Squeaker: Seahawks Pick Their Jaws Up Off The Floor Long Enough To Beat The Broncos In Overtime

How about that Jon Ryan, huh?  I know that’s probably not where you want to start after a game like this, but you could really make an argument that he was the most important player on the field yesterday.  Take a look at it like this:  against the better offenses in the league, the Seahawks tend to play a Bend/Don’t Break style of defense.  Give up nothing deep, and as a compromise, the Seahawks will give the opportunity for completions underneath.  To be fair, the Seahawks are certainly one of the very BEST Bend/Don’t Break defenses in football, but they’re still going to give up some yards every now and again.  So, to pin them deep, to flip the field position battle every time our offense failed and we were forced to punt, was just what the doctor ordered in a game this tight.  Denver starting inside the 10 yard line vs. starting around their own 30 is all the difference between forcing Denver to punt vs. forcing them to kick a field goal.

I dunno.  I just think if you’re EVER going to lavish praise upon a punter, it might as well be after a game like that.  I mean, shit, did you see that free kick after the safety?  Have you ever SEEN one of those kicks travel all the way to the opposing goalline?  Usually in those situations, the other team ends up with the ball around the 30 or 40 yard line!

So, yesterday, I was pretty surly.  Long story short:  the vast majority of my fantasy players had played in the morning and not a God damn one of them got me any touchdowns.  I was staring down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat and what’s worse was I was losing because I followed some very bad advice by the so-called fantasy experts out there (seriously, Joique Bell can eat all the dicks until Reggie Bush gets injured).  Anyway, going into the Seahawks game, I really needed a pick-me-up, and for the most part I got one.  That was quite the enjoyable football game!  Got a little scary at the end – had some flashbacks to the Seahawks’ defense of 2012 (where we were mostly great, but had a few too many late-game breakdowns that let other teams beat us) – but the good guys won and that’s all that matters.

Before I go any further, let me just say this about Phil Simms.  I was reading Twitter during commercial breaks, and catching a few text messages from friends, and the general consensus is that overall Phil Simms sucks as a broadcaster and in particular he sucks because he was overly-favoring the Denver Broncos.  I want to be there with you guys, I really do, but here’s the thing:  I don’t have the energy to hate any more sports announcers.  I’m kinda all wrapped up in this whole Dave Sims Is The Worst thing, and then I ended up spending yesterday morning listening to Ronde Barber stammer his way through the Saints/Vikings football game alongside Chris Myers for three straight hours.  When you tack on Joey Harrington and the vast majority of announcers on the Pac-12 Network, I just don’t have what it takes to lump in Phil Simms.

Is he ideal?  No.  But, they can’t all be Cris Collinsworth or Gus Johnson or Kevin Calabro.  I’m sorry.  If you’re like me, you’ve been listening to Phil Simms talk about football for about 20 years now.  I don’t look to him for smart insights.  I’ve gotten used to his down-home, folksy charm.  And for crying out loud he wasn’t rooting for the Broncos, he was rooting for a good, exciting football game.  Considering the Seahawks grabbed control of the contest from the get-go, of course he’s going to talk about what the Broncos have to do to get back in the ballgame!

But, enough about that.

There was more than punting and poor announcers in this contest.  There was getting the best of Peyton Manning yet again!  There was holding their running game to almost nothing.  There was Emmanuel Sanders getting nearly 27 points for my bench in fantasy.  There was Aqib Talib nearly picking off a pass, then getting beat for a 39-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette, then later deflecting a ball that would lead to a pick by someone else and eventually a Broncos touchdown.

This game had it all.  Or, at least, it had it most.  Lots of good things to build upon, lots of bad things to work out.

The offense looked a lot more balanced.  Denver’s got a pretty stout run defense up the middle, so it was nice to see those fake fly-sweeps work to our advantage with Beastmode.  Oftentimes, I see the sweep coming and when it’s a fake, I wonder what would have been had we given it to a sprinting Percy Harvin instead.  These are especially lamentable when the defense isn’t prepared to put a body on our receiver and they end up clogging up the run straight ahead.  But, it looks like the word is out on these plays, as teams are concentrating more on Harvin, thus giving us a chance to gash.

One play I particularly like is when Harvin runs across the formation pre-snap, then Wilson fakes the swing pass, turns around, and throws a swing pass to the opposite side (to Lynch, mostly).  These misdirection plays are fantastic and I’d like to see them more often when we get down into the red zone.

Aside from that Lockette reception, there wasn’t a whole lot available with the deep pass in this game.  That’s a shame, and also a real testament to Denver’s dedication in shoring up their secondary.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but my gut feeling is that the Seahawks haven’t been able to take advantage of the deep pass as much through the first three games of this season.  Which leads me to wonder:  are we running these play-action passes with less regularity?  Are defenses playing us differently, knowing how we get off on making secondaries look silly?  Or, is this some sort of commentary on our wideouts and their inability to get open on deeper routes (or our quarterback’s inability to look off an opposing safety?).  I tend to believe it’s how other teams are scheming us, to which I reply:  do so at your own peril.  Because, let’s face it, you’re playing right into our hands when you do that.  We WANT to run the ball a ton!  So, by you playing deep and giving us less-populated fronts on which to run against, we’ll just continue running for 5 yards per play and methodically wear you out.

Defensively, we were much better than we were against the Chargers.  Denver only converted 6 of 16 third downs, which I will take every single time against an offense that potent.  Of course, a couple of those plays were curious draw plays on third & long, which led many to wonder if they were just giving up on those drives.

Overall, the run defense has been FANTASTIC this season!  Yesterday, the Broncos really made it their mission to pound it on the ground, and they were taken to task accordingly.  20 rushes for 36 yards, which is just God awful.

We saw a little bit of the good pass defense (2013) and the not-so-good pass defense (2012) in yesterday’s game, when the fourth quarter came around.  In 2012, we generally found ways to lose games like these, as teams like Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta in the playoffs ultimately drove on us late in ballgames to secure victories.  In 2013, we mostly found ways to win those types of games.  Even if teams would drive on us late, we made just enough big plays to hold them off.  Well, yesterday the Broncos had a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown, but Manning was picked off by Chancellor, who ran it all the way back to field goal range for the Seahawks.  We ran them out of time outs and knocked the clock all the way down to just under a minute, while taking an 8-point lead that looked practically insurmountable given the circumstances.  And yet, we all know what happened:  Manning drove them down 80 yards on 6 plays (on the back of two big passes on similar routes down the sideline) in 41 seconds to tie the game.

I have no doubt about one thing in this game:  had Kam not brought that interception all the way down, allowing us to eventually hit that field goal to go up by eight, we would’ve lost this game.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, when the Seahawks were up 17-12, that instead of the INT, Denver scored a touchdown there, with something like 2 minutes left to go:  I have very little faith that we would’ve been able to generate a drive in that short of time to either tie the game or take the lead.  Not with the way we were playing offense in that second half.

Overtime was the biggest blessing (aside from winning that coin toss in overtime, of course).  With a fresh quarter in which to work with, the Seahawks were able to methodically drive the length of the field to score.  80 yards in just under 6 minutes.  See, in this scenario, we could take our time.  We were still deprived of anything deep, which meant that Russell Wilson was able to take advantage of all those keepers he turned down through the first four quarters.  There were LOTS of opportunities where Wilson handed off to Lynch instead of pulling the ball back for moderate gains on the outside.  Obviously, I’m not going to bash him for this, because I want him to remain healthy and I want him to improve as a pocket passer.  But, when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that he’s got his running ability in his back pocket.  We NEEDED to score a touchdown in overtime, because no one wanted to see Denver’s offense back on the field.  It was Russell Wilson’s grit and determination that made this victory possible.

Just when you think you’ve got the Seahawks figured out and bottled up, we find another way to get the job done.

