Seahawks/Raiders Preseason Game 4 Takeaways

For starters, no, I don’t really give a shit about Jeremy Lane sitting for the national anthem.  And for the record, I don’t even get why we sing the national anthem before every game anyway; save it for the fucking Olympics.

From a football perspective, the greatest takeaway is that no important Seahawks got hurt.  No one who figures to make the 53-man roster, anyway.  Seems like a small thing, but the last thing you want to see is a key player get hurt in the most meaningless of the meaningless pre-season games.

This one was a real barker, too.  I mean, seriously, woof!  2-0 at halftime, 5-3 after three quarters; we were so bored, my dad and I spent more time playing Yahtzee than watching the actual game.  The Raiders’ D-Line is no joke, and I’m not even sure all of their starters were ever in there!  The Seahawks really couldn’t do a damn thing for most of the first three quarters, thanks to their sheer dominance.

Then, the game turned on a dime, and became the most fun fourth quarter of a pre-season game that I can remember.  The Raiders extended their lead to 8-3 to kick things off.  A few minutes later – after getting the ball back – we pressured them into a pick-six to take the lead 9-8.  After stuffing them again, we got the ball back and drove – mostly on the back of Troymaine Pope’s slashing running style – to extend our lead to 16-8.  The Raiders drove down for a score of their own, but botched the 2-point conversion, to make it 16-14.  After we recovered the on-side kick, Pope busted out another long run to get us down near the goalline.  From there, Alex Collins officially sealed the deal with a goalline plunge to make it 23-14.

And yet, if that wasn’t enough, the Raiders ran back the kickoff to make it 23-21.  Thankfully, they didn’t try to on-side kick it again, and the game mercifully came to a close.  Still, pretty fun quarter when both teams had a combined eight points going in.

Getting back, I thought Pope was amazing, not just on Thursday, but this entire pre-season.  I know he’s in a battle with Alex Collins, and I know Alex Collins has certain physical attributes that Pope doesn’t, but it would just be a shame to see Pope go.  I just know he’s going to go off and be another Justin Forsett type, if he ever gets a serious opportunity to start.

After Pope, I didn’t really see many positives out of the offense.  I was REALLY disappointed that Tanner McEvoy wasn’t able to play, because I feel like this was EXACTLY the type of game he would’ve shined in.  None of the receivers really stood out – with no one catching more than 2 balls all game – but that was hardly their fault.  Our offensive line was manhandled from the get-go (with Jahri Evans and J’Marcus Webb looking particularly overwhelmed on the right side), and Trevone Boykin was not up to the task of dealing with it all that well.

I don’t think Boykin cost himself the job or anything; I think he’s still young, cheap, and has lots of team control.  I think keeping him on the 53-man roster – as opposed to the practice squad, while bringing in a veteran to backup Wilson – would be much more important to his development.  Plus, I still contend that if Wilson gets injured, the team will simply sign Tarvaris Jackson and keep Boykin as the #2 until Wilson’s healthy again.

That having been said, the kid is raw, but I thought he dealt with things okay.  You want a kid to know what it’s like to struggle like that, so next time he knows how to deal with it better.  Russell Wilson didn’t come out of the womb an All Pro (in spite of his robot-like qualities); I think Boykin will be okay.  Give him time to throw, give him lanes to run, he’ll be okay.  Also, think of it this way:  if he ever has to come in for Wilson, he’ll get the luxury of our starting O-Line, which is starting to come together pretty good.

I will say this though:  Boykin better take better advantage of his opportunities to run in the future.  He left A LOT of yards on the table by handing the ball off instead of tucking and running.

On defense, the guy who stood out the most was Keenan Lambert, who was just all over the place making plays.  I thought Brock Coyle had a great game too, showing why the team likes him so much as Bobby Wagner’s backup.  I thought KPL looked good, and I thought Marcus Burley continued his dominant pre-season with another great game.  If he doesn’t make the team, I just don’t know anymore, because he’s easily the 3rd or 4th best corner going right now.

I thought Tharold Simon looked pretty bad.  He was often caught not looking for the ball, and when he wasn’t penalized for it, it looked like he SHOULD’VE been.  I still haven’t seen anything out of Tye Smith.  And none of the young guys along the D-Line really stood out all that much, except for Ryan Robinson, obviously, who caught that pick-six, but I don’t expect him to make the team.  I seem to remember Eric Pinkins making a great play at some point!  Don’t know if it’s enough to save his job, but it was something, I’m sure of that.

Steven A. Taylor’s Long Snapper Corner

You thought this wouldn’t be important, huh???  (for the record, “you” is just my natural insecurities coming out, so don’t take it personal)  Well, Nolan Frese has just been cut in favor of Tyler Ott.  I didn’t notice any bad snaps on Thursday – making it arguably his first clean game of the pre-season – but reports indicate he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury, and I wonder if he was gutting it out more than he was letting on.  Okay, I have no idea what’s going on, but it sounds like the Seahawks may be working guys out?  Either way, no Gresham this year, as I guess he’s moving back to Texas or some damn thing.  I think it’s a mistake, but we’ll see when I’m proven right and a botched snap costs us a game.

