Not Winners & Losers Of The Seahawks’ Game At Denver

We’re running it back for the regular season!  No winners or losers here!  Just some shit about this game off the top of my head!

The Seahawks went into Denver yesterday, took a short-lived 7-0 lead, lost it through most of the rest of the game, then took a short-lived 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter, before losing 27-24.  We had so many chances in the end to come back to either tie or win it, but the offense stumbled and that was that.  The Seahawks are 0-1 after one game, and absolutely ARE who we thought they were.

What I’m Geeked Out About After One Game

This is the part where I talk about the small handful of things I really loved about the game we just watched.  And, while it’s already starting to get old to a lot of people, how can you not be absolutely raving about Michael Dickson?!

6 punts for a 59-yard average, and I believe Hawkblogger said a 57.5 yard net?  That is IN-sane.  I mean, honestly, I know it sucks when the Seahawks’ offense sucks, but I love to watch that guy walk away (after watching him boom a football 70 yards through the air) or something.

I’m also pretty geeked out about Uncle Will’s 105 yards on 3 catches with a TD.  Because how could you NOT be?  That dude is a villain!  BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP BLAP!

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

I think we’re all in agreement that Rashaad Penny is a first round bust and a wasted draft pick at this point, right?  We’re all in agreement?  Oh, we’re not?  Well, at least we can all agree that, at this time, Chris Carson is the unquestioned best running back on this team, and absolutely should NOT be on an even timeshare with Penny, and not just because it will cripple my fantasy team if he isn’t the bellcow I expected him to be!

Carson is explosive, he’s good in between the tackles, he’s good in the open field, he runs through guys, he jumps OVER guys, he catches the ball pretty well.  He does everything you want out of an All Pro running back, so just lean on him!

I’ll also say that Tyler Lockett and Brandon Marshall both caught my eye (in a good way) with their TDs, particularly that sweet long bomb to Lockett for 51 yards.

Also, it was around this time a week ago where we could’ve made the argument that the Seahawks had the very worst safety situation in all of football.  Then, Earl Thomas returned, and balance was restored to The Force or some shit.  One pick by E.T., TWO picks by Bradley McDougald, as these three turnovers really kept the Seahawks in the game when things looked like Denver might run away with it.  I still believe the Seahawks should’ve traded Thomas for whatever they could get, but damn is it nice to see him out there again!

Let’s Talk About Competitions

This section feels more appropriate for the pre-season, but on this team I feel like competition is going to be ongoing.

For instance, yes Shaquem Griffin got the start in place of K.J. Wright, but don’t Wally Pipp the veteran just yet, because Griffin regularly saw his ass pulled from the game for various miscues.  Missed tackles, poor angles, lack of contain … all HUGE no-no’s in Pete Carroll’s book.  Austin Calitro saw playing time in his place and looked marginally better, but I’m going out on a limb and saying I can’t wait for K.J. to come back.  I have enough concerns about this defense as it is, I don’t want to have to think about the play of the linebackers!

Also, Tre Flowers got the start opposite Shaquill Griffin, as what’s his name got put on IR this week.  Flowers played almost all defensive snaps and honestly didn’t look great.  But, then again, no one in the cornerback room should be applauding themselves, because Case Keenum was able to complete 25/39 for 329, an 8.4 yard average.  I mean, if Keenum is going to do that to us, what’s going to happen when we get to the Rams, the Lions, the Packers, the Vikings, and so on and so forth?  Those QBs are going to eat us alive!  Can Akeem King really be THAT bad?  I think we need to really ramp up this cornerback competition and see what we’ve got there, because I just don’t know if Flowers is going to have what it takes to hack it long term.  Feels like too much too soon for him right now.

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

I hope this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of everyone’s discontent about this team (I know the fans won’t be able to let it go), but Sebastian Janikowski had two chances at a field goal near the end of the first half and missed them both (one five yards closer than the other).  On a day when the Broncos’ kicker made both of his 50+ yarders, when you figure it was a sunny day in the Mile High City, SeaBass really shouldn’t have an issue.  That’s a missed 3 points in a 3-point loss, so, you know, do the math.

I still can’t say enough how unimpressed I was with Penny.  I see none of the things in him that I do in Carson.  No burst, no power, he runs out of bounds instead of through guys.  Hell, even in the red zone, it didn’t feel like he had that killer instinct to get into the endzone that Shaun Alexander had (his most popular comp).  I know he’s working his way back from an injury (which saw him balloon up in weight even though it was just a broken finger!), but it also looks like he doesn’t totally know what he’s doing yet.  Maybe he should be strictly this team’s #2 or even #3 back for a while, until he gets his bearings.

Also, where was Prosise?  If you’re only going to start 3 running backs, and he’s your third, then why wasn’t he out there on third downs or at the ends of halves?  Isn’t that his specialty?

