Monday, December 15, 2014

SWEPT-- Seahawks 17 49ers 7

As Russell Wilson took a knee on the final play of yesterday's game, the clock expired along with the 49ers playoff hopes-- and perhaps the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco, as well.

The first half of the game proved a gentle reminder that this 49er team has no shortage of talent and potential. San Francisco came out the gate playing much better than they did in Santa Clara on Thanksgiving, but Seattle got it together in the second half and stepped on their throats.

 The Seahawks are showing the world that they are more than prepared to defend their world title. 

The defense is elite and the offense is once again finding its rhythm. Rookie receiver, Paul Richardson, has emerged as a reliable third down target.

While they haven't really given Richardson any opportunities to showcase his remarkable speed, he has exhibited talents that remind me of former Seahawk Bobby Engram. Richardson caught his first NFL touchdown in the 4th quarter.

San Francisco, meanwhile, looks to be on the verge of implosion.  By the end of yesterday's game, the 49ers were down to their 3rd string running back-- and he was banged up. Besides a handful of explosive plays, Seattle smothered the 49ers offense, sacking Kaepernick six times and stifling the run game after halftime.

With the unexpected loss of Green Bay to the Buffalo Bills, Seattle is now comfortably in the driver's seat of their destiny. This coming Sunday's battle in the desert of Arizona will decide the champion of the NFC West, though both teams will likely make it to the playoffs.

Although its worth mentioning that Arizona has once again found themselves in quarterback trouble for Sunday, that's been the narrative all season for the Cardinals and it hasn't seemed to stop the team from winning games.

Seattle is in a great position to once again have the playoffs run through the CLink, but even if that's not the case, I'd take this team against anyone in the playoffs on any field. The Seahawks have proven that their formula works and this team is built sustainably.

However, looking ahead to next year, it's anybody's guess where our greatest competition will come from.  Harbaugh's inevitable departure will undoubtedly impact the Seahawks/Niners rivalry.  Harbaugh made San Francisco continually competitive and he is the kind of guy opponents love to hate. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be seeing Coach Holmgren pacing the 49ers sidelines next season.

Nevertheless, I fully expect the 49ers to take another step back in 2015. As I said at the end of last season, the window for them to win a championship with that team closed when they lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl-- and that window was nailed shut with "The Tip".

The question of whether the Rams or the Cardinals will emerge as the next NFC West threat comes down entirely on who is able to find their franchise quarterback in the coming offseason. Both teams are expertly coached and have rosters chocked full of potential.  Both also have glaring holes behind center.

Would it surprise you to see either of these teams attempt to trade up in the draft to grab a Marcus Mariota or Dak Prescott? Unlike the Redskins with the RGIII trade, both the Rams and the Cardinals have the depth to risk trading away the resources needed to snag the Heisman winning quarterback-- but will they feel the reward outweighs the risk?

It's a scary thought to imagine Mariota taking the reigns for either Coach Fischer or Arians next season.  Still, barring an Eli Manning-move, he'll more than likely find him self on a rebuilding team like the Jets, Titans or Buccaneers.

But I digress-- we still have to play both of those teams this season before the title defense truly begins. Right now, the Seahawks are only focused on Arizona.  If they play their cards right-- and they play these Card's right -- this Sunday won't be the last time they play in Glendale this season.  


Monday, December 8, 2014

Always Compete for World Records

Earlier this morning, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was on ESPN 710 Seattle with Brock & Salk with his weekly recap segment.  Among the topics covered today was the crowd noise record that currently belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs fans of Arrowhead Stadium.

"Isn't it time to start breaking some records again? What are we waiting for, I mean, are we going to rest on our laurels?" challenged coach Carroll.

When the Chiefs reclaimed the title, I remember thinking this:



However, coach makes a great point.  We must ALWAYS compete!  Hell, that's about the only 'bragging rights' claim that fans can legitimately say they contributed to earning.

I agree with the coach here.  A good Guinness Record attempt could be a great way to make sure Sunday's game against the 49ers ends San Francisco's playoff chances completely while closing the door on the Harbaugh era. Perhaps the final game against the Rams would be a great opportunity to send the team into the playoffs.

Either way we need to get the record back where it belongs. I'd love to see a speedy recovery to Chiefs safety Eric Berry and the noise title returned to the Pacific Northwest.

Seahawks Ready to Soar into Playoffs

San Francisco wasn't the only ones to suffer a devastating blow on Thanksgiving-- I separated my shoulder in our annual Turkey Bowl game and subsequently haven't been able to write about these last two displays of dominance from our Seahawks.

While my shoulder has been all but inoperable, my eyes continue to work just fine.  What I've seen out of our Seahawks in the past two performances gives me plenty of confidence with regard to our Super Bowl title defense.

Starting with the Cardinals game before Thanksgiving, Seattle's defense seems to have come alive.  They continued to appear to be in Super Bowl form on Thanksgiving against the 49ers where they damn near held Kaepernick under 100 yards while reducing the Niners once coveted run game to a mere afterthought. The highlight of the holiday was seeing Wilson and Sherman feasting on turkey legs right on top of the 49ers logo at the 50-yard line.

After handling two tough divisional opponents, the true test came yesterday when they faced the red hot Eagles in Philadelphia.  After all, as good as we know the Cardinals and 49ers can be, we have to acknowledge the free fall both teams have found themselves in the latter part of this season. The Eagles, on the other hand, had just decimated a Cowboys team that had their way with our Seahawks in Seattle just a few short weeks ago.

However, not unlike last season's 4th quarter of the regular season, it seems like it doesn't matter who the opponent is-- Seattle is gonna do Seattle.

Wilson continues to be a magician on offense.  He thew for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another 48 yards and a touchdown. Lynch had a hard earned 86 yards against an Eagles team that held the NFL's leading rusher (DeMarco Murray) to a paltry 73 rushing yards on Thanksgiving. Seattle's championship-ready defense held Chip Kelly's offense to 61 yards less than their previous all-time low under the revolutionary head coach.

Chip's got a history of complaining to the refs when his team isn't performing.
Despite the ups and downs of this season, everybody should feel great about where the Seahawks are at.  If they can manage to handle the 49ers at next week, who are coming off a loss to the NFL's worst franchise of the past decade, they should be playing Arizona for the division title on December 21st.  All signs currently point to both opponents continuing to trend downward, despite Arizona's comeback win against the Chiefs yesterday, which bodes well for the skyrocketing Seahawks.

The 49ers are a mess.  The Cardinals are on their 3rd quarterback and just put their best running back on IR for the remainder of the season. Seattle, meanwhile, is clicking everywhere.  The receivers are making great plays when their number is called, we're getting production from every running back, Russell Wilson gets better with every game, the LOB is back to form, Bobby Wagner is back to health and the defensive line is getting production from a committee of young players and veterans in the absence of Brandon Mebane.

Add to all of that the fact that most of the guys on this roster have been here before.  They have experienced what it takes to maintain focus down the stretch into a Super Bowl run.  Last night's victory has me fired up for these last few games.  I don't think there's a team in the NFL that can beat these Seahawks if they're playing their best football.  Unlike last year, I'm not the least bit worried if the Seahawks have to hit the road for the playoffs-- these guys can win anywhere.

Still, the Seahawks need to make sure they don't sleep on St. Louis for that final game of the season.  That match up could hold playoff seeding implications and the Rams might be the best .500 football team of all time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Acting out with Doug & Sherm


Seahawks teammates Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin treated us to a mock press conference skit to shine some light on the hypocrisy of the NFL's media policies.

The two reminded us of the $100,000 fine levied against their teammate Marshawn Lynch by the NFL for refusing to speak with the media while pointing out that they would not have given him that money had he spoke.

Sherman snuck in a few plugs for products he endorses (Beats by Dre, Campbell's Soup and Neff) as did Baldwin (Subway Restaurants, Martinelli's) slyly while making their points.

Sherman implied that the NFL tells players they cannot endorse alcohol while pointing out that the NFL's largest sponsor is an alcohol company.

These two Stanford grads have the smarts to recognize that the best way to raise awareness for issues is through comedy.  This brief video manages to get you thinking while making you laugh.  Time will tell if this video can spark up national debate on the subject.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Defense Rises-- Seahawks 19 Cardinals 3

The Seahawks defense came to play.  They were healthy, they were hungry and they knew their backs were against the wall.  We saw a Seahawks defense this Sunday that looks like they can be relied on for a playoff run. Arizona's defense looked pretty damn good, too.

Still, there's a glaring problem that looks like it could derail this team's chance at repeating.  The offensive line needs to figure itself out-- and they have to get it done by Thursday.

