Seahawks Slayed The Dragon, Prepare For Next Dragon

I’m not going to make a huge deal about the struggling offense, because yesterday was pretty much our best case scenario.  Like I figured, we needed every ounce of that defensive performance, and BOY was it a sight for sore eyes!  We held them to 3.2 yards per rush, we pressured the quarterback with regularity (finishing with 3 sacks and 8 hits), we held them to 204 total yards, and we plucked an interception out of the air for good measure.  Most everyone, minus Mebane, was healthy and out there making an impact.  We’ll need this type of injury-free effort the rest of the way if we want to make the playoffs.

What I didn’t see coming – really, what I COULDN’T see coming – was the utter dominance of our Special Teams over their Special Teams.  The lone blemish was a missed field goal on our part, but as you can see from the final score, it didn’t matter.  The Cardinals also missed a field goal, as well as had a punt blocked, and overall got massacred in the battle of field position.  In other words, our offense wasn’t able to do much, but in this case, it didn’t have to do too much.

This is the point in the post where I turn around and make myself into a liar by invalidating the first sentence through making a huge deal out of the struggling offense.

I know the Cardinals have a very good defense, so it’s somewhat understandable for a team to settle for field goals in a game like this.  Except, this is by NO MEANS an isolated incident.  The Seahawks have been notoriously awful in the red zone all season long.  Yes, part of it is due to play calling.  But, you can’t absolve the players of their part in this whole thing.

  • The offensive line has struggled at times.  Yes, there have been lots of injuries there, but that’s no excuse.  That’s a problem for the coming offseason, but right now, I’m sick of talking about it.
  • The quarterback has struggled at times.  Part of that is on the O-Line, but part of that is Russell Wilson just not getting the job done.  Missing wide open guys, being late with throws, indecisiveness.  He needs to be better.
  • The wide receivers are all WILDLY out of position.  I know it’s an ongoing theme, but this team misses Golden Tate and it’s driving me crazy.

Then, when you factor in the coaches not putting the players in positions to succeed, you’ve got quite the mess on your hands.  Going away from the run inside the five yard line.  Calling corner-fades when all of our receivers are 6-feet or less.  It’s not even the play-calling that I have a problem with, but the overall lack of creativity within the plays we have to choose from!  I know there’s not a lot you can do when you’re so close to the endzone, but I watch a lot of other teams play football, and they seem to find a way to punch it in WAY more than the Seahawks do.

But, anyway, I’m rambling again.  The Seahawks got the win, and they got it comfortably.  That’s all that matters right now.

Our backs were against the wall.  Ol’ Baby was put in that corner.  We were on the precipice, one foot dangling over the edge of the plank, about to fall to our doom in shark-infested waters.  A loss yesterday would have put the Cardinals at 10-1, while the Seahawks would have fallen to 6-5 and into sole possession of third place in the NFC West.  We would have been 0-2 in the division and hopelessly fighting for a playoff dream nowhere in sight.  God, can you imagine?

Instead, they’re 9-2, we’re 7-4 and tied for second with the 49ers, who we JUST so happen to be playing in three days.  I’ve got no love for Thursday games whatsoever, but I’m going to make an exception for this:  Thanksgiving, at a bar in Bell Town, screaming my God damn head off with all the other degenerates who have nowhere else better to be than a bar on Thanksgiving night.

It’s going to be glorious.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to contain myself in the meantime.

But, let’s roll it back and call out some players of the game.  The offensive line obviously wasn’t at its best, with Carpenter and Unger both out.  They gave up 7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits.  But, they made good adjustments after halftime and looked rather solid in the second half.  It can’t be easy going up against those maniacs in the Arizona front seven; I’m just glad nobody was killed.

Bobby Wagner, WELCOME BACK!  Good lord was he ever missed!  I don’t think I had any idea of his overall value to this defense until we were condemned to playing football games without his leadership, intensity, and oodles of talent holding us all together.  He deserves whatever it takes to keep him here long term.  He above everyone else is the one guy I want extended on that defense.

The difference between Healthy Kam Chancellor and Nagging Injury Kam Chancellor is night and fucking day, let me tell you.  I’ll feel A LOT better about our chances if we can keep Wagner & Chancellor in the lineup every week from here on out.

I feel like Bruce Irvin is THIS CLOSE to really breaking out and becoming a superstar in this defense.  At this point, it’s just a matter of him making the big plays with more regularity, but he’s right there.  If, over these last handful of games, he can step it up, we could be looking at a lethal defense the likes of which we have yet to see (which should be scary for opposing offenses).

Cliff Avril had a couple sacks and was generally a pain in the ass of Drew Stanton all game.  He’s only got 4 sacks on the year, which is a shockingly low number, but I feel like that doesn’t paint the whole picture with him.  From the eyeball test, he has looked quite good this season and is another guy I’d like to see extended, if the price is right.  My hunch is, with everyone else getting healthier around him, Avril is poised to go on a nice little run to close out the season.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him get another 6 sacks in the next five games to really boost his value as he becomes a free agent in the offseason.

Jordan Hill had the other sack in the game, his first of the season.  It’s hard for me to get a handle on him as a football player.  From what I read about him, it’s neither good nor overwhelmingly bad.  He’s sort of Just A Guy.  But, he’s a draft pick, in the second year of his deal, and we have an obvious hole at defensive tackle with Mebane on the shelf.  Now is the time!  There’s really no one else out there we can bring in, so this is his big break.  Over these last few games, we’ll have a pretty good idea of whether he’s a starter, merely a role player, or if he’s someone to be replaced in the coming offseason.  I’d like to see him make that leap toward being someone important for this team, if for no other reason than it’s one less thing we’ve got to worry about.

I don’t have much good to say about the offense.  Another gutty, gritty Russell Wilson performance.  I will say that it’s appallingly frustrating that our rookie wide receivers have yet to really make any impact whatsoever.  When you consider this rookie class of receivers will go down in history as probably the best ever, and you factor in that we have TWO of them who are doing nothing, it’s starting to make my blood boil.  I do understand that wide receivers often take time to really blossom into their full potential, but it sucks when we’re talking about a position of great need and we’re looking at something we’re going to have to invest heavily in again next year.

Although, I bet part of it is the offense not using these guys appropriately.  I did like the whole flea-flicker play to Norwood in yesterday’s game, even if it didn’t work thanks to a great play by Patrick Peterson.  I hope we take more shots like that with him, in a jump-ball setting, to see if he’s got that in his game.  As for Paul Richardson, I don’t know WHAT the fuck they’re doing.  He’s a speed guy; maybe use him for that?  I know we don’t have any sort of vertical passing game to speak of, but how about we TRY letting him run behind the defense down field a few times, just to see if this is a thing we can do.  Why can’t Richardson be the next T.Y. Hilton?  I’m not asking for 10 TDs out of him, but he should be a team leader in yards per reception!

Is this too much to ask?  I’m not saying you have to make these guys the focal points of your offense, but work ‘em in!  Let ‘em do what they do best!  If you INSIST upon these WR screens, can you please just throw it ONE TIME to the fastest guy on the roster?  It feels like Richardson was born to run those.

That’s all I got.  In the meantime, I’m going to try to focus on something other than the impending Thanksgiving showdown.

Every Game Is The Most Important Game For The Seattle Seahawks

On Sunday, the 6-4 Seahawks host the 9-1 Cardinals.  It is the most important game the Seahawks have played all year.

Next Thursday, the Seahawks go to Santa Clara to play the 49ers on Thanksgiving night.  It will be the most important game the Seahawks have played all year.

And so on.

Six games remain.  While they might not all be “must win” games, the Seahawks can’t afford to lose very many more.  At the most, the Seahawks could reasonably lose 2 games and – with help – still clinch a Wild Card spot.  That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, as last year these very Cardinals went 10-6 and were aced out of the playoffs.  This year, as many as seven teams in the NFC are in the hunt for 10 or more wins; and that’s not counting the NFC South which is guaranteed to have one of the coveted six playoff spots by way of someone winning that shitty division.  For an NFC South team to get to ten wins, either the Falcons or Saints would have to win out; I don’t think anyone expects that to happen.

