Monday, December 30, 2013

The Playoffs Run Through Seattle

Seahawks    27
Rams            9

The 2013 NFL regular season came to an end yesterday and the once ambiguous playoff picture is now crystal clear.  Seattle's first playoff game will take place January 11th at CenturyLink and will either be against San Francisco, New Orleans or Green Bay.

For the second time since Pete Carroll took over the team in 2010, the Seahawks are NFC West Champions. This time, Seattle locked up the #1 seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs-- but the Rams didn't let them have it without a fight.

The Seahawks offense continued its recent trend of starting off incredibly slow and relying primarily on the defense to keep the team in games. If you ask me, the only difference between yesterday's game against St. Louis and last week's game against Arizona was Seattle's commitment to Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch, who finished 3 yards shy of a 100-yard rushing performance, continuously wore down the Rams defense with each carry.  Darrell Bevell panicked against the Cardinals in the previous game, opting instead to put the game on Russell Wilson's shoulders. In this game, on the other hand, as the Beast was fed-- the Rams defense grew increasingly frustrated.

That frustration culminated in a hailstorm of personal fouls against St. Louis and lead to the ejection of Kendall Langford, who inadvertently struck an official while arguing. The Rams had 12 penalties for 87 yards-- impressive considering Seattle is the NFL's most penalized team.

Russell Wilson did not have his best game-- but Golden Tate may have. When nothing else seemed to work, Wilson kept going back to Tate who carried the team through the first half of the game. Tate finished with 8 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown.

If I can say one thing definitively about the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, it's this: this team's defense is the best I've ever seen.

From top to bottom, Seattle's defense has been dominant against every opponent they've faced.  In Seattle's 3 losses this season, they only lost by a combined 15 points and never lost a game by more than one score.

It's not as if Seattle hasn't faced adversity, either. The Seahawks defense had to overcome injuries, suspensions and a new coordinator-- but they made it look effortless.

Two players that deserve a tremendous amount of praise all season, but particularly yesterday, are Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. Maxwell was thrust into a starting role following the suspensions to Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.  His interception yesterday was his 4th of the season-- keep in mind he's only started 5 games. Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in yesterday's victory, his second of the season, and has filled the void left by LeRoy Hill admirably.

One thing this season has shown me is that the NFC West is most assuredly on the uptick.  The Seahawks and 49ers are once again in the post season and Arizona was a few plays away from joining them. The Rams played tough all year and will continue to reap the benefits of the RGIII trade with Washington-- they hold the #2 and #13 pick in next years draft.

It's safe to assume that the West will be the class of the NFL for the next few years, but that doesn't matter right now.  What matters is that our Seattle Seahawks are NFC West Champions. Their destiny is in their own hands.  Most importantly, this team looks like they have what it takes to go all the way.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Streak is Dead

Seahawks   10
Cardinals    17

The Seahawks lost on Sunday.  To the Cardinals.  At home.

Just typing that has me fighting to suppress the urge to vomit.

With all due respect, Arizona has a good team.  They built a great defense over the past few seasons, I love their new coach, they've got one of the best receivers of all time and for the first time since Kurt Warner-- they've finally got someone that can play quarterback.

That being said, there is still no reason ANYONE should beat the 2013 Seahawks at home.

But that's exactly what did happen.  Arizona came into CenturyLink Field on Sunday with their playoff hopes on the line.  They looked hungry.  They wanted this win more.

The Seahawks looked timid.  They were mere shadows of their former selves. The offense had absolutely no fight in them and that demeanor slowly bled into the defense's performance.

As a fan, I imagine this is how Cards fans felt after the 58-0 walloping they were dealt last time they came here.  Embarrassed. Angry. Ashamed. Sickened.

So... what exactly happened on Sunday?

I was out of the state when this game took place and didn't get parked in front of a television until moments before Richard Sherman's spectacular interception in the first quarter-- his first of two.  The game was still scoreless and Seattle was primed to get things going.

But that never happened.

The defense repeatedly put Seattle in good position to win this game, only to have the offensive and special teams units squander every last opportunity.  When you're at your playing at home and your defense intercepts the ball 4 times and you still lose-- you can't really place blame on anyone but the offense.

The question remains:  Why was this talented offense unable to get out of first gear in this game?  You have to start by laying a lot of blame on Darrell Bevel and the coaching staff for their scared, vanilla play calling.

Percy Harvin has played in one game as a Seattle Seahawk and was used sparingly in that game.  As far as I'm concerned, he's not even a part of the team this season.  Because of that, I do not accept any excuses being made involving Harvin's lack of contribution.  He hasn't been here and it doesn't look like he's going to be here this season. Non-Factor, really.

Same goes for Sidney Rice.  He's been great when he's available-- which is seldom.

Even if you erased those two from the history books, I still love our receiving group.  Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have been fantastic.  That's what we got.  That's what we'll more than likely be trotting out for the playoffs-- and I'm totally fine with that.

The beautiful thing about Seattle's offense is how multifaceted it is.  We have one of the best running backs in the league with Marshawn Lynch. The guys behind him on the depth chart are pretty impressive, too.  Our quarterback can burn you with his arm and legs. Our receivers are playmakers and our tight ends can block and catch.

I don't think this team will ever take the field saying "We're going to beat you with ________ and there's nothing you can do to stop it."  Instead, this team will throw everything at you and see what sticks.  Eventually, they always find their opponents Achilles and they attack it mercilessly.

On Sunday, however, we saw Arizona stymie the passing attack with great coverage and substantially deter our run game.  Coach Bevell seemingly made no adjustments.  It was as if he was just crossing his fingers and hoping Russell Wilson would pull some magic out of his hat.

Why not bring in some trickery?  A flea flicker bomb to Ricardo Lockette?  A reverse with Golden Tate? What about a halfback pass? Something? Anything!

Instead, they continued to put the game on the defense's back.  Maybe they were expecting them to put some points on the board. Who knows?

Eventually, Carson Palmer made a couple of plays and threw the game winning touchdown to a well-defended Michael Floyd-- who had not even registered a reception to that point in the game.

And just when we thought we were about to finally see Russell Wilson 'do his thing', we were treated to one of the most preposterous calls of the season. Wilson fired a pass down field to Doug Baldwin that came in too short and ended up ricocheting off the turf and into the hands of Cardinals linebacker, Karlos Dansby.  The play was subsequently reviewed and deemed to have bounced solely off of Baldwin's forearm without touching the ground, effectively sealing Seattle's fate.

It wasn't the first bad call of the game.  It won't be the last bad call this team catches this season, either. Fact is, the Seahawks can't leave games up to officials or their defense for that matter.  If the Seahawks wish to be elite and reach their goal of winning a Super Bowl-- they have to consistently step it up in every phase of the game.

Seattle should've eliminated Arizona from playoff contention on Sunday.  They should've secured another division title and the #1 seed in the playoffs. Russell Wilson should still be undefeated at home for his career.  None of that happened, so we must roll on.

The season ends this coming weekend. Seattle has to beat the Rams at CenturyLink or the Cardinals must defeat San Francisco in Arizona for the Seahawks to conquer the division and lock up the top seed. Most importantly, Seattle needs to play to their strength: the tremendous wealth of talent on their roster from top to bottom. Don't put the game on Russell Wilson.  Don't expect your defense to win games for you. Everyone needs to play to their potential.

It's not too late to build momentum going into the playoffs.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Big Apple Beatdown

Seahawks      23
Giants            0

The Seahawks played their final road game of the season on Sunday. It's entirely possible that the next road game they play will be in that very same stadium-- the site of Super Bowl XLVIII in February.

Motivated by last week's loss to the 49ers, Seattle came in to New York determined to prove a point and that's exactly what they did.  The Seahawks looked like the team that rolled through the fourth quarter of last season and deep into the playoffs.

Eli Manning had the worst game of his storied career, throwing 5 interceptions while being sacked 4 times. Richard Sherman had a pair of interceptions, as did Byron Maxwell.  Earl Thomas, who is neck and neck with Sherman for Defensive MVP, also had an interception.

The defense looked spectacular but the story of this team starts with Russell Wilson.  Wilson has won more games in his first two years than any quarterback in history. He certainly hasn't done it alone.  Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin have been tremendously reliable every week.

