Seahawks Host The Texans This Weekend

I don’t have a super great handle on how this game is going to go on Sunday.  I’ll say this:  I’m glad we’re home; if this game was being played in Texas, I don’t think we’d stand much of a chance.

Ordinarily, if you told me an okay, .500 team was coming into Seattle with a rookie quarterback, I’d tell you to pack your bags because we’re going to Flavor Country!  That’s a recipe for a slam dunk if I’ve ever seen one!  Except, here’s the deal, Deshaun Watson isn’t an ordinary rookie.  He’s almost certainly the top rookie QB of his class, and maybe one of the best rookie QBs of all time!

To recap his progression, he started the season as the team’s backup to Tom Savage.  Tom Savage played in exactly one half of football, in the first game of the season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  In that half of football, the Texans punted 4 times, Savage fumbled twice (one returned for a touchdown), and their final drive ended the half without a score.

Watson struggled in the second half of that unwinnable game, was marginally better in a 13-9 victory over the Bengals on a Thursday night.  And, ever since he’s actually had a full week to prepare for a game, he’s been off-the-charts great.  His first Sunday start was a narrow 36-33 defeat to the defending champion Patriots, where he threw for a career-high 301 yards and 2 TDs.  He followed that up with a 4-TD game against the Titans, and a 5-TD game against the Chiefs.  Last week was only a 3-TD affair in an easy victory over the Browns.  All told, he’s 3-2 on the season, with those two defeats against the two best teams in the AFC:  the Pats & Chiefs.

Now, obviously, it’s not all on him, so I don’t want to make this a post about QB Wins.  I’d say, more than anything, their defense has been a bigger letdown than he has been a pleasant surprise.  I think a lot of us expected the Houston defense to be the biggest strength of this team; I certainly expected a lot more of those 13-9 type games than I have all these shootouts, but it is what it is.

The Texans have the potential to really sling that ball all around the yard.  They also have the potential to unleash the beast, as it were, when it comes to the Seahawks’ offense.

I’m not going to say that New England has anything resembling a formidable home field advantage when it comes to their fans.  A LOTTA frontrunners in those stands, who will get awfully quiet if the Pats get punched in the mouth.  Nevertheless, it’s more than a little intimidating to go up against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and Watson didn’t blink.  This kid has stones, and I don’t think a little Seattle noise is going to make him shrink in this game.  So, if you were counting on going to the game this weekend and expecting him to roll over at your full-throated screams, I’d think again if I were you.

So, yeah, I’d be shocked if Watson came out and stunk up the joint.  But, I’d also be shocked if he totally dominated.  He strikes me as a guy who likes to push the ball up the field, and if he brings that mess in this game, he might be in for a rude awakening.  Teams with quarterbacks who exhibit a great deal of patience tend to give the Seahawks fits.  Teams with quarterbacks who aren’t afraid to check down, who will settle for the underneath route, and most importantly, who are accurate and poised enough to convert those short third downs; THOSE are the teams that beat the Seahawks.  And, judging from my perch as a fantasy owner of Lamar Miller, I’ll tell you this:  Deshaun Watson does NOT settle for the running back checkdown very often.

What he does do is utilize his two excellent wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, who will go up and get a ball with the best of ’em, and who can also burn past you with the best of ’em.  I would expect Richard Sherman won’t be ignored in this one.  Any way you slice it, he’s going up against a top notch receiver, so he could be key in this one.

I’ll also say this:  safety play is going to be paramount.  I have to imagine there will be at least one interception between Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in this game.

What I can’t see is Houston bringing its running game.  Lamar Miller is not to be trusted in MOST circumstances, but I have to imagine he’s going to be pretty well shut down in this game.  Likewise, I wouldn’t expect D’Onta Foreman will have much running room.  If Watson isn’t the Texans’ leading rusher, I’ll be shocked.

Defensively, obviously the big news is how they lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the year.  Those are two HUGE hits to their pass rush.  This week, they’re also dealing with injuries in their linebacker corps which should also limit them.  Even with those losses, they still have a lot of firepower, led by Jadeveon Clowney.  We have to keep what’s left of their pass rush – and double team Clowney to keep him off of Wilson’s ass – or it could be a really long day.

I think the Seahawks can manage.  And, if they do, I could see the Seahawks scoring over 30 points in this one.

There are plenty of reasons why the Seahawks could lose, but I still think they should probably win.  Like I said up top, they’re at home, and even if Watson comes in and does okay, it’s still better than the alternative of him being at home.  Assuming we keep them one-dimensional on offense, and shut down their deep passing attack, I would expect a victory in the 34-24 range, with the Seahawks scoring a touchdown late to put the game away.

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 11

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

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

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

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

Everything sucks and you wish you were dead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

The Loser’s Bracket:

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

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 6

Last week, we got into it with the defense a little bit.  Certainly, those issues are still around.  This is the second time the Seahawks have given up 30 points in a game this year; the Seahawks gave up 30 or more only once all of last year (including playoffs).  The Cowboys used the Chargers’ model of beating the Seahawks:  converting lots of third downs, running a lot of plays, churning lots of clock, and scoring touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals.  The L.O.B. stinks right now, the defensive line is a shell of their 2013 selves, and injuries abound.  This is not a good unit and it’s looking like the prophecy was correct:  give these players big-money contracts and watch them dog it on the field.

Oh, I’m sorry, am I wrong?  Is that unfair?  Then, prove it, cuntbags!  Get out there and dominate like you’re supposed to!

Anyway, I’m through with the defense for now.  This week, we’re talking offense.

I go through ebbs and flows when it comes to listening to sports radio.  Sometimes, I have the radio on daily, sitting in my living room after work, catching up on the goings on.  Sometimes, I’ll go weeks without.  Let’s face it, sports radio can be a little irritating sometimes.

But, it’s always good to tap into the public discourse once in a while, to see what’s bothering the masses.  Sometimes, what’s bothering the masses this week is what they were falling all over themselves praising last week.  For instance, take Russell Wilson.

Last week, against the Redskins on Monday Night, Russell Wilson was the best player on the football field.  He practically single-handedly won us that game with his legs and his arms and his leg-arms (or, rather, his ability to throw while running away from immediate pressure).  He was great.  He proved once again that he’s a Top 5 quarterback in this league.

Then, six days later, against the Cowboys, Russell Wilson turned in one of the very-worst performances of his young career.  Now, all of a sudden, what makes him great – scrambling around, eluding pressure, keeping plays alive – are reasons to take him down a peg.  “He doesn’t step up into the pocket enough.”  That’s the biggest criticism I’m hearing this week on sports radio.  Instead of twirling all around, running backwards out of the pocket, he should step up into a throwing lane and make a play.

The thing is, what hardly gets acknowledged in this scenario is that quarterbacks who step up in the pocket to throw the football tend to take body-crushing hits.  Yeah, it’s macho to be that guy who “hangs in the pocket”, unleashing a perfect pass just as someone is burrowing his shoulder into your chest, but that shit adds up!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  live to fight another day.  I’d rather have Wilson scrambling all around, this way and that, vs. stepping up and getting destroyed.  That’s how ribs are broken.  That’s how hands are mashed against opposing helmets.  That’s how concussions start to ruin your life.

I hope Wilson NEVER listens to these sports radio yahoos who’ve never played a day of quarterback in their lives.  He can just keep doing what he’s doing.  For the most part, I have a lot of problems with how the offense is performing, but none of those problems involve #3.

My main problem involves the offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell.

After winning the Super Bowl last year, I tried making a pact with myself to leave the man alone.  I’ve been criticizing him pretty much from Day 1, when we were forced to go with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback thanks to the NFL lockout.  Slowly but surely, I’ve grown to appreciate his style, as I think it meshes well with what we’re trying to do:  ground & pound.

