The Seahawks Won While I Was In Hawaii

While I was by no means cut off from the outside world during my week in Hawaii, my GiveAFuck levels were pretty depleted as far as maintaining this blog is concerned.  And, as I return to normality this upcoming Monday, with various BYE weeks happening, and what I’m anticipating to be a fuckload of work waiting for me at the office, posting might be a little light this month.  I hope to settle into more of a regular writing routine for November and beyond, but for now the quality might be a little ragged.

Shockingly, the Rams/Seahawks game wasn’t televised in Hawaii when I was there.  Since they don’t have a team, they generally get slotted with whatever the national audience gets, and FOX saw fit to go with Packers/Cowboys (I can’t imagine why).  Even though Rams/Seahawks was televised on CBS, the Hawaii affiliate opted to televise infomercials instead of trying to compete against the juggernaut that would be Aaron Rodgers vs. America’s Team.  I mean, what was this, WWII France???

Anyway, I could’ve gotten dropped off at a sports bar, but this was Rams/Seahawks, not the moon landing.  It’s the Athletics/Mariners of football games; we’ve seen it a million times and it’s never satisfying.  I could live with myself not seeing this game.

And, as it turned out, I really didn’t miss much.  The Seahawks threw two picks (one by Tanner McEvoy on a botched gadget play), Jared Goff threw two more, and the Rams tacked on three more fumbles to give the game away.  The Seahawks couldn’t run for shit, Russell Wilson did NOT play one of his better games, and in the end it came down to a few key factors.

For one, Blair Walsh made all three of his field goals (35, 48, & 49), while Greg Zuerlein missed 1 of 2.  Had he been perfect, the Rams likely would’ve been down only 3 points instead of 6 in that final drive (though it’s impossible to know for certain how the rest of the game would’ve changed had he made that miss), which means they could’ve easily forced overtime.  And the other factor is that Cooper Kupp drop in the endzone that would’ve put them in position to win the game in heartbreaking fashion.  Yes, Goff rushed the throw, possibly due to our pass rush, but that was still a catchable ball, and one that Kupp gave away.

Of course, it’s not all his fault.  Earl Thomas had that Hall of Fame play, punching the ball out of Gurley’s hand before he got into the endzone, forcing a touchback as the ball hit the pylon.  I still think it’s a miracle that the refs overturned what was originally ruled a touchdown, as they seem to give every opportunity to at least have the call “stand”.  Earl also had a late INT on a poorly thrown ball to seemingly put the game away, before our inept offense gave it right back to the Rams.  Granted, Sheldon Richardson was in the right place at the right time for a fumble recovery that led to the field goal that gave us a 6-point lead, but had we gotten just a couple first downs at any point late in the game, it would’ve ended it for good right then and there.

All that matters is we got the win.  We’re 3-2, as are the Rams, but we hold the tiebreaker over them for now.  We’re 2-0 in the division, we’re on a BYE this week, then we go to New York to face the hapless Giants.  Let’s just sit and enjoy it for a while.

All That Matters: The Seahawks Are 7-1

You can look at this game last night and decry the ugliness of it all.  Everyone always likes to talk about “winning ugly” as if it’s this black mark of shame.  Teams that win ugly SURELY don’t go to the Super Bowl!  Teams that win ugly have no business getting home field advantage!  Hell, teams that win ugly shouldn’t even make the playoffs!

Tell me what was ugly about a defense that held the opposing team to 9 points on three field goals.  What was ugly about a defense constantly playing on its heels thanks to a ridiculous field position advantage for the Rams, yet still keeping that team in single-digits?  What was ugly about the two interceptions, the three sacks, and the 158 passing yards allowed?

Why is it that all the analysis you ever read about the Seahawks focuses exclusively on how the offense performs, only giving token notice of a dominant defense at the end because it doesn’t fit the narrative that particular “journalist” is trying to convey?

I mean seriously, “the worst 7-1 team ever“?  Does the worst 7-1 team ever play defense like that?  Does the worst 7-1 team ever have Earl Thomas absolutely crushing guys?