This team has consistently shown, throughout Pete Carroll's tenure, that it's strength is in its depth.  The 'next man up' philosophy has been expertly executed for three seasons now. The difference this year is that each player gets better week to week.  The best get better and the guys on the bench are hungry to get a piece of the action.  Always Compete.  Win Forever. It's not just a catchphrase-- its a proven mantra.

Seattle has two games left and both are against division rivals.  The entire NFC West won this week, proving that the division just a few short years ago known as 'NFC Worst' is now the 'NFC Best'. The Seahawks have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot, but their next goal is winning their division. A win against the much-improved Cardinals in Seattle next week would lock up the division and the #1 playoff seed.

The best team in football this year in right here in Seattle.  The only thing that can stop them from winning it all this season is themselves-- and I just don't see that happening.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Seahawks fall short

Seahawks    17
49ers          19

It could've all been locked up yesterday.  Seattle could've secured the division and became the top seed in the NFC.  The Seahawks could've put the 49ers in a position to miss the playoffs altogether. If only a few plays had turned out differently, Seattle might be sitting pretty, in complete control of their post season destiny.

It could've gone that way, but it didn't.

Instead, we got missed opportunities and strings of misfortune.  San Francisco may have needed this game more but it also felt like they wanted it more. Seattle looked steady but didn't seem to have any explosiveness. It was a fight between two heavy weights exchanging mighty blows for 4 quarters but the final hay-maker, a 51-yard run by Frank Gore on the final drive, that put the Seahawks down for the count.

I could blame the refs for their ticky-tacky calls but their inconsistency and incompetency plagued and benefited both teams throughout the game. I could blame the absence of Percy Harvin but that shouldn't have mattered. There's no shortage of excuses to be made for losing an important game-- but what's the point in that?

Fact of the matter remains: Seattle is 11-2 and still in control of their post season fate.

Maybe this is just what the Seahawks needed before the playoffs. One last meaningful loss to humble the team before it really counts. I'm not going to tell you that it doesn't matter that we lost, because it does. I always want the 49ers to lose and the Seahawks to win-- regardless of who they're playing or the circumstances.

Seahawks will meet today for Tell The Truth Monday and they will have to admit that Sundays performance was not championship caliber. They'll address it, learn from it and move on.  They're traveling to New York this coming weekend-- the site of this years Super Bowl.  You can bet that is a fact that will be on the the minds of the Seahawks players and coaches alike.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Seahawks spectacular in rout of Saints

Seahawks     34
Saints           7

Before a national audience, Seattle unabashedly silenced their critics and systematically destroyed one of the best teams in the game. The Seahawks dominated the visiting Saints in spectacular fashion with one thrilling play after another.

Russell Wilson was absolutely brilliant.  Wilson threw for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He was both the game's leading passer as well as the game's leading rusher.  He was flawless-- but so seemed everyone around him.

The receiving group, who friend-of-the-blog  Bo Thornton described as "Russell's legion of slot receivers", were excellent from top to bottom.  Zach Miller looked like Playoff Zach Miller thanks to the health of the offensive line.

If you ask me, you could take the ex-Vikings receivers off this team and still have a championship caliber receiving core. Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are plenty capable.

It was the defense, however, that really impressed me.  Going into this game, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a streak of 43 consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards.  Seattle held him to 147 yards last night. The Saints 7 points were the fewest they've scored in 5 years.

Just like last year, Seattle overcame suspensions in their secondary seemingly effortlessly.  The next man always steps up and tonight it was Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. Maxwell and Lane were fantastic filling in for the suspended Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.

The main difference from last year is the huge increase in production from Seattle's front seven.  Cliff Avril, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald, Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane have been stout all year while still improving each week.

Coach Carroll has his boys rolling-- but their greatest regular season task lies just six short days ahead.  Seattle will have to travel to San Francisco this Sunday for their final test of supremacy and it will be no easy task.  Seattle is 11-1 with the best record in the NFL, but the 49ers are finally coming together.

 A win in San Francisco will give Seattle their second division title of the Pete Carroll era and lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A season sweep of the 49ers will alleviate all doubt of who the best team in football is.  Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs will force the road to the Super Bowl through the loudest stadium in the world.

But, as I'm sure every member of the organization would tell you, it's all about focusing on the 49ers right now.  One game at a time.  Win Forever.  Always Compete.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Final Stretch

Five games remain until the playoffs are upon us.

For the Seahawks, three of those five games will be played at CenturyLink Field where they haven't lost since #3 took the reins. When the Saints come marching in next Monday night-- they'll be looking to leapfrog the NFC-leading Seahawks in the standings.

Seattle will do battle with two Wild Card threats, both division rivals, when they take on Arizona (at home) and San Francisco (on the road). With the Rams playing well in the absence of Sam Bradford and the Giants technically still in contention for the NFC East-- Seattle has its work cut out for them.

Don't forget-- Seattle has the best record in the NFL.  The Seahawks are number one for a reason. They've repeatedly demonstrated that they can beat their opponents by any means necessary. But just as Seattle was beginning to gel and get everyone back from injury-- things went down.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Walter Thurmond is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.  It wasn't a performance enhancing substance and Thurmond was appealing the ban but has since dropped the appeal in hopes of serving out his punishment in time to return for the playoffs.

Not long after that news made the rounds, Michael Silver reported that Brandon Browner is facing a one-year suspension for violating the league's P.E.D. policy, as well. Although Browner denied the allegations on Twitter, Silver reported that he's facing a year suspension and went as far as to say the Seahawks were ready to move on without him. Let's hold out hope that Browner is being sincere.
Silver also said that Seattle is in negotiations to bring back Antoine Winfield and mentioned that Marcus Trufant worked out for the team today.  Perrish Cox may be brought back as well, but I'd like to see what we have in Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead and Tharold Simon first.

You might remember, it was right about this time last year when Seattle faced an eerily similar situation involving their secondary and suspensions.  Seattle managed to hold it together with what they had left on the roster before their lack of pass rush put an end to their post season run.

Seattle is a more complete team this year and I don't expect these distractions to have any dramatic affect on the momentum they have going.  If Winfield returns, it's gravy.  If the allegations against Browner are true, then it might be the end of his time in Seattle. No matter what happens-- Seattle will overcome.

Monday, November 18, 2013

SeahawksFTW on The Pregame Show

This week Adam, Ally and I had the privilege of being part of a segment aired on FOX NFL Sunday's pregame show.  It was really fun and we were grateful for the opportunity to praise our 'hawks before a national audience. For those of you that missed it, here it is!

-- Chris

Alone at the Top

Seahawks    41
Vikings       20

The Seahawks look like they're ready for playoff football.  As it stands today, they have the best record in the NFL. I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that the 49ers share the same record as the Cardinals-- it feels good typing that out.

The new toy finally came out of the garage on Sunday.  Percy Harvin made his Seahawks debut against his former team and despite being used in a limited role, he looked spectacular.  Specifically, he made a tremendous one handed catch and had an electric kickoff return for 58 yards.

We also got to see the healthy return of Seattle's offensive line.  Their presence allowed Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson to have outstanding performances. Lynch had 63 all purpose yards and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving) and Wilson threw a pair of touchdowns while amassing 230 yards through the air.

The defense was led by Bobby Wagner who had 6 tackles, a sack and an interception.  Clinton McDonald, arguably the most underrated player on this defensive unit, had a spectacular performance with 2 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.  When Walter Thurmond intercepted a Matt Cassel pass for a touchdown, Seattle cemented it's defense as the best in the NFL.  No other team in the league has this much depth and talent.

Seattle put on tape exactly what we needed to see-- a complete team with enough depth to beat you regardless of circumstance.  They are now 10-1 for the first time in NFL history and have a commanding lead in the NFC for the #1 seed in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for us fans, we're going to have to do without Seahawks football for the rest of the month. The Seahawks have a bye this week and won't play their next game until Monday Night Football on December 2nd against New Orleans, the second-best team in the NFC.