The Hellacious Seattle Seahawks 2015 Season Preview!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 1, at St. Louis, 10am

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

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

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

Week 3, vs. Chicago, 1:25pm

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

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

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

Week 5, at Cincinnati, 10am

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

Week 6, vs. Carolina, 1:05pm

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

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

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

Week 8, at Dallas, 1:25pm

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

Week 9 – BYE

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

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

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

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

Week 12, vs. Pittsburgh, 1:25pm

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

Week 13, at Minnesota, 10am

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

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

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

Week 15, vs. Cleveland, 1:05pm

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

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

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

Week 17, at Arizona, 1:25pm

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

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

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

Players To Watch In Super Bowl XLIX

You know who the big dogs are on the Seattle Seahawks.  The top ten, in some order, looks like this:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Earl Thomas
  • Richard Sherman
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Michael Bennett
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Cliff Avril
  • Max Unger

So, I’m not going to sit here and tell you why all these guys are important.  You KNOW why.

This one’s dedicated to the specific Patriots we should probably be concerned with heading into the game next week.  These are the guys everyone will be talking about until this low simmer we’re all on ratchets up to a huge boil.

Let’s start with Tom Brady, because why not?  He’s the only sure-thing Hall of Famer on that team (though, there are some other possibilities, that we’ll get to).  Tom Brady has been one of the best quarterbacks in football pretty much since he took over the starting job with New England in 2001.  His career passer rating is 95.9 – which is outstanding – and he hasn’t even really missed a beat.  In 2014, he had his usual gaudy numbers, adding up to a passer rating of 97.4.  And, with the exception of a few peak years with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, Brady has done all of this with a largely anonymous group of receivers (sound familiar?).

Tom Brady is a quarterback who clearly makes the people around him better.  He has an unquestioned dedication to the game of football and that’s why his teams have always gone to the playoffs and why they’ve had so much success once they’ve gotten there.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that the rest of the AFC East has largely been one big shitshow the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there.

Unlike Manning, Brady doesn’t run his own offense.  He’s not his own offensive coordinator.  If it’s going to help the team win, Brady is more than willing to defer to the running game, if that’s what it takes.  I guess that’s the difference between being a 6th rounder vs. a #1 overall draft pick.  I guess that’s the difference between being led by one of the most successful and talented head coaches in NFL history (even if he is a big, lousy cheater sometimes) vs. a random smattering of guys who are more than willing to let their star quarterback just do his own thing.

Brady is dangerous in the same way that Russell Wilson is dangerous, in the fact that all they care about is winning, at any cost.  It just so happens that Brady has never REALLY had a dominating running game to defer to.  He’s never had a Marshawn Lynch to lean on.  Early in his career, though, Brady DID have an outstanding defense backing him, which was the real driving force in their three Super Bowl titles.  As Brady emerged from that early period in his career, the talent on defense diminished, so he was required to do more.  And, to his credit, he succeeded in almost every way.  That 2007 squad will go down historically as one of the very best teams of all time.  But, when shit got real, they were nipped by the Giants, and that’s that.

Nowadays, Brady doesn’t have the cannon he once did.  You’re not going to see the jump balls he threw to Randy Moss.  Part of that is the talent around him (Brandon LaFell isn’t anywhere near Randy Moss’s UNIVERSE), but part of that is just Brady getting older.  37 years old.  Over 50,000 yards on that arm.  In that respect, he is like Manning, or a latter-day Marino.  He’s going to hang around in that pocket (when he’s not sneaking for that first down on 3rd- & 4th-&-inches), he’s going to rely on rhythm passing from 0-10 yards in front of him, and he’s going to try to dictate tempo by going hurry-up to keep the defense on its heels and tired.

We saw this last year!  None of this is new!  We were worried about the same damn thing with the Broncos and it ended up being a non-issue!  Tom Brady CAN be affected if you get in his face.  You don’t necessarily want to send wave after wave of blitzers after him, but then again, maybe you do.  I mean, the Jets seem to have the Patriots pretty well figured out, and they’ve been running out a Junior Varsity quarterback out there for the last couple decades!  All Rex Ryan DOES is blitz!  I’m not saying that’s what the Seahawks will do – we tend to be among the least-blitzing teams in the NFL, in spite of our mascot’s name – but in theory, if things start getting hairy, it’s not a bad idea.  Let our corners press, and start throwing five and six guys after him on the reg.

If you let Tom Brady stand there all day, he’s going to pick you apart.  Unlike Manning – who’s so afraid of taking a hit that his internal clock is running on fast-forward at all times – Brady will hang in the pocket as long as necessary.  It’s not what he wants, I’m sure, but if the defense is going to press and bump receivers off of their routes, then we’re going to have to punish Brady accordingly for having the gall to wait it out until they get open.

