Monday, September 22, 2014

Super Rematch: Seahawks 26 v. Broncos 20 OT

The Broncos made it their mission to bolster their roster this offseason in the aftermath of the shellacking they received from the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.  They improved their defense by adding guys like DeMarcus Ware and provided additional weapons for Peyton Manning such as speedster Emmanuel Sanders. While they definitely improved as a team, ultimately it wasn't enough to overcome Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

The game that was held in Seattle yesterday afternoon wasn't nearly as close as the final score would have you believe.  The Seahawks dominated for most of the game before Peyton Manning executed a touchdown scoring drive and the game tying two-point conversion.  There was a brief moment of concern for us Seahawks fans, but it was quelled when Seattle won the overtime coin toss and Russell Wilson lead his team on a game winning drive that was capped by a Marshawn Lynch touchdown.

Like the Broncos, the Seahawks made moves to improve their roster this offseason, too.  The difference was in the fact that the Seahawks didn't add marquee names to their roster and instead looked to better themselves through the draft and within the guys they already had.

While the Seahawks have certainly looked good through all 3 games this season, they've yet to really impose their will on teams like they had in previous seasons. This leads me to think that we've yet to see our team really hit its stride. With an early bye week coming next week Seattle will be forced to do this down the stretch.

While its still way too early to talk about playoffs, Super Bowls and end of the year awards, I want to say this publicly so you all can keep it on your radar: Marshawn Lynch will be an MVP candidate.  As spectacular as our defense has been, it'll be too difficult to discern a single standout player from that group.  Russell Wilson will continue his brilliance, but at the end of the year, his numbers won't hold up against pass-happy players like Brees, Stafford and Rodgers. Lynch, on the other hand, will continue to be the staple of our offense and he looks like he's more than up for the challenge.

I abhor the fact that Seattle has their bye week so early in the season.  Fortunately, we appear to be in good health through the first quarter of the season.  The Cardinals stand atop the NFC West, but like their previous hot start, you know its going to be unsustainable.  The Rams are preparing themselves for the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes while the 49ers are just one or two losses away from a total catastrophic meltdown.  Despite the early bye, you have to feel really good about how your Seahawks look and where they are right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Majesty of Gameday

There is nothing quite like going to a Seahawks game. The atmosphere of CenturyLink Field, the camaraderie among strangers and the possibility of witnessing history first-hand is worth the cost of admission.

The problem is-- the cost of admission ain't cheap.

I'm not getting on a soap box to chastise the NFL for gouging its fans, nor am I supporting the poorly contrived (albeit, well intentioned) argument that school teachers, firemen and police officers should switch salaries with professional athletes. Supply and Demand: I get it. 

The cost of attending an NFL game is both perfectly reasonable and absurdly exorbitant at the same
time. It makes sense given the limited amount of games, the incredible popularity and the tremendous production costs that make the games so great. However, for many of us, attending a game is a rare treat if not completely out of the question all together.

I've been fortunate enough to attend my share of Seahawks games.  I remember times when you couldn't give them away and periods like the Holmgren era and the present where they are as scarce as they are spendy.

I have memories that I will cherish forever involving the Kingdome, Husky Stadium and Centurylink.  I love being able to tell people that I was at the game where Tony Romo botched the place hold-- or simply having had the opportunity to have witnessed legends like Largent, Kennedy, Jones and Moon in action.

I was there, man.  I was there.

Times have certainly changed, though.  As admission prices, concession and parking rates have exponentially risen-- so has the production quality of the games and the technology of televisions and home theater systems.

Now, while I still make an effort to try to get out to one game each season, I prefer to instead gather with my friends, family and loved ones to watch together on a 60" Plasma television with abundant food and beverages from the comfort of a familiar living room.

However, the ultimate deciding factor in how I choose to spend my game day experience is the obscene difference in price between seeing the game live and watching it at home.

Let's say I wanted to take my girlfriend to the assuredly spectacular match up this Sunday against the Denver Broncos.  A quick search at shows the cheapest available pair of tickets for this sold out game going for $175-- and here's the kicker-- they're upper level endzone standing room only seats!

Right off the bat, we're out $350, and we're only getting started.

The next issue is transportation.  The cheapest and most preferable option, in my opinion, is to park and take the Link Light Rail.  Parking is free at the Light Rail stations, but it is extremely limited.   Even for Mariners games, I've found you have to get to the station about an hour and a half before the game starts.  I imagine it's even worse for Seahawks games.

So, the light rail will only set us back about $10 bucks, but isn't a guarantee by any means.  Most likely you'll have to pay for parking.  That can cost you anywhere between $10 and $100 plus gas used in transit. We'll meet in the middle and say $40-- bringing us to $390.