The Seahawks just need to handle their business for the remaining 5 games of the regular season. The first two of those five games are against their stiffest competition.  After facing the Saints, the Seahawks then travel to San Francisco to face the, dare I say 'reeling', 49ers. After watching the Seahawks on Sunday, I can confidently say that these last 5 games are absolutely winnable.  I won't be shocked at all if the Seahawks head into the playoffs with a commanding 15-1 record.

One last thing I wanted to mention-- if you watched the FOX NFL Sunday pregame show, you may have seen the SeahawksFTW staff (Myself, Adam and his dog Ally) on a pre-recorded segment on the 12th Man.  Rainn Wilson, of 'The Office' fame, was also among the clip montage. It was incredibly fun and an awesome experience for us.  I can't seem to find the video online anywhere.  If you're able to track it down, please send it our way.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Seahawks road woes put to rest

Seahawks       33
Falcons          10

For the first time all season, the Seahawks looked like the team that rolled through the latter half of the 2012 schedule. From start to finish they were gelling in all phases.  On the road and on the very same field where there season ended last year.

Marshawn Lynch was in true Beastmode form, rushing for 145 and a touchdown.  Russell Wilson was red hot going 19 for 26, throwing a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.  The receiving group, which is supposed to be decimated by injuries, played remarkably. Golden Tate had 106 yards receiving with a touchdown, Jermaine Kearse had 75 yards and a touchdown and Doug Baldwin had 5 catches for 76 yards.

The most impressive group for me, though, was the offensive line.

With all that offensive production, it's worth mentioning that Wilson was only sacked once all game.  Not only that, but the team was once again without Pro Bowl center, Max Unger. Both Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie caught my eye-- and this time, not because they looked like a turnstile.

Atlanta has inexplicably struggled this season, but they're not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination.  Like us, they've been hit hard by injuries.  Unlike us, they haven't been able to find ways to stay in games.

Despite losing Brandon Browner to a groin injury early in the game, our defense shut down the Falcons offense.   This game showed us that, when our offense is firing on all cylinders, our defense can keep us in any game.

With the cornucopia of offensive highlights from this game, without a doubt my favorite play was when the Seahawks ran a flea flicker that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown pass to Kearse.  When you are able to pull off plays like that-- you know your offense is getting the job done.

Another great point of emphasis was the brief appearance of Christine Michael-- boy, is that guy going to be good!

The only thing that made that win even better was the fact that the 49ers lost at home to the Panthers.  Not only does that give us another game of separation from the 49ers-- it also helps us further because it was a common opponent for both teams. As you may well remember, Seattle opened the season by beating the Panthers on their home field.  Now that they've beaten the 49ers on their turf, we have another factor padding our chances of winning the division and securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

There is only 6 games remaining in the regular season.  Seahawks are certainly playoff bound but have two games remaining on their schedule that will determine their path to the Super Bowl.  Seattle faces the Vikings at the CLink this weekend and follow up that game with their bye week.  After that, they host the second-best team in the NFC (New Orleans Saints) on Monday night football and play the 49ers in San Francisco on a short week. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween is over but Seattle still scares it's fans

Seahawks    27
Buccaneers  24

Halloween might be over but the Seahawks had one last 'scare' in store for their fans.

Just before the first half's two-minute warning, the Seahawks found themselves down 21-0 against the winless Buccaneers.  Two things had never happened before this game:  Seattle hadn't lost a home game in it's last 11 contests and Seattle had never overcome a 21 point deficit in franchise history.

Yet, did anyone really ever think that the Seahawks were out of it?

Despite the fact that, for a second consecutive game, Seattle had let a rookie running back run for over 130 yards on them, victory never felt out of reach.  By now, it seems like we've all come to grips with the fact that our offensive line is unable to pass block-- and this game only solidified what we already knew about that group. Nevertheless, that didn't rattle our confidence.

After all, we have Russell Wilson.

For the most part, our defense had a bad game. As well as they've played to this point-- they've earned the right to have a bad game! We can't keep dismissing the atrocious state of our offensive line week after week and not grant the same leniency to our defense for one game.

Marshawn Lynch stepped it up big, rushing for 125 yards and carrying the offense on his back when they needed it most. Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate filled in admirably with the loss of Sidney Rice and in the continued absence of Percy Harvin.
With the Seahawks now perched atop of the NFC with home field advantage theirs for the taking, it is clear that they will need to continue to get better down the stretch.  The past 4 games have been against inferior teams where Seattle should have put up high-scoring statement games.  Instead, the team delivered Houdini-esqe escapes to victory.

I totally understand that being 8-1, panicking seems not only unnecessary, but even dangerous at this point. On the other hand, seeing how thin our offensive line is and given how poorly they've performed through the first half of the season, I think it'd be willfully ignorant to assume that things are only going to get better.  Believe it or not, things could actually get worse.

I understand that it's extremely difficult to find competent linemen at this point in the season but you'd think there would've been some attempt to acquire some additional security at the trade deadline. I obviously don't have the answer, but I'm curious what Carroll and Schneider would do if, say, Paul McQuistan were suddenly lost for the year?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seahawks win by the skin of their teeth

Seahawks   14
Rams            9

Once again, Seattle showed that they have the resiliency to hang on and win sloppy games. They also proved that the current version of their offensive line couldn't stop a nose bleed.

Seattle's offensive line has been pushed around and manhandled all season long-- and it seems to be progressively getting worse. Granted, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and veteran right tackle Breno Giacomini will eventually return this season, but with the way things have been playing out, it'd be foolish to expect their returns to alleviate their protection woes.

Seattle only managed 135 yards of total offense, the lowest in a win since 2010, and Seattle had absolutely no idea how to stop the Rams pass rush, allowing 7 sacks on the night. Russell Wilson has been beat up over the past few games and until we start getting guys back from injury, that trend will continue.

Golden Tate was the offensive MVP of the night.  Tate accounted for almost 70% of Seattle's offense with 93 receiving yards and scored both touchdowns.  In a controversial moment, Tate made a big play on an 80 yard touchdown but en route to the end zone, Tate began to taunt the Ram's defensive back, obnoxiously waving bye-bye and making the chatterbox gesture. The defensive back gave Tate a shove as he crossed the goal line and Tate drew a 15 yard taunting penalty that was assessed on the kick off.

It seemed like everyone from John Gruden to Pete Carroll to every radio show host and caller took exception to the taunting-- but not me.

Was it immature?  Yes.  Did the penalty hurt the team? Of course.  Could it have cost them the game? Quite possibly.

Nevertheless, I loved it.

The offense needed a spark.  They had to get fired up to finish that game out strong.  They were getting stymied up to that point and it was a huge play.  Tate stepped up with his usual swagger and made plays to put the Seahawks over the top.

Earl Thomas was hands down the MVP of the defensive side of the ball.  Gruden went on to say, more than once in the course of the broadcast, that Thomas was far and away the top candidate for Defensive MVP of the year. While Richard Sherman and Bruce Irvin made the interceptions that changed the course of the game, it was Thomas' effort and leadership that kept the Seahawks in this game.

Seattle escaped to improve to 7-1 on the season and they have 3 winnable games ahead of them before their bye week. The trade deadline is mere hours away and rumor has it Seattle is going hard after Vikings defensive end, Jared Allen.  While the acquisition of Allen would improve our already insane defensive front, I don't understand why they're not terrified about the state of their offensive line.

If this team can't keep Wilson healthy, who cares if they make the playoffs at all?  If they can't get their offense clicking against the Saints or on the road against the 49ers, they won't win those games, let alone whoever they face in the playoffs.  Don't get me wrong, Arizona and St. Louis have impeccable defensive units, but teams like New Orleans and San Francisco possess offenses that won't be kept out of the end zone for four quarters.  We cannot continue to expect our defense to shut teams out or hold them to field goals.

Even when Okung and Giacomini return, McQuistan, Carpenter and Sweezy are still part of the plan and they have played awful to this point.  God forbid we sustain another injury to our line, too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Seahawks Gearing up for Downhill Run

11 days between Seahawks games is killing me.  If you take a peak at the remaining games on their schedule-- you'd have to assume that the players are, too.

First off, let's talk personnel. Seattle has brought back two former players that were, in each's own way, fan favorites.  Fullback Michael Robinson was beloved for his work on field as special teams captain and resident hole-opener for Marshawn Lynch but he's perhaps most loved for his all-access web series "The Real Rob Report".   Having Robinson back is going to bring tremendous, vocal leadership to the offensive unit.

