Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pay the man-- he's earned it!


http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1465887/thumbs/o-MARSHAWN-LYNCH-facebook.jpg

There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not Marshawn Lynch would show up for mandatory mini camp because of a contract dispute. 

Some even believed that Lynch might simply retire.  All of that was put to rest when Lynch reported to camp today.

Beastmode was at camp, but the issue at hand is still unresolved.  Lynch has outperformed the four-year, $31 million contract he signed in March of 2012 and would like to see merit increase that reflects his production of a top tier running back.

Lynch could easily be considered the single most integral piece in the Seahawks return to prominence under Pete Carroll. Before there was the Legion of Boom was in full force, it was Lynch who brought swagger back to the Pacific Northwest. It is hard to imagine the Seahawks Super Bowl run without him.
Seattle is prepared, as well they should be, for life after Beastmode. Still, Marshawn should have at least two more seasons of elite potential in the tank and I, for one, would like to see those years feature Lynch in a Seahawks uniform.

When Lynch does end his career with Seattle, he will be regarded as the greatest running back in Seahawks history. Whether or not the numbers reflect that is irrelevant-- Lynch's film will forever do the talking. Even if he's not statistically the best, there has never been a Seahawks running back that was more entertaining, week to week.

The hype on Christine Michael is growing louder every day but the fact is, we don't really know how he'll do as a feature back in a full NFL season. There is no reason at all for Seattle to turn its back on Lynch now. 

You could argue that it would be unwise for the team to set a president where anyone unhappy with their contract can hold out and their demands will be met-- but this is not the case here. Besides, there have been a number of players in the the past few seasons who have been asked to restructure their contracts to allow the team to retain the personnel they want while staying under the cap.

I look at it similarly to the raise that Brandon Browner got at the beginning of last season.  Seattle never intended to give Browner a long-term deal but his performance absolutely warranted a bump in pay.  Same goes for Lynch-- fatten up his pay checks for the remainder of his contract and plan to go forward with Michael when he's done.

Who knows, he might even resign for cheap when his contract is up and play more of a 3rd down role.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Debunking the Madden Curse

Richard Sherman's life has been pretty sweet in 2014.  He made the play that cemented the Seahawks Super Bowl berth, he helped bring Seattle it's first world championship, he became the highest-paid cornerback in the league and he scored an endorsement deal with Campbell's that will feature his mother.  The cherry on the top of that spectacular offseason was winning the fan vote for the new Madden game.

Or is it?

For those of you that aren't privy to video game culture, Madden Football is a big deal. Having debuted in 1988, the Madden franchise began releasing new versions annually since 1990 and has since sold over 99 million games. With the NFL's rabid-and-growing popularity and the video game franchise's obvious popularity-- wouldn't any fan base be delighted to have a member of their team grace the cover of this game?

You'd think so, but fans are split down the middle.  The reason is unbelievably stupid.

Many believe that there is such a thing as the 'Madden Curse' that plagues the cover athlete in the following season.  There's some interesting coincidences that have perpetuated this silly concept-- enough to prevent fans from voting for their hometown player to be the cover star.

John Madden, the legendary head coach for whom the game is named after, graced the cover of the game annually until 1999, when they began instead using marquee players for the cover photo. 49ers running back, Garrison Hearst, was the first player to be featured on the cover of the game. Subsequently, Hearst broke his ankle so badly that he missed the next two seasons and never returned to Superstar form.

Barry Sanders was selected for the cover the following year, but abruptly announced his retirement.  Electronic Arts, the makers of the game, had already shipped copies with Sanders on the cover.  Later versions of the game featured Packers running back, Dorsey Levens, who injured his knee midway through a season wherein Green Bay missed the playoffs after appearing in the previous two Super Bowls.

Since the curse is predicated on injury, you have to completely dismiss Sanders' retirement as having anything to do with him being on the game's cover.  Levens may have faded into obscurity after his cover, but the guy only had one 1,000 yard season before the one that landed him on the cover.  Its more likely that he was a product of the Packers system than he was victim of some goofy curse.

Eddie George was featured on 2001's cover.  His Titans were narrowly defeated in the Super Bowl the season before.  He had his best statistical season after being on Madden, rushing for over 1,500 yards.  The loose connection between George and the curse is drawn from him bobbling a short pass in the playoffs that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, eliminating the Titans from contention.

2002 saw Dante Culpepper on the cover.  Culpepper emerged in a stacked Vikings team anchored by two future Hall of Fame receivers in Cris Carter and Randy Moss.  Following his cover appearance, Culpepper suffered injuries in both knees that would eventually end his career.  He was big and strong-armed, but never a great quarterback.

Marshall Faulk appeared on the cover in '03-- after 9 seasons in the NFL. The claim here is that Faulk never had another 1,000 season after his cover and underwent reconstructive knee surgery.  The average career of an NFL running back is 2.57 years.  Can you really justify the curse when he had already outplayed the average running back's career by more than three times?  I think you're grasping at straws if you do.