Here’s the thing, though.  For the last couple years, Darrell Bevell has been among the top head coaching candidates in the NFL.  He’s seen Gus Bradley get his shot.  He’s heard about Dan Quinn’s impending promotion.  With winning comes great notoriety; losing teams will look towards the winning ones to find out what they’re doing that works.  More often than not, winning clubs lose their coordinators as the losers of the world hope to catch that lightning in a bottle twice.  Maybe a little Pete Carroll magic has rubbed off on so-and-so.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to think that this thought process hasn’t wormed its way into Bevell’s brain.  What I’m arguing here is that it’s not only something that’s on his mind, but it’s something that’s affecting his job performance.

Obviously, there’s nothing that can be done and nothing that will be done at this point in the season.  Our BYE week has come and gone.  Besides that, it would be a batshit crazy overreaction to fire Darrell Bevell.  But, one has to wonder:  is he doing more harm than good?

You know what Darrell Bevell is?  He’s a U.S. Senator running for President.  He’s on his way out!  It’s only a matter of time.  In his mind, he’s checked out.  His duties as Senator no longer interest him; all he can think about now is what he’s going to do when he’s in the Oval Office.  And so, instead of doing his job, he’s spending the next year actively campaigning around the country for something better.

What do I mean by this?  It’s plainly simple.  Darrell Bevell’s job is to call the plays that work best in this team’s system.  This is a team that runs the ball.  When it’s not running the ball, it’s throwing off of play-action.  And, at least 4-5 times a game, it’s having Russell Wilson throw deep for the home run.  That is what works for this team.  That is what has worked for the last two years.  Everyone else in the league knows what we’re doing and we do it anyway.

The thing is, Darrell Bevell isn’t DOING his job.  He’s gone out and created this whole other offense based around Percy Harvin (who I’ll get to in a bit).  Fly sweeps and lateral passing and screen plays and handoffs up the middle.  Yes, Percy Harvin is a great weapon to have.  Yes, he’s among the most dangerous weapons in all of football with his speed and elusiveness.  But, you can’t forget that this team has OTHER weapons that are just as good and effective in their own ways.

Marshawn Lynch is one of the most dynamic running backs in the game.  What the FUCK is he doing only getting 10 carries in a game, EVER?  I don’t care if Dallas hogged the football through most of the first half of that game.  I don’t care if it leads to repeat 3 & Outs, you better kick off the game by handing the rock to Beastmode!  On first AND second down if you have to!

Now, I know that’s not sexy.  Handing the ball to Lynch isn’t going to get you noticed as a coordinator; but it WORKS.

And that’s just it.  To get noticed as a coordinator, you’ve got to be running a well-oiled machine of an offense.  You’ve got to have that scoreboard spinning!  You’ve got to average around 30 points per game with lots of big plays from your skill positions.  In this case:  Russell Wilson & Percy Harvin.  So, he’s forcing Wilson to force the ball to Harvin as much as possible.

When it’s working, Bevell looks like a genius.  Why did Gus Bradley get the Jacksonville job?  Because he turned around a defense that was among the very worst to one of the very best.  That’s what gets defensive coordinators jobs as head coaches.  How do offensive coordinators get jobs as head coaches?  Well, it starts at quarterback.

If Bevell can make Wilson a legit Top 5 quarterback in this league – and not the perceived Game Manager everyone thinks he is – then he will have done the impossible and he’ll have his choice of teams to head coach next year.  Russell Wilson isn’t going to shed that Game Manager label by handing the ball off to Lynch all day long; he’s got to throw the ball!  With Harvin as the team’s best weapon in the passing game, of course Bevell is going to organize the offense around his abilities!

So, that’s what we’re going to get.  The only problem is:  we’re going to get that type of offense to the detriment of the TEAM.  That’s a problem for Seahawks fans, but guess who it helps.  Guess who actually benefits if the Seahawks manage to lose a few too many games this year!  That’s right:  Darrell Bevell.  Because coordinators who make the Super Bowl don’t get hired as head coaches.  Because it takes too long, and other teams want to get a jump-start on their next seasons.  THAT’S why I think Darrell Bevell is doing more harm than good.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he’s actively trying to cost us ballgames.  But, I am saying that defeats aren’t going to linger with him the way they’re lingering with fans.  I’m also saying that he’s being pig-headed with this new offensive scheme and is going to stick with it – without making the necessary adjustments – for better and for worse.

Here’s what I’ll say about Harvin:  he works best as a complementary player.  A change-of-pace.  Because:

  1. You don’t want to give him the lion’s share of the touches because he might get injured.
  2. Teams know what to expect out of him after multiple viewings.

The injury thing is obvious.  He’s a small guy.  He takes vicious hits because he runs so fast and because defenders are so much bigger than he is.  But, it’s the second part that Bevell doesn’t seem to understand.

In the Super Bowl, Harvin was electric.  Why?  Because nobody had seen him play all that often in a Seahawks uniform.  They didn’t have a really good idea how we’d use him.  So, those fly sweeps went for big gains.  And, in the early going of this year, it was more of the same.  Those quick-hitters to Harvin went for big money because the Packers and Chargers didn’t know what was coming.

Now?  Teams know what we’re doing.  This isn’t college football.  You know why John Ross is so great as a Husky?  Because he’s a man among boys.  He’s an NFL player surrounded by glorified high schoolers.  All you have to do is give Ross the football and he’s going to make magic happen (evidenced by that 86-yard touchdown against Cal, which would’ve been stopped for a modest gain AT BEST in the NFL).

Harvin is a great weapon because of his usefulness as a decoy.  When we send him in motion towards the quarterback pre-snap, the defense has to be on alert:  will the Seahawks hand it off to him?  Will Wilson turn and throw it to him as he runs away from him, in sort of a swing pass?  They have to account for him, which opens up the handoff up the gut to Lynch.  That takes one guy from The Box and removes him from the play, making life easier for Beastmode and the blockers in front of him.

And yes, it’s good to get his hands on the football once in a while, in space, like a glorified handoff.  But, you’ve also got to run him out in patterns sometimes!  He’s a slot receiver; how about you fucking USE him like a slot receiver?  Run some slants with him.  Run some double-moves and get him going down field!  I know the deep passing thing isn’t his game, necessarily, but the threat has to be there!  They can’t always expect Harvin to be hovering around the line of scrimmage.

Go watch tape of Green Bay.  Go look at how they use Randall Cobb.  Make THAT part of Harvin’s game.  Let’s keep the defense on their toes.

The fact of the matter is, yeah, Bevell is getting stagnant with his scheme vis-a-vis Harvin.  And a little stubbornness going along with that stagnation.  But, that doesn’t absolve Harvin himself.  He’s making A LOT of money.  And I know his mere presence on the field as a decoy will help this offense in the long run.  But, he’s not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 22 receptions for a measly 133 yards and 0 receiving touchdowns across five football games.  He’s also not getting all those millions of dollars to give us 11 rushing attempts for 92 yards and a single rushing TD.  He needs to be doing more.  EVERYONE needs to be doing more, but Percy Harvin can never again have a fucking game where he gets the ball 6 times and has negative net yardage.  We didn’t pay him all this money to be a speedy kick return man.  Ted Ginn Jr. is out there if you want that.  Much cheaper, too.

Finally, I’ll just say this:  if you’re injured, stop playing.  Sit out.  Because you’re only making your injury worse, and you’re not functioning properly when you’re on the field.  You’re not helping!  You’re actively hurting us with your penalties and with you being constantly out of position.  I’m looking at you, Okung, and I’m looking at anyone else who’s playing injured in secret.  STOP IT!  Get well, then come back.  Don’t be Mr. Macho Man, because you’ll get no credit from me for playing through pain.  You’ll only get my scorn for making the team worse.  I know you think that You at 75% is better than someone else at 100%, but I promise you you’re wrong.  Take a seat.