Another reunited former teammate is wide receiver, Ricardo Lockette.  Fans and team staff alike have been enamored with Lockette's big-play speed but he just hasn't been reliable on the field.  Lockette was scooped up by the 49ers last offseason but was later released.  It sounds as though Lockette will be tucked away on the practice squad but it makes you wonder why Seattle would add another wide out to the roster with Percy Harvin due back any game now.  Could the Seahawks be planning a trade at the deadline?  Sidney Rice, I'm looking in your direction...

The Seahawks have continued to find ways to win games on the road and at home despite key injuries and the good news is that we're going to start seeing those guys return to the lineup.  Harvin is practicing and could be back as soon as the Monday Night game. Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini aren't far from returning and Pete Carroll has said Bobby Wagner is making a remarkable recovery from his high ankle sprain.

The best news is that we don't really need to rush anyone back. Not only has the team been tremendously resilient through the first part of the season, the second half of this season keeps getting softer.

Seattle's next game is this coming Monday on the road against division rival St. Louis.  Not only have the Rams failed to live up to their preseason 'Dark Horse' expectations-- they've now lost Sam Bradford for the season.  Without two of their best players of the past 5 years (Bradford and Steven Jackson, now with Atlanta) the Rams do not stand a chance.

After that, Seattle returns home to face the hapless Buccaneers.  It sounds like their star player, running back Doug Martin, is lost for the season.  He's certain to miss the game against Seattle, even if his year isn't over. The Bucs abruptly dismissed their quarterback and started the rookie Mike Glennon, who infamously replaced  Russell Wilson at NC State. Again, no chance for the Bucs to win this one.

The Seahawks then hit the road again for a game that I thought would be one of our toughest match ups before the season started. 7 games in, Seattle's return to Atlanta for a playoff rematch now seems like a prime opportunity for Seattle to get revenge on the team that ended their season last year.  The Falcons are 2-4 and have a pair of road games against physical defenses before getting the Seahawks to come to them. The Falcons have been extremely underwhelming this season and have themselves been hit pretty hard by the injury bug.

Following that game, the Seahawks should be 9-1 coming home to play a Vikings team with no idea who their quarterback might be for that game.  Adrian Peterson is always a nightmare for defenses, but as the Giants showed last night, even an awful defense can shut him down if there's no threat of a passing game. Minnesota was a better team when they came in to the CLink last year and they still lost-- this year will only be worse for them.

Seattle should be 10-1 entering their bye week gearing up for their final 5 regular season games. This is when things get difficult.  They come off the bye hosting the Saints, who could very well have the same record, for potential NFC supremacy on Monday Night Football. After that, it's right back to the road for Seattle's toughest challenge of the season, taking on the 49ers in their house.

After that, we should know right about where Seattle's playoff seeding will be.  They get to preview the stadium that will host their first Super Bowl victory against the Giants and then come home for the final two games of the season to beat up on the Rams and Cardinals.

Absolute worst case scenario, it feels like the Seahawks will finish 13-3, but to me, it feels a lot more like we could see this team 15-1 with home field advantage in the playoffs.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Seahawks Dominate in the Desert

Seahawks    34
Cardinals     22

Traditionally, the Seahawks haven't played well on the road.  They had lost 6 of their last 7 games in Arizona. Historically, Seahawks fans do not travel well.  Seattle is usually the destination people transplant to, not the other way around. Then again, Seattle has never been 6-1 before.

I think it's safe to say we're in the midst of a new era of Seahawk football.

Seattle came off the short week and punched Arizona in the mouth. They put up points in every quarter against an impressive Cardinals defense.  Sure, Arizona hasn't shown to be up to the level people expected them to be at this season, but they have definitely improved from last season.

If I had to nit pick something about the Seahawks performance, there's still plenty to be fed up with regarding the Seahawks offensive line.  Seattle continues to struggle in pass blocking week to week.  I get it-- we've played some of the best defenses in the league and we're playing with a lot of key players injured.  Still, it's not crazy to expect to see improvement from week to week and we're just not getting that.

On the first of his three touchdowns of the game, Russell Wilson rolled out to escape pressure and made an incredible down field throw to Sidney Rice.  It was a brilliant throw from the second year quarterback and a great catch by the receiver.  However, if you watch the replay, you'll notice that with the exception of Max Unger, the entire offensive line were beaten like rented mules. The only thing consistent about this offensive line is that you can expect them to get beaten like this several times a game.

Seattle also continued their streak of fumbling the ball. Seattle has now fumbled an uncharacteristic 9 times in the last 2 games. Wilson had 3 fumbles, 2 of them lost, and each one was entirely on him.  At this point, he has to realize that he will have little to know time to make each play and he needs to calibrate that internal clock of his to compensate for the ineptitude of the offensive line.  Tuck & run or roll out, Russ. You can't just pat the ball in the pocket and hope the protection will hold up.  It won't.

Unlike the offense, Seattle's defense continues to grow with each performance.  Carson Palmer was picked off twice and sacked seven times.  Chris Clemons had two of those sacks despite being a game time decision with a hyper-extended elbow.  Malcom Smith played well in the absence of Bobby Wagner and my dude Clinton McDonald continues to be the most underrated player on this defense.

But I have to shine the light on Brandon Browner this week. He's taken a lot of grief for his performance in the past few games where his lack of speed has been exploited, but he really stepped it up last night.  Browner had 4 tackles and an interception that he almost took to the house but inexplicably collapsed inside the 5 yard line. It almost looked like his foot fell asleep right before he got to the endzone. Either way, Browner had a helluva night.

Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson were essentially non factors last night.  We'd heard so much noise about how spectacular those two were and last night, I just didn't see it.  Seattle held Arizona to a measly 30 yards rushing in the Cardinals house. All in all, I think we saw enough improvement in this tough road win to feel really good about our Seahawks going down the stretch.

The Seahawks have 11 days before they head to St. Louis for Monday Night Football. They're 6-1 and are showing the improvement necessary to go deep in the playoffs. The next 4 games before their bye week are incredibly winnable and could very well be 10-1 when they host the Saints at the CLink for another Monday Night game in December.  Over the next few weeks, Percy Harvin, Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini and Bobby Wagner will be returning to the team and we can only expect them to be better.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seahawks beat Titans in spite of themselves

Seahawks     20
Titans           13

Seattle improves to 5-1, tied for best in the NFC, but they continue to look like a team loaded with talent struggling to find it's rhythm. They could very easily be undefeated through this point in the season but they could just as well be .500 or worse if not for a few timely plays.

We know Seattle has talent.  It comes in flashes from every area but it's rarely consistent.  We have yet to see a performance like we did down the stretch of last season where Seattle truly imposes it's will on an opponent.

Sunday's game should have been a get-right beat down of an inferior team on the Seahawks home turf.  With all due respect to Tennessee, they simply don't stack up against Seattle's roster.  Throw in the 12th Man advantage and you have the ingredients for bouncing back from a heartbreaking road loss the week prior.

Yet, once again,  Seattle could not stop themselves from making stupid mistakes.  Penalties and turnovers continue to plague this team in every game.  With the exception of the loss to the Colts last week, Seattle has always found a way to overcome these mental errors. Sidney Rice, Marshawn Lynch and Derrick Coleman all had fumbles on Sunday but it was Chris Margos who had the costliest of turnovers.

When Steven Hauschka was temporarily taken out of the game after receiving a devastating hit from the Titans Darius Reynaud, Jon Ryan was called on to cover all kicking duties.  Seeing as how Ryan is the teams placeholder on field goals and point afters, Seattle needed to call in a backup holder.

For some reason, rather than have a quarterback handle these duties, Pete Carroll called upon backup safety and special team standout, Chris Maragos to handle the snaps. Before heading into the half, Seattle had failed to find their way into the endzone and found themselves in a 3rd & Goal on the Tennessee 4 yard line with a mere 2 seconds remaining on the clock. With Hauschka being examined in the locker room, Seattle sent its Frankenstein Special Teams unit out to attempt to pad their lead.

What ensued can best be described as a comedy of errors.

