Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Acting out with Doug & Sherm

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Defense Rises-- Seahawks 19 Cardinals 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Russell Wilson completed passes to 9 different receivers yesterday. 

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Something's Missing-- Seahawks 20 @ Chiefs 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Seahawks Run Wild-- Seahawks 38 Giants 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thank Your Stars for Lynch-- Seahawks 30 Raiders 24

I have to admit-- there's a part of me that wants to see Marshawn Lynch miss a game or two this year.

Not because I want to see more of what we have in Robert Turbin and Christine Michael-- but to have a full display for everyone to see just how much Lynch means to the success of this team.

Think about it:  There was a point in yesterday's victory over Oakland where Seattle was without it's starting Pro Bowl Left Tackle, their starting Left Guard, their starting Pro Bowl Center and left with only their converted defensive lineman at Right Guard and a rookie Right Tackle.

That's enough of an excuse for any team to lose a game-- but not a team that has Marshawn Lynch.

Despite the injury woes and the Percy Harvin blowback, Lynch finished the game with 143 all-purpose yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.  Don't get me started on how much more impressive his stats could have been if the offense could've shown an iota of restraint and execution.  Lynch had gains of 43, 20 and 11 yards wiped out by dumb penalties yesterday and many other such examples throughout this season.

Richard Sherman is the mouth of the organization that brings the swagger the defense is predicated on.  Russell Wilson is the face of the franchise that embodies excellence, hard work and competition. Marshawn Lynch is the best player on this team. Period.

At this point, Seattle would be foolish to not make an effort to ensure that Lynch finishes his career here.  Perhaps his cap number doesn't fit for next season-- but I assure you, he's not yet done being an elite back.  It's unlikely Michael or Turbin will ever come close to Lynch's level of production and reliability based on what we've seen.  That's not to say they won't be good franchise running backs-- we certainly haven't seen enough of them to make any concrete judgments.  Lynch is simply extraordinary.

Now that I have that rant out of my system, let me explain why I feel Seattle is in a great position to not only make the playoffs, but win the division.

I know what you're thinking:  Seattle barely defeated the lowly Raiders!  How can we possibly be getting that far ahead of ourselves to talk about winning the division?

Let's start with the Cardinals, who are an impressive 7-1.   They've suffered some tremendous setbacks with injuries-- but they've also caught a lot of breaks. They have a favorable schedule and squeaked out some wins that they might not have if not for a few plays.  It remains to be seen whether the Cards have the depth to make a serious push.  It's only a matter of time before the wheels come off, if you ask me. Bruce Arians is a helluva coach, though, and once he gets a few seasons to build his roster-- we'll need to be on high alert.  As for this season, I'm not sweating the Cardinals.

The 49ers are sitting at .500 right now.  That's right-- the 49ers are MEDIOCRE.  I love that!  Best of all, they're not in nearly the same injury predicament that the rest of the NFC West teams are. They're just plain choking right now and on pace to miss the playoffs. Unfortunately, after this weekend's game against the Saints, they've got a pretty weak schedule outside of the divisional games.

Still, Seattle is going to be in the driver's seat.  They'll start getting key players back from injury as soon as this weekend.  It's going to be on Pete Carroll and his staff to make the best of what they have while playing to the strengths of the players available.