My Unhelpful Preview Of Tonight’s Seahawks/Cardinals Game

The Seahawks just have to win.  That’s it!  End of post!  It’s patently ridiculous that the Seahawks are at this point, it’s ridiculous that they lost to the Redskins last week, and frankly it’s ridiculous how they’ve lost all three of those games this season.  We’re a game behind the Rams now – who look like a fucking murderer’s row the way they’re beating some of these teams (although, curiously, they too lost a home game to the Redskins, which just might be one of those teams unaffected by the 3-timezone change) – and if you haven’t seen their schedule, it’s so close to Seattle’s it’s eerie!

Their AFC road games are at the Jags and Titans, as are ours.  Their road NFC East games are at the Cowboys and Giants, as are ours.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC South team – the Saints – at home; we play last year’s 1st place NFC South team – the Falcons – at home.  They play last year’s 3rd place NFC North team – the Vikings – on the road; we play last year’s 1st place NFC North team – the Packers – on the road.  Literally the only difference is the order in which we play these teams.  Which thus far has hurt the Seahawks, because we had to grapple with Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson when they were still healthy; they avoid Watson, and get to face whatever backup Vikings QB is in the lineup in two weeks.

If I’m being honest, it’s hard to find two more losses on the Rams’ schedule, unless they start suffering significant injuries.  Their toughest games are both at home, against the Saints and Eagles.  Other than that, MAYBE the Vikings’ defense poses some threat, but I’m not really a believer in those guys.  So, either the Seahawks need to win their remaining 8 games – including at home against the Rams to take the season head-to-head tie-breaker – or the Rams need to start dropping some games they should otherwise win.

Also, not for nothing, but going 8-0 is pretty much a prerequisite for getting a first round BYE in the playoffs, which sounds pretty impossible when you’ve got the Falcons and Eagles at home, and the Jags and Cowboys on the road.  You scoff at the Jags, but have you SEEN their defense?  Now imagine those guys going up against this Seattle offense (particularly this Seattle offensive line), and understand the game is in Florida, at 10am Pacific time, and you’ll see why I’m freaking out here.

That’s obviously getting ahead of things by quite a bit.  Taking this second half of the season as one big chunk is insane; we’re going to have to take this one game at a time, just like Russell Wilson always says.  Forget about everything else, the Seahawks just need to go 1-0 tonight.

Of course, they SHOULD go 1-0 tonight, because the Cards are pretty terrible.  But, they also SHOULD have gone 1-0 last week at home against the Redskins, and you saw what happened.  Remember last year, when the Seahawks SHOULD have won down in Arizona, but dicked around all night and ended up with a 6-6 tie?  Remember why that happened?  Remember a certain kicker missing a certain number of field goals to cost this team a win?  Remember how that kicker frequently missed kicks down in Arizona because their field is garbage?  And remember how that kicker is now kicking in Buffalo, and the Seahawks went and signed Blair Walsh for some God-foresaken reason?

That 6-6 football game last year was EASILY the worst game of the entire season, across the entire NFL.  I’m just saying, don’t be shocked if we’re in for something similar tonight.

We all know Arizona is awful.  Their record is 4-4, which sounds insane, until you’ve seen who they beat:  Indy, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, San Francisco again.  So, three of the very worst teams in the league.  They lost to the Lions, Cowboys, Eagles, and Rams.  So, three of the very best teams in the league (and the Lions).  That 4-4 record feels like a lie, but given the discrepancy of their opponents, it’s hard to get a true read on just how bad the Cards really are.  Tonight should be a good litmus test, and it would be, if it weren’t being played on Thursday Night.

[SECTION WHERE I TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH I DESPISE THURSDAY GAMES]

(it’s just easier that way)

No Carson Palmer, no David Johnson; so two of their three best offensive players are gone.  Larry Fitzgerald is still the ageless wonder, and Drew Stanton is still a good fit in Bruce Arians’ offense as a backup quarterback.  He takes care of the ball for the most part, and puts his team in position to win more often than not.  And, he’s got Adrian Peterson to hand the ball off to, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry since coming over from the Saints.  The key tonight is, obviously, prevent AP from keeping them on schedule and force Stanton to beat you down field.  Even without Earl Thomas, that shouldn’t be a concern for the Seahawks.

Defensively, the Cards aren’t very good.  27th in points per game, 23rd in yards per game.  They’re 24th in passing yards per game at 249.3, and 11th in rushing yards per game at 100.5.  Since the Seahawks can’t run the ball anyway, tonight would be a poor night to try to shoehorn that into our offense.  Just throw it on them!  Throw away from Patrick Peterson and take what’s given to you!  I expect Jimmy Graham to have a big one here, so expect him to colossally disappoint.

I’ll say this:  they don’t have Calais Campbell anymore, which is the best news I’ve heard all year (the downside is that he’s currently tearing shit up on the Jags, who we play in December).  I’m not saying it’ll be smooth sailing against that front seven, but any time you can avoid CC destroying the interior of your O-Line, it’s a leg up for the good guys.

Take care of business, Seahawks.  Or so help me God.

The Triumphant Return Of The Seattle Sports Hell Power Rankings

The early theme through 7 weeks in this NFL season is how there aren’t any elite teams.  While it does feel that way, I also think we could be singing a different tune after another 7 weeks.  Mostly, I just think it’s an overreaction to the fact that the Patriots’ defense stinks, Aaron Rodgers is injured, and a 25 year old Peyton Manning isn’t walking through that door to help carry some unfortunate team into the playoffs.

I mean, Kansas City looks like the clear best team in the AFC right now, and does anyone trust the likes of Alex Smith in a do-or-die playoff game?  He certainly looks better than he ever has before, but can he pull his team back from a 2-score deficit against a competent defense?  I know I have my doubts.

Another theme, more locally focused, is that the vast majority of the NFL-covering public is ignoring the Seattle Seahawks.  Which is pretty understandable.  The Seahawks feel like more or less the same story being told over and over again for the fifth straight year.  The media likes a new, exciting story.  Carson Wentz!  Dak Prescott!  Jacksonville’s defense!  Deshaun Watson!  The Los Angeles Rams!

With the Seahawks, what do you have?  A boringly elite defense (they don’t generate a ton of turnovers or a ton of sacks; they mostly just grind you down and force you to be perfect to slowly bleed them), a shaky offensive line, and a quarterback who – aside from a half season without Jimmy Graham – hasn’t really figured out the whole Pocket Passer thing to the degree that a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers has.  It’s the same thing virtually every season, and while it’s a recipe for success, it’s also just not a sexy story to keep championing.  Ho hum, the Seahawks are a playoff team and a Super Bowl contender, same as they’ve been since 2012.

Ordinarily, I think this would bother me a lot more, mostly because I think a lot of teams get short shrift in the media in lieu of over-coverage of teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, and Jets.  But, I’m actually okay with it.  For starters, the Seahawks haven’t really earned the type of coverage I’m talking about; come back when you’ve beaten a good team in convincing fashion.  Also, I think this is the type of season where the Seahawks could benefit from a lack of a target on their backs.

Yes, the narrative is that there are no elite teams, but is that really true?

I think, before too long, the Seahawks could be the clear best team in the NFL.  Frankly, the defense is already there, waiting for the offense to catch up.  And, make no mistake, we’re all bemoaning the struggles of this offense, but they HAVE made strides as the season has gone along.  More importantly, if they can just clean up a few things (drops, missed throws, protection issues), it’s not hard to see this as a team that scores 30+ points per game.

AND, if they do that, and don’t get destroyed by the injury bug, I think the Seahawks will be your answer to the league’s most elite team.

