The Seahawks Made The Most Of A Disaster Of A Football Weekend

My Sunday hangover was both literal and figurative.  It was hard to really get up for this game after what happened in the Husky game on Saturday.  There’s no “making up for” a loss to the Ducks (I’ll have more on this tomorrow).  So, I sat there, and I watched the whole dominating Seahawks affair, but at no point was I enjoying myself.  The wound was still too fresh.  Indeed, we’re going on 48 hours after the fact and I still can’t bring myself to dwell on it too much.

The Seahawks beat the hapless Raiders 27-3, and everything is blue in this world.

What I’m Geeked Out Still Numb About After Six Games

The obvious answer is to talk about the offensive line and the running game for the third consecutive week, but I’m gonna zag on this one.  The defense REALLY opened up some eyes here.  Last week’s overall performance against the Rams was pretty inspired, but the defense still gave up 33 points.  Without Earl Thomas, there’s more questions than answers with this secondary, and I wondered – heading into this one – if we’d continue to get scorched in the passing game.

But, this was as dominating a defensive performance as it gets, from soup to nuts!  Derek Carr averaged a measly 4.6 yards per attempt, as he looked to be consistently checking down to his running backs, or whoever was within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.  I know we all love clowning on the Raiders under Jon Gruden, but their passing game – and really, their offense in general – has been pretty solid after their week 1 loss to the Rams.  Beastmode looks as strong as ever, and while he’s not getting the MOST out of Carr, he’s certainly getting more out of him than Jack Del Rio did in the last couple seasons.  But, in this one, the Seahawks had the gameplan to put their offense to sleep.

And hey!  What’s that I see?  Could it be?  A pass rush?!?!

You know it!  6 sacks!  2.5 from Frank Clark, who was a boss all day.  Jarran Reed had 1, as did Branden Jackson and Shamar Stephen (Quinton Jefferson had the 0.5, but also had 2 more tackles for loss on the day).  Now, I should point out that Tom Cable is the Raiders’ offensive line coach, so obviously theirs is one of the most inept units in the league (probably).  But, with this Seahawks pass rush unit, you’ll take what you can get.

The crown jewel of the whole thing was holding Beastmode himself to 45 yards on 13 carries.  And, as usual, most of those yards were after contact, as he just wills himself to fall forward on these go-nowhere rushes.  That guy is a living legend.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way) (But What Does It Matter Anyway?)

Let’s get back to the running game.  All in, we had 37 carries for 155 yards.  Carson led the way with 59, Penny got into the mix with 43, and Davis did his part with 21.  It’s good to see all those guys participate, as I still believe they’re all going to be vital in making the most out of this season.

Russell Wilson had another fantastic game.  He ran for 20 of those yards, looking to run more than he has in any other game this season.  He did most of his damage through the air though, going 17/23 for 222, with 3 TDs and 1 ill-advised INT into triple coverage.  It was sterling nonetheless.

Doug Baldwin got going, with 6 for 91.  David Moore continued to impress, with 2 for 47 and a TD.  Lockett caught another TD, as did Jaron Brown.  This is a formidable WR unit, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Also, how about a nice word for the coaching staff?  They found an identity for this team and they’re sticking with it!  It’s working, after all, so it seems obvious, but how many times did we used to complain about Darrell Bevell out-thinking himself?  All too frequently going away from what was working in hopes of trying to outsmart the other team.  Sometimes, it’s better to just batter the other team into submission, thereby opening things up later in the game to do whatever you want.

I mean, the Seahawks REALLY looked like the more prepared team, from the opening gun.  We had a 14-play, 82 yard TD drive to start the game (the first time in 2 years since we scored a touchdown on our opening drive?) that took up half of the whole first quarter!  Then, as a proper bookend, after the Raiders kicked a meaningless field goal to pull the game to its final score, the Seahawks got the ball back with 8:25 left to go, and ran out ALL of the clock in 13 plays!  We were 9/13 on the day on 3rd down; we had 19 overall first downs.  Just a great, great day all around.

Let’s Talk About Competitions The Black Void Of Nothingness Because The Huskies Lost

Obviously, when you talk about holding a good passing game to next-to-nothing, you’re getting quality play out of your secondary.  I don’t have access to the All-22 tape, but I have to believe we saw a much better game out of Tedric Thompson as he continues to step up in Earl’s absence.  With nothing deep down field looking even enticing enough to ATTEMPT, I think that’s a great sign.

I saw Jacob Martin get a lot of play at defensive end, and he looked pretty disruptive.  Another great sign out of a young player we’re going to need to step up if we want to find a consistent pass rush in the second half of this season.

Finally, I’ll just say that I’m glad Tre Flowers was just cramping up, because for a while there I was worried we had another season-ending knee injury on our hands.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way) (Because Fuck My Life)

Hard to complain, honestly, when we’re talking about a 27-3 demolition.  We continue to get absolutely nothing out of C.J. Prosise and Dion Jordan, who were both inactive.  Also, I guess Naz Jones mysteriously lost the will to play competitive football?  What happened to THAT guy?  He was supposed to be one of our up-and-comers!

Looking ahead, we have a BYE week, before our our 5th road game out of 7 (though, to be fair, London was more of a home-style crowd than we had any right to expect, which is nice).

Is It Possible The Seahawks Are Actually Good This Year?

Seeing is usually believing, because just believing can be deceiving (my name is M.C. Renob and I’m here to say …).

I don’t want to be sucked into this thing, is my point.  For starters, the Seahawks have already lost two games (Broncos & Bears) that they probably should’ve won.  At the VERY least, the Seahawks should’ve gone 1-1 in those games (history will prove that this year’s Broncos team is fucking trash), but because we played them on the road, we biffed it.  Now, at 2-3, we’re playing considerably better than we were a month ago, but we’re severely behind the 8-ball, and we’re going to be without our best defensive player in Earl Thomas.

Winning the division is out, which is a bummer to consider just 6 weeks into the season, but the Rams are the Rams and we’re not.  Nevertheless, last week’s game proved we can at least HANG with the Rams (albeit at home), and that game next month down in L.A. will be even more informative (because all NFC roads appear to be going through there in the playoffs).

I’ve been on the 8-8 train all along, and I’m not quite ready to jump onto the bandwagon just yet, but after last week’s hard-fought defeat, I have to ask:  could the Seahawks ACTUALLY be good?

This is the team we all expected heading into the season:  smashmouth, run-first on offense; quality against the run on defense, better than expected in the secondary, with a highly suspect pass rush.  The fact that it took us 2 weeks (and 2 losses) to figure it out is pretty frustrating, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, the blueprint is being followed, and the last three weeks the Seahawks have looked much better.  What does that mean going forward?

Well, for starters, this game in London is a Must Win.  The Raiders are bad, and you have to beat them if you expect to make the playoffs.

Fortunately, their defense is pretty crappy, so we should have no trouble running on them.  We should furthermore have no trouble throwing on them, as they traded away their one and only pass rushing asset in the offseason.  So, if we struggle on 3rd downs, or otherwise can’t move the ball against them, then that’s a REAL problem and I just don’t want to get into that right now.

The question becomes:  can our defense stop that Raiders offensive attack?  I don’t see why not.  For starters, they have Tom Cable running their O-Line, so even our weak-ass pass rush should be able to do SOMETHING, right?  Beastmode is legit, so he’ll get his, and I tend to like Derek Carr more than most (as long as I’m not counting on him for fantasy purposes) and think he’ll have no problem carving up our defense.  The problem for the Raiders, as I see it, is all the mistakes.  Carr throws too many interceptions – and really boneheaded ones to boot – to be a dependable quarterback in this league.  The Raiders, quite frankly, should look a lot more like the Seahawks on offense, except Russell Wilson knows how to take care of the football, and Derek Carr is reckless.

