Husky Football Starts Tonight At Boise State

The Broncos are ranked in the top 25 in both polls; the Huskies are not.  That’s pretty much what you need to know about the game tonight.

Not a lot of people very high on the Washington Husky football team this year.  I think too much is made of all the defensive studs who left after last year.  Yeah, Shaq and Kikaha and Peters and Shelton were all great, but that defense as a whole last year was pretty underwhelming.  If the 2015 Huskies are bad, it won’t necessarily be exclusively the fault of the defense.

As usual, it comes down to quarterback play.  This year, we’ll be without Cyler Miles.  Say what you will about him, but if he were healthy and in a football frame of mind, he’d be the clear best option.  Now, does that mean he’d be any good?  Or that he has very much upside?  I don’t think so.  If you feel like this Husky team is in more of a rebuilding mode for 2015 regardless of whether or not Miles was going to be here, then it’s probably for the best that he’s not.  Let’s see who else we have on the roster; let’s see if – by season’s end – we haven’t found a star in our midst.

The 3-way battle – between Junior, Jeff Lindquist; Redshirt Freshman, K.J. Carta-Samuels; and True Freshman, Jake Browning – has all boiled down to tonight.  The coaches haven’t named a starter, but it would appear Browning is going to get the first crack at it.  I still don’t fully believe the team is going to stick to just one quarterback, as I think at least two will get regular play.  Browning is probably the better passer and quarterback overall, but he’s straight out of high school.  Ultimately, the move to burn his redshirt will probably be a huge mistake.  I tend to agree with the concept that true freshmen should never play bigtime college football; ALL of them should be given a year to adapt to college life, and get bigger and stronger.  The concern is really twofold though, when you’re talking about a highly touted talent like Browning.  The most likely scenario is:  he struggles, he loses his confidence, he gets injured, or some combination of the three.  The flipside of that is:  maybe he succeeds and ends up as this team’s starting quarterback for 3-4 years, but maybe he’s not quite as great as he could be, and when we get to the end of his college career – right as he’d be about to explode as one of the best players in the conference – he’s forced into turning pro before we get a chance at having him play his very best ball.

Obviously, that second scenario is a good problem to have, because it likely means we’ve had a successful 3-4 years.  But, I think we can all agree – however this turns out – 5th Year Senior Jake Browning would be a much better player than 4th Year Senior Jake Browning.

If you want my prediction, I think Browning does start tonight, and I think he does struggle during his true freshman campaign.  I also think he gets hit with the injury bug, because there’s no way I’m ever going to trust a Husky offensive line until they finally prove it to me.  The O-Line has been an issue for at least a decade now, and while help should be on the horizon with some of the better recruits we’ve gotten under Coach Pete, I don’t anticipate the O-Line being much of a strength in 2015.  Even if Browning doesn’t get injured, I still believe Lindquist will have his share of reps.  Maybe he comes in for a drive or two per game.  Maybe he has a sub package where we can utilize his running ability and/or cannon arm.

Either way, though, I don’t expect 2015 to be a banner year for the quarterback position.  Which is why I tend to believe this Husky team is going to struggle.  A lot.

At the moment, the Huskies have six ranked teams on their schedule – Boise St., USC, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, and Arizona St.  That doesn’t include a very tough Utah team, an improving California team, a road game against Oregon State, and an Apple Cup against what I feel will be an explosive Washington State team.  As it stands right now, the Huskies are favored to win 4 games, and two of those games are against non-conference duds.  Most of the betting public has the Huskies winning anywhere from 4-5 games; I think five wins might be pretty generous.  I can envision a scenario where the Huskies get beat by the entire Pac-12 and finish last in the conference (unfortunately, no Colorado on the schedule this year).

Did I mention John Ross is out for the year, and we haven’t even played a game?

I don’t see much of any hope for this team making a bowl game, but if they do, it starts tonight.  The Huskies will have to run the table in the non-conference schedule, and follow that up with a home win against the Bears.  That puts us at 4-0, which is where we’ll need to be, because I guarantee we’re going to lose at least the next three games (@ USC, home vs. Oregon, @ Stanford).  We follow that stretch with two home games against Arizona and Utah; we have to win 1 of those 2.  That should give us 2 quality wins, which sets us up for getting pounded down at Arizona State, followed by winning the last two, at Oregon State and vs. Washington State.  That gets us to 7 wins, and 7 wins probably gets us a bowl.  If these Huskies are like the Husky teams of the last five years, that’s exactly what they’ll do and it’ll be like Sark never left (except, I guess there’s now more booze for the rest of us to share).

