Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Nightmare Before Christmas-- Seahawks 31 Cardinals 34

We're down to the final game of the regular season and this team looks every bit as uncertain as they did going into training camp. 

Traditionally, under coach Pete Carroll, December is a month of dominance for the Seahawks.

Statistically, Russell Wilson is in a league of his own at this point in the season. 

Additionally, the roster decisions that had us scratching our collective heads early on begin to come to fruition and help us see the vision the staff had for this roster from day one.

This year has been quite different, however.  The Seahawks are .500 this month and still plenty of
questions remain unanswered. Something isn't right with our rushing offense.  Whether it's the offensive line, an inconsistent Thomas Rawls or a combination of the two is a topic of debate.  The only thing we can be certain of this season is just how much Marshawn Lynch had meant to this team and how much we had taken his presence for granted.

I was at the game on Saturday, Christmas Eve, when they faced a Cardinals team that had had Super Bowl aspirations going into this season, but had long since collapsed and played their way out of playoff contention.  Sure, they have arguably the best, most complete running back in the NFL with David Johnson, but many and more of their star players are done for the season.  Half of their defensive starters seemed to be on IR.

The Seahawks were at home, relatively healthy and in dire need of some momentum to carry them into the playoffs.   Everything was lined up in Seattle's favor, yet somehow they squandered the opportunity. 

Seattle fought through losing their best offensive weapon when Tyler Lockett went down with a broken leg and Wilson lead the team on a comeback to tie the game with about a minute left.  The stadium was raucous and the momentum had swung back into their favor.  All we needed was a 'gimme' extra point, a big kickoff and a stout defensive series to shore up the victory.

Haushka missed the PAT and Carson Palmer marched the Cardinals into field goal range where they kicked the game winner as time expired.

It was heartbreaking.

What a shitty way to begin the night before one of the most joyous days of the year.  However, it wasn't just the choke-job and losing Lockett that stung.  It wasn't even the fact that we basically handed the Falcons the number two seed and a first round bye.  The most painfully frustrating part of this weekend was the fear that accompanies uncertainty.

We have no idea what this team's identity is heading into the playoffs.

There's only one get-right game left in the regular season.  While it is about as soft of a landing as this team could hope for, shy of a regular season finale at home against Cleveland-- we've had 15 games to sort ourselves out, yet every week seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Here's a list of the teams that will likely make the playoffs in the NFC and their rank in offensive/defensive scoring:

Giants         Scoring Defense    #3      Scoring Offense   #25
Cowboys    Scoring Defense    #4      Scoring Offense   #4
Packers       Scoring Defense   #22     Scoring Offense   #6
Lions          Scoring Defense   #13     Scoring Offense   #21
Falcons       Scoring Defense   #25     Scoring Offense   #1

Seahawks   Scoring Defense #2   Scoring Offense #20

The seeding won't be entirely finalized until the conclusion of the coming weekend's games, but Seattle will have their first playoff game at home.  I really hope the Seahawks put forth a good showing against San Francisco so us 12s can go into that playoff game with some confidence.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action Green-- Seahawks 24 Rams 3

The Seahawks were back in the spotlight on Thursday, sporting a vibrant, new look. As part of Nike's partnership with Thursday Night Football the Seahawks donned 'Action Green' uniforms that looked as though they might glow in the dark.

Unfortunately, the color was about the only thing that 'rushed' on Thursday.  Both teams combined for 119 yards on the ground (47 for LA, 72 for Seattle).  However, we did see a resurgence in Seattle's pass rush.  Seattle registered 4 sacks on the night.

Russell Wilson had an outstanding night, throwing for 3 touchdowns and one head-scratching interception. Tyler Lockett had a career game (while single handedly keeping my fantasy football playoff hopes alive) putting up 130 yards and a touchdown.

My favorite play was when Richard Sherman knocked Jared Goff out of the game with a good, clean
hit that saved a touchdown.  It would have been Jon Ryan's fake punt run that picked up 26 yards and a first down, had it not ended with Ryan getting knocked out cold.

Not only is Jon Ryan a top 5 punter-- he's a helluva athlete and a bad ass, to boot.

Seahawks have a pair of winnable division matchups to close out the season and are sitting well to get a first round bye for the playoffs. I will be in attendance for the game against the Cardinals on Christmas Eve and the one thing I want to see is marked improvement in the run game. 