***

  1. San Diego Chargers (5-1) – Could’ve used a better defensive performance in Oakland for fantasy purposes, but I suppose I can’t really hold it against them.  It’s always tough going on the road in your own division.  I still really like their body of work right now and think they match up really well with the Broncos.
  2. Denver Broncos (4-1) – Not for nothing, but they get dinged a little bit (and therefore stuck in the #2 spot) because they lost to the Seahawks, who REALLY aren’t as good as I thought they were.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) – I’m not willing to dump the Seahawks much farther than this spot right now, though – because I think a lot of teams are iffy at this point – but a few more injuries and unexpected defeats will surely plummet them quick.
  4. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) – And they’re only going to get better as the season goes on, with their injured guys returning and their later BYE week.
  5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) – I can’t believe how fast people jumped off their bandwagon this week.  SO MANY pundits took the Giants.  Just when you start to believe the Eagles’ offense is in a slump, they bust out.  Let that be a lesson.
  6. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) – As advertised:  one of the best offensive lines in all of football.  Limit Romo’s opportunities and you’ll limit his mistakes.  Simple Fucking Equation.
  7. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) – The defense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  8. Detroit Lions (4-2) – Frankly, the offense is starting to mess me up in the head a little bit.
  9. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – Just Colts being Colts.
  10. Green Bay Packers (4-2) – Nice little underrated win, going down to Miami to steal one.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – If only Flacco could play that well every week, he’d be a cinch for the Hall of Fame.
  12. New England Patriots (4-2) – Death, taxes, and the Patriots beating the Bills.
  13. Arizona Cardinals (4-1) – I’m beginning to think the NFC West – aside from the Rams – has the best collection of coaching staffs in all of football.  I don’t know what sort of voodoo Bruce Arians practices; I just know I don’t want to get on his bad side.
  14. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – I dunno, they had a BYE week.  Hard to look good on your BYE week, when better teams around you are kicking ass and taking names.
  15. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – They’re out of my Top 10.  Smell you later, Saints.  Smell you later forever!
  16. Chicago Bears (3-3) – Yeah, good luck going up against the Lions and Packers; you’ve got no shot at the division.
  17. Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) – What was once considered – by me – as possibly being the best division in football, the NFC South is now one of the worst?  Lump them in with their AFC counterparts and the South in general is just a fucked up pile of shit.  HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!
  18. Cleveland Browns (3-2) – Haha, Steelers.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) – Ha. Ha.
  20. New York Giants (3-3) – Poor Eli.
  21. Houston Texans (3-3) – Poor J.J.
  22. Atlanta Falcons (2-4) – I place them below the Texans because their offensive line is horrendous.  And if they ever went up against J.J. Watt, Matt Ryan would cease to be.
  23. Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Making me look bad, Dolphins!  You don’t want to see me when I’m angry.
  24. Buffalo Bills (3-3) – This is a frisky little team, but all the used-up, washed-out white quarterbacks in the world won’t help them make the playoffs.
  25. Washington Redskins (1-5) – I just learned this week that they have only one win and not two.  Because I pay attention to detail and have a solid awareness of what’s going on in the world.
  26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) – What the hell is up with this defense?  This is borderline offensive(!).
  27. New York Jets (1-5) – They’re going to have a mighty housecleaning if they don’t get improved quarterback play pretty soon.
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-4) – This offense is a mess.  I think Norv has used up all his magic beans.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-4) – Pretty tall order for a rookie quarterback to go up against the 49ers on Monday Night.
  30. Tennessee Titans (2-4) – You move up no spots because all you did was beat the fucking Jags.
  31. Oakland Raiders (0-5) – You move up one spot in the rankings because you’re not the Jags.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6) – Fuck you, Jags!  You’re supposed to be BETTER than this right now!  How many years in a row are you going to lead the league in being the 32nd-ranked team in the NFL?  Moreover, who ever told you that you could work with men?

Seattle Sports Hell 2014 NFL Power Rankings – Week 5

I can’t say that I’m all that wild and crazy about the defense this year.  How about you?

We’ve played Green Bay, at San Diego, Denver, and at Washington.  By my accounts, that’s two great teams, one good team, and one bad team.  To those teams, we’ve given up 20.75 points per game.  That’s up from 14.44 points per game last year, when we led the league.  So, what gives?

Maybe it’s nothing.  After all, with last year’s team, it wasn’t all 43-8 beatdowns.  There were a lot of tense moments!  The Houston, Tampa, and St. Louis games come immediately to mind.  This last one against the Redskins reminds me almost exactly of last year’s home game against the Titans.  Probably should’ve been a huge blowout, but Seahawks mistakes kept it close and made more than a few people uncomfortable.

So, what can we look at?  Well, for starters, let’s look at 4th quarter scoring.  We’re giving up, on average, 8 points per game in the 4th quarter.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s usually the difference between a comfortable blowout and a closer, 1-score game.

Let’s also look at third down conversions.  The Seahawks are allowing teams to convert 25/57, or around 44% of the time.  You probably want that percentage somewhere in the mid-30s.  That’ll help explain a lot of these longer drives.  The more plays run, the more time they burn, the more time our defense is on the field, the more opportunities for mistakes.

Now, look at turnovers.  We’ve got a total of three.  Two interceptions (Maxwell & Chancellor) and one fumble recovery (Wright).  How do we explain this?  Well, the Seahawks have been unlucky in the fact that there have been 5 other fumbles that we DIDN’T recover.  But, what about the interceptions?  Where has the L.O.B. been in all of this?

Surely, teams aren’t testing Richard Sherman as much as they did last year (which in and of itself was a mystery to me).  I’m sure they’re being somewhat more cautious, knowing what we all know about the studs in our secondary.  You could argue that the pass rush has been down compared to last year.  We’ve only got 6 sacks in 4 games.  We’ve got 18 hits on the quarterback, which makes it look a LITTLE better.  I don’t know what the count is on hurries, but it doesn’t feel to me like we’ve taken a huge step back in this department.

If you want my opinion, I think teams have just gotten smarter.  I think they watched all the tape on us that they could from last year, they figured out what our defense does well and where it struggles.  I think they’re throwing a lot of quicker passes to avoid the pass rush, and I think they’re taking smart chances down the field when they have their opportunities.  Don’t throw a fade to Richard Sherman’s side.  At best, he’ll just tip the ball away for an incompletion (at worst, we’re taking it back to the house).  Instead, work some double-moves.  Force our DBs to switch and make decisions on the fly.  Yes, we have the most intelligent and well-studied secondary in football, but they’re not going to be perfect.  Every once in a while, they’ll take a bad angle, or leave someone uncovered.  And, if you’ve got a Desean Jackson running the route, or a Peyton Manning throwing the ball, you’re going to get beat once in a while.

Part of it is, yeah, shit happens.  It IS a small, 4-game sample size.  The Seahawks ARE 3-1, so let’s not start jumping off of buildings.  We’ve still got plenty of games against teams that match up well against us.  The Raiders, Giants, and Cowboys should all be pushovers.  If we really ratchet up the firestorm in these next few weeks, all of these numbers will normalize.  We’ll get our turnovers back up to par, we’ll hold teams down at the end of games, and we’ll get off the field on third down more regularly.

But, the other part of it is:  we’ve got to adjust.  The rest of the league has – I don’t want to say “figured us out”, but they’ve certainly changed their schemes against us.  I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily working, but it’s a lot better than what they managed against us last year.  So, we’ve got to counter.  We’ve got to figure out what they’re doing that’s working and shut that down.

