Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If you're a 12th Man-- This should piss you off

Last night before bed, I decided to watch some videos on to get me fired up for Sunday.  Media day was full of memorable moments with various Seahawks.  Marshawn's interview with Deion Sanders was spectacular, Sherman was entertaining as always and Russell continues to make us proud to call him the face of our franchise. The video stream trickled on, interrupted only by the occasional commercial, until I came across this video of NFL analysts debating who might be the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII.

Right away you'll notice that no Seahawks are proposed as potential MVP candidates.  Translation: none of them think that we stand a chance at winning this game. Not only do they feel like its virtually impossible for Seattle to come out on top in this game-- they take it a step further at the end of the video to mock Sherman's post-conference championship antics.

Normally, I shrug off this type of nonsense, knowing that we'll have the last laugh.  For some reason, this video pissed me off. They're acting as if there's no chance Seattle can slay the mighty Peyton Manning.  The mere suggestion that Wes Welker is going to dominate on slant routes is comically off base.

What about the rest of you 12s?  Does this anger you or are you brushing it off? Perhaps I'm just hypersensitive because of the totality of this match up. Or, maybe, I have a right to be angered by someone thinking that the #1 defense doesn't have a prayer going up against the #1 offense.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What a difference 8 years makes

8 years ago the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers en route to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

I was working that day but I managed to make it to the bar upstairs in time to watch the game in its entirety with some of my best friends.  I don't remember much from 8 years ago, but I can distinctly recall that drive home from Seattle to Renton and the vibe that resonated throughout downtown Seattle.

Everyone was celebrating together.  Car horns blared though the air, strangers embraced and there was blue and green everywhere you looked.

Up until this week, there hadn't been much difference between then and now. I think that clinching the Super Bowl birth was a bigger deal in 2005 than it was this time around, but only because we'd never gotten that far before.

Seahawks Fever '13 didn't reach it's climax until the NFC Championship game-- partly because it was Seattle versus San Francisco and partly because the fan base was still reeling from the gut punch of last years loss in Atlanta.

But this week feels totally different from 2005.

In Super Bowl XL, Seattle was a better team than the Pittsburgh Steelers.  There wasn't much debate on that.  The Steelers were a Wild Card team that somehow found themselves representing the AFC in the Super Bowl while Seattle had the best record in the NFC.

However, when Super Bowl week arrived, the talk wasn't about the Seahawks at all.  It was about a scrappy young team that battled its way into the Super Bowl, a 2nd year quarterback already reaching the pinnacle of his profession and a veteran running back playing in his final game before his hometown crowd.

The media coverage was decidedly in favor of Pittsburgh before Super Bowl XL.  They had the kind of storylines that even those unfamiliar with the sport could latch onto. That's no excuse for the outcome, believe me, it would have been even sweeter to win with no one in our corner.

What the Seahawks were missing in 2005 can be summed up in one word: Swagger.

As great as that team was, they failed to convince anyone outside of the Pacific Northwest that they deserved to be there. Coach Holmgren was quiet and reserved.  Matt Hasselbeck was humble and lighthearted.  Even the league MVP, Shaun Alexander, was extremely modest and soft spoken. The closest thing to swagger that this team had was the mouth of hit-or-miss tight end, Jerramy Stevens.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't want to give you the impression that I didn't have confidence in our Seahawks. I thought we were in it until the very end. The heartbreak didn't hit me until the confetti dropped. 

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that I feel Seattle has had the better overall roster in both Super Bowl appearances, but this year is definitely more evenly matched. The major difference between the Seahawks of '05 and the Seahawks of '13 is the swagger they bring. 

Even with, in my personal opinion, the greatest football player who ever lived quarterbacking the opposition-- Seattle has made this week and this game all about them. It's about Richard Sherman, Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor.  It's about us.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Get Pumped for the Super Bowl

Finally! It's Super Bowl week!

As the world gets ready for the final football game of the 2013 season, we're left with nothing but speculation and anticipation. I figured I could compile some stats that show the Seahawks in a favorable light or continue the debate on Richard Sherman but instead I've chosen to take a more optimistic approach.