I don’t necessarily see this as a game where the Patriots are going to try to slug it out with us on the ground.  We’re not the Colts, who are a wet paper bag when it comes to stopping the run.  Of course, we’re not necessarily the Ravens either – who make it a point to go all out in stopping the run.  We are who we are.  We’re going to stop your run the same way we stop everyone else’s run.  So, in that sense, I wouldn’t expect the Pats to completely abandon it the way they did in the second half of that Ravens game, but at the same time, we’re probably going to get a heavy dose of passing regardless.  On the year, Brady threw the ball 36 times per game.  That’s about what I’d expect out of this one as long as it remains close.  If it gets out of hand one way or another, figure to add or subtract about 15 to that total.

Pressure Brady, and everything else should fall into place.  A great way to do that?  Put the lockdown on Gronk.

The Pats have four primary receiving threats.  Here’s what they looked like in the regular season:

  • Rob Gronkowski:  82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs
  • Julian Edelman:  92 catches, 972 yards, 4 TDs
  • Brandon LaFell:  74 catches, 953 yards, 7 TDs
  • Shane Vereen:  52 catches, 447 yards, 3 TDs

Gronk’s just a beast.  He broke out in his rookie year of 2010 with 10 TDs, then turned into a total monster in 2011 with over 1,300 yards and 17 TDs.  The two subsequent years were marred by injuries and he lost large swaths of playing time.  You had to wonder if he would even be able to return to the game.  At the beginning of this year, it seemed like the team was a little too overly-tentative with him.  He’d be off the field for huge chunks of games and the offense struggled accordingly.  In the first four weeks, he had 13 catches for 147 yards and 3 TDs, while mostly playing around the red zone.

After the Pats got crushed by the Chiefs and fell to 2-2, they had no choice but to let Gronk do his thing.  The Patriots won 7 in a row and 10 of 11 overall to close out the regular season, with Gronk putting up the following numbers in that span:  69 catches, 977 yards, and 9 TDs (with an average of approximately 6 catches, 89 yards, and just under a TD per game).  Absolutely unreal.

As you can tell, Gronk IS the red zone offense for this team.  If I were a gambling man, I’d put a very large chunk of money on Gronk scoring a TD in this game, with a good portion of that on him scoring the FIRST touchdown in the game.  I’m sure you’d hardly win a damn thing on that wager, but what are you gonna do?

Seahawks fans are going to sit here and say, “Well, we’ve dismantled guys like Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas; I’m not worried about Gronk!”  That would be a mistake.  Guys like Graham and Thomas are glorified, slow-footed wide receivers.  They’re soft.  Breathe on ’em wrong and they’ll go home crying to mama.  Gronk is built more in the Tony Gonzalez & Antonio Gates mold.  Remember those guys?  Remember how they were able to pick apart our defense for huge catches and scores?  Those guys thrive on contact, as does Gronk.

People are going to talk about the Gronk & Chancellor matchup, and believe you me, I’ll be looking forward to it as much as anyone else.  There’s nothing I’d like to see more than for Bam Bam to knock Gronk on his ass.  But, the underlying theme will be people talking about Kam shadowing Gronk all day, and that’s just not the case.  That’s not how the Seahawks operate.  We’re going to stick a linebacker on him just like most teams.  Since our linebackers – especially K.J. Wright – are better in coverage than most teams, we should be able to prevent Gronk from racking up a ton of yards.

But, it’s in that red zone where I’m worried.  When they opt to run Gronk out wide, with someone like Simon or Maxwell on him.  Good cover guys, sure, but I could see our corners draped all over him like a Snuggie and see him STILL come down with the ball at the goalline.

Don’t dismiss this guy just because he’s annoyingly awesome and you’d LOVE him if he was on the Seahawks.  To keep the Pats in check, we’ve got to keep Gronk in check, and that’s all there is to it.

Edelman is their possession guy.  Their Doug Baldwin, if you will.  On third down, Brady has two targets:  if Gronk is double teamed, or otherwise covered, he’s looking for Edelman in a crossing route or out in the flat.  We HAVE to control this guy.  If the Pats start converting a ton of third downs, it’s likely going to be because Edelman is getting open and squirming his way to the first down marker.

What I expect the Seahawks to do is put Jeremy Lane on him all day.  This more or less worked out okay last week, with Lane doing the heavy lifting on Randall Cobb.  Aside from the touchdown, Cobb was held to 6 catches for 49 yards.  Throw that TD into the mix, and Cobb still only had 7 catches for 62 yards, so it’s not like he was this unstoppable force (I think, too, Lane either fell down or ran into someone on that TD; but, that’s going off of memory and I’m too lazy to go back and watch it again).

Here’s the deal:  Edelman is no Cobb.  Cobb is probably the best slot receiver in the game.  Edelman is good, but he’s really just a poor man’s Welker.  I don’t think the Seahawks are sunk if we leave Lane on him.

What I’d LIKE the Seahawks to do is put Maxwell on him all day.  Maxwell is taller, with longer arms, but he’s still a strong presence as our nickel corner.  If the Seahawks are able to shut down Edelman, and roll coverage to Gronk to minimize his impact, I just don’t see any way the Patriots are able to move the ball consistently.

