Monday, December 28, 2015

Mailing it in -- Seahawks 17 Rams 23

The Seahawks completed their series with the Rams with a loss at home on Sunday, giving St. Louis the series sweep this season. Michael Bennett said it best in his post game comments-- "The Rams, they play good football against us. They just don’t play good football against everybody else."

The Seahawks began this season with an opening game loss to the Rams in St. Louis where Seattle was unable to establish any semblance of a run game and a defense that would bend and inevitably break down the stretch of that game.

Yesterday's game looked eerily similar to that first loss of the season.

After hearing local media wag their finger at those of us who criticized Darrell Bevell for weeks after the Seahawks were able to rattle off a string of victories that featured a high-powered offense-- I'm curious to see how they're going to spin this one.

Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of hearing this nonsense about being a run-first team.  It's performances like yesterday's that lead me to think that this coaching staff would sooner maintain their 'identity' than do whatever it takes to win football games.

Yesterday, more so that any other game this season, our run game was completely shut down and
rendered ineffective. That was made painfully obvious right from the start of this game.

I'm sorry-- but when you're facing a premier run defense with a group of running backs that literally were signed off the street-- you have to know when to admit defeat and find another way to win.

And like so many other losses this year where our run game wasn't where the team wanted it to be, Seattle briefly adapted by spreading out the offense and mixing in quick, short passes as a substitute for the run game.  But, as soon as that was working, they shifted right back to the ineffective run game. In the cold rain of yesterday's game, this only lead to more turn overs.

I'm angrier than any of the previous losses because we were just coming off a record-setting string of games for Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.  They've shown that, when called upon, they can throw their way to victory.  Yet the stubborn play calling of Darrell Bevell was insistent upon establishing the run.

The offensive line is certainly deserving of their share of the blame and criticism.  They couldn't stop a nosebleed yesterday.  While the defense did a decent job of containing Todd Gurley, the continued theme of not being opportunistic continued as Seattle had several opportunities for turnovers but failed to win that battle.

It was a strange weekend altogether for the NFL.  Carolina is no longer undefeated, Arizona handed the Packers their worst loss of the Aaron Rodgers era and Minnesota looked like the dominant team they were before Seattle brought them back to earth by beating them handily in their own home.

Seattle may have slipped down to the #6 seed, but that isn't the issue they should be concerned with.  While we have no real idea when and if Marshawn Lynch will be ready, Seattle needs to find a way to win games with or without a dominant run game.

There's a possibility we might never see Lynch in a Seahawks uniform again.  We need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  This team needs to learn to lean on it's highly-paid quarterback to win games when the run game just isn't there.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Playoff Bound-- Seahawks 30 Browns 13

The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth for the 4th consecutive year after a tumultuous start to the season. The way Russell Wilson has been playing these past 5 games makes those early season struggles feel like a distant memory.

Wilson's spectacular, record-setting play in the second half of the season has masked uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball, concerns with the offensive line and what has become a revolving door at running back. He's got his team in position for an entirely probable 3rd consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

It's not just Wilson who's come into form down the late season stretch.  Doug Baldwin has been playing at a Pro Bowl level.  Reserve players like Kelcie McCray, DeShawn Shead, Frank Clark and

Everyone seems to be playing their role and doing their job.

Marcus Burley have stepped up and grown as the season wears on. Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet have risen to the occasion in the absence of Jimmy Graham.

If everything continues on this track, Seattle will most likely be traveling to Washington to play the NFC East Champions in the first set of Wildcard games.  This is an extremely favorable match up for Seattle. While Washington does seem to be the most consistent of the NFC East teams, they have a shaky run game and a quarterback in Kirk Cousins that has more grit than experience.

While the playoffs are guaranteed for the Seahawks, that hardly means their done with the regular season. Seattle must continue to see more out of young players and get healthier going into January. 

Seattle was able to amass 182 yards rushing in a game that featured a backfield of players that were not on this roster just a week ago. Christine Michael displayed a renewed sense of hunger.  Bryce Brown showed us that he's plenty capable of shouldering his share of the load.  Even Derek Coleman showed promise as a short-yardage back.

Ultimately, we'll be counting down the days until Marshawn Lynch returns to the starting lineup, but at least we can take some comfort in knowing that our season isn't completely dependent on Lynch's return. I would be perfectly content on not seeing Lynch until pregame warm ups for the Washington playoff meeting.

The remaining pair of games for this regular season gives Seattle a shot at exacting vengeance on two division rivals that got the better of them in the initial contests.  The Seahawks will take on the Rams at home this coming Sunday before closing out the season in Glendale against the Cardinals.  My hope is that Seattle only rests the players that are recovering from injuries over those next two games. Going into the playoffs with an 11-5 record and the momentum of a 7-game win streak would go a long way in the Seahawks efforts to return to the Super Bowl.