Maragos mishandled the snap, but rather than fall on the ball to go into the half leading 7-3, he opted to attempt a heroic pass to the endzone.

Instead, Maragos was swallowed up by Tennessee's defensive front and his heroic pass ended up being a feeble lateral that was scooped up by Jason McCourty and taken 77 yards the opposite direction in a ten point swing.

Anyone watching the game could tell Seattle was the more talented team, but the Titans were capitalizing on our mistakes and had the lead 10-7 going into the half.  I think we all knew that Seattle would persevere, they almost always have, but I can't be the only one thinking that it's high time the Seahawks got their act together.

Seattle's game this Thursday in Arizona will be the seventh match up of the season.  We're almost to the halfway point and Seattle hasn't yet taken that next step. I still firmly believe that the Super Bowl is Seattle's for the taking-- they have the talent and perseverance.  The key will be if the Seahawks are able to get healthy and start clicking to build momentum heading into the playoffs.

They have some pivotal games ahead that could very well shape the playoff landscape and it begins with these next two divisional road games. The NFC West remains tight and Seattle needs to run the table to make sure they have enough space between them and the 49ers.  The Monday Night game against New Orleans could also be integral in Seattle's playoff seeding.  It's extremely important that the playoffs run through Seattle.

I know we're continuing to win games in spite of the overall health of the team but the offensive line needs to figure itself out and fast.  I want to see week to week improvement regardless of who is out there.  Hell, the backups have had a handful of games together now, it's time they show some cohesion. The simple fact is that improved pass protection will open up everything for this team and allow the Seahawks to fire on all cylinders.  If that aspect of their game continues to struggle, the burden falls on all the other areas, but when they get their job done, that allows for the other units to shine like they did down the stretch and into the playoffs last season.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Seahawks squander opportunity to stay perfect

Colts   34
Seahawks 28

It's 'Tell the Truth Monday' and the truth is that Seattle snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday.  With all due respect to Colts team that will more than likely be in the playoffs, Seattle should have never even trailed in this game.

The truth is, Seattle did get some bad calls that worked against them Sunday.  There was an absurd offensive pass interference call on Golden Tate and an early blocked punt was ruled a safety when it was fairly evident that it should've been a touchdown. The truth is, those poorly officiated calls should not have decided the outcome of the game.

But, to tell you the truth, I hope this loss serves as a wake up call.

Seattle's next four opponents appear to make up the softest portion of their schedule.  The four games after that might be their most challenging of the season. Heading into these next eight games having been shown that we're human after all might be the best thing for the Seahawks.

Whether you believe it or not, momentum seems to be a powerful factor, especially heading into the playoffs.  If Seattle can make a statement next Sunday at home against the Locker-less Titans and carry that momentum on the road against Arizona and St. Louis, they will find themselves coming home to play the scandal-consumed Buccaneers at 7-1 through the first half of the season.

Getting hot heading into the playoffs won't just give Seattle much needed momentum-- it might mean the difference between the playoffs running through the CLink or not.

The Seahawks will have to return to the scene of their final game last season to play the Falcons on the road, take on the red-hot Saints on Monday Night Football and go up against the 49ers on their turf before the season ends. These 3 games alone could have tremendous impact on playoff seeding in the NFC.

Andrew Luck is a fantastic quarterback.  I still believe Russell Wilson outplayed him on Sunday. I think the Legion of Boom looked lethargic out there-- even Earl Thomas, which is extremely rare.  Bruce Irvin looked pretty good in his first game back from suspension. Jermain Kearse needs his playing time doubled. Seattle should take some cues from the Huskies offense and play a little more uptempo.

There. I told the truth and put that heatbreaker behind me.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Are Seahawks Fans Afraid of Success?

As the franchise enjoys the first 4-0 start of it's young existence, fans of this historically hard-luck team should have plenty to be excited about.  Hell, I know I'm ecstatic myself!  For the first time anyone can remember, the Seahawks were among the handful of teams touted by the media as legitimate Super Bowl contenders through the preseason.

When the season began, there were questions if Seattle had what it takes to win on the east coast in an early game-- they answered that with a victory.  In the second week, the question was whether or not Seattle could contain the NFC Champion 49ers in a tough division rivalry game-- they answered that question handily.  Everyone expected Seattle to roll the Jacksonville, but there was concerns that the Seahawks might overlook the lowly Jaguars-- they covered the spread even with the backups playing the bulk of the second half.  Finally, Seattle had it's truest test with a potential playoff team in Houston facing that 10:00 AM east coast time slot-- it wasn't pretty, but the Seahawks answered.

Now we're officially one quarter into the regular season and so far Seattle have overcome every challenge put in their path.  If you look deep enough, you'll find concerns, but all in all, this team has answered every call.

Today, I began to look at the next quarter of the season.  Seattle goes on the road to Indianapolis, back home to take on the Titans and then two divisional road games against the Rams and Cardinals. Now, the Colts were a playoff team last year and they beat the 49ers in their own backyard.  Under absolutely no circumstances should the players or coaches be looking past this game. However, as a fan-- don't you feel good about how these teams match up?

The Colts have become somewhat of a smash-mouth football team this season.  They'll look to pound the ball at us while making efficient passes with Andrew Luck.  I'm thoroughly confident our defense will handle the Colts offense.  The Colts defense doesn't scare me at all. I think a steady dose of Marshawn Lynch will open things up for Russell Wilson to go off.  Even Vegas is favoring us to win this one on the road.

After that, it only gets easier.  It looks like we'll see a Jake Locker-less Titans team at home and a pair of division rivals who have so far fallen well short of the expectations that were put on them to be much improved. Barring catastrophic injuries to key players, you have to feel good about the Seahawks going 4-0 in the next stretch of games.

That being said, I peeked ahead to the 3rd quarter of the season-- Tampa Bay is imploding, we get them at home, Falcons have yet to get it together this year, and you gotta think Seahawks are out for their blood, Vikings are still a one trick pony with Adrian Peterson and then we hit our bye week.

As a fan, I don't see a real threat on the schedule until Monday Night against the Saints and then the short week leading to the road match up with the 49ers.

Cocky? Yes.  Improbable?  Absolutely not.

Being a fan, short for Fanatic, I posted comments on my personal Facebook page as well as the Facebook page declaring that I don't see a real challenge for this team until December. 

I was completely shocked by the responses I received.

Everyone, almost unanimously, responded with the same 'don't look past any opponent' saying to one degree or the other. I continuously reminded them that coach Carroll would certainly prepare the team as such-- but since we're not active participants in the outcome of the game, and instead fanatics of the Seahawks, it's well within our jurisdiction to get excited, speculate and overreact.

No one was buying it.

Am I being crazy? I thought about it-- absolutely not!  This team is damn good!  Historically good!

49ers fans for the better part of a decade have been obnoxiously loud about how great their team is in the preseason, only to be disproved 8 out of 10 times. My friends who follow the Packers think they're going all the way every year just because they have Aaron Rodgers. Same goes for my friends who claim Tom Brady or Peyton Manning as their guy.

Upon deeper reflection, I wasn't the one acting unusually.  It's the rest of you!

Are we Seahawks fans afraid to jinx our team?  Would the shame of falling short of winning it all be too much for this fan base to bear? Perhaps it's a little bit of both.  I can assure you, if Seattle doesn't live up to those lofty preseason expectations, no one will be more disappointed than me.

However, I'm not going to let the fear of failure as we embark into this previously uncharted territory of being the favorite hold me back from enjoying the hell out of this season.  There's a chance we won't win it all-- there's a chance we'll never be this good again. 

All I know is, right now, we're really, really good.  We've overcome every challenge put in front of us so far and there's no sign of that changing anytime soon.  So, puff your chest out, ride this wave of excellence as far as it will take us and above all else-- really enjoy this season.

Seahawks win ugly, Improve to 4-0

For the first time in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks finished the month of September with a perfect 4-0 record-- and they did it in just about the ugliest way possible.

In a game where Seattle trailed by 17 points at the half and nothing seemed to be clicking, the curse of the 10:00 AM start time seemed to be in full effect. There were intermittent flashes of brilliance but Seattle seemed unable to string together anything of significance. J.J. Watt, whose face was dripping with blood throughout the game, was wreaking havoc on Seattle's patchwork offensive line that was missing 3 of it's 5 starters.

