Comparing The 2005 Seahawks To The 2013 Seahawks

Last week, we more or less giddily looked forward to the “Big Game” on February 2nd.  This week, I’ve decided to take a step back and review the last time the Seahawks were in a position to give all of our lives meaning.

The 2005 Seahawks didn’t come out of nowhere, per se, but they also didn’t look like a team that would be bound for the Super Bowl.  In 2003, the Seahawks finished second in the NFC West (to the Rams), and lost in the Wild Card round to Green Bay (take the ball, score, all of that nonsense you wish you could forget).  In 2004, the Seahawks won the NFC West, but lost again in the Wild Card round, this time to the Rams (who, sadly, managed to beat us three times that season).

Suffice it to say, these Seahawks were starting to remind everyone of the early George Karl Sonics teams (good enough to win divisions and make the playoffs, but ALWAYS with the first round exits).  In a way, 2005 was a make-or-break year for Mike Holmgren.  Obviously, he had already lost his General Managing duties by this point, but if there was another underperforming finish to this season, you had to wonder how hot his seat would’ve been.  2005 was his seventh season in Seattle.  He had made the playoffs three times in those seven years, and each time he lost in the first round.

So, it was more than a little disconcerting to see us go into Jacksonville – where we expected to be the better team, given the Jags’ questions at quarterback – and lose to kick off the season.  Granted, those Jags would end up 12-4, but we had no idea they’d be that good going in.  The Seahawks bounced back with a couple of home wins over a couple of mediocre teams (Falcons & Cardinals), before losing on the road once again (this time to the Redskins).

By this point, it was the same boring storyline:  the Seahawks can’t win on the road (and they especially can’t win on the road at 10am Pacific time).  The very next week would, once again, put this theory to the test, as we faced off against our most bitter rival (at the time), the St. Louis Rams.  After they’d beaten us three times the previous year, we knew there was a dragon left to be slain.  Having it on the road, in the morning, made it all the sweeter when we won 37-31.

This kicked off an 11-game winning streak that was only broken in Week 17 when we rested many of our starters (as we’d locked up the #1 seed).

Looking back on it, the NFC was VERY weak in 2005.  The Rams & Packers were both in the midst of down seasons.  The Bears had a great defense, but were led by Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman of all people.  The Seahawks drew the Redskins in the Divisional Round, with the aging Mark Brunell, and easily dispatched them.  That led to an NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.  We made mincemeat of Jake Delhomme (probably the beginning of the end of his career, with three interceptions against only one touchdown) and Steve Smith (at the height of his powers, held to a trivial 5 catches for 33 yards).  These were not teams to fear.

For sure, all the talent was in the AFC in 2005.  The 14-2 Colts were the best team in football.  The 13-3 Broncos were surprisingly effective with Jake Plummer at the helm and the 3rd ranked defense by points scored.  The 10-6 Patriots were still, more or less, the same team that had won three of the last four Super Bowls.  The 11-5 Bengals were a surprising division winner, with Carson Palmer looking to really make his mark on this league.  The 12-4 Jaguars were one of the better 5-seeds in the history of the league to that point (boxed out by the aforementioned 14-2 Colts).  Leaving the 11-5 Steelers, in the 6-seed.

Had things gone according to plan (or according to the 2013 blueprint), the Seahawks would have played Peyton Manning and his Colts in the Super Bowl.  Of course, nothing goes the way you want it to.

The Steelers started out their playoff run by killing Carson Palmer’s career.  He thew one pass for 66 yards.  On his next attempt, he was hit at the knees by a defensive lineman and was out for the game (Palmer would make it back, but he was never as good as he was in 2005).  A promising Bengals team was defeated, with Jon Kitna at the helm.  The Steelers continued their run by going into Indy and playing the top team in the league.  They came away with a 3-point victory.  That led to them going into Denver to play the Broncos (who somehow managed to defeat the Patriots), where they won easily.

To be honest, the run couldn’t have gone more perfectly for the 6-seeded Steelers.  It was a harrowing feat to say the least.  You want to talk about steel sharpening steel?  Compare that run of three straight road games to the charmed life the Seahawks had, with one of the easiest conference regular seasons in recent memory, followed by two home games where we enjoy the best Home Field Advantage in the world.  Pretty much, the Seahawks were flying first class to the Super Bowl, while the Steelers had to survive a death march over steaming hot coals.

In any other year, against any other team, I would have been cheering on the Steelers like nobody’s business.  Instead, I came out of Super Bowl XL with the Steelers as one of my most hated teams of all time

***

I’ll have more on Super Bowl XL tomorrow.  Right now, let’s take a look at those 2005 Seahawks, and how they compare to the 2013 version.

As a general overview, the 2005 Seahawks were (unsurprisingly) quite successful on offense and not so much on defense.  In fact, they led the league in points scored and were second in yards gained.  However, on defense, they weren’t quite the trainwreck I seem to remember.  They were 7th-best in points allowed and 16th in yards given up.  Of course, I would contend their schedule had something to do with that, but the point is, we’re not talking about the 2012 Saints or anything.

The 2005 Seahawks had the MVP of the league in Shaun Alexander.  He scored 27 rushing touchdowns which, at the time, was the NFL record.  It would be beaten by LaDainian Tomlinson the very next season, but it was still an amazing achievement.  Alexander also ran for 1,880 yards, which was a career high for him.  You can say what you want about his running style, but the man got the job done for us and should be appreciated as the greatest running back in Seahawks history.

The 2005 Seahawks were led by Matt Hasselbeck.  He was in his seventh year in the league, fifth year with the Seahawks, and third year as the Seahawks’ unquestioned starter at the quarterback position.  Remember, when he first got here, we were jerking him around with Trent Dilfer on the roster.  As if winning that Super Bowl with the Ravens (and the greatest defense of all time) somehow made Dilfer competent at the quarterback position or something.  Anyway, I made the point at the time (and stand behind it to this day) that the 2005 Seahawks were as good as they were because they had Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.  Shaun Alexander might have been the league’s MVP, but Hasselbeck was the team’s MVP.  Had we played that season with a replacement-level quarterback (or, Seneca Wallace, as he’s formally known), we would have had replacement-level results, no matter how many yards and touchdowns Alexander ran for.

