Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Saved by the Bell-Ringer-- Seahawks 13 Lions 10

After escaping by the skin of their teeth from a home game against a winless opponent-- it's hard to be optimistic about your team's trajectory.

The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books and by now, every team should have a pretty thorough understanding of who they are and what they have. I think we know what this team has-- and I hate to break it to the coaching staff, but what they have and what they expect their identity to be doesn't fit.

There's no question that the Seahawks have championship caliber talent, but it doesn't fit the bill for a team that predicates its style on being a ball controlling, run-first offense supported by a stingy, bend-but-don't-break defense. 

The Seahawks coaching staff needs to come to grips with a few things before they depart for Ohio to face the undefeated Bengals this weekend.  If they don't change anything, they'll still win some games, but they can't count on a last minute miracle from Kam Chancellor week in and week out. They'll have to adapt their style if they expect any shot at a Super Bowl return.
Here's my 'To Do' list for the Seahawks going forward:

Acknowledge the awfulness of your offensive line.  The Seahawks might have the worst offensive line in the NFL.  It's certainly the worst they've had in Pete Carroll's tenure.  At first, the concept of converting a player from a defensive lineman or tight end into an offensive lineman was exciting and curious-- that was when it worked to some degree. 

Now, it looks like Tom Cable has never seen American Football before and perhaps just doesn't know any better.  JR Sweezy looked horrendous on Monday Night.  Like a turn style with the number '64' painted on it, he couldn't seem to stop a nosebleed.  New center, Drew Nowak, just plain looks lost out there.  Perhaps there are some changes that can be made internally or maybe even a trade, but it all begins with acknowledging that this team cannot protect the quarterback or establish a run game.

Jimmy Graham is not a Tight End.  The first time this issue was brought up was when he was given the franchise tag by his former team, the New Orleans Saints.  The issue was raised because Graham's production and use on the field had all of the markings of a wide receiver despite him being listed as a tight end on the roster.

The significance of this is that wide receivers make more money than tight ends.  When designated by the franchise tag, you remain under contract with your team at the cost of the average of the top 5 highest-paid players at your position.  Graham, understandably, wanted to be paid for his receiver-like production while the Saints wanted the financially-friendly benefits of a tight end's wage.

 On the field, however, Graham is every bit a receiver-- and a damned good one, at that!  If Seattle brought him here to block, they wasted a tremendous amount of cap space. If they brought him here to score touchdowns and dominate in the red zone-- they need to use him as more of a slot receiver like the Saints did.

You are no longer a run-first team.  Maybe next year, through the draft and free agency, the Seahawks can rebuild into a run-first dominant team.  But it ain't happening this season.  Not with Marshawn banged up and entering the twilight of his career. Not when your backup running back is the oldest in the league, now nursing a high-ankle sprain.  Not when your offensive line is just that-- offensive. 

On the bright side-- we have options! 

Your receivers are pretty damned good.  Look around.  This team isn't hurting for offensive play makers as bad as their game plan would indicate through these first 4 weeks of the season. The aforementioned Jimmy Graham is one of the best receivers and touchdown-makers in the game today.  Tyler Lockett has grown from week to week, showing that he's much more than just a kick returner.  Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are deadly reliable in the clutch.  Even roll playing contributors like Ricardo Lockette and Luke Willson have been known to shine when called upon.  Hell, even former quarterback BJ Daniels saw some action Monday Night with a 12 yard reception!

Trust in Russ.  This kid is special-- and he's ours for the next 4 seasons!  I know the idea of him incorporating more designed runs into the game plan might be unsettling, but Russell is a smart runner who knows when to give himself up.  Plus, I'd rather see him take a hit on a 15-yard run than repeatedly for 9-yard sacks!

I'm sick of waiting until late in games for Darrell Bevell to put the game on Russell's shoulders.  Wilson needs to sling the ball around and stretch the field early in games to get the defense softened up for the run game.

Seattle is going to have to lean on it's defense all season, but that shouldn't be to account for incompetent offensive play calling.  Imagine if Seattle were to go into Cincinnati on Sunday and came out throwing on the Bengals. Make the first 10 plays of the game passing plays.  Screen pass to Lockett, a slant to Baldwin, Jimmy Graham on a tight end seam and go deep to Kearse early. 