The Raiders will keep it close – and probably even win – if Carr plays a clean game.  The Seahawks likely will need a 2-turnover edge in the ol’ +/- to really put this one away like they should.  If the Seahawks move the ball well on offense, convert in the red zone (and don’t leave it up to our hit-or-miss kicker), and get a couple picks early, I think this could be a laugher by halftime (with Carr maybe getting some garbage points late in the game).

Not for nothing, but I think Seahawks fans are going to travel MUCH harder for this one, and their presence will be noticed on the broadcast.

The rest of this blog post gets thrown out the window if the Seahawks lose on Sunday, so let’s just assume we take care of business.

At 3-3, the Seahawks will head home and enjoy their BYE week.  We’ll use that extra week to try to figure out a way to slow down the Detroit offense.  Like with most of these games, the Seahawks and the Lions are pretty equal (I’d argue maybe the Lions are a little bit better on paper); with the game being in Detroit, I’d expect the Lions to be favored by a minimum of 3.5 points, all the way up to maybe 5 or 5.5 (assuming the Lions get to 3-3 heading into this showdown).  That’s probably a game the Seahawks need to win to be a wild card team (as it’s an NFC opponent, and one that figures to also be in the wild card hunt), and it’s not totally unreasonable that the Seahawks would pull it off.  Honestly, the Lions feel pretty similar to the Raiders, except Oakland has a better run game.

Then, the Seahawks catch the Chargers at home before going on the road to play the Rams.  I never like the Seahawks’ chances when playing the Chargers – because I think their offense is the most adept at picking us apart – but getting them in Seattle is a big help (as evidenced by our performance against the Rams).  To make the wild card, the Seahawks probably HAVE to win that one, because I can’t see us beating the Rams.

That would get us to 5-4 heading into another tough stretch.  We host the Packers on Thursday night.  They don’t look nearly as good as they’ve looked in recent seasons, and that’s yet another game we have to win.  Playing the Panthers on the road is never ideal, but that’s also not an elite team, and I think we actually match up with them pretty well.  Even if we go 1-1 against these two teams, things open up from there.

We close out with 4/5 at home.  In that stretch, we play a pretty hapless 49ers team twice, and the Cardinals once.  We HAVE to win those three.  That gets us to 9 wins.  We also get the Vikings at home, and they don’t look anywhere CLOSE to how good they were in 2017, so that should be another win.  That’s 10.  Finally, in week 16, we host the Chiefs (our season closes at home against the aforementioned Cards).  You never know how the season is gonna go, but the Chiefs could very well have their division clinched, and maybe even home field throughout the playoffs.  I mean, the AFC looks pretty soft, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they’re 12-2 at that point and just sort of going through the motions.  Are they going to go all out in a road game in nasty-weather Seattle?  Or, are they going to ease off the throttle and save it for a home game in week 17 against the Raiders?

I’m just saying, there’s a path to getting to 10-11 wins, and it doesn’t involve the Seahawks playing out of their minds.  It does, however, require this team to improve as the season goes on (as well as not losing too many more significant stars).

The Seahawks are already getting better-than-expected production out of Tre Flowers, Bradley McDougald, their entire running back room, and their offensive line.  They’re getting predictably good production from their quarterback, middle linebacker, Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett, Shquill Griffin, and their interior run-stuffing tackles.  They’ll hopefully get K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin back to some semblance of full strength.

What we need to see is a guy or two step up from a pass rush standpoint.  We need Frank Clark to go from good to GREAT.  We need Dion Jordan to do literally anything.  We need Rasheem Green to get back on the field and give us something comparable to what Tre Flowers is doing for our secondary.  Or, we just need one of those other D-Linemen to come from out of nowhere and really surprise us, even if it’s unsustainable for the long term.

We also need someone to step into that Earl Thomas role and give us just 75% of what he was.  That means Tedric Thompson, improving his tackling, improving his angles in coverage, and making opportune plays (picks, tipped passes, forced fumbles).  There’s no magical fix coming; it has to come from within.

This season can be like the 2011 Seahawks or the 2012 Seahawks.  Recall the 2011 team went 7-9 and was still a year-plus away from really contending.  Whereas the 2012 team APPEARED to be a year-plus away, but got steadily better until it was steamrolling opponents by season’s end, and came within 30 seconds of getting to the NFC Championship Game.

How will this year go?  Well, a lot of it has to do with what happens the next two games.  It all starts in London on Sunday.  Can’t shit the bed there, or this season will REALLY go south in a hurry.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 6

I’m gonna tell you what, if I would’ve lost this last week, I MIGHT’VE quit fantasy football entirely.

In every sense of the word, I was lucky to win this one, 128.93 – 124.86.  For starters, if he’d gone with MY version of his best lineup, he would’ve only lost by a little over a point.  He ended up subbing in Cam Newton for Deshaun Watson and that cost him 6 points.  He also subbed in Dion Lewis for Jay Ajayi, which added a little over 3 points to his total, so if he’d split the difference and just kept Watson in there, he would’ve beat me.

He also had the Mason Crosby Experience in there, which absolutely destroyed him.  I got super lucky that the Seahawks did as well as they did against his Rams defense (which ended up getting him just 1 point).

On my end of things, the Carolina defense was a boon, getting me 15 points.  Robbie Gould, though, got me 0.  Calvin Ridley – who I’d been hyping up all week – had a mediocre 7.8 points.  And, obviously, I should’ve benched Tyreek Hill for either Robert Woods or Kenny Golladay.  But, that’s neither here nor there.

Going into the Monday Night game, I had a 119.63 – 87.51 lead.  He had Drew Brees, I had the combo of Adrian Peterson and Jordan Reed.  And I BARELY won!

Now, obviously this is by far my worst week of the season.  I would’ve lost to all but 2 guys in my league.  So, in that sense, I was fucking due for a squeaker.  But, I’m gonna need a much better week this week to keep the train rolling.

King Flippy Nips is now 2-3 on the season and up to 5th place.  I’ve fallen to 3rd in total points though (I’m still tops in the league in points against).

No waiver claims this week.  I didn’t have a super-pressing need and felt it was a better use of my status to climb the waiver priority ranks (come Thursday morning, after a few moves by others, I’m up to 7th).  But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything.  For starters, Greg Olsen is playing again, which means I can’t use an IR spot on him anymore.  I ended up dropping last week’s fill-in defense (Carolina) to make room.  Then, after the big, fat zero I got from Robbie Gould last week, I cut him and owned Wendell Smallwood for a hot minute.

See, I’ve got a real quandary at running back.  Fournette is out of commission (he has since claimed my team’s coveted IR spot for at least a week), and Adrian Peterson apparently injured his shoulder last week.  The Redskins’ offense is a total mess, so the sooner I can get rid of these guys (he and Jordan Reed), the better.  But, for now, I have to keep them.  And yet, I also need to fill a fucking roster!  There are no easy weeks in this league.  Smallwood looked like a good bet, but he’s in a 50/50 time-share with Corey Clement, and neither one has really established himself as a goalline back vs. a 3rd down/pass-catching back.  Clement appears to be BOTH, if I’m being honest, yet Smallwood still eats into about half the snaps.

Anyway, Smallwood and the Eagles are playing on Thursday, and even if AP is a hundred years old, I still prefer him over a 50/50 guy.  So, a few hours later, I ended up dropping Smallwood and picked up Alfred Morris.  Morris plays on Monday Night, in Green Bay, but he looks to be the team’s lead running back for at least this one week.  So, come Sunday morning, if it looks like AP is going to be inactive, I at least have someone competent to throw in my lineup.  It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.