While, at the same time, keeping what works for us.  Namely, the run defense.  If this thing is real, then we’ve got a real ace up our sleeves.  All Dallas does now is run the ball!  The Panthers, Giants, and Chiefs are all in the run-first mold.  We can take advantage of all of these teams if we’re able to shut down their running games; none of those quarterbacks should put the fear of God into you.  And, as for all the NFC West teams?  Well, I’m going to withhold judgment on the Rams until I see more out of Austin Davis, but the 49ers and Cardinals can’t get out of their own way at the quarterback position.  If we shut their running games down, they’re powerless against us!

So, I’ll be interested to see how the Seahawks do over the next month.  Will the defense be an ongoing concern?  I sure hope not.  I think we all sort of planned on the offense being improved (and maybe picking up some slack), but I enjoy this team much more when we’re stomping other teams into the ground on defense.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) – Never a doubt.
  2. Denver Broncos (3-1) – Ditto.
  3. San Diego Chargers (4-1) – The Chargers are for real.  If that defense proves it’s worthy of a top 10 ranking, watch out.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) – They were doomed from the start.  A pissed off Patriots team at home, during primetime for the second straight week?  That had rout written all over it.
  5. Detroit Lions (3-2) – Now that they’ve got a kicker, prepare for a nice run on wins.
  6. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) – Must be nice playing in the worst division in football three years running.
  7. San Francisco 49ers (3-2) – Not the easiest next two games leading into their BYE as they go to St. Louis on Monday night, followed by going to Denver on Sunday night.  Prepare yourself to watch A LOT of 49ers football the next two weeks.  Probably more 49ers football than you ever cared to see.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) – They better figure out how to get Shady McCoy going if they ever want to seriously contend this year.
  9. New Orleans Saints (2-3) – It took overtime at home to beat the Bucs?  I don’t know what I’m doing keeping this team in the top 10.
  10. Green Bay Packers (3-2) – Are you smelling an upset this week down in Miami?  Because, I kinda sorta am.  These Packers are going DOWN!
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) – Good, not great.
  12. Dallas Cowboys (4-1) – Ditto.
  13. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) – Look, I was flying back from Anaheim on Sunday, so I didn’t see a lot of football, all right?  Justin Forsett got me some solid points in Fantasy while Lamar Miller was on BYE though, so that’s cool.
  14. New England Patriots (3-2) – Imagine that:  you take the bubble wrap off of Gronk and your offense is actually able to move the football.  WEIRD!
  15. Arizona Cardinals (3-1) – Perfect no more, and now they’ve lost their best defender for at least a few weeks.
  16. New York Giants (3-2) – With a bullet!
  17. Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – Good GOD is this team shitty on the road!  They catch the Bears at home, though, so bank on them being 3-3 this time next week.
  18. Chicago Bears (2-3) – You heard me.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) – It’s like, every week the Steelers find a new way to troll football fans!
  20. Carolina Panthers (3-2) – Starting to really regret not drafting their tight end this year.
  21. Houston Texans (3-2) – How about that J.J. Watt, huh?  He’s like a million times better than that J.J. Watt commercial, I’ll tell you that much.
  22. Miami Dolphins (2-2) – This is the week where the Dolphins get you to believe they’re worthy of being in the playoffs.  It won’t last long.
  23. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – I like this Browns team!  Mostly because Hoyer is keeping Johnny Football on the sidelines.
  24. Washington Redskins (2-3) – That’s some great defense you got there in D.C.
  25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4) – This team is going to start stealing wins it shouldn’t have.  Mark it this week, my upset special:  Tampa over Baltimore.
  26. Buffalo Bills (3-2) – What is it with the Bills and beating NFC North teams on the road this year?
  27. New York Jets (1-4) – The Chargers’ defense got me a shutout last week in a losing effort in fantasy.  Thank you, Jets!
  28. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) – Well, if you can’t figure out how to get Cordarrelle Patterson the football, then I’m afraid he’s not long for my fantasy team.
  29. St. Louis Rams (1-3) – Wouldn’t it be nice if they went out and beat up on the 49ers this week?  I promise if you do, I’ll put you in the Top 25!
  30. Tennessee Titans (1-4) – Is Jake Locker the next Marques Tuiasosopo?  The guy who might be great, but we’ll never know because he’s always injured?  Hey guys, welcome to Steve Emtman’s world.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) – I’m beginning to think this isn’t the fringe-playoff team I’d once predicted them to be.
  32. Oakland Raiders (0-4) – Not only do they lose a home game to playing in fucking London, but they gotta spend their BYE week getting over jetlag.

#1 – Russell Wilson

To see the full list of the Top 10 Most Important Seahawks in 2014, click here.

I try to have a great appreciation for greatness.  When I was younger, I tended to gravitate my affection towards the underdogs on the roster.  Yes, of course, I liked the superstars.  Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Ken Griffey Jr., Cortez Kennedy, Shawn Kemp, Randy Johnson, and so on.  But, the softest spot in my heart was reserved for the loveable losers.  Your Bob Wells types.  Paul Skansi.  Vinny Askew.

Nowadays, I try to be a little more discerning.  Yeah, that Derrick McKey signed photograph I had growing up was pretty sweet, but wouldn’t it have been a lot cooler if that was a GP signed photo?  Today, Felix Hernandez is my favorite athlete.  Why?  Because he’s fucking amazing in every possible way.  My favorite Seahawk tends to fluctuate by day, depending on my mood, but lately it has ranged from Marshawn Lynch to Kam Chancellor to Earl Thomas to Richard Sherman.  Great players, all.

I’ve never had a quarterback as my favorite, though.  Matt Hasselbeck came the closest – and if we had indeed taken the ball and scored in that Green Bay playoff game, he’d probably be cemented at the top of my list – but he always managed to fall a little short in games.  Yes, he was good.  Yes, he was the best we had at the time.  Yes, he led us to a bunch of division titles.  But, he could never quite get us over the hump.  It’s easy to blame certain factors around him – injuries to our offensive line & running game late in his Seahawks career; a poor secondary in the prime of his Seahawks career; a lack of overall talent around him early in his Seahawks career – but Hasselbeck deserves a small slice of the blame pie as well.  Failing to win a championship under Holmgren was a team effort; let’s just leave it at that.

I’m rambling, of course, but all of this is prelude to me saying that I could REALLY see Russell Wilson make a big leap up on my Favorite Athletes leaderboard.  He’s already kind of up there anyway, but it more or less goes without being said.  No one out-works Russell Wilson.  His preparation is up there with guys like Peyton Manning, J.J. Watt, Drew Brees, and players of yore like Jerry Rice and Ray Lewis.  Fucking machines.  Guys who eat, sleep, and breathe football.  Guys for whom nothing else matters than being the very best.  What makes the Seahawks so special is that there are a number of guys on his very own team who match his passion for winning, like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.

Hand in hand with that is:  you’ll never see Russell Wilson in the news for any sort of negative reason.  He’s not going to be associated with a police investigation like Ray Rice, Josh Gordon, or the San Francisco 49ers as a whole.  You can worry about anyone else on this team, but Russell Wilson isn’t even a consideration.  When he’s not working on his craft, he’s hanging with kids at the Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  You’ll also never see him in the news for saying the wrong thing.  Russell Wilson will never be the source of bulletin board material because – as I said before – he’s a fucking machine.  That includes his interactions with the media, which are downright boring (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).  Let Richard Sherman poach the headlines; I’m fine with that too.  Russell Wilson is just going to quietly go about his business of dismantling your entire operation, praising you to the moon while he does it.

Not gonna lie to you, if I’m a 49ers fan, I’d probably find Russell Wilson more irritating than Richard Sherman.

