Friday, March 14, 2014

Back & Forth with Chris and Adam

Since our last column, the Seahawks have begun shaping the look of the 2014 roster. They've retained significant contributors from the Super Bowl run-- Michael Bennett, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Jeron Johnson, Tarvaris Jackson and Anthony McCoy. Sadly, we've also seen them part ways with integral components like Golden Tate (Lions), Red Bryant (Jaguars), Chris Clemons (Jaguars), Breno Giacomini (Jets), Clinton McDonald (Buccaneers), Chris Maragos (Eagles) and Sidney Rice (free agent).


CC:  My biggest concern at this moment is obviously the wide receiver group. We're ostensibly left with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Percy Harvin, Ricardo Lockette and recently acquired Taylor Price.

Harvin's health will always be a cause for concern and both Baldwin and Kearse will have to prove they can make the jump from 'pedestrian' to viable starters this coming season. Tremendous depth was the recipe for success last year and we're beginning to see the roster thin out.
How do you anticipate Carroll/Schneider will address this apparent lack of depth at the receiver position and what do you feel is the strongest and weakest position groups to this point?


AH:  I hear your concern about the receiving corp, but relax and understand we have a built in upgrade to Golden Tate named Percy Harvin. I also wouldn't count out the possibility of resigning Sidney Rice at a minimal one year deal. Another possibility to add the the position group is Pete's annual wide receiver reclamation project. I see Kenny Britt potentially being an option here for a minimal deal with high upside. He falls right in line with the history of Mike Williams, Braylon Edwards, and Terrell Owens.

So, in direct response to your concern at the wide receiver position, there are only a handful of teams with a better 1, 2, 3 combo of Percy, Baldwin and Kearse. I do think we bolster the group through the draft, but the concern everyone is feeling is over the emotional loss of Golden and not so much the rational analysis of the talent at the position.

The two position groups with the most attrition is both the offense and defensive lines. The loss of Red Bryant is to be reinforced with the growth of Jesse Williams (who the organization is very excited about) and an increased role of Seattle's premier free agent retention, in Michael Bennett. 

The loss of Clinton McDonald will be filled in by the progression of Jordan Hill. Hill will graduate to become the situational one gap pass rusher, and eventually taking over for Mebane in two years.

The offensive line suffers the loss of two starters, Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini. This is concerning. While the organization has strong belief in both Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie, it would be unfortunate to go into this next season without adding competition to this position group. Seattle must add to the OL if they wish to maintain their identity of being a run first offense. 

One things remains true: Seattle stays true to their philosophy.  Seattle prizes intelligent, athletic lineman than can make reads on the go. Seattle values cornerbacks with extended wing spans that play physical. Wide receivers are scouted and graded on their play making ability, mental capacity and run blocking. The 'X' wide receiver position is favored to have an expansive wing span, red zone threat and an imposing run blocker. 


CC:  I agree that Harvin is several ranks higher than Tate in skill and ability, but I think it would be foolish to pencil him in as a 16-game starter next season. I love the idea of bringing in Kenny Britt as a reclamation project on an incentive-based deal.  It'd be great to see him get his act together for us.

This regime doesn't have a great track record when it comes to drafting receivers.  Outside of Tate, there hasn't been much success for Seattle. Kris Durham, Chris Harper and Jameson Konz never made much of an impact. However, they have had tremendous luck in signing undrafted receivers with Baldwin and Kearse. 
Initially, my hope was that Seattle would draft tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins out of Washington.  I assumed that Miller would be cut and we would be left with Luke Willson and Anthony McCoy.  Now I'm leaning more toward the urgency of adding receiver depth.  How do you see the tight end group shaking out and what do you expect Seattle to do with their first pick in the draft?


AH:  For several years now, Carroll and Schneider have investigated other avenues at tight end. From trading for Kellen Winslow to signing international basketball players to bringing in Jermichael Finley for a visit when the position group is already amongst the strongest on an already very strong team. They are obviously still looking for something. It's possible the front office is looking to establish the future before parting ways with Zach Miller, but letting Miller go wouldn't save the team all that much money this year, but it would next year, which would make sense with much or Seattle's core group being up for new deals. I, for one, am still very curious to find out what they are trying to establish there. The impending progression of Luke Willson may solve that.