Then again, the heart and soul of the 2005 Seahawks resided along the offensive line.  It was EASILY the best in football and EASILY the best line we’ve ever seen in Seattle.  It also probably rivals some of the best offensive lines in the history of the league, but I’ll leave that argument for people smarter than me to make.  All I know is:  with Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson on the left side of that line, the rest of the offense’s job was made a lot easier.

So, let’s start there.  Let’s make the rest of this post a position-by-position breakdown, starting with the offensive line.  For the record, I’m going to try to pick the player who played the most games at his given position (or, who is known as that team’s “starter”).  The better player is highlighted in blue.

Left Tackle
2005 – Walter Jones
2013 – Russell Okung

Left Guard
2005 – Steve Hutchinson
2013 – James Carpenter / Paul McQuistan

Center
2005 – Robbie Tobeck
2013 – Max Unger

Right Guard
2005 – Chris Gray
2013 – J.R. Sweezy

Right Tackle
2005 – Sean Locklear
2013 – Breno Giacomini

Overall, when you consider the offensive line as a whole, you give the overwhelming nod to the 2005 Seahawks.  The 2013 Seahawks have no one NEAR the calibre of Walter Jones & Steve Hutchinson of 2005.  Max Unger gets a marginal nod over Tobeck.  Chris Gray was like 2005’s version of Paul McQuistan (savvy veteran, able to play multiple positions along the line, helps more than he hurts).  I never did like Sean Locklear.

Quarterback
2005 – Matt Hasselbeck
2013 – Russell Wilson

I’m not gonna lie to you, before I looked at the stats, just going off of memory, I REALLY wanted to pick Hasselbeck over Wilson.  I just thought, given the style of offense (West-Coast, heavy on the passing and the completion percentage), the Seahawks would have required more out of Hasselbeck than they do out of Wilson now.  But, look at these numbers!

Hasselbeck:  294/449 (65.5%), 3,459 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 98.2
Wilson:  257/407 (63.1%), 3,357, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, rating of 101.2

First of all, I thought Hasselbeck would have attempted WAY more passes than Wilson, but it turned out to only be 42 more passes (or a little over two and a half passes per game).  As it turns out, Wilson was the more efficient quarterback, who still managed to best Hasselbeck in touchdowns thrown.  When you tack on Wilson’s rushing yards, it’s pretty clear who’s the better quarterback.  It’s NOT Year 7 Hasselbeck; it’s Year 2 Wilson.  Soak that in as you daydream about the next dozen years with Wilson at the helm.

Running Back
2005 – Shaun Alexander
2013 – Marshawn Lynch

Listen to me, now.  I know how much you love Beastmode.  Hell, I love myself some Beastmode as much as anybody!  I wouldn’t trade his hard-nosed, rugged running style for anything.  It isn’t even really a question of who would you rather have.  I’m not posing the notion of putting 2005 Alexander with 2013’s offensive line to see who would be the better guy.  Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander WITH 2005’s offensive line is just a better running back than 2013 Lynch with 2013’s line.  I’ll kindly refer you to the numbers:

Alexander:  370 attempts, 1,880 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 27 touchdowns
Lynch:  301 attempts, 1,257 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns

Let’s face it, 2005 Alexander’s numbers are Looney Tunes!  You just don’t see running backs like this very much anymore.  They’re a dying breed.  Alexander was 28 when he had this season.  Lynch is 27, but considering the pounding his body takes, you’d have to think he’s in a similar boat.  When Alexander hit 30, he fell off the cliff.  I would expect nothing less out of Lynch.

Also, 2005 Alexander had 69 more attempts!  In what is supposed to be a pass-oriented offense.  Now, granted, those Seahawks won a lot of games and leaned on teams late with that rushing attack.  But, the 2013 Seahawks ALSO won a lot of games, but weren’t putting up numbers like this.

It boils down to those 2005 Seahawks being a fast-paced offense vs. the 2013 Seahawks slowing the game down.  Of course you’re going to get better offensive numbers if you’re going to be running so many more plays.

Wide Receiver 1
2005 – Darrell Jackson
2013 – Golden Tate

The numbers don’t bear out that Jackson was the team’s #1 receiver – because he missed a good ten games in the middle of the season before returning for the playoff run – but it’s pretty obvious who the team’s top target was.  Jackson’s early career was mired by drops, but he managed to get his shit together starting in 2005.  And, in that playoff run (where he caught 20 balls for 268 yards in three games – and it would have been more in the Super Bowl had things gone a little differently), Jackson really took a step forward.

Nevertheless, Golden Tate gets the nod.  He draws the lion’s share of the coverage (usually with the other team’s best cover corner), and still managed to catch 64 balls for 898 yards.  What puts Tate over the top is his talent, his versatility, and his ability in the punt return game.

Wide Receiver 2
2005 – Joe Jurevicius
2013 – Sidney Rice / Jermaine Kearse

I resisted the urge to put Doug Baldwin here, mainly because I want to save him so I can compare him to Bobby Engram.  In his stead, I put the duo of Rice & Kearse.  Rice was obviously this team’s #2 receiver when he was healthy, but of course, he went down after 8 games and Kearse picked up some of the slack.  You’ve got to ding Rice for not being reliable with his health.  But, aside from all that, Jurevicius was rock solid in 2005.

He caught 55 balls for 694 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns!  He was the type of big body that Pete Carroll has been spending his entire Seahawks career trying to bring in.