Monday, December 14, 2015

MV3 -- Seahawks 35 Ravens 6

Seattle finished it's final multi-game road trip of the season winning four games in a row and looks primed to lock up the 5th seed in the NFC.  The celebration was bittersweet, as we got word after the game that the injury sustained by Thomas Rawls on the first drive of the game would ultimately end the undrafted rookie's season.

This leaves Seattle with 3 games remaining in the season without the best running back in franchise history (Marshawn Lynch) and the guy who replaced him without missing a beat in Rawls. Ordinarily, this type of scenario would send a team into a frenzied panic-- but, somehow, this team feels like it will be just fine.

First off, Lynch is expected back at some point.  Whether that's before the playoffs or not remains to be seen, but from all we've heard, Lynch has not yet played his last game as a Seahawk. The loss of Rawls hurts, but we can pretty much expect him back next season when it's more than likely that Seattle parts ways with Lynch to create much-needed cap space.

Perhaps more comforting is the fact that Russell Wilson is putting up MVP statistics.  Through the first half of the season, it was a forgone conclusion that Tom Brady would repeat as MVP given the Patriots then-undefeated record despite losing a remarkable amount of starters to injury.  The Pats hit a two game skid and Brady became less involved in that discussion.

Naturally, the focus shifted to Panthers QB, Cam Newton, who also is piloting an undefeated team that has faced some injury setbacks. However, if you look at the numbers in the graphic to your right, Wilson is edging Newton out in almost every significant category.

Along with Wilson, the offensive line, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett are playing at a level we've never seen before.  The offense is winning games convincingly no matter who is in the backfield.

Once again, I have to give our offensive coordinator credit where its due-- especially given how many shots I've taken at this guy.  He called a brilliant game yesterday, given the circumstances.  Despite losing Rawls early, Bevell didn't deviate from the run game, nor did he belabor it.

Defensively, the team is clicking.  Any credit they get will come with the caveat that they've gone against lower-tier quarterbacks.  We can't control that-- all they can do is beat their opponent.  The only remaining, reputable quarterback on the schedule is a rematch with Carson Palmer, which may come at a point after both the Cardinals and Seahawks have solidified their place in the playoffs.

Seattle will need to find another running back until we have more clarity on the Marshawn Lynch situation.  Fred Jackson can no longer act as a featured back and no one was impressed with what they saw from DuJuan Harris.  All indication points to Seattle bringing Bryce Brown back into the fold, which should suffice until number 24 is back in action.

The Seahawks have always played best when they have a chip on their shoulder, especially late in the season.  Well, the stars have aligned for us-- the Seahawks are playing their best football, they've been saddled with some adversity and despite Wilson's spectacular stretch of games over the past month-- people are still doubting this team.

Monday, December 7, 2015

An open letter to Justin & Gee

Justin Meyers and Gee Scott haven't been on the 710 AM airwaves for long, but they wasted little time building a loyal fan base of which I am included. They bring a youthful energy to the mid-morning sports talk world that has been sorely lacking. It's great to be able to lean on former players and sports insiders for analysis-- but too often program directors forget that these shows need to be entertaining above all else.

The Justin & Gee Show never fails to deliver the entertainment.

However, as I was listening to their show in the wake of what might be the most dominant statement game the Seahawks have given us in sometime, both Justin and Gee-- in a rare moment of agreement-- came down hard on those of us who have been critical of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

When I say they came down hard-- I mean they came down HARD.

Had I not been driving through pouring rain, I would've fired away at the Text Toy to express my profound disagreement. Had they let it go after making their initial statement-- I may have let it go myself and refrained from typing this post.

Alas, they did not let it go.

Both Meyers and Scott droned on at how absurd it was for anyone to hold Bevell accountable for Seattle's shortcomings through these first 12 games.  They pointed out how little criticism is being hurled at the embattled coordinator following these last three victories.

Now, I'll admit that Bevell deserves praise when and where its due.  But to completely absolve him from any criticism is beyond ridiculous.

First of all, I praised Bevell for (finally) adjusting to their circumstances and putting together a great game plan against San Francisco. The following week against the Steelers, I was again critical of his play calling as I felt that he was reverting back to the same ol' stuff that hadn't been successful all season, but he did make adjustments at the half that were indeed worthy of commendation. This week in Minnesota was perhaps his best-called game of the season.

With all that said, Bevell is certainly trending in the right direction and appears to be handling the loss of two major pieces of his offense with Lynch and Graham out of the picture.

However-- let's not have short-term memory loss, here.

We began this season with an offense that was vastly improved from last season.  Sure, the offensive line wasn't worked out the way we were told it would be-- but those were the guys this team wanted in place to start the season.  Maybe a great deal of that blame can be laid at the feet of Tom Cable, but it was the hand the Bevell was dealt.

I'd imagine that most coaches play with some degree of stubborn arrogance to them.  Perhaps you have to in this game. But through the first half of the season, I saw an offensive coordinator that was so hell bent on being a run-first team that he was willing to lose games rather than admit that they don't have the personnel properly prepared to play the type of football that they want.