More realistically, the Seahawks need to go 5-1 to be assured of a playoff spot.  Not impossible, but the way they’ve played for practically the entire season, it doesn’t feel too probable.  They’re REALLY going to have to turn it on, starting this Sunday.

To get to 5-1, the Seahawks will likely need to win all their remaining home games, of which there are three.  In that sense, this Sunday’s game IS “must win”.  Not only that, but the Seahawks will have to find a way to go 2-1 on the road, against the 49ers, Eagles, and Cardinals.

The one flaw to the title of this article is:  if the Seahawks lose their next three games, that’ll be it.  There won’t be any more important games on the schedule, because there won’t be any playoffs in our future.  These are truly frightening times.

I can’t say that I feel great about our chances this Sunday, but I’m starting to come around.  It’s just so fucking DAUNTING!  When I look at the Seahawks, I see a team ravaged by injury, who has had an opportunity to win every single game, but has come up short in four of them.  When I look at the Cardinals, I see a team ravaged by injury, who has had an opportunity to lose multiple games, but has come up with the necessary big plays in all but one.  It’s like two people running the same marathon next to one another:  the Seahawks are out there gasping for breath and battling leg cramps; the Cardinals are out there with a bounce in their steps, singing along to the music coming out of their headphones.  You look over, and you know they’re going through the same Hell that you are, and their enjoyment of said Hell just makes yours all the more damning.

The way the Seahawks win this game is all on the defense.  Fortunately, Arizona runs a style of offense that plays right into our hands.  They don’t rush the ball all that well, and they like to take deep shots down the field.  Our secondary is more or less intact and should be able to shut down the deep throws.  So, it’s going to boil down to how well we stop the run in the second game without Mebane.  Hopefully adjustments have been made since the Kansas City game.  Either way, the Cards just aren’t that good at it, so hopefully they don’t find their way on our watch.

On the flipside, the Cardinals have a great defense, especially against the run.  So, don’t count on Beastmode having a typical Beastmode day.  That means it’s going to come down to Russell Wilson.  If he’s able to throw for 300 and/or rush for 100, we’ll probably win this game.  If he’s struggling with his accuracy like he’s done of late, or if they’re able to contain him within the pocket, it’s going to be a long, ugly day.

Gun to my head:  I’m expecting the latter.  The long, ugly day.  Another 17-10 type game like we had here last year.  With Lynch pretty much neutralized, I have my doubts as to how we’re going to score.  The Cards still have a lot of talent in the secondary, so you can bank on Doug Baldwin being a non-factor.  With Zach Miller on the shelf, if we don’t get anything from our remaining tight ends, it’s going to come down to Jermaine Kearse and our rookie receivers.  I’m going to need Kearse to do his best Golden Tate impression, high-pointing balls and making big catches in traffic.  I know he CAN do it, but he sure has shit hasn’t done it all that often this season.

If our offense isn’t able to do its job – which it probably won’t – I worry that this game will look a lot like last year’s home game against this team.  The Cards will try and try and try all game to take shots down field, eventually striking at the worst possible moment late in the game.  It’s been their M.O. all season.  Why wouldn’t it continue now, with the Seahawks reeling, a shell of their former selves?

If you ask me, the line in this game is insane.  That’s the only thing that gives me pause.  The Seahawks favored by 6.5?  I get it, they’re at home, but come on!  Even if I thought the Seahawks were their 2013 selves, this game is destined to be a close one with these two defenses on the field, right?  What am I MISSING?  How is Vegas THIS sure of a Seahawks victory that the line hasn’t moved considerably in Arizona’s direction?

If I were a betting man, I’d put every cent in my bank account on the Cardinals to at least cover.  I’d probably even put a good amount on the Cardinals to win outright.  All signs point to the Cardinals being the better team this year, and in this game, in spite of Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury.  Truth be told, I’d probably be MORE confident of a Seahawks victory if Palmer was actually playing.  But, I’ve been wrong before, and I look forward to being wrong again.

Husky Basketball Is Back (2014/2015), Everybody!

Sort of dropped the ball on this one, but after a year like last year, who could blame me?  At this point last year, the Dawgs had already been thrashed by a UC Irvine team that would go on to lose in the first round of the N.I.T.  Which is something, I suppose, since the Huskies weren’t even good enough to qualify for that!  At this time last year, we’d also lost our starting power forward, Jernard Jarreau, who had figured to be a big part of our new high post offense.  He missed all but a few minutes of our season last year, and proved to be the nail in the coffin.

It sucks when you know your season is over before it’s even begun.

It’s been an interesting few months since the last season ended.  C.J. Wilcox was a first round NBA draft pick from the Clippers.  Nigel Williams-Goss decided to stay in school for at least one more year.  The seat has never been hotter for Lorenzo Romar, but he has also nabbed his highest-rated recruiting class of all time.  These are exciting, frantic, nervous times for the University of Washington men’s basketball team.

From a personnel standpoint, I would argue that this year will be a step forward compared to last year.  I know how ridiculous that sounds, when you consider last year’s team had a first round draft pick on it, but by season’s end it very well may be true.  Shawn Kemp Jr. is a senior and is as good as he’s ever going to be for us.  That might not be saying a lot, but he’s another one of those unheralded guys who entered this program extremely raw and will be leaving it an actual basketball player.  The best part about having Kemp back is, while he should be a nice contributor, he isn’t necessarily the most important piece, nor is he the best big man on the team.

We’ve got OTHER bigs; I know, but it’s for real!  Jarreau is back and he’s packed on some muscle!  He’s all the way up to 240 pounds now, which means he doesn’t look nearly as gangly as when he first started here.  Then, there’s transfer Robert Upshaw, who is 7-feet of mobile center the likes of which I can’t remember having around here since Spencer Hawes.  Upshaw is going to be a blocking machine in the paint, and he’s actually got some decent hands unlike some of our more recent fives (I’m looking at you Aziz N’Diaye).  The best part:  Upshaw has two years of eligibility left!

These names, listed individually, might not make you the moistest you’ve ever been, but you have to understand how long it’s been since we’ve had three talented big men who can play real Pac-12 minutes.  Usually, we have one solid big man and a bunch of really tall white guys who ride the pine outside of garbage time at the end of blowouts.  Now, the Huskies have options!  We can go big if we need to go big!  If we’re facing a team like the aforementioned UC Irvine of last year - with a 7’6 monstrocity in the middle of the paint - we might not get out-rebounded and blocked to pieces.

On the flipside, we’ve got NWG back, as I mentioned earlier.  He’s another NBA talent who should be making leaps & bounds strides in his development from his freshman year to his sophomore year.  Andrew Andrews is back, playing right alongside him, in his third year of major college basketball play.  He tends to take after Abdul Gaddy in how he will drive you crazy sometimes, but unlike Gaddy, he actually brings some positives to the table as well.  I don’t know if Andrews will ever lock down that outside shot, but if he’s able to make even marginal improvements in that area, we could be looking at a real star on this team.

Then, we’ve got the role players.  Mike Anderson, Darin Johnson, and Ju-Co transfer Quevyn Winters.  How far the Huskies go in the 2014/2015 season will entirely depend on whether or not these role players step up and make an impact.  NWG and Andrews figure to be the primary scorers on the team.  The three big men figure to chip in anywhere from 20-30 points, depending.  But, we’re going to need someone unexpected to step up and fill the void when others’ shots aren’t falling.

Likewise, it’ll be interesting to see how this team shoots from behind the arc.  In our first game last Friday - a rout of South Carolina State – we shot 3 of 21 from 3-point land.  Obviously, that may cut it against the dregs of our non-conference schedule, but if we’re going to win consistently and get back to the NCAA Tournament, that percentage has to improve.  We’ve got everything else that we need – rebounding, defense, dribble penetration, short and mid-range shots – but we’re going to be a pretty predictable offense if we can’t hit from the outside.  At that point, teams will just need to zone up all game every game and let us brick ourselves to death.

In looking at our non-conference schedule, I see a couple of ranked teams on the horizon in San Diego State and Oklahoma.  Ideally, we’d win at least one of those games, and ideally that game would be SDSU at Hec Ed.  Of course, we can ill-afford to suffer a bunch of shitty losses to shitty teams, so it was comforting to see us not necessarily play our best basketball game, and yet still come away with a comfortable victory over South Carolina State.  If we can get out of our non-conference play with only one or two losses, we could be set up for a nice regular season run.