Now, because attending a game has become a special occasion, I've found that I have a tendency to almost always pick up some sort of souvenir to commemorate the experience.  It could be anything from a toy for my daughter, picking up your new jersey for the season or something simple like a program.  Depending on your budget and your restraint, you're probably going to drop about $50 on some form of a keepsake.

We've already spent $440 and we haven't eaten anything yet!

Mind you, there are thriftier ways to enjoy a game, but if you're one of 'those guys' you're probably going to skip out on the excursion to the CLink altogether. So, if you're not going to stuff a PB&J into your pocket, chances are you're spending about $35 to feed two people.  Don't kid yourself into thinking that you'll be fine foregoing sustenance for 3 and 1/2 hours-- that ain't happening. You owe it to your fellow 12s to maintain your energy to cheer throughout the game!

If we each enjoy a single $9 Miller Lite during the game, we'll have spent just shy of $500 for the experience. That's a lot of money for a lot of people. Still, it's an amazing, worthwhile experience for any fan, irrespective of your income level. Just as I'm sure Lamborghini makes terrific cars and they're probably well worth the price-- it's unlikely that you'll ever find my name on the title of such a fine luxury car.

For $500, you could host a KILLER party for you and your close friends to watch the game together.  You could even charge for parking or premium seating-- but I wouldn't recommend it. I watch the games with about a dozen of my dearest friends and we spend maybe $100 on food and drinks collectively. 

There's seldom a line for the bathroom, the seats are substantially more comfortable and you can converse with the people sitting near you without screaming.  As great as seeing our favorite team live is, it's pretty hard to equal the personalized game day experience.

There's definitely more than one way to enjoy the game.  Tweet @SeahawksFTW your favorite tips for the perfect game day at home with the hashtag #MyKindofGameday and I'll share them on Friday.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Can't Get Right: Seahawks 21 @ Chargers 30

The Seattle Seahawks suffered their first meaningful loss since winning the Super Bowl and, boy, does it hurt.

The Chargers, a playoff team last season, looked extremely sharp and well prepared.  They didn't overpower the Seahawks by any means--- hell, the Seahawks looked like they were going to wake up and put the game away at any moment. Alas, that moment never came.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to this loss.  Just looking at the box score, you could easily point to Marshawn Lynch's measly 6 carries to being a factor. At one point early in the broadcast, there was speculation that perhaps Lynch was injured because of his absence from the field, but Carroll cleared that up with the sideline reporter by saying "We can't give him the ball if the defense can't get off the field."

The Seahawks simply had no answer for the future Hall of Fame tight end, Antonio Gates.  Kam Chancellor, KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner were all burned at one point or another by the former college basketball standout. Gates finished the game with all 3 of Phillip Rivers touchdowns and some crucial first down conversions.

The heat may have been a factor.  It was reported that it was as hot as 120 degrees in certain spots on the field.  Seattle was forced to wear their home blue jerseys which had to draw in the heat more than their usual white road uniforms.  Nevertheless, you can't hide behind that excuse.

San Diego dominated the Seahawks in time of possession throughout the game.  They systematically took advantage of the injuries in Seattle's secondary by picking them apart with dink-and-dunk passes and short but effective runs. Seattle couldn't adjust and their offense never made up for the lost time.

Mistakes plagued the Seahawks on both sides of the ball and certainly had an affect on the outcome. Zach Miller had 3 costly mistake that were the only reason his name was mentioned during the game's broadcast. Percy Harvin coughed up the ball on a kick return which completely killed any momentum the Seahawks may have had.  Ryan Matthews had 2 fumbles that could've swung things the other direction, but they were both retained by San Diego. Bruce Irvin added a stupid late hit penalty late in the game.

There was some controversy surrounding the 51-yard touchdown run by Percy Harvin in the first half.  The replay showed that he may have stepped out after the last defender dove at him.  Deion Sanders argued that his heel never went down out of bounds, and since the original ruling was a touchdown, they would've needed conclusive evidence to overturn the call. Whether it was conclusive or not was irrelevant the instant the PAT was kicked, but the broadcast crew hoped with all their might that the Seahawks would pull this win out so that it would be a controversy-- but it ultimately had no impact on the game outcome.

This was a win Seattle should've had. They were the better team and they had opportunities but they were all squandered. They might be coming home this weekend but it's not going to get any easier with the defending AFC Champions coming into town.  You have to hope that this loss will motivate them.

Judging from the preseason matchup against Denver, I expect them to use same high-efficiency, dink-and-dunk strategy employed by the Chargers yesterday.  Seattle must revert back to their mantra "If we Man up, we Stand up" if they want to put an abrupt end to that exploitation of their overly aggressive, high-flying defense.