Finally, once I was able to IR Fournette, I was able to pick up a kicker.  I went with Houston’s guy Fairbairn.  It’s pretty slim pickin’s for kickers out there.  I didn’t have the roster flexibility to stash Legatron and the other guy I was looking at was Tennessee’s Ryan Succop, but they’re going against Baltimore this week and I just hate the Titans’ offense.  At least with Houston they seem to move the ball a little better.  I might do some kicker scrounging as the season goes on, in case someone has to drop their guy in a crucial BYE week.  It might ultimately be worth it to keep a second kicker on my roster through a BYE just to cover my ass come playoff time.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz @ NYG
  • QB2 – Andy Dalton vs. PIT
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill @ NE
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen vs. AZ
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott vs. JAX
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson vs. CAR
  • TE – Jordan Reed vs. CAR
  • FLEX – Calvin Ridley vs. TB
  • K – Ka’imi Fairbairn vs. BUF
  • DEF – Chicago @ MIA

My bench is:  Carr, Woods, Fournette (IR), Golladay (BYE), Olsen, Morris.

I don’t like Carr against the Seahawks (in London) nearly as much as I like Dalton against the Steelers.  Fournette is still sucking my will to live, so I’m stuck rolling with old man Peterson.  Olsen is coming off of a terrible injury, so I need to see him play a game before putting him in my lineup.  Woods is going up against Denver’s secondary, so I’m gonna roll with Ridley against Tampa’s garbage defense.  If Ridley lets me down again, I’m gonna have to make a move with that FLEX spot, but for now I’m hoping for a bounce-back.

This week, I’m up against DelBocaVistaPhase2, who is also 2-3 and in 7th place in our league.  His team is STRONG up and down … except at quarterback.  To wit:

  • QB1 – Josh Allen @ HOU Eli Manning vs. PHI
  • QB2 – Sam Darnold vs. IND
  • WR1 – Stefon Diggs vs. AZ
  • WR2 – Mike Evans @ ATL
  • RB1 – Saquon Barkley vs. PHI
  • RB2 – James Conner @ CIN Joe Mixon vs. PIT
  • TE – Jimmy Graham vs. SF
  • FLEX – Joe Mixon vs. PIT Sammy Watkins @ NE
  • K – Harrison Butker @ NE
  • DEF – Jacksonville @ DAL

His bench is:  Dak Prescott, Chris Thompson Josh Allen, Michael Thomas (BYE), Kenyan Drake, and Keelan Cole LeSean McCoy.

I mean, that’s a murderer’s row … minus the QBs.  We’ve got some interesting direct conflicts as well.  I’ve got Thielen, he’s got Diggs.  That game figures to be a blowout, so it’s up to whoever gets off to a hotter start before Minnesota runs out the clock in the second half.  I’ve also got Andy Dalton and he’s got Joe Mixon, so what’s that game gonna be?  A throw-fest, or a slug-em-out?  And, finally, he’s got Jacksonville’s defense and I’ve got Ezekiel Elliott; obviously the more my guy scores, the less his defense gets.

Also, not for nothing, but I like Darnold against that Colts defense an awful lot, and think he has the potential to put up big numbers.  Between the shootout that should be the Falcons/Bucs, the consistent greatness that Barkley shows on an every-week basis (at least from a fantasy perspective), and the fact that LeVeon Bell chose to wait until AFTER this week to return from his holdout, all goes great lengths in fucking me over.  The Good Luck Gods showered me with love in Week 5, but they’re looking to royally fuck me over once again in Week 6.  I’m Charlie Brown with the football, and that bitch Lucy is fixing to pull it away from me once again.

***THURSDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE***

Blockbuster trade went down.  DelBocaVistaPhase2 sent away James Conner and Chris Thompson, acquiring Shady McCoy and Eli Manning.  So, sub Eli in for Allen, move Mixon up to RB2, and insert Sammy Watkins into the FLEX spot (Keelan Cole hits the waiver wire).  It looks like he’s trying to poach points from Tyreek Hill, which I think is 100% appropriate.  The way New England likes to take away their opponents’ best weapons, I could see a lot of targets funnelled Watkins’ way.

The Huskies Face Their Biggest Challenge Since Auburn

I’m beginning to be a little concerned about how the Huskies play on the road.  UCLA really opened some eyes in the second half of that game last week.  The Huskies looked solid enough in the first half, in racking up a 24-7 halftime lead.  But, then shit just fell apart, and thankfully we were able to put up a touchdown drive in the second half to win it 31-24.  Not the best showing from our defense.

Another solid game from Jake Browning, though!  He had 265 yards passing, with a TD and an INT, as well as 49 yards rushing with another score on the ground.  Yeah, there was a pick, but I’m not really focused on that.  Browning has been gritty as hell lately, playing some STRONG football and I think he deserves to be commended as such.  We’re gonna need everything out of him this week, so I hope he continues playing exactly as he’s been playing the last few weeks.

Gaskin had another monster game, running for 116 on 27 carries with 2 TDs.  It looked like he was dealing with a shoulder issue towards the end of the game, but the dude’s a true warrior and wasn’t about to come off the field on that game-clinching TD drive.  I’m a little concerned about his pro prospects at this point, as it feels like he’s being run into the ground a little bit here (he’s got games of 21, 27 and 30 carries so far this season), but as a Husky fan I’m glad he’s here and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone right now.

Defensively, what can you say about BBK that hasn’t already been said?  Another 15 tackles in this one, as he was again all over the place.  Taylor Rapp got his first pick of the season.  But, you’re going to struggle when you get no pressure on the quarterback, and I’d say 0 sacks constitutes “no pressure”.  Moreover, the lead back ran for 125 yards on 20 carries, so I’d say there’s a lot to clean up heading into Fuck Oregon Week.

The Ducks are 4-1 and 17th in both polls.  The Huskies, conversely, jumped up to 7th in both polls.  So, yeah, this is a pretty huge fucking game.

The Ducks have had an extra week to prepare, which seems like an oversight on the Pac-12’s part, but this conference is run by an incompetent boob, so what do you expect?  We have the worst commissioner, we have the worst network (that isn’t even on DirecTV), we have THE WORST refs, we get no respect from our primary TV partner in ESPN, I’m sure we also have the worst TV deal among the power conferences; why wouldn’t we get saddled with the worst schedules?  Other writers have been harping on this better than I ever could, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate:  Alabama would never be treated this way.  Clemson wouldn’t be treated this way.  The Big 10 wouldn’t treat their top teams this way.  Yet, the Huskies have to play a night game on the road, then have to go back on the road the very next week against a ranked opponent; meanwhile the Ducks get a week off, then get this game at home.  It’s a collosal load of horseshit and even worse, it’s self-sabotage by the Pac-12.  The goal for every major conference should be getting as many teams into the big bowl games as possible, so you can bring in as much money to your conference as possible.  Yet, the way the Pac-12 is run, it’s like they want NOBODY in those games!

I (obviously) hope the Huskies win this week.  And, when it comes time to pick the Top 4 teams for the playoffs, I hope the committee recognizes our conference is run by morons and gives us a little extra boost in the rankings accordingly.  No major conference team should have to be treated this way, yet the top Pac-12 teams are treated this way every fucking year.

All right, end of rant.

Oregon is good.  They’re not as elite as they used to be, but they’re not too far away either.  The scary thing is, we don’t really know how good they are, because their schedule has been pretty weak.  They’re 4-1, but that includes 3 cupcake non-conference schools, a road victory over a now-unranked Cal Bears team, and a home loss to a now-unranked Stanford team.  Considering the way Stanford has looked their last two games, as well as how Cal has looked recently, nothing about Oregon’s schedule strikes me as impressive in the slightest.  The Huskies are the first good team they’ve played, and while they have the advantage in prep time, we don’t yet know if they have an advantage in actual talent.