If Seattle does choose to go after a TE in the draft this year, I only see two options: those being Eric Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jack Amaro is a nice specimen, but Seattle drafted that guy last year in the 5th round. His name is Luke Willson. I expect to see a big jump in his progress this year, possibly enough to move on from Anthony McCoy or Zach Miller with the addition of one of the two draftees or Jermichael Finley. 

One other possible scenario is that Seattle is looking at a possible sign and trade with Miller. The Bucs have been movers and shakers, a possible reunion with the Raiders or maybe even Atlanta, Tennessee or the J-E-T-S? There is a good market out there for Zach Miller. That foot likely won't come down until Brandon Pettigrew signs, though. Our front office relationships in both Tennessee and NYJ could benefit with the combination of needs at the TE position.

If Seattle were to trade Zach Miller, I would estimate his value would be at a 5th round pick.
CC:   One last topic before we wrap this up.  The lynchpin of this team last season was its tenacious defense anchored by its remarkable depth. We've seen Bryant, Maragos, Clemons and McDonald sign with new teams this offseason.  Browner will most likely not return and Walter Thurmond is visiting other teams.  Even throwaway guys like O'Brian Schoefield and Ty Powell found gigs with new teams at much higher salaries than they earned here. We knew that Seattle would get raided after winning the Super Bowl, but the question remains whether or not they can restock the pantry with enough depth to repeat. Do you think Seattle will make any more waves in free agency to address defensive depth? What would you say is the top three position priorities to address through the draft?


AH:  To tell you the truth, I don't see Seattle reaching for big deals in free agency on players outside of this organization for several years. Not unless it's a great team deal. Seattle will look to retain it's core group of players while letting expendable players go.

That's not to say the Seahawks don't go for any guys in free agency. Schneider will never turn away from cost effective deals. Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, Kenny Britt, Henry Melton, Jermichael Finley are all possible short term deals that Schneider would likely have interest in after the market dies down a bit. 

Pete Carroll is employing a philosophy that operates on a college like timescale approach. In college, Pete had guys between one and five years. With that type of turnover, you can't overly base your system on individual players and maintain consistent success. That approach would give you a lot of up and downs. By approaching it from a system approach, we expect to progress and graduate new players from within. It's your basic freshman to senior approach. You get guys with the mental tools and physical equipment to play the position, then develop them. You develop with continuity and consistency. We have great consistency with Gus Bradley/Dan Quinn, Ken Norton Jr., and Tom Cable. Those coaches are the men that make this philosophy successful. 

As for my top positions on need in the draft, I would say that adding competition to the offensive line is the teams number one need after moving on from McQuistan and Giacomini. Cutting James Carpenter in camp is not beyond the realm of possibility, but even if we don't cut him we will still need to make a contract decision with him next year. And since I imagine that Seattle will be moving on from Lynch after the upcoming year, it would be best to have a familiar offensive line during the transition to Christine Michael.

Wide receiver. Done. He will be tall. He will be physical. Don't be discouraged if Seattle doesn't draft this guy early. The talent at this position group and overall size is unprecedented... maybe even two receivers.

Pass rushers are always held in high regard. KJ Wright and Malcolm Smith will be RFA's, and would likely benefit the team by adding more depth there, allowing Bruce Irvin to be more versatile. Where Michael Bennett can alter from inside to outside the defensive line, Bruce Irvin will make the biggest leap this upcoming season and, I believe, will become one of the defensive terrors of the league.
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sherman, Smith appear on Jimmy Kimmel

The Seahawks are finally getting some serious national exposure-- and all they had to do was win a Super Bowl!  Below are two videos from Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith's appearance last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Kimmel, one of my favorite talk show host, defends Sherman's postgame rant from the NFC Championship game before goofing on his casual attire.




PART ONE
PART TWO

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

700,000 attend victory parade

Photo Credit: @brinabear28
I'm hearing that damn-near one million passionate Seahawks fans braved the biting cold to cheer on their champions.  I was at EMP Museum on 5th Avenue and Harrison Street, a main staging area for the parade, before the parade began and was able to see throngs of 12s lining up in preparation for the event.