Texans linebacker, Whitney Mercilus, was merciless in his pursuit of Russell Wilson, racking up 2.5 sacks on the day.  Brian Cushing lead the Texans in tackles and forced a fumble before leaving the game with a concussion. Johnathan Joseph snatched an interception off of a forced pass by Wilson and there wasn't a single offensive possession that didn't feel like an uphill battle for the Seahawks.

The worst moment in the game, by far, was seeing one of our most productive players of the season hauled off on a stretcher.

Michael Bennett was taken to the hospital after a scary collision that appeared as if he may have seriously injured his neck. Fortunately, results were negative and they are now calling it a lower back injury that seems significantly less serious.

Marshawn Lynch never gave up in this game.  Lynch finished the night with 45 yards receiving and 98 yards on the ground, including a 43 yard scamper that may well have qualified as Beastquake 2.0 had it occurred in the CLink.

But it wasn't until Wilson put the game on his shoulders, or more appropriately, on his legs, that Seattle began to turn the tables on Houston.  Wilson finished with 77 yards on the ground with key first down conversions that set up the scoring drives that lead to Seattle's comeback.

Houston quarterback, Matt Schaub, threw for 355 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Throughout most of the game, Schaub was having his way with the Seahawks defense, systematically picking them apart.  Had Seattle fallen short, he may well have been the hero in this game, but it was one poor decision he made with his team up 20-13 that swung the momentum fully in the Seahawks favor.  Schaub lobbed up a lame duck to his tight end but Richard Sherman saw it coming, leaped up and took the ball 58 yards to the house-- with only one shoe!

Seattle forced the game to overtime and eventually got into scoring position to sneak away with a tough road win. It was hard fought and sloppy, but a win nevertheless.  At first, it certainly appeared as if the team hadn't gotten up for the early, east coast game. The players body language was in stark contrast from what we'd seen the previous three weeks-- even on the road in Carolina. When they opened the 3rd quarter with a sack on Wilson-- It looked like more of the same. 

Instead this team fought on and believed in themselves.  The truth is, there was just too much talent on this Seahawks roster for even a great, playoff-caliber team like the Texans to overcome.  This game might not have been pretty and I'm sure the fans will remember this game simply as a victory and not the four-quarter-anxiety-attack that it really was, but this could be a game that we look back on at the end of this season as a major statement game.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cardinals Safety gives the finger -- Literally

When Seahawks division rivals Arizona Cardinals went into the Big Easy to take on the Saints-- they lost more than just the game.

Cardinals safety, Rashad Johnson, lost the tip of his left middle finger.

Johnson isn't exactly sure how the injury happened.  Apparently, he simply remembers his hand being numb after a play and noticed blood coming from his glove.  When he got to the sidelines, trainers cut the glove off of his hand.  Only one problem-- the top of his finger, nail and all, remained inside the glove.

The picture below was tweeted from Johnson's twitter account.  He has since undergone surgery, where doctors shaved the bone down to prevent infection and stitched up the wound.  Johnson's availability for this weeks game is questionable as it could take a few weeks to heal.

Man, that looks painful.  Get well soon, Rashad.

Monday, September 23, 2013

It was a long offseason for some-- longer for others

Like I said in my last post, I'm proud to see the 12th Man hold their team to the highest standards, reflective of our goals for the franchise.  The truth is, not all fan bases have this outlook for their team. 

This morning, I received a message from a Bears fan that has been harboring resentment against me since the Seahawks went into Soldier Field last season and went all kinds of Russell Wilson on their asses. Below is the message and subsequent response.

Let's look at what the Bears have accomplished thus far:  They narrowly edged out the Bengals in week one 24-21, they barely escaped with a win against the Vikings 31-30 and last night they thumped the hapless Steelers 40-23.  That's right, they're 3-0.  Barely.

The Bears don't have a daunting schedule ahead of them, but they do have to play the Saints, the Ravens and the Packers twice.  The Bears do not have much depth, so everything could change as the grind of the season wears on.

To be fair, while I did say at that time that the Bears would be cellar dwellers in the NFC North, I did change my tune with the hiring of Marc Trestman and a solid draft.  Still, it's hard to imagine the Packers not righting the ship when all is said and done.

What is clear is that our friend Joey probably hasn't watched a single Seahawks game this year. Seattle is far and away the best, deepest team in the NFL and while it's hard to forecast so far into the future, it certainly looks like the road to the Super Bowl will run through CenturyLink. 

I will continue to expect more from my team every week.  It'd be easy to troll the 49ers message boards and gloat over their slow start-- or follow up on some commenters from last season to rub it in, but my eyes will continue to be on each game, each week.  Just like our Seahawks.

Seahawks get it done at home

Seahawks  45
Jaguars      17

The Seahawks were huge favorites to beat the Jaguars at home yesterday and what they did was just that.  Nevertheless, expectations being what they are, no one is content with the victory-- not even the fans.

This is a good thing. We saw what happened with the Philadelphia Eagles "Dream Team". They had lofty expectations given the depth of talent on their roster, only to watch everything fall apart as the team became complacent.  When faced with adversity, rather than strive for excellence, the finger pointing began.

Yeah, Seattle put up 45 points and never seemed to lose control of the game.  Sure, Russel Wilson threw for over 200 yards with 4 touchdowns-- Hell, even backup quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson passed and ran for a touchdown yesterday.  However, it was what Seattle didn't do that remained their focus in the aftermath.

Bobby Wagner, who had an impressive tipped-pass interception and was in on several tackles, said as much after the win.  He knew what was expected of the defensive unit and after allowing just 3 points from Super Bowl contender and division rival 49ers-- giving up 17 points to a Jags team that hadn't scored that many points all season was completely unacceptable.

Personally, I love it.  For a team and a community that has never really 'been there before', the team and the 12s are very much acting as though they have.  It bodes well for the arduous road ahead.

The other great thing through these first few games is that there has been week to week improvements made in different areas.  This week, the passing game stepped up with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Luke Willson each pulling down 5 balls a piece for 75 yards or more. Zach Miller had 2 touchdowns himself and Doug Baldwin made a spectacular one-handed catch.

Red Bryant left the game with back spasms and Jermaine Kearse hurt his ankle but otherwise the Seahawks got out of this win unscathed. Michael Bennett continues to be Seattle's most productive free agent acquisition, netting a sack and a half. Clinton McDonald also had a sack and a half as Seattle's front line continues to get better. Christine Michael looked great in his first show of extended playing time as the Seahawks backfield amassed 156 yards on the ground.

Another tough test lies ahead this week as Seattle faces another playoff hopeful on the road against the Houston Texans, however, the Texans haven't looked as impressive as they were hyped up to be.  All three of Seattle's division opponents lost this week and it looks like we might be seeing the demise of the 49ers. Frank Gore got into an argument with coach Harbaugh over abandoning the run game too early, Kaepernick continues to fail to carry his team in big moments, star defensive end Aldon Smith will miss time as he enters rehab following his second DUI arrest and injuries are beginning to expose the lack of depth.  Seattle has to win these next two AFC South road games against playoff hopefuls to truly assert their dominance.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Take it Easy-- don't count on it!

While recording segments for this week's SeahawksFTW Weekly podcast, Adam and I got into a discussion
regarding what we should expect to see this Sunday when the Seahawks take on the Jaguars at the CLink. Paraphrasing, Adam said something to the effect of "Pete's not going to run up the score on Gus.  They have too much respect for him."  I was, to say the least, a bit taken aback.

I retorted, "Are you trying to tell me that the man whose mantra is 'Always Compete' is going to coast through this game because an ol' buddy of his is now across the sidelines?!"

Since then, Adam has softened his stance a bit, but I've heard more than one local radio analyst make similar comments.  Now, don't get me wrong, I know that Pete isn't the only member of the Seahawks organization with tremendous respect for the first-year head coach of the Jags, Gus Bradley-- but I absolutely refuse to believe that they'll modify their game plan in any way as a gesture of respect.