But, I hardly see that happening.  For this team to be reasonably good, we’re going to need steady play from our receivers.  Mickens is going to have to be a true #1 receiver, and Pettis will need to take a step up after a promising Freshman season.

We’re going to need to lean HEAVILY on our running game.  One of Coleman, Cooper, or Washington will have to step up and be a huge force for this team.

The defense will need to not be a wet paper bag.  Gonna have to find a way to bend & not break.  The secondary has a lot of talent, but who knows if the front seven is going to get enough push to let them do their thing?

And the quarterback is going to need to be more than just a game manager who avoids turnovers.  Make no mistake, he will NEED to avoid turnovers, but he also better be someone who’s got that clutchness gene.  This isn’t going to be a Husky team that rampages through the conference.  If this team is going to win games, it’s going to win CLOSE games.

Gun to my head:  I’m going with the majority and saying the Huskies win 4 games.  I think we’re for sure going to lose tonight, and I have a bad feeling it’s going to be by a lot of points.  I think half our wins come from the non-conference duds, our third win probably comes from either Cal or Utah, and our last win happens at Oregon State (here’s to hoping they’re a total trainwreck and keep us from being last).  For what it’s worth, I think the Cougars beat us in the Apple Cup and I think Luke Falk ends up being the next Ryan Leaf (in other words, a good thing for the Cougs, and a very bad thing for whoever drafts him #2 overall in the NFL).

In Coach Pete We Trust?  Maybe in 2016.

Aaron Curry: The End of the End

The beginning, the middle, and now here’s the end.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Can’t say as I’m surprised by this turn of events.  Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to take.

As a fan, you tie your biggest hopes around your team’s high draft choices.  Those are the guys who are SUPPOSED to be good.  And, if you’re drafting high enough (as the Seahawks did in 2009), that generally means your team is really bad and you NEED those players to be good.  Really good.  Pro Bowl good.

Personally, I like a guy who’s got crazy talent but hasn’t yet put it together.  You’ll see that a lot with pitching prospects:  guys who are all over the place in the strike zone, but who throw in the upper 90s with lots of natural movement.  There are guys who are just once-in-a-lifetime phenoms (like, say, Peyton Manning or Tim Lincecum); there are guys who have talent, but it takes them a while to put it all together (Randy Johnson, Shawn Kemp); there are guys who aren’t quite so talented and/or are undersized, but they’re smart and hard workers and they put every ounce of who they are into being the best they can be (Jamie Moyer, Zach Thomas); there are guys who have talent, but they’re just too dumb or lazy or unwilling to do what it takes to be the best they can be (Ryan Leaf, Brian Bosworth); and then there’s everyone else, they’re just average.

I always held out hope that Aaron Curry would be one of those super-talented, freakish athletes who would eventually figure it all out, have everything click, and start dominating like he was always supposed to.  Part of me thinks he never got a fair shake, what with the coaching turnover and player turnover.  Part of me thinks he’s been misused this whole time and if we only had a competent defensive coordinator, we’d really have something here.

But, the other part of me thinks that it shouldn’t take this long.  The linebacker particularly isn’t particularly hard (compared to other positions on the football field); linebackers are a dime a dozen!  If a team can take a 4th round rookie and make him a starting NFL linebacker in 1 month’s time, then there HAS to be something wrong with the #4 overall pick who’s had well over 2 years to figure it the fuck out.

On the one hand, I feel bad.  I wanted so desperately for it to work out for the Seahawks and Aaron Curry.  I wanted him to end up as one of my favorite Seahawks of all time.  To be a Ring of Honor candidate sometime.

On the other hand, good for him.  I hate the Raiders, but I hope he’s able to do some good for them.  Rattle some cages.  Make a name for himself.  Put himself in that group of players who DO figure it the fuck out eventually.

In return, it sounds like we’re getting a 7th round pick next year and a mid-round pick in 2013.  Whatever.  It’s all a crapshoot, but with the way Carroll and Schneider evaluate talent, they might actually turn this trade into a huge win for us!  Or not.

What Should The Seahawks Draft? – Quarterback

This one is a tricky one for me to wrap my head around.  I’d almost rather we totally tank, get the number one pick for NEXT year’s draft, and take the Andrew Luck Train all the way to multiple championships.  In which case, my previous point about bolstering the offensive line is pretty apt; better to have the solid O-line in place for the new quarterback than to get the new quarterback and watch him get killed season after season while you try to piecemeal some protection around his fragile, inexperienced body.

THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, really, we REALLY can’t keep putting this off.  REALLY!  Good teams have succession plans in place, so they can seamlessly transition from over-the-hill veteran to rising superstar tenderfoot.  Green Bay has been the NFL’s how-to manual in this regard with their Favre to Rodgers switch.  New England also hit the jackpot in going from Bledsoe to Brady.  San Francisco may have had the best quarterback hierarchy in history going from Montana to Young.

Of course, those teams are in the extreme minority.  Most of the time, teams wait too long with their veteran quarterbacks.  The more Hall of Fame-worthy they are, the longer they’re forced to wait for their legend to retire.  Oftentimes, the retirement comes all at once, with no plan whatsoever in place (see:  Elway, Marino, Esiason, Jim Kelly).  Those teams, for all intents and purposes, have never recovered from their all pro field generals; they’re still waiting for the quarterback transition to gain traction where the new guys start leading the teams to victory again.  Sometimes this takes many, many tries.

So, yeah, we can’t keep putting this off or else we’ll lose Hasselbeck and won’t have anyone good to replace him!  We’ll struggle to .500 records like we did all through the 90s, maybe we’ll take a flier on a hall of fame vet on his very last legs (like we did with Warren Moon), we’ll stick with an underachiever for too long because – in comparison to all the other stiffs we draft in that time – he looks the best (like we did with Jon Kitna).  I don’t want to go through the 90s again with my football team.  Because I don’t have the 90s Sonics to fall back on when NFL standings get me down.

That’s the immovable object in this whole equation.  Now, onto the unstoppable force:

Drafting a quarterback might as well be like playing the Lotto!  How could you possibly know which guy is the right guy?  Who could’ve seen Tom Brady coming?  What made Donovan McNabb a success while Akili Smith was a bust?  Why is Eli Manning a Super Bowl calibre guy while Joey Harrington is a flag football calibre guy?  Who’s going to be the huge talent with the biggest gun while simultaneously being the biggest headcase with a huge appetite for donuts?

I hate this.  I hate drafting quarterbacks higher than the 4th round.  The higher the round, the more expectations.  If they don’t come out of the box on fire, then fans get antsy and the quarterbacks themselves start to press and struggle.  If you go to all the trouble of drafting a quarterback in the first round, AND they suck, there’s always going to be incentive to keep giving them chance after chance after chance.  Hell, look at the professional arc of Ryan Leaf’s career; that’s really all you need to know.

On the plus side, teams seem to be getting better at drafting their higher end QBs.  Guys like Flacco, Ryan, Stafford, and Bradford are starting right out of the gate and producing at a high level.  Rookies are making playoff appearances and getting wins!

This begs the question, though:  did they just get lucky, or are teams REALLY drafting better?  We’ll find out this year.  It’s looking like a supremely DOWN year at the position.  I’m not buying Cam Newton for one buttfucking second.  Jake Locker is looking an awful lot like a faster version of Charlie Whitehurst.  The other guys all have their flaws and I think this year’s draft will be lucky to see one team actually get its “Quarterback of the Future” and have that future be anything but ass-sucking.

We draft at spot number 25.  Granted:  that’s right around where Rodgers went.  Will the next Aaron Rodgers fall in this year’s draft like he did in his?  If so, then In Schneider I Trust.  If not, this is NOT the year to start reaching for a “project”.  I’ve seen too damn many projects in my day.  Ever since Dave Krieg went down for the count, I’ve seen nothing but projects, game managers, and Matt Hasselbeck!  I want more!  And dammit, I DESERVE more!

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 134

It must be the beginning of September in a massive toothache of a season … gotta come up with SOMETHING to write about.  And, apparently that means investigating a AA reliever we got in the Cliff Lee deal and whether or not the Mariners knew they were getting a huge rape-bag beforehand.  Yeah, I get it.  He’s kind of a scumbag.  He (I don’t even know if “allegedly” is necessary but I’ll say it anyway) ALLEGEDLY date-raped some drunk chick and then pled No Contest to some kind of kidnapping that netted him 40-something days in jail.  Josh Lueke probably isn’t a guy I would ever want to hang around, but thankfully I’m nobody so the opportunity won’t ever come up.  Here’s the thing.  I know this is me being ignorant or stupid or an asshole or whatever … but I don’t give a shit.  I really don’t.  As a fan of a sports team, I don’t know shit about these players in their personal lives.  They could be as racist as Ty Cobb, as kill-crazy as Ted Bundy, or just an all-around prick like Ryan Leaf.  But, if that never gets made public, I’ll never know.  Ichiro could be secretly drowning kittens; Felix might burn orphans at the stake.  Assuming they did that, and I never heard about it, it would still make them horrible people … yet I’m a fan.  I don’t care that Josh Lueke date-rapes drunk girls on a regular basis or he was just mixed up in one bad judgment-filled night.  I care that he can help this organization by being one stud of a major league reliever.  I want to see him smoking high-90s fastballs in a Mariners uniform, therefore I don’t care what he does in his private life.