Of course, it won’t mean anything if the Seahawks fail to get the #1 seed in the NFC, and if the Seahawks falter at some point in the playoffs.  See, that’s another issue with the Seahawks we’ve seen over and over and over again:  they always turn it on in the second half.  Which is great!  That’s when you WANT your team to get hot!  But, they could win the rest of their regular season games by an average of 50-7, and it could still all come crumbling down with one bad matchup in the playoffs.  One crappy half of football in the Divisional Round, and POOF, another season ends without a championship.  Getting the #1 seed reduces the chances of that, as the Seahawks are unquestionably better at home than on the road, particularly in the first halves of games.  At that point, you’re just two wins from the Super Bowl, at which point anything goes.

On to the rankings:

  • Philadelphia (6-1)
  • Kansas City (5-2)
  • Seattle (4-2)
  • New England (5-2)
  • Pittsburgh (5-2)
  • Minnesota (5-2)
  • L.A. Rams (5-2)
  • Houston (3-3)

A lot of this is based on projections.  I do think the Patriots are flawed – especially on defense – but I agree with most prognosticators that they’ll get their issues figured out.  I know I wouldn’t bet against them making the AFC Championship game against either KC or Pittsburgh.  I think the Vikings look tough – particularly on defense – but I’ll never trust their quarterback situation.  I think the Texans are better than their record and could be poised to go on a big second half run.

  • New Orleans (4-2)
  • Dallas (3-3)
  • Washington (3-3)
  • Oakland (3-4)
  • Denver (3-3)
  • Buffalo (4-2)
  • Detroit (3-3)
  • Atlanta (3-3)

These are all good teams, but probably none of them are Super Bowl contenders.  MAYBE the Cowboys if they get Elliott back for the playoffs, and their defense gets its shit somewhat together.  And while the Saints don’t necessarily look for real, I think their defense is still marginally improved, and with that offense, it might be all they need to win a division title.  Also, good move getting rid of AP and working with a better 2-man running back rotation.

  • Tennessee (4-3)
  • L.A. Chargers (3-4)
  • Carolina (4-3)
  • Jacksonville (4-3)
  • Tampa Bay (2-4)
  • Baltimore (3-4)
  • Miami (4-2)
  • N.Y. Jets (3-4)

These are fringe playoff teams who have a ton of flaws.  One, MAYBE two of these teams will go on a roll and crack the playoffs, but for the most part I think they’ll disappoint.  Also, Jacksonville’s defense looks legit, and Fournette looks like a stud, but the offense as a whole leaves a lot to be desired.  And no, I’m not buying Miami as a 4-2 team.

  • Green Bay (4-3)
  • Cincinnati (2-4)
  • Chicago (3-4)
  • N.Y. Giants (1-6)
  • Arizona (3-4)
  • Indianapolis (2-5)
  • San Francisco (0-7)
  • Cleveland (0-7)

I would have Green Bay even lower in the rankings, except I think there’s an outside chance they hang around in a mediocre division/conference just long enough for Aaron Rodgers to return for the last game or two and sneak them into the playoffs.  Can they win 4 games with Brett Hundley?  Cincy looks like a mess.  Trubisky has training wheels attached to his training wheels.  And for some reason everyone is shocked that Cleveland passed over yet another quality rookie quarterback in favor of someone who sucks.

The Seahawks Aren’t Going To Be Major Players In Free Agency

I feel like this is something that shouldn’t be up for debate.  And yet, for some reason, the same stupid questions keep popping up on Twitter, being handled with savage aplomb by the beat writers who somehow manage to maintain some semblance of sanity in this brave new world we live in where everyone has a voice (hi!) and gets to shout it to the masses whenever they fucking want.

People see the Seahawks have $20+ million in available salary cap room and think, “Oh boy!  Shopping spree!”  Why, with that amount of money, with some creative bookkeeping, you could easily fill a couple spots on the O-Line, with enough room left over for Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffery, and a couple dominant pass rushers!

Forget about the fact that that’s insane, and very much NOT enough money to do all those things, but as usual people fail to see the bigger picture.  Yes, unlike in years past, the Seahawks do have some money to throw around.  But, as usual, compared to the rest of the NFL, the Seahawks are relative paupers.  At the moment (before the flurry of deals set to go down in the coming days), the Seahawks rank 22nd out of 32 teams in the NFL in available cap space.  The Cleveland Browns, for instance, rank 1st, and have over $100 million!  8 teams in the NFL have DOUBLE what the Seahawks have in available cap space!

And, speaking of big picture, this is the NFL.  Where the risk of injury is at its highest among the professional sports, and where the contracts aren’t fully guaranteed.  In the life of an NFL player, you gotta get yours while the getting’s good, because any snap or even any practice rep could be your last.

As such, the best free agents are going to chase the highest dollars.  And the majority of the league has stacks on stacks on stacks more money than the Seahawks.  So, you know, don’t expect the Seahawks to land some whale in the first hours of free agency.

Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks have more than a single hole to fill.  If we were just one player away from a guaranteed Super Bowl run, then yeah, spend the bulk of that $20+ million on the best guy and call it a day!  No, see, there are a number of holes to fill, along the O-Line, along the D-Line, and especially throughout the depth of our roster.  In other words, we’ve gotta make that $20+ million last, and spread that shit around to as many guys as we can.

So, with that in mind, can we PLEASE take a reasoned, somewhat educated look at potential Seahawks targets?

I mean, I won’t, but maybe the rest of you can.  The NFL free agency rumor mill couldn’t interest me less.  Which is why Twitter is perfect for this sort of thing.  Oh, the Seahawks may or may not be interested in Jamaal Charles?  Put it in a Tweet!  But, I can’t sit here and respond to every possible player we’re supposedly tied to in conversation!  Even if I am tantalized by the notion of a healthy Charles just destroying defenses this season.  Who has the time?  The news changes so frequently, I can’t keep up.

In the end, there has to be a modestly-priced offensive tackle out there that the Seahawks will get around to signing.  I could see us going after a veteran running back, but I really doubt it if the guy is coming off of major injury (considering the rash of injuries we’ve sustained to Rawls and Prosise).  I’m sure there’s a solid D-tackle out there we’ll bring in.  But, again, while these positions are priorities, they’re also something that can be knocked out later in the process.  The NFL draft isn’t until the last weekend in April.  There’s PLENTY of time for the Seahawks to make smart, sensible moves.

If Terrell Davis Is A Hall Of Famer, Why Not Shaun Alexander? Marshawn Lynch?

I was going to get to this earlier in the week, but work happened.  And, I didn’t want to half-ass this one.  And since there weren’t any other things I COULD half-ass, you get the 2-day gap in posts.

So, apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, the name Jamal Lewis popped into my brain, and I got it into my head that he had a crazy amount of rushing yards for a running back to NOT be in the NFL Hall of Fame.  As it turns out, he’s currently only 24th on the list, with 10,607 yards, and there are PLENTY of backs with 10,000+ yards who aren’t in the Hall and quite frankly don’t belong there.  As I look at Jamal’s numbers now, even though he’s one of a VERY small few to have a 2,000-yard season, it’s not a total shocker to see him not in there yet.  He does have seven 1,000 yard seasons in total, but only the one Pro Bowl/All Pro year.  I’ll let some Ravens fan make the case for Jamal Lewis; this is a Seattle-centric blog for Christ’s sake.  I’m here to talk about Shaun Alexander, and yeah, Marshawn Lynch, relative to the recently-inducted Terrell Davis.

So, when I looked at the list of the running backs with the most yards in NFL history – to check and see where Jamal Lewis stood – I went ahead and dug around to see where Terrell Davis landed.  Knowing nothing, aside from the fact that his career was relatively short compared to most running backs you consider to be Hall of Famers, I figured going in that he was sub-10,000 yards.  But, I figured he’d be in the 9,000 range.

NO!  Not even!  Try 7,607!

He’s 55th all time.  The only other Hall of Famers in his range or lower are the REAL old timers.  Like, before the Super Bowl was a thing.  Like, before the AFL and the NFL merged into a single league.

Now, for what it’s worth, I do think Terrell Davis belongs in the Hall of Fame.  But, you know, I’m more of an Eye Test guy.  When I say the name Terrell Davis, I think, “Yeah, that guy was one of the all-time greats.”  But, when you see 7,607 staring you back in the face, it’s enough to give you pause.  It gave me pause anyway!