And, I’m sorry, but Naz Jones was a healthy scratch?  This team had ONE sack against the Broncos, and very little pressure on top of it.  That was our #1 concern heading into this season, and it absolutely looks like it’s a valid one.  Frank Clark got his, which is fine, but for the most part Keenum had all day to throw.  Seems like Naz Jones could’ve helped, since he seems to be one of the better interior pressure generators.  I wonder if this is a punishment thing for something we’ll never hear about?  I dunno; I just want to see Jones out there next week, and every week going forward, barring injury.

Most people are killing Germain Ifedi, and I’ll second that notion, but you’re just BEGGING for trouble when you leave him one-on-one with Von Miller.  There should’ve been a tight end on that side of the line every single fucking play, to at least chip if not outright double-team that monster.  That’s on the coaches more than anything.

I’ll close on Russell Wilson, who really wasn’t good.  That end-of-game interception was pretty meaningless, but the other one wasn’t.  Neither were all the sacks he took, as he spun backwards and ended up losing 56 total yards of field position.  That’s UNACCEPTABLE!  On a day where we saw very little of his magic, he can’t get away with that type of shit.  He’s not as fast as he used to be, he’s not getting away from these young studs, who keep getting quicker and quicker with each passing year, while Russell Wilson just gets older and older.

Seattle Mariners Have One Really Good Offensive Day, Everything’s Okay Now!

Look, I’m not trying to shit on everyone’s parade.  I think crushing the Boston Red Sox is a really fun thing to watch, regardless of how bad they are just one year removed from a world championship.  Scoring 12 runs is pretty amazing; it’s only the fourth time the Mariners have scored in double digits this year (and, oddly enough, all four of those games featured Felix as the starter; so either the team doesn’t support him at all, or they support him way too much).  But, let’s just not lose our minds, huh?

This is still a team that had to start Willie Bloomquist at DH (1 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout, so I’m not QUITE gonna shut my big mouth based on that performance).  This is a team who just yesterday finally got all their hitters over the .200 mark (with some perilously close to falling back under it; I’m looking at you, Stefen Romero).  Ultimately, this is a team that’s going to struggle to score runs more than it will succeed in scoring a bunch of runs.

And look, I enjoyed Logan Morrison’s performance last night as much as the next guy.  4 for 4, 2 homers, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored.  But, one great night doesn’t mean you’re the next Lou Gehrig to Justin Smoak’s Wally Pipp!  I know, we’re ALL disappointed in Justin Smoak.  2014 was his make or break year, and he’s officially broken.  At this point, we will accept literally Hitler himself if he could keep his OPS over .750 and play a serviceable first base defense.  So, why not Logan Morrison?

As always, I’m willing to go with the hot hand in this situation, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  Yes, he’s capable of nights like these; you could say June 23, 2014 is LoMo’s ceiling.  That’s as good of an evening as he’s ever going to see.  And, truth be told, he might not ever have another night like that ever again.  I hope I’m wrong; I hope he does nothing but mash for the rest of the season.  Can you imagine it?  An honest-to-goodness power bat in the middle of our lineup?  Someone you can legitimately bat fourth in the lineup, thereby pushing Kyle Seager into the 2-hole where he probably belongs?  Do you know what we could do with an offense that has three legitimately good hitters in the middle of the lineup?  We could have an honest discussion about contending for a playoff spot!  And not just twinkly daydreams with unicorns and rainbows, needing every single thing to go right for this team to MAYBE push through.

I’m not going to hold my breath on the LoMo front.  Like every other mediocre hitter, he’s going to have his occasional ups.  It’s what allows him so many opportunities at the Major League level.  So, enjoy it while it lasts, and hope that it lasts through the All Star Break, because I feel like that’s the best case scenario.  The downs, they are a-comin’.  But, by that point, Justin Smoak will be back.  And, if he’s anything like the Justin Smoak who USUALLY shows up after a DL stint, he’ll be red-hot for about 3-4 weeks!  Maybe that’s the ticket.  Ride one hot hand, then when he starts to cool, bench him for a while and play the other one.  Back and forth that way, for all eternity.

I guess I’m just trying to guard myself a little bit.  I don’t know how to handle a team that’s five games over .500 in the final week of June.  What do I do with a team that’s near the top of the Wild Card Standings instead of the bottom?  Shockingly, I’m more at ease with super elite teams like the Seahawks.  Just walk around, strut your stuff, and look down at fans of every other organization.  That suits me like a glove!  But, this … this quiet desperation of being on the edge of contention.  Getting my hopes up, getting a little too excited, only to be slapped right back down to Earth by a bad 5-game stretch, which ultimately leads to winning 7 of 9.  If I get too excited, I get burned; but, if I get too down on this team, I won’t be enjoying what by all rights is a very enjoyable season!  So, I remain guarded.

We’re four games away from the midway point.  There’s still a lot of season to go.  Which means, ample opportunity for a debilitating 17-game losing streak to effectively end our year.  But, it also means there’s ample opportunity for this team to get red hot and rip off a bunch of wins in a row.

In the short term, I’m REALLY going to need to see the Mariners win at least 5 of 6 on this homestand to feel comfortable.  Boston and Cleveland are pretty awful, so 5 of 6 isn’t unreasonable.