Rather than argue numbers and hypotheticals, lets just be grateful that our team is in the big game.  Lets instead get fired up for this game!  Here's some of my favorite videos to watch in preparation for the Super Bowl.

This one has every touchdown the Seahawks scored this season.

This is the track my daughter and I made last season-- still holds up!

This video shows the passion of the 12s with a happy ending.

Had to put this up for Seattle's sons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-- congrats on 4 Grammys!

Tribute to the LOB!

Making a champion.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Open letter to Bill Radke

The following is in response to a blog post ( by KUOW's Morning Edition host Bill Radke.

I'm trying to figure out your angle, Bill.  I read the transcription of your rant a few times, assuming that I must have missed something, but no matter how many times I go over it-- I still can't catch your drift.

The blog post begins by briefly explaining how the greater-Seattle community has been brought together by the excitement of the Seahawks making it to the Super Bowl and quickly shifts to how you, Bill Radke, have
 "grown tired of the hooplah".

I don't know you, Mr. Radke.  I've never listened to your show.  I'm not attempting to discredit you or anything-- I'm 100% certain you've never heard of me.  It's because of my unfamiliarity with your personality that automatically lead me to assume that the reason you were fed up with this communal joy was perhaps because it took attention away from more important issues.

I assumed that you were one of those types of people who are angered by the fact that our service men and women aren't as beloved (or paid as handsomely) as professional athletes tend to be. Maybe you were the type who is infuriated by the media attention that is swallowed by everything Super Bowl-related when there are far more serious and pressing global issues that are more deserving of the nation's eyes.  

None of those somewhat rational opinions came up in your rant. Instead, the best I can surmise from your rant is this:  You were a Seattle sports fan in your youth, but now you're just a grouchy, middle-aged bummer.
In your defense of being tired of the 'hooplah'-- or what I describe as 'a community coming together to celebrate a shared joy' -- you say that you were somewhat of a die hard Seattle sports fan.  Eventually, you stopped being a fan or at least curtailed your enthusiasm over the last 20 years.  I'm not sure why your passion subsided.  All I can deduce from your rant is that things changed and it turned you off. Perhaps it was when your heroes were exposed as regular people with regular problems.  Maybe it was the lean years and the lack of championships.  You never really went into much detail on what caused this change.

Sure, Alex Rodriguez is an asshole.  I can't deny that.  However, that didn't really come to light until he was long separated from the Mariners. Still, I'll give you that one.

But when you insisted that Seattle was the NFL's most annoying team-- that's where I have to stop you.

I won't even get into the the brash stupidity of how you defended that statement as 'fact', but I will break down the 3 reasons you listed to support your claim.

"Their defensive strategy is to commit so many holding and pass interference penalties that the referees can’t possibly call all of them."

For someone who longs for the 'Golden Days' of football, this was an odd place to begin your case against Seattle. The rules for how a receiver can be covered have changed dramatically since the 1970s. Back then, you could literally clothesline a receiver coming across the middle as long as the ball wasn't there. Seattle's secondary plays within the current rules.  Sure, there are times when they cross that line, but I would argue that they are also unfairly targeted because of their outstanding play.  It's not like they're getting away with anything-- Seattle was the most penalized team this season.

2.) "The Seahawks also lead the league in suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs."
You're correct, Bill. Seahawks have more PED suspensions than any other team since 2010.  The league's policies on substance abuse and PEDs are handled about as responsibly as Major League Baseball and the US Government's handling of these kinds of issues-- but that's another discussion altogether. By the way, guess who's right behind us in this unpleasant statistic?  That's right, the AFC Champion Denver Broncos.

3.) "And if being an insulting loud-mouth braggart were illegal, cornerback Richard Sherman would be in Walla Walla."

Yeah, I suppose you're correct there. We also wouldn't have wonderful talk-radio hosts such as yourself or political campaigning-- why would you even attempt to fathom a miserable world like that?