After a breakout season, Michael Vick was featured on Madden 2004's cover. Vick, a slight-framed, run-first quarterback, broke his leg the following season and only played in 5 games. Vick set the table for guys like Wilson, Kaepernick, Newton and RG3. His injury, however, showed that it's a great weapon when you have a mobile quarterback, but you must use that weapon sparingly as injuries can be devastating. Call it a curse all you want, but a slender quarterback that loves to run is just asking to have his leg broken.

Ray Lewis became the first defensive player featured on the cover in '05.  Lewis tore his hamstring in week 6 of the following season and landed on injured reserve.  He went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

When Donovan McNabb made the cover in 2006, he was already a seasoned veteran.  He obtained a sports hernia injury that troubled him throughout the following season.  The Eagles line was horrible at protecting McNabb, but it's more exciting to assume a curse was to blame, I guess.

2007 was when the first Seahawks player, Shaun Alexander, made the cover.  Following a record setting MVP season, Alexander broke his foot 3 weeks into the following season and missed six games. He also received a $62 million contract before the Madden cover and the Seahawks lost the outstanding left guard, Steve Hutchinson.  Alexander was also 30 in 2007-- the age of decline for running backs.

Vince Young got the cover in 2008 after being named Rookie of the Year. Young was a phenomenal athlete and a world-class knucklehead.  Young was benched in the first game for violating team rules, had a couple lousy games and then hurt his quadriceps. Young, another mobile QB plagued by injuries, was outplayed by veteran Kerry Collins.  Young had several opportunities to turn his career around but always found a way to screw things up.

Brett Favre got the 2009 cover after announcing his retirement.  He then was reinstated and traded to the Jets.  Farve, in his 18th NFL season, played well for the Jets until he tore his biceps tendon in his right shoulder.  Favre returned the following season to have a career year with the Vikings.

2010 featured two players for the first time-- Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu. Both players suffered minor injuries during the season, as almost all players do, but both made the Pro Bowl following their joint cover appearance.

2011 is where things really get flimsy for the curse. Drew Brees made the cover after winning the Super Bowl.  Brees didn't sustain any serious injuries, but their team got banged up towards the end of the season and barely secured a Wild Card berth.  Seahawks fans will recall the Saints early exit from the playoffs this year, as that's when the Saints experienced the 'Beastquake'.  Being a defending Super Bowl champ that loses in the first round to a 7-9 team is embarrassing-- but a far cry from fitting the Madden Curse.

I'm just going to skip over Peyton Hillis all together.  He had a single great season with Cleveland and found his way onto the Madden cover by way of fan vote-- possibly because of curse-paranoid fans from other teams.  Hillis has since struggled to catch on and contribute to a team in any significant way.

In 2013, the curse was officially broken. Calvin Johnson not only stayed healthy (beside playing with some broken fingers, but who doesn't) but he also broke or tied 9 NFL records the following season.  That's right, even the most straw-grasping of conspiracy theorists couldn't find a way to tie the curse on Megatron.

Madden's 25th anniversary occurred in 2014 and Barry Sanders made his post-playing days return to the cover.  Sure, Sanders may have avoided injury by retiring years ago, but you can't use that as an excuse if you're not willing to accept that players get injured all the time throughout the course of any given season.

What do we take from all of this? The NFL is a violent, physically demanding sport and curses are best left to fairy tales.  If you're good enough to stand out among some of the greatest athletes in the world and you're fortunate enough to be selected to have your likeness featured on the cover of the greatest video game franchise ever-- I want you to go for it.

I'll be proud to see my Seahawks' own Richard Sherman on the cover of the game I've loyally played for more than a quarter of a century. Perhaps nothing sums it up better than what Shaun Alexander once said regarding the curse:



“Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?” 




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Seahawks replenish depth in Draft

As usual, Pete Carroll and John Schneider executed the draft on their own terms.  The only thing the analysts were able to correctly predict was to expect Seattle to trade down. It was an unusual draft for Seahawks fans this year coming off of the Super Bowl victory with a roster that needed little maintenance. With no real holes to fill, Seattle's main objective was to build depth that will inspire competition. 
I'm happy with this years draft class altogether, but I feel that I am most excited about the selection of Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood.  The Seahawks used their first pick in the second round on a receiver as well, taking Colorado's Paul Richardson.  Richardson was referred to as a 'poor man's DeShawn Jackson' and could develop into an explosive playmaker. The reason I prefer Norwood is that he is bigger-bodied and plays a more physical style of pass catching that Seattle has been lacking. 