The Seahawks need to get Marshawn Lynch established early and often while mixing in a few shots down field and trick plays-- none of these were utilized Sunday.  As much as every game matters, this loss is still just one game. Maybe Seattle needed this reminder that teams are going to get up for them every week.  The Super Bowl rematch is going down at CenturyLink Field next week.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ready to Re-Pete: Seahawks 36 Packers 16

What an incredible start to the NFL season!

The city of Seattle and our Seahawks were once again under the national microscope as they faced the Green Bay Packers in the NFL regular season opener. The pregame included performances from superstar Pharrell Williams and Seattle's own Soundgarden-- who was my favorite band among those that spawned from Seattle's grunge explosion in the 1990s.

Adding to the pre-kickoff frenzy was the ceremonial revealing of the World Champions banner and the raising of the 12th Man flag by the three of the greatest Seahawks of all time: Hall of Famers Walter Jones, Steve Largent and Cortez Kennedy. Before a single second of actual NFL football had transpired-- the city was on fire with enthusiasm.

Then, the game happened.

Now, I'd have to believe that every serious football fan and analyst was watching last night.  After all, it was the first taste of 'real' football since the Super Bowl and there wasn't any other games on that night. That being said, hopefully all of this ignorance of Seattle Seahawks football will go away for a while.

Remember how the 'experts' were telling us that Russell Wilson still isn't an elite quarterback?  Remember hearing how he was merely a product of a solid running game and an excellent defense?

How about these guys on the message boards shouting in all caps about how Marshawn Lynch is selfish and we'd be just fine without him?  Remember them?

I'm curious as to what will be the first words from their mouths once they remove their foot from it.

Marshawn Lynch was spectacular. He finished with 124 all-purpose yards and a pair of hard earned touchdowns.

Wilson was great as well going 19 for 28 for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air,
adding 29 more yards on the ground. Despite the loss of BJ Raji, the Packers defense looked much improved. All said and told, Seattle amassed 207 yards rushing on the Packers.

We finally saw the intended use for Percy Harvin-- and it was spectacular!  Harvin was electric whether he was returning kicks, catching passes or taking hand-offs in the backfield.

There was a lot of questions regarding the Seahawks decision to keep 8 receivers on the roster but after last night, we found out why.  Wilson completed passes to 8 different receivers last night.

Mistakes were few and far between for the Seahawks.  They played surprisingly clean by only having 4 penalties levied against them-- half as many as the Packers had.  Earl Thomas's toughness cost the team a turnover when he refused to call for a fair catch and subsequently coughed up the ball after being bumped by an opposing player while fielding a punt. Wilson also underthrew a pass that would've surely been a huge touchdown in the first half.

With the exception of those minor issues, Seattle was flawless and looks primed for a repeat.  If they're not #1 in the power rankings by Tuesday morning it will be a travesty. Byron Maxwell proved that, if your'e going to avoid throwing on Sherman, he's not going to make it any easier. Not a single pass was thrown Sherman's way but Maxwell managed an interception in his extra opportunities.

The competition won't decrease much next week.  Seattle is headed to San Diego next week to face the Chargers who were a playoff team just last year. If Seattle plays like they did last night, there will be no stopping them.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seahawks 31 Raiders 41

Well, the Seahawks finished their exhibition schedule with a .500 record-- but that's certainly no cause for alarm.

Losing last night to one of the worst franchises of the past decade might seem potentially concerning, but given the circumstances, the Seahawks are more or less right where they want to be. It's not indicative of a lack of effort or 'playing down' to opponents.  I think it can be attributed to the coaching staff giving more playing time to players on the roster bubble than guys we know we can count on.

Offensively, my eyes were on Terrelle Pryor last night.  I'm very curious to see how his situation will play out.  Seattle will have to cut down to 53 players on Saturday and I cannot remember the last time they kept 3 quarterbacks on the roster.

Knowing that Seattle will most likely only keep a pair of quarterbacks, that boils down the question to who will back up Russell Wilson?  BJ Daniels should have no problem getting through waivers and onto the practice squad, but the same cannot be said for Tarvaris Jackson or Pryor.  Should we cut either of those two, they will definitely get scooped up by another team.

So do we go with Pryor or Jackson as Wilson's backup?  My head says Jackson while my heart says Pryor.  I feel like Jackson would win more games than Pryor as a starter.  Not many more, but even one more could spell the difference between making or missing the playoffs.