We have had Doug Baldwin with us for a few years now. Same with Kearse and Russell Wilson.  We've seen what those guys can do when called upon.  We've seen Luke Willson develop into a diverse tight end that can spring a block or make a great catch.  We're watching Tyler Lockett become the playmaker Percy Harvin never turned out to be.

It didn't take long for the offensive line to show that the Seahawks brass rolled out a group of 'not ready for prime-time players'.  I think we established that 2 games into the season. Yet, it took several more games and the loss of two of our best offensive weapons before Bevell finally opened up the playbook for his quarterback.

There's a big difference between playing the brand of football that you want and doing the best you can with what you have in an effort to win games.  In previous seasons, I could at least make sense of why you wouldn't want to pile more work onto your young quarterback, but this year should've been different.  He's won a Super Bowl and been to two. You've paid him a boatload to carry this team.  He's shown you, multiple times, that he's capable of handling the pressure.

I love your show, Justin & Gee.  I'll continue listening as long as you continue to brighten my mid-days.  I just had to fire back on this one, bruh.  There's no question that this team has had this talent level and capability all season.  Sure, the line is playing better and the defense is coming into form-- but I contest that, had Bevell been a little less stubborn earlier on, we'd be in a much better place today.

Full Speed Ahead-- Seahawks 38 Vikings 7

The Seahawks are clicking in all phases of the game.  The Pittsburgh game last week was no fluke-- Seattle has now beaten consecutive playoff-caliber teams convincingly.  After starting the season off on shaky ground, this team is back to playing Seahawks football.

You don't have to look any further than the play of Russell Wilson over the past 3 games.  Had it not been for the erratic play that began this season, Wilson would not only be in the discussion for MVP-- he might very well be the front runner.

The offensive line is playing with confidence. We're spreading the ball around to the many playmakers on offense.  Thomas Rawls has filled in remarkably for Marshawn Lynch. Even Darrell Bevell's play calling has come into form. 

Don't let the score fool you-- this Vikings team is a good one.  They have a top defense that was

Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on the day.  Russell Wilson's 51 yards on the ground was more than NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson and the entire Vikings offense were able to produce-- and that doesn't include a 51-yard scramble for a touchdown that was nullified by a holding penalty.

The Vikings are a good team, but they are the exact type of team that our Seahawks are designed to beat.  Give us the best rushing team in the league with an inexperience/unproven quarterback any day and we'll shut them down.  The Seahawks defense finished the game with 4 sacks (two from rookie Frank Clark) an interception and a forced fumble.
playing without a handful of its best players and a run offense that is statistically better than ours.  The Seahawks are just finally showing that they are one of the top to bottom most talented teams in the league.

Seattle should have no problem running the table en route to the playoffs.  They have 4 games remaining and 3 of them are against hapless opponents with the final game being against the Cardinals in Arizona-- a game where Arizona is likely to have already clinched the division and could possibly be resting players for the playoffs.

On another note, I will be shocked if the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award isn't given to a Seahawks player.  Thomas Rawls and Tyler Lockett have both improved every week and have become integral pieces to this Seahawks offense.  Rawls is neck and neck with #10 overall pick, running back Todd Gurley.  I fully expect Rawls to surpass Gurley down the stretch of these final four games, but even if they're a pick 'em-- don't you have to give it to the guy that was passed on by all 32 teams in the draft?

As far as yearly awards go, this team's defensive MVP has to be KJ Wright.  Number 50 completely manhandled future Hall of Famer, Adrian Peterson,  in yesterday's game.  He's done that all year.  His contributions in both run and pass defense are unparalleled.

If the Seahawks can keep this pace up and stay relatively healthy, there's no question they will be the playoff's dark horse.  I can't think of one team in the league that scares me when the Seahawks are playing like they have over the past three weeks.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Russell! - Seahawks 39 Steelers 30

It may have been Russell Wilson's 27th birthday, but he was the the one distributing the gifts.  Wilson had perhaps his finest game yesterday, throwing for 5 touchdowns and 345 yards.  The Seahawks were able to correct so many of the issues that were plaguing them this season while setting the table for a late-season playoff run.

As great as this victory was for this team, that's not to say that there wasn't a few negatives to take away from this game.  Jimmy Graham, who was finally carving out a role in this offense, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury after falling awkwardly in the end zone.  Marcus Burley hurt himself again.  He has been playing really well this season, but he can't seem to stay healthy.  Our play-calling seem to have regressed from last game.  While it was frustrating, at least they were able to overcome some of the stupid play calls early in the game.

Along with Wilson, Richard Sherman also had arguably his best game of the season.  Sherman shut down the league's best receiver and notched his first interception of the season.  He could have had two interceptions if the league credited interceptions made on two-point conversion attempts.  Alas, they do not.

DeShaun Shead played remarkably in his first start at cornerback.  Big Ben picked on him, but Shead hung in their and played really well.  I would like to see more of Earl Thomas playing deep center field to protect over the top, but the defense overall bent without breaking.