I’ve always maintained that Shaun Alexander was and is a fringe Hall of Famer, but ultimately if you twisted my arm, I’d say probably not.  But, with 7,607 here to consider, I mean, come on!

Shaun Alexander finished with 9,453 yards (Lynch with a little less, so I’ll get to him later in the post).  If you discount his 4 games with the Redskins in the final year of his career, he spent 8 full seasons in Seattle.  Davis did what he did in 7 seasons in Denver, so the career lengths are comparable.  Alexander finished with exactly 100 rushing touchdowns and another 12 receiving TDs; Davis finished with 60 rushing and 5 receiving.  Alexander averaged 4.3 yards per attempt, Davis at 4.6, so not a HUGE difference there.  And, if you go by Approximate Value per Pro Football Reference (the higher the number the better), Alexander finished with a 79, Davis with a 78.

I mean, when you put it all down there like that, and you factor in the extra 1,846 career rushing yards and the extra 47 combined touchdowns, how is Shaun Alexander not even in the conversation and Terrell Davis is already in?

Politics aside – because I will say this:  it IS a popularity contest, no matter what you hear from anyone; if the voters don’t like you (*cough* Terrell Owens *cough*), you’re screwed – it’s kind of insane.  But, one thing we were told is that Terrell Davis’ induction is a referendum on the production he had in his Peak Years.  I think, going forward, for a lot of these players on offense – as the numbers skyrocket, as rules changes make the game more high scoring – unless you have just insane career totals, you’re going to need to build your case in your Peak Years, when you were at your very best.  How many Peak Years did you have, and how dominant were you in those years?

Terrell Davis was drafted in 1995.  He had a pretty good rookie year, but his very best years were 1996-1998.  From 1999-2001, he played in a grand total of 17 games and was out of football after that.  So, really, we’re talking about a 3-year span, but since he ended up in the top 10 in rushing in his rookie year, we’ll include that to give him a 4-year Peak.

  • In 1995, he ran for 1,117 yards and 7 TDs, good for 9th in yards and outside the top 10 in TDs.
  • In 1996, he ran for 1,538 yards and 13 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders) and tied for 3rd in TDs with Ricky Watters, behind Curtis Martin’s 14 and Terry Allen’s 21.
  • In 1997, he ran for 1,750 yards and 15 TDs, good for 2nd in yards (behind Barry Sanders’ 2,000 yard season) and tied for 1st in TDs with Karim Abdul-Jabbar.
  • In 1998, he ran for 2,008 yards and 21 TDs, good for 1st in yards and TDs.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl and first team All Pro three times, 1996-1998.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 1998.  He led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, winning the Super Bowl MVP the first time and ceding it to John Elway the second time.  He was placed on the 2nd team All-1990s team to boot.

So, that’s the resume, more or less.  How does that compare to Shaun Alexander’s Peak Years?  Well, he didn’t start as a rookie in 2000, which was understandable at the time – we still had a prime Ricky Watters giving us his all – but will likely go down as the reason why Alexander ultimately doesn’t make the Hall.  If he were to hang another 1,000 yard season on his career totals, with another 10 or so TDs, I don’t see how you could keep him out.  Regardless, I’m giving Alexander a total of 5 Peak Years, from 2001-2005.  He topped 1,000 yards each year and had no less than 14 rushing TDs in each of those years!  To wit:

  • In 2001, he ran for 1,318 yards and 14 TDs, good for 6th in yards and 1st in TDs.
  • In 2002, he ran for 1,175 yards and 16 TDs, outside the top 10 in yards, but tied for 2nd with Ricky Williams in TDs (behind Priest Holmes).
  • In 2003, he ran for 1,435 yards and 14 TDs, good for 8th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with Clinton Portis & the aforementioned Jamal Lewis, behind Ahman Green and Priest Holmes again.
  • In 2004, he ran for 1,696 yards and 16 TDs, good for 2nd (by ONE YARD behind Curtis Martin) in yards and 2nd in TDs behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
  • In 2005, he ran for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs, good for 1st in yards and tying a then-NFL record for TDs in a season (to be broken by LDT the very next year with 28, who holds it to this day).

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl three times (2003-2005), made first team All Pro one time, in 2005.  He won the NFL’s MVP award in 2005.  He led the Seahawks to just one Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season (he likely would’ve been the Super Bowl MVP had the refs not screwed us over, but that’s neither here nor there).  And, he was placed on the 2nd team All-2000s team.

I guess, what you have to ask yourself is, what do you take more stock in?  Shaun Alexander had a longer Peak, and arguably a better one.  I mean, those touchdown totals are INSANE for a 5-year run!  Terrell Davis didn’t set or tie any single-season marks!  So, do you rank that higher, or do you rank Davis’ Super Bowl success higher?

You gotta admit, it’s a helluva story.  Terrell Davis helps the long-suffering John Elway get his only two Super Bowl titles as he rides off into the sunset.  While Shaun Alexander led an okay Seahawks reign in the mid-2000s, that only got to the lone Super Bowl, and lost it in frustrating fashion.

You might sit here and argue that Shaun Alexander had a couple of Hall of Famers in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson to run behind, but Terrell Davis had a very good O-Line in his own right.  On top of that, let’s face it, the zone blocking scheme Denver was running back then was relatively new, and the NFL hadn’t really adapted to defending it.  Which is why you saw so many Denver running backs in those days plucked from the bottom of the draft and making huge impacts.  I’d put all of that as a wash, or even a little in Davis’ favor.

Where I think Shaun Alexander might have some trouble is that he spent most of his career in LDT’s shadow.  Sure, there were good running backs playing when Terrell Davis had his reign, but I don’t think there were as many as when Shaun Alexander was doing his thing.  The running back position as a whole really exploded in the early-to-mid 2000s.  I mean, shit, with Davis’ induction, now we’re talking about Priest Fucking Holmes having an argument to be included!  The guy only had 3 good years and was injured the rest of the time for fuck’s sake!

It’s a shame, too, because Shaun Alexander came up in the era where Fantasy Football really exploded.  If that has any effect whatsoever, then you have to remember that Shaun Alexander was ALWAYS a top 2 pick in any fantasy draft, with LDT.  The game of football, at its purest, is about scoring touchdowns and preventing the other team from scoring touchdowns.  There weren’t many running backs in the history of the league who had a nose for scoring touchdowns the way Shaun Alexander did.  In fact, looking at the leaderboard, Alexander is tied for 7th with Marshall Faulk for his 100 touchdowns.  He only falls to 13th in combined rushing & receiving TDs as well.  Davis is 48th & 120th respectively.

I dunno!  Maybe I’m a homer.  Or, maybe I’m a fucking purist and Shaun Alexander deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

Now, regarding Marshawn Lynch, I think he has an even-tougher road to hoe than Alexander in a lot of ways.  He has 6 seasons where he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, his first two with Buffalo and his first four full years with Seattle.  He racked up a career total of 9,112 yards (37th all time) and 74 rushing touchdowns (24th all time), with another 9 receiving TDs.  I won’t discount his first two years in Buffalo, but I’d have to say his Peak Years were the first four full ones with Seattle, so let’s run them down now:

  • In 2011, he ran for 1,204 yards and 12 TDs, good for 7th in yards and tied for 3rd in TDs with AP and Ray Rice, behind Cam Newton and Shady McCoy.
  • In 2012, he ran for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs, good for 3rd in yards and tied for 5th in TDs with Doug Martin and Trent Richardson.
  • In 2013, he ran for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs, good for 6th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with Jamaal Charles.
  • In 2014, he ran for 1,306 yards and 13 TDs, good for 4th in yards and tied for 1st in TDs with DeMarco Murray.