Twenty Ten Seahawks Schedule

I don’t know how this momentous event slipped past my notice, but the schedule has been released. At first VERY brief glance, it seems a little more reasonable than last year’s (in that there aren’t any freakish late-mid-season three-consecutive-road-games packed in there.

And … only 3 preseason games? That’s kinda odd I guess.

So, early prognostication has the division in the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. I can’t argue with that at all. Alex Smith looked reasonable towards the end of last year – developed quite the rapport with Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree flashed signs that his hold-out for more money was deserved – and they appear to have the most stable offensive line (with the most depth too). Given that their defense is pretty solid, their running game stout, and their coaching staff breathing, all Alex Smith has to do is not revert to Ryan Leaf status and they should be okay; possibly even better than okay.

Of course, the Cardinals and their fans might have something to say. Namely that losing a quarterback doesn’t necessarily eliminate a 2-time defending division champ from contention. I think the Seahawks would have something to say about that, but nevertheless, the Cards have a good team … and Matt Leinart. AND, they lost Anquan Boldin, which I bet will be a bigger hit than they’re anticipating; let’s just say Steve Breaston isn’t scaring anyone.

I’m not going to come on here and say the Seahawks are being overlooked in the slightest. Yeah, I and many of my colleagues who think we know more about sports than the average monkey (aka anyone who works for ESPN) all like what Seattle did over the draft weekend. But, let’s just say one weekend doesn’t immediately rectify 9 wins over the last 2 seasons.

The best players we got are still rookies, and no matter how NFL-ready everyone says they are, there’s still a learning curve (see: the safest pick of the 2009 draft, aka Aaron Curry). The offensive line is still thin and most of them are uncomfortable-at-best working in the zone blocking scheme. Even if they do manage to gel into a cohesive unit by the start of the regular season, we’re not exactly deep at any of the positions along the line. That doesn’t even BEGIN to describe our problems along the defensive line! Best case scenario for getting pressure on quarterbacks next year will be to leave our secondary alone in 1-on-1 situations. Not ideal.

And forget about Matt Hasselbeck, who’s always in the Best Shape Of His Life coming into the season before succumbing to some sort of flukey-yet-debilitating injury.

Let’s just put everything aside and look at the slate of games with rose-colored glasses.

Week 1 vs. San Francisco – if we’re going to do anything this year, we have to jump out and shock a divisional opponent. Especially at home.

Week 2 @ Denver
Week 3 vs. San Diego – two very lose-able games against the AFC West. I wouldn’t expect too much.

Week 4 @ St. Louis – the first of only 3 games that start at 10am Pacific Time; and this doesn’t even count because it’s the Rams. Lose this and it’ll be a long season.

Week 5 – BYE
Week 6 @ Chicago – the 2nd of the early games; very interesting matchup. The Bears might be the most improved team next year if Cutler can pull his head out of his ass.

Week 7 vs. Arizona
Week 8 @ Oakland
Week 9 vs. NY Giants
Week 10 @ Arizona
Week 11 @ New Orleans – an insanely difficult road to hoe. Tack on the Chicago game, and these are 6 entirely lose-able games. Count out the Saints, the Giants, and one of the Cardinals games at a minimum; and watch out for Oakland. Without Jamarcus Russell to kick around anymore, they’re definitely on the hook for the Addition By Subtraction award for 2010. Also, this is probably the likeliest stretch where we get our first look at Whitehurst; I’m putting the over/under for Matt Hasselbeck’s major injury at 6 weeks.

Week 12 vs. Kansas City
Week 13 vs. Carolina – this would be a nice time to get a little win streak going; it doesn’t get much easier than this.

Week 14 @ San Francisco
Week 15 vs Atlanta – to be different, I’m making the Falcons my NFC South pick to win the division. At the very least, I’ll have them in the playoffs as a wild card team. Respek

Week 16 @ Tampa Bay
Week 17 vs St. Louis – a soft landing for what I’m predicting to be a 7-9 campaign. If Charlie Whitehurst is going to be anybody, he’s going to have to show up for these last two games and impress the hell out of a lot of people. A lot of pressure on the kid’s back if he’s going to replace a future Ring Of Honor member.