Outside of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett-- this team cannot pressure the quarterback.  Up the middle we get nothing from Jordan Hill, Brandon Mebane or Ahtyba Rubin.  Though, I should mention that Rubin has more interceptions this season than Carey Williams.

The Seahawks needed this win for many reasons and they needed it to be won in exactly the fashion that they did.  They needed to prove, if only to themselves, that they can win games on Wilson's arm if they have to.  They needed to show that they could hold a 4th quarter lead (at home, no less) until the end.  They needed to remind themselves that they actually have a fair amount of shifty pass catchers that, when spread out, can make big plays for this team. Plus, they needed to handle a good team with a great quarterback.

Seattle is preparing to embark on a two-game road trip that will ultimately decide this team's post-season mettle.  They might be able to make the playoffs while still dropping one of the remaining 5 games ahead of them-- but if they can't beat a tough Minnesota team on the road, the playoffs might be more than this team can handle.

Seeing Arizona eek out wins against a floundering Bengals team last week and a hapless 49ers team this week only adds to the frustration that came from not being able to close out that game in Seattle against them.  We'll see them again in the final regular season game, but by then, both team's fates may already be decided.

If Seattle can find a way to win this Sunday against the NFC North-leading Vikings, the following games against Baltimore, Cleveland and St. Louis should be a cinch.  This team is hitting its stride late and that's exactly what we need. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rise of the Rookies-- Seahawks 29 49ers 13

I wish I had the time and resources to go back and watch yesterday's performance with a fine-tooth comb.  Alas, I don't-- but anyone who watched Sunday's game against the 49ers and compared it against last week's match up with Arizona would be hard pressed to deny that the play calling yesterday was tremendously better than the previous week.  It was arguably Darrell Bevell's best game of the season as far as play calling is concerned.

I'm not trying to take anything away from the outstanding performance of Thomas Rawls, Tyler Lockett or Russell Wilson.  Those guys played with serious intensity and a sense of urgency that this team needs to rely on as the Seahawks attempt to win out.

As much as I have dogged Bevell for our losses, I have to give the man his due for yesterday's win.

He figured it out.  He kept the tempo up when he needed to and controlled the clock when we had to.  The incorporation of slants and screen passes from formations that play to the team's strengths was spot on.  Everything I bitched about in the previous game was addressed and corrected yesterday.  Hats of to Bevell for showing he's not as stubborn as I thought he was.

With all those adjustments, Seattle was still able to play to their identity. They ran the ball with authority (255 yards total) and they closed out with their defense. They opened up the run with the short pass game, softened them up with the pure physical rushing of Rawls and they took shots down field when they could. They didn't turn the ball over and they got everyone involved on offense.

This was a huge game for the guys we consider the future of this team.  Thomas Rawls, an undrafted rookie who showed enough in camp to push Christine Michael and Robert Turbin off the roster, had not only his career best performance-- but one of the best rushing performances by a rookie in NFL history.

Rawls had 209 yards rushing on 30 carries with a touchdown and added 46 yards receiving with another TD. Lockett had 4 grabs for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns with Wilson throwing for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers.  Wilson completed 83% of his passes and was only sacked twice.

This is the style and production we will need to see out of our offense every week until the season is over.  If we end up losing Marshawn Lynch to season ending hernia surgery-- that is going to be extremely difficult to pull off.

Rawls has shown that he has the skills and passion to be a big part of this team's future.  His post game press conference was refreshing to watch.  I saw a player who was simply thrilled to be there. Thrilled to be an NFL running back. Grateful for the opportunity and aware of what it takes to make it last.  After each question of the press conference, he flashed a smile that almost said "This is so cool! I've made it to the podium!" This kid relishes every aspect and every opportunity of this game.  It's hard not to root for him.

We're not goldfish-- we can't dismiss everything Marshawn has done for this team, year in and year out.  The identity that he built.  The culture he promoted here.  No one has done it like Lynch, and were we to lose him, those would be incredible shoes to fill.  I wouldn't expect Rawls to be able to do it on his own. There's not much we can do this season, so we will have to wait and see.  Hopefully Rawls emergence will buy some time for Lynch to get healthy for a playoff run. Let's not look too far ahead right now.

After the Cardinals pulled off a comeback win last night against the Bengals, it's pretty safe to bet that Seattle will be vying for a Wild Card spot.  The slow start to the season cost Seattle any real shot at winning the division, but a strong finish could certainly punch our ticket to the playoffs. The Seahawks are 5-5, their remaining six opponents are 30-30 and they'll be home for half of those games.

The defense has to improve down the stretch.  Carey Williams has been such a liability, he was finally benched and replaced by a reserve safety.  Seattle has been abysmal when it comes to creating turnovers on defense.

 There were at least 3 interceptions that were dropped in that game with Blaine Gabbert having the best game of his career. Big Ben and Carson Palmer are the only decent QBs this team has left to face, but if you're letting a former bust like Gabbert come in to your house and ball out-- its obvious you need to tighten up the screws and shake things up a bit.