Aside from the obvious stars – Jon Ryan, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch – I’d like to give it up to the receivers for getting the job done against a tough secondary.  Kearse, Baldwin, Harvin, Walters, and Lockette had a bigger collective impact on this game than their individual numbers may indicate.

I thought Maxwell was overall pretty solid, even though he’s absolutely getting picked on each and every game.  It’s hard to ask a cornerback to be perfect when teams are actively avoiding the other side of the field and going after you on a near-constant basis.  Shout out to Marcus Burley as well for doing a great job in the nickel corner spot.  I find it’s no coincidence that Denver was able to start moving the ball easier once he was knocked out by a little friendly fire.  Secondary depth is a little iffy at the moment, but when we’re able to get Jeremy Lane back, all should be awesome in the stretch run (here’s to hoping Lane is available by the time we play the Eagles in week 14, if not sooner).

I noticed Cassius Marsh got some quality reps in the first half and made a great impact.  He’s going to be really good for us if he manages to stay healthy.  Mebane was his usual rock-solid self as well.

Now we go into our BYE week.  Because fuck you NFL schedule-makers.  Then, we have to go play the Redskins on their abysmal field in two weeks.  Oh joy, I’m sure none of our guys will get injured in that game!

The Seahawks Have A Very Important Game Against The Broncos This Weekend

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m nervous.  That I’m worried about this weekend’s game and the possibility of the Seahawks losing said game.  This is the part where I concoct a scenario where the other team could plausibly wrench victory from the jaws of defeat.

Except, this isn’t just an ordinary game preview post where I’m trying to fill a self-imposed word-quota (more than 300, less than 30,000).  I can ACTUALLY see a way the Broncos could defeat the Seahawks.  The answer, more or less, lies in last week’s game in San Diego.

The Seahawks lost to the Chargers.  Why did they lose?  Because we faced an All Pro-type quarterback having one of the better games of his career.  Because while we mitigated their explosive plays over our heads, we still had a helluva time getting off the field on third down.  Because we made mistake after mistake on defense and an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end took advantage of our aggressiveness and made us pay.

Well, the Broncos have an All Pro-type quarterback.  The Broncos are generally pretty good at converting third downs.  And, rather than having an old, veteran, Hall of Fame tight end; they’ve got a young, explosive, potential FUTURE Hall of Fame tight end.  On top of a lot of other great players, and a VASTLY improved defense compared to the one we saw in the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, that.  The Broncos also have an entire offseason where they heard nothing but praise about how dominating the Seahawks are.  How the Seahawks might be the next dynasty.  How the Seahawks’ defense is among the greats like the 60s Vikings, 70s Steelers, the 85 Bears, and the 2000 Ravens.  How the Broncos wilted, were afraid, GAVE UP in what was - for the non-Peyton Manning members of the team – the most important game of their lives.

Think about that.  This is no longer a rivalry like it was in the 80s and 90s (though, try telling that to John Elway, current GM and Vice President), but just imagine if our situations were reversed.  The Seahawks got plastered in the Super Bowl, while everyone in the world thought we were the better team and should have won easily.  Imagine all these months, listening to various Broncos players on First Take or Jim Rome or whathaveyou, flapping their gums about how they knew what plays we were going to run.  About how our receivers couldn’t handle running crossing patterns in the vicinity of whoever their strong safety is.  Wouldn’t you be a little salty?  Wouldn’t you expect your local columnists to write ham-fisted articles about how much more improved we are this year?  About how tired we are of hearing all their talk?

Yes, we’ll always have the Super Bowl.  No one can take that away from us.  But, it’s a new season.  No sense in living in the past, even if it only happened seven-or-so months ago.

Talent, motivation, health:  the Broncos have it all going for them this week.  One could argue that the Seahawks have all that going for them too, and on top of that, we’ve got home field advantage.

A little something about that.  For starters, I don’t necessarily think the 12th Man has the type of power it once had.  There’s no element of surprise anymore.  EVERYONE is aware of how loud it is up here in Seattle.  It’s been showcased on countless national broadcasts; we’re not catching anyone off guard anymore.  No one is taking the noise lightly anymore.  They’re preparing for it and overcoming it.  Yes, the noise is nice, and I’m sure opposing teams don’t like going on silent counts, but these are professionals we’re talking about.  This isn’t some Pee Wee Football League team playing in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time.  PLUS, this is an afternoon game.  Even if I’m being overly dismissive of the 12th Man’s effect on a game, everyone HAS to admit that it’s just not the same compared to nationally-televised night games.  For one thing, the Twelves haven’t had as much time to get sauced!  Take it from someone who could turn Pro in weekend warrioring:  those extra 3-4 hours of beer chugging make all the difference between a little snooty intoxication and outright belligerent jack-assery.

In short, you can’t dismiss the home field advantage straight away, but let’s stop building it up to be something it’s not.  We have seven more regular season home games; every God damn one of them will be played in the afternoon.  After the first series or two, the crowd settles into a predictable routine and the opposing offense settles into a potent weapon capable of knifing through the noise.  Once the initial surge is overcome, the home field advantage goes away and it’s all up to the players on the field (if you don’t believe me, go back and look at that Arizona game last season).

As for the players on the field, you know who they are.  The Broncos are pretty much the same team on offense as they were last year (swap Decker for Sanders and Moreno for Ball).  On defense, their stars are healthy, and their new players are impactful.  DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib are the obvious new additions and they are still playing at the peak of their abilities.  Factor in Von Miller back to full health, and Terrance Knighton clogging up the middle, and it certainly won’t be as easy to move the ball up and down the field, regardless of our pumped up offensive weapons.

What can I say about this game?  Either we’ll find a way to stop them with some regularity on third down, or we won’t.  Either the game will be close, or it won’t.  Either we’ll win, or we won’t.  I’d like to think our defense will look better than it did against San Diego.  It won’t be as hot, for starters.  Peyton Manning isn’t as mobile as Philip Rivers.  We’re a little more familiar with their offensive scheme, since we spent the better part of two weeks prior to the Super Bowl studying their tendencies.  And, we HAVE to be a little salty ourselves, considering we gave up a 30-spot for the first time since October of last year when we lost to the Colts.

In closing, I’ll talk about why this game is so important.  There are a couple of obvious, conflicting points at play here.  On the one hand, if we want to get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, we probably can’t afford to lose more than three games.  Losing to the Broncos here would drop us to 1-2 already, with most of a full season left to go (not to mention, we’d be 1-2 going into a BYE week, which means starting in October, it’ll be 13 straight weeks of games with little respite).  On the other hand, like the Chargers, the Broncos are in the AFC.  If you’re going to lose two games, they might as well be to teams in the opposite conference, as that still leaves all of your key tie-breakers in play (with you in control of your own destiny).  I already discussed the following 8-game stretch of cream-puffs on our schedule.  Yeah, we could be 1-2 after this Sunday’s contest, but we could also be 9-2 going into our Thanksgiving battle royale with the 49ers.

But, here’s something that only recently occurred to me.  If we lose this game, we will have lost two games against good-to-great opponents.  And, if Green Bay isn’t necessarily the world-beater we all thought they’d be, then you have to ask:  are the Seahawks as good as they were last year (when we managed to beat three good, playoff teams in the regular season)?  What does it mean if a team only pounds on the bad teams, but loses heartbreakers to the good ones?  I know it’s early for all of this type of talk (and essentially meaningless, considering the NFL doesn’t care about the types of teams you beat like they do in college), but it’s a psychological component that nobody’s talking about.

How do you know you’re good?  When you beat other good teams.  What do you call a team that has a good record, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note?  The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.

Are we the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs?  Or, are we going to kick Denver’s shit in on Sunday?!

