I Have Absolutely No Idea Why The Mariners Cut Fernando Rodney

It happened on Saturday night after the Mariners blew yet another save, this time to the White Sox, en route to yet another extra innings loss.  You’ve heard about teams releasing bad news (from a public relations standpoint) on late Friday afternoons, as it tends to be ignored by the regular fans who are getting ready for a fun-filled weekend after yet another soul-sucking work week; but this goes even deeper!  Saturday night, 10pm.  I was on Twitter all night and I STILL almost let the news slip by me!

Also, weirdly enough, Fernando Rodney had absolutely nothing to do with our loss on Saturday!  Granted, he had a major hand in burying us on Friday night (after yet another discouraging King Felix start), giving up 3 runs in 0.1 innings, but that doesn’t totally explain why the hammer went down on Saturday night.

Fernando Rodney has had few brief stretches of brilliance this year, dominated by utter incompetence on the mound.  This is pretty much the exact opposite of his 2014 season, and a major reason why the Mariners are far from contention.  They thought it might have been Rodney tipping his pitches – and when they cleaned up that aspect, he did rip off nine consecutive scoreless appearances – but the fact of the matter is, Rodney has no idea where the ball is going, and he’s being punished accordingly.  This was, of course, an issue last year as well (and has been an issue his whole career).  Sometimes, you’re able to get away with a total lack of command and luck into a few above-average seasons.  But, the piper is always right around the corner, waiting to get paid, and he got his BIG TIME in 2015.

The only upside I can possibly see in releasing Rodney right now is, it gives us a few more opportunities to look at some younger relief pitchers, in hopes that our bullpen won’t be completely worthless again next year.  The problem with that is, I don’t think a lot of these guys are ready for the Big Leagues (if they ever will be), and so it looks like we’re in for a lot of ugly finishes down the stretch.  Yeah, Rodney has been shitty too, and he provides more than his fair share of ugly appearances, but he’s also somewhat capable at times, and compared to some of the younger bullpen guys we’ve seen this year, Rodney is downright serviceable (I defy you to write a more glowing compliment).

I suppose, more than anything, this was done as a favor to Rodney.  He gets a week to see if another team will pick him up before rosters expand, thereby potentially making him eligible to pitch in the post-season (you have to be on a team’s roster before September 1st to be eligible).  Obviously, we were never going to re-sign him next year anyway, so it’s really a courtesy to a veteran who did a good job for us last year more than anything else.

What’s also of note is that you have to wonder if Danny Farquhar has had his last chance with this team.  He had more of a meltdown than anyone not named Carson Smith on Saturday night, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) in the 10th (getting zero outs in the process), and was sent down to Tacoma as a reward.  Obviously, he hasn’t been nearly as sharp this year as he was last year, and that’s yet another reason why this bullpen overall has suffered.  I tend to be flummoxed a little bit at Lloyd’s usage of him, though.  He seems to want to use him more as a long reliever, when Farquhar is probably better suited to be a late-inning set-up man, starting innings fresh more often than not.  Lloyd likes to bring him into high-leverage situations with guys on base, and I don’t know if that’s the role for Farquhar.  Also, 11 of his 30 appearances have seen Farquhar go more than 1 inning, which again probably isn’t his strongest suit.  The longer a reliever pitches in a game, the higher the chances other teams are going to start teeing off.  He also seems to be a guy Lloyd likes to over-use, not giving him enough off-days.

Some of that last paragraph is me trying to make excuses.  Obviously, the guy needs to go out there and pitch and get the job done.  He hasn’t, and that’s why he’s back in Tacoma yet again.  He’s given up runs in 13 of his 30 games this year, which isn’t ideal.  And, when he melts down, he tends REALLY melt down.  He doesn’t throw hard, and when he misses with his cutter, he gets burned.  But, I wonder where he’d be with more of a defined role.  I contend, he’s never been one of Lloyd’s guys, and in 2014 Lloyd had no choice but to use him because he was amazing.  As a result, I think Lloyd has over-used him in 2015, to Farquhar’s detriment, and now his career is in jeopardy.

Maybe a new manager and a fresh start next year will turn things around for Farquhar.  As for Rodney, who knows where he’ll be or what he’ll be doing in 2016?  All I know is, he won’t be here, and he most likely will be on a small, 1-year, incentive-laden, prove-it deal.

Loss To Chiefs On Friday Leaves Room For Hope

You take the good, you take the bad.  You take them both and there you have.  The facts of life.  The facts of life.

That’s a quote from some TV show I’ve never seen.  I don’t think it’s talking about the Seahawks/Chiefs pre-season game this past Friday, but I’ll have my people look into it to confirm.

What were we looking for heading into that game?  Primary issue #1 – will there be improvement in the offensive line play?  I think we can all shout from the rooftops a resounding SORTA!  Zero first half sacks sure is encouraging, even if it is The Terrifically Escapable Russell Wilson leading the charge in that period of time.  Garry Gilliam was particularly impressive as he took on some of the better pass rushers in the league and shut ’em down.  And, I didn’t notice anyone talking about Justin Britt on the inside, so I consider that a victory (no news is generally good news with offensive linemen).

The run game was still remarkably lacking for the second straight week.  I don’t know what to think about that.  I mean, I GUESS you can pin some of that on not having Marshawn Lynch out there, but I wonder if he would’ve been able to make much chicken salad out of that chicken shit blocking.  Robert Turbin isn’t on the same level as Beastmode, but he’s also no slouch either; he ended up with 6 carries for 4 yards.  Christine Michael didn’t fare a whole lot better, with 10 carries for 27 yards.