Those are some pretty feeble arguments to start your rant with and it increasingly loses relevance as the word count rises. Your counter argument for the incredible presence Russell Wilson has in our city is that he's not from around here?  Largent and Griffey, who continue to support our communities long after their retirement from Seattle sports are somehow fraudulent because their primary residence is in their respective home states?

What does that have to do with anything?  Who gives a shit?

You're totally discounting the fact that men, women and children from all races, religions and backgrounds are overlooking their personal differences and coming together to support this team.  Some are just now discovering the game of football while others, unlike yourself, stayed on the bandwagon through the lean years.

I can't tell if it's the 'city supremacy' issue that is the underlying cause for your curmudgeonry, but if it is, I can assure you that you're way off base here.  The Seahawks are geographically unique in NFL terms. We are the closest rooting interest for Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and many other areas that do not have their own franchise. I've seen 12 Man flags flown everywhere from London, China, Afghanistan and everywhere in between.  No one is going to ask to see your long-form birth certificate when you tell them you're a Seahawks fan. 

I'll agree with your assessment that we all have better things to do.  There are bigger issues like poverty, health care, genocides and all sorts of serious issues that don't get the attention that the Super Bowl gets. I totally agree with that.  Still, football is an incredible source of entertainment, inspiration and unity that some people can't find anywhere else.  Basically, there's far worse things to be a grump about than the happiness of a large group of people.

Very rarely is anyone killed because of their NFL allegiance and most fanbases will accept every fan regardless of their religious beliefs, political opinions, sexual preference, birthplace or residency.  That's more than most organizations can say. 

 I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, Bill.  I just think you're being unnecessarily harsh on us for coming together for something that doesn't hurt anyone.  I'd like to take this opportunity to extend the olive branch and cordially invite you back on to the 12th man bandwagon.  We've missed you, Bill.

And I'll leave you with a quote by Lili Von Shtupp from another great Mel Brooks movie: 
"Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. C'mon in."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kings of the West

Seahawks      23
49ers            17

The Seahawks are heading to New Jersey to face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. For just the second time in history, our Seahawks will play on the world's biggest stage.

Seattle overcame a 10-0 deficit last night to defeat their bitter rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. It was a physical back and forth match that ended with Seattle proudly hoisting the George Halas trophy for the first time in eight years.

It was a total team win for Seattle.  Every group did their part.  Outside of allowing Kaepernick to rush for 130 yards-- the Seahawks did everything that was expected of them.  Russell Wilson fumbled on the first play of the game, but played mistake-free beyond that. The Beast was well fed, to say the least.  Marshawn Lynch finished with 109 yards and a touchdown.

Wilson spread the ball around well.  Doug Baldwin had another 100 yard performance against his former collegiate coach but it was Jermaine Kearse's spectacular touchdown catch in traffic that might have been the offensive play of the night.

The defense started a little slow but came together as the game wore on.  There wasn't a weak spot to be found.  The 49ers all-time rushing leader, Frank Gore, was held to an embarrassing 14 yards on the ground.  You take Kaepernick's 130 yards rushing off the books-- and this would've looked like a beat down.

I'll have two weeks to post more speculative blogs, so I'll keep this one brief and allow everyone to revel in the victory, but I do want to chime in on all this nonsense regarding Richard Sherman's post-game speech.

For those of you somehow unaware, Richard Sherman's side of the field was only targeted twice throughout the entire NFC Championship game.  The first time Kaepernick threw to Sherm's side, Sherman was called for a ticky-tacky pass interference call.  The second time, Sherman made a play on the ball and tipped it to Malcolm Smith for the game-ending interception.

Mere moments after Sherman made the biggest play of his young career, a camera was shoved in his face to get his reaction and comment. Seconds after the Seahawks Super Bowl birth was made official, he was asked to be taken through the final play by Erin Andrews. I'll spare you the full synopsis.  Just watch the video above.

You'd think that an athlete who's job is to be a savage on the field -- who just earned the opportunity to play for the ultimate prize in his career field -- would be granted some amount of leeway for being emotional and still fired up.  This was not the case.