Wide Receiver 3
2005 – Bobby Engram
2013 – Doug Baldwin

Bobby Engram was Doug Baldwin before Doug Baldwin was even a twinkle in the Seahawks’ eye!  Engram was Hasselbeck’s 3rd Down security blanket just as Baldwin is that for Wilson today.  And, when other receivers went down – as they seemingly always did – Engram was able to pick up the slack, just like Baldwin has this year after Rice went down.

I’m giving the nod to Baldwin for a couple reason.  Even though Engram caught 17 more passes, they caught the same exact number of yards:  778.  Doug Baldwin is the more explosive receiver.  He can go downfield and make a big play FAR more regularly than Engram ever could.  While he may play in the slot, Baldwin isn’t just a traditional slot receiver like Engram was.  Baldwin can play all over, yet still be that security blanket on third down who finds the hole in the zone or makes the diving sideline grab.

Tight End
2005 – Jerramy Stevens
2013 – Zach Miller

I probably shouldn’t let my emotions get the better of me, but in this case I can’t help it.  2005 Jerramy Stevens’ numbers absolutely dwarf Zach Miller’s, and if he even REMOTELY lived up to the hype coming into his pro career, Jerramy Stevens would be a beloved individual around these parts.  Instead, he sucked dick, and is beloved in Pittsburgh for handing them the Super Bowl.  So, Zach Miller gets the nod (plus, Miller is actually a true tight end who blocks well and does the whole thing; Stevens was a glorified, overweight wide receiver and not a very good one at that).

So, if you add it up for both sides, 2005 gets the edge on Offensive Line, Running Back (an extension of the offensive line), and one of the three wide receivers.  2013 wins on Quarterback play, Tight End, and 2/3 of the wide receivers.  If I’m weighting things as I should, it’s pretty neck and neck.  Offensive line is the most important part of any football team, so they factor in pretty heavily.  QB comes next.  And, I figure the receivers and tight end equal out the Shaun Alexander MVP factor.  I’m calling it a wash across the board.  But, you can’t just call it a tie, so let’s go to the numbers:

2005:  452 points, 5,915 yards, 1,020 total plays, 5.8 yards per play, 17 turnovers
2013:  417 points, 5,424 yards, 973 total plays, 5.6 yards per play, 19 turnovers

Look, by the slimmest of margins, I’m giving 2005 the nod over 2013 on offense.  There are pieces there to cobble together the greatest offense of all time (2005 O-Line with 2013’s skill position players), but if you want the truth, I’m going to go with the offense that scored more points.  It’s kind of as simple as that.

***

Let’s hop right into the defenses.

2005 Defensive Line
Bryce Fisher (DE)
Grant Wistrom (DE)
Rocky Bernard (DT)
Marcus Tubbs (DT)
Chuck Darby (DT)

2013 Defensive Line
Red Bryant (DE)
Chris Clemons (DE)
Brandon Mebane (DT)
Cliff Avril (DE)
Michael Bennett (DE/DT)
Tony McDaniel (DT)
Clinton McDonald (DT)

This goes without question.  I mean, LOOK at that rotation!  The 2013 Seahawks can come up with any number of fronts, whereas the 2005 version pretty much ran out the same four guys play-in and play-out.  I would argue that Mebane was just as disruptive up the middle as Tubbs.  Michael Bennett can do just as much as Rocky Bernard on the inside (as far as pass rush is concerned), as well as have the ability to slide outside and rush on the edge.  Grant Wistrom was less of a joke than a nightmare I’m still trying to wake up from.  No contest.  Next song.

2005 Linebackers
Leroy Hill
D.D. Lewis
Lofa Tatupu

2013 Linebackers
K.J. Wright
Malcolm Smith
Bobby Wagner
Bruce Irvin

In 2005, you had Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu as rookies, and therefore at the height of their powers and physicality.  But, Tatupu was never good enough to hold Bobby Wagner’s jock, and the combination of Wright & Smith is WAY more versatile than Leroy Hill ever was.  Hill was great at run-stuffing, and he managed 7.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but there’s more to linebacker than simply running forward.  You’ve got to run laterally, and backward.  You’ve got to play in coverage, and that’s where the 2013 crew has it all over the 2005 crew.  Which is odd, because those Holmgren defenses were known for their speed.  Here’s the thing:  2013 HAS that speed, but they’ve also got size and versatility.  Again, no contest.  Next song.

2005 Secondary
Marcus Trufant
Kelly Herndon
Michael Boulware
Marquand Manuel
Jordan Babineaux
Ken Hamlin
Etric Pruitt

2013 Secondary
Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell
Earl Thomas
Kam Chancellor
Brandon Browner
Walter Thurmond
Jeremy Lane

I could have stopped after just Richard Sherman – with he alone covering all of the other team’s receivers – and he would have beaten out the 2005 secondary.  I was going to split them up by cornerbacks and safeties, but what’s the point?  It’s laughable how terrible that 2005 secondary was.  Luckily for the 2005 team, they were frequently playing with a lead.  It’s a lot easier to play defense with a lead than it is from behind.

On the whole, it’s not even close.  2013 defense in a landslide.  In fact, I don’t know if there are any guys on that 2005 team would would even PLAY on the 2013 version!  I don’t think anyone turns down a 2005 Rocky Bernard.  And I know 2005 Bryce Fisher had 9.0 sacks, but does he have the ability to stuff the run like Chris Clemons does?  I mean, maybe Fisher cracks the defensive end rotation, but most of those 2005 guys are backups at best on the 2013 team.  I’ll tell you this much:  I’m starting Byron Maxwell over Marcus Trufant every day of the week.

***

In conclusion, the 2013 Seahawks are the better team.  You pit them against the 2005 Seahawks, one game, winner takes all, it’s the 2013 team by a comfortable margin.  2013’s defensive line might struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, and it’s 50/50 whether or not the 2005 team runs the ball well.  But, there’s no way 2005 is throwing all that well against 2013’s secondary.