The Pac-12 isn’t as crappy as it has been the last few years.  Right now, Arizona is the #2 ranked team in the nation, with Utah pulling its weight at #25.  Colorado, UCLA, and Stanford are all well-regarded programs as well, who could get some looks by the Tournament Committee.  As usual (at least, as what I assume is usual), the Huskies play each of their Pac-12 North brethren twice.  We also catch Colorado/Utah twice as well, which should bode well for our strength of schedule (considering, the Pac-12 North – aside from the Bay Area schools – aren’t looking to be so great).  That means that we only play the Arizona schools and the SoCal schools once apiece.  We get the Arizona schools up here, and we go on the road to play UCLA and USC.  If that’s the way it has to be, I’m glad we catch the Wildcats in Seattle.  That would be a nice game to steal if everything falls into place.

As usual, during these non-conference times, you want to root for every single Pac-12 school to win as much as possible (well, maybe not Oregon, because fuck Oregon).  That way, when we get into the nitty gritty, the Pac-12 will be well-regarded enough to hopefully earn a good handful of spots in the Tourney.

Unless things completely go haywire, bank on Zona, UCLA, and Colorado to be locks.  If Utah can keep it up, they should advance too.  That’s going to put us in the same realm as the Bay Area schools and whoever else manages to pop up and shock the world (ASU maybe?  Oregon maybe?).  At that point, it will be on the strength of our major victories (and the weakness of our horrible losses) that determine whether or not we move on.  So, here’s to not being one-and-done in the Pac-12 Tourney!

I can’t help but like our chances this year.  I think the University of Washington basketball team is on another upswing where we hit the tourney every year for a few years.  It’s going to all depend on Romar’s ability as a coach.  He’s proven that he’s gotten his groove back as a recruiter, now he’s got to go out there and put some W’s on the table.  In that sense, I doubt he’s lost a step.

The talent is here, the coach is the right man for the job, the conference is as strong as it’s been in ages.  Everything is right out there for the taking.  In the end, I think the Huskies go on a nice little run to end the season and sneak into the Tourney as an 11-seed or something.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this upbeat on Husky basketball.  Don’t let me down!

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

On a scale from 1 to 10, this season is legit 12 aggravating.  I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s the worst season, because it’s not.  The worst seasons are always the ones where you win the fewest games.  The 1992 Seahawks are the reason why I stopped giving a shit about the Seattle Seahawks until about 1996 or so and they were threatening to move to L.A.  Pieces were being put into place, we’d just come off a .500 record, things were looking up!  Of course, little did I know just how many .500 seasons I’d have to endure under Dennis Erickson, but that’s another post for another time.

The only salvation you get out of a miserable season like 1992 or 2008 is that you get to reap the rewards of a high draft pick.  But, since we’re talking about the Seahawks, we even manage to fuck THAT up, with the likes of Rick Mirer and Aaron Curry.

The underrated travesties are those 8-8 seasons, because not only are you mediocre, and not only are you missing out on the post-season, but you also draft pretty low in the first round.  Like the high teens, where there’s just scraps and wishful thinking of would-be stars.  No thank you.

But, this year?  It doesn’t come around all that often.  Indeed, when you’re talking Seahawks, the only seasons that could possibly rival 2014 are the two seasons following our first Super Bowl apperance.  These are years where expectations are sky high.  Where you’re still in that Championship Window, but you can see that it’s already closing, and no matter how many times you’re reminded that these windows are fleeting, you’re not prepared for the comedown.  It’s what I imagine a cocaine binge hangover to feel like.

Everything sucks and you wish you were dead.

2013 was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty!  The second coming of the 90s Dallas Cowboys.  The third coming of the 80s 49ers.  The fourth coming of the 70s Steelers.  The fifth coming of the 60s Packers.  The sixth coming of the 50s Browns.  And so on and so forth.  We were young, we were fierce on defense, we were in a position of strength regarding our cap, where we could afford to extend our stars & still fill in admirably around them with the role players to succeed.

Now, we’re just this injured, dysfunctional mass of mistake-prone, unclutch nonsense.  Losing games late in the fourth quarter we should win.  Holding teams to touchdowns instead of field goals whenever they reach the red zone.  Killing countless drives with idiotic penalties.  Dropping passes, missing blockers, missing tackles, letting absolute gift interceptions clank off of our chests.  6-4, clinging for dear life to Wild Card dreams while the Arizona fucking Cardinals somehow suffer even worse injuries and manage to sit atop the entire NFL with a 9-1 record.  I mean, ARE YOU SHITTING ME?

We should be better, we COULD be better, but we’re not.  And, God damn it, I still haven’t seen the Rams pull any of their special teams bullshit against anyone else in the league; WHY IS IT ALWAYS US???

Fuckin’ hubris, man.  We got a taste of the good life in 2013, and man did we live like kings!  We were the toast of the NFL!  Defenses wanted to be us, league officials created rules to stop us, Richard Sherman’s out there getting Kardashian-level ink spilled about him on a daily basis.  We extended all the stars we were able to extend.  ESPN devoted a whole block of programming just to show how we PRACTICE!  (not a game, not a game …).  And there we are, The 12th Man in all our blue & green glory, not just soaking it all in, but actively rubbing it in the faces of anyone who will listen.

WE’RE the best!  Not y’all!  WE’RE the team that can’t be stopped.

Like we did anything at all.  The Seahawks won a Super Bowl and all of a sudden our 12th Man dicks are dragging on the floor behind us.  Oh, this ol’ thing?  That’s just my 12-foot long dick; didn’t you hear?  We won the Super Bowl and we’re going to win every Super Bowl until Russell Wilson decides to hang ‘em up.  No big deal.  And believe me, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

See, as Seahawks fans – as Seattle fans in general – we didn’t know how to act, so we acted like we imagine every other fan who’s rooted on a champion acts.  The Seahawks winning the Super Bowl was akin to giving Honey Boo Boo and her family their own TV show for the 12th Man.  Everyone else is trying to tell us to “act like we’ve been there before,” but we’re too busy painting our bodies in Seahawks colors and eating spaghetti with butter.

Losing all these players to free agency?  Who cares!  We’ve got Pete Carroll and John Schneider; it’s only a matter of time before the next crop of 5th round draft picks turn into All Pros!  Never considering for a moment that maybe they just caught lightning in a bottle that one season, and that it’s fucking HARD to do it a second time.

A lot of shit has to go right.  But, the Seahawks in 2014 are too talented!  There are too many stars on this team!  WE’RE TOO BIG TO FAIL!

And here we are, 6-4, third place in the division, on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, with the world’s most difficult schedule over these last seven games, and we’re about to get 2010 Seahawks’d right out of a playoff spot because the NFC South is about to get a 7-9 home playoff game.

I want each and every one of you to remember what you said at the end of 2010 when the world was telling us we didn’t belong in the playoffs, let alone hosting the world champion Saints.  Because, I guaran-fucking-tee all those people defending the 7-9 division champion Seahawks will be calling for a revamping of the NFL playoff seeding system come January.

That’s why this season is so aggravating.  Because we should’ve seen it coming and we ignored it.  I mean, this is Seattle!  Why would we expect to have long term greatness?  Just consider us fucking lucky that we got the one Super Bowl and we still have our health.  Winter’s coming.  And Arizona Hell is coming with it.

In other news, this is the week where I’ve opted to split the power rankings into the Haves and Have Nots.  The top 16 teams all have as good a chance as any of making the playoffs this year.  The bottom 16 is comprised of all the fucking losers, which obviously includes the NFC South.  Enjoy!