Brandon LaFell is a real wild card.  His overall numbers this year are MUCH better than I was expecting.  He’s their deep threat, if the Patriots even have a deep threat.  LaFell – while playing for the Panthers the last few years – was never really much of a problem for us.  The types of catches he makes – on fade routes and other types of throws into the corner – are the types of balls we defend the best.  I can’t imagine LaFell gets even a LOOK if he’s lined up on Sherman’s side.  I could, however, see him getting a good chunk of targets if he’s opposite Sherman, and he’s being guarded by the likes of Tharold Simon.

See, there’s a risky game to play if the Seahawks shadow Edelman with Maxwell, and that’s Simon on LaFell.  I like Simon, I think he would win most matchups against someone like LaFell, but I think if he’s out there, he’s GOING to get picked on, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a huge penalty or otherwise a big catch going New England’s way.

So, maybe stick with Maxwell on the outside.  Either way, if we’re assignment-sound, I wouldn’t expect to have too much trouble with their passing game.  It’s just:  can we get off the field?  That’s going to require winning on first & second down, and that’s going to require tight coverage on third down.

As for Shane Vereen, I’m not too concerned.  He’s a poor man’s Darren Sproles, and we’ve been able to handle Sproles pretty well in our matchups with him.  I’d expect someone like Bruce Irvin to be big in this one, especially on early downs.

***

On defense, it starts with Darrelle Revis.  He’s not at his peak like he was with the Jets, but he’s still probably a Top 5 cornerback in this league.  It sounds like last week, they stuck Reggie Wayne on Revis Island and Wayne didn’t have an impact whatsoever.  Sounds pretty scary, until you remember the week before where the Ravens threw for nearly 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Don’t forget that Ravens game, because I think it’s really important.  The Ravens were VERY balanced, with 129 yards out of Forsett on the ground, topped off by a pretty good day out of Flacco.  Flacco didn’t shy away from Revis, just like Russell Wilson won’t.  The Ravens got beat because their defense – especially their secondary – can’t hold a flame to ours.  If we can get after the quarterback the way they did (the Ravens didn’t have a ton of sacks, but they hit Brady pretty good), I wouldn’t expect anywhere near the type of offensive success the Pats had in that game.

I expect Revis will follow Doug Baldwin all around the field.  So, look for Baldwin to have a pretty ineffective day.  That’s going to put more pressure on Kearse and the rest of our pass-catchers to pick their games up.  New England isn’t impossible to move the ball on, even with some of their relatively big names on defense.

Brandon Browner obviously comes to mind, but we know what to expect out of him.  He’s likely going to stick to a side – maybe even shadow Kearse all day – and put a hurtin’ on whoever comes near him.  Also, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see Browner slide inside and take on one of our tight ends.  A matchup I like even less than the Revis/Baldwin one is a Browner/Willson matchup.  I think Browner would eat our #1 tight end for lunch.  Hopefully, we get the Willson/Random Linebacker matchup I’ve been looking forward to all week.

Kyle Arrington is another guy to keep an eye on.  He’s another cornerback, and apparently is their speed guy (as he took on T.Y. Hilton last week).  I’d look for Arrington to spend his time looking after Lockette, which has the potential to be a nice little mismatch in our favor, as Lockette is 6’2 and Arrington is only 5’10.

Another big one to watch out for is Chandler Jones.  #95 in your programs, he’s a 6’5 monster of a defensive end.  While he only netted six sacks this year, he did miss some time with injury and has been a terrifying beast in the games I’ve seen.  I don’t recall offhand where he generally lines up, but I seem to have him squaring off against Britt in my mind’s eye.  I wish I knew more about his tendencies.  If he’s as aggressive as I think he is, I think we can take advantage of him in the read-option game.  I’d watch for him to crash hard on the fake to Lynch, with Wilson running right around him for big gains.

If only Percy Harvin wasn’t such a massive jack-hole, I could see the jet-sweep being a HUGE play for us, like it was in last year’s Super Bowl.  Why couldn’t we have just kept him inactive each and every week – and away from the team facility entirely – then busted him out for one game a year?

Next up, watch out for a pair of outside linebackers in Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins.  Collins especially, #91.  That guy is a FREAK.  He’ll line up on Okung’s side, and could rush the passer or go out into coverage.  He led the team in tackles and really filled up the stat sheet.  I wouldn’t mind seeing us run right at him, to have him swallowed up in our zone blocking scheme, but I gotta wonder if that’s wise.  If he’s able to shed blocks, we might be looking at a long day running the ball.

That’s because the key to the whole defense is Vince Wilfork.  The mammoth nose tackle whose listed weight is 325, but is probably pushing 360.  The Ravens were successful rushing because they managed to run outside the tackles.  But, that’s not really the Seahawks’ game, as we like taking it right at you.  Max Unger and either James Carpenter or J.R. Sweezy will have their work cut out for them.  Considering Carpenter is the only guy on our line who could POSSIBLY move Wilfork’s wide body out of the way, I would expect Wilfork to shade toward Sweezy’s side of Unger.  If Wilfork’s taking up two blockers, that’s going to hurt our running game, because we depend so much upon Sweezy and other guys getting to the second level.

That’s why, again, I like our chances with the zone read.  If we can break off a 100-yard rushing day out of Russell Wilson, that’s going to start opening up things down the field.