For the record, nothing would bring me greater joy than to see Kam Chancellor knock the shit out of Jerramy Stevens.  I don’t even mean in any hypothetical matchup between these two teams.  I mean in real life.  Kam Chancellor hunts Jerramy Stevens down, wherever he’s living, and he fucks his shit up.  For real.

Seahawks Shock The East Coast Bias, Defeat Patriots

I was all ready to come on here and rip Zach Miller for being a total bum.  He’s still kind of a bum, but I’m less pissed-off in light of what happened here.

Well, we didn’t score 4 touchdowns, but we scored 3, which was one more than they scored.  Field goals.  Field goals were HUGE.  The Patriots’ final three scoring drives all ended in field goals; that’s the way you give yourself a chance to beat this team.  Because you’re not going to beat them in a track meet.

Frankly, I thought the Patriots’ logic on offense was absurd.  Essentially, they controlled the game from the second quarter through half of the fourth quarter.  They had a modestly efficient running game, with Woodhead averaging over 6 yards on his 4 carries.  They built up a two touchdown advantage while having never trailed in this game by more than 3 points.  When I think of a quarterback like Tom Brady throwing for a career-high 58 pass attempts, I expect the narrative of that game to be a Patriots team trying like gangbusters to come back from a three-touchdown deficit.  I mean, what were they THINKING?  I know it almost worked, but still!  At some point, you have to let the game dictate what you’re going to do.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the Patriots play football.  If you’ve got a quarterback like Tom Brady, you KNOW the other team is going to back off.  They’re going to blitz less (because blitzing a quarterback like Brady is an invitation for him to burn you on big plays), they’re going to play a lot of zone, and you’d figure even against a good run defense like Seattle’s, you’ll find some holes and chew some clock.  With the way this team performs on third down, it would only make sense.  Run the ball until the other team sells out against the run and then unleash Brady and let him work his magic.

But, whatever.  58 pass attempts.  Is it shocking in the least he threw 2 picks (and nearly threw 5)?  The odds are dramatically against you at that point!  In a constant driving rain to boot!

Blows my mind.  If I was a Patriots fan, I would be absolutely furious.

Luckily, I’m not a douchebag (or, at least, much less of a douchebag).

I thought the defense played about as admirably as can be expected.  Facing the number one offense, you just hope and pray for Bend, Don’t Break.  Because you’re not going to dominate them.  I don’t find it shocking in the least that we gave up almost 400 yards in the air.  I do find it relieving that we kept them out of the endzone as much as we did.  And the cherry on top is the two picks, considering we almost had zero pressure on the quarterback.

Given the tempo of play and the fact that almost every pass attempt outside of the final drive was a quick drop and throw, there was no way we were going to get pressure on Brady today.  You’ll notice though, on that last drive, when the shit started hitting the fan and the Patriots needed to make up a lot of ground in a short amount of time, we were able to get to him and rough him up some.  That offensive line isn’t as good as advertised; they’re just really good at getting rid of the ball in three seconds or less.

How huge was that drive at the end of the first half?  I, for one, am finally happy that the replacement refs are gone, because I don’t know if they make that Intentional Grounding call.  I saw it all the way and was going bananas when I didn’t see a flag.  Thank Christ these guys know what they’re doing though, because that was obvious as shit and very well could have saved the game for us.  Coming after just an abysmal 2-minute hurry-up drive that failed miserably, it was all the more important to keep them to zero points.  Credit the hubris of the Patriots and Bill Belichick.  If they didn’t think they could just come in here and stomp all over us and the 12th Man, they might have kicked that field goal with 6 seconds to go on the clock.

Fuck them.  I never really had a hate-on for the Patriots until this week.  But, you know what?  Tom Brady is a colossal dickhead and a whiny little bitch and he deserves to fly home a LOSER.  They think they’re so damn good.  They have the best quarterback and the best front office and the best ownership group and the most hardcore fans.  You know what?  No they fucking don’t!  They’re just an uppity, entitled organization that deserves all the heartbreak they receive and then some.  This fascination with Boston sports is appalling.  The city of Boston is a shithole, its citizens are loutish assholes, and anyone who isn’t from the city and roots for its teams can eat a garbage bag full of dicks.

Getting back to the game, how about that Seahawks offense?

I said before, they had to come out throwing, and sure enough they did just that!  On the first two scoring drives, the Seahawks passed 8 times and ran 7, but one of those runs was a QB scramble and would’ve been a pass.  That’s not an outrageous split of passes vs. runs, but considering this is a team that runs well over 50% of the time, I’ll take it.  And, not only did they pass more, but they passed DEEP.  Four of our completions went for over 20 yards, including a 50-yarder to Baldwin and a 24-yarder again to Baldwin for the touchdown to take a 10-7 lead.

After that, for the next five drives, things got REAL conservative.  And the Patriots just plowed through the clock.  When we finally started taking shots down the field again, it was the beginning of the fourth quarter, we were down 20-10, and Zach Miller promptly fumbled away our most promising drive since the first quarter.  Undeterred, after New England kicked to go up 13, Wilson threw deep to Tate for 51 yards which led to us eventually scoring on that HUGE fourth down play to Braylon Edwards.  I’m not gonna lie to you, at first I thought they were going to call the Pass Interference on us, but upon the replay it actually looked like it should’ve been a no-call.  In the end, they called it on the Pats and there we were down by 6 with seven and a half to go in the game.

The defense really stepped up after that.  Gotta credit them because they were under siege all game.  I’m sure our TD to bring it to a one-score game helped amp up the defense, but they still had to go out there and make the plays.  They forced a punt that pinned us back inside our 10 yard line.  After a three-and-out, we gave the ball back with three minutes to go.  With that, the second-biggest defensive stand of the afternoon.