2014 Seahawks Draft Class
RoundPickPlayerPositionCollege
132TradedtoMinnesota
240TradedtoLions
245Paul RichardsonWRColorado
264Justin BrittOTMissouri
4108Cassius MarshDTUCLA
4111TradedtoBengals
4123Kevin NorwoodWRAlabama
4132Kevin Pierre-LouisOLBBoston College
5172Jimmy StatenDTMiddle Tennessee State
6199Garrett ScottOTMarshall
6208Eric PinkinsSSan Diego State
7227Kiero SmallRB/FBArkansas




UDFAs reportedly agreeing to terms with the Seahawks:
  • USC strong safety Dion Bailey
  • UW quarterback Keith Price
  • Montana linebacker Brock Coyle
  • Central Arkansas tight end Chase Dixon
  • Penn State tackle Garry Gilliam
  • Oklahoma guard Bronson Irwin
  • Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat
  • South Carolina cornerback Jimmy Legree
  • Eastern Washington defensive tackle Andru Pulu.


Field Gulls has a great Seahawks UDFA tracker.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Offseason Roundup

I haven't written much since the Seahawks Super Bowl victory in February.  Partly because I absolutely abhor the irrelevant articles that flood the internet during football's dry season to take advantage of our NFL addiction and partly to let the enormity of our first world championship to thoroughly soak in.

Still, I can't just abandon my post until training camp is underway. A lot has happened since the victory parade and I figured I would compile my thoughts on these events into one satisfying article.

Our last post at SeahawksFTW was March 14th with a focus on free agency.   Here's what's happened since then:

Seattle was able to resign key veterans Tarvaris Jackson, Tony McDaniel, Steven Hauschka and Sidney Rice. They didn't break the bank bringing these guys back.  Hauschka has been a solid kicker for the team, Jackson is the ideal backup and McDaniel will continue to help shore up the defensive line while we wait and see how Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams progress. When Rice is healthy-- he's terrific.  Unfortunately, he's seldom healthy.  Bringing him back on a low-risk contract was a great move.  I still hope that we draft a receiver at some point, but having Sid on the roster makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

The Seahawks have brought in a few free agents since the last post, but none has stirred up more conversation than the acquisition of former Oakland quarterback, Terelle Pryor.  Seattle merely gave up a seventh-round pick to get Pryor-- who will make less than a million dollars next season. 

I love this move.  Granted, Seattle now has four quarterbacks on their roster despite their propensity for only going with two on the active roster during the season, but my hope is that Pryor won't simply be a clipboard operator.  Pryor is only 24 years old and stands 6'4" weighing 233lbs.  The impressive part-- he ran a 4.38 at his pro day. Pete Carroll seeks out players with unique and extraordinary athletic abilities and Pryor fits that bill. John Schneider said that they haven't had discussions just yet with regard to moving him to a different position, but he eluded to the possibility of that happening, given Pryor's skill set.

Quite possibly the most significant signing for the Seahawks this offseason was that of Pete Carroll. The coach signed a 3-year extension after bringing the city it's first championship.  This was a no-brainer but none the less a relief seeing it get done before the season starts.  Building a championship team is not easy-- building a dynasty is even harder.  The window of opportunity is still wide open for this team but every move they make will factor in to the longevity of their success.

Speaking of keeping integral pieces in tact-- it was reported earlier this week that the Seahawks are currently working on a long-term contract extension that will potentially make Richard Sherman the highest paid cornerback in the league. I'm thrilled that they are working diligently to get Sherm locked up before the season gets underway, but I am a bit concerned about him being the highest paid corner. Don't get me wrong-- he deserves every penny he can get.  I would just hate to see this team shoot themselves in the foot by allocating too much cap space at one position.  Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson are themselves due for a huge pay day soon and there's still 50 other players that make up a roster.  Fortunately, I think we all trust the front office to find a way to make it work out.

Marcus Trufant signed a one-day contract to officially retire as a Seahawk.  Too many have forgotten how great Trufant was in his time here.  Trufant was a part of the team that lead us to our first Super Bowl as well as an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. He was good on some pretty bad Seahawks defenses.  On top of that-- he's homegrown.  With the exception of his last season as a Jacksonville Jaguar, he played the entirety of his football career in the state of Washington-- from high school, to college, to the pros. He is almost a lock for the ring of honor in my book.

Some sad news for Seahawks fans was announced yesterday.  Our quarterback, Russell Wilson, has filed for divorce from his wife, Ashton.  In their brief time here in Seattle, they both became beloved fixtures of the community. There hasn't been any information made publicly available as to why they decided to separate just yet.  Unfortunately for them, it will eventually find its way to the public but hopefully they both are able to move on with their lives. They're both great people and I'm sure they'll be able to get past this.

The last thing I wanted to touch on was the announcement of the upcoming NFL schedule.  My first reaction was that it is not going to be easy for Seattle to defend their title. They open up the NFL season by hosting the Packers in a 'Fail Mary' rematch. Their bye week comes so early (week 4) that it serves more as a momentum-killer than it does as a week to recuperate.  They face seven playoff teams from last season and only have one nationally televised home game because of all the home blowouts of last season.

So far, nothing has hindered my expectations for next season but we won't truly have a grip on our chances until the regular season begins.  In the meantime, study the schedule and barring significant breaking news, I'll catch up with you all sometime after the NFL Draft.

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