If the Seahawks win this game, Russell Wilson will need to have a game for the ages.  Let’s hope he’s got one more left in him.

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.

#18 – Robert Turbin

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

The year for Robert “Guns” Turbin couldn’t have gone any better for Seahawks fans.  As a fourth round pick, he easily slid into that #2 running back position vacated by Justin Forsett (who left in free agency before the season).  Not only that, but he was BETTER than Forsett ever was!

On top of all that, he wasn’t counted on to be the man because Marshawn Lynch was able to stay healthy the full season.

Make no mistake, Beastmode is the guy.  He will continue to BE the guy until his body gives out.  The way he’s running, it probably won’t be too much longer, but I’d still give him another two really solid, elite rushing seasons.  At which point, if his body starts to breakdown in 2015, guess what:  that’ll be Turbin’s 4th year in the NFL.  If he continues to improve, then Turbin will slide right into that #1 role and the Seahawks can go out and draft another #2.

Turbin being a hit for this team is REALLY one of the underrated draft picks of what has become legendary after only one season.  Two guys – Russell Wilson & Bobby Wagner – really took the bull by the horns as leaders and strong Rookie of the Year candidates.  Bruce Irvin will always be remarkable since he was the first round draft choice (and looks to be a solid pass-rusher going forward).  Even J.R. Sweezy gets more pub since he was a 7th rounder and converted from defensive to offensive line.  But, Robert Turbin really solidifies this team.

Every good NFL team needs a good backup running back.  For reasons of depth, in the event that your #1 goes down with injury, and because the #2 running back gets a significant number of carries.  Especially with this offense, that features the run so much more than most other teams.  Beastmode is great, but he can’t carry the rock on every down (no matter what he might say to the contrary).  Also, Beastmode IS great, and you want to keep him great by limiting his touches.  You don’t want to turn him into a Priest Holmes or a Michael Turner, overloading him with unnecessary touches because you’re not confident in your #2.  Marshawn Lynch’s style of running isn’t conducive towards longevity.  If you can spare him some hits to his body (and his constantly spasming back) while still not losing all that much (if anything) in the production department by running a guy like Turbin on 3rd downs (or for his own series here and there), then that’s a HUGE boon to this offense!

Marshawn Lynch averaged an even 5.0 yards per carry in 2012.  That number is absolutely incredible, one of the best averages in franchise history.  If he replicates his 2012 in 2013, he will already be 4th on the franchise rushing list in just 3+ seasons.  That just goes to show you how good his 2012 was.  So, when I say Robert Turbin ONLY averaged 4.4 yards per carry, I don’t want Lynch’s dominance to take anything away from that.  4.4 yards per carry is fantastic.  Most running backs would kill for that total.  And, as a rookie?  Forget about it!

So, don’t sleep on Turbin’s impact in that epic 2012 draft class.  He’s good now, he could be great.  He could be the next big starting running back for this team.  That’s one more position you don’t have to worry about in 2013.  You can use your available resources elsewhere to tighten up what is already a great team.

But, for the record, if it meant a healthy 2013 season for Beastmode, I hope Turbin turns in the exact same season he had in 2012.  Except, you know, catch the balls as they’re thrown to you in the next 49ers game.

#17 – Leon Washington

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

By the time this NFL season starts, Leon Washington will be 30 years old.  Luckily for us, and for him, he’s not getting the lion’s share of the carries.

I don’t think you want to focus solely on Leon’s age, because the most carries he has had in a season was his rookie year when he had 151 for the Jets back in 2006.  After that, he’s been exclusively the change-of-pace back he’s supposed to be.  And has thrived (broken leg in 2009 notwithstanding).

There is a lot to like about this Seahawks team, as I’ve mentioned before.  The defense is young and on the rise, the offensive line is coached by the best in the game (and is also on the young side), the wide receivers – if healthy – should be productive enough, we have a bona fide Top 10 running back in Marshawn Lynch … and, if you look more closely, we have a lot of role players who complement this team perfectly.

If these Seahawks had a Top 5 quarterback, these Seahawks would be picked across the board to contend for a Super Bowl.  Teams don’t get that kind of recognition with just a Top 5 quarterback alone (see:  the San Diego Chargers); you need a lot of the smaller parts to come together.

Leon Washington is one of those parts.  Without him, there would be a Leon Washington-sized hole on this team that I’m not sure could be filled by just anyone else on this roster.

He’s the consummate 3rd Down Back.  He might not have the flash of Darren Sproles, but then again, this isn’t the type of offense that would feature a Darren Sproles in such a way as the Saints do.  What Leon does is more subtle.  He blocks well.  He catches the ball well.  He runs well in that he doesn’t really screw around when he has the ball in his hands.  He catches the ball, he runs forward.  That’s the kind of savvy that Justin Forsett lacked.  Forsett tried to bust out his Barry Sanders moves whenever he was met in the backfield by a defender.  Forsett was no Sanders, and now he’s not a Seahawk.