Look, I have us winning this game, but I’m going to tell you right now, it’s ONLY because I’m a huge homer.  If I were a fan of literally any other team, I’d be making the Broncos my Upset Special.  I still think the Seahawks are more or less going through the motions.  I still think there’s a lot of talk going around about how the Seahawks are “taking this week seriously” and putting in the type of practice required to win a big game at home.  But, I honestly feel that’s a lot of bullshit and Denver is going to come in here and move the ball around with ease and escape with a comfortable victory.  Peyton Manning isn’t the be-all, end-all of quarterbacks, but I’ll tell you this much:  I don’t like playing his teams this early in the season.  I like playing his teams when it’s cold and the weather is shitty and the pressure of the moment overwhelms his robot brain.

I like playing his teams when the NFL hasn’t spent the entire offseason catering to his every want and need by increasing the emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact in the secondary.

When you factor in the Mariners playing the series of their lives down in Houston – against pitchers who have generally crushed our feeble lineup – I can see this being a REAL bad weekend for the professional teams of Seattle.  Somebody hold me; I need a hug.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 2

I’m still firmly in the camp of the Seahawks being the best team in football until some other team (or teams) jump out and prove themselves superior … but I can’t help having these nagging worries.  Doesn’t it feel like something’s a little off about this year’s team?  I read all these quotes and they’re as encouraging as always:

  • About how our stars are working harder than ever before
  • About how guys are in the best shapes of their lives
  • About how everyone is still hungry and that winning a Super Bowl has only made them hungrier

But, I dunno.  This is more of a gut feeling than anything, but it just feels like we’re going through the motions.  Like, everyone’s on auto-pilot until they decide to turn it on and ramp it up.  Which, in most cases, our auto-pilot is better than most other teams’ 100% effort, but it’s still cause for concern.

I just wonder why it looks so BLAH out there.  Is it Super Bowl Hangover?  Is it because we know we’re so very good, we can’t see anyone else as a threat?  Like that smart kid in school who acts out because he’s not challenged?  Or, have we lost our heart?

Golden Tate, Red Bryant, and Chris Clemons all play for other teams.  They were all either released, or it was made very clear to them that we didn’t want them back or need them back.  Those three guys were also three of the biggest personalities on the team.  Tate had a swagger about him that was the perfect complement to Beastmode’s tenacious desire.  He could dish out the shit-talking and he could back it up.  When the offense or special teams needed a big play, Tate’s sheer force of will would make it happen, no matter what it required.

Red Bryant was the leader on defense.  Not the signal-caller – that job belongs to Wagner – but he was the emotional leader for sure.  I can’t count the number of times I’d see him make a big play and then stomp around like a rabid elephant, barking at everyone around him that they were NOT going to run it in his direction!  Everyone looked up to him and voted him defensive captain.  It can’t be easy to lose that, because there’s a void bigger than his 330-pound frame left in his place.

And, by all accounts, Chris Clemons was the resident hard ass.  He’s all business, and he’s in the business of tearing some new assholes out of opposing quarterbacks.  When you look at these three guys, the word that comes to mind is:  intensity.  They had it, and we’ve lost it.  Sure, Earl Thomas brings the fire.  But, even he seems a bit scaled back this year.  I see it a little more in Bobby Wagner, which is nice, but it would be better to see it out of more guys.  I don’t care what anyone says, we need emotional leaders to step up.  When you tack on the loss of Michael Robinson, Sidney Rice, and so on, this could be a major problem for this team going forward.

The main take-away after two games is:  opposing offenses are going to be in no-huddle mode as much as possible, to prevent us from substituting on defense.  Part of me says, “BRING IT ON, BITCH!”  But, part of me also knows that subbing guys in and out regularly is what kept this team fresh, especially along the defensive line.

Now, obviously, not all teams are going to be able to do this, but the good ones will.  We were successful against Green Bay, but we were a trainwreck against San Diego.  Maybe it WAS just the weather and other circumstances that prevented us from playing our best last week, or maybe that’s just how it’s going to go:  the best teams are going to go no-huddle, and sometimes we’ll win, and sometimes we’ll lose.  The bad thing about that is:  if we want the #1 seed again, we can’t afford to lose too many games.  Three is about the limit.  We’ve already lost one, with Denver coming to town in a few days.  If we start the season 1-2, it’s going to require a ton of effort and a lot of luck to get back to 13-3.

I’m not in “Sky Is Falling” mode just yet.  I won’t even be in “Sky Is Falling” mode if we lose to the Broncos this weekend.  I know that our schedule has an 8-game creamy center of easiness that should have us red hot by the time we play the 49ers and Eagles in late November/early December.  I also know that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.  No one ever won a Super Bowl in September.  I’d MUCH rather we play our best football in December and January instead of right now.