I kept talking about how last week’s game reminded me of the ASU game from a year ago, but if I’m being honest, it more closely resembles this week.  The only difference is that Oregon is much more highly ranked, but the conditions are the same.  Last year, ASU had an extra week to prepare, and I think that ultimately gave them the edge.  What the Huskies have going for them is that this is a rivalry game, whereas last year’s contest against the Sun Devils felt like a trap game.  Also, this week’s game is at 12:30pm, as opposed to last year’s 7:30pm start time.

I just have to hope all this noise I’m obsessed with as a fan isn’t on the minds of the coaches and players this week.  I feel that sort of shit gets in our heads sometimes and takes us out of the game.  The fact of the matter is, the Huskies are the better team.  But, they haven’t looked as good on the road and that matters.  Also, as you would expect, the Ducks are really good on offense (30th in the nation in rushing yards, 25th in passing yards, 12th in scoring), so if our defense plays like they did against UCLA in the second half, we could be in big trouble.

The thing with the Ducks is, they’re soft.  They can’t handle it when they’re punched in the mouth.  That’s why Stanford always does so well against them.  We’re more like Stanford than we are like Oregon, though I’d put us in that hybrid realm because unlike the Cardinal, we’ve got the type of elite speed to keep up with a team like the Ducks.

I’m having a hard time figuring out this game, though.  The swirling scheduling issues, on top of this being on the road, makes me think it’ll be close one way or the other.  It wouldn’t shock me if Oregon won, to be honest.  I think Washington is the better team, but the better team doesn’t always win.  It’s a long season, and it’s REALLY fucking hard to go undefeated in conference play.  I think the Huskies will win 21-20, but I’m far from confident.

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game Vs The Rams

As crazy as it sounds, the Seahawks actually DIDN’T get obliterated!  You’re welcome, everyone!  The power of my reverse jinx knows no bounds!  But, I still get to be partially right, as the Rams took the lead in the 4th quarter and kept the Seahawks at bay when it mattered most.  With no time outs, under 2 minutes to go, the Rams dug deep and converted on a 4th & 1 quarterback sneak to ice it.  It’s the dictionary definition of a Moral Victory, as the Seahawks covered the spread and only lost 33-31.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Five Games

Let’s just call it the entire rushing game.  In what ostensibly turned into a shootout, the Seahawks still managed to run it 32 times for 190 yards and a TD.  That alone is VERY impressive, but what if I told you Russell Wilson accounted for none of it?  He didn’t even have a single carry!  No scrambles, no nothing!

Chris Carson led the way after missing last week with an injury.  He had 19 carries for 116 yards.  But, true to his word, Pete Carroll worked Mike Davis into the mix, who had 12 for 68 and that score.  Both of them were gashing the Rams left and right, which again comes back to the offensive line.  Dare I say it?  Is the Seahawks’ O-Line the best position group on this team?  Okay, I’ll buy it!  The best group isn’t on the defensive side of the ball, that’s for damn sure!

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

I really liked Russell Wilson’s game.  I still think he needs to pull it on some of those zone read plays, but I also think he’s hiding an injury and is doing everything in his power to limit the plays with his legs.  Nevertheless, he was 13/21 for 198 yards and 3 TDs against 0 picks.  Lots of pretty passes deep down field and he certainly had this team in position to win this game late if we could’ve just gotten the ball back.

HUGE game out of David Moore who had the first 2 touchdown catches of his young career.  He had 3 for 38 on the day and REALLY looks like he’s going to be a star for this team for many years to come.  I haven’t been this excited about one of our young receivers since …

Tyler Lockett!  3 catches for 98 yards and an oh so pretty 39-yard touchdown bomb.  On top of that, he had 3 kick returns for 77 yards as the team looked for a spark in the return game (Penny had been handling KO return duties a lot this year).  It got so bad that the Rams were pooching their kickoffs, giving Seattle great field position all day long.

Finally, not a lot to praise about the defense, but I’ll tip my cap to Bradley McDougald and Bobby Wagner, who are holding this unit together by their strong individual efforts.  And, actually, a tip of the cap to Frank Clark too, who had a monster game after a week’s worth of food poisoning.

Let’s Talk About Competitions

Pretty interesting game for Penny.  Zero offensive touches in a game where the Seahawks ran it 32 times.  There’s growing discontent every week about the Seahawks taking a running back in the first round, and I’m as sick of it as anyone.  I mean, at some point we’re all going to have to get over it!  This isn’t the single worst move the Seahawks ever made.  Hell, it isn’t even the dumbest decision they’ve ever made with a first round pick!  But, that having been said … don’t you have to get SOMETHING out of your rookie first round pick?  I know it’s not necessarily a knock against him, so much as it is that Carson and Davis have earned their touches, but think about it.  This is a game the Seahawks REALLY wanted.  The chips were stacked against them with the injuries suffered in last week’s game, so they circled the wagons.  They consolidated their gameplan to include the most important and best players on their team.  Guys like David Moore and Tyler Lockett were prominent, as they’ve proven over the first month of the season that they’re the best, healthiest receivers we have right now.  Russell Wilson showed up with an efficient game.  And, the best running backs split time pretty evenly.

And Penny didn’t play a lick.  He got in on 1 special teams play and that’s it.  That says A LOT about what the team thinks of him right now.  It’s a damning indictment of their first round pick, and it’s only going to continue to be a glaring blight against this organization unless he turns his career around.

Getting back to the receivers, Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall played 9 and 7 snaps respectively.  They had 0 catches on 0 targets combined.  Doug Baldwin played the entire game, but he’s obviously not quite right, so it’s doubly important that Lockett and Moore played the way they did.  These are the deep threats the Seahawks have on this team that’s opening up our run game and our play-action game.  It’s all connected, and I’m looking forward to the young guys continuing to advance as guys like Brown and Marshall are phased out.

At least for one game, Tedric Thompson is the answer to the question of who would take over in Earl’s absence.  He played all but one snap on defense and had an up & down game.  He came away with 7 tackles and a pass defended, but also missed some tackles, took bad angles on some runs, and missed an interception off a deflected ball.  Of the guys we have on this team, he’s the player with the most promise, but I just don’t know if he’s going to be the long term solution.  The Seahawks have the most work to do in bolstering the pass rush, but they shouldn’t neglect the safety position in 2019.  If there’s a highly-graded first round talent at safety in the draft, I think the Seahawks should pounce on him.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

Just … the defense.  All of it.  Holy hell.  The Rams punted on their first drive of the game, and then never again.  Sure, there was an early pick, and a nice goalline stand that led to a field goal, but the Rams had their way and were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted all day.

That starts and ends with the pass rush, which was absolutely non-existent.  The crowd noise was solid, and forced the Rams to waste a bunch of time outs at inopportune times, but otherwise the Rams were fine.  1 sack on 66 plays.  2 hits on the quarterback and I’m pretty sure one of them was a 15-yard flag because Quinton Jefferson was an idiot and hit him 3 hours after he threw the ball.  Sure, a lot of it had to do with their scheme – they get the ball out fast and with receivers WIDE open – but he also had plenty of plays where he could stand back there, make a sandwich, talk to some buddies, build a ship in a bottle, and the Seahawks were never going to get home.  Fucking abysmal, and there’s no hope on the horizon for 2018.  Dion Jordan was good for 22 snaps.  Q-Jeff is our defacto #2 DE and he is NOBODY’S definition of a quality pass rusher.  Barkevious Mingo played 97% of defensive snaps and that should probably never change, because Frank Clark needs some help.