Ugly win?  I don’t think so.  There’s a certain poetic beauty to the way the Seahawks played last night.  Our defense vs. their offense was akin to a fully-grown cat playfully batting around a one-legged mouse.  You’ll notice I’m carefully side-stepping the fact that the Rams ran the ball for 200 yards.  But, look at it this way:  where did it get ’em?  Where did their Time of Possession advantage get ’em?  Where did their huge lead in first downs get ’em?

Yeah, they had the ball at the end with a chance to score, but they failed, didn’t they?  When they had one final chance to throw the ball into the end zone, the ball fell incomplete, didn’t it?

Now, don’t take all of this as me excusing the offense, because that was some 1992-shit.  That was a level of terrible we haven’t seen in quite some time.  Seven first downs all game, two of them off of penalties.  We gave up 7 sacks and countless hits and hurries.  We had 135 total yards, only 44 of which were on the ground.  We had a game plan and an identity going into this game, and the Rams refused to let either come to the fore.  For as great as the Seahawks were on defense, the Rams were even better.

Our first touchdown was set up by a Richard Sherman interception return to the St. Louis 26 yard line.  Really, you have to blame the St. Louis offense for half of that touchdown.  The other Seahawks TD was simply a mind-blowing play by Golden Tate to attack the ball, steal it away from an awaiting defender, and take it to the house.

And, for the record, I don’t want to hear one more old, uptight white man telling me, “there’s no place in the game for Tate’s taunting.”  Get OVER yourselves.  If you can’t enjoy the moment, smile at what surely had to be a satisfying burn on the Rams’ secondary, and just fucking relax, then I feel sorry for you.  It’s not the 1950s anymore, grandpa.  The “good ol’ days” have long passed you by.

What offended my sensibilities more than anything was our offensive game plan.  What WAS that, exactly?  I mean, the coaches said they tried making adjustments, but I didn’t see anything of the sort!  If your quarterback is getting murdered because your offensive tackles shouldn’t be playing offensive tackle, how about running out some two TE sets and max-protecting?  Or, shit, how about using their aggressiveness to our advantage by throwing some screens?  Did you see Lynch’s stab on the ONE we ran last night?  He caught it one-handed!  Don’t tell me Marshawn Lynch doesn’t have hands!  Throw him the ball in space if we can’t run it between the tackles!  He’s a big boy, he can take it!

We could have rolled the pocket, we could have subbed in other blockers, we could have ran more zone-read, but we didn’t do any of it.  Darrell Bevell called for a non-stop series of three-step drops where by the third step, a defender was on top of Russell Wilson.  Great strategy.  Tell me again how Bevell is going to be a head coach somewhere soon?  Can it be today?  Can it be for literally any other team so we can get a guy who knows his head from a hole in the ground?

I’m not saying everything Bevell does is bad.  I’m just saying there are clear lapses in judgment that apparently will never go away.

The good in all of this?  Even with this offensive line we’re stuck with, we still have enough talent at our skill positions to get the job done.  Russell Wilson didn’t have his best game or anything, but I don’t think that 80-yard pass to Tate was a poorly-thrown ball.  I think he lobbed it up there short knowing full well that Tate would go out there and make a play on it.

The fact of the matter is, shockingly enough, I don’t have much to freak out about this game.  It wasn’t as easy of a win as I thought going in, but I’ve always been of the opinion that there’s a lot of talent on the Rams, even if they’re devoid of it at the quarterback position.  Going into St. Louis and expecting to walk all over them is probably unrealistic.  But, having a comfortable lead through most of the game isn’t out of the question.

I never really had my doubts that the offense would find a way to score enough to win this game.  Even on that final Rams drive when things were getting tense, I figured there wasn’t much of a chance that they’d punch it into the endzone.  I was more concerned about that 50-yard field goal that Greg Zuerlein ended up pushing right than I was about them scoring a go-ahead touchdown.