Thomas Rawls needs a 100 yard game.  I want to see Kelvin Taylor get some carries and show that he can be a complementary back down the stretch. The defense should continue to hold steady and the offense needs to shift to a pass-first mentality. 

Most importantly, Seattle needs to string together a few wins to get momentum going in their favor to rally in the playoffs.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Who are you?-- Seahawks 10 @ Packers 38

A Packers team with a hobbled Aaron Rodgers and a run game so disheveled that they're forced to start a receiver in the backfield absolutely destroyed the Seahawks on Sunday.

Green Bay came into this game annihilated by injuries with a defense that had been mediocre at best this season, but you'd never have guessed that by looking at the box score.

Seattle was awful. Embarrassingly bad. In a statement game, where a victory would've locked up the NFC West title, Seattle put on their worst performance of the Pete Carroll era.

As much as we would love to pin this loss on the absence of Earl Thomas, with a few exceptions, Thomas' absence was largely unnoticed.

The Seahawks pass rush was non-existent.  If not for a garbage time sack by Ahtyba Rubin, Seattle would have set a franchise record by going 3 consecutive games without registering a sack.  With everyone on the defensive front healthy-- it makes you wonder if Kris Richard and his defensive gameplan is to blame for the Seahawks recent defensive struggles.

The truth is, for the first time since coach Carroll took over, the Seahawks enter the final quarter of the season looking like a team that has no idea what it's identity is.

Russell Wilson had a career high 5 interceptions on the day.  Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse and Graham all had key dropped passes during the game and Wilson missed on at least a pair of passes that could have been touchdowns.

I don't get what we're doing with the run game, but it sure as hell isn't working.

The lone bright spot for Seattle was the performance of the recently acquired Marcel Reese. The former Washington Huskies stand out had a few big receptions in his Seahawks debut.

Outside of Reese, not one single player had a performance they should be proud of.

This should be a tremendous concern to everyone that follows the Seahawks.  Historically, this is the time of the season where the Seahawks have fought through adversity, sorted out their problems and taken on a full head of steam heading into the playoffs.

But this year has felt different.

We sill don't know who our offensive line starters are.  We have no consistency from our backfield.  I couldn't begin to describe the identity of the offense.

Defensively, things are different, too.

I would love to see the defense take more risks.  Man up and blitz to try to force turnovers and sacks.  It feels like they're in a perpetual state of bend-don't-break mentality from fear of the offense's ineptitude.

We know enough about this group of players by this point to realize where our strengths lie.  I think we can safely admit by now that we can't run the ball with any consistency without Marshawn Lynch.  Thomas Rawls only seems to be available for about 12 carries per game and everyone behind him on the depth chart is completely unreliable.  I'm counting down the days until this team comes to it's senses and releases Alex Collins.

We need to be spreading this offense out and throwing quick passes to account for the lack of a legitimate run game.  This would help with our blocking issues up front and make it harder for opposing defenses to disguise blitzes.

Playing more uptempo and with a sense of urgency would wear the defenses out more and soften them up for the bruising rushing style of Rawls. Since Rawls is showing to be more of a change of pace than an every down player, I think Tyler Lockett needs to line up in the backfield more, like Ty Montgomery does for Green Bay.

We have far too much of our salary cap resources tied to our receivers and quarterback to continue to pretend that the run game is the focus of this offense.

Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse need to be relied on to carry this offense more.  Both were rewarded with contract extensions recently, yet they continue to be treated like secondary role players. While both of them have proven to be worthy and capable of fulfilling the criteria of a bigger role, the results for this season have been disappointing.

Neither Kearse nor Baldwin possess the top-tier speed to be a legitimate deep threat, but they are typically sure-handed and can break tackles in the open field. Their involvement would open up big play opportunities for Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson.  Kearse and Baldwin need to be the workhorse receivers we know they can be.  Bevell needs to give them the opportunity.

Seattle has a short week with a Thursday night match up at home against the Rams and games against the Cardinals and 49ers to finish out the season. Yesterday's loss may have cost us a first round bye in the playoffs. The Seahawks seem to want to make things as difficult as they possibly can in their efforts to win their second championship.

There is no reason not to expect them to win out these final three games, but we need to see them not only win, but figure themselves out in the process. We need to see some individuals step up and prove they can be counted on when their team needs them.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Bittersweet Victory-- Seahawks 40 Panthers 7

The Seahawks responded to their miserable performance in Tampa Bay exactly how they were supposed to.  They put a 40-point thrashing on the defending NFC Champions while all but mathematically ending Carolina's playoff hopes.