I wasn’t a huge fan of all the drop-kick kickoffs.  I hate it when an opposing team gets a couple quality returns and then Pete Carroll freaks the fuck out and starts pooching everything, giving the other team amazing field position every fucking time.  Why not, I dunno, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR KICK COVERAGE?!  Unless Janikowski was nursing a hammy or something, they should’ve brought him back out.  Either that, or just kick it out of bounds and save us all the embarrassment.

Also, man that was a tough holding penalty that forced us out of field goal position, but I mean, it was 2nd and 13 on the Rams’ 35 yard line, so WHY WERE WE RUNNING THE BALL IN THE FIRST PLACE?!  That’s supposed to be the tougher end of the field to kick, so why not throw and try to get really close!  Again, it’s a clear example of the team trying to play for a field goal.  Best case scenario, we don’t get flagged for holding, Mike Davis runs for 5 yards to the 30 and it’s 3rd & 8 with just over 3 minutes to go.  Odds are – even with how mediocre the Rams’ pass defense was in this game – we’re not converting a 3rd & 8 (I even bet the Seahawks would’ve run it AGAIN just to get a tiny bit closer and eat some more clock), in which case the Rams still would’ve had PLENTY of time to take the ball down the field and score a game-winning field goal.

The end of that game shows the clear differences in philosophy between these two teams.  The Seahawks play it safe and stodgy, running the ball down around the 30 yard line, playing for the field goal, and I guess just praying the other team makes a mistake (because our defense was in no position to slow them down).  Meanwhile, the Rams, with the lead and the ball, on 4th & short on their own 43 yard line, went for it on a QB sneak to put the game away.  Seattle NEVER would’ve done that in a million years!

That’s part of the reason why I feel this moral victory is a bit hollow.  We’re all but shut out of winning the division, we have a LONG road to get into wild card contention, and even though we hung close, the Rams are clearly the superior team and would’ve won that game 90 times out of 100.  Do I like the Seahawks’ chances against an inferior team like the Raiders this week?  Sure.  But, against the greats, I think we’re still just as fucked as we were before this surprisingly easy-to-accept home defeat.

Hope You’re Ready For The Seahawks To Be Obliterated

I don’t know what you do with this game.  The Rams are so far and away the better of the two teams that it hardly feels like anything to get worked up about.  Stick me on a court and pit me against LeBron James … and I’m supposed to be upset when he beats me 5,000,000 to 0?

I’m sorry, but I got nothin’.  Last December, the Rams came to town and won 42-7, and it wasn’t even THAT close!  I know there were a number of injured players – particularly on defense – that hampered the Seahawks’ chances … but guess what?  Earl’s gone, K.J. is still down, Mychal Kendricks is suspended, Avril’s retired, Kam’s retired, Bennett’s gone, Sherm’s gone, Dion Jordan is whatever, Rasheem Green’s got an ankle of some sort.  This defense is a shell of its former self, and while they’ve done the lord’s work in over-achieving thus far in 2018, the Seahawks haven’t seen a team even REMOTELY close to what the Rams are, particularly on offense.

The Broncos are garbage, as we all expected.  The Cardinals are trash.  The Cowboys are a mess.  And don’t be fooled by what the Bears did to the Bucs, because that Bucs defense is one of the worst in all of football.

This is the Los Angeles Fucking Rams!  Even when they had Jeff Fisher they were kicking our asses, and now they have a living and breathing genius at the helm!  They’re 4-0 and they’ve scored over 30 points in every game.  Say what you want about the teams they played (Raiders, Cardinals, Chargers, and Vikings all look pretty suspect on defense), but the Rams weren’t pussyfooting around.  They reached out, grabbed those teams by the throat, and went to fucking TOWN!  No easing off the accelerator, no going up big and coasting in the second halves.  They just keep coming and coming and coming, until the final whistle blows.

But, you know, crazy things happen.  The Bills went into Minnesota and destroyed them.  They’ve since come to look pretty mediocre against the Packers, so was that a fluke?  Are the Vikings way overrated?  Hard to say.  I still think the Bills are good for less than 6 wins this year, and I’d be hard-pressed to peg them as winners of more than 2 or 3.  The point is, they don’t play games on paper.  Games aren’t decided by one yutz’s blog post.  So, let’s get to work; let’s try to solve this impossible riddle of how to beat the Rams.

For starters, you have to like the fact the game’s in Seattle.  The Rams have played 3/4 games at home so far and their only road game was in Oakland, which … come on.  The Seahawks are 2-2 now, on a 2-game winning streak, and this season is pretty much on the line this Sunday.  Lose, and the Seahawks are who we thought they were; win, and the sky just might be the limit.  The way I’m leaning, I’ve got it 99:1 that the Seahawks lose, but in that rare 1% chance, we could be talking about something great.

But, home field advantage never won a game by itself.  The 12’s can be as loud as they want, but it’s still going to require the Seahawks to go out there and do the job.  From that angle, I see two possibilities.

The first involves the Seahawks doing exactly what they’ve done the last two weeks.  Lots of running the ball on first & second downs, getting into 3rd & short situations, slowing the game down, limiting turnovers, hopefully limiting opportunities for the other team to have the ball, and grinding out an ugly, close, low-scoring game.  If I had to guess what the game plan is for this week, it’s going to look exactly like that.

And I think that if you asked around the league, most people would agree that’s how you do it.  How do you beat Peyton Manning?  Keep him off the field.  How do you beat Tom Brady?  Keep him off the field.  And that’s worked at times; probably less than a 50% success rate, but better than nothing.  But, has it worked for teams with defenses this deficient?

The problem with that scheme is, we can slow things down all we want, but the Rams are still BETTER than us.  They’ll most likely be able to get off the field on third downs, get the ball back to their offense, and race down the field for many multiple scores, all with incredible ease.  If we try to slow it down and muck it up, we’re going to lose and lose big, I have no doubt about it.

The other possibility is a shootout, which I still feel is our only hope.  It won’t happen right off the bat, but after a quarter of play, when the Seahawks are down 14-0, obviously the script is going to have to be thrown out the window.  They’re going to have to take the training wheels off of Russell Wilson, and they’re going to have to let him run the show.  Up tempo, lots of throwing, one or two magical escape acts sprinkled in, and maybe you can find a way to keep up with their offense in a 38-35 type game (a la the game against the Steelers in 2015).  Those games are so rare and precious that it’s stupid to want to expect it, but if the Seahawks are going to win this game, that’s going to have to be how we do it.

There’s no way in hell that the Seahawks will be the first team to keep the Rams under 30 points this season.  We have no pass rush, full stop.  But, that’s neither here nor there, because the Rams are too quick anyway.  They get the ball out fast, before we’d even have a CHANCE to move the pocket.  They have the best running back in the league, who is a threat running and receiving.  K.J. Wright was always the key in guarding someone like Gurley, and you saw last year what happened when we were without our best pass-defending linebacker.  What’s going to happen this time?  Are we going to shadow him with Bobby Wagner?  Are we going to bring Bradley McDougald down closer to the line?  What does that do to our pass defense when Tedric Thompson is our guy roaming the middle?

Speaking of which, the Rams have three REALLY good receivers on top of their all-world running back.  Brandin Cooks is a stud and a deep threat.  Robert Woods is savagely underrated.  And Cooper Kupp is a top notch slot receiver.  Our corners are, I think, better than expected heading into the season, but they’re not going to completely shut those guys down.  And there’s a significant talent gap from Earl to the next man up, which is going to further open things up in the middle of the field.

Honestly, this game is going to be hard to watch.  If you need some sort of alcohol or marijuana enhancement to make it through this one, I won’t blame you one bit.

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team: Week 5

Have I told you how much I fucking HATE fantasy football?  Because, I can’t stress that enough.  I truly – with the fire of a thousand fucking suns – HATE FANTASY FOOTBALL WITH EVERY FUCKING FIBER OF MY BEING!