Style points aren’t necessary in the NFL.  Power Rankings are foolish and pointless and have no bearing on who gets in the playoffs or who gets to play in the Super Bowl.  This isn’t college.  Being the top-ranked team is only important for the moronic talking heads on ESPN and sports radio.

You know what matters?  The Seahawks are 7-1.  They have a 1-game lead in the division, with a 3-0 record against divisional opponents (two of those on the road).  We’re 4-0 in the NFC and tied for first with New Orleans.  Three of our next four games are at home, with a BYE week slipped in there as well.  Our injured studs are set to return in the coming weeks, and we’ve got the inside track on a playoff spot, a divisional title, and the #1 seed in the NFC.

Why am I not freaking out?  Because the Seahawks are right where they’re supposed to be, winning games just like they’re supposed to win.  It doesn’t matter if we cover spreads or “look good doing it”.  We’re winning.  Getting to the Super Bowl is all about overcoming adversity.  With that in mind, I’d say we’re doing all right.

#14 – Steven Hauschka

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

He LED the TEAM in SCORING!

Yeah, but what kicker DOESN’T lead their teams in scoring?

Well, I’ll tell ya … actually, no I won’t, because that would be too much work and I’m coming down with flu-like symptoms.

Steven Hauschka missed 3 field goals all season.  I would say that’s pretty good.  He was 24 of 27.  He was an automatic 23 for 23 on all tries under 50 yards.  I’d say THAT’S pretty good, right?

I dunno, on the one hand, you don’t want an offense that settles for field goals (thank you, New York Giants and fucking Eli Manning screwing over my fantasy team, among other players).  On the other hand, how do you judge the quality of your field goal kicker if he’s not regularly kicking field goals?

On top of that, he was 1 of 4 from 50 yards or beyond.  Pete Carroll doesn’t seem to trust him beyond 50 yards unless he absolutely has to take the chance.  That doesn’t inspire a tremendous amount of confidence.  So, the question is:  what do you want?  Do you want a guy with a mammoth leg?  So, you’ll try anywhere from 7-10 50+ yard field goals per season and make somewhere around 60-70% of them (giving the other team good field position 30-40% of the time)?  Or, do you want a guy who rarely tries field goals over 50, but is automatic from everything closer?

Legatron, from St. Louis, seems to be the standard in everything a football fan could want in a kicker.  Yet, he ended up missing 7 field goals last season, and only 3 of those were 50+.  With the way the Seahawks play close football games, I think I’d rather have a guy with primo accuracy (#6 in the league on field goal percentage) than some gunslinger who thinks he can nail them from everywhere on the field, so he over-kicks everything and ends up missing some chippies.

Of course, you can’t talk about Hauschka’s 2012 without talking about how it ended:  with a bum wheel thanks to the Washington Redskins’ “field” in that playoff game.  Will he be able to recover?  Will he be the same?

And, overall, will this front office settle for the same?  Or, will they look to improve?  As you can see, I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about kickers.  Happy Hump Day, everybody!

Seahawks Death Week: Improving For Next Season

There’s a lot to like about the 2012 Seattle Seahawks.  I’m not looking for a complete overhaul just because we failed to win it all.  A few minor tweaks here and there should do the trick.

What’s most important is the Seahawks aren’t losing very many players.  Normally, in any given offseason, you’re frantic about losing so-and-so to another team.  Or, you’re worried that, to bring so-and-so back, you’ll have to bust your remaining cap space to squeeze him in.  Not so, this season.  Alan Branch might be the most important re-sign, but I would venture to say that none of these guys are vital to ongoing success.  I like Steven Hauschka as much as the next guy, but sooner or later wouldn’t you like to find the next Legatron?  Some guy who can drill field goals from 70 yards away!  Who’s almost guaranteed to nail every kickoff through the endzone!

Clint Gresham, oddly enough, might actually be the most important guy to retain.  Don’t knock a long-snapper until you’ve lived without.  Remember all those snaps sailing over Jon ‘MVP’ Ryan’s head?  Of course not, because Clint Gresham has been THE MAN!

Moving on.