But, while slow starts aren’t necessarily fatal, they can hurt an awful lot.  For my own peace of mind, I’d be delighted to see the Seahawks stick to taking care of business against these pass-first offenses like they’re supposed to.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) – Until further notice, this year will resemble 2013 in a lot of ways:  it’s the Seahawks & Broncos in some order at the top, and then everyone else.  No loss to an old AFC West foe – that we will never face again this year – will change that.
  2. Denver Broncos (2-0) – The proof will be in the pudding this weekend as the Broncos travel to Seattle.  They’re 2-0 at home with a couple comfortable 1-score victories.  Let’s see if they can take their show on the road in their toughest matchup of the year.
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) – This is as complete a team as it gets, with their feisty defense.  Losing A.J. Green isn’t ideal, so it’ll be interesting to see how they manage until his return.
  4. New Orleans Saints (0-2) – The defense scares me, but it also hasn’t had a chance to get a home game under its belt.  My feeling is that it can’t get much worse, and the offense will start clicking.  Bank on the Saints being one of those rare 0-2 teams to win a division.
  5. New England Patriots (1-1) – Start on the road in 3 of their first 4 and 4 of their first 6 games of the season.  That’s rough.  They’re still good (though, it’s possible Miami is better than we thought).
  6. San Francisco 49ers (1-1) – Hahahaha, I can’t believe I gave up on that Bears game and they ended up coming back to win!  What a gift!  49ers still look pretty strong, considering their injuries.  But, if their offense doesn’t take the next step, this team will be doomed.
  7. San Diego Chargers (1-1) – Well, they blew a late lead on the road against what appears to be a better-than-expected Cardinals team.  Then, they gave the Seahawks the business.  This team’s legit.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) – Yes, they’re undefeated, and yes, their offense is explosive.  But, it should probably be concerning that they keep starting games so shabbily.
  9. Green Bay Packers (1-1) – Is it possible the Packers are WORSE than expected?  Well, I didn’t expect them to win their division, so maybe they’re just “as expected” in my book.
  10. Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – If they can continue to play teams tough, even without Carson Palmer, that doesn’t make me feel good.  Their immediate future is a little rocky with games against the 49ers, Broncos, and Eagles coming up in the next few weeks; I don’t think they stay a Top 10 team for long.
  11. Carolina Panthers (2-0) – I must say, this is a pleasant surprise if you don’t hate the Panthers.  I still have my doubts that they’ll be able to continue winning over the long haul, but they’re clearly not the bottom-feeders I thought originally.
  12. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) – You look at Andrew Luck - if you’re an objective football viewer and not necessarily a fan of either the Colts or the Seahawks – and you think:  yeah, I’d rather have him over Russell Wilson.  I guess he passes the eyeball test or whatever.  But, he’s streaky!  He goes through long periods of sucking before turning it on.  Yes, he’s able to generate breathtaking comebacks in those games where they start so poorly, but you have to ask yourself:  is he part of the problem?  Or, conversely, if you swapped quarterbacks, and Luck got to enjoy all the talent around him that the Seahawks have to offer (along with a coaching staff that preaches ball control and plays a different style of offense than the Colts), would he be better than he is right now, on the Colts?  Would Wilson be remarkably worse if he played in Indy and had a crap defense with no running game and a pass-first mentality?  These are the questions.  I don’t necessarily have the answers, though.
  13. Baltimore Ravens (1-1) – I’m still in wait-and-see mode with this team.  They strike me as a team right around .500, but who knows?
  14. Chicago Bears (1-1) – So, they lay an egg at home against the Bills, then they lay another egg on the road in San Francisco before getting hot in the 4th quarter to steal one.  Again, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m still not buying the Bears as a legitimate playoff team.
  15. Detroit Lions (1-1) – Well, they’ve beat up on a terrible Giants team, then got throttled by a sneaky good Panthers team.  Probably not the start they envisioned, but then again I don’t think the rest of the teams in that division are all that great either.
  16. Atlanta Falcons (1-1) – You put a good defense in front of Matt Ryan and he’s going to struggle.  The good news is, they don’t play what I would consider another “good” defense for another nine weeks.  And, by then, who knows where the Panthers will be?
  17. Miami Dolphins (1-1) – No, I don’t think Buffalo is all that good.  I think the Dolphins kicked one they should’ve won.  Their schedule going forward is pretty cheesy, so they SHOULD still be able to parlay that into a good record.  But, watch out for games like we saw last weekend, because they’ll show up again.
  18. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) – That’s a bad team right there.  But, they’re in a bad division and their offense is kinda okay.  If they manage to stick with the run game, their offense could even be GREAT.  Or, at least good enough to keep them in enough ballgames to be interesting.
  19. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) – They’re screwed.  They’re even more screwed if Jamaal Charles goes down.
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) – Probably not as bad as that Thursday performance, but still not very good.  Their defensive line is shot, their secondary is less-than-ideal, and their cap situation is a joke.  You’re going to hear the words “Blow Up” when it comes to the Steelers more than a few times this year.  These are the lean times.
  21. Buffalo Bills (2-0) – Well, if any city deserves a pleasant surprise, it’s Buffalo.  I wouldn’t expect it to last though.
  22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) – Lost two home games and two conference games (one in the division).  THAT’S what we call a bad start.  Every year, I get sucked into the Bucs and every year they come out of the gate in a fucking coma.  Now, they play three straight on the road, starting with tonight in Atlanta (followed by Pittsburgh and New Orleans).  Can you say 0-5?
  23. Tennessee Titans (1-1) – They won a game 26-10 and lost a game 26-10.  Those are weird scores to have in a football game, let alone in back-to-back games.  That’s all I have to say about the Titans.
  24. New York Jets (1-1) – I’m even more interested in what the Jets have to offer after almost sticking it to the Packers.  They’re not a good team, don’t get me wrong; but can they be decent?
  25. Cleveland Browns (1-1) – I know the Browns can be decent!  Do they weirdly have the Saints’ number, or is it just me?
  26. Washington Redskins (1-1) – I’m definitely more afraid of the Redskins with Cousins than I am with RGIII.  A lot of unhappy fantasy owners this week.
  27. St. Louis Rams (1-1) – You still have to write off the Rams, right?  Yeah, I think so.  I think so …
  28. Houston Texans (2-0) – Yes, they’re undefeated, but they’ve only played the dregs of the league.  Washington and Oakland?  No thank you.
  29. New York Giants (0-2) – This team is amazingly bad and in need of a total overhaul from top to bottom.  They remind me a lot of the 2008/2009 Seahawks.
  30. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) – I don’t know how much you can learn about a team that’s faced one of the worst teams (with a ton of injuries) and one of the best teams.  One thing is for certain:  Matt Cassel needs to be out of football.
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-2) – Derek Carr isn’t quite the world-beater I thought he was going to be.  Then again, they’ve faced two pretty solid defenses with the Texans and Jets.  Doesn’t get much easier with the Patriots and Dolphins coming up.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) – In a freak occurrence, they took a 17-0 lead against the Eagles.  They have since been outscored 75-10.  Worst team in football, you’ve returned to me!

Week 24 Random Mariners Thoughts

This one’s coming to you a little late this week because it’s football season and I feel a pressing need to be a little more timely with my football coverage than my baseball coverage.

So, the Mariners sure did suck last week.  Lost 2 of 3 to Houston and followed that up with losing 2 of 3 to Oakland.  Going into last night’s game, the Mariners were on a 2-6 streak that somehow still had them in the playoff picture, but didn’t instill a whole lot of confidence in their abilities to follow through on their potential.  Luckily, Oakland and Kansas City both lost last night, while the Mariners brought the apocalypse down in Anaheim to the tune of a 13-2 victory, so we’re officially only 1 game out of the second wild card spot and 2 games out of the first wild card spot.

Here’s the deal.  The Mariners can’t afford ANY more dry spells.  There are 12 games left.  These have to be the best 12 games of our lives!  While we can’t necessarily count on the Royals to fall in the tank these next couple weeks, there is room for optimism.

For instance, tonight, the Royals go up against Chris Sale and the White Sox.  If Sale can just be a buddy for once and destroy them, that’d be awful nice.  Then, the Royals host the Tigers for three games over the weekend.  In that series, Verlander and Scherzer are set to pitch on Saturday and Sunday.  You have to like the Tigers’ chances in those games.  Then, on Monday, the Royals supposedly have to finish out a game against the Indians that was postponed because of rain.  That game – again, supposedly, because I’m still not finding it on their schedule anywhere – is in the 10th inning with the Royals losing by 2 runs.  Why they didn’t just call the game there, I’ll never know.  Anyway, you’d think that would be a loss.  They follow that up with three full games in Cleveland.  The Indians aren’t great, but they’ve got a winning record.  Lastly, the Royals go to Chicago for four against the White Sox to close out the season.  Somehow, they miss Sale in this turn, so that’s a real bummer.  Nevertheless, you won’t find a bigger White Sox fan on the planet that weekend.

As for the A’s, I’m less optimistic that we’ll be able to catch them.  Yes, they lost to the Rangers last night, but I don’t think you can really count on a team like the Rangers playing spoiler for you.  They get two more against them before Philadelphia and their trainwreck comes to town for three.  THEN, there’s three more home games to follow, this time against the Angels.  They’ve got 8 games left of a 9-game homestand before they close out the year with four down in Texas.  9 of their remaining 12 games are against God-awful teams.  It would be a real miracle if the A’s continued to sputter (their series in Seattle notwithstanding) down the stretch.

I’m still not optimistic in the Mariners’ chances of making the playoffs, but yesterday sure was fun.  If we can somehow keep this going through the rest of this road trip, it would make me awfully happy.

Huskies Are Starting To Hit Their Stride

After the first game in Hawaii, it was pretty clear:  the offense needed to improve.  We needed more consistency out of our quarterback position and our running game.  For week 2 against Eastern, we got Cyler Miles back.  He wasn’t amazing or anything, but he was steady.  And, it didn’t really matter, because our running game went off the hook.  But, the defense took a huge step back as we faced a terrific passing attack.

We knew – going into this Illinois game – that we’d be facing another up-tempo, pass-first offense.  So, if our D didn’t come to play, we’d be stuck in another shootout with another inferior team.

Thankfully, the Huskies put it all together.  The passing game was good, but a little unnecessary, as we again rushed for well over 200 yards (246 to be exact).  The offense as a whole piled up 465 yards.  And, the defense came to play.  Yeah, the fighting Illini racked up 351 yards of their own, but they weren’t exactly harmful.

When you talk about this game, you have to talk about Shaq Thompson and his two interceptions returned for touchdowns.  Or, I guess, nevermind.  One was an interception, one was a fumble return.  Forgive me, on Saturday I spent all morning drinking at the tailgate, then was sort of hungover for most of the game, as is what happens when you stop drinking.  But, yeah, Shaq had his hands all over this game.