Who has the second-most points in the league, yet is 1-3 and in 6th place out of 10 teams right now?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Who has the MOST points scored against him in the entire league, by 26.87 points?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Who would have beaten EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE last week (except for the one I went up against)?  Me.  I’m that poor fucking sap.

Counting the list of players he had going who scored less than 10 points would be easier, but I’ve never been one to take the easy way out.  You can click that Week 4 Preview up above to see what his lineup was like.  He did end up swapping out Breida for Kerryon Johnson, but it hardly mattered.  Goff got him 50+, Hopkins & White got him 30+ each, Stafford & Ertz got him 20+ each.  Korky Butchek won 221.40 to 184.83, and remember I didn’t have a tight end going!  The next-closest team in the league had 179.75 and again, I DIDN’T HAVE A TIGHT END GOING!

I’m getting rammed in the ass like you wouldn’t believe.  This is borderline historic bad luck for a fantasy football team.

Speaking of bad luck, Leonard Fournette looks like he could be out another week or two (or more), but regardless he’s not someone I’m ever going to feel confident starting.  That’s one of my three keepers – one of the building blocks of my team – who is giving me nothing.  I still have Adrian Peterson I can throw in there, but he’s like a million years old, so how many more weeks can I count on him being alive?  He’s already a shaky player as it is, because if the Redskins are ever trailing, they stick Chris Thompson in there and throw it to him 20 times a game.  So, if AP doesn’t get me a TD, then I’m DOA.

Once it became clear that Ryan Fitzpatrick had lost his starting job, I dropped him on Sunday afternoon, and picked up the Carolina defense (who was on a BYE in week 4).  They’re going to host the Giants this week (while my precious Bears are on a BYE), so I opted to take the upside of a defense facing Eli Manning, over the likes of the Jets (hosting Denver), the Broncos (going to New York), the 49ers (hosting the Cards), or the Bengals (hosting Miami).

I’ve also officially given up on Demaryius Thomas, after a pathetic game against a hapless Chiefs defense.  He drops too many balls, Case Keenum isn’t very good, and their offense in general is pretty conservative and run-heavy.  My team is too good to have some bust hogging my FLEX spot.

I somehow got up to the 5th spot in our league’s waiver priority, so I went and put a couple claims out for players.  Calvin Ridley was still out there somehow, so I took a shot at him and I landed him!  I couldn’t tell you why Atlanta’s touchdown leader was still out there on the waiver wire, but he’s mine now!  This is a boon for King Flippy Nips!  Calvin Ridley is the type of guy who comes from out of nowhere to win fantasy teams fantasy championships.  The fact that he was available after 4 weeks of play means that many people in my league dropped the ball.  I mean, let’s face it, if the Falcons haven’t figured out how to give Julio Jones the ball in the endzone by now, they’re not going to magically figure it out.  Teams are still going to double that guy, meaning Ridley is going to continue getting friendly matchups in a prolific offense (on a team with a rotten defense).  As long as Ridley stays healthy, I’m golden.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

  • QB1 – Carson Wentz vs. MIN
  • QB2 – Derek Carr @ LAC
  • WR1 – Tyreek Hill vs. JAX
  • WR2 – Adam Thielen @ PHI
  • RB1 – Ezekiel Elliott @ HOU
  • RB2 – Adrian Peterson @ NO
  • TE – Jordan Reed @ NO
  • FLEX – Calvin Ridley @ PIT
  • K – Robbie Gould vs. AZ
  • DEF – Carolina vs. NYG

My bench is:  Andy Dalton, Fournette, Robert Woods, Kenny Golladay, Chicago, Greg Olsen.

I opted for Carr over Dalton because I figure that game will be much more high scoring; Dalton’s hosting Miami who has a surprisingly good defense.  I don’t love Hill’s matchup against the Jags, but he’s just not a guy I’m going to sit (if I did sit him, I’d probably go with Woods in his spot, because there’s no way the Seahawks will shut down the Rams’ offense).  My favorite matchup is probably Ridley against Pittsburgh; this waiver claim should pay immediate dividends.

I’m going up against Koncussion Protocol, which is apparently a play on someone’s name in our league (yet NOT the owner of the team Koncussion Protocol).  He’s in 4th place with a 2-2 record, yet he has 74.96 fewer points than I do.  Nevertheless, he has a nice little squad that could give me fits if they all blow up at once (which seems to be the trend this year).

I would expect Sunday morning tinkering, but here’s who I would perceive to be the best lineup he’s got to throw at me:

  • QB1 – Drew Brees vs. WAS
  • QB2 – Deshaun Watson vs. DAL
  • WR1 – Golden Tate vs. GB
  • WR2 – Tyler Lockett vs. LAR
  • RB1 – Austin Ekeler vs. OAK
  • RB2 – Jay Ajayi vs. MIN
  • TE – Jared Cook @ LAC
  • FLEX – Nelson Agholor vs. MIN
  • K – Mason Crosby @ DET
  • DEF – L.A. Rams @ SEA

His bench consists of:  Cam Newton, Corey Clement, Dion Lewis, Geronimo Allison, and DeSean Jackson (who is on a BYE this week).  It wouldn’t shock me to see one or more of these guys subbed in there.  He is a Packers fan, so Allison is always a possibility.

Obviously, his running backs are a little weak.  But, I could see the Chargers throwing the ball a ton against the Raiders, and the Vikings defense hasn’t been anything special, so if there was ever a week for Ajayi to bust out, this might as well be it.  Lockett is always going to be boom or bust, and he’s on the Seahawks, so you figure his usage is always going to be random.  Tate and Cook stand out as potential stars this week, and Agholor could throw a wrench into things if Wentz decides to feature him heavily in the pass game.  And, obviously, the Rams are going to get a fistful of sacks and probably a few turnovers, so that’s looking scary.

How much worse can it get for my bad luck team?  We’ll find out soon enough.

Looking At Some Numbers And Stuff About The 2018 Mariners

The Mariners’ season ended with a whimper over the weekend.  The M’s took 3 of 4 against the Rangers to finish 89-73.  That’s good for 14 games behind the Astros for the division and 8 games behind the Athletics for the second wild card (also, 1 game behind the Rays for the first runner up position to that second wild card, but that’s neither here nor there).

The Mariners were -34 in run differential, which comes out to a pythagorean win total of only 77.  They were 45-36 at home and 44-37 on the road.  They were 36-21 in 1-run games and a whopping 14-1 in extras!

Somehow, the Mariners had a winning record against every single team in the division:

  • 10-9 vs. Houston
  • 10-9 vs. Oakland
  • 11-8 vs. Anaheim
  • 10-9 vs. Texas

The Mariners were 23-9 against the AL Central, 19-15 against the AL East.  But, as I talked about before, the Mariners were a dreadful 6-14 against the National League (which, again, if you flip that, then we’re tied with the A’s for that second wild card spot).

Here’s the month-by-month:

  • March/April:  16-11
  • May:  18-11
  • June:  19-9
  • July:  10-13
  • August:  12-16
  • September:  14-13

And just to rub some salt in the wounds:

  • Pre July 4th:  55-31
  • July 4th onward:  34-42

I like to point to July 3rd as the high-water mark, but it was really just the beginning of the end.  The REAL high-water mark was at the conclusion of our game on June 5th, where we beat the Astros in Houston and took a 2-game lead in the A.L. West.  We, of course, lost to the eventual champs the very next day and after another week of hovering around first place, we ended up dipping below for the duration of the season.

*Sigh* those were wonderful, delightful times back in early June.  I was so young and naive in those days!

Let’s move on to some individual accolades.