Apparently, these men are expected to embody human perfection.  They're supposed to be saints within their community, gladiators on the field and distinguished gentleman the instant the clock expires.  I guess its easy for us to forget that, not only are these guys human-- they're still just kids in their early 20s.

Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the NFL today.  He's going to be one of the best for as long as Father Time permits. He has been a tremendous asset to his communities of both Compton and Seattle.  He's at the top of his game both on and off the field.

You know what else? He likes to talk. Don't like what he says?  Beat him.

The two best teams in the NFL were on display in Seattle.  The Seahawks demonstrably showed that they are #1.  Two weeks from now, they'll have to prove themselves in front of the world against the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Championship Blue Friday

As coach would say:  "It's the day before the day before!"

The longest week of our lives is coming to an end.  Pretty soon, the speculation will dissipate and it we'll be left with nothing but the game itself.  Nothing has shaken my confidence this week.  I'm not concerned with whether or not Percy Harvin can play.  If he does, great.  If not, we'll be fine without him.

So, what do the Seahawks need to do to win this game?

I think the single biggest factor in who will take home the George Halas trophy is in the run game. Seattle needs to make sure the Beast is well-fed and that San Francisco is forced to try to beat us through the air.

Colin Kaepernick has never beaten the Seahawks at home-- and I don't expect that to change this Sunday.

I have nothing but praise for Kaepernick's athletic abilities.  He's faster than all strong quarterbacks and stronger than all fast quarterbacks.  He's got a powerful arm and he's not afraid to air it out. It's what's between his ears that brings him down to the middle of the pack.

If the defense can stuff the run and force Kaepernick to throw from the pocket, then it's just a match up of their receivers versus our secondary.  I'll take those match ups all day long.

The noise got to Kaep in the previous two games here in Seattle.  The tremendous significance of this Sunday's game would lead you to believe that it's only going to be louder this time around.

I'm afraid you won't have Dr. Dre to bail you out of this one, Colin.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hipster 12s Need Not Apply

I've seen a lot of talk about bandwagon fans on social media this season and its reached a fever pitch the past few days. It typically comes by way of people who feel they've stuck by this team through the lean years and how they're somehow put off by the insurgence of Seahawks swag that's descended upon the people around Seattle.

I'm here to tell those people to get over themselves.

First off-- it's entirely possible that the vast majority of these hipster-12s are among the very same people who bitch incessantly about how the Seahawks get no respect from the national media.  Evidently, these people want only those of us who have notched 10+ seasons of fandom under our belts to support the team while simultaneously expecting the media to cater to this niche group.

I'm afraid you can't have it both ways.

Besides, who really cares when or how someone became a fan? Why do you think the Steelers are so beloved nationwide?  Its because the Steelers' dynasty of the 1970s, coupled with the fact that no one in their right mind wants to reside in Pittsburgh, created legions of black and yellow fans that dispersed throughout the country. 

Football discussion moves to the forefront of the national conversation this time of the year. People who may never have previously experienced football might just now be getting their first taste of the NFL.  No matter where they're from, if you can't fathom the appeal of the group of characters on this year's team-- maybe you're not such a fan after all.

I was a musician for many years, where this attitude is surprisingly far more prevalent, and the territorial don't-like-what-I-like attitude was always frustrating to me. Maybe because, in sports, your enemies are more clearly defined. Maybe the inherent need for competition becomes intertwined with our passion for art and the only way to satisfy those coexisting needs is to be exclusionary.  Hell, I don't really know.

I say, the more fans, the merrier.  The more fans, the LOUDER.  The more fans, the more media coverage. I fail to see any detriment to growing our fan base.  For those of you who have been on this wagon for a long time-- its your obligation to show the new 12s how we do it.  If you're new to this here bandwagon, let me be the first to welcome you aboard!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Can't Hardly Wait

Why does this weekend feel so far away?

This week is just a meaningless stretch of days leading up to the penultimate game of the Seahawks magical season. Sure, the coaches and players are no doubt using this time to prepare for the task ahead-- but what about us fans?