The defense as a whole forced three turnovers.  They kept Illinois to a 1 for 11 success rate on converting third downs (1 for 1 on 4th down, but that’s neither here nor there).  They limited their rushing attack to 2.8 yards per carry.  Yeah, 19 points kind of sounds like a lot, but they didn’t get their first touchdown until the Huskies had 35 points on the board.  Their other touchdown happened in the third quarter, and then there was nothing.  Considering how much we were up by in this game, and factoring in all the reserves that probably got playing time on defense, I’d say holding them to 19 is pretty good.

This is exactly the game the Huskies needed.  Something where it was all put together.  THIS is what the Chris Petersen Huskies should look like going forward.  Everyone is familiar with the scheme and the play-calling.  Everyone has had a chance to get their feet wet and ease into this season.  On top of that, we play a very hapless Georgia State team this Saturday, which will push our record to 4-0.

And that’s the most important part:  the Huskies are undefeated.  We may not be ranked anymore, but we’re still in this thing.  We’ve survived our rough patch and in a couple weeks, we should be totally prepared for REAL football to start.

The Seahawks Got They Ass Whupped By The Chargers

Yeah, so that was unpleasant.  At least the 49ers lost, so we don’t have to listen to their shit about being the best team in the division.  At your home opener?  For your new stadium?  Against the Bears?  Who blew up my Eliminator spot in week 1 because they couldn’t beat the fucking Bills at home?

Let’s start over.

Yeah, so that was unpleasant.  It was over 100 degrees on the field.  The Chargers’ offense held the ball for over 40 minutes.  We couldn’t get them off the field on third down, so they had a bunch of long drives.  And, frankly, we weren’t NEARLY as efficient on offense as I thought we’d be.

Yesterday’s game was my worst nightmare.  If I could conjure a nightmare scenario as it applies to the San Diego Chargers, yesterday was it.  Philip Rivers being all efficient and getting the ball out quick.  Our defense being faced with lots of 3rd & shorts that we can’t stop from converting.  The Chargers running up the score and us helplessly flailing 1-2 scores behind every step of the way.  A last-gasp effort with time running out at the end of the game, squashed by what’s normally a fairly ordinary pass rush (made all the more effective because the threat of the run has been taken away).

Every loss is a team effort.  But, I like to point to certain plays here and there that essentially “flip” a game like this.

4:13 left in the 3rd quarter.  On 3rd & 7, Rivers scrambles out of bounds at the Seattle 23 yard line for a 1-yard gain.  If that play stands, it’s a 40-yard field goal try to make the score 23-14.  If we’re lucky, he misses that field goal and it’s still a 1-score game.  The only problem is, Bruce Irvin needlessly shoved Rivers when he was two feet out of bounds to give them a first down.  That not only kept our defense on the field for another minute and change (and another three plays in that oppressive heat, when they collectively thought they’d done enough to get the offense off the field), but it eventually gave San Diego another touchdown and a 27-14 lead.

That’s a big play.  The Seahawks went and drove for a touchdown on the very next drive to bring it back to a 1-score game, but ultimately that’s where we stalled.  That’s ultimately where both teams stalled, as neither one of us could do much in the fourth quarter.

However, there’s a BIG difference between being down by a field goal and being down by a touchdown.  Yes, you can argue that the Seahawks didn’t do much of anything on offense after they got to 21 points, but I can argue that the play-calling probably changes when we only need 3 points to win instead of 7.  Of course, that goes both ways, but with only a 1-score lead, I can assure you that the Chargers were most definitely playing to get another field goal and make it a 2-score lead.  You’re playing the champs, how could you not?

The other thing I’ll say is, holy Hell were the Chargers lucky!  Their offense put the ball on the turf three times and they recovered all three.  Play that game again 100 more times and you might not see them recover all three again.  That’s some flukey shit right there.  On top of that, there was the Harvin fumble on the kickoff return where you see him bring his other arm to wrap up and protect the football right before he’s hit; I STILL don’t know how he let go of that ball!  They got that one too, to account for four fumbles in total.  That’s just unreal, plain and simple.

The bottom line is, though, the Chargers did it.  They took it to us, they played their little hurry-up offense to keep us from substituting as much as we’d like, they took advantage of the oppressive heat, and they kicked our asses.  What does it mean?  Not much.  In the long run, this isn’t a bad loss to have.  And not because too many on the Seahawks were “arrogant” or otherwise not taking the game seriously (which I don’t believe for a second); and not because the Chargers “wanted it more” or it was otherwise “more important” to them (which is complete and utter bullshit; it was equally as important to both teams).

Why isn’t this bad?  Because they’re in the AFC.  Losing games to teams in the opposite conference isn’t as bad as losing them to teams within your conference (or division, for that matter).  It won’t factor in any tie-breaker beyond overall win/loss record.  On top of that, the Chargers aren’t going to be in the Super Bowl.  We’re not going to have to see them again this year or in any of the next few years.  This is exactly like the Colts loss last year:  essentially meaningless, and taking place early-enough in the season to not be a total burden.

What did this game prove?  That we’re not perfect.  That our defense isn’t infallible.  That we struggle like most teams would in 100+ degree weather on the road.  That it takes pretty much everything going against us for another team to make us look bad.  They had the breaks.  ALL the breaks.  We had a Percy Harvin touchdown where his foot looked like it touched the sideline (but, still, with the way we moved the ball, I’m pretty convinced we still would’ve scored the touchdown on that drive anyway).

This isn’t the same as losing to the Broncos, or the Packers, or the 49ers.  This is an anomaly.  The Chargers didn’t unlock some secret treasure chest that has the power to shut us down.  They just out-played us and got REALLY lucky in the process.  I’ll be more concerned if the Broncos come to town next week and do the same thing.

The NFL schedule-makers really screwed us to start the season.  Three games and then a BYE, with all three games being three tough matchups.  We were near-flawless in the opener, and we sunk like a stone yesterday.  After Denver and the week off, we go on a nice little run of patsies:  Redskins, Cowboys, Rams, Panthers, Raiders, Giants, Chiefs, and Cardinals.  Four on the road, four at home.  No reason to think we won’t go 8-0 in that stretch.  Losing one (or two) AFC West games shouldn’t be a problem if we take care of business the rest of the way.

I don’t have a lot of kudos to spread around.  I thought Kearse looked really good.  Lynch still looks like an animal out there.  Zach Miller had one of the worst games of his career.  Doug Baldwin had a couple drops of balls he normally brings in.  I thought the Seahawks were being dummies by constantly leaving a linebacker (mostly Wright) on Antonio Gates after he started torching us.  I thought the pass rush was decent, but could rarely get all the way home (and that was a big problem against a pro like Rivers).  I thought the offensive line looked good, but there were key mistakes and penalties that ultimately prevented us from getting to 30 points.  Russell Wilson didn’t play his greatest (one play in particular was a missed opportunity:  a fly sweep to Harvin looked like it could have been pulled back for a QB-keeper for a long gain, as there was nothing but green to the right of the line; in the end, the sweep to Harvin ended up being a huge loss and helped stall a drive late).

Seahawks To Visit Chargers

I have a hard time knowing how to feel about this game.  Obviously, there’s an undercurrent of great excitement, as it’s FOOTBALL SEASON and this is only the second game of said season.  But, should I be nervous about a matchup against a quick-tempo offense on the road?  Or, should I be cocky, because we’re the champs and so obviously the best team in football?

By all rights, the Seahawks SHOULD win this game.  I don’t know about covering point spreads and all that, but at the end of the day the Seahawks should have at least one more point than the other team.  You could realistically say that every week and you wouldn’t be crazy.

But, wonky shit happens.  Like, for instance, let me take you back to a few weeks ago when me and my friends had our fantasy football draft.  I was fortunate enough to have the number one draft pick.  Since this is a 2-QB, 2-Keeper PPR league, I had my quarterback position set and all I needed to do was bust out with the skill position players that remained.  The best player – in my estimation, for fantasy purposes – was Jimmy Graham.  So, I took him #1.  And, as it’s a snake draft – like I assume most of you have to deal with – since I picked first, I didn’t get to pick again until the 20th & 21st picks.  Not gonna lie to you, A LOT of good players went off the board in those first 19 picks.  But, I still managed to wrangle in Alfred Morris and Keenan Allen.