***

  1. Arizona Cardinals (9-1) – More annoying Super Bowl storyline:  the Harbaugh Brothers facing one another, or the Cardinals hosting their own Super Bowl?  It’s a toss-up for me right now; all I know is I’m rooting for whoever comes out of the AFC.
  2. New England Patriots (8-2) – It’s been a LONG time since their offensive line was a trainwreck and Tom Brady owners in fantasy were pulling their hair out.
  3. Denver Broncos (7-3) – I don’t know what to say about that loss to the Rams, but it has to be at least mildly concerning, right?
  4. Green Bay Packers (7-3) – I know the Packers aren’t as good as they’ve looked in recent weeks, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how this team is going to blow it going forward.
  5. Detroit Lions (7-3) – Defense is amazing, and you still don’t want to face them in the playoffs, but they ran up against the Arizona juggernaut on Sunday.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) – I can’t see this team contending with the Broncos, but it’s nice for them to think they can.  Blame St. Louis when all your hopes are dashed later this year.
  7. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) – I seem to say this all the time, but it must be nice to play in such a shitty division.
  8. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) – Playing down to the level of their competition?  Now, where have I seen that before (*cough cough* SEAHAWKS).
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) – So, will the real Mark Sanchez please stand up?
  10. San Francisco 49ers (6-4) – Yeah, they’re hanging in there, but they’re still struggling mightily on offense.  If the Seahawks are doomed to miss the playoffs; I’ll gladly play spoiler if it means we can also keep the 49ers out.
  11. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – It’s almost that time!  December in Dallas must be the best time of year for antacid sales.
  12. Miami Dolphins (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Bills.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  13. San Diego Chargers (6-4) – Well, they proved they’re better than the Raiders.  Not saying a whole lot, but it’s something.
  14. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) – What are the Seahawks going to do when we start facing great run defenses?  I’d wager to guess that the Seahawks are going to continue losing.
  15. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) – Andy Dalton plays Cleveland, has one of the worst games possible for a starting quarterback making millions upon millions of dollars.  Then, he turns around – when every fantasy owner in America has benched him – and throws three TDs and dominates on the road against the Saints.  Troll +1.
  16. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – With no one really running away with this division, I guess they still have as good a chance as any to sneak in there.  Odds are, though, they lose via tiebreaker somewhere.

The Loser’s Bracket:

  1. St. Louis Rams (4-6) – Seriously Rams, fuck you!  Who the hell are you to be good enough to beat the Broncos and Seahawks, yet bad enough to still have a losing record?
  2. Houston Texans (5-5) – J.J. Watt has four touchdowns this year?  Including two on offense?  Maybe Darrell Bevell isn’t a complete idiot; maybe he’s just running goalline plays that only work if you have J.J. Watt in there on offense.
  3. Cleveland Browns (6-4) – Hey, so Cleveland?  Playoff teams don’t lose home games to the Texans when they’re starting a first-time starting quarterback.
  4. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) – I can’t believe this is the team that’s currently leading the NFC South.  I also can’t believe I sort of think they might hang on and end up winning it at season’s end.
  5. New Orleans Saints (4-6) – Can’t say I’m TOTALLY shocked the Saints choked to the Bengals at home.  If I thought the Saints were going to run away with that one, I would’ve considered benching Cincy’s running back.  Suffice it to say, I came away from Sunday pretty happy with my decisions.
  6. Chicago Bears (4-6) – The Bears are better than the Vikings; stop the presses!
  7. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  8. Buffalo Bills (5-5) – It doesn’t get any better than a couple weeks ago, when you were 5-3 and enjoying a nice BYE week.  Fortunately, it doesn’t get much worse with home games against the Jets and Cleveland coming up.  Hi there 8-8!  It’s been a while.
  9. Minnesota Vikings (4-6) – So much for Adrian Peterson salvaging your season.
  10. New York Giants (3-7) – You are one pathetic loser!
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) – Mike Evans is my fantasy football wet dream right now; single greatest waiver wire pickup I’ve made in AGES.
  12. Washington Redskins (3-7) – I just need Alfred Morris to continue to be decent through the last few weeks of the season.
  13. New York Jets (2-8) – I’m telling you, I still think the Jets have a chance to save Rex Ryan’s bacon.  Here’s their schedule to close out the season:  @Buf, Mia, @Min, @Ten, NE, @Mia.  Got some real turds in that punchbowl.
  14. Tennessee Titans (2-8) – Seems like you should be building for the future by giving Bishop Sankey the lion’s share of the offensive load.  You know, to see what you’ve got, and to see if what you’ve got is a bellcow running back?
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Could the Jags lose out and still gain that number one pick?  I think they can, I think they can, I think they can.
  16. Oakland Raiders (0-10) – Because I highly doubt the Raiders are going 0-16.  At some point, they’re going to Raiders this whole thing up and miss out on the number 1 draft pick.

Tell Me Why We Were So Excited About Chris Petersen Again

I guess when your team gets a new head coach, you’re supposed to be all blindly excited and hope for the best, right?  That’s all part of being a fan.  When we brought in Sark, we were just elated to finally be out from under Tyrone Willingham’s winless thumb, it didn’t matter WHO we brought in.  Sark was a young, up-and-comer from a Pac-12 rival, and we were giving him his first shot at a head coaching gig.  He couldn’t be any WORSE!  And, in the end, he wasn’t any worse.

With Sark going back to USC – this time to be their head coach – the Huskies figured they needed to make a splash.  But, these are the Washington Huskies of the 21st century.  The odds of the next Don James walking through that door are slim-to-none.  If you want to make a splash, you’ve got to go out and bring in a big name.  Chris Petersen, we all figured, was that big name.

But, is he?  He was head coach of Boise State for eight years.  In that time, he won five conference championships:  four Western Athletic Conference titles, and one Mountain West Conference title.  He went 92-12 at Boise State, going down as the all-time leader in overall wins and winning percentage.  Unquestionably, he was great.  He led them to two Fiesta Bowl victories and four Top 10 finishes.

I would point out that there is something to be said for playing the bulk of your games in the WAC and the Mountain West.  If you string together enough 1-loss seasons – as his predecessor Dan Hawkins did, before taking a job with Colorado - you’re going to get some national recognition.  Sprinkle in a few high-profile, early-season victories over ranked opponents in your non-conference schedule, and look at you!  You’re in the BCS discussion!

I would also like to point out that Chris Petersen’s best team – the undefeated 2006 squad – was unquestionably Dan Hawkins’ team, as he left Boise State after the 2005 season.  What’s Petersen’s claim to fame?  A few trick plays in that Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma that netted them a 1-point victory in one of the most exciting college football games of all time.  I’d also point out that their other Fiesta Bowl victory was over TCU, another Boise State-esque mid-major and darling of the BCS era.

It’s nice that Chris Petersen was undefeated against Oregon when we hired him, but all I care about is WASHINGTON’S record against Oregon, which is now 0-1 with Petersen as the head coach.

It’s also neat that Chris Petersen was so highly coveted by all these other nationally-prominent schools all these years, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Sometimes, coaches just catch fire in a bottle.  Sometimes, coaches ride the coattails of the really successful head coaches who preceeded them.  Dan Hawkins was highly coveted as well.  Colorado nabbed him and what happened?  The Buffaloes went 19-39 and never had a winning record.  Ever since then, he’s coached exactly 5 football games in the CFL before being fired again.

Sometimes, coaches aren’t really that great at all.  Sometimes, they just luck into an impossible situation.

The point of all this is:  it’s more Wishful Thinking than Making Good Sense to get your hopes up over a new hire like Chris Petersen.  What do we know about his abilities as a head coach?  He’s never done it at this level, in a BCS conference!  It’s almost like taking the very best high school head coach in the country and giving him the keys to your college program; you’re not necessarily in for the time of your life just because he won a million games at a low-level football factory.

I’ve had MULTIPLE days to sleep on last Saturday’s bungling, and I’m still just as irate as I was when the clock hit all zeroes.  I wasn’t even all that disgruntled at the time, when he decided to hand the ball off to Deontae Cooper instead of just kneeling on the ball three times.  But, the more I’ve thought about it, and the more people have pointed out the Wildcats would’ve had all of 10 seconds left to try to go the length of the field to take the lead, the more idiotic he sounds for saying that his “chart” says that he needs another first down there.

YOUR CHART IS BULLSHIT!  USE SIMPLE MATH!  TAKE A CHANCE ON GIVING THEM THE BALL BACK WITH 10 SECONDS IN THE GAME!