One of my favorite things to do is just pull up Wilson’s numbers and gaze affectionately at them.  Here they are, in two full seasons:

  • 32 games, 24-8 record, 2 Pro Bowls, 10 game-winning drives, 8 comeback victories
  • 509 for 800, 63.6% completions, 6,475 yards, 52 TDs, 19 INTs
  • 8.1 yards per attempt, 100.6 passer rating
  • 190 rushing attempts, 1,028 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 5.4 yards per attempt
  • 4-1 playoff record, 82 for 130, 63.08% completions, 1,096 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 102.0 passer rating, 8.43 yards per attempt, 26 rushes, 169 yards, 1 TD, 6.5 yards per attempt
  • 1 Super Bowl Championship

Want some more mind-blowing tidbits?

  • Russell Wilson is tied with Peyton Manning for 2nd all time among passing TDs in a player’s first two seasons in the league (behind Dan Marino’s 68 at this point in his career)
  • Russell Wilson is one of four quarterbacks to have a career passer rating of 100 or more in his first two seasons (minimum 100 attempts), behind the following:  Kurt Warner, Dan Marino, and Nick Foles of all people
  • Russell Wilson is 5th in completion percentage in his first two years, behind Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, and Tom Brady (minimum 300 attempts, because I’ll be God damned if I’m going to live in a world where Elvis Grbac leads a list in ANYTHING but sexual impotency)
  • Russell Wilson is first in wins, with the following rounding out the top 5:  Roethlisberger & Luck (22), Marino (21), Flacco & Ryan (20)

The point of all this is:  Russell Wilson is a God damn national treasure.  And there’s no way we’d be where we are without him.  Yes, the defense has been off-the-charts good since he entered the league, but that won’t last forever.  As early as this year, we could see a steep decline in defensive effectiveness.  And, just as soon as that happens, the burden will fall on Wilson’s shoulders.

It’s year three for Wilson.  This is now his team.  Yes, it’s been his team since 2012, but this year it will REALLY be his team.  He’s bound to take a dramatic step forward as the game continues to slow down for him.  He’s got the talent in place to have a really big year.  And, if the defense takes a step back, we’re likely to need it.

The quarterback is always the most important position, for every football team.  You could make the argument that the Seahawks would’ve still been pretty great last year.  If Tarvar had started all 16 games instead of Wilson, we probably still would’ve made the playoffs, with a remote chance of winning it all.  But, I don’t think Tarvar gets us the division.  I don’t think he gets us home field.  And, if I’m being honest, I don’t think he even gets us a win in the Wild Card round.

Russell Wilson is the X-Factor.  He’s often overlooked because of the name recognition of the guys he was drafted with:  Andrew Luck & RGIII.  He’ll probably never throw for the yards that Luck throws for.  He’ll never be the serious running threat that RGIII is.  But, he’s a winner.  The type of winner that those other two guys aren’t (at least, not yet).  Wilson is also overlooked because it’s perceived by the national pundits (I’m looking at you, Jeffri Chadiha) that the defense is doing all the heavy lifting, and Russell Wilson is just along for the ride.  You could make that argument in 2012 and 2013 and get your work published, while still looking like a total ass-clown by people who follow the Seahawks closely and don’t form their opinions based on SportsCenter highlights.

But, 2014 is where the narrative all changes.  Maybe not right away, as it takes time for these movements to take hold.  But, as the season progresses and we look at the jump in effectiveness.  As we witness Wilson approach 70% completions and 9+ yards per attempt.  As we see the Seahawks rack up even more wins than the 13 we had last season …

You’re going to find Russell Wilson in more than just a few discussions about the MVP of the league.  No, he won’t throw for 5,000 yards.  He likely won’t get to 4,000 yards either.  But, he’s going to continue to get his fair share of the touchdowns in this offense, as it averages over 30 points per game and contributes to a repeat performance as the #1 seed in the NFC.  14-2?  15-1?  Not without Russell Wilson.

Without Russell Wilson, we’re probably looking at 8-8 or 9-7 at best.  Yeah, he’s 6 wins all by himself.  I’d say that makes him pretty damn important.

Seahawks 2014 Draft Roundup

Well, Mel Kiper gave the Seahawks one of his worst draft grades, so we should probably expect a couple of All Pros and a few more Pro Bowlers in this class.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Paul Richardson, WR (2nd)
  • Justin Britt, OT (2nd)
  • Cassius Marsh, DE (4th)
  • Kevin Norwood, WR (4th)
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB (4th)
  • Jimmy Staten, DT (5th)
  • Garrett Scott, OT (6th)
  • Eric Pinkins, CB/S (6th)
  • Kiero Small, FB (7th)

At first glance, I like the chances of Richardson, Britt, and Norwood to make an immediate impact.  Marsh is the epitome of a wild card, though I think he’ll get every chance to win a spot in the LEO rotation.  KPL and Pinkins are practically guaranteed to be standout special teamers right away, with outside chances to be impact starters in 2015 and beyond.  I’ve got Staten as the leader in the clubhouse to be the first draft pick cut in training camp.  Scott looks like total practice squad fodder.  And Small could range anywhere from a starting fullback on this team (which, in and of itself doesn’t come with all that many snaps per game) and a key special teamer, all the way down to practice squad (if we can somehow sneak him through, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how fullback is devalued in the league nowadays).

This is a huge draft for the future of the Seattle Seahawks.  We’ve got a ton of guys entering their final year or two with this team.  It sounds funny to say, considering we just won the Super Bowl and were among the youngest teams in the league, but the Seahawks are really in need of an infusion of young talent.

I think it’s safe to say that last year’s class was a little underwhelming.  Luke Willson had the biggest impact of anyone, and he was a backup tight end who didn’t get a ton of snaps.  Our two defensive tackles rode the pine (one because of injury, one because he wasn’t ready/good enough for the rotation).  Our top draft pick hardly played at all considering the logjam at running back.  And, the guys with the most promise were a couple of unheralded offensive linemen who are looking to make a bigger impact in 2014.  But, when you compare the 2013 draft class to the three that came before it, there’s a lot for those guys to live up to.

We need these classes (2013 & 2014) to be future starters in the next year or two.  After a year with the 2013 guys, it’s reasonable to have your doubts.  It’s also a reason to be excited for some of the freakish athletes we picked up over the weekend.

Paul Richardson

LOVE this pick!  He’s a little under-sized, but so is Harvin, and what are the odds that BOTH of them get injured at the same time?

Richardson is a speed freak and a big play waiting to happen.  But, while Harvin is a guy you want to throw short to, in space, giving him room to create; Richardson is the guy we’ve been waiting for to seriously stretch the field.  I want to see him on the field as much as possible right away.

What are teams going to do with both Harvin AND Richardson on the field?  One guy will stretch the field and force defenses to protect the pass over the top, the other guy is going to use that space to his advantage for big plays underneath.  Or, if defenses focus on Harvin (as they rightly should), there’s the opportunity for deep bombs.

Kevin Norwood

Might as well keep it in the WR unit.  While Richardson is the speed demon we’ve been looking for, Norwood is the big body we’ve been looking for.  Unlike other big bodies we’ve tried out (Durham, Mike Williams, Sidney Rice), Norwood doesn’t appear to be an injury waiting to happen, a drop waiting to happen, or a big lumbering slowpoke waiting to happen.

One of Norwood’s gifts is his ability to find the quarterback after a play has broken down.  In case you haven’t been watching, that’s sort of Russell Wilson’s forte.  Norwood will improvise with the best of ’em, and he’ll make those twinkle-toe catches along the sideline.

Norwood’s presence makes Sidney Rice’s chances of winning a spot drastically reduced.  I’m seeing the Seahawks keeping:  Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse, Richardson, and Norwood for sure.  Rice might be able to win a sixth receiver spot, but it’s no sure thing.  It’ll depend on how the roster crunch plays out (doesn’t help him if the Seahawks opt to keep three QBs on the roster, with Wilson, Tarvar, and Pryor).