December is going to be an exciting month for these Seahawks.  They may have had some bad breaks early this season, but they'll be catching some down the stretch.  The Ravens lost Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett for the year.  Pittsburgh is coming in here banged up. The Vikings were brought back to reality by the Packers and the Browns are Johnny Football's team for the rest of the year.

Seattle just needs to handle their business to get in.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Identity Crisis-- Seahawks 32 Cardinals 39

I wanted to wait until Monday night to give myself time to collect my thoughts and emotions regarding this team and their performance in prime time on Sunday night.  It was an intensely emotional back-and-forth battle that didn't end the way we'd hoped or expected.

Arizona came into our house as the division leader with one of the best records in the NFC.  They're a good team that is well-coached.  Couple that with the fact that they typically play us tough-- there was no question that we were in for one hell of a fight.

With all due respect to the Cardinals, I still felt like we were the better team.  We have the pedigree of back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, we have a remarkably healthy roster considering how far into the season we are, and we have one of the better home-field advantages in sports.

Even 24 hours after the game ended-- I still feel that way.

There was no shortage of problems that were exposed in the spotlight of Football Night in America.  Not only with the Seahawks, but the NFL's officiating as well. Collectively, there were 23 penalties called (Arizona 9 for 71 yards, Seattle 14 for 131 yards) along with several moments of confusion that stopped play for an extended amount of time.  Last years average amount of penalties per game of 14.41 would've made for a much better prime time presentation.

While some of the penalties called were trivial and unnecessary (against both teams) the Seahawks made more than their share of mental mistakes.

It is unfathomable to me how little discussion is being had about the sheer incompetence of Darrell Bevell. His perplexing play calling constantly sets his players up for failure

There is a wealth of talent on this team and its being poorly utilized. Ten weeks into this season, Seattle has had the lead in every single game-- you can add the Super Bowl if you want to go back
even further. Yet, just before week 11, Seattle finds itself with a 4-5 record and a relatively healthy roster.  The offensive play calling could cost this team the playoffs.

Some of you will point to the glaring deficiencies of the offensive line as the root of the Seahawks problem.  Obviously, the Seahawks brass thought they had a plan in place for the offensive line this season.  They got it wrong.  Max Unger's absence has been massively felt.  Even James Carpenter is missed.  Russell Okung seems to be regressing and the players that were converted from their natural positions just haven't figured it out yet. It's been all too evident that our line just ain't that good.

So ******* what?

Good coaches and good teams overcome their deficiencies.  They adapt. They improvise.  The Pittsburgh Steelers will be coming in here two weeks from now.  They've lost one of the best running backs in the league with Le'Veon Bell out for the rest of the season.  Hell, they beat these very same Cardinals, in their house, with their third string quarterback!

Russell Wilson had a rough night.  Marshawn Lynch is ailing. We put ourselves behind the 8 ball early and fought an uphill battle the all night.  Our defense kept us in the game until the end.  Our play calling blew it.

The Seahawks want to be a Power Run offense that relies on it's defense to close out games. Well, you can't. Not this year. Man up and improvise.  Don't let stubborn pride cost the fans the opportunity for another exciting postseason simply because you're too proud to admit that your plans aren't working.

Great players like Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett, who had outstanding performances last night, won't be with this team for many more games.  Jimmy Graham wasn't paid to come here to block.  I'm not even sure that he knows how-- but he can make spectacular plays in the pass game. Unlike his ability to block, there's evidence of his play making ability.

 It infuriates me to see Bevell squander this opportunity for us. These players deserve a shot at the post season and so do their loyal fans.

I'm not just ranting without offering a solution.  We have the talent and the forgiving portion of our schedule to still make the playoffs, if only as a Wild Card. Seattle must utilize empty backfield formations to spread out their offense.  Our receivers aren't the fastest guys in the league as a whole, but they are shifty.  Get the ball out of Wilson's hand early.  Pick up some quick passes to build confidence and move the chains.  Use the short pass game to open up the run.  Take shots down field but use high percentage passes to get first downs that will keep your defense rested.

Building confidence and sustaining drives with quick slants and swing passes will keep your defense fresh for those crucial 4th quarter drives to seal games. It might even help you out in the red zone.  Go back and watch the past few games-- they've had success running these kinds of plays in these kinds of formations.  The problem is, Bevell always tries to revert back to the power run and it has cost us 5 games so far.

We can't afford to have poor game management cost us anymore games this season.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Leftover Fright-- Seahawks 13 Cowboys 12

Just when we thought all the horror of Halloween was behind us, the Seahawks found the Jerry Dome to have some fright leftover.

Aside from narrowly escaping yet another blown 4th quarter lead, Seahawks receiver and one of the best special teams gunners in the league, Ricardo Lockette, was dealt a blindsided hit that left him unconscious on the field for a lengthy period of time. 