You'd have the defense on their toes right off the bat-- that's when you hit them with the read option. 

If Seattle would make it a priority to incorporate all of their strengths while avoiding their weaknesses, there wouldn't be a defense in the league that could hold us down.  The good ones will limit us, but that's where we lean on our defense. Teams like the Bears and Lions should lose to us by no less than 3 scores.  Teams like the Packers and Rams should still lose to us, but in low-scoring, defensive affairs.

The second quarter of the season will be a challenge to say the least.  3 of the next 4 games will be on the road against teams that are either red-hot, perpetual headaches for the Seahawks or both.  Our week 9 Bye is a literal halftime for our season, but with good preparation and game-planning, this team could easily be 5-3 at the halfway point.

If the Seahawks are below .500 by week nine-- they absolutely have to fire Darrell Bevell.  Maybe even Tom Cable, too, to a much lesser extent.  Cable's crew is admittedly a group of guys that no other coaching staff desires, but Bevell has players that any coach would envy.  If you can't find a way to win with Wilson, Lynch, Graham, Lockett and Baldwin-- you don't deserve to be coaching at this level. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday Night Preview

After the Monday Night Football match up with the Detroit Lions next week, we will have officially made it through the first quarter of the NFL season.  The 0-3 Lions provide a favorable match up for the Seahawks, especially given that the game is here in Seattle, but no victories are guaranteed. 

Once again, Detroit doesn't have much of a rushing threat this season and they find themselves ranked dead last in rushing yards per game through week 3.  Their quarterback, Matt Stafford, is playing through a rib injury but that doesn't seem to have an effect on their game plan. He is averaging nearly 43 passing attempts per game. 

Defensively, the Lions have taken a huge step backward since losing Ndamukong Suh to free agency.  They went from being elite against the run to 20th in the league over the first three games.  Their passing defense is even worse, coming in at 26th.

I expect to see the Seahawks approach this game defensively the same way they did when facing Aaron Rodgers.  Seattle will likely abstain from blitzing Stafford, forcing him to throw into coverage while only rushing with their front four. Unlike Green Bay, Detroit doesn't have a bruising runner like James Starks or Eddie Lacey to soften up the defense.  This will be another 40+ passing attempts night for Matt Stafford.

Hopefully Seattle doesn't shy away from blitzing Stafford, as the Seahawks will have the 12s at their backs.  Stafford has thrown an interception in every game this season-- their match up with division foe Minnesota being the only one where he didn't throw a pair of picks.  A few well-timed blitzes could ensure that trend continues.  It's worth mentioning that the Seahawks, along with only the Saints & Redskins, are the only teams yet to record an interception this season.

Our run defense will be strong and Detroit's rushing attack will be feeble. If Detroit is to win next Monday, they will have to do it by virtue of Stafford's right arm. That will definitely be the match up to watch in this game.  Golden Tate's return to the team that drafted him will certainly add to the story line.

This might be a worse defense than the one we saw last week.  All the more reason we need to see immediate improvement with our offense.  The Seahawks need to score on their opening drive.  I'm not saying that they will lose if this is not the case, but you can't routinely come out and punt your first drive away and tell me that you're making progress.

Provided he's healthy, Marshawn Lynch needs to produce his first 100-yard game in week 4. If this is to happen, it will not be by expecting him to be his own blocker like we have in the past.  Seattle needs to open this game with some read-option runs and some play action passes before we ask Lynch to create his own hole.  Spelling Lynch with Thomas Rawls rather than Fred Jackson would keep the run game moving more efficiently.

Of course I want to see Seattle come out of the first quarter of this season with a 2-2 record, but more importantly, I want to see them put on a show before a national audience that the reigning NFC Champions aren't going to go away quietly.  The Seahawks need to get back to doing what got them to the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons-- dominating in all phases.