Justin Britt

One hope of mine was, if the Seahawks drafted a tackle reasonably high (as they did with this pick), it would be a guy who could, theoretically, shift over to left tackle in the event that the Seahawks aren’t able to re-sign Okung at the end of his deal.  Gotta find savings somewhere, and if you can use a guy on his rookie deal who isn’t a huge dropoff from the incumbent, all the better.

But, after listening to Tom Cable talk about the guy, it sounds like there’s zero chance Britt ever gets the nod on the left side.

Britt’s claim to fame is absolutely shutting down Jadeveon Clowney in the latest college season.  Don’t know if that’s one of those games that Clowney “took off”, but it seems to me Clowney playing at 60% is still better than most pass rushers, so I’ll take it.

Britt will come in and compete right away for the starting right tackle spot against Michael Bowie.  Love it.  Either he wins the job and we’ve got arguably an improvement at the position over the last few years, or he pushes Bowie to be even better than we thought.  That’s what you call a win-win.  At the very least, Britt should be great line depth for injuries (and you know there are ALWAYS injuries).

Cassius Marsh

As I said above, this guy is a total wild card.  If I let my imagination run wild, I’d tell you that he has the chance to be a J.J. Watt clone, but I’m not about to go that far.  My opinion all along has been that it’s VERY difficult for pass rushers to make an immediate impact.  Bruce Irvin did pretty well as a rookie, but he’s a beast with his speed rush.  Marsh doesn’t have his speed, but reportedly has some good hands, so he should be able to shed blocks pretty well.

I say if Marsh manages to find a way into the rotation on an occasional basis, improving as the season goes along, it’s a victory.  Failing that, I could see him as a guy who sticks to the 53-man roster, but is rarely active on gameday.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his hot-headedness.  That scares me a little bit, but if there’s any team that can rein that in and teach him how to use that aggressiveness to his advantage, I feel like it’s this team.  Also, don’t ask me why, but my gut tells me this guy is a candidate for failing the NFL’s drug policy in some way, shape or form.  I have no precedent to cite for this, but it’s just a feeling I have.

Kevin Pierre-Louis

This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said I wanted the Seahawks to draft a linebacker in the middle rounds.  He won’t play much on defense in 2014, but given his athleticism, he’s almost a lock to be a huge player on special teams (and probably force Heath Farwell out of Seattle).

And, if he finds a way to pick up the scheme quickly and refine his technique in the pass-coverage game, he should force his way into the starting lineup in 2015 when we have to make a difficult decision between K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith.  People are saying KPL is a natural weak-side linebacker, which is Smith’s natural position, so we may be seeing the final season of Malcolm Smith in a Seahawks uniform.

Eric Pinkins

Meet my absolute favorite draft pick of the 2014 class.  6’2, 230 pounds.  He was a safety in college for San Diego State; when the Seahawks picked him, we immediately thought of Kam Chancellor.  However, in interviews after the draft, it was noted that the team is looking at him to play corner.

So, now we’re thinking:  Brandon Browner.

This guy could be HUGE.  I’m, like, one interception in the preseason away from buying a Pinkins jersey and getting in on the ground floor.  You know the Seahawks are excellent at player development, especially in the secondary.  There’s no reason to think – with Pinkins being the athletic freak of nature that he is – that this coaching staff WON’T turn him into a viable starter.

Why is that big?  Byron Maxwell is entering his final season and is almost guaranteed to be playing for another team in 2015.  If Pinkins turns into a more athletic Brandon Browner, we’ve just fortified the Legion of Boom for years to come, and at a bargain to boot!

Other teams might have taken this guy and stuck him at safety where he’s comfortable.  The Seahawks see this guy and have the talent and know-how to convert him into a starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.  I’m tingling.

The Rest

I don’t know anything about Jimmy Staten.  Looks like he could be a 3-Tech tackle in the rotation with Jordan Hill.  Maybe there’s an outside chance this team bulks him up another 30 pounds or so and tries him out at nose tackle, but who knows?

Garrett Scott looks like a project along the offensive line.  I don’t see how this guy DOESN’T make the practice squad.  Considering the talent we’ve got on the O-Line, it’s going to be difficult to get him in on the rotation.  But, he sounds like he’s really athletic and a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme.  I’ve even heard that he’s going to get some play at left tackle.

Kiero Small is a fullback.  By the sound of things, he could be one to watch, but again, it’s fullback.  When you consider the fact that this team normally keeps five running back/fullback types, let’s count ’em out:

  1. Marshawn Lynch
  2. Robert Turbin
  3. Christine Michael
  4. Derrick Coleman
  5. Spencer Ware
  6. Kiero Small

It looks like it’s going to come down to Small vs. Ware, if he’s going to make the 53-man roster.  Which means it might come down to which of the two are better in special teams.  Ware might have worn out his welcome with that DUI last year, so Small probably has a pretty good shot.  We’ll have to see how he does in camp.

As for the undrafted rookies, the Seahawks have Keith Price.  Zero chance he makes the team.  Probably a pretty good chance he rocks it in the practice squad.  Then again, if you’re keeping three QBs on your 53-man roster, do you really need a QB on the practice squad?

It’s going to be tough for Price.  How often do you ever see four quarterbacks play in the preseason games?  You know how the Seahawks will play Wilson (a series or two in game 1, a quarter or two in game 2, into the third quarter in game 3, a series or two in game 4).  They’ll likely want to give Tarvar his share of reps to keep him warm and get him ready for the season.  And, you’d think they’ll want to watch Terrelle Pryor as much as possible to see if he’s worth keeping on the team.  And, don’t forget B.J. Daniels.

What does that mean?  If Price looks good in camp, MAYBE he gets a series or two in the entirety of the preseason games.  Don’t know if that’s enough to get him an opportunity with another team, but maybe just the fact that the Seahawks wanted him and brought him into camp, that might be enough for another team to pick him up and stash him.  We’ll see.

All in all, as I said before, I’m a big fan of this draft.  The best part?  Our entire coaching staff is intact.  We didn’t lose Cable, we didn’t lose Quinn, we didn’t lose Bevell, and we’ve got everyone else.  Considering how good the Seahawks are, and how coveted those guys would have been had the Seahawks not made the Super Bowl, it’s like we’re playing with house money.  Another year with this full staff intact?  That’s going to be an insane advantage for this draft class to eventually make the jump to full time starters for this team in the years to come.

Seahawks Try To Stay Perfect In Indy

Yeah, I dunno.  When I think of Indy, I think of an okay team.  They pass well, their defense is average and will give up its share of yards, and they seem to be pretty clutch in the fourth quarter.  Except, in reality, they run better than they pass, and their defense is pretty fucking good.

The Colts give up just 7 more yards per game than the Seahawks.  They’re slightly worse than us in passing yards allowed per game and slightly better than us in rushing yards allowed per game.  And, to top it all off, they give up 1 more point per game.  And yet, I don’t know how they’re doing it.  They have fewer sacks than us.  Fewer take-aways than us.  They don’t appear to be elite in any one area.  Just … solid, I guess.

Robert Mathis, the 11-year pro, seems to be the guy to look out for.  He leads the league with 7.5 sacks in 4 games, which is insane.  These are J.J. Watt-type numbers, and it’s coming from a guy whose previous season high in sacks was 11.5.  I guess now that he’s out of Dwight Freeney’s shadow, he’s decided to be The Man.

Other than that, no one else on their defense really blows me away.  I guess Jerrell Freeman looks okay for a linebacker.  I dunno.

With Indy, it still comes down to their offense.  They’ve got Andrew “Suck For Luck” Luck, they’ve got Reggie Wayne who is still putting up gaudy numbers, they’ve got T.Y. Hilton who looks to be a solid next-generation receiver for them, and they’ve got tight end Coby Fleener out of Stanford.  As usual, I don’t think we have to be super-concerned with the receivers, but you also can’t 100% write them off.  The real concern should be Fleener.  Have we learned our lesson about trying to put our slower linebackers on speedier, pass-catching tight ends?  Maybe Bruce Irvin makes a difference there.  But, if he doesn’t, I think we go immediately back to the dime package to discourage that shit.