It’s nice to have the security in knowing our quarterback is safer with this lineup out there – compared to what we had against Denver the week before – but this offense is built on the run game.  Say what you will about James Carpenter, but that guy was the biggest load we had on that line, and he was bar none our most powerful run blocker.  The salary cap is what it is, and we obviously had bigger areas of concern to lock down this past offseason (Wilson & Wagner, obvs), but I wonder if we’re going to rue the day a little bit on letting ol’ Pancakes Carpenter walk out of our lives forever.  Here’s to hoping a little cohesion with this group of five guys starts to generate a little more consistent play going forward.

Also, as of the writing of this sentence, Evan Mathis hasn’t signed with us or anyone else.  So, that’s interesting, I guess.

Elsewhere, I thought the defense looked great, especially the front seven.  K.J. Wright was flat out silly out there, blowing up everything in his path.  Obviously, you gotta mention Bobby Wagner’s killer instinct on that pick-six.  Mebane and Bennett both looked awesome.  And, I know we were extremely short-staffed in the secondary, but I thought they shined pretty well too!  Shead looked like a natural at cornerback; here’s to Kam Chancellor coming to his senses by the start of the regular season so we can bump Shead outside (as I’m still less than confident in Cary Williams being The Man).  I also thought Ronald Martin looked like a man possessed out there with three tackles (one for loss).  Finally, a couple shout-outs to KPL for being awesome and to Frank Clark for playing in a limited capacity despite a sprained ankle.  Good to see the second generation of amazing Seahawks defenders under Carroll living up to the hype.

But, for real tho:  what were we doing having Bruce Irvin cover Jeremy Maclin on that touchdown in the first half?  As a defense, don’t you have to recognize the #1 recever lining up in the backfield and put a cornerback over there to cover him accordingly?

I’m just going to come right out and say that it was a bad day for the #1 offense as a whole.  First drive:  3 & out; couldn’t run the ball, and Wilson missed Baldwin on third & long.  Second drive:  3 & out; three pass plays, netting all of 1 yard.  Third drive:  finally some movement, getting into Kansas City territory.  But, again, couldn’t run the ball (drive netted 30 yards, 3 of which came on the ground, 2 of which was from a Wilson scramble on a designed pass play), and another Okung false start crushed our chances on third & long.

It wasn’t until our fourth drive – starting with 10 minutes left in the second quarter – before we FINALLY played something resembling Seahawks football.  Balanced attack, third & managables, big play up the seam to Graham on 2nd & 18 for 21 yards.  Unfortunately, the drive stalled just outside the redzone (resulting in a field goal), but I guess I can’t blame the Seahawks too much for not over-exposing our exciting new tight end in a meaningless pre-season game.  Still, that’s one good drive out of four in the first half.  Obviously, the Chiefs have a lot of talent on defense, so maybe I’m being a little hard on the Seahawks.  But, still, you like to see more than three points from your starting offense in the first half.

Finally, I’ll leave it with this:  I thought R.J. Archer looked pretty good out there!  Grain of salt and all that, but for a while there, he was getting passes out timely, with a lot of zip on the ball.  He had a rough time in the fourth quarter, but that field goal drive showed a lot of promise out of a guy who probably doesn’t have much of a shot at making the team outside of the practice squad.  Either way, if we can get him back into camp next year, I would expect some real improvement, to the point that maybe he can eventually replace Tarvaris Jackson as this team’s go-to backup quarterback.

Pre-Season Game Against Kansas City Proves Pivotal Once Again

2012.  Seahawks roll in with a 3-way battle for the starting quarterback job.  In the first pre-season game against the Titans, Matt Flynn got the start.  He played okay, but was outshined in the second half by rookie third rounder Russell Wilson.  The following week, Flynn started again, and once again he played okay.  If you’ll recall, though, that was the infamous Terrell Owens game where he dropped everything in sight, costing Flynn at least one touchdown and a whole lotta points on his QBR.  As such, he was once again outshined by the second half prowess of one Russell Wilson.

Third week of pre-season, 2012.  Road game, in Kansas City.  This time, Matt Flynn was nursing some sort of minor arm injury.  Russell Wilson would get the start and play into the third quarter.  Many speculated as to whether Flynn had an injury at all.  Either way, with Wilson getting the biggest showcase of his all-too-young professional career, against a rather pedestrian Kansas City defense, the starting job was his to lose.

Russell Wilson went out and dominated anyway, and the rest is history.

In hindsight, giving Wilson the biggest showcase against the weakest of our four opponents could’ve proven short-sighted and fatal.  What if Wilson was a bust?  What if his inflated numbers against a crappy Chiefs defense led this team into a false sense of security?

Thank Christ that wasn’t the case.  Yet, here we are.  Pre-season 2015.  Road game in Kansas City.  And our future very well might hang in the balance once again.

That was a franchise-defining moment back in 2012.  It set this team on the course of a world championship.  We may be looking at a similar moment tomorrow night.

The Seahawks have, on offense, the most talented collection of players in this entire Pete Carroll run.  With that being the case, you could make the argument that it’s the most talented collection of offensive players in franchise history, but I’m still going to keep that distinction with the 2005 team until proven otherwise.  Offensive line is a big part of that.  The 2005 O-Line had two future Hall of Famers and two very good and underrated veterans.