 Here are some update's from Ricardo's father, Earl:

Great to hear that Marshawn was by his side.  Hopefully this tragedy will bring the team closer together and Lockette's recovery will be full and swift.

On a brighter note, it seems that the defense is getting it's act together. Richard Sherman was outstanding, limiting Dez Bryant to a measly two catches for 16 yards.  Dallas was limited to under 100 yards receiving on the day and their only scores came on 4 field goals.

Still, this team must find a way to ignite it's offense. 
Darrell Bevell is the root of the problem-- but that isn't going to be resolved anytime this season, barring complete catastrophe. I know that Tom Cable could take any 5 guys off the street and turn them into a league-leading unit if he had enough time. Unfortunately, he doesn't, so we have to hope he can get this group going before the season ends.

Since those two major issues can't be remedied within the season, I'm going to lay this blame at the feet of someone who doesn't necessarily deserve any blame for the offensive woes-- but still is tasked with finding a solution.

I'm looking at you, Russell Wilson.

That's right. Our $87.6 million-dollar guy needs to be asked to do more of what he did to earn that contract in the first place. I'm not asking him to put himself in harms way, but in the same way this team leans on Kam Chancellor to lift up the defense-- the same should be expected of Wilson.

They seem to be carving out a role for Graham that fits their scheme, same with Tyler Lockett, but there is no reason Baldwin and Kearse have been ghosts for most of the season. A solid and diverse passing attack would do wonders for the run game, which is working out nicely with the three-headed beast comprised of Lynch, Jackson and Rawls.

The scheduling Gods couldn't have been more kind to the Seahawks this year.  They come home this week for their bye, followed by three consecutive home games. The team is still largely healthy and chocked full of talent.  If the coaches and coordinators can't find a way to beat two division rivals and a battered Steelers team before testing their mettle on the road against a Wild Card-contending Vikings team-- they don't deserve to be coaching in this league.

Keep Ricardo Lockette in your thoughts as he recovers.  The Cardinals are next on the schedule and we have a great opportunity to fight our way back to the top of this division.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Better Late than Never-- Seahawks 20 49ers 3

Despite the short week, the Seahawks managed to put on a display that was reminiscent of the team that won consecutive NFC Championships.  Sure, the 49ers looked abysmal and Seattle's pass protection continues to be a point of tremendous concern, but we did escape Santa Clara with a victory while only surrendering a field goal.

The Beast is back!  Marshawn looked to be every bit the runner we know him to be.  Lynch rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries and scored on the opening drive.  He did retreat to the sideline for the following drive as he vomited into a trash can-- but he returned to finish out the game.

Darrell Bevell just might be staring to get it.  We saw the Seahawks mix things up and display some of their adversity.  Russell ran the ball a few times, made the short throws we need to open up the defense and even stretched the field with deep throws, including a 43-yard bomb to Tyler Lockett.

Pass protection continues to be a glaring area of concern.  Russell was sacked another 5 times in this game.  The play calling is moving in the right direction, but we have to hope that Tom Cable can get this team to progress faster as we make our way to the season's midway point.

The defense looked playoff caliber.  Kaepernick was sacked 6 times while the defense allowed a
mere 142 total net yards.  Interceptions remain elusive to this defense, but to be fair, no one was catching Kaepernick's passes.

I'm anticipating that we'll look back to this point 2 months from now as the turning point for two franchises. The point of implosion for the 49ers and the turning point for Seattle.  I was just reading an article yesterday stating that Kaepernick's performance to this point, coupled with the stipulations in his contract, could force the team to bench or cut him to save millions in cap space.

The Seahawks have another achievable challenge ahead of them next week. They travel to Dallas to take on a beat up Cowboys team.  Obviously, they have to get out of there with a win, but even more importantly, they must show that they have overcame their issues in pass protection while showing how multifaceted they can be offensively.

They say that teams just don't fear Seattle like they used to.  Perhaps that is true.  But while we're not the same team we've been the past few seasons-- there is still plenty for opponents to fear.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tale of Two Halves-- Seahawks 23 Panthers 27

In what was a tremendously disappointing weekend for Washington-based football, the Seahawks managed to surrender yet another lead in the late stages of the game, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

It appears Seattle has abandoned the mantra "Always Compete" in favor of this years theme of "Too Little, Too Late" if you've watched any of the past two games. The Seahawks have made minor adjustments early in games, but revert promptly back to prevent offense and soft defense in the second half.

Today is Tell The Truth Monday at the VMAC. Since I do not have the privilege of being on site with the team today, I'm going to tell the truth right here for all of you.

This team cannot run the ball.  Not at will or with any dominance, anyway. You might argue the fact Thomas Rawls put up 150+ on the road against the undefeated Bengals, but that only proves that we have great running backs.  I would remind you how we punted on our final 6 possessions of that game, giving the Bengals ample opportunity to steal that game away from us.  We are six games into this season and Seattle has proven without a doubt that they are unable to control the clock late in games with an effective rushing attack. 

