Can The Seahawks Maintain Their Hot Start?

This Seahawks team sure looks more special than I expected. I feel like we’re one more win away from a guaranteed 5-0 start; we just have to get over this Dallas Cowboys hurdle.

While the Seahawks appear special, that’s not the same thing as them being dominant. The defense is still just as much of a liability as it’s been the last couple seasons, worsened by the season-ending injuries to Marquise Blair and Bruce Irvin. The Irvin injury feels like a real crusher. He obviously hasn’t had a ton of sacks or anything through the first two games, but he provided plenty of value along that defensive line in many ways, from run stuffing, to at least getting pressure on the quarterback from time to time. You just knew he was going to have some real blow-up games at some point, coming up big in key moments, so it’s almost a tragedy to see him go.

By comparison, the Blair injury doesn’t seem as bad because we have lots of guys behind him who are able to step up. But, we’ll never know! How could we? Maybe Blair has All Pro-level talent, and that’s been taken from us. The Alternate Universe Seahawks are probably enjoying all that he has to offer, but I don’t live in that universe, so nuts to that!

I just don’t see a lot of great options – either on this team, or in the free agent market – to replace someone like Irvin. It’s going to be a severe downgrade any way you slice it. Maybe one of the young linebackers currently on the team can provide better speed at that SAM spot, but you probably lose some of the power and definitely lose the pass rushing ability (on a team that, obviously, struggles at that aspect as it is).

On the plus side, maybe this is an opportunity for Shaquem Griffin to make an impact! I hope so; I think he has just what this team needs.

Anyway, getting back, yeah, this defense IS a liability. But, we’ve seen shaky defenses propped up by elite offenses before, and this offense is 100% elite right now! It’s right up there with Kansas City and Baltimore (though, obviously they have an edge with superior defenses). We’ve also seen shaky defenses get better as seasons progress. As the weather cools and passing games cool right along with it, it becomes more important to stop the run as we get into December and January, which is when this team could really come together.

The Seahawks have also been challenged by some pretty strong offenses through two weeks; Atlanta’s passing game looks as good as anyone’s, and New England will continue to play well as long as Cam is healthy and Belichick is breathing. Dallas, this week, is a continuation of that: Top 5 passer, lots of weapons to throw to, and probably the best running back still healthy at the moment. As far as our non-divisional schedule is concerned, this is our most difficult remaining game outside of the Buffalo contest in early November. So, when I say if we can get through this one with a W, 5-0 is VERY much on the table, as we go to Miami the following week, before hosting the hapless Vikings after that (in primetime, no less).

It’s hard to figure out where the Cowboys are as a team. I think it’s pretty clear they’re the best team in the NFC East right now, but is that saying much? All the other teams in that division are bumbling along pretty pitifully. Is this a situation where Dallas might win a playoff spot with an 8-8 record? I feel like they’re a play here or a play there from either being 0-2 or 2-0. They almost came back to beat the Rams in Week 1 (a bogus OPI penalty on Michael Gallup was particularly galling). But, at the same time, they really SHOULD have lost to the Falcons last week (if anyone on Atlanta’s Special Teams was smart enough to fall on a spinning football during an onside kick before it went the necessary 10 yards for the kicking team to recover), so it’s tough to say how good or bad Dallas is. I believe the Rams are a top tier football team, and while Atlanta probably isn’t so great, their offense is explosive enough to give any defense fits.

Based on what I’ve seen, I know enough to be wary of these Cowboys. Given how balanced and talented they are on offense, they should have no trouble moving the football (made even easier, obviously, by the lack of fans in the stands) against our nothing defense. At the same time, nothing about Dallas’ defense scares me if I’m the Seahawks offense. I think this one is destined to be another high-scoring shootout.

The same keys find their way into any pre-game analysis when you’re talking about the difference between winning and losing. 3rd/4th down conversions, TD/FG percentage, penalties, run/pass ratio & efficiency. But, I think this is going to boil down to turnovers. It seems like these two offenses are so similar, that they should be able to move the ball at will and do whatever they want. Therefore, critical turnovers could play a huge part in determining the outcome of this game.