Then, when we finally stopped them on the ensuing drive, instead of calling a timeout to preserve around 30 seconds of clock, he let them run it all the way down.

YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR TIMEOUTS WITH YOU!  YOU HAVE TO GIVE YOUR TEAM A CHANCE TO DRIVE DOWN AND SCORE WITH THAT MUCH TIME LEFT!

And then he does the numbnuts head coaching move of “icing” the kicker by calling a timeout right before the snap.  He apparently wanted to call the timeout before they snapped the ball, but if they’re all lined up, they’re GOING to snap the ball and take the practice kick whether you want them to or not!  You have no control over it!  And, expecting the refs to do their job in a timely and competent manner means you haven’t been paying attention to what the Pac-12 Refs have been about for the last decade.

DON’T LEAVE IT IN THE HANDS OF THE REFS, AND DON’T FUCKING GIVE A COLLEGE KICKER TWO TRIES AT A GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL!

This was it.  This was our chance at a signature victory this year.  Now, we’ve got two meaningless games against two bottom-feeders, followed by the A Pizza Mart Who Gives A Shit Bowl.  But, more importantly, this game is going to taint my impression of Chris Petersen for a LONG time.  He’s got A LOT of work to do to win back my trust as a head coach.

Middling programs who want to rise to the ranks of the elites need more than your standard, conservative, by-the-book head coach.  And, I don’t care how many Statue of Liberty plays he ran in a bowl game nearly 8 years ago, Chris Petersen is an average, by-the-book head coach.  The only thing is:  that book was written about 70 years ago, and the game has changed since then, in case you haven’t noticed!

Instead, why not go out and do what Oregon did to get great?  Hire the next creative offensive mind!  Not Just Another Guy from Po-Dunk State University who had a good run of coattail-riding against the dregs of Division I college football.  If his tenure doesn’t end in a blaze of mediocrity, I’ll be SHOCKED.

The Seahawks Probably Aren’t Making The Playoffs This Year

As the Arizona Cardinals continue The Most Annoying Football Season Ever (they have a chance to host their own Super Bowl appearance; isn’t that just TOO MUCH?!), it’s time for all of us to admit a hard truth:  the Seahawks aren’t very good.  They’re that clichéd fucking Super Bowl winner who goes on to finish 8-8 the following year.  GOD!  I thought we were better than that!

But, with a 6-4 record, with six difficult games to go, couldn’t you see this team finishing 8-8 right now?

I didn’t write anything last Friday, but if I had, it would’ve been some variation on the theme:  Why the Chiefs are going to beat the Seahawks.  And it would’ve listed all of the most obvious reasons:  the lack of Brandon Mebane, their killer rushing offense, their quarterback who doesn’t make any mistakes, their propensity to convert third downs.  I saw this game as being very similar to the Chargers game, only instead of being 100,000 degrees, it was freezing.

Lo and behold, it was more or less a comfortable victory for the Chiefs.  We didn’t force them to punt until the second half; indeed, it wouldn’t have been as close as it was if we didn’t land on a couple of fumbles.

The Seahawks’ offense is broken.  Last year, when the defense was dominant at forcing turnovers, it was able to mask a lot of the problems with play-calling.  Darrell Bevell is a joke.  He’s always been a joke.  We won the Super Bowl IN SPITE of him, not because of him.  He has no idea what he’s doing in the red zone, that much is clear.  He’s about as creative as a diseased tree stump with his play calling.  Even on our first TD drive, we have first and goal on the 5 yard line; what do we do?  Three straight passes.  We ran for 44 yards on that drive, but when we get to the 5, let’s start throwing a ton.  GENIUS!  Luckily, Wilson was able to buy some time and find Baldwin, but that was starting to look like a real missed opportunity there, and Bevell got lucky.

When you’re inside the 5 yard line, you should be rushing the ball on first and second down.  When you’re outside the 5 yard line, you should be passing to either get to a goalline situation, or to get the touchdown (outside of five yards, you have more room for the receivers to get open).  THIS ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!  This is ostensibly Darrell Bevell’s profession and he SUCKS so hard at it!

I mean, a fade to Baldwin on 4th and goal?  In what universe do you think that’s going to work?  MAYBE Toontown.  Maybe if we were all cartoons and could stretch our bodies in hilarious ways to catch that pass in traffic while getting two feet down.  Even if Baldwin was being covered by Kelly Jennings himself, the odds of that play working out are slim!  And you think you’re getting a penalty called in that situation?  Are you high, Doug Baldwin?

The fact of the matter is, we could have Chip Kelly calling the shots on offense, but I’m not so sure this team would be any good.  Doug Baldwin is nobody’s number 1 receiver.  I valued him over Golden Tate because I thought he’d be playing behind Percy Harvin.  Guys like Baldwin ALWAYS need to be playing behind true number 1 receivers in order to be effective.  And, not for nothing, but Jermaine Kearse is nobody’s number 2 receiver.  I can’t wait for Paul Richardson to finally blossom into something elite, because until that happens, we’re going to STRUGGLE throwing the ball.

In the meantime, though, you’d think the Seahawks would be looking to roll the pocket a little bit more.  Russell Wilson is still at his best when he’s throwing on the run, so why are we trying to make him this pocket passer?  And, if the defense is truly playing him to TRY to keep him in the pocket, then it’s time to start moving the pocket.  Get him out on some bootlegs to let receivers do what they have to do to get open.

Defensively, I don’t even know what to say.  Mebane was out and we gave up 190 rushing yards.  That wasn’t the ONLY reason we gave up 190 yards, but it was a big one.  Kam Chancellor was out there running around, but he didn’t look right at all.  He was playing tentatively, trying to avoid taking a big hit, instead of throwing his body right at blockers.  This defense is another animal when Kam is healthy, so it’s pretty easy to assume he’s playing on some busted body part or another.  Malcolm Smith also returned from injury, but he played like complete ass against the run.  I’m thinking the team probably shouldn’t bend over backwards to extend him after this season.

The injuries are piling up.  This time, Max Unger went out with an ankle and a knee.  As soon as he stepped off the field, a team that had racked up 332 yards to that point, would only gain 40 yards the rest of the way (23 of those were on one pass play to Baldwin on our final drive), while giving up a sack and nearly a safety in the process.  Before Max Unger went out, there was minimal pressure on Wilson when he threw the ball.  After he went out, Wilson had no time whatsoever.  Max Unger is probably going to be out a while, so get used to more of that.

My hope is at its nadir with this team.  There isn’t any great miracle waiting for us on the horizon, and guys are only getting more and more injured.  The lone positive you can take away from yesterday’s game was that it was an AFC opponent.  We’re 6-4, but we’re still 4-2 against the NFC.  At the very least, you should be giving up the dream on winning the division and wondering if there’s a way the Seahawks can finish 4-2 and sneak into a Wild Card spot.

Here’s a hint:  it’s going to involve beating the 49ers twice and either Dallas, Philly, and/or Green Bay falling apart down the stretch.

Awards Season: Felix Hernandez Did Not Win The Cy Young Award

Kyle Seager winning the Gold Glove was a nice little surprise I think nobody expected.  Chris Young winning the Comeback Player of the Year was as sure of a slam dunk as can be.  Lloyd McClendon not even making the Top 3 for Manager of the Year is at least a little insulting, but it’s hard for me to say if he’s more or less deserving than the Baltimore, Kansas City, and Anaheim managers.  I’m too close to the situation; I’ve watched these Mariners bungle their way through life for too many years.  2014, and the job done by LMC, felt like a fucking miracle on par with walking on water.  Then again, I probably would’ve sent my vote to the Kansas City manager – even discounting what they did in the post-season – because if you want to talk Long Suffering Baseball Fans, followers of the Royals will chew your God damn ear off!

Yesterday, they announced the Cy Young awards.  In the NL, Clayton Kershaw won it unanimously.  In the AL, it was always going to be a 2-man race.  In one corner, you have Felix Hernandez.  The face of the Mariners’ franchise and one of the most talked-about names in baseball at every trade deadline until he signed that massive extension.  Winner of the 2010 Cy Young Award, having the single greatest season he’s ever had in what’s looking like a Hall of Fame career.  In the other corner, you have Corey Kluber.  A guy, plays for the Indians, who became a full time starter in 2013.  He had his breakout this year, coming in second overall in strikeouts, with a lot of other impressive numbers to boot.