Granted, Leon didn’t catch a TON of balls last year – only 10 for 48 yards – but I wouldn’t focus on that too much.  For half the season, this offensive line couldn’t block a tumbleweed, so I imagine Leon was forced to assist in that regard rather than roll out for a swing pass.  Leon was also playing behind a quarterback who doesn’t throw the ball well laterally.  A guy who refused to check down in lieu of holding the ball for too long & taking the sack.  Tarvar is as big a reason as any that Leon didn’t get the kind of production you would expect.  Tarvar, by the grace of God, won’t be our starting quarterback this season.  Flynn will check down when something isn’t open.  Leon will be the primary beneficiary.

And, let us not forget, Leon was our primary return man the past two seasons.  Last year, Leon was tied for 7th in the NFL in punt return average with 11.3, and tied for 10th in the NFL in kickoff return average with 25.2.  I would continue to expect more of the same, even if Pete Carroll tries to work in other guys for those jobs.  When you’ve got a proven veteran like Leon Washington, he’s always going to get the bulk of returns, because he’s going to give you the most effective return every time.  Not bad for a guy pushing 30.

There aren’t many veterans on this team.  Be glad Leon Washington is here.  Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.

#18 – Robert Turbin

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

I’m not positive if this has been tracked in his college career, but I would just like to point out that Robert “Guns” Turbin should NEVER fumble the football.  Ever.

At the cost of a 4th round draft pick – #106 overall – the Seahawks were able to draft a back who has one of the faster 40-yard dash times (4.50, with the best running back at the combine posting a 4.40 time) AND the running back who posted the most bench press reps at the NFL Combine.  Everyone sees this guy as another bruiser in the Marshawn Lynch mold, but by all accounts he’s got the quicks and lean lower-body to make people miss and to break away from the pack for long touchdowns.

Over time, I’ve come around on the issue on Running Backs.  I don’t think they should be drafted in the first round.  They need to be very special to even be taken in the second round.  But, I also don’t think you have to get them in the seventh round or pluck them from the ranks of the undrafted.  At a fourth round value, you’re still getting a back with enough ability to be an impact player in this league, while not reaching for something in an earlier round where you can get a better guy at a more important position (like either of the lines, or the QB position).

The Seahawks have been pretty thin at running back in recent years.  I mean that literally.  Justin Forsett has been our primary backup (and sometimes our starter), and while he was a nice story and a decent scat-back, he’s not the type of guy you want to rely on if your starter goes down.  Leon Washington essentially played the same role for us, but he also returned kicks.  Therefore, he had more value and received the contract extension.  Leon made Forsett expendable.  And thereby opened up a position of need for this 2012 Seahawks team.

I think they filled the spot beautifully in Turbin.  Granted, I have yet to see him play, but I think he’s going to be special.  Beastmode is obviously Beastmode and I’ll gladly root him on for the life of his contract.  But, it’ll be interesting to see what Turbin is able to bring to this team in a part-time role.  Once he gets the ins and outs of the zone blocking, one-cut rushing scheme, I think he’s going to be marvelous.

If nothing else, Guns Turbin will be exciting to watch in the pre-season.

#29 – Golden Tate

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

I can’t justify putting Tate any higher than this because the Seahawks have already done so much without him.  I mean, he has a combined 609 yards in his first two seasons, over 56 receptions.  You can’t even say his yards per reception makes him all that much of a big play threat on paper, averaging only 10.9.  Thus far, he has 3 TDs and 1 fumble.  He has essentially been a nothing.

But, he is one of the 30 most important Seahawks because in reality, he DOES have big-play potential.  And he was drafted in Carroll & Schneider’s first year here.  AND because I believe he’s one of the few locks on this team with something to prove.

They’re not going to cut Golden Tate, so let’s just get that out of the way up front.  The kid has raw talent.  And he’s had two years in the same offense, so even if he’s one of the dumbest players in football, he’s still had two years to figure some shit out.  Now, with Mike Williams’ spot vacated, this is Tate’s opportunity.  No, they’re not the same type of receiver, but it doesn’t matter.  Big Mike was taking away snaps from Tate.  Now, they can be his, if he makes the leap and earns them in Training Camp.

That’s the thing, Pete Carroll has proven he’s not just going to GIVE you plays.  You have to go out and win your playing time by showing you’re better than the other guys.  Golden Tate CAN be an elite receiver.  But, he has to want it.  He should have already studied this playbook like it’s the fucking Torah, he should have been working with quarterbacks on this playbook all offseason long, and he needs to know what routes he’s supposed to run before the quarterback has uttered a word in the huddle.

Of course, we can’t forget that Tate is already our backup return man.  Leon Washington is getting up there.  He will also figure to get a good number of 3rd down snaps at running back with no Forsett on the roster.  That should open up a couple returns a game for Tate to flash his amazing speed and shiftiness.

Yes, going into 2012, Golden Tate is our 29th most important player, but he has the potential to FAR exceed that ranking.  He just needs to fucking do it already.

Seattle Seahawks Draft Russell Wilson, Other Guys

Before my website took a huge shit in the bed, rolled around in it, then walked over and gave me a big, sloppy bear-hug, I was going to cover the Seahawks’ draft pretty extensively, as only a blogger can:  lots and lots of posts.

Instead, I’m going to grab some dinner, watch an episode of the Simpsons, and try to knock this out in one big clump.