The 2015 O-Line has an injury-prone Pro Bowler at left tackle and that’s it.

That’s a problem.  Because you can have Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Luke Willson, Chris Matthews, and Ricardo Lockette – all these GREAT FUCKING PLAYERS – but if the O-Line is letting defenders run free through our ranks, rendering our starting quarterback ineffective at best & on the IR at worst, then it won’t matter how many stars this team has.  It will fall on its face, and another year will have gone to waste in this Championship Window we’re all basking in.

This is all preamble to say that there are Twitter reports saying veteran All Pro guard Evan Mathis could be coming out for a visit on Saturday.  He’ll be going into his 11th season, so he’s no spring chicken.  But, just last year he was in the Pro Bowl, and just two years ago he was an All Pro, so he’s still got the chops.  Reports indicate he’s been looking for $5 million on a 1-year deal; teams have thus far balked.  However, with the Seahawks in apparent tremendous need, maybe he gets that (or something approaching that) here.  OR, maybe he uses the Seahawks to gain leverage elsewhere.  But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s here.

This makes tomorrow’s game against the Chiefs VERY important, for some admittedly non-obvious reasons.

It looks like Justin Britt – erstwhile right tackle turned left guard – has one game (and but a handful of practices this week) to prove he’s got what it takes to stick at the position.  If he does his best impression of a wet paper bag, I’m not going to tell you his pro career is over, but I will say it’s all but certain this team in fact signs Mathis the next day.  That takes away one spot, leaving him just the right tackle spot, to try to take it back from Garry Gilliam.

What’s wrong with that?  Sounds perfect!  We shore up a very important position, knock a shaky player back into the second string where he belongs, and resume ass kicking through the NFL.

Well, as I mentioned above, Mathis won’t come cheaply.  And, capwise, the Seahawks are RIGHT up against it.  Signing Mathis means cutting another guy.  Which guy?  Well, if I had to throw out a wild guess, I’d say Brandon Mebane.  He’s set to make around $5 million, and he’s already said once this pre-season that the team came to him and asked him to take a pay cut (which he refused).  I SUPPOSE, the team could theoretically sign Mebane to an extension to reduce his cap hit this year, but I’m not sure that was such a priority for this team given the nature of his injury last year and his advanced age.

Losing Mebane to sign Mathis is the ol’ robbing Peter to pay Paul thing.  I don’t know how jacked I am about that, but I also don’t know where else this team can chop a large amount of salary.

This also obviously hurts us going forward, because if none of these guys we have now end up sticking at guard, then that’s one more position we’ve got to focus on next year.  But, without serious improvement along the offensive line, I doubt we’re in a position to win it all.

The best case scenario is:  Britt looks good at guard tomorrow and the team lets Mathis walk without a deal.  I’m not so sure I believe all that highly in Britt, but I’m also not ready to throw a second round draft pick away when this spot – left guard – could actually be his calling in the league.

Things are going to look a lot more dicey after tomorrow if Britt looks like trash.

Four Tet – She Just Likes To Fight

Have Teams Figured Out How To Beat The Seahawks’ Defense?

I’m not gonna lie to you, this is something of an underlying fear of mine that I don’t think enough people are talking about.

We all know the formula by now.  You start by taking what you can get from your running game.  Some days are better than others for teams trying to rush on us; hell, some DRIVES are better than others.  Sometimes you get stuffed, sometimes you bust into the secondary with ease; a.k.a. you take what you can get.  In the passing game, it’s short, quick passes.  Don’t give our speedy pass rush an opportunity to get home, and neutralize the speed in our linebacking corps by getting the ball out into the open spots of the zone before they have a chance to read your eyes and react.

What you absolutely DON’T want to motherfucking do is pull out the 7-step drops and try to throw on us deep.  That wack shit won’t hunt.

It requires an over-abundance of patience, especially because all that work tends to get washed away in the red zone and you’re generally stuck settling for field goals.  Bend/Don’t Break.  That shit’s etched into our very being.

The Seahawks take so much away that other teams like to do, that you HAVE to settle for the scraps if you want to get by.  Yes, the Seahawks love to slow it down on offense, run the ball a lot, reduce the number of overall possessions, and “shorten the game” as the coaches like to say.  On the flip, you have to understand that the Seahawks’ defense is the exact opposite:  they want to end your drive on FIRST down if they can!  They can’t handle it when the tables are turned and other teams shorten the game.  The longer they’re on the field, the less effective they become; you make them tired and they’re unable to rely on the one thing they rely upon the most:  their speed.  Now, obviously, you can say that about ALL defenses, and I’ll still take my chances with what the Seahawks have to offer.  I’m just saying, that’s what you have to do.

Like I said before, you can’t get frustrated.  When you get frustrated, you start taking chances you shouldn’t be taking against a defense of this calibre.  Likewise, the longer the Seahawks’ D is on the field, the MORE frustrated they’re going to get.  Which, if they’re not careful, will lead to assignments being missed, guys trying to do too much, and ultimately some moderately big plays for the offense if they’re not careful.