  • Jean Segura is your 2018 Mariners batting champion, with a .304 average
  • Robinson Cano is your 2018 Mariners OBP leader with .374
  • Mitch Haniger is your non-suspended 2018 Mariners OBP leader with .366
  • Nelson Cruz is your slugging champ with .509
  • And Haniger is your OPS champ with .859 (narrowly besting Cruz’s .850)

Here are all the guys who had 10+ homers:

  1. Cruz – 37
  2. Haniger – 26
  3. Ryon Healy – 24
  4. Kyle Seager – 22
  5. Mike Zunino – 20
  6. Segura – 10
  7. Cano – 10

With all of that, the Mariners were just 11th in the AL in homers.

Some other individual numbers:

  • Cruz beat Haniger in RBI, 97-93
  • Haniger beat Seager in doubles, 38-36
  • Dee Gordon beat Denard Span in triples, 8-6
  • Segura edged Haniger in total hits, 178-170
  • Segura also edged Haniger in runs scored, 91-90
  • Gordon topped Segura in steals 30-20

My MVP has to go to Mitch Haniger, who was amazing this year.  He finished with a 6.1 WAR, which was easily the best on the team, and looks to be just scratching the surface of a great MLB career.

On to the pitchers:

  • Your ERA champ among qualified starters was Wade LeBlanc with 3.72
  • James Paxton led the team in strikeouts with 208
  • Mike Leake led the Mariners in innings pitched with 185.2
  • Marco Gonzales led the team in wins with 13
  • Leake led the team in quality starts with 18

Here’s your pitching section just devoted to the miracle that was Edwin Diaz:

  • (Obviously) led the Mariners in saves with 57
  • 57 is tied for 2nd all time in a season in MLB history
  • He fell 5 short of the all-time leader, Francisco Rodriguez
  • He led the team in pitching WAR with 3.2
  • Paxton was second with 2.9
  • He led the team in K/9 with 15.22
  • Only Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances had higher K/9 in the A.L.
  • Even though he’s just a reliever, and pitched fewer than half the innings of the starters, Diaz’s 124 strikeouts was still good for 5th on the team (one behind King Felix, who pitched 82 more innings)
  • The next-closest reliever in strikeouts was Nick Vincent with 56
  • He led the team in WHIP with 0.79
  • He led the team in ERA with 1.96
  • He led all pitchers in games played with 73 (Vincent was second with 62)

Without making it a whole thing, here are some props to some non-Diaz relievers who had great seasons.  Alex Colome, Roenis Elias, and James Pazos all logged in some serious innings for the Mariners and all had sub-3 ERAs.  I know that stat doesn’t mean much anymore, but I mean, those guys were dealing more often than not.

Nevertheless, Edwin Diaz is my Mariners Cy Young Award winner and it’s not even close.

Finally, let’s take a look at how some of these Mariners greats stacked up against the rest of the American League:

  • Segura was 7th in batting average, and one of 8 in the A.L. to hit over .300
  • Haniger was 9th in WAR
  • Segura was 15th in WAR (with 4.3)
  • Haniger was 10th in OPS
  • Cruz was 14th in OPS
  • Cruz was 8th in homers
  • Diaz (again, obviously) led the league in saves (2nd place had 43)

So, that’s that.  Another playoffs-less season in the books.  Do it all again in 2019?  Sure, why not?  What the hell else do I have going on in my life?  Might as well continue to root for a mediocre baseball team some more.

The Huskies Took BYU To Town, Prepare To Thrash UCLA

I spent the entire afternoon on Saturday tailgating to my heart’s content.  There was beer, there was beer pong, there was food, there was chatting with friends.  And then, before I knew it, I was whisked away, down the Padelford steps, along the Burke-Gilman Trail, down towards Husky Stadium …

Followed by a sharp right, down into the train tunnel, onto the train, and out at the Safeco Field stop.  See, this would be my final Mariners game of the season, and it’s the annual Oktoberfest celebration.  You buy a seat in a certain section, and you get a giant glass beer stein, a free beer, and the enjoyment of watching the Mariners beating up on the Rangers in a meaningless game in a meaningless season of our meaningless lives.  I want to say I browned out through 78% of it, and I definitely got lost on my way back to the seats after wolfing down an order of wings and a hot dog (I think).  The rest of the time, I want to say I was my usual charming, sophisticated self.  My night ended on my friend’s couch.

In my inebriated state, I do seem to recall someone telling me the Huskies were up 35 to 0, so I had that to look forward to on Sunday morning.  I DVR’d the game so I could watch it before the NFL kicked off, and boy was it a good one!

The running game was great (Ahmed had 86 on 10 carries with 2 TDs; Gaskin had 81 on 14 carries with 1 TD).  Jake Browning was damn near flawless (23/25, 277 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, and an incredible 9-yard TD run just before halftime).  Aaron Fuller led the way on the receiving side of things, with 8 catches for 107 yards.

After a punt on the first drive of the game, the Huskies scored on 5 of their next 6 drives (and, really, it should’ve been 7 of their next 7, except for 2 missed close-range field goals of 40 and 24 yards).  For all the hype of BYU’s stout defense (I mean, they DID go into Wisconsin and come away victorious), the Huskies were able to do whatever the fuck they wanted.

And yet, somehow the Husky defense STILL out-played the offense!  BYU had 7 first downs all game.  They had 194 total yards!  Only 34 on the ground!  They did biff a 45-yard field goal in the first half, but still, we would’ve shut them out entirely if it weren’t for a Chico McClatcher muffed punt late in the 4th quarter.  That was a legitimate Top 20 football team, and we DECIMATED THEM!

As a reward, the Huskies are back in the Top 10 in both polls.  That was, without question, our most impressive win of the season, and it came at a time where we really needed it.  Stanford did us no favors by losing to Notre Dame over the weekend.  Utah did us no favors by losing to the Cougs (making our 14-point road victory that much less impressive).  We were always the great hope of the Pac-12, and that’s only been further reinforced by what’s happened over the weekend.

This Saturday, we go to UCLA, who is currently winless and has looked pretty pathetic doing it.  I couldn’t be less worried about this one – even if it is on the road – but my focus is squarely on Oregon in two weeks.  They get to spend all this time working on JUST beating the Huskies, since the Pac-12 – in all of its wisdom – gave them a BYE week this week (while we get to go on the road in back-to-back games, because that’s fair for some reason).  I’m already quaking with rage for when we go to Eugene and …

I don’t even want to think about it.

Just hope that the Huskies aren’t peaking too early.  It’s hard to improve upon a game like that against BYU, but we might be going up against the very worst team in the conference this Saturday, so who knows?  The onslaught starts NEXT week.  Oregon is currently in the Top 20, Colorado is undefeated and in the Top 25, Cal was just in the Top 25 before losing to the aforementioned Ducks, and Stanford is in the Top 20 after losing to the aforementioned Fighting Irish.  Then, there’s a creampuff in the Beavers before going on the road for the Apple Cup, at which time you have to hope the Cougars will be ranked (they’re currently 4-1 and looking MUCH better than anyone had any right to expect them to be).

I’m telling you, if we pull it off, there’s no WAY this schedule can be held against us when it comes to the playoffs!

Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Arizona

It was the usual brand of ugly down in Glendale, but the Seahawks prevailed in the end to beat the winless Cardinals 20-17.  The defense looked good enough, the run game was fine, but the offense as a whole was pretty bad once again.  There just isn’t going to be an overnight fix on this thing; it’s going to take a lot of baby stepping to get this thing where it needs to be.

What I’m Geeked Out About After Four Games

Shout out to the offensive line!  I never thought I’d see them in this section so soon, but here we are!