On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl five times (2008, 2011-2014) and the first team All Pro once, in 2012.  No MVPs, but he led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one, and should have won them both.  He was also stripped of a Super Bowl MVP award opportunity by not being handed the ball at the 1-yard line against the Patriots, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, obviously, the numbers aren’t really there for Lynch, compared to Alexander.  But, as I said before, it’s always so much more than just numbers.  Now, I’m not sure Beastmode is going to win many popularity contests, with the way he shunned the media in his later years – particularly in those two Super Bowl seasons – but I also feel like time will heal those wounds somewhat.  I guess it just depends on how many Hall of Fame voters were also those media people who were all bent out of shape about his antics.  I could see that going either way, but it’s hard to see that as a deal-breaker.

What’s very much in Beastmode’s favor is the fact that he was a motherfucking BEAST!  He had, without question, the greatest run in the history of the NFL, PERIOD!  And, if you search for a reel of highlights, I mean, he’s amazing.  For me, he’s on a short-list with guys like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Jim Brown and maybe that’s it, of guys I just love to watch run with the football.  Guys who could do ANYTHING with the football!  With that mystique behind him?  Compared to Shaun Alexander, who has this reputation for being a bit soft (which I don’t think is totally fair, but it’s out there), I dunno.  I think that pulls Marshawn Lynch up even with Alexander, when you factor in total numbers plus the popularity contest element.

Then, take a look at playoff numbers.  Because I think this is obviously where Terrell Davis got over the hump, with the two Super Bowls and all that.  Davis is 6th all time in playoff yards with 1,140.  Each of the top 7 guys on this list (and 8 of the top 9) are in the Hall of Fame.  Ready for a shocker?  Marshawn Lynch is 8th on this list (and hence the only one of the top 9 not in the Hall) with 937 yards.  That, I think, is going to be a huge feather in his cap, if and when Lynch ever gets his day in the sun.

So, where do you look next?  I’ll tell you:  the era.  Shaun Alexander played in the last era of the great running backs.  Once he hung ’em up, and teams started realizing you could find quality running backs later in the draft, and pair them in these shared backfields teams have gone to, to mitigate injury risk and running back paydays, you just don’t see as many workhorses as you used to.  In that sense, Marshawn Lynch has a leg up, because he was a rare breed in that regard.  A workhorse and right up there at the top for his 4-year Peak run with Adrian Peterson and that’s about it.

At this point, once we start passing by the Hall of Famers in the first decade of the 2000s and get into the 2010s, you have to shift your expectations for what a Hall of Fame running back looks like.  You can’t just STOP putting running backs in the Hall of Fame, because their numbers aren’t like the video game numbers of the 1990s and early 2000s!

So, I could see a legitimate situation where Shaun Alexander never gets in (which would be a crime) and Marshawn Lynch does get in (which would be well-deserved).

I just hope the media guy who advocates for those two puts up a good fight, because I now think both are VERY deserving, especially if Terrell Davis is already in there.

Seahawks/Vikings Preseason Game 2 Takeaways

You know what was ultimately my biggest takeaway from that game?  The Seahawks are going to fucking DESTROY Dallas next week.

I came away predictably impressed by Minnesota’s defense.  That unit as a whole is no joke.  I don’t know if, ultimately, their secondary is better than ours, but their front seven is pretty savage, from both run and pass rush perspectives.  I also erroneously came away frustrated, thinking that we’d have to play them again in the regular season, but it turns out they’re not actually on the schedule, and we won’t have to play them again until the playoffs.

I also think, yeah, the Vikings are GOING to make the playoffs.  Unless that defense suffers no less than 7 major injuries, they should easily carry what should be another pretty anemic offense.

One final bit on the Vikings:  I thought it was a real chickenshit move to not start Bridgewater.  Given their head coach’s non-answer to why he didn’t play, I can only assume it was because he was afraid that we’d further stunt his limited growth by making him look bad.  I mean, it’s not like he’s reached Adrian Peterson status where he can sit out the entire pre-season and then perform at an All Pro level in Week 1.  Since Bridgewater played in the first pre-season game, we know THAT level of insanity hasn’t been breached.  So, what else could it be?  If he was being disciplined for some team violation, the coach could have just said that, and left unsaid what the violation was.  But, no, this was a coach’s decision, and I think it was a mistake.  That kid needs reps against a legit defense if he’s ever going to grow.

Onto more Seahawky things, I thought Christine Michael looked legit.  As a personal philosophy, I don’t like the Running Back By Committee, but as a Marshawn Lynch fanatic, I like the idea that it takes two quality running backs to compensate for the loss of Beastmode.  The Seahawks’ running game is in good hands this season.

Knowing full well Minnesota’s defense is great, I thought it was disappointing that we couldn’t score on them in the first half.  There are other great defenses on our schedule this season – like the Rams in Week 2, for instance – and it’s disheartening to see us struggle so mightily against these stout front sevens.  Of course, penalties and other mistakes don’t help matters much.  Russell Wilson looked like he reverted a little bit when the pressure was on – resulting in him taking a couple of sacks he probably shouldn’t have.  I was also a little scared to see Wilson get chopped down a couple times where – in seasons past – I remember him being able to get away from such forces.  Is he losing a step?  Maybe too early to go to that extreme, but he certainly wasn’t doing the type of Russell Wilson things we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

Regarding the offensive line, I thought the interior played another fine game.  But, both the left and right tackles were DISASTERS.  The more I think about it, the more we’re going to need to rely on the quick-strike passing game.  Teams already want to do everything they can to keep Wilson in the pocket, to prevent him from doing those aforementioned Russell Wilson things.  But, that’s made MUCH easier if our tackles are going to give defenders the edge on a constant basis.  Bradley Sowell is not a starter in this league, period.  Webb’s injury has forced the team to revert Gilliam back to the right side, which has to be fucking with his development like crazy.  Don’t expect the tackle positions to be even remotely competent anytime soon.

On defense, we still haven’t seen them play to their full potential.  Michael Bennett’s reps have been scaled back, what with it being the pre-season, and what with him being amazing.  I don’t know how much we’ve actually seen with Bennett, Avril, and Clark all rushing the quarterback at the same time, but it really hasn’t been a lot (if any).

I thought it was weird that Brandon Browner didn’t get any play with the starters.  If he’s supposed to have this “special role” with us, where we use him against opposing tight ends, then how about we at least TRY it in the pre-season to see where and how he fits in?!  Like usual, the middle short of the defense, as well as the tight end position, were the areas where we struggled.  That offense, with Shaun Hill and no AP, should have looked as inept as can be, but they ultimately managed to move the ball a little bit, to my dismay.  And score on us, where we were unable to score on them.

DeShawn Shead looked like the real deal.  So did Kelcie McCray.  This secondary is in good hands.

Still no sign of Tye Smith having any impact whatsoever.  To think, I had such high hopes in his Year 2.

Frank Clark continued to be Mr. Pre-Season, which is fun.  Jarran Reed looked strong up the middle, which is also fun.

Boykin almost led us to another second half comeback, then got smacked with a Pick Six, then almost led us to another MIRACLE second half comeback.  That kid’s got Quality Second Stringer written all over him (I just hope we don’t have to use him as a rookie, when the games start to mean something).

Steven A. Taylor’s Long Snapper Corner

So, not a great week for Nolan Frese.  I saw at least two bad snaps to the punter (maybe three?) and one VERY high snap on a field goal opportunity, that messed with Hauschka’s timing, ultimately causing him to leave a long field goal a few yards short.  That also happened while some fans were passing around a video on Twitter of Clint Gresham on YouTube doing his long snapping magic.  Gresh is still out there, looking for work.  I’d consider it, if I were running the Seahawks …

We should be fucking dead, my friend. What happened here was a miracle and I want you to fucking acknowledge it!

I’m simply amazed at the capacity for this team to amaze me.

Playoff MVPs ...

Playoff MVPs …

I don’t know if what we witnessed yesterday was a football game, or some bizarre form of torture porn; all I know is I’m glad it’s over and point me in the direction of the nearest bathroom, because I do believe I’ve soiled myself.