That’s it.  That’s how you beat the Seahawks’ defense.  So, if it’s so easy, why doesn’t EVERYONE do it?  There’s your $64,000 question, my friend.  EVERYONE … CAN’T do it.  It takes a special kind of offense which is just a really nice way to say it takes a special kind of quarterback:  comfortable in a swarming pocket, quick release, and above all accurate.  Who shredded the Seahawks the most last year?  Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, and Tom Brady.  One might not normally lump Romo in with those other two, but behind that O-Line he might as well be Joe Montana.

So, in 2015, who are some of the better quarterbacks out there that might achieve such a feat, that the Seahawks also happen to have on the schedule?  Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo again, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco just to name a few.  I’m less-inclined to call Flacco a patient, accurate passer like some of those other guys, but that’s a road game, so he’s getting lumped in.

Obviously, the Seahawks aren’t going to lose to ALL of those teams.  Just like they’re not going to beat ALL the teams I didn’t list.  But, they just have to lose ENOUGH to get to the point where – should they make the playoffs – they’ll have to head out on the road.  It wouldn’t be impossible for this team to win a playoff game or two on the road, but obvs you like your chances more with the 12th Man at your back.

I know I said this last year, but I was still entranced by the seductive power of a healthy Percy Harvin being added to the 2013 offense that just won a Super Bowl almost entirely without him.  A prior MVP candidate, with this quarterback and this running game, should’ve made for tidings of GREAT joy.  Anyway, I said last year that 2014 might be the season where the offense out-plays the defense.  I said that coming from a place where I believed the D would be just as good as 2013, but the Harvin-full offense would be on another level entirely.  Of course, I was wrong as SHIT, and the offense actually sort of took a step back in a lot of ways.

But, this year, not only do I believe it will finally happen, I think it HAS to happen for this team to consider a third crack at the Super Bowl in as many years.  Unlike Harvin, Jimmy Graham is a positive influence in the lockerroom and in the community.  Unlike Harvin, Graham helps us in the area we need the MOST help:  the red zone.  I mean, when you think about it, the best version of Percy Harvin is a nice idea between the 20s; but what in the merciless fuck is a bloody pipsqueak like Harvin going to do for you in the endzone?  Get knocked down by the multitude of bigger defenders, followed immediately by pulling himself out of the game for no reason (the reason is: because he’s a P-U-S-S-Y and would be better-served playing a game like youth soccer instead of American Football).

Why do I think the offense needs to be better than the defense this year?  Because I have a strong conviction that this is the year we finally stop leading the league in fewest points allowed.  The more I look at this defense, picture this secondary without some key players, and worry about Richard Sherman’s reportedly “minor hip issue” that could just as easily be “future hip surgery” with the definition of the word “future” being “within the next three months, weeks, or days”, the more I believe the Seahawks won’t even be in the top 10 in points allowed.  And, if that’s the case, we’re in for a lot of long drives by opposing teams, followed by our own offense needing to throw its way back into games.

I think they can do it, don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad to have Graham here.  I’m glad Baldwin and Kearse are another year stronger and experienced.  I’m glad we drafted Tyler Lockett.  I’m even glad Ricardo Lockette will likely be around to atone for the play that which we do not speak its name.  And, should Chris Matthews return from injury, and should Luke Willson figure out his drops issue, and should Marshawn Lynch play like we’ve come to know and love these last few years, I’ll sit here and tell you that this offense has the potential to REALLY make a charge into the top half of the league.  And that everything will be all right and we’ll still find a way to get by with a lesser defense.

In the end, it’ll make for more exciting football, but I gotta tell ya, it’ll be less-enjoyable for me.  I LIKE having the best defense in the game!  I like being the team that slogs out 19-3 victories.  I like completely imposing our will on opposing offenses, in a league where all the rules are tilted that way and the bulk of the talent tilts that way.  I think those days – for the most part – will be in the past.  Now’s when we find out if this team can overcome and still be as great as ever.

Underworld – Always Loved A Film

Contemplating Life Without Kam Chancellor

19 days and one pre-season game into the 2015 season and still no Bam Bam.

For starters, I don’t want to LIVE in this fucking world, but I don’t make the rules, man.  I can see this thing from all sides – the player, the team, and the fan – and any way you slice it, there’s no true 100% happy ending.

Speaking for the fan, I can tell you that I DESPERATELY want Bam Bam back, practicing, playing games, and ultimately happy with his contract situation.  From my perspective, a happy Bam Bam means he can turn his brain entirely towards football and do what he does best:  kicking ass like a boss.  I want him back because he’s great, because he paired with Earl Thomas gives us the best safety tandem in the world, and because all the uncertainty surrounding our cornerback position means I want as many Pro Bowl hands on deck as I can get to make up for any deficiencies we’ll face in life without Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane and Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner and so on.  Plus, I mean, nothing says football quite like Bam Bam pulverizing an opposing ball handler into dust.

What gets my dick hard in the morning?  A pair of medium-sized titties in my face, a chapter of deliciously ribald erotica, and Kam Fucking Chancellor doing Kam Fucking Chancellor Things on the football field.

Speaking for the player, yeah, I get it.  You feel like you’re worth more than you’re earning.  And, in this game, your prime is only so long.  You gotta get yours while you’re still healthy and productive enough to get it, or else you’ll end up destroying your body and your mind trying to hang onto a job in the NFL many years after you should’ve probably stopped.  At the same time, all the cards are stacked against you.  You’re getting fined up the yin-yang, you’re too many years away from a proper contract extension, and you’re part of a team who’s spent the better part of the last two years cashing in and reducing the amount of overall pie left over to potentially give to you.  Literally your only move to try to get a better deal is to hold out.  And, holding out gets you nowhere if you’re not determined and willing to go it for the long haul.  So, you do what you have to do:  keep sitting until the team flinches.