That last name might sound familiar.  No, this isn’t an excuse for me to recap the entirety of my fantasy football draft; I’m here to tell you that I think SO HIGHLY of one Keenan Allen and his potential to be a star in this league, that I made him the very first wide receiver chosen for my fantasy football team.  And yet, this week, I’m benching Allen in favor of T.Y. Hilton’s matchup against the Eagles, because I don’t think Allen is going to be someone worth starting.

So, if I feel so strongly about benching a really good player, I MUST have a pretty strong feeling about the Seahawks winning this game!

And you’d be right.  But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t nagging doubts burrowing into my guts.  Keenan Allen will have the freedom to move all around the field, so it’s not like he’s going to have Richard Sherman locking him down like he did Patrick Peterson last week.  It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Allen rip off 10 receptions for over 100 yards and really make me look like a fucking idiot.  Nevertheless, the rest of that Seahawks defense is pretty great, so even IF Allen gets his share of targets and receptions, I highly doubt he’s going to reach the endzone.

As for San Diego as a whole, I’m nervous.  When Philip Rivers gets on a roll, he’s the most unstoppable quarterback in the league.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen a quarterback get as hot as Rivers in a game – MAYBE Kurt Warner, but it’s rare.  That isn’t to say that Rivers is one of the greatest of all time.  Maybe in San Diego history, but not in NFL history, that’s for damn sure.  When Rivers ISN’T on a hot streak, he generally looks befuddled and makes bad decisions.  Not to the point of a Jay Cutler or a Tony Romo, but not too far off either.

Aside from Allen, I don’t really like their skill position players.  Antonio Gates is washed up and should easily be locked down by one of our linebackers.  Malcom Floyd is tall, but he’s not particularly speedy.  He fits right into that mold of receiver that our cornerbacks – Sherman and Maxwell – can dominate.  Ryan Matthews is nothing special at running back.  Danny Woodhead is the NFL equivalent of one of those try-hard, gritty white guys in baseball.  He’s football’s Willie Bloomquist.

Of course, none of that matters if Rivers gets going.  We’ve got to find a way to harass him on a consistent basis.

For the Seahawks, I think this game is going to shed a light on what this team is really capable of.  Defensively, will this game prove that we’ve taken a step back from our crazy heights of 2013?  Or, will it show that we’ve still got it and we’re still the best in the game?  Offensively, will we be able to take our show on the road?  It’s one thing to be at home and line up Percy Harvin all over the field and have him running around, driving defenses crazy.  You’re comfortable there.  Mistakes are mitigated at home, whereas they’re compounded on the road.  I think this offense has the ability to be truly great and to average over 30 points per game.  But, if we’re going to be great, we have to be able to do that anywhere.

San Diego is the perfect team to play, in a lot of ways.  They’re good, but not great.  It’s a road game, but it’s not that far away.  They made the playoffs last year and know what it takes to succeed, but they were never really a serious contender and it’s tough to think they’re one this year either.  They’ve got a good quarterback and a young, tricky defense.  If we shut them down on both sides of the ball, we look like a juggernaut.  If we struggle and win in a close game, it’s somewhat to be expected because of all the aforementioned positives surrounding the Chargers in this game.  If we lose, well, then we’ll know where we’re deficient and what we need to work on.

But, I really don’t think we’ll lose.  And that’s what makes this game REALLY exciting.  Beating up on the dregs of the league has its moments; you generally get to enjoy a relaxing – somewhat boring – afternoon of football.  But, beating the good ones?  Really pounding it in that we’re the best and you’re not even in our league?  That’s taking bliss to another level.

If I could, I’d leapfrog today and tomorrow and make it Sunday morning right now.

The Remaining Schedule & Pitching Matchups of the Seattle Mariners

Gonna make this really quick.  Here’s the upcoming schedule for the rest of the season:

Hey there, good lookin' ...

Hey there, good lookin’ …

I like looking at pitching matchups and trying to glean what’s going to happen.  In this scenario, there is everything to like.

Today, we’ve got Iwakuma going against whatever a Tropeano is; that should be a win.

Against Oakland, we’ve got Paxton/Felix/Young vs. Hammel/Gray/Lester.  SOMEHOW, we’ve got to win 2 of 3, and frankly, I like our chances in those first two games.  None of those games will be walk-overs, but I have to believe the Mariners will have adjusted to Hammel by the time we play him a second time.

Then, we go on the road for four in Anaheim.  We’re losing that Monday game, because Shoemaker looks like a stud.  But, the other three?  I like our chances to go 3-1 against the leader of the West.

That brings us down to Houston where we THANKFULLY avoid Collin McHugh.  The three starters they’ve got in his place that series are eminently beatable, so unless our offense goes in the tank, we should be able to sweep that one.

This brings us to four games in Toronto.  Paxton and Felix are slated to go the first two games, with Young and Elias going the next two.  No Toronto starter scares me at all, so another best-case scenario is us beating them all four times (don’t scoff; we managed to sweep them in three games in Safeco in August).

Finally, closing out the season, we have Anaheim here in Seattle.  If the rotation holds, Iwakuma would lead us off, followed by Paxton, and Felix going in the finale if necessary.  They face the same combo we’ll see in Anaheim next week:  Shoemaker/Rasmus/Wilson.  Avoiding Weaver is always a plus, so that’s cool.

Best-case scenario:  the Mariners go 15-3, easily secure one of the Wild Card spots, and possibly make things interesting in the division (but, ultimately lose it by a comfortable margin).

A more-realistic scenario has the Mariners going 11-7, ending the season 90-72.  In this scenario, I have the Mariners going 2-2 to close out the homestand, 2-2 in Anaheim, and losing 1 game per series the rest of the way.  Is 90-72 enough to get us in the playoffs?  To be honest, I’m starting to have my doubts.

Here’s to hoping that the Mariners go on a huge run very soon to end the season.

Ray Rice Is A Piece Of Shit

Let’s see, how do we twist this into being appropriate for a Seattle sports blog?  I know!  Ray Rice sucks at football and I hope the Seahawks never sign him.

With that out of the way …

We’ve all seen the original video of Ray Rice’s then-girlfriend (now-wife) being dragged out of an elevator, unconscious.  As it was just the two of them in there, it was pretty obvious what had happened:  he beat the shit out of her.  I can’t rightly remember if there was any admission of guilt or what happened after that; all I know is:  he didn’t go to prison, she stuck by his side, and he ended up getting a 2-game suspension for his troubles.

Then, yesterday, TMZ finally got a hold of the video from inside the elevator and unleashed it upon the world.  In the video, you get a clear view of Ray Rice beating the shit out of her, which is what we all assumed happened in the first place.

As you can probably tell, aside from seeing snippets of the original video, I didn’t follow this story all that closely.  Seemed to me that it was an obvious case of abuse.  I guess I just forgot about it as time passed, as I don’t remember ever hearing about what happened with his criminal case.  I guess she didn’t want to press charges?  That doesn’t matter, of course; the state obviously has the right to press charges independently – which, GOOD GOD, how did they let this one slip through the cracks?

What it all boils down to is:  everyone fucked up.  The state fucked up for not prosecuting his ass to the full extent of the law.  The NFL fucked up by only suspending him for two games.  The media fucked up as it collectively shrugged its shoulders instead of digging further into this issue (seriously, how did it take so long for this video to get out, and why is TMZ doing all the heavy lifting when these supposedly serious media outlets like the New York Times, CNN, et al, are sitting back picking goobers out of their asses?).  The main issue at hand seems to be:  no one saw the video from inside the elevator and no one who mattered (the district attorney, the commissioner, the head honchos of the Ravens) even WANTED to see the video.