The Running Back By Committee

At the Town Hall meeting between Seahawks brass and season ticket holders, our offensive coordinator mentioned that we could be looking at a running back by committee approach in the 2014 season.  Darrell Bevell has started to walk back those comments a bit, but it would still stand to reason that Christine Michael is the future, and therefore should probably start getting some real game experience.

Maybe it’s just me being a Seahawks fan – where we’ve never had to deal with the RBBC – but it certainly comes with a negative connotation.  The RBBC is something teams turn to when they don’t really have one great running back, but rather two mediocre backs.  You feed them both in equal measure until you find the one with the hot hand, and you ride him the rest of the game.  Or, you use one back to get all the yards between the 20’s, and one closer to the goalline (because ostensibly, the guy who got you all those yards up TO the goalline is COMPLETELY incapable of pushing it through for that touchdown).

Rare is the situation that you have with the Bills of today – with two elite backs who are both capable of not only pushing it into the endzone, but also breaking it for long runs in the open field.  Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are a committee of backs who could just as easily be lone starters on any given team (what prevents that from happening, more than anything, is their proneness to injury).

But, like I said before, the Seahawks haven’t really had to deal with this.  We’ve seemingly ALWAYS had an elite back, or at least a very good back (with the only real committee I recall being the failed Julius Jones/T.J. Duckett experiment).  Curt Warner giving way to Chris Warren, giving way to Ricky Watters, giving way to Shaun Alexander, eventually giving way to Marshawn Lynch.  That’s a nice run of backs, with only a couple of small gaps in between.  It seems like, regardless of the problems this franchise has had in the past, they’ve at least had a good plan in dealing with the running game.

This feels like uncharted territory, but it’s really not.  In the 2001 season, Ricky Watters was 32 years old – which is absolutely ancient when it comes to running backs.  But, he was coming off of six straight seasons with at least 1,100 yards rushing.  In 2000, he played in all the games and averaged 4.5 yards per carry (which was a career high average for him, when you factor in him playing in all 16 games).  I wouldn’t say he was in his prime, per se, but he was running at a high level and he probably could have hung on and done well for himself over an additional few years.

Except, the thing was, the Seahawks had just drafted Shaun Alexander in 2000.  He didn’t play a whole lot as a rookie, but the team still had big plans for him, and could ill afford to let him ride the pine for two straight years.

2001 started, and Ricky Watters was still the team’s starting back.  In the first two starts, Alexander had a helluva time cutting into his carries – he was still being treated as the team’s backup.  However, after an injury to Watters’ shoulder in the third game of the season, Alexander was handed the keys to the car and never let go.  In Alexander’s very first start, he ran for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries.  He would not look back.  His 2001 season wasn’t a world-beater or anything, but he tacked on some brilliant performances to really show his promise and potential (highlighted by a 266-yard, 3-TD performance against the Raiders in week 8).  Ricky Watters would return for a couple of games in December, but then we lost him to injury again and he would never play another snap in the NFL.

It’s hard for me to say what the team’s plan was for that 2001 season, had Ricky Watters not been injured for a huge chunk of games.  But, my guess is, we would have incorporated Alexander into the offense more and more as the weeks went on.  As things went, we got a little lucky, as we didn’t have to worry about any discontent or controversy.  A major injury will do that.  Either way, you have to think that 2001 would have been Ricky Watters’ final season in a Seahawks uniform, regardless of his health situation.

A lot of people feel the same way about Marshawn Lynch and this 2014 season.  There’s REALLY a lot of parallels, when you think about it.  Lynch and Watters are two of the toughest runners we’ve ever seen in a Seahawks uniform.  Both played for other teams before coming here.  Both have had rock-solid careers in Seattle and are beloved by Seahawks fans for their toughness and professionalism.  And, of course, both are/were being phased out by younger, highly-drafted backs with elite potential who mostly sat during their rookie seasons.  Nobody really wants to see Marshawn Lynch go, just like nobody really wanted to see Ricky Watters go.  But, what trumps that is the excitement over what’s possible.  Ricky Watters was great, but Shaun Alexander was even better – the best running back in franchise history.  Marshawn Lynch has played at an All Pro level in his time in Seattle, but Christine Michael JUST might be even better.

That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFL, especially when you consider the talent that’s already on this team.

Maybe it won’t be a true running back by committee approach in 2014.  But, at the very least, I bet we see a reshuffling of the order.  Marshawn Lynch will probably start off the season as The Man, but Christine Michael is sure to get those secondary reps that would’ve gone to Turbin.  And, you have to figure, as the season goes on (assuming Michael doesn’t get bit by the fumble bug), Christine Michael will start getting more and more carries.

And, who knows?  Maybe a well-timed injury Wally Pipps Lynch’s tenure here in Seattle.  It’s not something I would ever wish on someone like him, but if it happens, it’s good to know we have someone right behind him who’s ready to handle the challenge and keep our offense humming at a championship level.