Speaking for the team, it’s pretty clear you can’t start setting this precedent now.  You nearly had another holdout in Michael Bennett as it was (as an aside:  I wonder how effective it would’ve been if Kam and Michael coordinated their hold-outs, to put double-the-pressure on the team, lest it lose TWO of its greatest stars for a large chunk of the season), how many other guys will you have come at you with their hands out asking for new deals?  How many more of these fucking hold-outs would you have to face until you put your foot down Enough Is Enough-style?

As a fan, I’ll just say this:  I’m leaning more in favor of The Team vs. The Player, just because, yeah, I don’t want to see this happen every year.  At some point, the player has to be bolder and stronger in their contract negotiations.  Defer the payday now to get an even BIGGER one next year.  Stop letting teams lock these in a year early!  Play on the franchise tag if you have to!  Eventually, the team will give you what you want, or they’ll give up and you’ll get it from somewhere else.  But, you know what?  Kam was on his rookie deal as a late-round draft pick.  He was starting in the NFL and making peanuts.  Not only that, but he was THRIVING, and most deserving of a raise.  So, he took advantage and got a nice little payday when the first opportunity presented itself.  The team got a discount because they did it a year early, thereby deferring the cap-raise out another year; and the player got to stop eating Top Ramen evey night.

But, at the same time, I’m going to be sick and devastated if this thing truly goes sour and the team is forced to trade him because he won’t comply.

What’s life going to be like without Bam Bam?  For starters, you have to wonder what type of return we’d get.  A player and a 2nd round draft pick maybe?  I’m not so sure I’m happy with anything under a first rounder, but I absolutely won’t take anything less than a 2nd rounder, I don’t care if he ends up retiring instead!

Beyond that, the Seahawks appear to have some bright talent at the position, but obviously it’s going to be a step down.  Can the defense still thrive?  I think so, but not as well as it used to.  I think some of the guys (Shead, maybe Bailey) can APPROACH what Bam Bam brought to the table, but I don’t think we ever really do better.

It’d be a shame, I’ll tell you that.  Come back, Bam Bam!  We need you!

Cloudwalking (Original Mix)

Seahawks Tweaking With Their Offensive Line Already

Guess last Friday’s game didn’t sit too well with the coaches.

For w it’s w, a day without tweaking with position groups is like a day without Macklemore pumping from their DJ’s booth, is like a day without competition, is like a day without breathing.  The Seahawks are always doing whatever and whenever it takes to get even the slightest edge over not only their competition, but their previous best versions of themselves.  How can we be better than we were yesterday than we were the day before that than we were the day before THAT?

And, for w it’s w, the idea of specifically tweaking with the offensive line THIS year is particularly not surprising given the turnover of 40% of our starters.  We drafted a bunch of guys, we brought in a bunch more, and we’ve been sitting on guys from year(s) past.  Everyone pretty much at square one, mixing and matching as much as possible to maximize yadda yadda yadda.

But, here we have our first real shocking move:  Justin Britt – the guy who is one of two guys (J.R. Sweezy) who started all 16 games for the Seahawks last year – our right tackle, was bumped over to left guard for the first time since being drafted in the second round last year.  In his place:  Garry Gilliam, YOUR touchdown-catching-from-Jon-Ryan-in-the-NFC-Championship-Game-last-year special teamer and Russell Okung understudy, who’s looked good enough at left tackle to get a shot at the starting right tackle job.

I love it.  We might lose something of a nasty sort in run blocking at the tackle spot, but what we’re going to gain in pass protection should more than even it out.  AND, not for nothing, but if Britt has as nasty of a streak as everyone says he does, then wouldn’t his adroitness in run blocking be better served at left guard – where he can pair with Okung and hopefully make up for some deficiency in our center.

What I’m trying to say is:  Alvin Bailey is KIND OF a powderpuff, and he’s about one more olé block-leading-to-a-stuff-in-the-backfield away from my proverbial foot up his ass!

(just kidding, Alvin; you could destroy me in about three seconds)

Of course, this was only the first day of this particular lineup (Okung-Britt-Nowak-Sweezy-Gilliam), but I’ll be really curious if it lasts and we get to see it against the Chiefs on Friday.  As the coaches said today, you just gotta get your best five guys out there, regardless of where they’ve played along the line in the past.  If those five guys are these five guys, then good.  Let’s hope they get us through the season.

Mama Said Knock You Out …

The Good & Bad of Last Night’s Pre-Season Game

This is just going to be a random jumble of thoughts, in no particular order, as they come to me.

I’m giddy right now about two players:  Tyler Lockett & Frank Clark.  LEARN HOW TO SPELL HIS NAME NOW!  No ‘e’ on the end!  Lockett was a pure bundle of energy last night on most of his returns.  Maybe time will tell if that’s just the Broncos having a crappy special teams, but I’m putting it out there that at some point in the next two years, Lockett will be a Pro Bowl returner.  This kid’s got everything we ever hoped and dreamed out of Percy Harvin, minus the cancerous attitude, hefty paycheck, and need to be placated on offense with an endless stream of bubble screens.  Was he worth the draft picks it took to trade up to get him?  I think the NFL will learn very soon (if they haven’t learned already) that he most certainly was!