As I said above, I guess the running game is a thing we have to worry about.  It appears that the Colts – in an effort to take some of the pressure off of Luck (who threw 18 picks in his rookie season) – have dedicated themselves to a run-first type of offense a la the Seahawks.  It’s good to know there are still copycats out there in the world.  Anyway, Ahmad Bradshaw looks like he’s out, so the bulk falls on Trent Richardson’s shoulders.  So, I guess we get to see what he’s made of.  It’s not terribly hard to run on the Seahawks, but if he can’t, then I’d say they got fleeced in that trade with Cleveland.  This is the type of game for which you trade for a guy like Richardson.  If he can’t carry the mail, then you have to wonder if he ever will.

I like our chances here, because I don’t think they’re as good as the Texans.  But, I’m also very worried for that very same reason.  After a rollercoaster of a game like last week’s, I could easily see us taking this one lightly (if we were EVER to take a game lightly).  It’s a road game, the second in two weeks, against an AFC team.  We don’t NEED to win this game.  It would be nice, since the 49ers are probably going to beat the Texans on Sunday night, but it’s not a “must win”.

In the end, I see this going one of two ways.  Either it’s a back-and-forth affair with the last team who has the ball gets the win, or it’s a Seahawks blowout.  Honestly, I’m kind of leaning towards a double-digit Seahawks win and I can’t really explain why.  It’s not like we’ve played an insanely harder schedule.  We had to go to Houston, but they had to go to San Francisco.  We both played Jacksonville.  I put Miami and Carolina on par with one another.  And, let’s face it, getting the 49ers in Seattle is just about the same as playing the Raiders anywhere, so I’d call that a wash.  I dunno, I just think we’re better.

I think we’ll figure out a way to stuff their running game.  I think with our front seven at full strength with Irvin back, we find a way to get some pressure on Luck.  I think we force him into a few ill-advised throws.  And I think we once-again win the turnover battle.  Maybe even by a considerable margin.

And finally, I think we figure out how to score a few touchdowns on the road in the first half.  Our makeshift line will have another week’s worth of reps to get used to one another.  Tom Cable will have coached most of the mistakes out of the younger guys.  And while Mathis is putting up insane numbers, he’s no J.J. Watt.  We hold him to no sacks except those with which he stuffs his sorries.

It’s too bad I’m gonna have to miss this one.  I’ll be really curious to see how Wilson compares to Luck.  Going into the season, I had this game circled as one to watch when we delve deeper in comparing the two phenoms.  That might not be fair, though, considering Wilson doesn’t have to go up against the Legion of Boom (except in practice, but that doesn’t really count).

8 Down, 15 To Go: Injury-Plagued Seahawks Steal A Win In Houston

After a win like that – where the Seahawks came back from a 20-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime 23-20 – the impulse is to scream out from the rooftops, “THAT WAS THE GREATEST GAME EVER!”  But, of course, that’s not true.  Maybe it was the greatest ending to a game, or the greatest HALF ever, but if you want to be in the running for greatest game ever, don’t make me feel fucking miserable for 30 football minutes.

I don’t know what happened!  Houston got the ball first and we quickly forced a punt.  Then, we came right down the field and got ourselves a three-point lead.  That’s followed by a Houston drive ending with an interception and we were all on cloud nine.  How does it go from that to the Texans generating 20 straight points while we can’t do a God damn thing?

The first-half defense left a lot to be desired, no doubt about that.  Had that continued through the whole game, it would’ve been a blowout and we would have tumbled pretty far down the national power rankings (not that that’s something altogether important, but still).  There would have been a lot of questions about this team.  Is this REALLY a Super Bowl team?  Will this team ever consistently win on the road at 10am?  Does the coaching staff have control of its players?

You know, all the usual bullshit.  Sports writers trying to put their spin on things the only way they know how:  by dredging up the same inane topics whenever a good team has a bad game.

Here’s what we know from what we saw yesterday:  the defense really couldn’t stop the run for the longest time.  The defense had the wrong people covering their tight ends, who were catching everything in sight.  The defense – after those first couple of drives – didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback for the longest time.  There are plenty of things to get to, so let’s start at the top.

Houston is a very good rushing team.  Arian Foster, when healthy, is one of the top five running backs in the league.  Ben Tate might be the best backup running back in football.  This is a team, like the Seahawks, that is dedicated to the run.  Therefore, their offensive linemen are geared to run block.  It’s going to take quite the feat to shut them down with your front four.  The Seahawks, unfortunately, don’t have their world-beater front four that clogs up running lanes like they did in 2011.  Even with Red Bryant still on the end, the line is a little more finesse, a little more interested in pressuring the quarterback.  Stopping the run in 2013 involves more linebacker contributions.  And, truth be told, yesterday the linebackers weren’t the greatest.

As you could plainly see whenever K.J. Wright or Malcolm Smith got beat by Owen Daniels or Garrett Graham.  Those two guys accounted for 11 receptions, 141 yards, and a touchdown.  They were open all damn DAY!  Finally, towards the end of the game, it looked like we were throwing Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell on them, so at least we know the coaches are paying attention and actually made an adjustment.

The most damning thing for this team was the fact that we couldn’t get a man anywhere near Matt Schaub.  It looked like we were a little in-between for most of the second and third quarters, concerned about the run (which was really gashing us) and still trying to get in Schaub’s face.  Our front four isn’t quite good enough to allow us to have our cake and eat it too, so thankfully we ratcheted up the blitzes when it mattered most.  Many of the great quarterbacks in the NFL flourish under pressure.  A defensive blitz is an opportunity for a quarterback to take advantage for a big gain.  Not for Matt Schaub.

It’s interesting.  This game went from being all about the Texans and how they are a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl to Matt Schaub and what are they going to do with him?

I don’t know how Schaub threw that pick-six to Richard Sherman, but I’m glad he did it.  If you go back and re-watch the game, you’ll see a hyper-confident Matt Schaub early on, when the Texans were moving the ball with ease.  Then, take a look at him in the fourth quarter, especially after that interception.  He looked like a broken and defeated man – and that interception only TIED the game.  You could tell right there that unless there was some flukey play or ill-timed penalty by our defense, we were going to win that game.

When you think of quarterbacks, you think of three types:  the greats, the game-managers, and the awfuls.  It’s pretty easy to see where just about every quarterback fits.  But, when you look at someone like Matt Schaub, you come to the realization that there is a fourth type.  An in-betweener.  Not quite great, but not just a simple game-manager.  The team doesn’t just rely on him to “limit mistakes” and let the team around him win games.  Sometimes, they have to hop on and let Schaub carry them to victory.  AND, sometimes he succeeds!  But, he fails just enough to drive everyone crazy.  Fans will never fully believe that he’s the guy to give them a championship, in the same way that Cowboys fans will never fully believe in Tony Romo.  The same way that Chargers fans don’t believe in Philip Rivers.  Probably in the same way that Bengals fans (in a few years) will feel about Andy Dalton.  I don’t know what you call these types of quarterbacks, but they’ve got to be some of the most frustrating to have.  They’re good, so you can’t just dump them at the drop of a hat, but they’re not good enough to take you all the way.  I hate to say it at a time where we’re celebrating a 4-0 start, but Matt Hasselbeck was probably one of those guys.

Luckily, we’ve got Russell Wilson now, and the man is a straight-up winner.