Forcing the Patriots to a three and out was huge.  HUGE.  I know earlier in this post I was questioning why they didn’t run the ball more, and here on this possession they did just that and it bit them in the ass.  But, you know what?  There’s a time and a place.  When you’re up by a comfortable two-score advantage, you can run the ball.  When you’re up by one score, obviously trying to burn the other team’s time outs as the overly-aggressive defense anticipates run the whole way, you’re just playing into our hands at that point by running blandly up the middle.  A lot of football is about doing what’s NOT expected.  That’s why lazy commentators commonly refer to it as a “chess match”.  You don’t win at chess by doing what’s expected of you.  You win by being good at chess!

After that, it came down to another crazy finish.  Leon Washington’s punt return for 25 yards to midfield was one of many unsung moments that really turned the game in our favor.  Then, coming out of the 2-minute warning, Lynch’s 2-yard run for a first down on 3rd & 1 was another.  If we try some crazy quick slant or bootleg or something, who knows what happens on that 3rd down?  Instead, we go right up the gut (as we fucking SHOULD), move the chains, and the rest is history.  46 yards to Rice for the win.

Even though it’s the vaunted Patriots offense, you had to like our chances of holding them.  In years past – even in our Super Bowl year – we would have either given up the field goal attempt, or required a Big Play Babs to make a miracle interception.  In 2012, we’re able to hold them to two incompletions, a sack, and a 4th down reception short of the line to gain.  Depending on some cardiac turnover in the waning seconds is a thrilling way to seal a victory, but it’s much more satisfying if you can hold a team to a four & out before a couple of kneel downs to finish it.

All told, Russell Wilson completed passes of 29, 22, 50, 24, 51, and 46 yards.  222 of his career-high 293 yards came on those six plays.  There were probably three or four more deep attempts that fell incomplete.  THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.  A home run hitter!  Someone to stretch the defense so it’s not so fucking difficult for Beastmode to do his thing.  If we’re going to be a team that’s going to contend for a Super Bowl, it will need this to be a regular thing.  Russell Wilson scrambling in the pocket, launching deep balls, and letting his athletic receivers go up and make plays.  If we can do that, in conjunction with our awesome running game, explosive special teams, and all-around dominant defense, we’re as good as anybody in the NFL.

Suffice it to say, I won’t be picking against the Seahawks at home the rest of the way.  I probably won’t be picking against the Seahawks very much PERIOD.  This is a good team.  The best part?  It’s only going to get better.

Is this what it’s like to root for teams like the Patriots?  To know that you have the core of what should be a Super Bowl winning team?  Because, I’m not gonna lie to you, it feels REALLY FUCKING GOOD.

2008: A Seattle Sports Apocalypse

Editor’s Note:  To read this blog post, click HERE.  It is one of Seattle Sports Hell’s “Featured Articles”.

So Long Big Play Babs

According to Danny O’Neil, Tennessee is turning into Seattle East.

I always find it amusing when other teams pick up an inordinate amount of our cast-offs (an inordinate amount being anything higher than 1).  I get the whole thing about being familiar with guys you’ve worked with in the past, but moves like this (and Chicago picking up Chris Spencer because Tim Ruskell is a muckety-muck in their front office) kinda strikes me as bull-headed and defensive.  Like you’re trying to justify why you believed in these players in the first place.

Not that I necessarily think guys like Spencer or Babs aren’t worthy of being picked up by other teams.  I just wonder:  how much of your belief in those players is based on what you’ve seen from them on the field vs. your massive ego as a player evaluator?

Anyway, that’s a long, cynical way of saying:  We’ll miss you, Big Play Babs.  You’ve provided us with a crazy number of memorable plays (every one of your 10 interceptions were a joy to behold), you were about as versatile as a guy in the secondary can be (shifting from starting corner to nickel corner to strong safety to free safety like a chameleon), and most importantly in the minds and hearts of fans:  you actually WANTED to be in Seattle. 

All of that from an undrafted free agent.  Rarely is it possible to get that kind of mileage out of a guy who wasn’t considered to be among the best 255 players coming out of college in 2004.  There you have it.

As if we in Seattle didn’t have reason enough to root our balls off for the Tennessee Titans … I’m damned tempted to get NFL Ticket just to watch them in action!  I guess I’ll have to settle for sitting in a bar for 8 hours every Sunday … darn it all!

The Seahawks Are Getting The Job Done In Free Agency

Look, I’m not going to be all doom and gloom on the quarterback thing ALL the time.  Aside from that, there is a TON to like about what the Seahawks have done.

This team, going into and coming out of last year had just about as many holes as a team can have.  Offensive line, defensive line, defensive backfield, wide receiver, quarterback.  Say what you want about whomever, the Seahawks are showing that they’re up to the task of improving this team at all facets of the game (obviously, aside from cornerback, but there’s still time).

Quarterback – even though I may disagree with the route they’ve chosen, they’ve nevertheless addressed it.  Whether or not they’ve addressed it well is a matter to be determined on September 11th.  At least they didn’t neglect it completely.  Tarvaris Jackson might not be my cup of tea, but in all likelihood (in some capacity), he will be better than nothing.  Grade:  D-

Offensive Line – I love this more than anything they’ve done.  Four tremendous young talents who can grow and meld together over what are hopefully four long careers.  Sure, they’re probably going to struggle THIS year, but what would you expect?  In time, probably within 1-2 years, they’re going to gel and they’re going to be fantastic.  And yeah, while they’ll be on the bad side this year, they’re not going to be COMPLETE trainwrecks!  They’ll be like any group of young athletes: they’ll show flashes of brilliance and they’ll have moments where you say, “What the hell was THAT?”  Robert Gallery will help, hopefully, give us more moments of brilliance.  Grade:  A

Wide Receiver – The last time we had a blazing talent at this position was when Joey Galloway was catching bombs from Jon Kitna and taking punts back to the house.  Ever since, it’s been one fill-in guy after another.  We’ve been a team full of 2’s and 3’s since the end of the 90s.  So, I’m excited we have Sidney Rice.  If he’s truly back from his injury, he’ll be the first bonafide Number 1 starter we’ve had since the Dennis Erickson era.  Teams will have to shift their coverages towards him, leaving guys like Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu with more favorable matchups to exploit.  Now, if only they had a professional quarterback to throw them the balls.  Grade:  B+