Jackson is more accurate of a passer, a better leader and more comfortable in the pocket.  Pryor is a much better athlete, can run for yards (with the size to take some hits) and has the benefit of youth on his side.  I want Jackson for this season, but I want Pryor for next year-- and cutting him doesn't guarantee his availability for next season.

If Jackson is cut, it will be sad to see him go, but he got a ring with us and is plenty capable of continuing his career as a spot-starting backup  or a stop-gap for developing a rookie on another roster.  If we cut Pryor, it will be disappointing having given up a pick to acquire him and without trying to fit him in at another position.

Look at us-- we're speculating, hemming and hawing over backup quarterbacks.  I think its safe to say that we're ready to begin the title!  Let the (regular season) games begin!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Seahawks 34 Bears 6

The Bears had made such terrific additions to their roster this offseason that I was prepared to pick Chicago as the NFC North Champions this season. After the thorough shellacking the Seahawks handed them, you might think that my prediction was perhaps foolish or at the very least, premature, but I stand by that decision.

It's not that the Bears are bad-- its that the Seahawks are that good.

Russell Wilson is looking like a legitimate MVP candidate.  He was 15 for 20 with 202 yards through the air and a pair of passing TDs.  He added another rushing touchdown as did Marshawn Lynch in his limited action. The offense doesn't so much look 'improved' as it does polished. Golden Tate's absence was entirely unnoticed with Jermaine Kearse looking ready to take the next step along side a healthy Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin.

The defense lost a lot more than the offensive side of the ball in the offseason-- but you wouldn't know it from watching this game.  Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell are official, card-carrying members of the L.O.B. by now and Tharold Simon just needs more opportunities before he joins them.

Earl Thomas might be the best fit for return duties.  He had a spectacular punt return that should have been taken to the house, if not for a particularly athletic Bears punter making a last minute save. Rookie Cassius Marsh continued to impress.  Marsh along with O'Brien Schofield and Heath Farwell recorded sacks.  

I was left with only one question in the aftermath of this game:  will the Seahawks keep 3 quarterbacks on their roster? Terrelle Pryor has looked promising, although inaccurate at times.  He has tremendous athletic ability and is young enough to expect continued growth under Darrell Bevell's tutelage.  Let's not forget-- we gave up a draft pick for him.  A seventh round draft pick, but a pick nonetheless.

Still, Tarvaris Jackson probably gives you the best chance to win between the two.  We'd like to believe that we know what we have in Jackson and we seem to like what he offers as a back up.  His coaches like him, his teammates like him and the fans like him-- so long as he remains the back up.

Ideally, you'd want to keep both on the roster, but that would mean taking depth away from another position. I don't think that would be a wise move.  Do you try to trade one of them?  I would've preferred that we tried to convert Pryor to another position in hopes of getting more out of his size and ability but the front office obviously sees something in him as a quarterback and we've learned to trust their judgment. 

UPDATE: The Seahawks made mandatory cuts to reduce their roster to 75 players: OT Wade Smith, CB Terrell Thomas, OT Cory Brandon, RB Demitrius Bronson, S Mike Dobson, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, WR Kevin Smith, CB Thomas Wolfe were the casualties.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Seahawks 41 Chargers 14

After an uncharacteristic preseason loss to the Denver Broncos last week, the Seattle Seahawks seem to have been on the receiving end of a chewing out from Coach Carroll wherein I can only imagine the phrase "Always Compete" was reiterated ad nauseum. 

The team that took the field in Denver last week seemed a little rusty, if not completely unconcerned for the game's outcome all together.  

This week, however, looked a helluva lot more like the team that dominated teams heading into the playoffs. Russell Wilson looked remarkable, completing 11 of 13 passes while rushing for 31 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Collectively, the Seahawks rushed for an impressive 243 yards including a 44 yard sprint to the endzone by 3rd string quarterback, Terrelle Pryor.  

The defense continues to exhibit tremendous depth despite having some key personnel losses.  The Seahawks sacked the Chargers 5 times throughout the night. There was a little rust on display, but ultimately the defense looks ready to defend their title. 

Steven Hauschka was solid yet again-- he might be the most underrated/under-appreciated player on this roster.

The main area of concern  for me in the wake of this game is the question of who exactly will be the Seahawks return man this season.  The coverage units look outstanding, Hauschka and Ryan are Pro Bowl-level talents but who will be the return stud?  Please don't tell me it's Bryan Walters.  Having Earl Thomas back there makes me a bit nervous, too-- but for safety purposes as opposed to production concerns.  I think Percy Harvin is the best bet.  Sure, he's an injury liability, but we paid him big money to be an explosive playmaker.  We've got the receiver depth to overcome a potential injury scenario so I say let him loose!