My Seahawks windbreaker and beanie were insufficient at subduing the cold. It was almost 20 degrees colder in Seattle this morning than it was at kickoff of the Super Bowl, but that didn't seem to hinder fans from making it out.  Chants of "SEA! HAWKS!" echoed throughout the streets while Seattle police herded fans off the parade route.
Photo Credit: SeahawksFTW.com
 I never could have imagined what this day would be like. I've waited 31 years for my beloved Seahawks to bring a championship back to my city. The day has finally come-- and it did not disappoint. 

Normally, I avoid events like this like the plague, but this was different. This felt like being at the largest family gathering in the world. 700,000 of my distant relatives were gathered in celebration. I was privileged to be among them and sharing their collective joy.



Is this the beginnings of a Seahawks dynasty?  What will become of Sidney Rice?  Will Seattle be able to afford paying big contracts to both Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas? Will Golden Tate be playing elsewhere next season?

We'll have plenty of time to over analyze those questions in the coming months.  None of that matters now.  Today is about this team, this city and the Lombardi Trophy.  Celebrate, Seattle.  We deserve it.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Monday, February 3, 2014

WORLD CHAMPS

SUPER BOWL XLVIII
Seahawks  43
Broncos      8


The Seattle Seahawks are World Champions. Man, it doesn't get any sweeter than that.

Even sweeter-- we weren't supposed to win.  We're just a scrappy young team that stood in the way of an NFL monarch's quest for immortality. Peyton Manning was supposed to have had his way with the mouthy Richard Sherman and his arrogant Legion of Boom.  Wes Welker was supposed to redeem himself by slicing his way through the heart of our defense all night long.  Denver was supposed to expose the inexperience of Russell Wilson and shutdown Marshawn Lynch.  Pete Carroll was supposed to be made a fool.

Instead, the only thing that was exposed last night was who the better team was.

En route to their first Super Bowl title, Seattle left no doubt on the field.  Even if we were to have seen a repeat of Super Bowl XL officiating, the Seahawks didn't allow for it.  They did just as Coach Carroll said, just like they do in every game, they focused solely on their own execution.

I've never been more proud of my team and my city.

When I saw the scoreboard illuminate a picture of the the Seahawks logo along side the Lombardi trophy with the word 'CHAMPIONS'-- I was reduced to tears.  Seeing Paul Allen, the man that kept the Seahawks from fleeing to LA in my childhood, Pete Carroll, the man whose vision led us here and Russell Wilson, the improbable savior of Seattle sharing the podium and hoisting that trophy-- it was like everything was right in the universe.

I will never forget the 2013-14 Seattle Seahawks as long as I live.  There may never be another team like this one.  In all of the years I've followed the game of football, I've never seen anything like this team. This season is one that I will treasure for ever.

It all starts at the very top with our owner Paul Allen.  Like I said, when I was a young fan in the 1990s, Seattle had just ended its first golden era and was descending into its darkest period.  The team was packed up and threatening to leave for Los Angeles but was saved when Allen purchased the franchise.  Since then, Seattle has transformed into a franchise to be reckoned with but didn't reach their true pinnacle until Allen made the controversial hiring of Coach Pete Carroll.

Pete Carroll turned the Seahawks, and the whole NFL for that matter, upside down. Everything he has done since the day he was hired has been excessively critiqued and harshly criticized.  Most importantly, it has worked. Together with General Manager John Schneider they have built a program that has since become the envy of the league. Perhaps none of their moves more controversial than their decision to draft Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks needed a franchise quarterback. No one in their right mind assumed that Matt Flynn or Tarvaris Jackson was the long term answer-- but no one outside of the VMAC had the thought, at least initially, that Russell Wilson was the man for the job.  As it turned out, Wilson had the talent and ability that fit the mold of the new-school quarterbacks with the heart and preparation of old-school quarterbacks who came before him.  Last night, Wilson cemented his legacy.

For as great as Wilson is, he would not be a fraction of who he's become if not for the stellar performance of his supporting cast. Marshawn Lynch, who replaced Barry Sanders as my all-time favorite running back, is perhaps the quietest player off the field but his actions on field are the loudest you'll find. Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse did last night what they've done since joining the Seahawks: WORK.  Those guys could start for any team in the NFL. Meanwhile, Percy Harvin proved in 12 seconds exactly why we gave up a first round pick to get him.