There are two reasons why we can't run the ball like we have in previous seasons.  The first reason is that our offensive line is below average. Maybe even well below average.  I swear, every long run by Lynch this season has been wiped out by a holding penalty. I have yet to see the offensive line get any push and rarely do you see holes open up where they're supposed to.

However, the main and most glaring reason this team cannot close out games with the lead in the final quarter is that the play calling has been atrocious. Darrell Bevell either hasn't noticed the deficiencies with his team or he is simply clueless as to how to fix them. Hell, maybe he just doesn't care. 

They've made minor tweaks each week, both too little and too late, but even those tweaks seem to get thrown out the window once the final seconds of the third quarter expire. This week, the small tweaks included replacing the abhorrent Drew Nowak at center in favor of the slightly more competent Patrick Lewis. This move should've been made three weeks ago, but it did seem to help.

Jimmy Graham was finally used as a receiver in this game and all that came of it was his best
performance as a Seahawk against one of the best defenses we've faced all season.  Still, when we need long, clock-controlling drives late in the game, Seattle reverted back to it's ol' 3-and-out in 15 seconds or less page in the playbook.

But the mismanagement hasn't been solely on the offensive side of the ball.  Kris Richard seems to have been issued a roster from three years ago, based on his late-game play calling.  Once Seattle has the lead, if there's less than 30 minutes of clock in the game, Richard eliminates the blitz, rushes 4 and puts everyone else in a soft zone.

This used to drive me nuts when Gus Bradley did this and Dan Quinn after him-- the difference was that they had much better interior pass rushers and FAR better secondary depth. 

Unfortunately, Richard doesn't have the defensive depth to get away with that bend-but-don't-break stuff.  Carey Williams isn't fit to be an NFL cornerback.  He's a complete liability as a starting cornerback.  Initially, when we signed him in the preseason, I was hoping it was more of an insurance signing-- maybe it was supposed to be.  Injuries have decimated our secondary, forcing Williams into a starting role that he has long since played his way out of.

Here's another truth I came to grips with yesterday-- Seattle absolutely must find a way to resign Bruce Irvin this offseason.  Irvin has been one of the few standouts on this team this season. As recently as this preseason, I had made my peace with the fact we wouldn't have Irvin beyond this season.  He would require more money than we have cap space and he would likely command a contract that is more money than he's worth.  His play this season has demonstrated to the contrary-- we can't afford NOT to sign him.

Our defensive secondary issues have gotten so bad that I would go as far as to say that, if our secondary struggles persist through Thursday's game, Seattle needs to make an emergency trade for cornerback help before this weekend is through.

Look-- this season is far from over.  Seattle still has ample opportunity to not only make the playoffs, but they could still win this division.

The Seahawks need to tell the truth today.  Acknowledge their short comings and weaknesses.  After that-- ADAPT.  I know that was my message in the last post here, but it's even more true today. The Seahawks can make the playoffs if they acknowledge their deficiencies and adapt their game plan to account for them.

Look at Pittsburgh.  They were without their star running back for the first four games of the season, then as soon as he returns, they lose their star quarterback for a significant stretch.  If this had happened to the Seahawks, we'd be talking about who we're taking with the first overall pick in the draft. 

But the Steelers adapted. They changed their play calling and style to suit their personnel's strengths while covering up the weaknesses. Even when they looked doomed, they have prevailed due largely in part to their coaching staff's ability to put their players in the best position to win.

We're not even close to being doomed like that.  We have far too much talent to be playing this poorly. It might be a short week for our Seahawks, but they'll need to spend all day today telling the truth.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Adapt or Die-- Seahawks 24 Bengals 27/OT

The Seahawks played a good Bengals team on Sunday and lost a close one in overtime.  This game left a bitter taste in the mouths of Seahawk fans for so many reasons.  For starters, the Seahawks blew a 17-point lead in the 4th quarter, but what was more frustrating was that the team seemed to really overcome a lot of the challenges they were experiencing the past few games, only to have the game slip away from them in the end.

Ultimately, the Seahawks were out-coached.

The offensive line as a whole played it's best game of the season.  It wasn't exactly a championship caliber performance, but there was clear improvement.  They paved the way for Seattle to rush for 200 yards on a Bengals defense that only gives up an average of 85.8 yards per game.

A huge reason they were so successful on the ground was due to the hard running style of undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls, who started in place of the hamstring-plagued Marshawn Lynch.  Rawls compiled a league high 169 yards rushing capped off by a 69-yard rushing touchdown.

The defense struggled early but found their footing eventually.  They netted their first interception of
the season when Earl Thomas stepped in front of a potential touchdown pass.  They kept the Bengals run game in check most of the game while accumulating 3 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

They played well, just not well enough, and I place the bulk of the blame for that upon the coaching staff.

Every coach has a vision for their team's identity. Pete Carroll has been extremely forthcoming with his vision. He's even broke it down into consumable buzz words.  This is a physical, run-first team that wants to pound the ball at you offensively while breaking your will defensively.