The Seahawks need a pass rush.  I would venture to say they need to sign a free agent defensive end AND they need to draft another guy, fairly high (in the top 3 rounds).  Chris Clemons is having some serious surgery this offseason.  Last time I checked, he’s not Adrian Peterson.  I would highly question whether or not he will come back AT ALL.  What happens, most of the time?  Guys have the ACL surgery, they rehab, then as the season gets closer they start rehabbing like crazy in hopes to be available for the regular season.  So, they skip the preseason entirely, work themselves into a lather, make it back for the regular season, but are ultimately unproductive.  And, since they haven’t had a proper preseason, they’re not acclimated to the pounding an NFL player takes, so ultimately they re-injure themselves and are out for the rest of the season (see:  Pancakes Carpenter, 2012).

My point is, if Clemons somehow comes back with a vengeance, that’s a bonus.  But, you should in no way COUNT on him being back with a vengeance.  Ergo, the Seahawks need to bring in a veteran type.  Like an Osi Umenyiora, or a Cliff Avril.

The Seahawks could also use some linebacker depth so they don’t need to keep bringing back Leroy Hill.  Don’t get me wrong, Hill has been great, but he’s well past his prime and he’s getting beat with more regularity with each passing season.  I still like Hill against the run, but I feel like we can draft that type of linebacker (who’s big and can put a pounding on running backs) while still maintaining the type of speed to stick with tight ends and backs in passing routes.

Don’t touch the secondary.  Period.  You let Trufant walk, you let some of the younger guys pick up the slack (hoping all the while that Walter Thurmond can finally figure out a way to stay healthy, because he’s one of the best cover-corners on this team).

On offense, what’s not to like?  You’ve got your quarterback.  You’ve got your backup quarterback!  Unless some other team absolutely blows you away with an offer for Flynn, you keep him, because that kind of security is invaluable.

You’ve got your stud starting running back, you’ve got your young, effective backup, and you’ve got your shifty 2-minute back that also doubles as your punt and kick returner (who is still returning kicks at an elite level).

You’ve got an amazing tight end in Zach Miller.  You’ve got a quality blocking tight end in Anthony McCoy, who can still catch a ball here and there.  MAYBE you look for a third tight end that’s almost exclusively a pass-catching tight end, but that shouldn’t be too much of a chore.

You’ve got a fantastic offensive line.  Pro Bowlers at Left Tackle and Center.  A couple of young guards in Moffitt and Sweezy.  A dirty mauler in Giacomini at Right Tackle.  And a lot of depth behind them to pick up the slack in the event of injury.

The only thing you could look at improving is the wide receiver position.  I think we have a nice diamond in the rough with Golden Tate.  He made HUGE strides this season as a playmaker who can go up and out-leap for a ball, but who can also break off his route when things break down and Wilson starts to scramble.  Tate found a real knack for getting open when Wilson went on the run.  With Baldwin, you see a guy who is absolutely fantastic when he’s healthy.  Yes, he’s a solid slot receiver, but he can also make plays down field when the opportunity calls for it.  I can’t say anything bad about Sidney Rice either.  He managed to stay healthy for the most part this season.  He’s probably got the best footwork on the team (how many balls did he catch along the sideline, just barely grazing that second toe along the turf?).  Beyond those three guys, though, you’ve got a lot of questions.  I would LOVE to see this team draft a superstar wide receiver early on and work him in slowly as the team’s 4th receiver.

Ideally, for their first two picks, the Seahawks should draft a wide receiver and a defensive end.  That having been said, I’ll trust whoever John Schneider and Pete Carroll go with, because I know that drafts rarely work the way you want them to.  How many times have we been shocked by who this team picked, only to have them be proven right eventually?  After that, the team should probably look at linebacker, defensive tackle, maybe another tight end, maybe another backup quarterback, and probably a second wide receiver.  Do you realize how lucky this team was that more wide receivers didn’t go down with injury?  We were down to practice squad guys playing on the reg!

The 2013 preseason is going to be one for the ages.  The level of competition is going to be SUPER high.