Personally, the suspense is killing me.

But what can we do about it?  Well, the good thing about being one of the final four teams left in contention is that the national media is actually paying our Seahawks some attention. I've manage to distract myself from the anxiety of waiting by watching highlight clips of the season and wearing a different Seahawks shirt everyday this week. It helps.  Sort of.

My mind can't help but wander past this weekend.  I keep thinking about the Seahawks playing in the Super Bowl.  Russell Wilson squaring off against either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.  I think about watching the team I've followed for almost 30 years returning to the world's biggest stage for only the second time in franchise history-- and this time, they get what's theirs.

I imagine watching that game, surrounded by loved ones, but specifically with my daughter.  What will it feel like when we watch together as Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are on that podium, hoisting that trophy that has eluded us for so long? What memories of this season will stay with us for the rest of our lives?  What will happen when our time has finally come?

It's going to be incredible, for sure.  The thing that has changed from our first Super Bowl appearance 8 years ago to now is that I've learned to appreciate every game, every drive and every moment.  This past season has been filled with more than its share of memorable moments defined by extraordinary players.  This team will not be the same next year or ever again. The Seahawks are most definitely built for longevity, but there are some characters on this squad that we've come to love who might very well be sporting different colors next season.

As I wait in great anticipation for Sunday's Championship game, my confidence grows. I look back on this season and I can see why the Seahawks have made it this far and why I know they have not even peaked yet. With every passing day my confidence grows and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to watch this team.  I am anxious, I am grateful, I am excited, I am confident, I am a believer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Analyzing the Seahawks and 49ers

This Sunday's NFC Championship game match up between bitter division rivals will send the winner to the Super Bowl and the loser to wallow in heartbreak.

Whether you believe it or not, Seattle's '12th Man' home field advantage is a tremendous upper-hand for the Seahawks.  The world-record-breaking noise that Seahawks fans produce gives Seattle's defense a decided leg up on opposing offenses.

What it ultimately comes down to is the game plan of the coaches and the execution by the players.  The crowd noise, the weather and all other outside forces will indeed be a factor but the outcome of the game will be determined by the men on the field.

Here's a position by position look at each team:

Quarterbacks--  If the question were simply 'who is a better human being' Russell Wilson would win without question. I'm sure by now you've all seen this charming info-graphic. Unfortunately, being a pretentious douche and being a talented athlete aren't mutually exclusive. Colin Kaepernick is a phenomenal athlete-- but I think he's very average as a quarterback.  His strong arm and his ability to make big plays with his legs are tremendously diminished by Seattle's defense and the 12th Man. When he's confined to the pocket and forced to rely on his ability to read the defense to make plays, he becomes remarkably mediocre. Don't agree with me?  Well, its important to remember the 49ers have never won in Seattle with Kaepernick under center.

Advantage: Seahawks

Wide Receivers-- The 49ers will have a healthy Michael Crabtree at their disposal this Sunday while the status of Percy Harvin remains in jeopardy for Seattle. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin last offseason has paid off tremendously.  San Francisco gave up a measly 6th round pick to acquire him and his performance this season got him recognized as a Pro Bowl alternate.  Seattle, as with every other position group, has San Francisco beat on depth of talent, but the 49ers have more talent at the top of their roster in this group.

Advantage: 49ers

Tight Ends-- Seattle and San Francisco use their tight ends in different ways.  For example, the 49ers list 5 Tight Ends on their roster (with one of them being a DT/TE hybrid) while Seattle goes with just 3. The 49ers have Pro Bowler Vernon Davis, whose extreme athleticism and dynamic pass-catching abilities create huge mismatches against linebackers and make him more of a receiver than a tight end. The guys listed below him on their depth chart are primarily used as blockers, often times lining up in the backfield like a fullback.  Seattle's Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson are as gifted as they are versatile, helping the offense in the passing and run game. While Davis is probably the best weapon for his offense, these teams come close to a 'draw' here.  I'll give the advantage to San Francisco.