The weather was stupid cold, which as we all know causes freaky shit to happen.  For the vast majority of that game, said “freaky shit” came in the form of every God damn Rams game we’ve ever seen in the last four years:  Seahawks struggling on offense, Seahawks unable to get pressure on defense (because everything is a run or a quick pass), Seahawks getting absolutely none of the breaks (whether it comes to penalties or turnovers).  And, like Every God Damn Rams Game Ever, you knew even though the Seahawks were down, there’d be a comeback.  Although, I have to admit, when the Vikings kicked that third field goal to make it a 2-score game (9-0), most of me didn’t have much hope for the Seahawks, needing to drive twice in the same quarter.

Then, somehow, it finally started to click.  The play of the game (non-field goal edition) just happened to be an errant snap from Patrick Lewis, where Russell Wilson turned chicken shit into a 35-yard completion to Tyler Lockett and a first & goal situation.  And, I shit you not, I was woken from a dead sleep yesterday morning before the game by a vision of a botched shotgun snap resulting in a Wilson sack, so stop trying to tell me “all my visions come true” because sometimes they’re a little off (Pobody’s Nerfect).  A touchdown to the vital and spry Doug Baldwin made the game 9-7, and a forced fumble of Adrian Peterson helped make the game 10-9 on the very next drive.

That led us to the part of the game where I’m glad I muted Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, because if I had to listen to them blather on about all the 4th quarter collapses the Seahawks have had this year, I would no longer be the owner of a Toshiba flat-screen TV, because that Toshiba flat-screen TV would be lying broken and discarded on top of someone’s vehicle outside of my balcony five stories below.  Good God, I know not everyone watching is a hardcore Seahawks fan, and they have to paint the complete picture, but suck an unhealthy amount of dicks, you guys!

It’s true, though.  The Seahawks HAVE blown a ton of games this year.  Feels like five by my count.  When you get all the way to the fourth quarter before the Seahawks score a point, and then they manage to somehow get 10 points and take a lead, it leaves you wondering, “HOW IN THE FUCK IS THERE STILL 8 MINUTES LEFT IN THIS GAME RIGHT NOW???”  And yet, we forced the 3 & Out, and I’m foolishly thinking, “All right!  Maybe we can score again and lock this shit down!”

We followed up their 3 & Out with one of our own, and then somehow managed to force a punt AGAIN, very close to the 2 minute warning.  All we had to do was get a God damn first down and this game would be ours!  And, even if we failed, their offense wasn’t going anywhere against our defense, when our defense finally had a chance to pin its ears back and attack the quarterback!  We got this!

Sure as shit, we didn’t “got this”.  On 2nd & 10, the Vikings were bailed out on a pathetic pass interference call on Kam Chancellor (seriously, their guy ran straight into Kam; how is that Kam’s fault???), before parlaying that into another long gain by their tight end (the pass just getting beyond the outstretched arms of Kam, who I thought had an underwhelming return, even though he forced the fumble on All Day).  That put the Vikings SQUARE into field goal position (especially when you consider their kicker was lights out all day, hitting from longs of 43 & 47 yards).  Three straight runs after that bled all of our time outs, and all but 26 seconds of game clock, putting them at the 9 yard line.  A chip shot, by every measure, even in 0-degree weather.  He was on the left hash mark, 27 yards away from glory …

And he hooked it left.

Richard Sherman, coming off of the right side, nearly blocked one of his previous kicks, so maybe that was on Blair Walsh’s mind?  Also, the laces were in, but that didn’t prevent him from making a previous kick.  He just flat out blew it, whatever the reason, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

What is it about the Seahawks and breaking the minds, bodies, and spirits of teams and fans in the NFC North?

Like I said at the top, I don’t know what you can say about this team anymore.  We seem to be harvesting multiple generations’ worth of karma in these last few years.  It’s not even like being “clutch”, though there have been some clutch plays.  This team’s overall playoff performance – dating back to 2012 – would look MUCH different if it weren’t for some downright lucky things.  Like the missed chipshot yesterday, or the onside kick against Green Bay last year, or even Colin Kaepernick’s insane decision to throw on Richard Sherman two years ago.

I’ll tell you what, though.  I said it last week and I’ll say it again:  the Seahawks ARE the better team.  When you run into cold weather and dominating, physical defenses, shit tends to happen.  Once again, our offense wasn’t good enough.  Russell Wilson wasn’t good enough, for most of the day.  You don’t have to get rid of the bubble screen altogether, but the bubble screen to Doug Baldwin needs to be ripped out of the playbook and set on fire.  Also, in obvious rushing situations (3rd & 1), what are you doing going with a standard, under-center run formation, when the zone read has been killing them all day?  Shit like this is going to bite us in the end if we keep making the same mistakes we made in the early part of this season!  So, let’s get it on!

And, Jesus Christ, can we get our play calls in faster?

And will someone teach Jon Ryan to run AWAY from contact instead of right at it?

Happy for the win, though.  As the better of the two teams, we’re sure to see a good, competitive couple of games next weekend out of the NFC.  If the Vikings had advanced, I guarantee 10 out of 10 times they’d go into Arizona and get their asses kicked.  So, don’t feel too bad Vikings fans, your would-be glory would’ve been short lived anyway.

Players of the game, I’ve got a few:

Richard Sherman played like a boss all day, coming up huge with his 6 solo tackles, while getting dinged on a bogus illegal contact penalty.

Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright all came up huge.

Still gotta give props to Kam Chancellor for the rip on A.D.

Michael Bennett might have been the best player on the field today as he sliced his way through their line time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time again.

Kudos to Avril, Mebane, Rubin, and the rest of those guys too, holding Peterson to only 45 yards on 23 carries (not too much of an improvement, tbh, on his 8 carries for 18 yards earlier this season).

Offensive line, I thought, was a mixed bag.  A few really glaring errors, but for the most part gave Wilson enough time, and opened up enough holes in the running game to keep them honest.  Mostly positive day, really, against a really tough front seven.

Christine Michael finished with 70 yards on 21 carries, probably as good as one could expect against that defense.

Doug Baldwin with the SICK 1-handed catch to get a first down, also led the team with 5 catches, 42 yards, and our lone touchdown.

Good on Lockett to get open on that scramble play.  Good on Kearse for being Wilson’s security blanket after dropping the first pass thrown his way on the day.

Finally, good on the special teams for not letting Cordarrelle Patterson, their kick returner, do any damage.  I have to admit, that was a gnawing fear, as I kept hoping the team would start squibbing on those kickoffs, since it was clear Hauschka wasn’t going to have the leg to force any touchbacks.

Seahawks Close Out Season On Top

Relatively speaking.  If you go by win/loss record, of course, the Seahawks closed out on top of 6th Place.  But, I think this victory over the Cardinals goes a long way in proving that these aren’t the same Seahawks we saw the first time we played them.

This was an offense carving through a defense like a surgeon.  Or, maybe like a serial killer.  Methodical.  Ruthless.  With all the time in the world and all the patience to take what’s ours.  It was the offense we’d been seeing for five of the last six weeks.  A quarterback playing better than ever, a running back slashing his way down field, wide receivers making plays, and an offensive line giving them all enough time to get it done.

And, this was a defense as close as we’ve seen to the great defenses of recent past.  With this performance, of course, the Seahawks have now led the league in fewest points allowed for a record-breaking fourth straight year.  Now led by our otherworldly defensive front seven – with the secondary more or less doing enough to get by as our depth in that area has bottomed – this is a unit that can dominate anyone, at any time.

It turns out, one week after a miserable anomaly, the Cardinals really didn’t stand a chance against this Seahawks team.  And with our playoff spot secured, we now head into the time of year where Matchups are king.  Home field helps.  Getting a week off helps.  Getting guys back from injury helps.  But, what we’ve got now are three individual games.  It just so happens all will be on the road; it just so happens that we’ll be playing a team coming off of a BYE (should we happen to advance, of course); but nothing that’s happened before matters.  Only the next three weeks.  Only getting back to a third straight Super Bowl.