How does that happen?  I can see why the NFL wanted to sweep this under the rug:  they don’t need any more negative press in this post-Aaron Hernandez world.  Plus, Ray Rice and his lady friend kissed and made up, so all the better.  Just a bump on the road to a happy marriage!  But, how does the district attorney not see the video?  And if they did, how do they let that pass?

If there’s one thing you know about the world we’re living in, it’s that the skeletons will ALWAYS make their way out of the closet.  Just ask Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton and any other celebrity who’s had their phones hacked and their naked selfies distributed throughout the Internet.  Everyone KNEW there was video from inside the elevator.  I’m sure that was one of the first questions asked when people started sniffing around this investigation.  It’s one thing for the NFL to sit down and take the plea of the victim to heart.  But, to ONLY go by that plea – of a victim who may or may not have been under duress – is pretty stupid when you know there’s a video out there that will be leaked.  It’s only a matter of time.  And, in this case, time came up yesterday.

At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got an unimaginable amount of stupidity.  On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got corrupt, evil fuckheaditude.  Everyone involved in the decision to not send Ray Rice to jail, to not suspend him for more than two games, to not ban him indefinitely right from the start, falls somewhere on that spectrum.  And, if the story is true - that they wanted to remain willfully ignorant to try to cover their asses if-and-when the shit hit the fan – then that falls much closer to evil fuckheaditude in my book.

As for Ray Rice, yeah, he’s a piece of shit.  He deserves to be kicked out of the NFL.  He deserves to lose out on endorsement deals.  He deserves to have his dream end right here.  Whether that’s actually what’s going to happen remains to be seen.  I mean, shit, Michael Vick is back in football and he’s practically the devil (or, at the very least, Cruella de Vil … OH MY GOD THAT’S ACTUALLY HOW DISNEY SPELLS HER NAME!).  If you’re in any way invested in this story, you probably despise Ray Rice because he beats women.

For starters, no, it’s not okay to beat women.  But, really, it’s not okay to beat on ANYONE.  Especially if you’re a big, strong football player and you’re clocking someone half your size.  But, that’s neither here nor there.

Keith Olbermann had a nice little rant last night.  Here it is, if you somehow missed it.  I generally like Olbermann.  Some people think he’s a pompous blowhard, but that’s because he IS a pompous blowhard.  But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have valid points on a wide range of topics.  I was right there with him on his Ray Rice stuff, until the very end, when he talked about the NFL being boycotted by all of us if the commissioner isn’t banned and if Baltimore’s executives aren’t fired.

For starters, I seriously doubt – if Olbermann is any kind of serious professional football fan – that he’s going to sit there on Sunday with his arms folded, watching TCM classic movies or some damn thing when his favorite team is playing on the other channel.  But, he does raise a good point about fandom.

What would have to happen to get you to stop watching the NFL?

The answer to that question is different for everyone.  For the casual fan, who doesn’t really have a favorite team and isn’t all that invested in the goings on, it probably wouldn’t take much.  They could take on Keith Olbermann’s challenge to boycott the NFL and probably not lose a whole lot of sleep.  But, for the hardcore addicts out there, what are we supposed to do?

I’ve been watching the NFL since I was a small child.  I’ve been a Seahawks fan for practically my whole life (minus a period in the 90s when I would troll my family and root against this hapless organization just to get a rise out of them).  Football is my favorite sport and so much of my autumns are dictated by what’s going on on Sundays.  Fantasy Football, Pick ‘Em, Eliminator Pools (which I somehow always manage to lose in week 1), and the games the Seahawks are involved in.  I spend $200 just to get NFL Sunday Ticket for my computer, so I’m not stuck watching the dregs that Fox and CBS make me watch.  There’s nothing romantic about my affiliation with football, but it does dominate many of my conversations, just as it fills my days leading up to the game, reading countless articles and blogs on the topic.

Really, it’s more disease than anything else.  The NFL is a cancer flowing through my body; I’m powerless to resist its charms!

The only way I’d stop watching the NFL is if the Seahawks were bought out and moved to another city.  And even then … I do like the Atlanta Falcons an awful lot; I suppose it wouldn’t take much to just bump my affinity over there …

So, does that make me an accessory after the fact?  Am I implicitly condoning Ray Rice’s actions?  Of course not, don’t be silly.  For starters, I’m not a fan of Ray Rice.  I’m not a fan of the Baltimore Ravens.  Hell, I’m not REALLY even a fan of the NFL.  I’m a fan of the Seattle Seahawks.  I can dislike how the NFL runs its organization, I can disagree with certain rules and policies – hell, I can VEHEMENTLY disagree – yet still be a fan of the product.

I can do that, just as I can do that with the United States of America.  There’s a lot about this country I find fucked up and retarded.  I think all politicians are corrupt pieces of shit only out for their own interests.  I think the drug laws in this country are ridiculous.  I think the medical health and insurance industries are sucking this country dry.  But, you know what?  There are parts of this country I really like too.  I’m not going to boycott America just because it’s run by assholes and fuck ups, just like I’m not going to boycott the NFL because it’s run by the same.

What interests me more is how Ravens fans reconcile themselves with what they’ve seen on these videos.  Ray Rice has been such a huge part of that team for so long now; he helped bring them an NFL championship and was certainly well on his way to a Ring of Honor spot (or whatever they call their organizational hall of fame).  This would be equivalent to Marshawn Lynch beating the shit out of his significant other in an elevator and seeing it all on video.

How would I handle that?  I’ve always been of the opinion that I don’t care what these people do in their personal lives, as long as they help the team win.  If someone drives drunk or does drugs or gets arrested for some other reason, I don’t care!  Now, obviously, in such a high-profile situation as this, it ends up working itself out:  Ray Rice is off the team and out of the league.  So, if I’m a Ravens fan, I can continue being a Ravens fan without being a specific fan of Ray Rice.

With me, it’s always about the team.  Which would make it a little more difficult to reconcile my feelings about the team president and general manager also turning a blind eye to the whole thing.  MAYBE, they were directed by the NFL front office to let it go.  MAYBE, they were directed by ownership to let it go.  Or, maybe they just didn’t want to rock the boat.  Players could look at the team tacking on games to a player’s suspension as being quite antagonistic.  The NFL is supposed to dole out the punishment, not the team they’re trying to win games for.  But, I’m not buying that.  If it were me, and I was a fan of the Ravens, I’d want the organization to take a hard line, even harder than the NFL’s.  Maybe not on its asinine substance abuse policy, where you can be suspended just by drinking in your own home, but certainly on something like domestic violence.

Look at it this way, the University of Washington and Chris Petersen just suspended Marcus Peters for the next game because of a personal foul penalty in the previous game, followed by Peters allegedly throwing a tantrum on the sideline when he was taken out of the game.  I don’t like not having one of our best defenders on the field against Illinois – especially when our secondary is so maligned – but I LOVE that he’s sending the message to other players that this crap won’t be tolerated.

It should be that way for the Ravens and frankly, it should be that way for the NFL.

I have no sympathy for a multi-millionaire who fucks up his own life.  Ray Rice had the golden goose and now it’s gone.  Is it an unfair standard?  Sure it is.  A regular Joe probably isn’t losing his job and his primary means to earn a living just because he beats up his wife.  Then again, a regular Joe is probably going to see some jail time for his crimes, because he’s not a multi millionaire who can buy his way out of these things.

But, make no mistake, Ray Rice isn’t in this shit because he’s a woman beater.  He’s in this shit because he beat a woman, it was caught on video, and that video leaked to the world.  Let none of us delude ourselves as we condemn this man.  We’ve been tacitly endorsing this behavior since the game began and started to get huge.