Here’s the list, for those who like lists:

  • First Round – Bruce Irvin (DE)
  • Second Round – Bobby Wagner (MLB)
  • Third Round – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round – Greg Scruggs (DT)

Let’s just start with the bottom picks and work our way back.  Scruggs and Howard you have to figure were drafted to be defensive line depth.  With the importance of the big men along our line (guys like Mebane, Branch, and of course, Red Bryant), you really can’t have enough depth behind them.  For the purposes of rotation as well as for injury insurance.  I know nothing about either of them except that they come from bigtime college football schools, so good for them.

In keeping with that “depth” theme, you have to figure Lane and Guy are little more than Special Teamers at best.  Safety, when we’re healthy, has to be the best position on this team.  And, quite honestly, corner isn’t all that far behind.  Still, Trufant is an old man, so if either of these guys can play nickel corner, so much the better for them.

J.R. Sweezy is an interesting 7th round pick (if such a thing can exist).  You always sit up and take notice whenever a team looks to draft a guy and immediately switches his position.  Jameson Konz comes immediately to mind as a somewhat recent draft pick who has switched; though, truth be told, he was drafted more as an “athlete” than as a member of any single position.

Korey “It’s Not A” Toomer (I really hate myself right now) is a linebacker.  As a fifth round pick, you can’t immediately dismiss his chances of making an immediate impact, as Schneider and Carroll have proven fifth rounders are very real commodities.  And we all know Linebacker is a position of great need.

Yes, the Seahawks signed a couple of veterans.  Leroy Hill is back in the fold.  Barrett Ruud was signed to potentially be a veteran presence in the middle.  Matt McCoy is also back, but he’s really more of a special teamer than any kind of threat to start on this defense.

On the whole, you have to figure K.J. Wright is the only guy certain of a starting position going into this season.  I like Hill’s chances to start opposite him, but if one of our younger pick-ups proves to be adept, Hill could very well get his walking papers before the preseason is over.  And Ruud is a critical injury risk who shouldn’t be counted on for much of anything.

Especially considering the Seahawks went out and committed the Cardinal Sin of drafting a middle linebacker before the 3rd round.  You gotta figure Bobby Wagner is going to get every opportunity to win himself a starting job on this young, up-and-coming defense.  While 2nd round picks don’t have quite the cache of 1st rounders, they’re still more often than not players you can pencil into your starting lineup (unless they’re blocked by a proven veteran, which Wagner is not).

One of the two picks I’m particularly excited about (with Irvin being the other one) is Robert Turbin.  I kinda had a feeling the Seahawks might draft a running back in the third round, but the fourth is pretty close.  Why am I excited about Turbin?  Have you seen his guns???

Whichever way the beach is, it's absolutely awe-inspiring ...

I’m not gonna lie to you, I’ve got a little chub going on down there!

Dude runs a 4.5 40, has a 36 inch vertical, and he bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times!  If this guy isn’t an absolute wrecking ball, then I’ll eat my hat!

Of course, Beastmode is my guy, and I hope he stays healthy and productive throughout the life of his contract.  But, Turbin getting 5-10 carries a game will CERTAINLY raise our running game’s overall profile a great deal.  He’s going to do all those things Forsett couldn’t.  Like create his own holes, run defenders over, and absolutely destroy the seams of any long-sleeve shirt he tries to put on.

Excuse me, I need a minute.

That just leaves our two marquee names.  I’m already on record as liking the Bruce Irvin pick.  I’ll just add a couple more points to my argument.

People are saying it’s foolish to draft a guy who is only one-dimensional.  A guy who will only play a third of the downs.  To that I reply:  what exactly is that one dimension, again?  That’s right, that would be pass rushing.  We didn’t select the best defensive end in the draft, we selected the best PASS RUSHER in the draft.

Now, what was the one aspect on defense last year that we were lacking?  Oh, THAT’S RIGHT, a pass rush!  Sure, we had Chris Clemons, but we ONLY had Chris Clemons.  This guy, if he becomes as reliable as Chris Clemons has been for us in the two years since we traded for him, then he will DEFINITELY be worth the first round draft pick.

We didn’t NEED to draft a well-rounded defensive end who can play against the run.  We had one of those guys before and we gave him away for peanuts; remember Lawrence Jackson?  Yeah, did you REALLY want to see the Seahawks draft another Lawrence Jackson?  Another widebody who will eat up space and rarely get close enough to even blow kisses on the other team’s quarterback?  Because I sure as shit didn’t!

I will be absolutely elated if Bruce Irvin plays a third of our downs this year.  Because that means we’re forcing teams into a lot of 3rd down situations.  And because, Jesus Christ, he’s a fucking ROOKIE!  Cut him some slack!  He hasn’t even stepped foot onto the football field and we’re already making ultimatums!

Guys drafted at the 15th overall spot aren’t exactly slam dunks, all right?  Those other ends we passed on, there’s no guaranteeing that they’ll be anywhere near as good as people projected them to be!  At least with Irvin, we know he has a skill:  he’s fast.  Everything else:  technique, you can teach; size & strength, you can have him bulk up; savvy, that comes with the experience of playing the game.