The Seahawks were never more feared than they were coming down the stretch of the 2013 regular season.  Opponents knew that, even if they had everyone covered, Russell could burn you with a run.  Load the box in hopes of stopping (or at least, slowing) Lynch?  That's fine-- we'll air it out to Jermaine Kearse.  Don't even get me started on the defense...

Not only is Seattle still capable of being as diverse as they are dominant-- they're even deeper.

We went all of last season without having any semblance of a kick return threat.  Now we have what many are saying is the second coming of Devin Hester with Tyler Lockett.

We only had Kearse and Baldwin as offensive play makers last season.  Now we have Jimmy Graham in that group.  Not to mention the depth of Chris Matthews and Ricardo Lockette.

This needs to be a statement game for Seattle.  A statement that they're not just going to roll over for Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.  They are still the most complete team in the NFL. 

Quite frankly, if Seattle doesn't start clicking next Monday in front of a home crowd and a national audience, Darrell Bevell will need to hold a press conference explaining why he's unable to sustain success with an offense that has 5 former Pro Bowl selections and one of the leading candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shutout-- Seahawks 26 Bears 0

Back at home with Kam in the fold, all was well in the Seahawks universe.  The hapless Bears were routed in their first shutout since 2002 and Jimmy Graham was actually featured in a prominent role. In fact, every single Chicago drive yesterday ended in a punt.

So, why do I still feel unsettled?

Seahawks did everything they were supposed to do, right?  Zero turnovers, running game established, defense on point-- all is well, right?

I hate to nitpick after we finally found our way into the win column, but my mind is always focused on the big picture.  When I look at the big picture in terms of winning the division and sustaining a playoff run, I see a ton of challenges that lie ahead.

For the first time this season, the Seahawks managed to produce a 100-yard rusher.  That's a good thing, but what troubles me is that it wasn't our star running back.  Undrafted rookie free agent Thomas Rawls managed 104 yards on 16 carries in place of Marshawn Lynch who saw limited action after being unable to get loose in time for kickoff.

Rawls ran with the brutal intensity that we have come to expect from Lynch, showing that the coaches were correct in their assumption that he was the more promising of the trio that included Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. What concerns me is that the offensive line didn't just suddenly figure out what they had been doing wrong the previous two games-- Rawls excelled in spite of Seahawks pitiful offensive line.

This makes me question if we might be seeing the decline of Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch has always made a bad offensive line look good, but it's entirely possible age and abuse is starting to catch up to him.  Now, our terrible offensive line is beginning to make Lynch look human.

We know that it's not merely Lynch declining on his own.  The offensive line is clearly the bearers of the bulk of the blame.  The Bears defense which had failed to record a sack through their first two games managed to notch four of them on the road against Seattle's pitiful pass protection.

I continue to have issues with the play calling of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Every season, it seems to take Bevell 10-12 games to find his sweet spot.  The team struggles in spite of its rich depth of talent through the first two thirds of the season before hitting its stride down the stretch.  In previous campaigns, we've been good enough to overcome this problem, but I fear that we will need to reign in these concerns much quicker than in previous seasons if we have any hopes to return to the Super Bowl.

Our division rival Cardinals are off to another hot start and appear to be much healthier than last year.  The only thing that stopped them last year was their lack of depth being exposed by a wave of injuries at key positions.  We can't bank on history repeating itself there.

On a much more positive note, it certainly appears as though the Seahawks struck gold with their 3rd round selection of Tyler Lockett. The rookie phenom ran the second half kick off back 105 yards for a touchdown-- his second touchdown return in 3 games.  Sherman also pulled off a misdirection return for a huge gain-- just like the Rams pulled on us a couple years back and as the Utes did to Oregon one evening prior.

The Seahawks will next face the winless Lions in Seattle for Monday Night Football. This is another game that Seattle must not only win-- but win convincingly.  Here is what Seattle needs to do to come away with a victory and position themselves to get back to Super Bowl 50.

Create Turnovers-- it's not enough for the Seahawks to simply limit mistakes and prevent turning the ball over. They must create turnovers on defense and special teams.  Matt Stafford threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fumble last night against Denver.  Seattle needs to be able to lean on their defense like they have in the past two seasons.

Score on all Phases-- Along with creating more turnovers, we need our defense to put some points on the board. The Seahawks have been at or near the top in scoring defenses the past few seasons and getting back to that form would go a long ways in taking pressure off of the offense. Another Lockett touchdown would be icing on the cake.

Sling the ball around-- Over these first three games, we've seen that Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Jimmy Graham are capable of handing a heavy receiving load with great success. Instead of waiting until the second half before turning our pass game loose, I want to see Seattle come out, guns blazing.  The Lions have shown that they can't effectively shutdown a run since losing Suh to Miami, but you better believe they're going to try.  Why not soften them up first by taking the top off of the defense?  Run Graham up the seam, stretch the field with Kearse and Lockett(e) and tear up the middle with Baldwin and Matthews.

Use more Read Option-- Once you have the defense on their toes, let Russell do his thing.  Nothing keeps a defense guessing like the threat of Wilson's legs.  Again, Bevell, don't wait to mix things up.  There's no reason we have to punt on every opening drive.

Run up the score-- Don't be content with the victory.  Step on their throats.  After this game against Detroit, Seattle heads back on the road to face a red hot Bengals team. For a team that has appeared in the past two Super Bowls, retained a tremendous portion of its talent base from those teams, improved through the draft, made the splashiest free agent acquisition of the offseason that's also coming off of a shut out-- this team is shockingly not garnering any fear. 

Everyone is talking about the Packers, Patriots, Cardinals and Broncos but no one seems to be concerned with Seattle.  For now, that's a good thing.  This team will feed off of that.  But we need to reestablish the dominance that this team is capable of.  After this game against the Lions, the Seahawks play their next two games against teams that are currently undefeated. Winning these next three games will put us at 4-2 before a road trip against two teams in a nosedive and our mid season bye week.

As I said last week, there is no reason to panic.  At the same time, we cannot have the team or the fan base getting complacent.  We've still got a lot of work to do, but this Monday sure feels a lot better than the previous two.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Too Many Mistakes-- Seahawks 17 Packers 27

For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks failed to hold on to the lead late in the game.  For the second consecutive week, Seattle was unable to establish their run game.  For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks started a strong safety not named Kam Chancellor.

For the second strait week-- it appears the sky is falling in Seattle.

Going up against Aaron Rodgers is never an easy task and it's damn-near impossible in Lambeau.

That seemed to be their game plan going in, though it didn't exactly play out how they had hoped.  Seattle hoped to pressure Rodgers with no more than their front four, daring Rodgers to pass into heavy coverage or test them with the run.  When Eddie Lacey exited early with an ankle injury, it seemed that Seattle's plan would be fool proof-- it wasn't.

However, the Seahawks had a lot of odds going in their favor. The Packers came into this game beat up while the Seahawks were more or less only missing their hold out safety.  Playing in Green Bay in September is typically a lot more favorable than taking them on in the dead of a Wisconsin winter. All the Seahawks needed to do was execute and limit mistakes.

Mistakes cost the Seahawks dearly.  Michael Bennett bit on Rodger's hard count multiple times, resulting in free plays that went big or drive-extending penalties.  You simply cannot do that against Rodgers and expect to win.

James Starks filled in admirably for Lacey, negating any benefit we thought that may have been. Seattle couldn't slow down the Packers offensively.

Play calling continues to be an issue for the Seahawks.  I'll admit, I side in Mama Lynch's camp on the incompetency of Darrell Bevell, but I know its something this team can, and have in the past, overcome.  Seattle started the game off with horrendous play calling and didn't seem to figure things out until the 3rd quarter before reverting back to foolish calls to finish the game.

I don't know whether it's stubborn pride or merely delusion, but we seem to struggle with this early every year since Bevell took over the offense.  Our offensive line is predicated upon specific skill sets.  However, they can do what this team needs them to do.  It always seems to take half of the season to figure that out.

In order for the Seahawks offense to have success, Russell Wilson needs to take shots down field to open up the defense.  Opposing defenses are going to try to stuff the run game at the line and keep Wilson contained in the pocket.  If we play into that, like we have these first two games, Lynch isn't going to have any success and the defense will be left on the field far too long.

Once you soften up the defense with a few down field shots and high percentage passes, then you must pound Marshawn at them.  This will be especially effective if the read option is incorporated. The Seahawks have a mobile quarterback, a violent running back and a myriad of receiving weapons-- plenty of ingredients for a lethal offense.  But if you don't follow the recipe, you'll find that it doesn't turn out the way it looks on the box.

Through two weeks, the Seahawks have played like a mediocre team deserving of its 0-2 record. But the sky is not actually falling.  These first two games might well be the toughest on our schedule. Seattle returns home for two games against putrid NFC North opponents that should be easy wins, even if the team plays exactly as it had those first two.  They will then travel to Cincinnati to take on a Bengals team that may give them fits, but then its back home to play a Panthers team they've always seemed to have the number of.

Before the Bye week, Seattle has two road games that may have looked scary six months ago-- 49ers and Cowboys-- but recent developments with those teams leads me to think that we could get right heading into the Bye.

As for the Chancellor thing-- I'm pissed off at him.  I understand that a player's only leverage in negotiations is the threat of holding out.  Well, he's held out and that doesn't seem to have worked.  Now, he's hemorrhaging money and the team is losing games. I don't think that his absence is costing the team wins in and of itself.  In fact, I think Shead did a pretty good job in his absence. But we're two weeks in and the team has said they're not redoing the contract.  Period.

Kam's teammates need to get in his ear now.  Tell him that you support him, but its obvious that it's not going to work the way he thinks it will.  Try again next season, more vocally if necessary.  But his leverage has dried up and he's only hurting himself, the team and the fans by being stubborn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kam Chancellor is injured-- as far as I'm concerned

As far as any of us should be concerned, Kam Chancellor is injured with no timetable as of yet for his return.

Now let it go-- we have a game to focus on.

There is literally nothing we as fans can do to expedite Kam's reunion with his teammates.  It doesn't matter whose side we take and we're even beyond the point of casting blame on either side. Sure, Kam has a contract that we'd all prefer that he honor-- but we also are well aware of the fact that contracts are merely "temporary agreements" in the NFL.

A holdout is the only way for a player to create leverage in these situations.  Still, that leverage only goes so far.  Once you're in the position that Kam now finds himself in, where you're missing regular season games, your leverage is all but gone.

Perhaps if Seattle goes on a multi-game skid, some of that leverage may re-emerge, but its more likely that the Seahawks brass would be perturbed by the team's change in fortune and blame it on Kam out of spite. That's the only possible explanation I could fathom for Chancellor's decision to continue this hold out when it appears highly unlikely that the Seahawks have any designs on budging from their position.

If I were the Seahawks, I would give up all hope of him coming back this season.  If he's willing to forgo regular season games-- of which players are granted too few in their brief careers-- then you have to assume he will go all the way with it. I would answer every single inquiry on the subject with "The door is open.  He's under contract and he has a spot on this roster.  We hope he returns soon but there will be absolutely no restructuring of his contract."

I would quote that verbatim until he's back at the VMAC preparing for the next game.

If I were Kam and I was as committed to this as he appears to be, I would return to my team-- but you can bet I would be a distraction.

I would've been there for my teammates.  I would've been the starting strong safety for that first game. I would've put it all on the line to win for them. But every time a reporter stuck a microphone near my mouth, I would be bitching and moaning.

"It was a great team win today. It just shows the love we have for our fans and teammates.  It's unfortunate that ownership doesn't feel the same way about any of us. I played injured for a good part of last season, but I sacrificed myself for the good of the team.  Its upsetting to know that the team doesn't echo that sentiment toward its players."

I would seize every opportunity to praise my teammates, put the best on film each week and vilify the organization in every sentence.

Whether he likes it or not-- Kam is Seahawks property for the next three seasons.  If he doesn't show up, the contract length stays the same but Father Time waits for no one.  Kam is making his point to be sure-- but he's also sending another message whether he intends to or not.

He's telling his teammates that he values money over winning.  He's telling 31 other franchises that he will dig his heels in if he believes he's not wrong.

The Seahawks could essentially see to it that Kam plays for them or never again in this league.  I would hate for it to come anywhere close to that.  But I'm also sick to death of hearing about this story.  I will not tolerate every loss or shortcoming to circle back to this holdout.  I don't want Dion Bailey on trial every week.  I just want this team to win.

Whether that is with or without Kam Chancellor is up to no one but him-- and no one but him has any input in that decision. So, for now, let's just consider him injured and wish him a speedy recovery.  Until we see #31 on the field, there's no sense in wasting any energy entertaining the subject.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Not Good Enough-- Seahawks 31 Rams 34/OT

Wouldn't it be great if the only thing that prevented the Seahawks from winning their opening game in St. Louis was the absence of Kam Chancellor?

How nice would it be if we could just point the finger at Dion Bailey, call Kam's agent over to the VMAC and get this thing all sorted out in time for next weekend's trip to Lambeau Field? Just welcome him back, say all is forgiven and then we'll simply waltz into Green Bay and steal a win.

That'd be nice, but that wasn't at all the problem with yesterday's game.  Sure, Kam's presence would've been a huge motivational boost, but it's not like we can lay this loss on our defense. There is plenty of blame to go around for this one.

Let's start with a look at the Rams.  They always play us tough-- especially in St. Louis.  However, these guys were without their main receiver (Brian Quick) as well as their top two running backs (Todd Gurley and Tre Mason). As dominant as Seattle's defense looks to be-- Kam or no Kam-- victory seemed immanent given those circumstances. But the Rams have a pretty damn good defense themselves.  Chris Long, Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn are some bad dudes who always give their opponents headaches.  We knew the game would be close, but certainly winnable.

Let's look at each phase of the game to see where the Seahawks excelled and where they fell short.


The offense flashed moments of brilliance but were unable to sustain any success throughout the game.  With this much talent amassed, its no wonder they flashed brilliance, but why were they unable to keep it going throughout the day?  I'm going to point a big, ol' finger at the offensive line.

Seattle's offensive front got manhandled by St. Louis' defense.  They couldn't run block, they couldn't pass protect.  They could not get any semblance of a run game established.  That forced Jimmy Graham to spend the bulk of his day as an extra blocker and the lack of a run threat allowed the Rams to key in on Graham in passing situations.  This lack of running production also forced Russell into a career-high 41 pass attempts.

Drew Nowak struggled to fill the mighty shoes left by Max Unger.  He struggled with his shotgun snap accuracy all night, leaving Wilson to shag grounders and force passes or hastily set up running lanes.

Lynch finished the game with only 73 yards rushing, a 2-point conversion and 31 yards off of five receptions-- Not bad, but not enough for the focal point of this team's offense. But it wasn't his fault. There simply wasn't any push from the front line.

Graham wasn't involved as much as we'd like, despite hauling in his first touchdown reception as a Seahawk. The stress of the line's inability to take control of the game affected Wilson's decision making throughout the game.  Wilson under threw Lynch on a rushed pass that was picked off by Trumaine Johnson, who shortly thereafter left the game with an injury (concussion).

The offense was the biggest disappointment of this game, far and away,  While we cannot blame their performance on Kam Chancellor's absence, at the same time, we can't allow the typical 'the-offensive-line-will-get-their-shit-together-by-mid-season' mantra to continue as it has the past few years if we're not going to have Kam around to help the defense be the crutch this team has always leaned on.


Kam's not here.  That sucks. Got it.

No sense crying over that now.  It sucks, but all we fans can do is wait patiently with fingers crossed.  Dion Bailey played admirably in Kam's stead, with the exception of one play where he seemingly tripped on a loose blade of AstroTurf and gave up the tying score.  If you want to hang this loss on that one player and that one play-- you're welcome to do that.  Just know that you're being naive and/or petty.

Richard Sherman did not have his best game to say the least.  He seemed to be favoring that injury and often shied away from contact.  I wasn't the only one to notice he was off his game. Nick Foles wasn't afraid to throw at him, either-- even when the game was on the line.  Thomas didn't look 100 percent, either. Despite the success he was having throwing on the recently acquired Cary Williams.

Williams had a huge play late in the game where he strip-sacked Foles, recovered the fumble and took it in for what was the go ahead touchdown. It was a great play, but it came after he had given up several costly receptions.

Seattle's defensive front held their own for the most part.  The Ram's leading rusher was held to under 50 yards and the Seahawks notched a pair of sacks, but ultimately they weren't able to put the game away for their offense.

It wasn't a bad game by the Seahawks defense by any stretch.  It simply wasn't good enough.

Special Teams

Biggest change from last season-- we actually have a return game to speak of!  Tyler Lockett did what he's done all preseason, returning a punt 57 yards for the game's first touchdown. After that, the Rams did what we can expect all teams to do going forward: they didn't kick to him for the rest of the game. If Lockett is able to carve out a roll on the offense and teams continue to make the mistake of kicking to him-- we might well have the NFL's rookie of the year on our hands.

The Rams were able to answer our punt return with one of their own.  Tavon Austin had his coming out party yesterday.  His punt return should've been defended, but Luke Willson got squared up by a cornerback half his size, springing Austin for the touchdown.

The last bit of special teams I wanted to touch on was the decision to open up overtime with an onside kick.  Now, the Seahawks say that the kick was supposed to have been deeper than it ended up going-- but even still, I liked the call.

The jackass announcing crew of Daryl Johnston and Kenny Albert ignorantly stated that this was a show of lack of trust in the Seahawks defense, but I couldn't disagree more.

Had the Seahawks recovered the onside kick, they would've likely had the ball on the Ram's side of the field with ample opportunity to end the game with a touchdown.  Not recovering the ball may have given the Rams a short field, but coach Carroll trusted his defense to do what they had done most of the game and hold the Rams offense under control. A field goal meant Seattle would have another opportunity to answer back-- and that's exactly what played out.

Seattle ended up with exactly what they wanted.  The ball in their offenses hands with the game on the line.  The Seahawks managed a couple first downs and moved the ball alright at first before finding themselves in a 4th and 1.  Make it, and the team lives on. Fall short and it's all over.

Unlike last seasons heartbreaking decision to pass, Seattle opted to give it to their star running back-- but they did so in the least sensible way possible.  With only three feet needed to move the chains, Seattle lined up in the shotgun-- creating an additional, unnecessary seven yards between them and those 36 inches they needed to stay alive-- and sent Marshawn Lynch into an offensive line that hadn't won a battle of the trenches all afternoon. Lynch took the ball, hesitated before meeting the line and that was all the time St. Louis needed to make up ground and stuff the play in the backfield.

It was a game that the Seahawks could have and should have won, but they didn't, and ultimately, it wasn't for a lack of Kam Chancellor-- though that would've certainly helped.

It only gets worse for the Seahawks as they prepare to take on the Packers in Wisconsin next Sunday. The Packers are also lacking in offensive weapons but they have a far better signal caller than Nick Foles at their helm.  Bottom line-- Seattle has to get their offensive line in top shape well before the Bye week.  If this team expects to return to the post season and maintain an identity as a 'Run First' offense, they can't put it all on Marshawn Lynch to get it done.

Don't get me wrong-- this Kam situation needs to get worked out ASAP.  But I don't want to see Dion Bailey take the fall when the whole team looks lackluster.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Looking ahead: Week One and the Seahawks Roster

The NFL season begins tomorrow with the Patriots taking on the Steelers-- two teams loathed by anyone who supports the Seahawks. Just three days after that, the Seahawks will begin their redemptive journey to Super Bowl 50 as they face their rivals in St. Louis.

While everyone-- fans, players and staff alike-- seem to have put the heartache of last year behind them, the excitement for this new season has been somewhat tempered by the absence of perhaps the team's best defensive player, Kam Chancellor.

Chancellor's hold out continues seemingly with no end in sight. Then again, he could be back any day now, perhaps even today.  That is precisely the reason Seahawks fans are finding it difficult to get comfortable heading into this weekend.

Uncomfortable and unhappy as we may be, the reality is that we all need to be prepared to move on this season without him.  We are not a better team without him, there's no argument against that.  You can argue that 'contracts are contracts' and a player should honor them-- but you could just as easily point out that teams disregard contracts all the time, releasing players when they're deemed unworthy of the salary and years remaining on their deals.

I can't offer you any solace for this situation.  Whether he sits out the season, gets traded, retires or whatever may come-- the fans are the ones who lose. Every 12 that shelled out $100 for a #31 jersey loses.  All of us that wake up excited every Sunday at the possibility that we might see Kam clean someones clock are going to be the losers.

Alas, we must press on.

Still, even without Kam, this team's future looks awfully damned bright. Every piece besides Kam is comfortably in place with more depth than they've ever had before. The team is in great health going into the season and will benefit from a Bye week that is smack dab in the middle of the season. Here is Seattle's recently released depth chart:


  • Russell Wilson
  • Tavaris Jackson
Running Back
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Fred Jackson
  • Thomas Rawls
Wide Receiver
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Jermaine Kearse
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Ricardo Lockette
  • B.J. Daniels
  • Chris Matthews
Tight end
  • Jimmy Graham
  • Luke Willson
  • Cooper Helfet
Left Tackle
  • Russell Okung
  • Alvin Bailey
Left Guard
  • Justin Britt
  • Alvin Bailey
  • Kristjan Sokoli
  • Drew Nowak
  • Patrick Lewis
Right Guard
  • J.R. Sweezy
  • Mark Glowinski
Right Tackle
  • Garry Gilliam
  • Alvin Bailey

Left Defensive End
  • Michael Bennett
  • Frank Clark
  • Demarcus Dobbs
Left Defensive Tackle
  • Ahtyba Rubin
  • David King
Right Defensive Tackle
  • Brandon Mebane
  • Jordan Hill
Right Defensive End
  • Cliff Avril
  • Cassius Marsh
Outside Linebacker
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Kevin Pierre-Louis
  • Mike Morgan
Middle Linebacker
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Brock Coyle
  • Richard Sherman
  • Cary Williams
  • Marcus Burley
  • Tharold Simon
  • Tye Smith
Strong Safety
  • Dion Bailey
  • DeShawn Shead
  • Kelcie McCray
Free Safety
  • Earl Thomas
  • Steven Terrell
  • Steven Hauschka
  • Jon Ryan
Long Snapper
  • Clint Gresham
Kick and punt returns
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Doug Baldwin
  • B.J. Daniels
The inevitability of injury is a reality all teams must face.  With this line up, it feels like Seattle has the depth to endure the bumps and bruises of the season without the fear of falling off at any point.  Sure, if Marshawn goes down, we're not going to get the same production from Rawls and Jackson-- but you get the feeling they're better prepared to lean on Wilson's arm than they ever have before.

Last season, when the offensive line was struggling to develop the run game, Russell had a skeleton crew manning the tight end position.  This year, not only is the tight end group drastically improved, but the receiver room feels like they have the depth of talent to pick up any slack.

Defensively, there's undoubtedly a hole at Strong Safety and plenty of legitimate concern regarding the health of Earl Thomas' injured shoulder.  However, the front seven on the defense has the potential to be remarkably dominant. An improved pass rush and a stout run defense will account for any inconsistency in the secondary.  I'll bet opponents are going to test Sherman early and more often given that Kam won't be helping out up top-- Sherman will make them regret that.

As for our first opponent, we know the Rams always play us tough, especially in St. Louis.  But they have a new face under center in Nick Foles, who isn't going to win many games for them on his own so much as limit mistakes and manage games efficiently.

More troubling for the Rams is the fact that their #10 overall pick, Todd Gurley, won't be available until closer to mid-season and his backup is projected to miss the opener, leaving the Rams with 3rd string running back, Benny Cunningham, to carry the torch.

Seahawks have their work cut out for them opening their season with a pair of challenging road games.  Kam might be hoping Seattle drops those first two contests and come crawling back to him, but if the Seahawks are able to win those first two match ups without him-- they might never look back.