I don’t have them here just because every other element about the Seahawks struggled (though that’s true), but because they actually looked good.  Dominant even!  We were all whacked across the face Sunday afternoon with the news that Chris Carson was sitting out with some nagging injury, so you could be forgiven if you feared for the life of our run game.  It came as a further shock to see Mike Davis getting the starter’s reps, with a fully healthy Rashaad Penny returning kicks and getting the backup’s reps.

But, Davis came out guns blazing!  21 carries, 101 yards, 2 TDs, to go along with 4 catches for 23 more yards!  While Davis is fully capable of having these types of games, it was hard not to notice how wide open those running lanes were, thanks to this O-line (backed up, once again, on the strength of D.J. Fluker on the right side).  With Sweezy holding down the left guard spot, things have really started to gel with these guys (though, I still hope to see Pocic win that job back at some point, for the long-term future of the unit).

Furthermore, Russell Wilson only took 2 sacks, and often had all day to throw the ball.  It was just a great game for a maligned group of guys and I’m happy for them.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Good Way)

Speaking of Penny, he only ran the ball 9 times, but gained 49 yards in the process.  He looked more decisive and powerful than I’ve ever seen him.  This was a nice stepping stone game for him, as he acclimates to the speed and ferocity of the league.

Lots of props for the defense, particularly the front seven.

Bobby Wagner, of course, led the team in tackles.  Jarran Reed made his presence felt in the backfield, with a sack and a couple tackles for loss.  Mychal Kendricks had a couple tackles in the backfield, as did Branden Jackson.  These guys also did a pretty good job of holding Arizona’s running game in check.  David Johnson only averaged 3.2 yards per carry (22 for 71, with a TD).

Offensively for the Seahawks, not a lot there.  David Moore had a solid game (2 for 39).  Tyler Lockett continued to show up on the stat sheet (5 for 53 to lead the way).

Let’s Talk About Competitions Injuries

We just can’t play a game in that fucking stadium without losing guys to devastating injuries!  I can’t even keep it straight in my head anymore, all I know it’s been a lot.

Well, throw Will Dissly’s corpse onto the pile, because he went out on the second drive of the game with a season-ending knee injury.  Fucking terrific.  Just what I want to see from a promising rookie.  Let’s cut his first year short in the first month of the season; wouldn’t want to let him get TOO experienced!

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, Earl Thomas appears to have re-fractured his broken leg from a couple years back, on just a nothing of a play (looks like it broke just with him running on it and maybe stepping down awkwardly).

These injuries are obviously devastating, for both the short term and the long term.  For Dissly, we’re already pretty thin at tight end (Vannett was the only other one suited up for the game yesterday).  Ed Dickson can’t return until after week 6, so we’ll have some practice squad guys coming in.  And, from what I’ve been told, this is a lot like Jimmy Graham’s injury from a few years back, so we’re talking surgery and a full year’s rehab.  If everything breaks right, Dissly could be back for the start of next year, or he could land on the PUP.  Either way, it’s probably best to expect a slow start to his 2019 season, which just sucks, because Dissly really looks like a bona fide #1 starting tight end for this team.

And, with Earl, I mean, what can you say?  He’s the best free safety in the league.  So, obviously, the downgrade to Tedric Thompson or Delano Hill (at strong safety, with McDougald moving over to replace Earl) is pretty severe.  On top of that, there’s no longer the potential to trade Earl for draft picks, which was obviously in our back pocket as the trade deadline approaches.

If the Seahawks were never serious about extending him, I can understand everyone’s frustrations with this team for not trading him and getting back whatever value we could get.  You run the risk – hoping other teams’ injuries force them into giving us more in trade – and you get burned when your own guy goes down.  It’s doubly painful when you start to think about how we almost certainly won’t get a compensatory pick back for him.  There’s just too many things going against us:

  1. Earl’s injury might make other teams wary to give him a huge, long-term contract.  He might have to go somewhere on an incentive-laden, 1-year prove-it deal.  The value of the contract determines the possible compensatory pick, and a deal like that wouldn’t be worth much more than a 6th or 7th rounder.
  2. Even if Earl does get a max deal, that’s not a guarantee that the Seahawks get that possible 3rd round pick in return.  The Seahawks are going to have a lot of money to spend in 2019, with a bunch of veterans coming off the books.  As the Seahawks have a lot of holes to fill in 2019, I would expect we sign more incoming free agents than we lose our own guys to other teams.  If that’s the case, Earl Thomas could sign the biggest contract in NFL history and the Seahawks still won’t get any picks back for him.

All that being said, if you’re mad about Earl Thomas flipping off the Seahawks, you need to calm the fuck down.  He’s an emotional guy, and that’s an emotional situation.  This thing was never going to end well.  Stop clutching your pearls about a middle finger; I’m sure he’s said things a million times worse about this organization away from the media.  He’s an elite player in the final year of his deal and all he wanted was to get paid what he feels he’s worth, as well as have that financial security going forward to protect against this VERY scenario.  To see his worst nightmares come to fruition has to be the most enraging thing for him to experience; I think he’s a model of restraint for ONLY flipping off the sideline.

Earl Thomas is one of the most talented football player to ever don a Seahawks uniform, that’s never going to change.  Kenny Easley walked away from this organization with hurt feelings too.  When his career is over and cooler heads prevail, Earl Thomas will be back one day to raise that 12 Flag and see his name go up in that Ring of Honor.  And, when he becomes a first-ballot hall of famer, he’ll see his number retired.  It’s all out there waiting for him.  Just give it time for the heat to die down.

Other Things That Caught My Eye (In A Bad Way)

It doesn’t get any worse than 0 for 10 on third downs.  You can thank Doug Baldwin for coming up short on two of them (combined with Russell for throwing short of the sticks on both of those), you can thank Brandon Marshall for one glaring drop, and you can thank penalties all over the place (you weren’t perfect, O-line, so don’t think you get off easy on this one).

The play calling also left a lot to be desired.  3rd & long draw plays were the name of the game in this one.  Which, normally, whatever.  But, they also ran the ball on the outskirts of field goal position, when throwing for a nice chunk gain – even if those passes would’ve come short of first down territory – would’ve been the better move.  It’s the worst part of a conservative coaching staff to see your offense get down to the opponent’s 30 yard line and then coast to the field goal try, as if it’s fucking automatic.  NOTHING IS AUTOMATIC!  And, of course, Janikowski missed 2 more very-makeable field goals.  The fact that he made it at the end of the game is irrelevant; the fact that we kept settling for LONG field goals – when it would’ve been better to hurry up and try for shorter ones – is the issue here.  That’s on the coaching staff, and it fucking needs to stop.

Paul Allen, hear my plea!  When it’s time to replace Pete Carroll, go find the next hot-shot offensive mind to get this unit humming!  And then bring the Brink’s truck to Wade Phillips’ house and pay him whatever he wants to coach up the defense!

I won’t totally kill the coaching staff, because they did turn around the running game like they said they would.  Listen, I get the ire from the fans; 0/10 on third down is unacceptable.  At the same time, this running game IS looking good again, so you can’t bemoan the Seahawks for not running the ball … and then complain when they DO run the ball and run it well!

The fact of the matter is, the Seahawks have 2 good run games out of the 4 we’ve played, and it’s no coincidence that the team is 2-0 in those weeks.  We have to help our defense by running clock, and we have to help our O-line by limiting the number of drop-backs for Russell Wilson.  No turnovers, good punting, and it spells out a hard-fought road victory within our division.  That’s how this team is going to win football games.

Finally, before I go, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Josh Rosen’s day.  He looked, dare I say it, somewhat competent?  Even bordering on *gulp* GOOD!?  The Cardinals had at least 4 crucial drops, and he was fitting some beautiful passes into some tight windows.  That’s just what we need, another team in our division with their quarterback issues completely solved.