Russell Wilson was sacked 7 times yesterday.  Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin were held to 51 yards on 19 carries. Wilson was able to carry the team against this top ranked defense, but you have to wonder if that's a strategy that can be maintained throughout the playoffs-- especially since he may not have the 12s backing him up.

No disrespect to the Cardinals-- their defense is absolutely legit.  But so is San Francisco, St. Louis and Philadelphia's units.  We've got to get passed all of them en route to a repeat.

Rather than gripe about the areas of concern, let's highlight some of the areas where the team improved.

* Jordan Hill stepped up big to fill the vacancy left by Brandon Mebane.  Let's hope he continues to improve in his second season.

* Tony Moeaki proved that he can be a big-bodied receiving target as well as helping out as a blocker. This is a tremendous addition considering we won't be getting Zach Miller back.

* If you haven't already, go vote for Jon Ryan and Steven Hauschka for the Pro Bowl-- they've both earned it.

* Russell Wilson completed passes to 9 different receivers yesterday. 

* Marshawn Lynch is quickly becoming my all-time favorite player. 

Despite almost losing to a miserable Washington team yesterday, the 49ers are still 1 point favorites to beat Seattle in Santa Clara on Thanksgiving.  If Seattle can make the proper offensive line adjustments, they shouldn't have any problems handling their business. I am looking forward to seeing them whoop the Niners in their new home after my friends and I beat up on each other in our own game.  Enjoy the video below from last year.




Turkey Bowl Sixteen - The Tradition Continues from Egan El Rancho on Vimeo.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Something's Missing-- Seahawks 20 @ Chiefs 24

Between my Seahawks and my UW Huskies, this was an incredibly disappointing football weekend for me. Two games, lost by a combined total of 5 points, riddled with missed opportunities and bad breaks. Both games left me questioning what the future holds for these teams and whether or not they're on the right track.

The Seahawks lost on the road to a really good Kansas City team that seemed to be custom-built to beat them.  Alex Smith played his patented brand of mistake-free (and typically excitement-free) football as they hammered us with a mulch-faceted run game that Seattle wishes they had.

While there were plenty of disappointments from the Seahawks offense-- they really didn't have that terrible of a game.  Ultimately, they had opportunities to put the game away, but three times they went for it on 4th down and failed late in the game.

The Seahawks offense never turned the ball over, Russell Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns and they rushed for over 200 yards on a notoriously stingy run defense. That's usually more than enough to secure a victory when your team is predicated on it's ferocious defense.

But it wasn't.  And as close as this game looked by the box score-- it felt like the Seahawks never really had a chance.

The Seahawks defense had no answers for the rushing attack of Jamal Charles, Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas. They managed to take away the ball twice on fumbles, but it wasn't enough to offset how poorly they played upfront.

This team, as expected, sorely misses Brandon Mebane.  They still miss Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, for that matter.  The front line depth, on both sides of the ball, that carried this team to a Super Bowl just last year is simply not there anymore. 

I haven't been very critical of Pete Carroll and John Schneider because of the success they established so quickly, but this year has given me reason to be critical.  They have gotten too carried away with running this team like a college football program. The 'next man up' philosophy is a great premise, but it absolutely has its limits.

It's hard not to think about what this team's record might be today if they held on to just a few of the players that departed last season. The offensive line is clearly struggling without Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini.  The defensive line would love to have Clinton McDonald and/or Red Bryant right now. Chris Maragos would've been tremendously helpful in the games we were without Kam Chancellor.  Hell, even Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond would be nice to have as we prepare to take on the NFL's best team in the 9-1 Cardinals.

Something is missing.  Maybe it's a lot of things.  The Seahawks aren't out of it, but it's definitely getting dangerously close to panic mode. The Seahawks are currently tied with the 49ers for 2nd place in the NFC West-- three games behind the Cardinals.  If the season ended today (I hate that phrase, but still) Seattle would miss the playoffs altogether.

Every game for the rest of the season is going to be a challenge.  This is where the Seahawks need to figure out how to get the best out of what they have and find a way to make it work. The big question going into this season was how they were going to keep the nucleus of players from the Championship team in tact down the stretch-- but now that question needs to be who deserves to be in that nucleus of players.