Sure, I doubt we'll see them go for two unnecessarily. It's safe to say they probably wont go for it on 4th down unless they absolutely have to.  Perhaps we might even see backups get some time or questionable injuries held out to err on the side of caution-- but believe me, they will do their best to win on every single play.

From what we know from Coach Bradley's time here-- that's exactly how he'd want it to be.

Let's be real, even if Seattle win's 62-0, losing to a championship caliber team in Seattle isn't nearly as embarrassing as losing to the perpetually awful Raiders. I think it's safe to say that the Seahawks will cover the 20 point spread-- even if the backups see extending playing time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Seahawks Capture Win before loudest fans on Earth

It was far and away the most anticipated regular season Seahawks game in the almost 40-year history of the team and we could not have asked for better results.  Most people assumed that, if the Seahawks were to win, it would look more like last week's victory over the Panthers than last year's lopsided victory over San Francisco at home-- but most analysts were so enamored with the 49ers win over Green Bay last week, they assumed there was no way Seattle could top them.

Boy, were they sadly mistaken.

In front of a national audience and representatives from Guinness World Records, the Seahawks established themselves as the most complete team in the NFL.  They put up 29 points to the Niners 3 on the back of Marshawn Lynch, but it wasn't the offense that won this game for them.  Seattle's defense, lead by the the Legion of Boom, fed off of the record-breaking crowd noise to accomplish what no other team in the league can: contain Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, who is now 0-2 in games started against the Seahawks, was once again flustered and inconsistent.  The 49ers quarterback was responsible for 4 turnovers, 3 interceptions and a fumble, never seeming to find an open receiver.
The same guy that Ron Jaworski and Mike Greenberg were touting as the future greatest quarterback who ever lived looked a lot more like Mark Sanchez than he did Peyton Manning. When the game is put on Kaepernick's shoulders, he seems unable to win the game for his team.

The Seahawks offense again struggled to fire on all cylinders, but were able to lean on one specific facet of their offense when the others weren't effective. Last week, it was the run game that couldn't get going.  This week, it was the pass game-- but that's what makes this team so special.  They will find a way to beat you.

The team certainly did their part, but the game ball has to go to the 12th Man last night.  Seattle's fans were able to set the record for the loudest crowd noise in spite of an hour-long delay due to lightning. Despite the obvious body language and the tightest huddles I've ever seen, the 49ers continue to deny the impact the crowd noise has on them every time they come here. But as Richard Sherman says, "We keep putting it on tape!"

Marshawn Lynch was in full Beastmode last night, amassing 135 all-purpose yards and scoring all three of Seattle's touchdowns.  Russell Wilson was never able to get much going in the pass game and threw an interception when Golden Tate fell down on a deep route, but you have to be impressed with the maturity with which he carried himself all game long.  Wilson took a beating last night as the 49ers implemented the very same 'hit-the-quarterback-if-he-becomes-a-runner' game plan Jim Harbaugh bitched about the Packers running. There were a couple plays that bordered on unsportsmanlike conduct, but Russell stayed cool and took it like a champ. 

There was some bad news that came out of last nights game-- Russell Okung left the game early with an apparent ankle injury and did not return. Paul McQuistan filled in admirably, but losing your Pro Bowl left tackle is always a tremendous concern. Outside of that, there did not seem to be any significant injuries on the Seahawks side, which is a huge accomplishment given how physical these two teams always play-- especially against each other.

We can't talk about last nights game without giving all the credit in the world to Seattle's defense.  3 Points-- that's all they allowed one of the most dangerous offenses in the league to put up on them.  Cliff Avril was spectacular in his Seahawks debut, racking up a sack, forced a fumble and never let Kaepernick get comfortable.  The Seahawks other free agent acquisition, Michael Bennett, was every bit as dominant himself. No matter where they lined him up, inside or out, Bennett was wreaking havoc all over. The three active members of the Legion of Boom, Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman all had clutch interceptions last night.  It's almost crazy to think that this team is only going to get better when Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Brandon Browner get healthy and back on the field.

Relish this week, 12s.  This was an incredible victory over a tough team and our path to the Super Bowl is starting to look a lot more realistic than even we had previously imagined.  

Seahawks 29
49ers          3

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SeahawksFTW Weekly #1

We're proud to introduce a brand new feature to called "SeahawksFTW Weekly". This is a sports radio-themed podcast that we will bring you every week of the Seahawks season to recap the Seahawks performance, review scores around the league and preview the upcoming Seahawks opponents.

In the debut edition, we interview Bryan Hersh from for the 49ers fan perspective of Sunday night's game. We invite you to share this with all of your friends and look forward to having you on board for what is shaping up to be a really cool venture.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seahawks squeak by: Seattle 12 Carolina 7

Every fan of every team would love to kick their season off with the win, perhaps even more so on the road, but this particular road victory left a bad taste in my mouth.

I wish I could point to one thing specifically, but it wasn't just one thing.  Seattle may have won this game, but this was not a performance indicative of a Super Bowl hopeful.  The mental mistakes and boneheaded penalties from the preseason carried over into this game. They were able to hang in there and overcome those things to get the win-- which was great to see, especially on the road. However, if you're going to hold your team to championship standards, you can't be content with the way the Seahawks played altogether.

First and foremost-- the offensive line played horribly. They couldn't open any lanes for Marshawn Lynch and they left Russell Wilson scrambling for his life throughout the game.  James Carpenter looked awful in particular and I expected so much more given the fact that there were no rookies starting up front for the first time in years. Carolina played well up front, but Seattle should not have been overwhelmed by this group as much as they were. Tom Cable needs to get this group right before the home opener when they'll face an elite defensive front.

Lynch only carried the ball 17 times for 43 yards yesterday as it seemed Carroll has turned away from the run-first mentality that we all assumed this team would live by this season.  Robert Turbin had a great change-of-direction run for 15 yards late in the game but Seattle by in large put the game on Wilson's right arm. 

Dan Quinn's defense looked soft.  In his debut, taking over for Gus Bradley as the defensive coordinator, Seattle had little pass rush and gave up the middle of the field to Carolina for most of the game.  They did manage to hold Cam Newton to a paltry 125 yards passing but part of that can be attributed to the Panthers applying the brakes once they had the lead.  Despite getting Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel back, Seattle still gave up 125 yards rushing to the Panthers.

Still, there were some bright spots worth noting. I thought Wilson and the receiver group played tremendously. Doug Baldwin played with the reliability of Bobby Engram, coming up just nine yards short of a 100 yard game, grabbing 7 catches.  Jermaine Kearse continued the spectacular playmaking we saw in the preseason, making an incredible 43 yard grab for Seattle's only touchdown-- the first touchdown of his career.

Russell Wilson was brilliant despite the deficiencies of his line and run game.  Wilson completed 75% of his passes en route to his first regular season 300+ yard performance of his young career.  The Panthers knocked Wilson around all game but he still managed to keep a cool head.  If not for a sack fumble just before the half-- Wilson would've played mistake free.

Much like last season's match up in Carolina, Seattle's defense played stout when the game was on the line.  Carolina had a chance to win the game at the end but Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman were able to separate the ball from DeAngelo Williams in the red zone, effectively sealing the victory.

Seattle needed this win to get their season off to the start that their expectations demand.  They absolutely need to shore up these problems before they take the field this Sunday for their home opener against the defending NFC Champions.  The 12th Man will certainly lend a hand but this team needs to establish a significantly more dominant rushing attack and do a much better job keeping their quarterback protected.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Opponent Preview: Carolina Panthers

The most anticipated Seahawks season of all-time will kick off in just 4 days with Russell Wilson and company heading into Charlotte to face the Panthers. The two teams met early last season in Carolina, with the Seahawks narrowly escaping with a 16-12 victory due largely in part to Seattle's defense. Wilson was still a few weeks away from really hitting his stride while Cam Newton continued the struggles that would plague him all season long.

Newton is arguably the best player on the Panthers roster.  After an incredible rookie season, Newton experienced a surprising sophomore slump last year. Physically, Newton is Russel Wilson in a linebacker's body.  Mentally, there are a lot of question marks in his game. Newton came to a talent-poor Panthers team having never really experienced failure or losing before. I think that may have worn on him but he looks primed to rebound from last season and should not be overlooked.