Advantage: 49ers

Running Backs-- These teams are incredibly evenly matched when it comes to run production.  Both have a dominating veteran, both have quarterbacks that can run with the ball and both have near identical statistics on the season.  The big difference is between Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch.  Gore is 30 years old-- 3 years a senior to Lynch.  Gore has also been plagued with injuries throughout his career, although you wouldn't know it looking at the numbers he continually puts up.  When the production is this close, you have to give it to the younger guy who is playing at home.

Advantage: Seahawks

Offensive Line--This is the only position group where San Francisco has a clear and obvious advantage.  Seattle has a pair of studs in Russell Okung and Max Unger, but beyond that and projecting to next season, we could see some new faces.  San Francisco has benefited from a decade of miserable seasons netting high draft picks and they have parlayed that into a stout offensive front.

Advantage: 49ers

Defensive Line--The 49ers once dominant defensive line has been knocked down a few pegs thanks to free agency and father time. Don't get me wrong-- they're still one of the best, but Seattle has a veritable cornucopia of personnel packages that they can roll out to stymie any look you give them.   

Advantage: Seahawks

Linebackers-- The 49ers linebackers are the identity of their defense.  NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are among the best duos ever to take the field.  With that being said, I think Seattle's Bobby Wagner should be in legitimate contention for Defensive Player of the Year.  If KJ Wright were healthy, I might even swing this group in the Seahawks' favor, but as much as Bruce Irvin and Malcom Smith bring to the table, its hard to overlook Bowman and Willis.

Advantage: 49ers

Secondary-- No contest here.  The 2013 Seattle secondary is, without question, the best I've ever seen.  Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Walter Thurmond and the since-suspended Brandon Browner have been nothing short of outstanding all season. I would take Seattle's secondary over any team's group.

Advantage: Seahawks

Special Teams-- As far as the return game goes, Seattle has very much ran their special teams by committee. While neither team has scored on kick or punt returns, Seattle does have more yards. They've also allowed less yards. It's a travesty that Andy Lee made the Pro Bowl (albeit, as an alternate) and Jon Ryan didn't.

Advantage: Seahawks

Coaching Staff-- Given the recent success of the 49ers, its easy to understand why so much praise has been heaped on Jim Harbaugh.  However, when you look beyond the production that we've seen since Carroll and Harbaugh entered the NFC West, you'll find that one coach has done far more work than the other.  Like I stated before, as I have many times in previous blogs, Harbaugh was the beneficiary of a team that amassed it's talent through10 years of consistently picking in the top part of the draft. Carroll, on the other hand, took over an aging team that was just starting to come down from a decade of divisional dominance.  You can't argue against the job Harbaugh has done.  He's effectively coached up a talented roster into a winning program while filling in the missing pieces.  Hell, he took the team to the Super Bowl in his second season.  Carroll had to blow up the team and start from scratch. Carroll has done more with less and done it his own way. 

Advantage: Seahawks

When you get right down to it-- these teams are about as evenly matched in elite talent as you could possibly get.  Anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of the game of football must be frothing at the mouth for this game, even if they don't have a dog in the fight.  Still, I firmly believe that we're beginning to see the slow downfall of the 49ers being eclipsed by the rise of the Seahawks.  Seattle has the edge on personnel as well as the advantage of the 12th Man.  The truth will be told Sunday evening but Seahawks fans should have extraordinary confidence that their team will prevail.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winner Take All

Seahawks     23
Saints          15

The conference championship match ups are set and we could not have hoped for better pairings.  Two of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived, Tom Brady & Peyton Manning, will square off to determine the AFC representative for the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the George Halas trophy will be awarded to whoever comes out on top of the game taking place right here in Seattle-- the third and final meeting of the season between the Seahawks and the 49ers.  The fiercest rivalry in the NFL today.

Seattle continued the tradition of owning the Saints at the CLink this weekend.  Tenacious wind and rain thoroughly compromised the passing attack of both teams. Drew Brees, one of the best passers in the game, was held to a mere 34 passing yards in the first half. Brees did, however, finish the day with 309 yards through the air.

