield start over rookie Benson Mayowa simply because he has prior starting experience. He started at outside linebacker on a good Arizona Cardinals defense last season. I am not sure if Mayowa is ready to be thrown into the starting rotation. Mayowa would be best used exclusively on passing downs. I believe using Mayowa at defensive end and Schofield at outside linebacker on third down would be the best pass rushing option if Avril is unavailable. If Avril is available, our third down pass rush package could consist of Mayowa on the other side of the line with Schofield at outside linebacker.

The number one key for the Seahawks offense this week is avoiding a slow start. Last season when we opened up the season at Arizona, many including myself believed that we could handle the Cardinals easily which would entail jumping out to a strong, early lead. Instead the Seahawks scored only 3 points in the first half and lost the game after scoring only 16 total points. Avoiding a slow start in essence means limiting the Panthers to build any kind of momentum. If the Seahawks can score a minimum of 14 points in the first half, I will consider us to be in good shape. A sub-key to achieving this goal will be to control the tempo of the game and win the time of possession battle. In a week one situation, you do not want to give Cam Newton and the Panthers offense time to move the ball. If Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch can be effective in the run game, it bodes well for the Seahawks to control the time of possession battle and to jump out to an early lead.

One more thing to keep an eye out for this week is Jermaine Kearse on special teams. It was announced on Monday that Jermaine Kearse would get the first crack at filling Leon Washington’s shoes as the Seahawks kick returner. Kearse’s one kick return in the preseason was returned for a touchdown. That one kickoff return earned him the chance to be the Seahawks kick returner to start the regular season.  I am interested to see what the rotation will be if Kearse struggles. I would not be surprised to see Golden Tate to get the next chance at returning kicks. Tate will return punts on Sunday.

Like last year against the Panthers, the player that the Seahawks defense should be most worried about is quarterback Cam Newton. I predicted a Seahawks loss in Carolina last season, based on the notion that I thought Cam Newton was going to go off, throwing for multiple touchdowns and rushing for a significant amount of yards. Although Newton did not play well last season, especially against the Seahawks, the potential remains there for him to break out at any time. If we were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers later in the season, I would probably feel more confident in the Seahawks being able to beat them. In week one however, any outcome is possible regardless of who you we playing and where we are playing. The Seahawks defense must use their speed to slow Newton down and limit his running lanes if he is forced out of the pocket. If we are successful in taking Newton’s feet away we will definitely have a better chance to win. I am not expecting much out of our pass rush this week but if Newton can buy time and is going to scramble, the movement of our linebackers and secondary, not the defensive line, will be the key to our defense this week.

The Carolina Panthers have a very young, yet talented defense. Each level has one player that cannot go unnoticed this week. Along the defensive line is rookie Star Lotulelei. Star, the cousin of Seahawks linebacker John Lotulelei, was Carolina’s first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Lotulelei showed a lot of physicality during the preseason and beat out former Seahawk Colin Cole and fellow rookie Kawann Short for the second defensive tackle job. Lotulelei will be effective in stuffing the run if he can beat the man across from him. I expect the Panthers to line Lotulelei up against right guard J.R. Sweezy. In the second level the Panthers boast the 2012 defensive rookie of the year, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly led the Panthers in tackles last year and he does a great job of getting to the play. I am looking to see how Kuechly handles the zone-read option. The Seahawks had not installed the zone-read option when these two teams played last season. If the Seahawks are effective in fooling Kuechly, it will bode well for us extending our drives and scoring points. The man to watch in Carolina’s secondary is cornerback Josh Thomas. Thomas lost his starting job in the middle of last season and with the release of veteran Drayton Florence at the end of the preseason, Thomas earned his starting job back for the start of this season. Expect Sidney Rice to line up against Thomas this week and I believe Russell Wilson will try to test Thomas early and often by throwing to Rice in the first half.