Wild Card Round

The Seahawks play the Vikings this week, thanks to the Vikings edging out the Packers for the division title.  As unlikely as it sounds, this is probably our best-case scenario (so, be on the lookout for a mortifying defeat this Sunday).

This Vikings team will surely play better than the Vikings team we saw in Week 13.  For starters, they’ll have some defensive starters back that they didn’t have before.  That alone should theoretically make things more difficult.  If any defense in the playoffs resembles the Rams, this would be the closest thing to it.  The Seahawks should be getting Okung and Sweezy back though; they will be key in making sure Wilson has time to throw.

On the flipside, this is still the same Vikings offense we saw from before.  Unlike Wilson, Bridgewater HASN’T made some miraculous jump in quarterbacking ability.  He still has relatively no feel for the deep pass and relies entirely too much upon his running game and checkdowns to be a winner in the playoffs.  I would expect Adrian Peterson to get more than 18 yards rushing, because that’s an insane number we held him to in Week 13; but it’s unrealistic to expect him to be this dominating force when our run defense has been the more dominating unit on the year.

This game might be a little uglier than Week 13, but I’d still expect a Seahawks victory.  With the temperature around 0 degrees, I’d be on the lookout for sloppy play.  But, in the end, the talent on this Seahawks team should be too much for them.

Divisional Round

Carolina looms in the second round, should the Seahawks advance.  There’s actually a lot to like about how we played them back in Week 6; except for – obviously – the fourth quarter collapse.  To be fair, Cary Williams is no more.  Also, the Panthers managed to lose their second- and third-best cornerbacks to injury in recent weeks, so look for their defense to take a hit in spite of their extra week’s rest.

The Panthers are flying high, no doubt about it.  If anything, their performance this year reminds me a lot of the Seahawks in 2013; it just sort of FEELS like destiny.  I would argue that the winner of this game is the team that’s going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and I bet I’m 100% right.

The only thing that has me leaning towards the Seahawks is that we know what we’re going to get out of the Panthers.  We’ve played them at least once a year for the last four years now, and 3 of those 5 games were on the road, which we happened to win.  I’m not saying it’ll be easy.  I’m not saying it won’t be a challenge.  But, we SHOULD have beaten them earlier this year, and I think that’s going to get rectified in two weeks.

Championship Round

In my estimation, the Cardinals have the easiest road of anyone in these playoffs.  For starters, they locked down that BYE week, which is critical.  And, as the 2-seed, they avoid the Seahawks in the divisional round, likely going up against the winner of the Green Bay/Washington game.  I’m leaning towards the Redskins taking that one, but either way, those are two seriously flawed teams, especially on defense.  I think the Cardinals have zero problem beating either one in the Divisional Round.

Which brings us to the NFC Championship Game, at the site of last year’s Super Bowl collapse.  At this point, you’ve gotta ask yourselves:  do I think I’m going to see the Week 10 Seahawks, or the Week 17 Seahawks?  I’m leaning towards the latter, but we won’t really know until we get there.  A lot can happen in these next two weeks.  The Seahawks could lose any number of players to injury between now and then.

I will say I expect a better game in this one.  I’m also oddly comforted in having this one on the road, as it seems like we play them better on their own turf (and worse in CenturyLink Field) for some reason.

Super Bowl

Should the best happen for the Seahawks, then we’ve also gotta be prepared for the worst.  If the Seahawks are to make the Super Bowl again, I’m convinced it’s going to be against the Steelers in a rematch of my worst nightmare.  Make no mistake, outside of the Patriots again, playing the Steelers in the Super Bowl is my biggest fear.  I’m sick just thinking about it.

Time To Kick It Into Higher Gear, Seahawks

I don’t know much about cars; do you really kick gears?

The Seahawks did a great and impressive thing last week:  they stepped toe to toe with one of the better offenses in the league, and they came out on top.  When you look at the probable major players for the NFC playoffs, you’re going to have to overcome some impressive offenses:  Arizona, Green Bay, and Carolina (even though nobody thinks of them as having an impressive offense, go really look at the numbers they’re putting up this year with essentially no one but Cam).  It’s going to be vital in some of these potential playoff matchups (if, indeed, that’s where the Seahawks end up) to have our offense clicking to match theirs.

On the flipside, we have this week’s matchup against the Vikings.  They DON’T have an impressive offense.  In fact, it’s pretty feeble.  It’s Adrian Peterson and A LOT of game managing out of their quarterback.  But, their defense is rock solid in just about every aspect.  When you look at teams like the Vikings, Arizona and Carolina again, and to a lesser extent the Falcons, you’re going to see some good defenses in the playoffs as well.  Getting our guys going against these stout fronts will make all the difference in getting back to a third Super Bowl in three years.

Finally, the big thing about this week’s game is that this is the last really good team we’re going to face until the playoffs (if you think like I do, that the Cards will be resting the bulk of their starters for the bulk of that game in week 17, as they’ll have the 2-seed wrapped up by then).  I see this as the true litmus test of the second half of this season.  To date, until defeating the Steelers, the Seahawks had lost every game against every quality opponent they faced.  They’re now 1-4 in those games, with – as I mentioned – one final test to go.  If these are the same Seahawks we watched struggle to a 4-5 start, then I would put all my money down on the Seahawks LOSING this weekend in another heartbreaker.  BUT, if they’ve somehow turned a corner (like they did towards the end of 2014 and 2012), then the Vikings will be just another mediocre opponent we’ll have no trouble defeating by 7-10 points.

The formula couldn’t be simpler:  stop Adrian Peterson and you stop the Vikings.  At that point, it’s just a matter of getting to 17-20 points to give yourself enough of a cushion to withstand any late-game heroics.  Do I think the Seahawks are capable of doing that?  Mmm, I think anything’s possible.

As I mentioned in my review of the Steelers game, I like our defense to make a big leap forward in the coming weeks.  I like Shead as our other starting corner.  I like getting Lane back and him having a full game under his belt.  I think we’re JUST starting to get our groove back as a whole, defensively.  But, I think it’s highly probable that we’re not giving Teddy Bridgewater enough credit for limiting mistakes and getting the ball into the hands of playmakers.  The Vikings have a good, young receiver (Stefon Diggs) and a quality, underrated tight end (Kyle Rudolph), and I think they’ll be able to move the ball through the air just enough.  I also think it’s impossible to stop Adrian Peterson for a full 60 minutes.  We’ve got a very good run defense, but then again, is it good because of the long line of stiffs we’ve been playing against?  Take a look:

  1. The Rams, pre-Gurley (Benjamin Cunningham led with 45 yards on 16 carries)
  2. The Packers, featuring Fat Eddie Lacy (James Starks actually led with 95 yards on 20 carries)
  3. The Bears, featuring Jimmy Clausen & no Alshon Jeffery (Forte, with 74 yards on 20 carries)
  4. The Lions, ’nuff said (Ameer Abdullah with 33 yards on 13 carries)
  5. The Bengals, featuring Disappointing Jeremy Hill, and playing from way behind (Giovani Bernard with 80 yards on 15 carries)
  6. The Panthers, first solid rushing team (Jonathan Stewart with 78 yards on 20 carries)
  7. The 49ers, ’nuff said (Carlos Hyde with 40 yards on 11 carries)
  8. The Cowboys, no Romo (Darren McFadden with 64 yards on 20 carries)
  9. The Cardinals, decent rushing team (Chris Johnson with 58 yards on 25 carries)
  10. The 49ers again, this time no Hyde (Shaun Draughn with 37 yards on 12 carries)
  11. The Steelers, primarily a passing team (DeAngelo Williams with 29 yards on 8 carries)

I mean, really, LOOK at that list!  Carolina ran the ball well, aside from J-Stew.  Starks had a solid game.  Bernard burned us pretty good at times.  But, NONE of those guys are even close to what a healthy A.P. can do.  Are we SURE the Seahawks’ run defense is that good?  We’ll find out this weekend.  If it isn’t as good as we thought, we’ll be in big trouble.

Lose this game and it’s not necessarily the end of the world.  Drops us to 6-6, with three easy games (at an injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens; home vs. Cleveland; home vs. the Rams – who we always beat at home) and another potentially-easy game against the Cards.  10-6 would still be possible with a loss this weekend.

But, a loss also leads to shifting expectations.  I don’t think we’d have any business believing that this is a championship team.  If we can’t beat the Vikings, what would make us believe that we’d beat a try-hard Cardinals team, or a still-good Packers team, or a flawless Panthers team?  We’d be making the playoffs just for the sake of being there, and we’d probably get bounced in the first round by the winner of the NFC North.  Especially if that team is the Packers and we have to go back to Green Bay again, this time in the bitter cold.

A victory in Minnesota this weekend, however, puts a total re-set on the season.  It would mean the Seahawks ARE legit, and they HAVE flipped the switch at the exact right time.  At that point, I’d expect the Seahawks to win out, nab that 5-seed, and go into the winner of the NFC East and DESTROY them with ease.  My excitement level for the final four weeks will be off the charts.

As a closing aside, the last few years we’ve been talking about the great dynasties of past decades.  The Vikings of the 60s, the Steelers of the 70s, the 49ers of the 80s, the Cowboys of the 90s, the Patriots of the 00s; but, one “dynasty” I’ve always had a soft spot for is the Buffalo Bills of the early 90s.  Yeah yeah, I know, they lost four straight Super Bowls, and from a historical perspective, they’re laughingstocks.  But, do you know how IMPOSSIBLE it is for a team to go to four straight Super Bowls?  The Dolphins went to three in the early 70s (winning two), everyone else it’s two in a row or less.  Just getting to four straight Super Bowls, even winning none of them (though, coming to within a missed field goal of winning that first one) is an all time miracle of professional football.  That’s being consistently good enough to be dominant year after year, while at the same time catching fire in the playoffs.  And the Bills weren’t beating up on a down conference, either!  They had Marino’s Dolphins, Esiason’s Bengals, Moon’s Oilers, Schottenheimer’s Chiefs, and Elway’s Broncos to contend with year-in and year-out.  Some of the greatest players and coaches of all time coached in this era, and still the Bills went to back-to-back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls.  Unreal!

I’m not making an argument that I’d trade places with those teams or anything, but I like the idea of the Seahawks making a serious run at going to four straight.  Well, this would be year three.  In years 1 and 2, the Seahawks were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In years 1 and 2 for Buffalo during their run, the Bills were division winners and top seeds in their conference.  In year 3 for the Bills, they had some struggles and finished second in their division.  But, they nabbed the top Wild Card slot, won a crazy playoff game where they came back from being down by 32 points (still the greatest comeback of all time), and scratched and clawed their way back to their third Super Bowl (knocking off the #1 seed in the Divisional Round, then beating their divisional rival in the Championship Game).

This year’s Seahawks team looks like it’s headed for a Wild Card spot.  We already had our huge “comeback game” against the Packers last year, but who’s to say we don’t win some crazy Wild Card game this year, face the Panthers in the Divisional Round, and then have to go down to Arizona for the NFC Championship Game?

For what it’s worth, that fourth Bills team easily won its division and reclaimed their #1 seed in the playoffs.  So, we have that to look forward to, if my prophecy comes to fruition (except, no more getting beat in the Super Bowl, thx).

The Hellacious Seattle Seahawks 2015 Season Preview!

There was supposed to be three full days of previews – befitting the excitement level of going into yet another Championship Season in this current Championship Window – but my dad picked up a cold over Labor Day weekend, which remained dormant in my body until Tuesday afternoon, when it revealed its presence, dragging down my fragile frame in the process.

The subsequent two days were spent in various states of repose, between my couch and my bed, filling my body with a steady diet of bananas and Vitamin C while I filled carefully folded bundles of toilet paper with mucus from my ever-running nose.  I’m still nowhere near 100%, but season previews don’t write themselves!  So, here goes nothing.

As you could probably tell from this post, I’m pretty high on the Seahawks getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it yet again.  In fact, I’m higher on the Seahawks THIS year than I was last year, when we were essentially the same starting units on both sides of the ball less a couple key components.  Where the 2014 Seahawks really bought the farm was in the loss of Golden Tate.  Had we never made the trade for Percy Harvin, and instead focused on giving Tate the deal he deserved, the rest of the receivers on this team would’ve slotted out where they were supposed to be, and we wouldn’t have been throwing a goalline pass to Ricardo Lockette of all people on our final offensive play of the Super Bowl.  But, it’s not fair to lay all the blame on one guy (or lack thereof), when the real culprit of 2014 was a lack of quality depth.

That’s where 2015 comes on to shine.  Harvin and Tate have been replaced by rookie Tyler Lockett.  Turbin and Michael have been replaced by Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls (two steadier and more capable backs).  Willson and Helfet get knocked down to the second & third tight end spots with the trade for Jimmy Graham.  Our pass rush that was – by season’s end – pretty much just Bennett, Avril, and Irvin, gets bolstered with the addition of rookie Frank Clark, and the growth and maturity (and hopefully health) of Cassius Marsh and Jordan Hill.

2015 should also offer additional gains out of our already-established stars.  Guys like Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Tharold Simon should all see considerable improvements in play as they enter the primes of their careers.  And, while guys like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are coming off of significant injuries, it’s still fair to expect their very best play, as we would with veterans like Bennett, Avril, Okung, Mebane, Lynch, and Chancellor if/when he ever shows up again.

If you assume everyone will be healthy all year (which, I understand, is ridiculous), then on paper the only real weakness we’re looking at is the offensive line.  You could make an argument for secondary depth being the primary weakness, but as long as the rest of the defense is able to stay on the field, it should more than make up for what’s going on opposite Richard Sherman.  The O-Line is truly the problem area, but I also feel that’s a bit unfair.

For starters, when you compare the O-Line to the other position groups on this team, OF COURSE it’s going to rank dead last!  But, more importantly, I would argue this position group has always been a little bit neglected from a talent perspective, and they’ve made up for it by employing one of the very best O-Line coaches in the league.  AND, not for nothing, but the Seahawks have gone to two straight Super Bowls with two pretty sub-par offensive lines, and it hasn’t prevented us from winning yet.

They tinkered with it in the pre-season and came away with a starting five that’s as good as it’s going to get (since we can’t really afford to bring in quality outside help).  But, that doesn’t mean it’s as good as it’s ever going to be.  We’ve got three guys – Britt at left guard, Nowak at center, Gilliam at right tackle – who are getting their first professional starts at their respective positions.  Will it be a struggle early?  I think, from what we’ve seen of the running game this pre-season:  yeah, it’s going to be a little ugly.  This O-Line is going to struggle against the better D-Lines in the league (which makes it utterly horrific that we have to play the Rams in week 1), but it’s going to look downright competent against the lesser D-Lines.  And, I think these guys have a real chance to mature and gel, to where by season’s end, we’ll be looking at a solid group of guys on an offense that’s humming along with the best of ’em.

When even your weakest point is still good enough to be argued into a strength, you know you’ve got a great team on your hands.  I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that this team has the potential to be better than their 2014 counterparts, with a ceiling being at the 2013 level (which is really saying something, because I’ll always believe the 2013 Seahawks were one of the all time greatest teams in the history of the league).

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns.  There are always reasons to worry, especially early in the season.  Will Earl Thomas be back to his usual self?  Will Kam Chancellor ever end this idiotic holdout?  Will Richard Sherman make it through the full season?  Will the offense mesh well with Jimmy Graham, or will they try to force it to him too many times, stalling too many drives?  Will the O-Line be able to open holes for Lynch?  Will Russell Wilson be a better pocket passer?  And, most importantly, in an overall sense:  will the key players and key positions be able to stay healthy?