Marshawn Lynch had an outstanding day on the ground for Seattle, finishing the day with 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lynch will need to be the centerpiece for Seattle's offense when they face their rivals next Sunday in the championship game.  His physically abusive running style will break the spirits of any defense when given enough touches.

There are only two games left in the playoffs before the Super Bowl. It all comes down to these championship match ups. The tremendous seasons of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner will be meaningless if they are unable to accomplish their ultimate goal for this season.

San Francisco will come in here having played 4 of their last 5 games on the road.  They have played in the freezing temperatures of Lambeau Field and physical street-fight games against teams like Arizona and Carolina.  They'll return to Seattle, the scene of the no-holds-barred thumping they took in week 2, a battered yet road tested team. They've won their last 8 games including a 2-point victory over Seattle in San Francisco.

There are no excuses for Seattle.  This is the match up they dreamed of.  One game away from the promised land and an opportunity to settle the score against their rivals. Every player and coach will need to step up and do their part.  It all comes down to Sunday.

I can't wait.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Confident in Seattle

There are three games that will take place between right now and the Lombardi Trophy presentation. A maximum of three games will be played before this magical season is in the history books.  It's important that we acknowledge the importance of this game without succumbing to the fears of this roller coaster ride coming to an abrupt end.

I'm sure everyone, players and fans alike, are experiencing some degree of anxiety for tomorrow's match up against New Orleans-- but that's playoff football.  Its winner take all, do or die, win or go home from now until the big game in New York. 

As much as I respect the talent and accomplishments of Drew Brees, Sean Payton and guys like former-Seahawk, David Hawthorne-- I have the utmost confidence in the abilities of our team.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider have changed the culture of Seahawks Football.  They stripped the team
down to it's bare frame and built it up into their own vision of greatness in the past four seasons. Their every move has been scrutinized but they have stuck by their mutual philosophy regardless of how its perceived by anyone on the outside. 

Even Carroll's coaching style has been repeatedly called into question.  His motivational, 'rah-rah' style has been viewed as insincere or phony-- counterculture in a league rife with 'do-as-I-say' machismo. However, time and time again, Carroll has shown that his methods are not only extremely effective, but built for longevity. 

Not every move Carroll and Schneider has made has been a home run, but even those moves that seemed to be 'misses' have put Seattle in a better position overall.  You can go as far back as Pete's inaugural season with the team.  Among the many moves that were initially made, Carroll brought in one of his star halfbacks from his days at Southern California, the oft-troubled LenDale White.  Seattle's run game at the time was abysmal and White, even with his constant off-field issues, seemed like an immediate improvement.  

White showed up to Seahawks camp in great shape but was cut shortly after mini-camps concluded.  It's possible that a potential suspension was looming for violation of the league's substance abuse policy, but it seemed like there was a sense of entitlement and a lack of work ethic that played into the the team's decision to cut him.

"It became apparent at this time that LenDale was not ready to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks," John Schneider said. "It just did not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program. We wish LenDale all the best with his future."

This seemingly insignificant move spoke volumes to what was then just starting to be built.  'Always Compete' and 'Win Forever' weren't just clever catch phrases or marketing slogans-- they were the law of the land.

Since then, the team has overcome everything from the decision to not return the franchise's greatest quarterback to a handful of suspensions and injuries that drastically shook up the depth chart.  Through every obstacle, Seattle seems to emerge stronger.

Now we have a team with extraordinary talent from top to bottom who plays not just for themselves, the team and the fans-- but for each other.  If someone goes down, next man up.  The team has each other's back. If nothing else, the obvious camaraderie that this team shares should give you confidence that they will do everything to avoid the let down we experienced last year when the season ended in Atlanta.  

Seattle outmatches the Saints on every level but there are a few players that I will spotlight who must have great performances to ensure that the NFC Championship Game will be played at the CLink.

Russell Wilson-- Fortunately, Wilson won't be expected to put the game all on himself.  That's not to say that he won't have to make a few clutch plays with both his arm and his feet, but the biggest thing for Russell is that he plays as mistake free as possible.