Frank Clark definitely looked like he belonged among the starters in the first half, and that’s great.  But, he looked like a man among boys in the second half, and that’s actually what I find encouraging.  I know you’re not supposed to get too excited about what happens in the second half of the first pre-season game, but I think it clearly showed he’s a step above most rookies in the league.  He rifled through the line to make play after play in the backfield; if we only get that on a rotational basis, just imagine how good he’ll be once he’s got a year or two of professional experience under his belt!

I was also highly encouraged by Cassius Marsh.  He looked faster than most coming off of the edge.  While he didn’t always get home – and on more than a few occasions ran himself out of the play – that’s something you can correct and work on in practice.  To say he’s the second-coming of Chris Clemons would be short-changing him, but I think we’ll have something special in him when it’s all said and done.

The obvious bummer of last night (aside from the injuries) was the offensive line.  From the get-go, it just didn’t look right.  I don’t know how you can expect Russell Wilson to throw in rhythm and in the pocket when it’s collapsing around him the moment he reaches the end of his drop!  Still, I believe in Tom Cable, and I think he’ll give us something we can use by the time the games start counting.  Nevertheless, the O-Line will be our #1 concern throughout the season, so be prepared (what else is new, right?).

Honestly, what’s most discouraging was our lack of a run game.  Turbin & Michael were pretty well bottled up most of the game.  Cable seems to be willing to concede some pass protection in the name of a powerful rushing attack, and if he’s okay with it, I can be okay with it.  But, if we’re getting neither?  That’s gotta change.

Given the horrendous effort from our O-Line, it’s hard to really evaluate anyone else on the offense.  Obviously, Anthony McCoy dropping two easy passes doesn’t bode well, so we’ll see how he bounces back (he’s obviously not the only tight end on this team whose been prone to the dropsies – I’m looking at you, Luke Willson).  Honestly, I thought Chris Matthews was looking the most solid of our receivers – bringing in one catch for 8 yards with a defender draped ALL OVER him.  I REALLY fucking hope his injury isn’t serious, but it looked bad when I saw it in live action.  Potentially season-ending (if you believe Jeremy Lane is going to be our one IR-Designated To Return player).  For the record, I think that’s a stupid rule, and I think teams should be able to put as many players as they want onto the IR-Designated To Return.

Tarvaris Jackson went down with an ankle, which also looked pretty bad.  I don’t know how long he’ll be out for, but if this team has to bring in another veteran QB, that’s a bad sign.

I don’t have a lot to say about the secondary, other than the obvious:  this team will be hurting if our stars don’t show up for the regular season.  No one really stood out in a good or bad way to me, so we’ll see how the rest of the pre-season goes.

A Pre-Pre-Season Prediction of the Seahawks’ Opening Week 53-Man Roster

Because now seems to be the time to do these.  “Now” being:  at any and every point before the actual 53-man roster is finally chosen by the coaching staff.  I’m not immune to the type of wild speculation in the early going of a football season!  I’m just as excited as the next rabid NFL fan who’s sick and tired of the Seattle Fucking Mariners already!

Of course, this is just my best estimate, having seen exactly zero of the practices to this point.  I’m sure things will change greatly between now and the final pre-season game against the Raiders on September 3rd.  Will I do more of these as the pre-season goes along?  Maybe one more, right before the end, if I’m in the mood.

For most of these position groups, you’ll see a dashed line (————-).  Anyone listed above that line I consider a lock to make the team.  Anyone listed below that line I still think will make the final 53-man roster, but I’m not as confident.

Quarterback

Russell Wilson
Tarvaris Jackson

Seems pretty cut & dry.  You gotta wonder how long we’re going to be able to keep bringing Tarvar back on 1-year deals, but I’m game to keep him around as long as he’s willing to keep winning championships.

Running Back

Marshawn Lynch
Robert Turbin
Christine Michael
————————
Derrick Coleman

I’m not as sold as some are on Thomas Rawls or Rod Smith.  I think either or both could be kept around on the practice squad (unless, of course, one or both absolutely breaks out in the pre-season games).  I still like Coleman over Will Tukuafu, even though Tukuafu is more versatile.  Coleman is still younger and better on special teams.  If he can stay healthy, I think he’s got it on lock.  I also highly doubt the team keeps five running backs, but if they do, it’ll likely come from one of my offensive line spots.

Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin
Jermaine Kearse
Tyler Lockett
————————-
Ricardo Lockette
Chris Matthews
Kevin Norwood

I’m not deaf to all the hype surrounding Kasen Williams right now, but it’s one thing to look impressive in practice and it’s another to do so in game situations.  Norwood still has a year’s worth of experience on him.  Besides that, I think we can also sneak Kasen onto the practice squad.  The other five guys figure to be pretty safe, especially with Douglas McNeil converting to cornerback.  B.J. Daniels is a dark horse candidate to win a job, but to do so, there’d probably have to be a rash of injuries ahead of him.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham
Luke Willson
———————–
Cooper Helfet

This one will be interesting, though it might go down to who stays healthy.  Should the team keep Helfet, then we’re essentially talking about the team keeping three “move” tight ends.  Anthony McCoy is the obvious other choice to be the team’s third tight end, and you’d have to think he’d have an advantage given his blocking ability.  But, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy through an entire pre-season for I don’t know how long anymore.  I can’t pencil him into my predicted 53-man lineup until I actually see him play in a game again.

Offensive Line

Russell Okung
J.R. Sweezy
Justin Britt
———————
Drew Nowak
Mark Glowinski
Alvin Bailey
Garry Gilliam
Lemuel Jeanpierre
Kristjan Sokoli
Keavon Milton

I’ll be honest with you, offensive line is the biggest crapshoot on this team.  I’ve got three locks, that’s how bad it is right now.  The safe play is to say that Bailey and Jeanpierre will join the other locks in giving us the best chance to win right now.  But, I have a feeling that the team will give our rookies every opportunity to try to steal those jobs away, even if it means taking a hit on our production right now, with the hope that their ceilings will be higher by season’s end.  Terry Poole is a tough one to chop, but to be honest I wouldn’t be shocked to see him or a couple of these other guys I’ve listed make the practice squad.  I can’t imagine the rest of the NFL is all that excited about picking up some of our projects who we’ve converted from being defensive linemen.

Defensive End

Michael Bennett
Cliff Avril
Frank Clark
Cassius Marsh

All locks, all should be productive members of our pass rush this year.  Can’t wait to see how this unit meshes.

Defensive Tackle

Brandon Mebane
Jordan Hill
Ahtyba Rubin
———————–
Jimmy Staten

Really difficult to see who the fourth guy will be.  I think it comes down to Staten and D’Anthony Smith, but it very well could go to a guy who’s not even on the roster right now.  Pre-season games will go a long way in shedding light.

Linebacker

Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Bruce Irvin
Brock Coyle
Kevin Pierre-Louis
————————-
Mike Morgan

Probably the most potent unit on the entire defense.  The final spot(s) will come down to special teams.  Mike Morgan has been here forever, which is a plus and a minus in his favor.  He knows the system, he’s versatile, and he’s obviously good otherwise he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he has.  But, I think he’s in the last year of his deal, so you have to wonder if the team will opt to go younger with someone like Eric Pinkins.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I think the nod goes to Morgan when all is said and done.  (Unless, of course, KPL’s injury is worse than expected, in which case, maybe both make it?)

Cornerback

Richard Sherman
Tharold Simon
Cary Williams
————————
Will Blackmon
Mohammed Seisay
Marcus Burley

For what it’s worth, I’m REALLY banking on Simon returning to action at some point this pre-season and not landing on the PUP.  Haven’t seen him yet, so we’ll see.  Jeremy Lane will obviously start on either the PUP or IR Designated To Return.  While he’s a huge loss, it opens up some good competition this month.  I’m THIS close to making Blackmon a lock, simply because – while he’s on the older side at 30 – this team can’t fuck around at a position where it’s so thin.  We’re already committed to Williams and the young & injury-prone Simon, so it’ll be nice to have someone who’s good and knows the system, in spite of his age.  Beyond that, I like Seisay’s height and I hope like Hell that he makes a positive impact this pre-season.  The final spot goes to Burley until I see whether Tye Smith is capable of living up to the high expectations thrust upon the L.O.B.  What I’ve heard about Smith thus far has been pretty underwhelming, so I have to believe Burley has the advantage.  Smith might be a guy we can sneak onto the practice squad, so I wouldn’t consider him a total draft pick bust just yet.

Safety

Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
DeShawn Shead
———————–
Steven Terrell
Dion Bailey

MAYBE the team opts to keep only four safeties, in order to stock up on the D-Line, but I don’t think I’m buying it.  I think, at least in the early going, this team will want to have sufficent backups in the event Earl Thomas re-injures himself.  Obviously, Kam is still a concern, considering he still has yet to show up to camp.  I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but I like how the younger guys are getting a lot of run.  I’ve heard a lot of exciting things about Dion Bailey, so I really hope he sticks.  Terrell appears to be pretty safe, as he’s still young, yet has some good experience.  Shead is obviously the glue that’s going to help us hold things together, as he can play both safety spots.  If he needs to step in for Kam, I don’t think we lose all that much (as crazy as that sounds).

Special Teams

Steven Hauschka
Jon Ryan
Clint Gresham

Not a lot to say here.  The Nate Boyer story is fun, but I can’t see us keeping him unless Gresham gets injured.

Mariners Tidbit 67: Iwakuma’s No-Hitter

The first Mariners no-hitter happened on June 2, 1990, against the Detroit Tigers.  Randy Johnson walked 6 and struck out 8 in 138 pitches for the 2-0 victory.

The second Mariners no-hitter happened on April 22, 1993, against the Boston Red Sox.  Chris Bosio walked 2 and struck out 4 in 97 pitches for the 7-0 victory.

The third Mariners no-hitter happened on June 8, 2012, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, and Tom Wilhelmsen combined to walk 3 and strike out 9 in 114 pitches for the 1-0 victory.

The fourth Mariners no-hitter was also the first Mariners perfect game; it happened on August 15, 2012, against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Felix Hernandez struck out 12 in 113 pitches for the 1-0 victory.

The fifth Mariners no-hitter happened yesterday afternoon, against the Baltimore Orioles.  Hisashi Iwakuma walked 3 and struck out 7 in 116 pitches for the 3-0 victory.

Is it weird that all of the Mariners no-no’s have happened at home?  Is it weird that the last two happened on Wednesday matinee games?