The Marshawn Lynch rumors will only get louder with each loss and heartbreakers like yesterday's game will only intensify the emotions behind those rumors. NFL.com's Michael Silver interviewed Lynch after the loss to the Chiefs and his piece only fanned the flames of the situation.

My advice to the Seahawks front office is to take it easy on running this team like a college program. If there is any truth to the Silver column in the sense that Carroll and the Seahawks brass is feeding these stories to the media-- you're only putting your team in a bad spot by doing so.  If they sincerely feel that paying Lynch would inhibit them from getting extensions done with players like Wilson, Wagner, Wright and Maxwell-- they need to watch some extra film this week.

Anyone can see the problems that have arisen from the departures on the front lines and how that has created a domino effect of problems for the other position groups.  The lack of offensive line depth has created problems in both the pass and rush attacks just as the lack of defensive line depth has exposed weaknesses in the linebacking group and in the secondary.

With that in mind-- could you imagine the difficulties that would come from not having Lynch in the stable for next season?  It would put incredible pressure on Wilson to carry the team as a passer, which we have neither the receivers, tight ends or linemen depth to accommodate. Furthermore, it would likely force the team to rely on its defense just like they did in the Super Bowl season-- which we're proving we cannot do today, much less next season.

If you're not going to, at the very least, let Marshawn play out the last year of his contract next season, you're going to have to spend a draft pick on a running back.  If not to start, then at best they'll have to fill the spot on the running back chart vacated by Lynch.  You'd also have to spend a high pick on a playmaking wide receiver, because without the threat of a violent rushing attack, you'll be leaning on Wilson to make big plays down field.  As much as I love Baldwin and Kearse, we'd be asking them to step outside of their current roles that they are excelling at.

You'd have to then expect to invest in at least two offensive line draft choices.  I can't imagine Carpenter will be brought back after an inconsistent career riddled with injury.  Plus, you've gotta rebuild the depth. Factor in Zach Miller's situation with injuries and a high salary and you have to assume he's not long for this team.  I'd argue that you need to draft a blocking tight end to compensate for not having Lynch. That's 5 mandatory picks before you even begin to address the defense!

I hate to be focusing on next year when its clearly far too early to give up on this year, but apparently the Seahawks have been looking to the future ever since they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  Whatever the end game for this season might be, the Seahawks better look long and hard at what happened this season before they make any drastic moves in/for the future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Seahawks Run Wild-- Seahawks 38 Giants 17

Who needs Percy-- or any receivers for that matter!

In Seattle's 38-17 victory over the Giants at CenturyLink on Sunday, they amassed 350 yards on the ground-- a franchise record.  Marshawn Lynch led the way with 140 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. Russell Wilson added another 107 and a touchdown, Christine Michael had another 71 yards and Robert Turbin piled on an additional 32 yards.

Wilson didn't start off sharp. He threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.  Seattle is still struggling to find their offensive rhythm, but the difference in this game was how they leaned heavily on their greatest strength-- their dynamic rushing attack.

The defense was perhaps it's most crisp on Sunday.  The depth players are getting some valuable experience that will lend itself tremendously to having success through the playoffs and having guys like Byron Maxwell back-- who had an incredible pass defensed late in the game.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks were dealt a devastating blow in yesterday's game when they lost standout defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to a season-ending hamstring tear.

The Seahawks are in a great position to defend their Super Bowl title-- but it's not going to be easy. The final 7 games of this season can be won just as easily as they could be lost. Seattle must go on the road to the loudest stadium in the NFL to take on the Chiefs, who are built almost identically.

They then must return home to take on the league's best team (by record) in division rival Arizona, then 4 days later play the 49ers in Santa Clara, then head to Philadelphia to take on the red hot Eagles before returning home again to face the 49ers in Seattle. They wrap up the season with games against the Cardinals (on the road) and Rams (at home) in games that could have powerful playoff implications.

Since every game counts and you can't control the health of your players, Seattle will have to continue to build their game plan around the strengths of their roster. Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette must get more involved with the offense as they continue to slowly acclimate Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood.

Additionally, it might be wise to try to add another young tight end to the practice squad to get him familiar with the season in case we suffer more losses to the already thin tight end group.  Perhaps their might even be a big body available to shore up the defensive line in Mebane's absence.

It would've been nice to see San Francisco get eliminated in Sunday's game where they won despite doing everything they could to blow that game against the Saints, but now we have to hope that the Giants can get right after losing in Seattle to finish them off for us.