I keep thinking that there is no way Wilson can impress me more.  His leadership, his poise, his talent level, his grit and determination, his elusiveness.  It’s all been on display for a year and a quarter now, but yesterday might be his most impressive effort to date.  And that’s not just hyperbole based on the newness of this win!  Our offensive line looked like 2009-levels of bad.  You remember that year, right?  We’d lost Walter Jones and Tim Ruskell refused to replenish the line through the draft, so we were left scrambling.  I don’t know how we EVER sustained a drive yesterday, except maybe the Texans got tired from getting free runs at the quarterback all the time.

Russell Okung, who has been lost since the 49ers game and won’t be back until late this season, was a pretty big loss.  Breno Giacomini, our right tackle, who got injured in last week’s game, made our job that much tougher, because we were playing with two replacement tackles instead of just the one.  But, Max Unger ALSO going down last week really took the cake.

For the most part, all five of our linemen looked like they’d never played football before.  Pancakes Carpenter looked absolutely miserable at times in pass protection.  The Texans were employing your most basic of stunts and our guys didn’t know WHO they should block, so they did the prudent thing and blocked no one.  Russell Wilson had, like, negative three seconds per pass attempt to try to throw the ball.  And, what’s worse:  it looked like the coaching staff didn’t anticipate this would be coming!

The Texans blitz something like 80% of the time.  They’re one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, with one of the best players in the NFL in J.J. Watt.  We were coming into the game with one guy on the line playing in the same position he started the season with (J.R. Sweezy).  What did we counter this with?  Giving Kellen Davis an inordinate amount of playing time so he could lead both teams in penalties.

Why wouldn’t your immediate thought going into this game be:  let’s reintroduce the zone read and slow down their aggression by having Russell Wilson run the ball?  That should have been Day 1, Item 1 of the game planning this week!  What, you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits?  If you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits, how about don’t put him in a pocket protected by a paper mache line???  The guy was going to take hits either way.  But, if you wanted any semblance of a passing game, you needed to make their ends worry about contain, instead of trying to take someone’s head off.

This game was, if nothing else, the greatest test of our depth.  Whenever you can lose some very-important starters – especially along your offensive line – and still come away with the win while getting some younger guys valuable experience:  that’s the ultimate high.  But, I wouldn’t recommend making this a trend if we want to go anywhere in the playoffs this year.

Normally, I’d be pretty thrilled with having the final BYE week of the NFL season.  But, this year, I dunno.  Seems like we could use a week off to get guys healthy sooner rather than later.

I’ll close with my Individual Game Balls, a new feature that I’ll probably forget about after this week.

First up, Doug Baldwin for his sideline tippy-toe catch for 24 yards on third down at our own 5 yard line.  If either foot is an inch closer to the sideline, that’s an incomplete pass and we’re probably punting away the game.

Next:  Russell Wilson, for somehow staying alive, but also for that 4-yard scramble on 4th and 3 near the Houston goalline to convert a first down.  One play later, we scored a touchdown to bring the game to within 7 points.

Then, there’s Marshawn Lynch, for making chicken salad all day against another elite front seven.  I keep expecting this team to run into some easier defenses, but will we see one before we face the New York Giants in week 15?

Of course, who could forget Richard Sherman?  He dropped a sure pick in the endzone earlier in the game.  But, in the fourth quarter, with less than three minutes to go in the game while still down a touchdown, Sherman jumped in front of a pass intended for Owen Daniels (solid strategy to start putting cornerbacks on their tight ends, considering the linebackers weren’t doing dick) and brought the rock back to the house 58 yards.  It single-handedly tied the game and saved my fantasy football bacon all in one move.

Finally, my co-players of the game:  Steven Hauschka, for nailing the game winner in a hostile environment (when he, along with everyone else, expected their coach to “ice the kicker”), and Kareem Jackson, the Texans DB who unnecessarily roughed Doug Baldwin on that final drive to put us down to Houston’s 36 yard line to set up that game-winning field goal.  Without their combined efforts, we may never have won that game.  We might currently be sitting *shudder* 3-0-1.  Ties … ties are the WORST!  What is this, soccer?

#20 – Bruce Irvin

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

You’ll notice one big name conspicuously missing from this list, and that would be Red Bryant.  There’s a reason for that:  he wasn’t one of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012.  I won’t go so far as to say the guy was terrible, but to be considered as having a positive season, you need at least one of two things:  to be remembered for a lot of impact plays, or to at the very least do the job you were brought in here to do.

Red Bryant, aside from a few blocked field goals (of which I only remember one in 2012), isn’t known for his impact plays.  He doesn’t sack the quarterback, he doesn’t cause a lot of fumbles, he doesn’t knock down a terribly high number of passes.  But, what he was brought in here to do, what his primary objective is, is to stop the run.  And, truth be told, the Seahawks weren’t nearly as good as they were in 2011 at stopping the run.

I can’t blame Red Bryant for that all by himself, it’s certainly a team effort.  But, he sure as shit got a ton of credit when the Seahawks WERE stopping the run at a high rate, so it’s only fair to consider his season something of a failure.  Or, at least below average; I give big Red Bryant a D+.

It gives me no pleasure to rag on the guy, because he’s genuinely one of my favorite Seahawks.  Whenever Red Bryant makes a big tackle for loss, or gets fired up and starts talking a mad amount of shit to our opponent, it fires me up like no one else on this team.  Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between in 2012.

I don’t think the guy was resting on his laurels after signing a big contract, and I fully expect him to return with a vengeance in 2013.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out later that he was dealing with shin splints or some damn nagging thing that inhibited his productivity.

On the flipside, I have nothing but kudos to give for Bruce Irvin.

The job he was brought in here to do:  be a rookie, learn from Chris Clemons, and sack the quarterback.  Yes, he was a liability against the run, yes he would go games at a time without doing much of anything.  But, as a rookie he led all others in sacks.  He finished with 9 sacks in 18 games, which isn’t bad.  He showed tremendous speed and he made big impacts on our games against Green Bay, Carolina, and New York (2 sacks each).

I know he was a first round pick, but I wasn’t expecting him to come in and set the world on fire.  In fact, here’s what I wrote back in August:

While it’s unfair to expect the world out of a rookie – even if he is a high draft pick – it’s more than fair to expect SOMETHING.  Essentially, to expect a sign of better things to come.  I’m not looking for the guy to get 16 sacks as a rookie; in fact, I’d be elated if he ended the season with half that.  But, he needs to do something.

Well, he did get half that, and I didn’t lie, I’m pretty elated.  I think 8 sacks as a rookie is a GREAT sign of things to come.  Jason Pierre-Paul as a rookie only had 4.5 sacks.  He went on, in his second season, to net 16.5 sacks.  Osi Umenyiora only had 8 sacks after his first TWO seasons combined, then busted out with 14.5 in his third.  J.J. Watt only had 5 sacks as a rookie before winning the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 as a 2nd-year man.  The list of defensive ends who started off worse than Irvin, but blossomed into stardom is probably endless.

The stakes will be higher in 2013.  Much higher.  We might be without Chris Clemons, if indeed the Seahawks waive him like I think they will (as opposed to holding onto a guy who will likely finish his season early on the IR once again).  If we don’t bring in a high-priced free agent (which, given the track record of John Schneider, we probably shouldn’t expect), then Bruce Irvin is going to be The Man.  He’ll likely be the starting end in Clemons’ Leo position on the line, and some other young gun will be opposite him.

Which means, we’re going to need to see some fairly drastic improvement out of Irvin.  He’s going to have to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback and take the pressure off of whoever’s opposite him.  He’s had a full, healthy year in the NFL.  The defense is going to be essentially the same under Dan Quinn.  Plus, Quinn’s specialty is as a D-line coach, so I’m sure he’ll be able to take whatever it is that Irvin has learned in 2012 and enhance it.

I think Irvin can do it.  I think he’s got what it takes to shoot up this list and be a top 5 presence on this team.  The sooner that happens, the better the Seahawks will finish at season’s end.