Health is the ultimate X-Factor.  I say it every year, and ever year it’s no less true.  Poor health can take a championship team and prevent them from even making the playoffs.  It can rear its ugly head at any time – and often at the worst of times – leaving you grasping at straws for a solution.  Did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because of the one goalline play?  Or, did the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl because our entire fucking secondary was injured, and Cliff Avril had a concussion that reduced our pass rush to nothing, thereby allowing the Patriots back into a game we were controlling?  You can make compelling arguments for either, but the fact remains the same:  if the Seahawks were mostly healthy in that game, it probably doesn’t come down to a goalline pass in the first place.

So, that’s what you’ve gotta do:  pray for health and let the chips fall where they may.  Let this be the last word on health for the rest of this preview.

The first half of this season is fairly tough.  Five of eight on the road, five of eight against 2014 playoff teams, and not very many soft landings.  Let’s run through the schedule to see where we are.

Week 1, at St. Louis, 10am

Honestly, I have my doubts about this one.  I know I probably shouldn’t; I know they’re going through something similar on their offensive line as we are, and I know their starting two running backs are both injured, but I can’t help but look at this game and see our offense struggling.  I see Lynch getting bottled up, I see growing pains with Graham, and I see the Rams doing just enough on offense to kick one more field goal than us.  I’m putting my life savings on this game being within one score either one way or the other, and if you put a gun to my head, I’ll tell you the Rams come out on top in this one, 16-13.

Week 2, at Green Bay, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

Bounce back game, and one the Seahawks desperately need (with tie-breakers and whatnot).  I know the Packers will be fired up, and I know their fans will be insane after a day’s worth of tailgating, so it probably won’t be easy coming out of the gate.  After a sluggish first quarter, I expect the Seahawks to move the ball with regularity and defeat the Packers with ease in the second half.  Somewhere along the lines of 31-20.

Week 3, vs. Chicago, 1:25pm

This one should be a walk-over, but I expect the Bears to put up a bit of a fight, as they’ve got some nasty, talented guys in Jeffery and Forte.  But, given that this is Seattle’s home opener, I’d look for the home team to jump out to an early lead and keep it pretty comfortably in the 1-2 score range the rest of the way.  33-27.

Week 4, vs. Detroit, 5:30pm (Monday Night)

The return of Golden Tate!  There’s no way he doesn’t make a big play or two in this game.  But, with Seattle back home for a primetime game, I’m expecting another win for the good guys.  Maybe not quite the blowout we’re used to, but we’re going to scratch it out.  27-24.

Week 5, at Cincinnati, 10am

I’ve been wary of this game from the moment I saw it on our schedule.  Something about road AFC games in the morning, teams we rarely get to go up against, and them having just enough talent to get by.  I’m on record as hating on Andy Dalton pretty hard, but I think he’s going to go into this game with extra focus in not turning the ball over.  Combine that with the fact that this game isn’t in primetime and I think you’ll see Good Andy Dalton on this day.  Plus, their running game is legit, and they’ve got enough talent at receiver to move the ball on us if they want.  I see an upset here, with Cincy taking us down 20-13.

Week 6, vs. Carolina, 1:05pm

Notice we can’t help but beat on Carolina every damn year and no one ever talks about them getting fired up for us like they do about the Packers getting up for us.  Pretty much, Carolina is Seattle’s younger brother, and we can’t help but hold them down, rub our asses in their faces, and fart repeatedly until they call mom to get us to stop.  No change here.  I expect something along the lines of 27-14.

Week 7, at San Francisco, 5:25pm (Thursday Night)

The 49ers are going to be terrible this season and I expect them to look terrible whenever we play them.  Without Gore, I expect their running game to be non-existent.  Without Harbaugh, I expect their offense to be pathetic and their overall output to be among the worst.  There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a cakewalk, in a long line of ugly, unwatchable Thursday Night Football games.  Seahawks 38, 49ers 3.

Week 8, at Dallas, 1:25pm

This game would normally scare the bejesus out of me, and scream “Third Loss Of The Season!”  But, I dunno.  I like the Seahawks with 10 days to prepare.  I like the Seahawks a week before their BYE.  I like the fact that the Cowboys embarrassed us on our home turf last season.  And, quite frankly, I like how Dallas has zero home field advantage to speak of whatsoever.  I predict a huge following by the 12’s, I predict a solid day out of our offense, I predict a return touchdown from someone (probably Lockett) and ultimately I predict a Seahawks victory, to the tune of 24-23.

Week 9 – BYE

Week 10, vs. Arizona, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

I’d be shocked if Carson Palmer isn’t injured at this point in the season, but even if he’s managed to stay healthy, I don’t expect the Cards to be as good.  This game feels like a gift from the scheduling gods – at home, after a BYE, on Sunday night?  Are you kidding me?  This has blowout written all over it!  26-9.

Week 11, vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

Just played them three games ago, I don’t know why anyone would expect a different outcome.  Seahawks 30, 49ers 7.

Week 12, vs. Pittsburgh, 1:25pm

Three home games in a row after a BYE!  That’s what I’m talking about!  This one looks like a difficult matchup.  I like the Steelers’ offense a lot, particuarly their passing game.  I don’t care for their defense, but that hasn’t stopped some fringey defenses from coming in here and making us look bad.  Ultimately, I think this game will be a shootout, and I think it’ll prove to be the most exciting game of the entire season.  And, as much as it pains me to say it, I think the Steelers come in here and steal one.  They have JUST the right mix going for them:  veteran quarterback, difficult to take down or rattle in the pocket, superstar wide receiver, superstar running back.  I just think they’re going to expose us the way no other offense on our schedule will.  Pittsburgh 31, Seattle 30.

Week 13, at Minnesota, 10am

I like Minnesota’s rebuilding plan.  They’ve got a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, with a hungry Adrian Peterson and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater with a lot of potential.  He might not ever be an MVP of the league, but I think he can lead this team to some winning seasons in his career.  In this game, I like the Seahawks to bounce back on defense and make life difficult for the Vikes.  Seahawks 17, Vikings 6.

Week 14, at Baltimore, 5:30pm (Sunday Night)

This might be the most hyped non-divisional, non-playoff game on the horizon.  Two sterling franchises, two stud quarterbacks, two sound defenses.  All the storylines in the world, from Lynch vs. Forsett, to Pete Carroll vs. The Other Harbaugh, to this being a matchup of two of the last three Super Bowl winners.  Both teams should be in great positions in the standings by this point (likely leading their respective divisions) and I think we’ll all be talking about how it’s a real strong probability that this is the eventual Super Bowl matchup in February.  A lot of people will predict a Ravens victory, but I just like the Seahawks too much in primetime.  I see Seattle winning 27-23.

Week 15, vs. Cleveland, 1:05pm

Please, dear lord, give me one chance to see Johnny Football obliterated by the Seahawks in Seattle.  It’s all I ask.  Seattle 28, Cleveland 0.

Week 16, vs. St. Louis, 1:25pm

No tricks, just hardnose football.  The Seahawks make up for the week 1 defeat as we almost always do this time of year when the Rams come to town.  This game effectively wraps up the division, if not Home Field Advantage, pushing the Seahawks to 12-3 on the season.  20-13, Seahawks.

Week 17, at Arizona, 1:25pm

I don’t expect the Seahawks to need this victory, so I don’t expect many of the starters to play for too long.  As a glorified pre-season game, I see the Seahawks going down to the Cardinals 28-17.

12-4 is pretty tame for a #1 overall seed, but with tie-breakers over the Packers and Cowboys, I think it’s just enough.  What we have to hope for at that point is that we don’t get stuck playing the Rams, or some other difficult defensive team in the playoffs.  As always, I’ll take a battle of offenses over a grudgematch on the defensive side of the ball, as I think our defense is better than most any offense you can put on the field.

Now, all we have to do is play the games.  NBD.

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.