One of the things I felt was crucial during the playoffs last season was the Seahawks mindset that every game was a win-or-go-home playoff situation. I think it would benefit us tremendously if we come out and show the same sense of urgency against the Panthers. If we put playoff level effort and show playoff level urgency in every regular season game, we will be better off in the long run.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys this week. With a game time temperature expected to be in the high 80’s or low 90’s, the Seahawks will most likely wear either white pants or grey pants this week. The Seahawks wore the blue jersey/grey pants combo in Carolina last season… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week. Sigh… Jeff Triplette is this week’s referee… This is the only game I’ll be watching from home in the first month of the season… I don’t like these 10am kickoffs. But it is the first week of the season so my adrenaline will be flowing all day Sunday… 2 games on NFL Red Zone in the afternoon: Packers/49ers and Cardinals/Rams. I get to watch and keep track of the entire NFC West this week and I’m pretty pumped about that… If anyone is interested in my television routine on a gameday where the Seahawks play on the road, here it is: NFL GameDay Morning on NFL Network from 6am-8am, ESPN Fantasy Now on ESPN2 from 8am-9am, FOX NFL Sunday from 9am-10am, the Seahawks game from 10am-1pm, NFL Red Zone from 1pm-4:30pm (the Seahawks game and Red Zone are flipped when the Seahawks play at 1pm), Football Night in America on NBC from 4:30pm-5:30pm, and Sunday Night Football following… Call me a fan or call me a fanatic… If the Seahawks lose and the 49ers win I am going to be pissed.

Prediction: A lot of my friends believe the Seahawks are going to blow out the Panthers. I think we will win but it will be a very close game. The Seahawks and Panthers will both get off to slow starts in the first half but the Seahawks ability to wear down the Panthers defense with long drives will be the difference. The Seahawks will score touchdowns; the Panthers will kick field goals. The Seahawks will head home 1-0 and will start preparation for a huge game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 16

Check back on Monday for my review of the Panthers game. Enjoy the weekend everybody. Welcome back football! 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!

Minicamp Wrap-Up 6/11

11 Jun

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The Seahawks opened up their three day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday afternoon. The Seahawks practiced for two hours outdoors today. Here are some notes coming out of the VMAC today.

The shining star from today’s practice was wide receiver Doug Baldwin. From the highlights of practice, Baldwin was running very crisp routes and his timing with quarterback Russell Wilson was consistently in rhythm. Baldwin made two leaping catches that were very impressive, one coming on a curl route, and the other on a slant route. It will be important for Baldwin to impress during this minicamp. He is currently listed as the fourth wide receiver and although it is relatively unlikely, if Baldwin struggles he might be on the hot seat for a roster spot come training camp.

Today I read that Brady Quinn had a rough practice working with the second string offense. Quinn struggled on deep passes and his receivers did not help him too much, dropping a few passes. The biggest issue for Quinn was his overall accuracy. Some passes were either way ahead or slightly behind the intended receivers. Quinn definitely needs to improve because his job may be in serious jeopardy…

… The biggest piece of off-the-field news directly affects Brady Quinn. After the Buffalo Bills released quarterback Tarvaris Jackson yesterday, it was speculated that the Seahawks could have interest in bringing back their former quarterback to compete with Quinn and backup Russell Wilson. Tonight, those speculations became solid. ESPN’s John Clayton was the first to report that the Seahawks will bring Jackson in for a visit, most likely on Wednesday. Clayton was quoted as saying that he believes there is a “better than 50 percent” chance that the Seahawks will sign Jackson. Jackson has strong support from the locker room and I imagine would be welcomed back into the building with open arms.

I really like the possibility of bringing back Tarvaris Jackson to be our backup quarterback. He has worked with this offense for an entire season and there would be a complete understanding that Jackson is the backup and is not competing to be the starter. Going into the offseason, I expressed my desire for the Seahawks to bring in a backup quarterback will a similar skill set to Russell Wilson and could step in and mirror the offense in the event Wilson gets hurt. Jackson has the athletic ability to mirror the zone-read offensive package we have installed and is a big upgrade to Brady Quinn from an athletic perspective. I hope that by the end of minicamp Tarvaris Jackson is the Seahawks backup quarterback and Brady Quinn will be cut.