Running Back – Pretty much, the Seahawks did nothing here.  Well, that’s not technically accurate, they DID re-sign Leon Washington; though, I’m still skeptical that he’s going to get the kinds of offensive touches he deserves.  Nevertheless, while we may not have an Adrian Peterson type at this position, we’ve got the best of all worlds.  Marshawn the Thunder and Forsett the Lightning.  Tack on the re-signing of fullback Michael Robinson and I’m quite pleased with this group.  Grade:  B

Defensive Line – Today, it’s official, Brandon Mebane is coming back.  Like I said yesterday, this is completely and totally awesome.  We’ve also signed a guy named Alan Branch away from the Cardinals to be our backup 5-technique defensive end behind Red Bryant, so there’s some MORE depth.  I have a feeling we’re not done here, as it would be nice to either see Raheem Brock come back or maybe find another low-cost defensive end to play the Leo position.  Of course, we’ve always got Aaron Curry, if we haven’t completely given up on him yet … Grade:  B

Linebacker – Today (or was it yesterday) also brings the news that Leroy Hill is coming back.  THAT is probably the most shocking turn of events I’ve heard in this abbreviated off-season of free agent activity.  My assumption is he’s coming in cheap and, if he’s lost it or causes trouble, he’ll be easily gotten rid of for little-to-no cost.  I’m not against this decision, but I am skeptical that he’ll return to any kind of form.  Of course, you have to wonder … is Lofa Tatupu on the chopping block?  David Hawthorne COULD slide over into the middle linebacker spot.  Is Aaron Curry on his way out?  Seems like a quick hook for a guy drafted so high; but then again, this regime didn’t pick him.  Could be some MAJOR shakeups afoot in the linebacking corps.  Grade:  C-

Secondary – So far, the Seahawks have done squat after the draft to bolster this group, but like I said earlier, there’s still time.  I’m tempted to give the secondary a passing grade on the Addition By Subtraction Rule thanks to ridding ourselves of Kelly Jennings, but he remains unsigned.  Until I know I’m in the clear, I can’t possibly have a definitive opinion on these guys.  In listening to John Schneider on the radio a little bit ago, he said he’s not concerned and made overtures that the group we have in camp now could be the group we go to the grave with.  I still think there are moves on the horizon, and I’m on record as saying that I think we should bring back Big Play Babs.  Grade:  F

I didn’t come into this post with an eye towards grading the positions.  To be clear, though, the grades aren’t on the positions themselves, but they’re the grades on what Pete & John have done in free agency to improve these positions.  I decided to not include Special Teams because I frankly don’t give a shit right now.  Olindo Mare got a shit-ton of money to go to Carolina because they’re idiots who over-pay for kickers.  They’re like that guy in every fantasy league who drafts a kicker in the 7th round because he wants to have the “best” kicker.  Or that guy in the bar who hits on the most reasonable-looking fat chick because he’s desperate to go home with someone.

This post just got a little misogynistic right out of nowhere, so with that I’m going to say my good nights.

The Seahawks Say GTFO To Some More Guys

On the plus side, the Seahawks have also said Get The Fuck In to some guys guy too.

GONE is Matt Leinart.  Of course, since he was never here to begin with, this makes no sense.  Still, he’s decided to stay in Houston, presumably because he’s decided it’s better to go full retard than to go to a team with your former head coach and no defined starter at his very position of employment.  What does that say about a guy’s heart?  I mean, assuming these rumors were true and the Seahawks were truly trying to sign this guy, where are your nuts at, guy?

Matt Schaub is the man in Houston.  He’s proven himself and they’ve proven they’re married to him by way of what it took to get him there in the first place.  The Seahawks, meanwhile, have two suck-asses at quarterback.  Regardless of the fact that we’ve invested draft picks and millions into Whitehurst, regardless of the fact that we hired Jackson’s offensive coordinator (i.e. regardless of the fact that it appears both have a leg up over a theoretical Matt Leinart), neither of those guys have established themselves as starting quarterbacks in this league.  Therefore, you’re looking at a strict 3-way competition with the best of the worst earning that starting job come September.

Leinart just chose an automatic 2nd string quarterback job over the potential for a 1st string job.  Somebody get that guy a tampon, stat.  For his vagina!  Because he a little girl!  Ho-ho!

GONE is Will Herring.  He’s signing with New Orleans.  I lamented this for about 10 seconds until I realized that backup linebackers are a dime a dozen and we drafted a couple more a few months ago.  Herring was good, worthy of being a starter SOMEWHERE, and he was aces as a special teams coverage man.  I hope the Saints let him start because I have a feeling he’ll dominate for many years to come.

GONE is Olindo Mare.  He goes to Carolina.  What is it with Carolina stealing all our fucking kickers?  I didn’t even know John Kasay had retired … and apparently he didn’t know that either.  That’s too bad, I guess.  Since I no longer have any delusions of competing for even a crappy NFC West, I’m not going to sweat this Olindo Mare move.  We should just sign the best undrafted free agent kicker out there and give him a shot for a year; what harm could it do?  Better than picking up some old fuck off the scrap heap.

GONE is Brandon Stokley.  Again, another move I’m not going to sweat.  It’s not like we’ll have Hasselbeck around; buying a possession receiver for the likes of Jackson or Whitehurst just seems like a waste of funds.  Unless the possession receiver has Go-Go Gadget arms to reach all the overthrown balls tossed in their general vicinity, I don’t see the point.

HERE is Robert Gallery!  This is pretty exciting.  The lone bright spot in this whole week of disappointment, we’ve got our O-Line set for at least the next 3 seasons.  What ISN’T there to like?  He’s experienced, he’s good, he’s familiar with Tom Cable’s system, he’s a veteran presence for these young guys on the line to grow up around, AND it’s only a 3-year deal.  Not that teams are necessarily bound by contract years, this is still a good thing all around.  I’ll probably have more good things to say about this as the season approaches, but it’s new and fresh now so I thought I’d mention it.