You think Ray Rice is the first NFL player to beat the shit out of his girlfriend or wife?  You think YOU’RE free from guilt because no one on your favorite team was arrested or kicked off the team?  Think again.  Just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.  Hell, we still DO hear about it, and those players don’t necessarily suffer the slings and arrows that Ray Rice has felt (Greg Hardy, anyone?).

I know I’m supporting a league that supports domestic violence.  That supports its players pretty much doing anything they want – up to and including murder, Ray Lewis – and getting away with it because they’re rich and famous and too big to fail.  I also support a league that extorts cities into paying for stadia even though its teams are owned by some of the richest men in the world.

But, you know what?  When I eat my Taco Del Mar burrito, I don’t sit around thinking about how the meat got processed.  When I have a beer, I don’t think about all the millions of alcoholics who have ruined their lives.  That’s how it is with the NFL.  When I sit down to watch the Seahawks thump their next opponent, I’m not thinking about all the nasty, evil shit the NFL is involved with.  If I did that, if I lived my life that way, I’d never find an ounce of joy in anything.  My whole life would be consumed with hating everything because it’s somehow, tangentially related to something that’s despicable.

Seriously, think about it.  Think about all the things in your life that either bring you joy or keep you alive.  Your job, where you shop, the movies you watch, the magazines you read, the food you eat, the country you live in, the city you call home.  If you lived your life boycotting all the things you find fault in, as Keith Olbermann might suggest, you’d be the most insufferable prick in the world or you’d be dead.

Sometimes, you just have to let things go.  I know that’s not how things get done and how great social change is enacted, but leave all that shit to the people who actually give a damn.  Because either way, they’re going to find a way to complain and voice their complaints until the rancor and outrage is at its zenith.  I’ll be over here, watching football on Sunday with a beer in one hand and a pork burrito in the other, refreshing my fantasy football page on my laptop, with an erection at full mast, wondering just how in the hell it can get any better than this.

Huskies Beat Eagles 8 TDs & 1 FG to 7 TDs & 1 FG

So, that game against Eastern Washington, amirite?

I had a really odd feeling throughout that game.  For starters, I was in a bar having lunch as the game kicked off and Washington raced out to a 21-0 lead.  The Eagles fumbled on a kickoff with their first possession, and contrary to popular belief, the Huskies actually DID manage to force them to punt – one time – on their second possession.  Nevertheless, even with a 21-point lead, I couldn’t help feeling like it wasn’t safe.  That NOTHING would be safe.

Indeed, as the first quarter drew to a close – with Washington up 24-14 in one of the highest-scoring quarters of football I’ve ever seen – we were in a dogfight for the ages.

I watched the rest of the game from home.  And, you know, I saw what you saw:  a defense that couldn’t get out of its own way.  Giving up bombs as well as intermediate & short routes.  Not being able to get off the field on third down (Eastern converted 6 of 12 third downs and 4 of 4 fourth downs).  We gave up 573 yards to one of the top teams in the Football Championship Subdivision.  To be fair, they’re a well-coached and well-recruited college football program.  Also to be fair, the Washington Huskies should be in a completely different class.

But, this wasn’t us playing down to the level of our competition.  Nor was it a lesser school rising to the occasion.  This was simply a matchup nightmare, and I’m not sure there’s anything we could have done from a scheme standpoint or a player personnel standpoint to make the outcome of this game any different.

In spite of all of that, though, I never felt like we were going to lose this one.  For as great as their offense was, ours was just a little bit better.  John Ross is a fucking maniac and I love him to death.  If he manages to stay healthy, he might go down as the greatest wide receiver the Huskies have ever produced.  The numbers might not be there – as we somehow only managed to get him three touches in this game of non-stop scoring – but when all is said and done and he’s making lives miserable in the NFL, we’ll look back and remember with fondness his all-too-brief tenure with the Washington Huskies.

The running game was the real star of the show.  After being shut down for long stretches in the Hawaii game, the Huskies rampaged to the tune of 356 yards on 57 carries for a 6.2 yard average and 7 touchdowns.  Lavon Coleman once again took over, with 17 carries & 118 yards; Dwayne Washington was next on the list with 10 carries and only 35 yards, but he seemed to get a lot of work in the red zone and goalline, as he plowed through for 2 scores.  It’s unfortunate that this great rushing game is completely forgotten thanks to the ineptitude of the defense, but then again, it’s Eastern:  you’re SUPPOSED to run for 356 yards against a smaller school like Eastern.

Cyler Miles, as I hoped, did indeed get the start at quarterback.  He looked as rusty as you’d expect, but he also flashed leadership and ability that we weren’t getting from Lindquist in Hawaii.  Miles ended up throwing for 180 yards and a touchdown (and no turnovers), but he also ran for 58 yards on 12 carries, for three more touchdowns on the ground.

This was the perfect game for him, to be honest.  We needed everything he had on Saturday, and he delivered.  It was a nothing defense, so he was able to work out his kinks and eventually find a rhythm.  But, the game was always close, so he got a full game’s worth of reps that he also desperately needed.  It’s a nice little warmup for him as we take on Illinois this week.  They should be somewhat better defensively, but they shouldn’t be so good that he’s having a hard time doing what we need him to do to win.

In the end, it came down to turnovers, as so many games do.  The Eagles overcame that early-game kickoff return fumble to eventually take a lead in the third quarter, 38-37, and then going into the fourth quarter, 45-44.  But, to kick off the final frame, the Huskies pushed through another TD and a 2-point conversion to take the lead for good.  On the subsequent drive, the Eagles were moving the ball with ease once again, but as they got it into Washington territory, a defender popped out a completed pass for a fumble that we recovered.  The Huskies drove the ball right back down the field and got that 2-score lead to seal the deal.  Obviously, the Eagles scored again to bring it back to 1-score, but the Dawgs were able to run out the last 3+ minutes for the win.

I know everyone’s down on this defense – even though they single-handedly preserved that victory against Hawaii in the second half – but I’m not.  The Eagles were a fucking matchup nightmare as I said before, with a mature quarterback who’s capable of throwing it all over the field.  With the way we’re trying to break in almost an all-new secondary this year, the passing game was always going to be our Achilles heel.  The Eagles just so happen to do it better than most.  I shudder to imagine what our defense is going to do against the likes of the Wildcats, Ducks, Cougars, Beavers, and Bears, but lets hope the kids grow up fast.

I fully expect the Huskies to come out this week against Illinois and put up that complete game they’ve been looking for all season.  Then, we follow that up the following week with another cream puff of a game with Georgia State.  At this point, the Huskies WILL be 4-0 as we all anticipated coming into this season.  I’m more sure of this now than ever before, even after the shitpile of a start we’ve had to this season.  Everyone’s just getting back into the flow of football being back, combined with getting used to the new coaching staff and playbook.  You’re going to have some kinks, because contrary to popular opinion, this isn’t Alabama or Ohio State.  Not yet, anyway.  We’re still working our way back to elite, and this is just another blip on the journey.  By the time we finish our 4-game non-conference schedule, we should be well primed to take on the best of what the Pac-12 has to offer.

  • Miles will have three full games under his belt by then
  • The kinks should be worked out of our pass defense
  • The running back rotation should coalesce into a two-headed monster of Coleman and Washington
  • The offensive coordinator should figure out how to get the ball into the hands of John Ross more than a paltry few times per game
  • The offensive line will have had four full games together and should improve accordingly

All while knowing that our stable of offensive skill positions is stacked.  On top of Ross, I thought Kasen Williams looked solid, especially on that nifty 2-point conversion.  He could be the jump-ball machine we all expected, and it wouldn’t be a moment too soon.

And finally, let’s not forget that this defensive line is doing the lord’s work.  Danny Shelton looks like he’s a first round talent at defensive tackle.  We should be able to keep running games in check while still being able to generate pressure without necessarily sending more than four guys at the quarterback.