You could see that in the Pats game as well. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but the Patriots converted a Pick-Six, while the Seahawks dropped a chance at returning the favor. Had the Seahawks played a clean game from a turnover perspective, we would’ve witnessed another double-digit victory. I think there’s a CHANCE for that to happen here, but it’s going to require the Seahawks not shooting themselves in the foot.

With the way our offense is rolling, the only team that can beat the Seahawks IS the Seahawks.

Right now, all the MVP hype in the world is on Russell Wilson’s jock, and for good reason. He’s been nearly-flawless. Of course, the MVP through two weeks has rarely been the MVP at the end of the season. For the Seahawks to continue to be special, they’re going to need him to keep this up, especially against the very best teams on our schedule (like Dallas). There will be opportunities for the Seahawks defense to shine; bad teams are coming! But, I don’t believe Dallas is among them, and it’s going to take everything we’ve got to keep the good times going.

Ezekiel Elliott has always destroyed us, even when our defenses were great. While this is good for my fantasy team, it’s bad for the Seahawks. But, in spite of that, I think I’m more afraid of Dak Prescott and this passing game. Imagine how tough New England was, only if they had more than one good receiver. Dallas is rolling three deep! They’re fast, they’re big, and they can make plays anywhere on the field. Amari Cooper is always a tough matchup for us, but I’m watching out for CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. With the way our secondary has given up big plays down field through two games (likely having a lot to do with our complete and utter lack of a pass rush), I see no reason for that not to continue. We’re still working in new guys (Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar, most notably), and now we’re getting over the loss of Marquise Blair (who factored heavily in our defensive scheme this season); this is not the best time to try to take on this Dallas passing attack.

The ace up our sleeve in this one might be the Cowboys’ head coach, Mike McCarthy. His teams tend to make some baffling decisions on offense, which could conceivably work in our favor. Then again, his Green Bay Packers teams in recent years have had their way with us, and those teams weren’t nearly as stacked as these Cowboys are.

I nevertheless expect a narrow Seahawks victory in this one. I won’t rule out a blowout one way or the other, though, because while I do believe the Seahawks are the superior team, we’re a mediocre Russell Wilson performance away from losing by double digits (or being so far out of it that a garbage-time score still leaves us woefully behind with no time left in the game). I won’t go so far as to say I know this offense has a few duds in it, but I will say I haven’t TOTALLY bought into the sea change we’ve seen through two weeks. I keep expecting the other shoe to drop. I hope I’m wrong!

It would be nice to see a shocking level of competence out of this defense, though. Two weeks should be enough time for this staff to coach up some guys and figure out what tweaks they need to make. We were close to getting – on a number of occasions – Cam Newton on his ass last week, and he just barely weaseled his way out of trouble. Dak is sort of a younger version of that, but I would argue he’s easier to get down as he isn’t quite as big and strong. I hope we’re able to learn from those missed sacks and do a better job of wrapping up; at the very least, force the quarterback to throw it away rather than escape for a huge gain.

5-0 is within range. I can taste it! We’re going to need it too, because the rest of the NFC West (sans San Francisco) looks pretty fucking great. Arizona looks a lot better than I expected, and I already expected them to give us fits whenever we match up against them. The Rams, I think, are still the team to beat. But, I bet their fans are saying the same thing about the Seahawks right now.

In the end, it’s going to come down to conference record (and record against common opponents), so this Dallas game is HUGE! It’s the first game that meets both of those criteria; I would love nothing more than to get this leg-up (or, at the very least, keep up with the Rams’ leg, since they already beat the Cowboys in Week 1).

Is This A Joke?

I wasn’t going to write about this when I first heard about it last night, because it’s pointless and stupid.  It’s a list, of the 32 NFL head coaches, ranked in order of best to worst.  I guess.  Anyway, it’s dumb.  Everyone makes lists all the time and they’re all retarded, except this guy KINDA takes the cake.

Remember the name Elliot Harrison, because this guy’s going places.  I mean, if he can generate this type of chatter in the middle of July, he must be pushing just the right buttons.