The Seahawks will practice for another two hours on Wednesday. I’ll be back on the blog tomorrow night for another minicamp wrap-up report. Thanks for reading!

Seahawks/Falcons Preview (NFC Divisional Playoff)

12 Jan

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Matchup: (5) Seattle Seahawks at (1) Atlanta Falcons

Site: Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks enjoyed their first helping of playoff football by knocking off the Washington Redskins last week. Now it’s time to head back to the buffet for more. The Seahawks head to Atlanta to take on the NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons in an NFC Divisional playoff. This is the first meeting between these two teams in the playoffs. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Falcons 8-5 but have lost three straight. Their last meeting was in week 4 of last season. The Falcons got out to a 24-7 halftime lead but a strong second half charge put the Seahawks in a position to come back and win. They could not however, falling to the Falcons 30-28. This is also Seattle’s first trip back to the Georgia Dome since week 17 of the 2007 season. There is lots to talk about this week so let’s get to it.

After the Seahawks beat Washington last week I immediately turned my attention to the team statistics of the Atlanta Falcons. The stat that caught my eye was their team rushing defense. The Falcons are ranked 21st in the National Football League in rushing yards allowed per game. That number is 123 yards per game. With Marshawn Lynch attracting lots of attention by the Falcons this week combined with the running threat of quarterback Russell Wilson, I think the Seahawks will have many prime opportunities to move the ball effectively and put up points. My key in the running game is getting off to a fast start and moving the ball while at the same time keeping the Atlanta defense on their feet and keeping their crowd silent. I will monitor Marshawn Lynch’s yards quarter by quarter while also taking a look at how well the zone-read option works early. It will be big for Atlanta if they can sniff out the zone-read and limit that dimension of our offense. I think if Lynch averages 25-30 yards per quarter and Wilson can run for a couple first downs per quarter the Seahawks offense will put many points on the board. The Falcons are also ranked 23rd in the NFL in passing yards given up and that will be a factor as long as Wilson doesn’t turn the ball over but the running game is the x-factor for the Seahawks effectiveness this week.

All of the talk in the national media this week has been the matchups on the outside. The Falcons boast arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the league with Roddy White and Julio Jones. Across the line of scrimmage the Seahawks boast arguably the best cornerback tandem in the league with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. The wide receivers are very talented and have the capabilities to make plays. The cornerbacks are also fully capable of taking those big plays away. The thing to be watching for is potential penalties on Sherman and Browner. Depending on whom the referees are on the outside, they will either keep their flags in their pockets, allowing Sherman and Browner to be extra physical or if they look like they are making too much contact, they will be called for penalties. This fortunately or unfortunately will decide how effective both units are. The Seahawks may be in trouble if the cornerbacks are being called for holding or illegal contact especially early in the game.

With the season-ending injuries to defensive end Chris Clemons and kicker Steven Hauschka, the Seahawks have added two new players. The more recognized new face is Hauschka’s replacement; kicker Ryan Longwell. Longwell, 38, has spent the previous 15 seasons split with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Longwell is a Puyallup native and beat out a handful of kickers including former Arizona Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers and rookie Carson Wiggs for the job. Longwell has a stronger leg than Hauschka but has not kicked all season. I trust Longwell to make moderate field goals (21-45 yards) but field goals from 46+ yards are a mystery to me. The other new Seahawk is defensive end Patrick Chukwurah. Chukwurah has been absent from the NFL for four years. He has spent the last few years in the United Football League and led the league in sacks the past two seasons. He last played in the NFL in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not record any statistics. Although Bruce Irvin will start and take a lot of snaps, I expect Chukwurah to see between 10-20 plays this week in place of Irvin. Longwell will wear number 7 and Chukwurah will wear number 97 for those wondering.