Marshawn Lynch-- We don't need to see Beastquake II, but a 100-yard performance would be spectacular.  Lynch is at his best when he systematically breaks the will of the opponent.  I want to see Marshawn early and often tomorrow.

Bobby Wagner-- When I went back and watched some of the season highlight reels that have been making the rounds on Facebook, I came to the realization that it isn't Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman that is the MVP of this defense-- it's Bobby Wagner.  Whether its against the run or the pass, Wagner gets it done all over the field for 4 quarters.  A big game from Wagner would go a long ways towards a win.

Percy Harvin-- Harvin is slated to start in his second game as a member of the Seahawks this weekend.  I know that Seattle has managed to have a fantastic season despite only seeing Harvin on the reunion special against the Vikings, but 3 explosive plays from Harvin could be the difference in tomorrows game.

Clinton McDonald, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel-- Yes, I'm talking about the big dudes.  The Saints are coming in with an 'us against the world' mentality and they think that they're going to duplicate the success they had on the ground against Philadelphia in the Wild Card round.  These four mountains of men need to hold the Saints ground game at bay to force Drew Brees into throwing on the league's best secondary.

Enjoy your Blue Friday, 12s. The game tomorrow is going to be a great one. A victory Saturday moves us within one game of the grand prize.  I hope, like me, you'll be watching it will ample snacks, strong drinks and loved ones.

Monday, January 6, 2014

We meet again, Mr. Brees

The NFL Playoffs have begun and Seattle now knows who they will face in their first playoff game.  Their opponent is a familiar one in the New Orleans Saints, who defeated the Eagles on the road in the Wild Card round yesterday. Seahawks will face New Orleans in Divisional Round at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

That means only the Saints and the winner of the Panthers/49ers game stand in the way of the Seahawks and their second Super Bowl appearance.

Given that we've beaten all three of those teams this season-- I like our odds.

New Orleans trailed at the half against Philadelphia, but managed to come away with the victory largely due to the success of their rushing attack. The Saints kept the dangerous LeSean McCoy from running away with the game and narrowly defeated the Eagles by a mere 2 points.

I absolutely cannot fathom that happening this weekend in Seattle.

The Seahawks have had the Saints number here in Seattle since Pete Carroll took the reins.  It began in 2010 in the Wildcard match up with the Saints coming in as 10 point favorites.  Seattle won the high-scoring affair on the arm of Matt Hasselbeck and the earthquake-inducing legs of Marshawn Lynch.

In December of this year, the Saints returned a team eerily similar to what we saw 3 years earlier-- but Seattle fielded a far different team than the one that won the NFC West with a losing record.  The outcome was drastically different as Seattle won handily, 34-7.

I expect to see a performance with an outcome reminiscent of December's match up with the electric atmosphere of the 2010 playoff game.

Seattle has the most dominant defense in the NFL.  I am thoroughly confident of that.  Seattle's undervalued defensive front will not allow the Saints run game to have the success they enjoyed against the Eagles and that will force Brees to try and win the game by throwing on the #1 secondary in the league-- perhaps of all-time.

I have tremendous respect for Drew Brees.  I think he's one of the greatest to ever play.  I just can't see him overcoming such a dominant defense, on the road no less, to come away with a victory.

Let's not forget that this offense of ours is no slouch, either.  Russell Wilson is heading into the second post season of his young career.  He's already proven that he is ready to be in the elite discussion and there is no doubt he will have his team thoroughly prepared for the game this weekend. By the way, there's a possibility that Percy Harvin will be available for Saturday's game.

Add to that the undeniable force that is Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch was recently fined $50,000 for not speaking to the media this season and I hope he doesn't say another word to them throughout the playoff run.  Lynch lets his work on the field do the talking-- that's why we love him here.

There is only 6 games of football remaining before the Super Bowl and everyone is undefeated right now.  I have the utmost confidence that Pete has his boys in the perfect mindset for victory.  The CLink needs to be rockin' this week and Friday should be the bluest day of the year.  I feel great about our chances this year and you should too.