I’ll get to what’s really grinding my gears in a bit, but first, I’ll just say that for the most part, I don’t have a problem with this guy’s rankings.  The guys at the bottom are there for a reason – they lack NFL head coaching experience.  I might have ranked Gus Bradley a little higher, partly because I’m biased and partly because I like to look at someone’s potential when I do these types of things.  I think Gus Bradley has a chance to be great.  And, I think the Jags will be one of the most improved teams this year.  So, to get in on the ground floor, I probably would have put Gus around 20 or 19 or something.

I would have put Jason Garrett dead last.  He is, BY FAR, the worst head coach of them all.  I know he doesn’t get many favors from his GM (except further employment for some ungodly reason), but he has bungled more than his fair share of games and probably should’ve been fired a season or two ago.

I also think Joe Philbin is a ninny and should be placed closer to the bottom than he already is.

I’m a little higher on Ron Rivera and probably would’ve put him in the mid-teens.  I think Rex Ryan’s coasting on his AFC Championship games he had way back when and isn’t nearly as good as his ranking.  Mike Smith is probably a little too high, as is John Fox, but really, these are all minor quibbles.

Pete Carroll is ranked 7th.  In a vacuum, that doesn’t sound so bad.  If I looked at him, then shut my eyes, and tried to think of a good ranking for him, I feel like the number 7 would pop right into my mind.  But, that’s without any consideration for the other coaches listed above him.

Mike McCarthy is ranked 6th.  Say what?

Tom Coughlin is ranked 5th.  Ehh, that feels right.  Guy has been around a long time, has a couple championships to his name.  Yeah, he’s missed the playoffs a few times, but the guy has made a champion of Eli Manning twice over!

John Harbaugh is ranked 4th.  Again, I’d probably rank him ahead of Pete Carroll as well.  He’s had a lot of sustained success since he got the head coaching job with the Ravens.  They share the same number of championships; I’m okay with that.

Here’s where it gets me – and I’m sure it was intentional.  Jim Harbaugh is ranked 3rd.  You see, this is the genius of Elliot Harrison.  Ideally, if he wants to piss off any fanbase, it’s probably that of the Patriots.  They’re the loudest and most easily-peeved by any slight against them.  But, to do so would have meant ranking Harbaugh over Bill Belichick, and that’s just insanity.  Belichick might go down as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.  To rank anyone ahead of him would immediately render his list as invalid.

So, instead, Elliot Harrison decided to troll TWO fanbases – Seattle & Baltimore – by not only ranking our most hated rival FOUR SPOTS ahead of Pete Carroll, but also ranking the wrong Harbaugh brother ahead of the other.

Let me see if I get this straight:  the two Harbaugh boys coached against one another in the Super Bowl before last, and the LOSER of said Super Bowl ends up getting ranked ahead of the victor?  Just because he’s 3 for 3 in NFC Championship appearances, that gets him the nod?  Even though John Harbaugh had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, making three AFC Championship Games and the aforementioned Super Bowl victory over his brother … he gets docked a point for missing the playoffs one time?  Are you KIDDING ME?

I think I’m more upset about this whole John/Jim fiasco than I am with Harbaugh being ranked so far ahead of Pete Carroll.

You want my opinion?  Here’s my top ten (I’m not going all the way to 32, because what’s the point?):

  1. Bill Belichick
  2. Sean Payton
  3. John Harbaugh
  4. Tom Coughlin
  5. Pete Carroll
  6. Jim Harbaugh
  7. Andy Reid
  8. Jeff Fisher
  9. Lovie Smith
  10. Mike Tomlin

Now there’s a ranking that’s somewhat respectable.  But, it’s not a ranking that’s necessarily going to draw a bunch of fire from pissed off fanbases.  It’s just a ranking that makes SENSE.  Jim Harbaugh inherited a team that already had a ton of talent on it.  Pete Carroll, and some of these other coaches ahead of Harbaugh, took over teams that were pretty bad.  They’ve BUILT something.  They’re not living off of the success of previous regimes.  You know what’s going to happen when the talent on the 49ers gets too old?  You’re going to see Jim Harbaugh start missing the playoffs more and more.

However, the Seahawks – a team not afraid to play younger guys at key positions – should be able to regenerate on a yearly basis, thanks to Pete Carroll’s coaching style and philosophy.

I’ll say this:  this Elliot Harrison guy’s rankings will look a lot different next year, after the Seahawks are coming off their second of two championship seasons.