So, what’s next?

Part of me thinks it’s ominous that we don’t have Brandon Mebane signed yet, but I just need to calm down a bit.  He’s GOING to test free agency, that’s just something I’m gonna have to get used to.  Doesn’t mean he’s going to sign elsewhere, but it does mean his price will go up accordingly.  He’s one of the better, younger D-linemen out there on the market; he deserves to get his money now.  I just hope Schneider is a little flexible with his negotiating.  I have a feeling he’s got a firm offer on the table and it’s going to be dwarfed by the open market.  I guess we’ll see.

Also, still no word on a cornerback.  It’s still early, none of the big studs have found a home yet (in other words, the market won’t be set until Nnamdi Asomugha signs), and who knows?  The Seahawks could very well be comfortable going with Trufant, Thurmond, and the rookies.  At the very least, though, I wish they’d get Big Play Babs back in here (if, indeed, they’re not going to make a bigger splash in the cornerback market).

Man, can’t wait for Day 3.  At this rate, I’m going to be writing one of these recaps every day through the weekend!

And We’re Done

Shitty game that was over in the first quarter.  Give up too many big plays on defense, don’t capitalize on interception opportunities, have a bunch of crucial drops on offense, a bunch of players get hurt by basically doing nothing more than falling to the ground wrong … this was every other loss the Seahawks suffered this year.  Only this time the Bears’ prevent defense let us get within 2 touchdowns at the end.

Gamblers who took the Seahawks and the points must’ve been PISSED that we didn’t go for two on that last touchdown.  JUST missed covering that 10.5 point spread.

I’ll save the Grand Overview for another day.  As well as the ramifications of getting this far only to get embarrassed on national television.  Right now, it’s about the game.

Losing to the fucking Bears.  Again.  For starters, the Bears suck and they’re GOING to get their shit kicked in next week when the Packers destroy them.  So, don’t get too comfortable Bears fans.  Jackasses.

Secondly, it’s just incredible how much holding the refs were allowing.  This game was worse than two lumbering heavyweight prize-fighters in the 7th round.  Unbelievable.  You know, there’s this penalty they have – you might have heard of it – it’s called “Illegal Contact”.  It means you can’t touch our fucking receiver after 5 yards.  YOU MIGHT WANT TO LOOK INTO IT, DOUCHEBAG NFL REFEREES!

Third, Devin Hester is overrated.  Let every other team’s Special Teams unit hold and block in the back like that and I guarantee returners would be breaking career records left and right.

This game was just awful, as I said earlier, like every other loss we’ve had this year.  Pretend you’re in a cabin on a snowy mountain.  And let’s say there’s this avalanche that covers your cabin entirely; the only hope you have for being rescued is to dig your way through the snow.  You jimmy the door open and grab whatever tool you can find, and you start digging a snow tunnel outward and upward.  Except the avalanche tremors keep striking, causing your tunnel to collapse and forcing you back down into the cabin to start over again.

THAT’S what this game was.  The initial avalanche was that first quarter.  Triggered by a long bomb to a tight end who made Lawyer Milloy look rediculous.  Then a drop by Stokley when he lost his footing.  Then Big Play Babs mis-playing one ball that could’ve been picked off and returned, followed by Big Play Babs flat out dropping another potential interception at the goalline before the Bears ran it in with Chester Taylor.  Down 14-0, it was dig-out time, and we weren’t doing ourselves any favors.

Maybe, I dunno, DON’T RUN RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO RUN!  What worked on the very first play of the game?  A counter, where the linemen go one way and the runner goes another.  Got us 9 yards before we completed our first of many 3 & Outs.  What did we never do again the rest of the game?  A counter, where the linemen go one way and the runner goes another.

This game just stunk.  The Bears were who we thought they were in the second half, for the most part.  Held them to two touchdowns, but that was WAY after I stopped paying attention.  I didn’t even have a problem one little bit when Pete Carroll kicked the field goal down 28-0, even though that’s a rediculous concept.  Who does that, if not losers?

Well, we were losers yesterday, just like we were losers all year.  And now we get the 25th pick in the draft for our troubles.  You know how we desperately need cornerback help, among many other positions?  Yeah, that’s JUST about where we drafted our last big first-round cornerback bust.  I’m optimistic for the future.

The Best & Worst Of Times

The first days after a big first-round playoff win are like the first minutes after a big ol’ orgasm.  Not only do you take residence in Cloud 9, but your brain takes a temporary vacation (generally up your own ass).  Yes, you’ve got the high of the win, the giddy anticipation of Another Game (when 24 other fanbases are unable to say the same thing):  these would be the fun qualities.  But, you’ve also got the delusion of thinking your team can do no wrong (when they’ve proven the exact opposite time after time in the regular season), and the even bigger delusion of thinking your team can go into Chicago on a sub-freezing Sunday morning and escape with a victory.

These are the not-so-fun qualities, only you don’t start to experience their repercussions until sometime in the early Sunday afternoon hours when you’re drunk, surly, throwing remote controls across the room, and kicking your friends out of your house before you release the hounds all over their bad-luck asses.

Let’s face it, NFL history is riddled with upstart teams coming off emotional wins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, only to get smacked on their asses like Tracy Porter trying to tackle Beast Mode.

Where were you in early 2007, when the Seahawks were coming off of an insane 1-point victory over the Dallas Cowboys?  Remember?  Tony Romo bobbled the PAT snap and Big Play Babs tackled him at the 1-inch line thus preserving a draining, thrilling win.  Thereby giving us the chance to go into … CHICAGO, playing Rex Grossman & The Gang.  We lost in overtime to a team we may or may not have been better than, but nevertheless to a team who had a first round bye.