By the way, have you noticed how few teams use fullbacks anymore? In a time where the fullback position has become somewhat of an afterthought, we're privileged to have two of the most inspirational players at that position in Michael Robinson and Derrick Coleman. Both were integral in this year's Super Bowl run and both have become inspiring leaders in their own right.

The big guys upfront get a lot of the blame when things go wrong and almost no credit when things go right.  Max Unger, Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, James Carpenter, JR Sweezy and Breno Giacomini got it done all year.  I'll even loop Zach Miller and Luke Willson in on this group because their both often asked to do the dirty work.  These guys made the success of Wilson and Lynch possible.

But you know what they always say:  Defense wins Championships.

From the bottom of my heart, I mean it when I say this-- This is the greatest defensive unit I've ever had the privilege of watching. For this group, it all starts with the guys up front.

Red Bryant, Tony McDaniel, Clinton McDonald and Brandon Mebane were the guys who brought their lunch pails to work all year.  Seldom were there names called and I don't think I saw a single interview from them during Super Bowl Media Week. All season they quietly performed their responsibilities with championship caliber excellence.

Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett proved to be the biggest free agent pickups in recent history. I suppose not since Peyton left Indianapolis for Denver has free agent acquisitions had such tremendous impact. Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons continued their dominance from last season while sharing the spotlight with several new additions.

Everyone was concerned with the state of our linebacker group at the beginning of this season.  It had seemed as if Pete and John had simply forgotten to address the void left by LeRoy Hill's departure from the team.  Little did we know, we were more than fine with what we had.

Malcom Smith, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, has become a magnificent playmaking linebacker. I thought that Bobby Wagner should've been the defensive MVP considering how well he played on a defense full of greatness. KJ Wright has become a Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker, too. As terrific as those three have proven to be, Seattle's defense is predicated on its outstanding depth of talent.  Mike Morgan, Heath Farwell and O'Brien Schofield were good enough to start elsewhere, but their contributions here guided us to greatness.

We all know that the identity of this team lies within its secondary. We know them only as The Legion of Boom.

The greatest defensive backfield the NFL has ever known is lead by a young all-pro safety named Earl Thomas. The thunder to Earl's lightening is Kam Chancellor.  Never has their been a better pairing of elite talent at safety.

The biggest mouth in the game just so happens to reside on the face of the best corner in football today. I'm of course talking about Richard Sherman.  He's at his best when you don't hear from him at all-- an indicator that the opposing quarterback is doing his best to avoid throwing anywhere near him.

Trust me, it doesn't get any easier as you work your way down Seattle's cornerback depth chart.  Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond emerged as top-tier corners when they were forced into the starting lineup opposite Sherman.  They got picked on-- and they picked it off.

Even the special teams squad is elite. You couldn't ask for better kicking specialists than Steven Haushka and Jon Ryan.  Guys like Ricardo Lockette, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Chris Maragos and Jeron Johnson shined with every opportunity they were given.

 Even guys like Sidney Rice and Brandon Browner who were vitally important to getting this team to where they are today might have since played their last downs in a Seahawks uniform but will not be forgotten for their crucial contributions.

We are World Champions, Seattle. What once seemed so far away is now in our grasp.  We are Super Bowl XLVIII Champions. Embrace it and cherish it. I believe strongly that we have witnessed the beginnings of a new dynasty last night, but the fact remains that this particular team will never exist again.  Championship teams get raided in the offseason and even bit players are paid like Super Stars to play for a new team.  We will likely lose players and coaches that were instrumental in our success to teams hoping desperately to emulate what has been built in Seattle. We saw it happen to Baltimore last year and I assure you Seattle will be no different.

I have faith that Pete and John will manage brilliantly, as they have to this point, to make sure that we have the best roster we can put out next season.  They will retain the centerpieces and will surely draw in talent from other teams that want to be a part of what's happening in Renton.

But this 2013-14 team is now in the books and will never look the same again.  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them, from the players to staff, for an unforgettable season.  Getting to watch them hoist the Lombardi Trophy as Champions of the World as I looked on with my 5 year old daughter and the people I love most was truly one of the greatest moments of my life.

World Champs.  Go Hawks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If you're a 12th Man-- This should piss you off


Last night before bed, I decided to watch some videos on NFL.com to get me fired up for Sunday.  Media day was full of memorable moments with various Seahawks.  Marshawn's interview with Deion Sanders was spectacular, Sherman was entertaining as always and Russell continues to make us proud to call him the face of our franchise. The video stream trickled on, interrupted only by the occasional commercial, until I came across this video of NFL analysts debating who might be the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII.