Two worthy players (and Chris Sale, I guess, but no one took him seriously).  Two aces pitching for teams who fell just short of the Wild Card.

Felix had the ERA crown at 2.14.  Felix had the best WHIP in a generation with 0.92.  Felix was second in Innings Pitched (236, behind David Price) and fourth in strikeouts (248, behind Price, Kluber, and Max Scherzer).  Felix’s 6.8 WAR was second to Kluber’s 7.4.  Felix’s 2.56 FIP was behind Kluber’s 2.35.  Felix’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was a little better, Kluber’s strikeout-per-9 innings was a little better.

In the end, it was determined by the Baseball Writers.  Out of 30 voters, Kluber received 17 first place votes to Felix’s 13.  Overall, Kluber had 169 points to Felix’s 159.  It was that close.  Both were deserving to win it all, but one guy did, and it wasn’t our guy.  That makes me a little sad.

What irritates the shit out of me is the rationale some of these voters used.  Read this.  Or don’t.  I’ll summarize.  Here are some of the reasons why people voted for Kluber over Felix:

  • The Seattle Mariners had a good defense, while the Cleveland Indians had a bad defense.
  • Felix Hernandez had one bad game in Toronto on September 23rd.
  • Felix Hernandez plays in a more pitcher-friendly home ballpark.
  • Kluber beat Felix in their lone head-to-head matchup.
  • Kluber had a better month of September.
  • Kluber had more 10-strikeout games.
  • Kluber had better sabermetrics.

The last point I’d be willing to concede.  I’m not going to dig around and learn all the intricacies of every sabermetric statistic to try to make an argument one way or the other.  If you tell me Kluber had the better sabermetrics, and if that’s something that matters to you as a voter, then fine, I give.

But, come on.  You’re punishing Felix because of Safeco Field, and because our general manager put a competent defensive unit around him?  At that point, what more could he possibly do?  How much better than Kluber would he reasonably have to be to be considered the best pitcher in the AL?  How can he expect to compete for one of these awards again if he’s being dinged for things outside of his control?

Nevermind the fact that his home and road numbers are actually quite similar, and the fact that he gave up four more homers in Safeco than he did on the road.  Oh, and also NEVERMIND the fact that Felix had 12 unearned runs compared to Kluber’s 8, which would lead me to understand that maybe Felix didn’t have this huge defensive advantage after all.  Yeah, no, yeah, those are valid reasons.

Oh, but that month of September though!  Hang on:

  • Felix:  6 games, 1.66 ERA, 25 hits in 38 innings, 11 walks, 43 strikeouts
  • Kluber:  6 games, 2.09 ERA, 39 hits in 43 innings, 7 walks, 56 strikeouts

I dunno, not seeing this huge difference.  And pardon me if I don’t give credence to their head-to-head matchup, which saw Felix take the loss while going 7 innings and giving up 2 runs, while Kluber went the full 9, shutting out our inept offense.  If you’re going to use that as criteria in voting for Kluber, then we have to bring team offense into the equation.  Cleveland as a team scored 35 more runs than the Mariners and had a .706 OPS vs. our .676.  But, again, that’s really an argument I don’t want to make, because this is SUPPOSED to be about the pitchers.

The one thing that really burns my ass more than anything else is this whole What Have You Done For Me Lately mentality.  Really?  We’re going to boil a guy’s season down to his final meaningful start?

Corey Kluber went 8 shutout innings on September 26th to win his final start of the year 1-0.  Felix Hernandez went 4.2 innings on September 23rd down in Toronto, costing us a win and ultimately a shot at the Wild Card.  He gave up 8 runs in that game, though a scoring change after the fact determined only 4 of those runs were earned (and thereby giving him the ERA title after he pitched 5.1 innings of meaningless shutout baseball on the final day of the season).

I can see being a little cynical about that whole scoring change issue.  Seems a little self-serving on the Mariners’ part to ask for a review of the play days later, but Major League Baseball didn’t HAVE to give us the scoring change.

Regardless, one guy won his last start and one guy didn’t.  Except, here’s the thing:  at the end of the day on September 26th, the Indians were 3 full games back in the Wild Card race, with two days to go.  They had two teams to leapfrog in order to get into the playoffs even going IN to that game, so what makes Kluber’s performance on that day any more important than Felix’s performance on the 28th, after we’d found out Oakland won earlier in the afternoon?  Kluber’s big final start meant NOTHING, and yet he’s being lauded for pitching well in a meaningless game.

Was it a shame that Felix laid a stinker in Toronto?  Of course.  You can certainly make the argument that, to date, that game was the biggest of Felix’s career.  Albeit, a career that has still yet to see him grace the post-season.  Nevertheless, that was an important game, and his meltdown cost us on that day.

But, the Cy Young isn’t supposed to be about what you did last.  It’s supposed to be about your entire body of work.  And, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to forget what Felix was able to do in those 16 starts from May 18th through August 11th when he went at least 7 innings in every game while giving up 2 runs or less.  IN EVERY GAME!  Are you kidding me?  He set the Major League record!  That’s not just dominance, that’s SUSTAINED dominance, over damn near half a season!  And, it’s not like he’s just hanging his hat on those 16 starts, most of his other 18 starts were pretty fucking good too.  But, not that one in Toronto, I guess.  Fuck me.

Why are we glossing over a remarkable achievement like those 16 consecutive starts?  Why isn’t THAT the fucking headline on this Cy Young race?  Clayton Kershaw, the unanimous NL Cy Young award winner couldn’t even achieve what Felix was able to achieve!  And we’re glossing over it for what?  A lone start in September?  Bitch, please.

I’m not going to go around saying this is the biggest travesty in the history of meaningless sports awards, but it’s still pretty fucking irritating.  It’s also a reason why I choose to no longer talk about politics with anyone, even with people who agree with mine.  It’s not what you vote for, it’s HOW you vote.  And the OVERWHELMING majority of ignorant cunts in this country base their votes on the most pointless, trivial, stupid-ass bullshit you can possibly think of.  The Baseball Writers Association of America, sadly, is a predictable cross section of those very same ignorant cunts of the American voting public.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 10

The storyline for the week has been something along the lines of:  Marshawn Lynch isn’t likely to be back next season, but the Seahawks would be foolish to let him go.

This talk, quite frankly, is defeatist.  EVENTUALLY, at some point, the Seahawks are going to have to find a way to move on from Marshawn Lynch.  He’s not going to play forever.  And he’s NOT going to be here through the life of Russell Wilson’s career.  So, really, what are we talking about?  Delaying the inevitable?

I’m not saying it’s going to be peaches and cream if and when Marshawn Lynch is let go, but it’s not like we’re stuck with chopped liver in his absence.  Granted, there isn’t a running back on this team right now quite like Beastmode.  But, that’s a little unfair, because there isn’t a running back on this PLANET quite like Beastmode.  Are you kidding me?  His toughness, his ability to break tackles, his skill as a pass catcher, his durability to play every down if we needed him to, there is NOT anyone like him.  Anywhere.

But, there’s a distinction there.  I didn’t say Marshawn Lynch is the “best” running back in the league.  Just that there’s no one else like him.  And that’s true.  Marshawn Lynch is, indeed, the best running back on the Seahawks, but I’m not so sure I’d go as far as to say he’s the best in the NFL.  He’s in the discussion, I guess, but what does it all boil down to when you’re talking about running backs?

Yards.  Yards and touchdowns.  Right now, Lynch is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, but he’s tops in the NFL in rushing touchdowns after his 4-TD game last week.  Those are great figures, and this team is better for having him.  But, is it fair to say this team would be sunk without him?

Robert Turbin is probably best suited as a backup running back.  I can’t see him breaking any records as a starter.  But, among backups, I’d rate him near the top.  He COULD start in this league and, I think, be pretty effective.  He’s got the tools, he runs hard, he can catch the ball, he blocks well.  He’s a clear step down from Beastmode, but who isn’t?

Then, there’s Christine Michael.  The Great Running Back Hope.  Our second round draft pick in 2013.  At the moment, he’s a big unknown.  He hasn’t played a whole lot because of speculative issues with his blocking or having his head screwed on straight or whatever.  Really, he hasn’t been playing because there’s a Top 5 Running Back In The NFL ahead of him, plus a quality backup with more experience also ahead of him.  Teams don’t tend to run with 3-headed hydras in their backfield unless they’re one of those unfortunate teams who simply DON’T have a true #1 running back.

What we think we know about Michael is that he’s got game-breaking speed and toughness.  The sky is the limit with this kid, but first he needs to get playing time outside of the preseason so he can let us know where he’s at.  I happen to think he could be something special with the ball in his hands.  But, again, what do I know?

I don’t have a problem with how we’ve used the running backs this year.  Lynch is getting his periodic rest, the backups are getting some work in, and quite frankly the Seahawks have one of the best running back units in the NFL.  I wouldn’t even have a problem with the Seahawks honoring Lynch’s deal and bringing him back for 2015.  He is, after all, one of my favorite players on this team, and I’d love to watch him do what he does for another year.

But, we do need to be thinking about the future as well.  If the front office feels that it’s time to move in a different direction after this season.  Or, if Beastmode wants out, to try to get a big deal on the open market, I’m not going to be too sad.  I just want things to end amicably, so I can look back on Marshawn Lynch with the fond memories his tenure here in Seattle deserves.  That means not keeping him here too long, past his prime, where we only grow to resent him as he makes millions of dollars he doesn’t deserve.  Likewise, that also doesn’t mean keeping him here against his will, on a 2015 contract that isn’t indicative of his true value to this team.  If 2014 has to be the last year he’s here, I’m not going to throw a fit.  The Seahawks will find a way to move on, I promise.  There are two quality backs here, plus a whole draft to pick up a third.

Getting even 75% of Marshawn Lynch going forward should still be pretty damn good.

***

  1. Denver Broncos (7-2) – I’d like to point out that my fantasy team is 2-0 this year against Peyton Manning, but Honky Hoedown is dreading the inevitable third showdown in the playoffs.
  2. Arizona Cardinals (8-1) – This is about the time I’d set Arizona way down the list on the ol’ Power Rankings, but they’ve continued to win games even without Carson Palmer, so fuck that.
  3. Detroit Lions (7-2) – You don’t want to face this team in the playoffs.
  4. New England Patriots (7-2) – Words cannot describe how excited I am for this Patriots/Colts game this week.
  5. Indianapolis Colts (6-3) – Colts are at home, they’ve got a great quarterback who’s prone to making mistakes from time to time.  But, he’s also prone to overcoming those mistakes.  Again, should be a great, GREAT game.
  6. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – No doubt about it, the Packers are better than the Bears.
  7. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) – Good defense, great running game, solid quarterback.  This team is legit and it’ll be impressive if the Seahawks beat them this week.
  8. Seattle Seahawks (6-3) – Going to have to play mistake-free football, or as close to mistake-free as it gets.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) – So, the Steelers only have two numbers retired after Mean Joe Greene last week?  What number do they have reserved for their Fans to wear, then?
  10. Philadelphia Eagles (7-2) – I’m going to need to see an extended period of greatness with Sanchez behind center before I’m willing to move them up.  And, if it happens, then I’ve gott ask:  what is it about Chip Kelly’s offense that turns even the biggest piles of crap into winners?
  11. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – Talk to me in December when you’re NOT blowing games you should win.
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) – The last straw for Cincy’s defense in fantasy was laying a huge turd against the Browns.
  13. San Francisco 49ers (5-4) – Drew Brees saved your season.  How do you feel about that?
  14. Miami Dolphins (5-4) – That’s a tough team with a hard-luck loss against an elite Lions team.  Miami is on the rise, no doubt about it.
  15. San Diego Chargers (5-4) – On the fall, we have the Chargers.  Probably too late to turn it around.
  16. New Orleans Saints (4-5) – It’s never too late when you play in the pathetic NFC South!  I can’t believe I thought this would be the best division in football before the season.
  17. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) – Even though they’ve got a decent record, I don’t see the Ravens as a playoff team.
  18. Cleveland Browns (6-3) – See:  what I said about the Ravens.
  19. Carolina Panthers (3-6-1) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
  20. Houston Texans (4-5) – On the plus side, I didn’t see J.J. Watt’s commercial all weekend, and neither did you.
  21. Chicago Bears (3-6) – How many Bears fans would go back in time, trade Cutler to the Bucs for a couple draft picks, and retain Josh McCown for pennies on the dollar?  Is it more than 50%?  75%?
  22. Buffalo Bills (5-4) – Kyle Orton isn’t the solution you were looking for.
  23. New York Giants (3-6) – You are one pathetic loser!
  24. St. Louis Rams (3-6) – It’s never going to happen with Jeff Fisher & the Rams, there I said it.
  25. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) – The question remains:  do I keep Matt Ryan in my fantasy league?  It’s a QB-centric league, which means it’s closer to real life (quarterbacks are the most important players on the football field, so why shouldn’t they be the most important players in fantasy football?).  I have to believe that Matt Ryan is going to get improved offensive line play next year.  But, what I need to know is:  is Matt Ryan an elite quarterback?  On that, I’m not so sure.
  26. Minnesota Vikings (4-5) – Wouldn’t it be weird if Adrian Peterson returned and led the Vikings to a Wild Card?  I’ve gotten so used to an Adrian Peterson-free league.
  27. Washington Redskins (3-6) – Better with RGIII, I guess.
  28. New York Jets (2-8) – Better with Vick, I guess.
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) – Better with McCown, not so much.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-7) – A-yup.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) – Woof.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-9) – Yiminy.

Seahawks Lose Brandon Mebane For The Year

Why does this feel like 2006 when the Seahawks lost Marcus Tubbs – a key interior defensive lineman – and about a million other guys to injury, sealing their fate as a post-Super Bowl season also-ran?

The Seahawks received some pretty bad news on Sunday during the win over the Giants when Brandon Mebane went out with a hamstring injury.  It was ominous when he was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game, especially when you consider damn near everyone, every single game, goes out at one point or another with what appears to be a bad injury, only to return to the field moments later.  And now we know why:  Brandon Mebane is finished in 2014.

To be honest with you, I’m pretty sick to my stomach over this news.  I never like to hear about ANYONE on the Seahawks being placed on the Injured Reserve, but it’s particularly devastating when it’s one of your favorite players.  For me, there are players I like well enough, but if I had to pick my favorite five on the Seahawks right now, in no particular order, they’d be:  Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Marshawn Lynch, and Mebane.

But, that list pales in comparison to the players that make this team tick.  The heart & soul of the Seahawks.  On offense, it’s obviously Marshawn Lynch.  He’s the first guy anyone talks about when they talk about what we need to do on offense to succeed.  Feed the Beast and all that.  On defense, that falls on Mebane.  He sets the tone.  He’s the guy in there on base defense, lined up over center, consistently getting double-teamed and consistently pushing that double team into the backfield.

Brandon Mebane makes it possible for our outside rushers to face one-on-one blocking, thereby helping them get to the quarterback easier.  Brandon Mebane makes it possible for our linebackers and the rest of the line to fill in the gaps on run plays.  And, oh by the way, he also makes his share of plays in the backfield all by himself, even through those aforementioned constant double teams.

In 2014, the pass rush hasn’t been up to snuff compared to last year.  We lost a few guys and their replacements have yet to really take command of their roles.  As a result, the Seahawks have given up more third down conversions, yards, and points than they have the last couple years.  And that’s with Mebane in there every game!  I shudder to think about how bad we would’ve been without him!

Through 9 games, the Seahawks have the best run defense in football.  The three teams who have given up fewer total yards have a combined 5 defeats on the season (meaning, their opponents are frequently throwing the ball to try to get back into games).  On a per-rush basis, Denver is technically a small fraction better than the Seahawks, but again, we’re talking about 36 fewer rushing attempts.

My fear on this is that the Seahawks are going to decline dramatically in this area of their game.

Unlike the 2006 Seahawks, the 2014 version is actually talented on the defensive side of the ball.  Those Seahawks were patched together from the start, relying on a high-scoring offense to succeed.  THESE Seahawks seem better equipped to withstand some natural attrition.  But, it might be different when it comes to Mebane.

See, there’s no one on the team quite like him.  The next men up are Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams.  Both are older shells of their formerly dominant selves and I have a hard time believing that either one will manage to stay healthy for the duration.  Beyond that, we’re talking about taller gentlemen who probably aren’t as adept at the nose tackle position compared to the 3-tech or 5-tech spots along the line.  McDaniel and Williams are both better suited to be pass-rushing tackles; I HIGHLY doubt that either will be able to generate the consistent push play-in and play-out that Mebane was able to manage.  The difference between a nose tackle in the backfield vs. a nose tackle getting no push or being pushed back is the difference between a negative rushing attempt and a huge gash in our defense.  And, if we’ve got other guys on the defense trying to over-compensate for Mebane’s loss – instead of focusing on their jobs at hand – we could see some lopsided numbers coming from the other team’s offense.

I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all doom & gloom, but really it kind of is!  Kansas City and San Francisco are both Top 10 rushing offenses.  Philadelphia is only a year removed from being the #1 rushing offense in the NFL and they have most of the same pieces in place.  Not only that, but they’ll likely still have Mark Sanchez in at quarterback, and in spite of what happened against Carolina last night, I still see them trying to rely on the run game a little more with him in there.  Then, there’s Arizona, who’s really not a good rushing team, but they have one of the better young, up-and-coming running backs with Andre Ellington, and they too have an inexperienced backup quarterback leading the way; you have to think they’ll be looking to take some pressure off of him going forward as they try to steal the NFC West from its rightful owner.

Losing Brandon Mebane is NOT a domino any of us wanted to see fall.  Things are looking mighty grim at the nose tackle spot.  Although, to be fair, it’ll be interesting to see if someone will step up in his place.  It’s been on my mind for years:  who will eventually replace Mebane when he’s finished in this league?  Jordan Hill is a name that comes to mind, as he was just drafted last year.  He didn’t play much as a rookie, but he’s been a somewhat solid contributer this year.  I like his hustle, but I wonder if he has the strength and the natural gifts of a Mebane.  Demarcus Dobbs is another younger guy the Seahawks picked up recently (from the 49ers’ roster, naturally).  He got his first run with us against the Giants and the coaches seem to like his makeup.  We’ll see.

Going forward, what does this mean for Mebane?  Next year is the final year of his contract.  He’s set to count $5.7 million against the cap, which isn’t a bad number, considering his value to our defense.  Assuming he’s able to make a full recovery, while not showing up completely out of shape, I would expect to see Mebane back on the team in 2015.  And, depending on his level of play, and his ability to stay healthy next year, we could be looking at this hamstring issue as a minor bump in the road.

What Mebane has going for him is that this isn’t a knee.  It’s not a shoulder or an ankle or a pec or a bicep or an elbow or a foot or any of these other body parts that seem to only get worse at an alarming rate once you injure them the first time.  I don’t know a whole lot about hamstrings, but I’d be willing to bet this is more of a fluke-type injury than anything else, and one with a low frequency of recurrence, comparatively.  Also, when you look back on Mebane’s career, you can’t say he’s “injury prone”; before this hamstring business, Mebane has played in 125 of a total of 130 possible games in his eight year career (including playoffs).  Which, let me tell you, for a lineman is DAMN impressive.  Given their weight, and the overall pounding their bodies take on an every-down basis, it’s almost unreasonable to expect someone like Mebane to have played in so many games without a really major injury.

Of course, the main thing going against him is his age and his service time in the league.  Eight years seems like a long time for a Pete Carroll & John Schneider type of player.  Mebane will be 30 in January, which makes him easily one of the oldest players on the team.  I do like him to come back next year, but beyond that, it’s really going to depend on his level of play.  I can’t imagine him maintaining his level of salary beyond 2015, nor can I imagine him getting anything more than a 1- or 2-year extension even if he DOES prove he’s back to his usual level of excellence.

The clock has always been ticking with Mebane, just as it’s ticking with every single other player in football.  The only difference is, there was always less time on Mebane’s clock, even before this injury.  My hope is, the hamstring doesn’t speed up his time left on this team too much.  I’m not ready to quit the guy who has been our rock along the defensive line since the moment he put on a Seahawks uniform.

Even though his year is over, Get Well Soon, Mebane!

Seahawks Set Franchise Rushing Record In Eventual Rout Of The Giants

350 yards.  Three and a half football fields!  That’s how far we ran on the ground in yesterday’s 38-17 victory.

  • Marshawn Lynch – 140 yards, 4 touchdowns, 6.7 yards per carry
  • Russell Wilson – 107 yards, 1 touchdown, 7.6 yards per carry
  • Christine Michael – 71 yards, 17.8 yards per carry
  • Robert Turbin – 32 yards, 5.3 yards per carry

350 yards, 5 touchdowns, 7.8 yards per carry as a team.  Now, that’s one satisfying way to win!

Of course, this wasn’t the Start-To-Finish ass ramming we all hoped for.  Indeed, the game was tied going into the 4th quarter.  But, you don’t run the ball the way the Seahawks ran the ball yesterday – even in the first half – without walking away with this one easily.

This might’ve been another pisspoor outing from Russell Wilson if not for his 107 yards on the ground.  Count the Giants among the few teams who totally abandon the quarterback on the read option, because Wilson had that run in his back pocket almost all day.  As it stood, Wilson had an okay day throwing the ball, minus the two interceptions.  I still feel like it’s going to take some time to undo all the damage Percy Harvin inflicted upon this offense (or, rather, our coordinator’s use of Percy Harvin).

The WR screen HAS TO GO.  I can’t say that enough and I won’t stop saying it until we play a game without it.  Also, if Doug Baldwin is your best blocking receiver – and Paul Richardson is your tiniest and fastest football player – if we absolutely INSIST upon running this play, why don’t we throw the ball to Richardson and have Baldwin do the blocking?  I mean, I’m a stupid asshole and even I know the Seahawks’ personnel better than the offensive coaches do!

The return to normalcy on the offensive side of the ball also continued with Russell Wilson taking some shots down field.  He connected with Kearse on a beautiful bit of improv for 60 yards.  There was another shot or two that failed, but that’s not the point.  The point is:  we’re back to taking shots down the field again.  We can do this without Golden Tate on the team, I promise!

Defensively, things were a little spotty in the first half, with the Giants moving the ball with ease.  ODB proved that he’s the lone offensive weapon for that moribund franchise, as he frequently had his way with our secondary.

The best part of this game, though, was how the defense shut out the Giants in the second half.  Penalties were minimal, and once again our rush defense was top notch, holding the Giants to 54 yards on the ground and a 3.2 yard average.

Earl Thomas really stood out, and not just for his interception on the tipped ball in the endzone.  He looked to have a bigger overall impact in this game, which is good to see as we ramp up to better opponents.

KPL looks AMAZING out there.  With a number of linebackers up for new contracts, it’s nice to know we have a guy who can slide right in and start as soon as next year.  Should go a long way in saving money under the cap.

Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane made their returns from injury.  With Tharold Simon playing well, and Marcus Burley being a nice role player, we’re almost FINALLY back to full strength in the L.O.B.  This will be huge as we have a couple games against the Cardinals coming up, not to mention that road game in Philly.

On the downside, Brandon Mebane pulled a hammy.  This could be devastating if he’s out for an extended period of time.  In the immediate short term, it’s less than ideal if he can’t go against the Chiefs next week, as they’ve got one of the best running backs in football.  Get well soon, Mebane!  I mean that.

Finally, can’t talk about a game like this without acknowledging the offensive line.  Okung and Unger returned from injury, making this more or less of a no-brainer.  Yes, Carpenter was out this time, but Bailey stepped right in and we had no trouble whatsoever.  Not for nothing, but Alvin Bailey is quickly becoming one of the most underrated members of this team.  He’s played every spot on the line except center, and he’s not much of a drop-off whatsoever.

This wasn’t quite the “complete game” we wanted, but it was close.  And, the best part, with guys getting healthy, it feels like that elusive complete game is getting even closer than ever.