As usual, I was at work yesterday while all of this was going on.  Furthermore, I was stuck in meetings for most of the afternoon, so I didn’t even realize that a no-hitter was officially happening until the 8th inning.  I was able to listen to Iwakuma close out the 8th before running out of work and over to Pacific Place for an impromptu happy hour.  Sitting at the bar of Gordon Biersch, I quickly ordered a Captain & Coke while the final commercials ran before the top of the 9th.

I don’t remember everything.  Obviously, this isn’t my first no-hit rodeo, but I don’t know if I’ll ever forget Kyle Seager’s basket catch in foul territory.  That was banana-nuts!  And then I want to say the next at bat, Iwakuma grooved a fastball right in the middle of the plate that the hitter thankfully fouled off.  After that, it was relatively smooth sailing getting the last two outs.

I don’t care who you are, but no-hitters are always special.  It’s SUCH a hard thing to accomplish; you see SO MANY of them lost in the final couple of at-bats.  So, my hat is off to Iwakuma and everyone else involved for getting the job done.

I’m finding it difficult to peg just where we’re at with Iwakuma.  Is this a last gasp of brilliance before he declines even further?  Is this proof that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated and premature?  And, if so, how much more does he have left in the tank?

What this no-hitter accomplishes is it gets me – and most of the fans – back in Iwakuma’s corner.  That’s a biggie.  From the last month of the 2014 season through most of this season, Iwakuma has been an unmitigated disappointment.  Since returning from two months on the DL, he’s had flashes of brilliance – 8 shutout innings against the Angels, 7 quality innings in Detroit, an almost-complete game shutout in Minnesota, 7 more quality innings against the Rangers – but he’s also had a good amount of duds:  4 homers given up to the Tigers in Safeco, just a so-so game in New Yankee Stadium, getting blown out at home against the Diamondbacks.

The back-and-forth nature of his outings the last month and a half are definitely cause for concern, but what this no-hitter does is make it okay for the team to bring him back for 2016, at least in my mind (pending what he does the rest of this season, of course).  The thing is, though, we have to temper our expectations.

I don’t know if it’s fair to count on Iwakuma to be healthy for a full season anymore.  He’s missed extensive time in all but one of his Major League seasons.  Also, I don’t know if we should expect him to be the #2 starting pitcher this team needs.  He strikes me as more of a 4 or 5 going forward; meaning this team STILL needs to bring in a high-end starter either via free agency or trade.  Also, if Iwakuma does warrant an extension, I wouldn’t go anywhere beyond 2 years; that’s a deal-breaker for me.

Anyway, this is all stuff we can hash out later, when the season’s over.  For now, let’s celebrate a truly amazing feat.  The Orioles are a good hitting team, and Iwakuma’s been serving up a steady diet of meatballs for a while now.  To hold them hitless is OUTSTANDING!

The New PAT Rule In The NFL Is Fucking Stupid

I know the NFL is now considered to be a year-round sport, with all the off-season activities manufactured to get you thinking non-stop about your favorite American pastime, but it’s tough to keep up on every little thing that happens in the months of February through August.  One thing you might have missed is the NFL tinkering with one of its rules, screwing around with something for the sake of change more than actually making the game better (what is this, my fantasy football league?).

Was anyone complaining about the PATs before this became a topic of conversation?  Did anyone give two fucking shits about setting the ball at the 2-yard line for extra points?  My hunch is:  absolutely not.  Yet, here we are:  starting this year, if you want to go for one point after touchdown, you have to set the ball at the 15-yard line, making PATs a 32-yard kick instead of a 19-yard kick.  (Everything remains the same if you decide to go for two; you still line up at the 2-yard line).

Now, there is one part of this rule that I do like:  if the defense gets hold of the ball (either via a blocked kick, or via fumble/interception), they can return it for two points if they reach the opposing endzone.  But, everything else about this rule change just smacks of being totally pointless.

Why did this happen?  Because kickers were making a crazy-high percentage of extra points, across the entire league.  Why is this a problem?  Fuck if I know.

All this rule is about is penalizing kickers for being good at their jobs!  It’s not about leveling the playing field or righting an overlooked wrong; it’s just to shake things up, over an aspect of the game no one cares about.

What’s the problem with the way PATs were kicked before?  You’re upset because they’re not as exciting as regular field goals?  You take umbrage with the fact that fans don’t care about them – and often take the opportunity to get an early jump on the bathrooms or concessions?  You want fans at home to stick around and not flip the channel for these oh-so-crucial events?

It’s just so incredibly fucking stupid and transparent, it’s pathetic.  There are SO MANY things wrong with the NFL, so many ways the game could be improved; but what does the NFL do?  It fucks around with the PATs as a distraction to keep us mollified so we’re not fucking outraged at all the brain trauma killing former players, or at the way the commissioner seemingly pulls punishments out of his ass for all the various illicit goings on in the game.

You know what’s more important than adding 13 yards of extra distance between the kicker and the goalpost during PATs?  Literally everything else.  Yet, here we are, and I just KNOW that somehow this rule change is going to screw over the Seahawks in some way.  And for what?  I GUARANTEE this rule gets changed back to where it was before within the next 10 years.  So, we’ll all look back upon this stupid period in NFL history when the morons at the top decided to fuck with something so unimportant that it still managed to play a vital role in fucking some team over when they would’ve been just fine had no one tinkered with anything in the first place.

So, so fucking stupid.