Right away you'll notice that no Seahawks are proposed as potential MVP candidates.  Translation: none of them think that we stand a chance at winning this game. Not only do they feel like its virtually impossible for Seattle to come out on top in this game-- they take it a step further at the end of the video to mock Sherman's post-conference championship antics.

Normally, I shrug off this type of nonsense, knowing that we'll have the last laugh.  For some reason, this video pissed me off. They're acting as if there's no chance Seattle can slay the mighty Peyton Manning.  The mere suggestion that Wes Welker is going to dominate on slant routes is comically off base.

What about the rest of you 12s?  Does this anger you or are you brushing it off? Perhaps I'm just hypersensitive because of the totality of this match up. Or, maybe, I have a right to be angered by someone thinking that the #1 defense doesn't have a prayer going up against the #1 offense.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What a difference 8 years makes

8 years ago the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers en route to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

I was working that day but I managed to make it to the bar upstairs in time to watch the game in its entirety with some of my best friends.  I don't remember much from 8 years ago, but I can distinctly recall that drive home from Seattle to Renton and the vibe that resonated throughout downtown Seattle.

Everyone was celebrating together.  Car horns blared though the air, strangers embraced and there was blue and green everywhere you looked.

Up until this week, there hadn't been much difference between then and now. I think that clinching the Super Bowl birth was a bigger deal in 2005 than it was this time around, but only because we'd never gotten that far before.

Seahawks Fever '13 didn't reach it's climax until the NFC Championship game-- partly because it was Seattle versus San Francisco and partly because the fan base was still reeling from the gut punch of last years loss in Atlanta.

But this week feels totally different from 2005.

In Super Bowl XL, Seattle was a better team than the Pittsburgh Steelers.  There wasn't much debate on that.  The Steelers were a Wild Card team that somehow found themselves representing the AFC in the Super Bowl while Seattle had the best record in the NFC.

However, when Super Bowl week arrived, the talk wasn't about the Seahawks at all.  It was about a scrappy young team that battled its way into the Super Bowl, a 2nd year quarterback already reaching the pinnacle of his profession and a veteran running back playing in his final game before his hometown crowd.

The media coverage was decidedly in favor of Pittsburgh before Super Bowl XL.  They had the kind of storylines that even those unfamiliar with the sport could latch onto. That's no excuse for the outcome, believe me, it would have been even sweeter to win with no one in our corner.

What the Seahawks were missing in 2005 can be summed up in one word: Swagger.

As great as that team was, they failed to convince anyone outside of the Pacific Northwest that they deserved to be there. Coach Holmgren was quiet and reserved.  Matt Hasselbeck was humble and lighthearted.  Even the league MVP, Shaun Alexander, was extremely modest and soft spoken. The closest thing to swagger that this team had was the mouth of hit-or-miss tight end, Jerramy Stevens.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't want to give you the impression that I didn't have confidence in our Seahawks. I thought we were in it until the very end. The heartbreak didn't hit me until the confetti dropped. 

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that I feel Seattle has had the better overall roster in both Super Bowl appearances, but this year is definitely more evenly matched. The major difference between the Seahawks of '05 and the Seahawks of '13 is the swagger they bring. 

Even with, in my personal opinion, the greatest football player who ever lived quarterbacking the opposition-- Seattle has made this week and this game all about them. It's about Richard Sherman, Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.  It's about us.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Get Pumped for the Super Bowl

Finally! It's Super Bowl week!


As the world gets ready for the final football game of the 2013 season, we're left with nothing but speculation and anticipation. I figured I could compile some stats that show the Seahawks in a favorable light or continue the debate on Richard Sherman but instead I've chosen to take a more optimistic approach.

Rather than argue numbers and hypotheticals, lets just be grateful that our team is in the big game.  Lets instead get fired up for this game!  Here's some of my favorite videos to watch in preparation for the Super Bowl.

This one has every touchdown the Seahawks scored this season.


This is the track my daughter and I made last season-- still holds up!



This video shows the passion of the 12s with a happy ending.


Had to put this up for Seattle's sons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-- congrats on 4 Grammys!


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