The Georgia Dome may be a louder stadium to play in than FedExField was last week but the fan base may not be as tough to face as last week. There were over 5,000 tickets still available for Sunday’s game according to ESPN and the NFL. Combine that with the recent playoff woes of the Atlanta Falcons, I get the gist from the Atlanta media that it feels like there is not as much excitement over Falcons football as should be expected. I think the environment will be loud but manageable. If the Seahawks can get off to a fast start, the crowd will not matter. This is the first time I can remember that the field conditions and weather will not play a factor for a road playoff game. I think this gives us a hidden advantage that many other people would overlook. Nevertheless we are traveling across the country, playing the number one seed in the conference, and playing in a dome. Warning Seahawks fans, it should be normal to be cautiously optimistic and/or a little bit worried this week in regards to the environment.

It’s time for me to throw some numbers out there! This might make the 12th Man feel better about what to expect on Sunday. The Falcons went 7-1 at home in 2012. Their only loss was in week 17 to Tampa Bay when they had already clinched home-field advantage and played their second stringers for most of the game. The Falcons either trailed or held a one-score lead at halftime in 5 of their 8 games this season. Of their 7 victories, 5 of them ended as one-score wins. The scary thing though was that their 10-point win over New Orleans and their 34-0 shutout of the New York Giants occurred in the second half of the season. Of their 5 one-score margin of victory wins, they went into the half either tied or trailing three times. Based on these numbers the conclusions I have drawn are that the Falcons have shown they could get off to a slow start but have improved in the first half of games as the season has progressed. The Seahawks are the best defense the Falcons have faced all year and they have not played a team that qualified for the playoffs since playing the Redskins in week 5. This game could definitely be close at halftime and that is exactly what I expect to happen.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks are going to wear white jerseys again this week. I don’t think you can mess up a winning combination, thus I hope the Seahawks wear white pants again… The referee this week is Walt Coleman. We will see if his all-star crew (the NFL puts together the best referees into different “all-star” crews for the playoffs) will be calling a tight game for Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner this week… The Seahawks only won one 10am kickoff game this season. Not going to lie this worries me a little bit… Don’t sleep on Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez will most likely see a lot of Kam Chancellor in the middle this week and he has the best hands of any tight end in the league. Last week a lot of short passes caught the Seahawks defense off guard early and if Matt Ryan can connect with Gonzalez he can make some catches he is hard to bring down. He will definitely be a challenge that cannot go unnoticed… Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick have the call for FOX this week with Laura Okmin and Chris Myers patrolling the sidelines. It should be a good broadcast because I am a fan of Brennaman and Billick does a good job offering his very educated commentary… I’m having another group of friends over to my house Sunday morning for the game. Hopefully more show up than last week but it will be tough to beat since we had a good number of people over last week… It feels like it’s about time to get over this divisional playoff hump. We have been stopped in this round our last three trips to the playoffs. It feels like it should be time to break the barn door down and get back to the NFC Championship game.

Prediction: This kills me but like I always try to preach, I try to be a realist. Although the Seahawks have the best defense the Falcons have faced all season I just feel that Atlanta’s offense is too powerful for us to handle. I think since there has been expanded speculation in the media this week about the way the refs will call the game along the outside, the game will be called tight and the Seahawks will suffer. Those penalties will come at the most inopportune times and will keep Atlanta drives alive and unfortunately translate into points. The better overall team will unfortunately not win this game as mistakes and one more turnover than the home team will doom us. The game will be close but those penalties and mistakes will cost us a trip to the NFC title game. DO NOT get me wrong, I hope to God that I am completely wrong and hopefully we will advance to either San Francisco or Green Bay to play for the NFC Championship but unfortunately I think there is a slightly better chance that we will come up short.

Falcons 35, Seahawks 31

Win or lose, check back hopefully Sunday night (It might be published in the early morning hours on Monday) for my review of Sunday’s game. Hopefully I will have at least one more preview to write for next weekend also. Enjoy the game everybody. I’M IN! Go Hawks!

Seahawks/Redskins Preview (NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

5 Jan

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Matchup: (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Washington Redskins

Site: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

Kickoff: 1:30pm

The “second season” kicks off on Sunday as the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks head to the Nation’s Capital to take on the 10-6 NFC East champion Washington Redskins in an NFC Wild-Card playoff game. Both teams head into the playoffs with tons of momentum. The Seahawks enter the postseason riding a 5-game winning streak. The Redskins made a tremendous run to the postseason after starting the season 3-6. They ended on a 7-game winning streak and won their division. The Redskins lead the all-time series with Seattle 11-6 but the Seahawks hold a 2-0 advantage against the Redskins in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was after the 2007 regular season in Seattle. The Seahawks defeated Washington 35-14 after pick-six’s by Marcus Trufant and Jordan Babineaux sealed the game in the 4th quarter. These two teams met in the regular season last season in Seattle and the Redskins knocked off the Seahawks 23-17. There are many storylines that are being covered by the national media and storylines that have been swept under the rug that I will try to cover in this preview. Here are some things to be looking for this weekend.

14 months ago the quarterback matchup between these two teams was Rex Grossman vs. Tarvaris Jackson. Both teams used the draft to pick quarterbacks they thought could lead their teams for years to come. For Washington, they traded three future first-round picks to trade up to take 2011 Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Seahawks kept their early round picks and maneuvered themselves in position to take Russell Wilson in the third round. Both teams have struck gold. Griffin led Washington to their first division championship since 1999 and Wilson led the Seahawks to their winningest season since 2005. Both are extremely quick and add an extra dimension to their teams running games, not to mention that they have combined for 46 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions passing.

For Washington, their main focus should be to put pressure on Wilson. I am sure the Redskins defense will be watching film of last week’s Seahawks game against the Rams to see how they can penetrate Seattle’s offensive line to hurry Wilson. J.R. Sweezy will start for the Seahawks at right guard this week but John Moffitt will also be rotated in and see playing time. I hope that Moffitt plays more than Sweezy. Keeping the continuity along the offensive line with Moffitt would be the best scenario because in our four wins before the Rams game the offensive line gave Russell Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With the amped crowd and a pumped up pass rush, the Seahawks could be in trouble this week if the offensive line plays like they did against St. Louis.

The main focus for the Seahawks this week is definitely to stop the Redskins powerful rushing attack. Washington has rushed for 2,709 yards this season; the most total rushing yards by any team in the National Football League. Robert Griffin III plays a big role in the running game because of their similarly-designed zone-read option but rookie running back Alfred Morris is just as dangerous if not more dangerous than Griffin III. The Seahawks have the second best run defense in the league and the fourth best defense overall. The Redskins have not faced a top 10 defense all season. If the Seahawks can successfully stuff Morris and keep RGIII at bay, the Redskins will have to throw. Washington has minimal talent at the wide receiver position and with our secondary at full strength this week, I expect the Seahawks to be able to shut down the Redskins offense and will allow our defense to get extended rest on the bench.

The Seahawks head to Washington with no injuries of note and a huge piece of our starting defense back in the mix. After serving his 4-game suspension for Adderall the Seahawks will start Brandon Browner at cornerback this week. With Browner back, the “legion of boom” is back in full. This week Richard Sherman will line up against Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Browner will line up against either Santana Moss or Leonard Hankerson depending on the situation. Like I previously stated, the Redskins do not have the advantage in terms of the wide receiver group this week. If the Seattle defense is successful in stopping Washington’s running game, Griffin III will be forced to throw. As a fan I am licking my chops at the possibility of this. In their 16 games this season, Griffin III has been the leading passer only three times and he has not faced a secondary as big and fast as the Seahawks. I would not be surprised to see a couple on interceptions this week if Griffin III has to throw. I think Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will have the biggest impact this week for the Seahawks. If those two guys can create turnovers by the Redskins, they will put us in good position to win the game.