Unfortunately, it's hard to look back on this game feeling anything but somber.  Early in the second quarter of last night's game, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor collided in mid air while going for an interception.  The safeties clacked their shins together resulting in a broken tibia for Earl Thomas that effectively ended his season.

Not but a half hour after being carted off the field, Thomas fired off a tweet that referenced the word 'retirement' and the collective hearts of Seahawks fans everywhere skipped a beat. Never mind that, just moments after that, he followed that tweet by jesting that Chancellor owes him a meal.

Without speaking for him, I think it's pretty plain to see that Earl was just expressing the bevy of emotions that he was experiencing in that moment. We've all been in those situations where something bad happens and we all assume the worst. Just because your girlfriend didn't immediately respond to your text doesn't necessarily suggest that she's cheating on you--  but sometimes your mind races all over when everything is so uncertain.

It was a strange game to say the least.

No one expected Derek Anderson under center when the Panthers opened up on offense.  It wasn't revealed until later in the game that Cam Newton was being punished for breaking a minor team rule, which was even later revealed that he lost the 'start' for not wearing a tie.

Anderson attempted a pass in the flats that bounced off the hands of his fullback into the arms of the Seahawks recently recovered linebacker, Mike Morgan, for an interception.  The Seahawks failed to convert the interception into a touchdown, instead settling for a Hauschka field goal.

It looked like Seattle was going to continue their offensive struggles into this game, but that was quickly proven wrong. Seattle finished the night with more than 500 yards of offense-- the sixth highest output in franchise history.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any more strange, there was a Beast Mode sighting.  Marshawn Lynch was on the sidelines, making the rounds giving love to his former teammates.

Despite not registering a single sack, Seattle's defense dominated the Panthers all night long.  In fact, the only touchdown Carolina had all night was one that should've never been credited. All scoring plays are reviewed, but somehow they missed this one.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure Carolina would've got any more than 3 points had the officials got the call right. Seattle's defense was ferocious and the 12's were deafening from start to finish. It's entirely possible that we could have witnessed a shut out, if not for the blown call.

Any doubt that may have carried over from last week's loss should but moot now.  The offensive line looked their best so far and we ran the ball spectacularly.  Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett and Graham were all involved and on point.  Russell is mobile once again and the defense seems to get better with every game.

The Seahawks play the Packers next week in snowy Lambeau Field.  I was worried about this game last week, knowing that Seattle would have to rely some semblance of a run game if they'd have any hope to win. Those fears were quelled after watching the dominant performance the Seahawks put on the leagues top-rated run defense.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

If it ain't broke, break it! -- Seahawks 5 @ Buccanneers 14


The Seahawks looked bad on Sunday.  All we needed was a single touchdown to seal the deal, but it never came.  Aside from Russell Wilson, who accumulated more rushing yards in this game than he had in all of the previous games in this season combined, Seattle was once again unable do get anything out of their running backs.

Justin Britt was absent from the lineup due to a sprained ankle.  I hadn't heard anything about this leading up to the game and there was no mention on the broadcast.  He is expected to return Sunday, but Joey Hunt started in his place last week.

Center wasn't the only position that saw a new face.  Bradley Sowell started at right tackle in place of Garry Gilliam.  Not a move forced by an injury, but one of competition.

For the first time in franchise history, the Seahawks started three rookies across the offensive front. Needless to say, it didn't pan out as well as hoped.

Russell Wilson was sacked a disturbing six times in this game, proving that it might not be the best idea to monkey around with an offensive line that is already without its best player.

Just when it was beginning to look like Seattle might run the table to close out the season, they suffer this head-scratching defeat.  We have to hope that this is the wake up call this team needed to get their mind right for a playoff run. 

The Seahawks have the defending NFC Champion Panthers this weekend before heading out to Lambeau to face the struggling but dangerous Packers.  After that, they will close out the season with divisional opponents.  Seattle could clinch the division title before Christmas, but the #2 seed in the NFC is what they should be gunning for.

We're all hoping to put this atrocious performance behind us and expect Seattle to come out swinging against the team that ended their season last year.  The Panthers are beat up and all but out of playoff contention, but I'm sure they would love to play the spoiler.