Despite having a backfield robust with capable running backs, Newton was the Panthers leading rusher last season.  If they don't figure out a way to make better use of DeAngelo Williams and recently drafted Kenjon Barner-- head coach Ron Rivera will soon be unemployed.

There is still a shortage of quality weapons at Newton's disposal.  Ol' reliable Steve Smith may have lost a step or two but he still gives 100% on every play-- and is almost certain to get after it with Richard Sherman on Sunday both verbally and physically.

The Panthers defense is anchored by veteran linebacker, Jon Beason, but Luke Kuechly has emerged as the future star.  I had high hopes that the Seahawks would draft Kuechly to replace Lofa Tatupu, but I have been nothing but satisfied by the performance of Bobby Wagner.  Carolina shored up their defensive line in the draft, taking a pair of defensive tackles with their first two picks-- Star Lotulelei (no relation to our John Lotulelei) and Kawann Short.  They also added former Seahawk, Colin Cole, to that mix.

By no means is Carolina a powerhouse-- I don't think they'll fare much better than 8-8 this season. They are a young team with talent trying to piece it all together.  Unfortunately for them, they play in the same division as Atlanta, New Orleans and another team on the rise in Tampa Bay.  I certainly expect Seattle to come away with a win this weekend, but I don't believe it will be an easy one.  It shouldn't be a close game but I think it will take a few series before Seattle comes close to establishing the rhythm that carried them deep into the playoffs last year.  While this is another 'dreaded, east coast 10:00 AM start' game-- it's also the first game of the season, which bodes well for Seattle.

Monday, September 2, 2013

No surprise that I'm surprised by Seahawks cuts

Saturday afternoon, the 32 teams that make up the NFL were compliant in cutting their rosters down to 53 players by the imposed deadline. The Seahawks had some difficult decision to make given their wealth of talent but there were some surprising moves made, nonetheless. Before we go into further detail on specific moves, lets take a look at all of the moves Seattle made to get their roster ready for the regular season.

Quarterbacks: QB Brady Quinn
Running Backs: FB Michael Robinson
Wide Receivers:  WR Phil Bates, WR Bryan Walters, WR Arceto Clark and WR Chris Harper
Tight Ends:   TE Darren Fells, TE Cooper Helfet and TE Sean McGrath
Offensive Linemen: G Ryan Seymour, G Jared Smith and G Rishaw Johnson
Defensive Linemen: DT Michael Brooks, DT Dewayne Cherrington, DT Jaye Howard, DT Sealver Siliga and DT Clinton McDonald
Linebackers: LB Ty Powell
Defensive Backs: DB DeShawn Shead, DB Winston Guy, DB Ron Parker and CB Antoine Winfield

It was no shock that Brady Quinn was released given the fact that Seattle generally only carries 2 quarterbacks on the roster in the regular season.  I'm confident he will find a new job with another team

Probably the biggest shock on this list was the termination of Michael Robinson's contract.  Granted, he was due $2.5 million, which is a lot for a fullback, but few teams value the fullback position quite like the Seahawks.  Since the beginning of camp, the Seahawks were looking internally for Robinson's replacement, even giving wide out Phil Bates a shot before cutting him.  Spencer Ware and Derrick Coleman are the two players vying for Robinson's duties but neither of them were very impressive this offseason.

Despite missing the past couple weeks with a virus of some sort, the only real knock on Robinson is his cap number.  My hope is that Seattle is able to bring Mike Rob back into the fold under a veteran minimum contract while sneaking Spencer Ware onto the practice squad.  If Seattle is unable to get him back this season, it will become the first area where Seattle has regressed from the season before.

It was a minor shock to see Seattle cut Antoine Winfield, seeing as how he was outplayed by Walter Thurmond, but it was fairly unexpected to see him elect to retire because of it.  I can understand how a Pro Bowl veteran like Winfield wouldn't want to be a backup player but he looked like he could still be a starter on several other teams. Maybe he'll stay near the phone this season in case of injury.

We can only deduce from Seattle's decision to only keep two tight ends on the roster that Zach Miller is fully healthy and ready to go.  Sure, offensive tackle Mike Person has had some reps this offseason at blocking tight end, but the only two pure tight ends on the roster are Miller and rookie Luke Willson.  Both Helfet and McGrath played admirably this preseason and I would've been comfortable keeping either of them.  With Willson's inexperience and Miller's injury history-- this move is more than unsettling to me.

The other surprise, to me anyway, was the Seahawks decision to cut Winston Guy.  I thought Guy outplayed Jeron Johnson this preseason and I had heard that Carroll and Schneider were really high on him.

Seattle continued to try to shore up the defensive line by trading Jacksonville for defensive lineman, D'Anthony Smith.  You can count on seeing a rotation of players on the defensive front for at least the first few games.  Hopefully the cream rises to the top.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bring on the regular season!

Seattle won it's 10th consecutive preseason game in a victory over Oakland last night at the CLink, going undefeated for the second strait preseason. Once again, the team looked dominant in all phases of the game.

Russell Wilson played only a single series but looked damn sharp. Wilson looks prepared for the season opener in Carolina, going 3 for 3 through the air including a 50 yard bomb to roster hopeful, Stephen Williams. He also scrambled for an 11 yard gain before his night was over.

Tarvaris Jackson is now entrenched at the backup position while Brady Quinn essentially
auditioned for a role with a quarterback-hungry team. Given the depth of this team at every position, it's impossible to think that Seattle would dream of keeping all three quarterbacks on the roster after Saturday's cut deadline.

Kickers are seldom discussed but Steven Hauschka has often been criticized for his ability to boot field goals beyond 50 yards. Hauschka silenced those criticisms last night, connecting on field goals of 22, 43, 51, 53 and 56 yards.

Snoop Lion and fellow Comptonite, Richard Sherman.
Capping off an outstanding preseason, Jermaine Kearse continued to show why he'll make this team with another great night. Kearse had a pair of receptions for 50 yards including a spectacular leaping grab on a pass from Brady Quinn for a 33 yard gain. Especially in Percy Harvin's absence, it's almost insane to think Kearse won't make this team.

The area of greatest concern has to be the defensive line. Seattle gave up 126 rushing yards last night in large part to the void left by Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and rookie Jordan Hill. Jesse Williams will miss the entirety of his rookie season due to injury which leaves Seattle remarkably depleted at the defensive tackle spot. Some credit must be given to Oakland and their strong running game, but lack of experience really hindered Seattle's defensive front.

It didn't, however, seem to effect Seattle's pass rush. The Seahawks finished the night with 4 sacks at the hands of Chris Maragos, Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa and a shared sack by Jaye Howard and Ty Powell. Bruce Irvin seemed to really take to the transition from defensive end to linebacker, amassing 3 solo tackles and an assist. Meanwhile, Benson Mayowa continues to comfort me as the concerns of the availability of Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett for the season opener grow.

The position group that I am most interested in seeing who makes the final cut has to be the linebackers. Allen Bradford has shown tremendous growth in every game since making the unusual transition from tailback to linebacker. John Lotulelei is another player on the bubble who I'd love to see, at the very least, find his way to the practice squad.

The player I was most disappointed in last night was Chris Harper. Harper had two inexplicably dropped passes, one of which was a surefire touchdown had he held on to it, in a game where he desperately needed to separate himself from Stephen Williams and the other receivers trying to make the team. Since we drafted him in the 4th round, Harper has yet to prove his worth in a crowded receiver group.  I had initially hoped he would grab the final spot and slowly grow into a starting role over the coming seasons-- now I'm just hoping we can keep him on the practice squad.

How about Walter Thurmond? He looks, for the first time in his professional career, completely healthy and confident. Thurmond was all over the field last night and made some outstanding plays including a one-handed interception and a 29 yard punt return. Whether he beats out Antoine Winfield or not, it will be tremendous simply having him in the rotation.

The preseason is officially in the books and by Saturday afternoon we will know exactly what our 53-man roster will look like to open the season. One week from this Sunday, Seattle will begin this historic season in Charlotte, North Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.

I like the idea of starting on the road against a tough but beatable team. Seattle should win, but the fact they are only favored by 3 points is a testament to how tough that game will be. Carolina is young but talented enough not to be overlooked.  Regardless, I think we're all ready for some (meaningful) football.