Let’s talk about the Washington Redskins defense. They have good talent at each defensive level but I will put my spotlight and focus this week on the linebackers. The most notable player on defense for Washington is linebacker London Fletcher. Fletcher is the veteran leader of the Redskins defense. He played in the Redskins playoff game against Seattle in 2007 and was a part of the Rams squad that won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. Fletcher has not slumped off with age as he led the Redskins in combined tackles this season with 139. He also added 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Fletcher is mentoring and playing alongside two other noteworthy linebackers. Ryan Kerrigan is one of Washington’s starting outside linebackers. The second year man out of Purdue leads all Redskins defenders with 8.5 sacks this season and he does a good job of moving around and confusing the opponent’s offensive line. Kerrigan will be zoned in on by the Seahawks offense but my player to watch this week is linebacker Perry Riley. Riley may be the most consistent and balanced player on the defensive side of the ball for Washington. Riley finished the regular season second on the team in tackles with 129 and finished third on the team in sacks with 3.5. Playing in the middle next to Fletcher, Riley is a rising star on this team and in this league and he will be around many plays this week for the Redskins.

Random Thoughts: This is the first game the Seahawks have played at FedExField since week 4 of the 2005 season. In that game Seahawks kicker Josh Brown missed a field goal at the end of regulation and Nick Novak connected on a 39-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Washington 20-17. The Seahawks then went on an 11-game winning streak which helped take them to Super Bowl XL… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week with the Redskins wearing maroon tops. No word on pants yet. The Seahawks are 1-0 this season with the white jersey/white pants combination so I hope that’s what we go with this week… Expect things to be a bit chippy early between these two teams. Last year in Seattle, the captains of these two teams got into a verbal altercation at the coin toss and the first part of the game was very pushy. Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall has even come out this week and said these two teams hate each other. I would not be surprised to see some players get into it after some plays… This is the first Redskins home playoff game since 1999. Crowd noise will play a factor this week. I think Russell Wilson will control the offense with poise eerily similar to our win in Chicago earlier this season… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews patrolling the sidelines. I really hope Andrews gets to cover the Seahawks sideline… Pete Morelli is the referee this week, I believe his first Seahawks game of the season… The Seahawks have not won a playoff game on the road since 1983 when they upset the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Divisional playoff. After the game the players carried head coach Chuck Knox off the field on their shoulders. As cool as that would be to see, the players know that as great of a win as it would be we still have work to do. Pete Carroll wouldn’t be carried off the field until we do further damage in the postseason… I am very surprised we are favorites in Las Vegas this week…. I think I would rather play in San Francisco in the Divisional playoffs if I had a choice in the matter. What is great though is no matter who we play in any round, the Seahawks should feel no pressure to perform well. We just need to go out and play football… I am glad they scheduled our game for Sunday. We are not screwed out of a day of preparation and our week of practice has not been changed… For the first time in recent memory weather will not play a huge factor in a Seahawks playoff game. Dating back to 2003, we have played 2 road playoff games in Green Bay and 2 games in Chicago. Snow and other bad weather always seem to work against us in these games. This Sunday in Washington they are calling for a daytime high of 40 degrees and sun. Perfect conditions for playoff football in my opinion.

Prediction: Our strength is our run defense. This week we will be able to hold Alfred Morris to under 80 yards and RGIII will have to throw especially because he is battling an LCL injury, which is causing him discomfort to move around a whole lot. The Seahawks will intercept two passes; one by Richard Sherman and one by Earl Thomas. Russell Wilson will struggle early but will settle down in the second half. After the Seahawks break a tie midway through the 4th quarter, the Redskins will drive for a game-tying touchdown but our defense will shut them down before they can even get into field goal range. The Seahawks will head home with their first playoff win on the road in 29 years and will start preparation for Atlanta (most likely).

Seahawks 27, Redskins 20

I hope everyone enjoys this game. There is nothing better than playoff football and I am extremely excited to see if the Seahawks can keep our momentum going. Check back Monday afternoon for a review of our game with Washington and hopefully a short preview of our potential NFC Divisional Playoff game. Go Seahawks!

“The separation’s in the preparation.”- Russell Wilson