Or how about early 2008?  You were there, I know you remember.  We knocked off the second-consecutive Hall of Fame coach, this time blitzkrieging Joe Gibbs and his Redskins in Qwest Field.  The very next week, we played fellow NFC North Chicago Bears rival … GREEN BAY.  After taking a 14-0 lead in the snow, we got ran the fuck over, losing 42-20.

Both times, Seahawks fans had no rational reason to expect victory.  Nevertheless, Seahawks fans went into those games on a euphoric high, only to get stampeded by the rested bye team with the superior record.  It’s something to keep in mind.

Just not today.  I know in my heart of hearts that Chicago is the better matchup for us than the Falcons, but regardless, it’s not as good as Seahawks fans will be led to believe.  These Bears aren’t THOSE Bears of week 6.  These Bears have ripped off some impressive wins, have figured out their offensive line issues, are rested and healthy, and they’re playing at home against a West Coast team prone for lapses in focus when playing 10am games.  They should have no trouble dispatching an 8-9 team riddled with holes.

Knowing all that, I still can’t help but think there’s a chance.  Because it’s the Monday after a win in the opening round of the playoffs.  And I won’t be able to focus on anything else until we’re finally eliminated.

There’s nothing as exciting as when your team is in the playoffs.  Even if they don’t belong, even if they don’t deserve it, even if they’re double-digit underdogs every week … the thrill of being involved trumps everything else.  The thrill of one more week to keep hope alive.

History shows Wild Card Round winners overwhelmingly flop in the Divisional Round.  But, every once in a while, a team sneaks through.  Why not this team?  Why can’t we atone for our 2007 playoff defeat the same way Chicago wants to atone for their week 6 defeat?

WE DIDN’T LET ‘EM OFF THE HOOK!!!

I.  Told.  You.  So.

Mother. Fucker.

You know what you have to do when you’re on the road and you haven’t won on the road against a non-division opponent in quite some time and the team you’re playing against right now just went down on their first drive – aided by a bogus pass interference penalty (I’ve got a big problem with how this is being called/not called at the whim of idiots) – and got a score to go up 7-0?

You go right back down the field and tie that shit up on a 22-yard pass to Deon Butler!  That’s what the fuck you do!

If I just ran the Seahawks highlights of the game for you, without telling you the score, my guess is you’d think it was a pretty bad blowout for the road team.  We held the Bears to 0 for 12 on 3rd down.  We sacked Cutler 6 times (once for a safety) and hit him 9 times while getting 7 other tackles for loss.  We held Matt Forte to 11 yards rushing on 8 carries and held the Bears as a team to 61 yards on 14 carries.  And their quarterback didn’t throw a touchdown.

How, with that kind of a defensive performance, did the game end up 23-20?  A 58-yard penalty (the aforementioned bullshit), an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown (why kick to Devin Hester?  Why???), and let’s face it, our offense probably wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been.  No, we didn’t turn the ball over, but we had to punt TEN times!

Marshawn Lynch made his Seahawks debut and looked MUCH better than his 44-yard stat line.  He ran hard, he broke tackles, he turned would-be losses into gains.  In other words:  he was the anti-Julius Jones (who falls upon initial contact like he’s ducking under a table for an Earthquake drill).  Justin Forsett seemed weirdly energized, averaging 6.7 yards per carry on 10 plays.  Mike Williams broke out for a monster 10-catch, 123-yard performance, and Big Play Babs lived up to his name with 1.5 sacks (including that safety), 2 other tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit.

Our defense REALLY stole the show in Soldier Field.  The blitz package – especially from our secondary – really had Cutler behind the 8-ball.  Probably didn’t help much that all of their plays take forever go get going.  Hey Martz, how about some 3-step drops so your most prized commodity doesn’t get killed?  Hey Martz, how about throwing your QB a bone and giving him a running back or two to help out with blocking on blitzes?

Hey, Brian Billick!  Yeah, you, who did color for the game on Fox!  Why don’t you go easy on Martz for not running the ball so much.  If you knew anything about the NFL, you’d know that the Seahawks have a Top-5 defensive unit against the run!  If you knew anything about the NFL, you’d stop calling our D-line “small” and “under-sized” when we’re starting three defensive tackles in a 4-3 Defense.  Who hired you Brian Billick?  Shut up!

In Other Words …

I feel I owe it to myself to make up for this post.  Good GOD what happened there?

Yeah, so Julius Jones is still a Seahawk.  He’s just a Seahawk making less money than he was supposed to (in exchange, he gets to remain an NFL football player against all rational judgment).

And … Big Play Babs is still a Seahawk!  Hooray!  He’s also a Seahawk making less money, but unlike some people, Babs could have actually gotten work elsewhere had he so desired. 

Vickerson is still not a Seahawk.  I guess that’s about right.  We replaced him with some cast-off from Dallas I think, so that’s pretty much a wash.  Anyone who thought Vickerson was going to be a difference-maker for this defensive line can just go straight to hell.

Craig Terrill is no longer a Seahawk.  That’s one I kinda saw coming early on in camp and frankly left me stunned that he wasn’t in the first round of major cuts.  Yeah, Charlie Hustle guys are nice, I guess, but I’d rather have players who are going to put up some stats as opposed to just take up space.  Everyone loves the Steve Schefflers of the world, but let’s win some football games first before we start scrounging around for feel-good stories.

The only other move that’s somewhat expected (though, at this point, with the 9,000 moves the Seahawks have made this offseason, who can expect anything?) is a potential release of Heather Sean Locklear.  Which could potentially save us a huge chunk of change while at the same time ridding us of one of my all-time loathed players.  This guy’s been riding the coattails of that 2005 offensive line since he was drafted!  He only looked good then because there were 4 other studs to his left picking up all the slack.  Now, he looks like what he is:  a crappy lineman.  The heir to Walter Jones’ throne, huh?  Yeah, how’d that work out for us last season?