So, what happens when inevitable change strikes your team?  What do you do when your run-first team loses it's star running back for a stretch of games?  What if your secondary is so thin, you're not able to be as physically menacing as you would like?  What if you can't do the things you want to do to maintain your identity on a consistent basis?

You have two choices, really.  Adapt or die.

If Pete Carroll is comfortable risking this season on maintaining their identity over adapting to their roster's greatest strengths-- we're in deep trouble as Seahawks fans. The Seahawks need to accept some hard truths and adapt their identity if the have any hopes at all of catching Arizona and winning this division.  So far, Kam or no Kam, this team has not won a road game yet this season and they're not far from playing themselves out of any chance at a home playoff game.

Darrell Bevell needs to show me and everyone else what makes him qualified to be an NFL offensive coordinator and play caller.  Throughout his career he has shown us nothing that indicates he possess any sort of unique or special skill set.

He was the quarterbacks coach for the Packers when they had both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.  He then went to Minnesota when they had Favre, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin before coming here to Seattle.  Everywhere this man has gone, he's been surrounded by phenomenal talent and at best achieved minor success.

I fail to see any positive attributes this guy brings to the table.  The play calling on offense from the 3rd quarter on in that game seemed like he was doing everything in his power to keep the Bengals in that game.

The Seahawks return to Seattle this weekend to face a Panthers team who they've beaten 3 years running.  Still, the Panthers are hot right now and the Seahawks have identity issues.  Seattle must find a way to get to 3-3 next week to keep this season from getting away from them.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Backup Lineman Frustrated-- How can you possibly blame him?

So...  last night, Seahawks reserve lineman, Alvin Bailey, tweeted this out:

Seahawks fans immediately lashed out at Bailey.  "See ya!" "Don't let the door hit ya on the way out" "This guy sucks anyway."  The Seattle fanbase quickly and loyally came to the defense of their team, calling Bailey's tweet immature.

My question is, why?

First, as in almost any situation, you need to try to put yourself in the other person's shoes to get a better understanding as to what lead them to that action.  Bailey fought his way onto the Seahawks roster as an undrafted free agent in 2013.  He served as an admirable back up through both of Seattle's Super Bowl runs.  He even reported to camp this year much slimmer than in previous seasons, in hopes of claiming the guard position vacated by James Carpenter.

Fans have little room to criticize Bailey's talent or effort, but I would go beyond that.

Through the first four games of the season, Seattle's offensive line has been repulsively terrible.  Russell Wilson is on pace to be sacked just 5 times shy of the single season record.  Four games, Zero improvement and Zero changes.

Maybe you're of the impression that it is too early to panic.  Maybe you feel like Seattle has always taken a long while to get their O-Line functioning under Carroll/Cable and this unit just needs time to gel. I get all of that-- but put yourself in Bailey's shoes for a moment.

You've worked your ass off to get where you are.  You've defied the odds to make an NFL roster as an undrafted player.  You worked especially hard this offseason to get into shape and earn the starting job.  You don't get the job, but you quietly keep your head down and plow away.

Now flash forward to week 5.  The guy that took your job has performed abysmally at best.  Week after week, no improvement. You think "Maybe if I keep working hard, they'll give me a chance?" After all, isn't this team predicated on competition and a 'next man up' philosophy?

You've put the time in.  You've done all they've asked of you.  Also, you're a 24 year old kid.  Then you find out on Wednesday that you won't be getting an opportunity to prove yourself. 

If you can consider all of that and still can't fathom why a young man that has worked his butt off to earn a job wouldn't be slightly perturbed upon finding out that the job he wants is being given to someone who has done nothing but show that they can't handle it?

Was airing his frustration perhaps a poor decision in hindsight?  Sure.  It didn't help to solve anything besides maybe blowing off steam and it caused more problems than it alleviated.  Still, how many of you can say that you've never griped about your job on social media? 

If you had a frustrating day at work, let's say you work at Subway, and you posted on Facebook "Man, I wish I had a job that respects me more."-- imagine how you would feel if your friends/followers told you to not let the door hit you on the way out? 

I understand the 12s desire to express their loyalty to the team. We get enough unjustified flack as it is for being fairweather or bandwagon fans.

I would argue that any true Seahawks fan should be every bit as frustrated with our offensive line's performance as Alvin Bailey is.  We should expect better from our team.  We should want our $80million quarterback better protected.

We certainly shouldn't shun players that work hard for the opportunity to compete. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the bright side-- we have options! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday Night Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shutout-- Seahawks 26 Bears 0

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

So, why do I still feel unsettled?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Too Many Mistakes-- Seahawks 17 Packers 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 14, 2015

Not Good Enough-- Seahawks 31 Rams 34/OT

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Kam's not here.  That sucks. Got it.

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

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

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

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

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

Special Teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Looking ahead: Week One and the Seahawks Roster

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

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

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

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

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

Alas, we must press on.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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