Sure, he might only be playing a third of the downs NOW.  But, in a couple years, when we rid ourselves of Chris Clemons, he should be poised to take over on an every-down basis.  Then, we’ll see.  We’ll see whether the nay-sayers are right or not.

Finally, there’s Russell Wilson.  Quarterback from Wisconsin.  For a while there last year, he was in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy.  He threw for over 3,000 yards, with nearly a 73% completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.  He led his team to a Big Ten championship and came within seven points of the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.

And, if you added another 3 inches of height, you’d be talking about a Top 5 NFL Draft Pick.  MAYBE even the number one overall pick in any year that Andrew Luck didn’t come out.

People are flabbergasted about this pick.  Honestly, I don’t know why!  John Schneider comes from an organization that was CONSTANTLY drafting quarterbacks!  You want to read some intelligent football analysis?  Read the TMQ.  His pre-draft column is particularly insightful for his section on quarterbacks.

The quarterback is the most important position on your team.  Therefore, if you don’t have a Sure Thing (like an Aaron Rodgers, a Drew Brees, a Tom Brady, etc.), then there is no EXCUSE for you to NOT take a quarterback!  And, just because you drafted a quarterback last year, or because you brought one in via free agency (like we did with Flynn), that doesn’t mean you just STOP!  We don’t know what we have with Flynn!  We think he’ll be pretty good, but you never know.  You never know about ANYONE!

Aaron Rodgers could get his leg snapped in half in Green Bay’s first preseason game and be out for the year.  So, would it be a bad idea to draft for some depth before that becomes a reality?  And if you have a recent draft pick already on your roster, is a little competition a BAD thing?

No way.  The Seahawks have Matt Flynn, projected starter.  They have Tarvar, projected backup.  And they have Josh Portis, projected Practice Squad Guy.  Just because Josh Portis wowed some of us in a few preseason snaps last year doesn’t automatically earn him that coveted third string slot on the team!

Yes, I know, the height.  Height is always an issue.  Look at the numbers, the odds are astronomically against this kid!  Just like they are for 5’8 point guards in the NBA.  But, every so often, an Isaiah Thomas breaks through and makes a name for himself.  It takes someone strong of will, strong of character, strong of heart, and strong of brains.  You’ve got to have the drive to put in hours upon hours of practice, the focus to watch hours upon hours of tape.  And you’ve got to have the same skill as any number of people taller than you, so you can say, “If I was taller, I’d be a Number 1 pick.”

What’s the difference between Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin, III?  About three inches, and that’s it.

I like the move.  Depth and competition.  The Seahawks don’t have NEARLY as many holes as a lot of fans like to believe.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider have filled the bulk of those holes over the last two offseasons.  Now, it’s all about creating depth and competition.

Fight for those jobs, Seahawks!  Fight for your very lives!

Marcus Trufant Is Released As The Great Purge Continues

The following are the players currently under contract who played under Mike Holmgren (who, again, left the team after the 2008 season):

  • Ben Obomanu
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jon Ryan

For the record, Red Bryant was drafted in Holmgren’s final season, but he isn’t currently under contract.  Ditto John Carlson, who I believe will sign elsewhere.  Ditto Justin Forsett, ditto he’s as good as gone.  Other free agents who once played for Holmgren and are likely gone include:  David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill.

When all is said and done and Red Bryant re-signs, there will be a total of 4 players on this team who were on the team back in 2008.  That’s because Marcus Trufant was released today.

Trufant has played 9 seasons in the NFL after being drafted 11th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft.  We passed on such guys as Troy Polamalu, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Charles Tillman, which doesn’t even mention Dallas Clark, who sure could’ve solved our tight end woes in Super Bowl XL.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  We took Marcus Trufant, and I don’t think that was such a bad thing.

He always got a bad rap for being injured and for not generating turnovers.  Neither one of those accusations I find fair or legitimate.  Yes, it was unfortunate he was injured for the playoffs in the 2006 season, but I would hardly place all the blame on him for us getting beat by the Bears (safety play was abysmal in that game, a testament to the overtime bomb Grossman threw to get in field goal range).  Trufant only really missed significant time in 2009 and 2011, when you could argue his body started breaking down due to wear & tear.

And, as for the turnovers, it’s kinda hard to make much of an impact when quarterbacks rarely make an effort to throw in your direction.  He still managed 7 picks in the 2007 season, when he earned his first and only Pro Bowl selection.

Trufant wasn’t the greatest cornerback ever, which might make it seem like a disappointment what with him being an 11th overall draft pick, but going into 9 straight seasons, you knew exactly what you had with Trufant.  You could write him in as a starting cornerback and you didn’t have to worry about whether he could hold his own or not.  He just balled.

The question now is:  Does Marcus Trufant Belong In The Ring Of Honor?

I say yes.  He’s without a doubt the best cornerback that’s ever played for the Seahawks.  He’s a local product and a fan favorite.  And in spite of the fact that he’s being released, he’s still got some gas left in the tank.  I think the Seahawks will do the right thing eventually.  He’ll just have to wait in line behind guys like Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck.