Monday, September 25, 2017

Waiting for the cue to panic-- Seahawks 27 @ Titans 33

What a bizarre game.  It was almost as if all of our strengths became our weaknesses and our weaknesses became our strengths. Seattle both played really well and uncharacteristically poorly throughout this game. 

The Titans played like the young, talented & hungry team we were told they are.  They played to their strengths and made minor adjustments as the game went on.  If only the Seahawks would do this-- they might be 3-0 today.

Instead, Seattle looks like a team with a major identity crisis. 

They want to be a run-first team, but the current personnel simply does not allow for that.  They seem to want to win every game 3-0 on the strength of their defense-- but that's simply not sustainable over the course of 16 regular season games and the playoffs.

It's not that the Seahawks lack for talent, that couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that the talent on their roster is not conducive to the identity they seem determined to uphold.

The defense started the game spectacularly but slowly fell apart as the game progressed, partially due to 100 degree temperatures with 97% humidity, but perhaps also due to how much they were on the field the previous two games. Conversely, the offense started the game flat but got rolling midway through, too little too late.

I want to give some credit to Darrell Bevell for the adjustments he made in game.  It took him long enough, but he finally started calling plays that keyed in on the offenses strengths. Most people credit the uptempo pace of the offense for these bouts of success, but I don't think that's the contributing factor.

When they play uptempo, they tend to be in 4 wide sets.  I feel like this opens up the field, which really helps the struggling offensive line and buys time for Russell Wilson. The offensive line played much better today and some of that can be attributed to these formations.

It's not time to panic, I get that.  We're not even through the first quarter of the season yet. However we're well beyond the time to face the hard facts that we are talent deficient across the offensive line. It is extremely unlikely that will change in this season.  It's insane to not accept that at this point considering it's been an issue for for the better part of three seasons now.

We have to spread out and throw the ball to open up the run game.  The run game needs to include Wilson, Chris Carson, CJ Prosise and even Thomas Rawls.  At this point, I might consider trying to covert Eddie Lacy into a fullback. 

I still believe that the defense will be and needs to be the cornerstone of this team-- but you can't expect them to do EVERYTHING.  Especially not when you're paying your quarterback a small fortune.  If this team can avoid waiting until halftime to make the adjustments that play in to their strengths, there will be considerably less pressure put on their defense.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ugly Football-- Seahawks 12 49ers 9

The Seahawks won their home opener against San Francisco on Sunday, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.  I didn't want to write about it until I had sat with it a while.

Monday morning I still wasn't ready to dissect the game-- so I opted to listen to Howard Stern over Brock and Salk.

Around mid day, I was ready to break it down, so I queued up the Brock and Salk podcast. It didn't take long for Mike Salk to piss me off.

I like Salk.  We share a great deal of similarities.  Like me, his only real experience in playing the game was brief and didn't make it beyond the high school competitive level, but he applies logic to his years of being a die-hard sports fan to come up with terrific analysis with a fresh viewpoint from what you typically get from former players as talking heads.

Unlike myself, Salk is an avid contrarian.  He often takes the less favorable position, most likely as an effort to fabricate 'great radio'. That desired effect never works on me.

Salk is at his best when he firmly believes in the side he's taking.  Only when he has examined a situation from every angle and taken into consideration the comments from the opposition does he formulate his stance on a subject.  He's much smarter than I am and far more articulate.  When he's right, no one drives the point home quite like he can.

For some reason, perhaps in anticipation of the flood of calls and texts he would inevitably receive on the show that day about how abysmal the Seahawks offense looked, he decided to spice things up by trying to convince the nation of 12s (or twelfths, as Sam Rosen continually used to reference our fans on the game broadcast) that what we all witnessed on Sunday was pure brilliance.

He started the show by professing his love for 'Ugly Football'.  Now, in my book, ugly football is when two teams, often in inclement weather, are so well-matched that it's difficult for either team to get an advantage.  Big plays are few and far between and a lot of good defense is being played.  That was not at all what we saw on Sunday.

He went all-in on his contrarian stance by suggesting that Russell Wilson's performance earned the grade of a B+.  Brock Huard seemed privy to what Salk was trying to do and did his best to make a lane for Salk's madness.  Huard tried his damnedest not to challenge these absurd ideas from Salk, but couldn't bring himself to agree with any of the nonsense.

I'd love to be mad at Salk, but I know he's too bright to actually believe any of the comments he made yesterday.  His argument hinged on the fact that the defense was stout and that Russell Wilson was able to lead the team on a successful, game-winning drive in the fourth.  While both valid points, Salk was forced to severely oversell those points in order to ultimately tie them into his argument.

The defense played really well.  As they should-- they're responsible for the bulk of this team's salary cap.  They were also at home, which would give any team at least a 3 point advantage, but has been more of a 7 point advantage in Seattle.  They were playing a bad team with a new coach, new system and the most rookies of any NFL roster.

When you consider all of that, which I think you must-- the defense played good, not great.

They flashed a stat graphic earlier in the game that showed that only 4 running backs have had 100 yard games against the Seahawks at home since 2012 (I believe).  Not only was Carlos Hyde one of those four, but he did it again in that game.  That's unacceptable to me. Not when you have the defensive talent of the Seahawks and you know full well that Brian Hoyer isn't going to beat anyone with his arm.

As for the offense, we did have some bright spots but let's not act like this performance assured us a spot in the NFC title game.  The offensive line took a small step forward.  Considering that the 49ers front seven is their greatest group-- that's worth celebrating.  Our line still has a very long way to go before they even reach the middle of the pack, but seeing any progress at this point is reassuring.

It also appears as though this team has found it's number one back in Chris Carson.  Eddie Lacey was a healthy scratch from the lineup, Thomas Rawls was a non-factor in his return from injury, and CJ Prosise failed miserably as a pass-catching, 3rd down back.  In a perfect scenario, the offensive line will continue to grow together and Carson's success will motivate the other backs to make the best of their opportunities.

Wilson did not have a good game-- but that is no reason to panic.  Brock put it best when defending his C grade on Wilson's performance by calling it 'uncharacteristic'.  He wasn't himself with regard to accuracy, but his receivers certainly deserve some blame for their drops.

A win is a win, I suppose.  It certainly could have been a lot worse. Still, this is a team with Super Bowl aspirations and a performance like what we saw on Sunday is not acceptable for a championship team.  For Salk to suggest otherwise is not only disingenuous, but borders on offensive to anyone that considers themselves a fan of the Seahawks and the Brock and Salk show.

Good teams will be criticized.  Great teams can handle the criticism.  We have every right to expect more from this team.  We should also expect that they will sort these issues out at some point in the season-- or at the very least, find a workaround for their problems.  They've done it for the past 5 seasons and this season should be know different.

However, we should all know by now that every game counts and we cannot afford to lose winnable games. Too many off seasons had us saying "If only they would've won that game earlier in the season, they might have had home field advantage in the playoffs."

There will be learning curves throughout the season, but this team needs to maintain a championship pace.  The next four opponents-- Titans, Colts, Rams and Giants -- are one of the softer pockets in the Seahawks schedule.  3-1 would qualify as 'championship pace' during that stretch that includes a division road game and two long trips to the Big Apple and Music City.  Anything less than that will put tremendous pressure on the second half of the season that includes match ups with the defending NFC Champs and playoff contenders like the Cowboys and Eagles.

It's crucial for Seattle to come away with a win next week in Tennessee.  A loss here would put this team on its heels and put an awful lot of pressure on the development of some of this team's less experienced players.  We need to once again rely on the strength of the defensive unit while asking our high-priced, veteran offensive players to take it upon themselves to put this game away early.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dreadful Debut-- Seahawks 9 @ Packers 17

I woke up this morning fired up for Seahawks football.

A fresh new season filled with equal parts hype and promise.  Coming off of an undefeated preseason, restocked with talent and just about everybody healthy-- what's not to be excited about?

That was this morning. A lifetime ago. Now, it's about a quarter after 5 o'clock pacific time and I am absolutely fuming.

How could so much have changed in so little time?

The defense lived up to the almost unrealistic expectations that were put upon them.  Rookie Nazair Jones made a spectacular pick six that was called back on a pair of ludicrously inaccurate penalties called against the Seahawks defense during the return.  The aftermath lead to Jeremy Lane getting ejected from the game for throwing a punch that all of the broadcasting equipment failed to capture.

Shaq Griffin played admirably in Lane's place and the defense held Rogers scoreless for the rest of the first half, sacking him four times along the way.

However, just like last year, the astonishing display of offensive incompetence left them exhausted and unable to secure the victory against one of the best players in the league, in one of the most hostile road environments there are. That is a recipe for failure.

The offense was flat out putrid.  Embarrassing.  Painful to watch.

If I were Pete Carroll, I would insist that the offensive players buy dinner for the defensive staff every day next week.  They cost their team the win and jeopardized the health of the defensive players by subjecting them to almost double the amount of time on field as the Seahawks offense.

It was a game rife with missed opportunities. Russell Wilson missed on a few big throws that should have resulted in points, if not at least first and goal opportunities. Tyler Lockett looks to be at full health, but not yet on the same page with his quarterback. Jimmy Graham was off his game, as well-- though the officials certainly didn't do him any favors.

The Packers have to be feeling great right now. Not just because they won a hard fought competition against a perennial playoff team in the Seahawks-- they have to be rejoicing in the fact that they didn't make the grievous error of resigning Eddie Lacy.

The Seahawks signed Lacy to a one year, $5.5 million contract in the offseason while the Packers figured they were better off using a converted receiver to spearhead their run game. That former wide out, Ty Montgomery, had 39 yards receiving and 54 rushing yards with a touchdown. Lacy's 3 yards on 5 carries wouldn't even run him out of my living room.

Chris Carson is irrefutably the best running back on this team.  CJ Prosise has big-play ability, for sure, but lacks the consistency necessary to be a sustainable, full-time back. Carson runs with authority and is shifty enough to make defenders miss.  Lacy just doesn't have the explosiveness needed to compensate for the complete lack of run blocking from the offensive line.

I thought Germain Ifedi played pretty well.  The offensive highlights were few and far between, but there were flashes of promise.  Check out this play where Russell connects with Paul Richardson for 28 yards.  It was one of Seattle's biggest offensive plays of the day.

Go back and watch it closely, singling out a different offensive lineman with each viewing.  Justin Britt and Ifedi were the only linemen that executed their blocks.  Luke Joeckel, Rees Odhiambo and Mark Glowinski were merely turnstiles, only a minor inconvenience for Green Bay's pass rush.

The play was successful for two simple reasons: Russell got the ball out of his hand quickly and Paul Richardson is a tremendous athlete.

That is why I am infuriated.

Darrell Bevell's play calling is mind boggling to me. He seems to deliberately play to the offenses weaknesses.  It's almost as if he scripts the play calls for the entire game in advance, then refuses to deviate from it regardless of circumstance.

The argument could be made that we did not see enough of the starters, on both sides of the ball, in the exhibition games this preseason. The defense fought through dehydration and cramping that was suggestively brought on by the 'zero-to-sixty' intensity jump from limited preseason work to today's battle.

The offense looked totally out of sorts.  It's almost as if the coaches had their minds made up on some of those guys before we saw them truly battle tested. Tre Madden was a liability at fullback and the offensive line actually regressed from last season.

Chris Carson has to be the starting running back for next week's home opener against San Francisco--I can't stress that enough. If there is any credibility in the 'Always Compete' mantra, you have to give the guy the job. Sprinkle in some Prosise and even Lacy, but give Carson to bulk of the load.

I'm a firm believer in teams benefiting from early-season adversity.  The Seahawks get a soft landing at home next week and will undoubtedly bounce back, but we can ill-afford another season where the Seahawks take too long in the season to find themselves. We know we have a mobile quarterback with a great arm.  We have a litany of speedy, athletic, offensive playmakers to distribute the ball to.

Play uptempo, spread out the offense and wear the opposing defenses out while relying on the league's best defense to close out the game with the lead.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Ready for the Real Thing-- Seahawks 17 @ Raiders 13

Generally speaking, the final preseason game is pretty meaningless and insignificant. Traditionally, teams rest most of their starters in preparation for the season opener and this game was used to determine which of the 75 remaining players would make the 53 man roster.

This year was different.

Instead of incrementally cutting the rosters from 90 down to 75 after the penultimate preseason game, rules were changed that eliminated that initial cut.  This gave teams an extra preseason game to evaluate an additional 15 players that otherwise would've been cut before deciding the 53 men that would represent the team in the coming season.

For those who suggest that the preseason is meaningless-- this changed everything.

Granted, my eyes are trained precisely on the happenings of our beloved Seahawks and not so much elsewhere in the league.  From what we all saw, we can definitively say that this rule change was an improvement. Certainly in the Seahawks case.

What we saw in Oakland clearly wasn't the polished product the NFL was known for, but there was no question that this game was significant in how the Seahawks roster cuts ended up shaking out.

Ultimately, it was a story of two quarterbacks vying to be the backup to Russell Wilson.  There were
some less obvious battles in both the running back and receiving areas of the depth chart, but the most evident competition was between Trevone Boykin and Austin Davis.

The Seahawks wanted Boykin to win the job, but they weren't going to give it to him.  He had to take it from Davis.  Boykin fits the mold of Russell Wilson-- an undersized, yet tremendously athletic scrambler with a knack for making plays out of thin air. Unlike Wilson, Boykin doesn't have it all between the ears and doesn't have the same dedication in film study.

Davis, on the other hand, is the quintessential 'game manager' teams seek out to be their back up. Should the starter miss a handful of games, the hope is he'll win you half of them, but he won't necessarily lose the game.  They'll shy away from attempting the big play in favor of ball security.

This game essentially spelled out what both quarterback's collective bodies of work have already told us-- Boykin is erratic and often reckless with the ball, but can occasionally strike gold with improvisation while Davis is merely the safest bet.

That's precisely how it went down.  Boykin threw a pair of costly picks while Davis slowly and cautiously led the team on the game winning drive. Davis earned the backup job and Boykin went unclaimed through waivers and found himself back on the Seahawks practice squad.  The hope is, he will continue to develop his skills within the team's system and eventually get his job as the backup back.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Solid Dress Rehearsal-- Seahawks 26 Chiefs 13

The regular season is so close-- you can taste it.

The Seahawks move to 3-0 in the preseason with another impressive offensive performance against one of the leagues most formidable defenses. We've seen marked improvement from one game to the next on both sides of the ball-- though, special teams did not have it's best performance last night.

Russell Wilson looks ready for an MVP campaign.  Not just because he appears healthy and at the top of his game, but because his weapons look more focused and generally more talented. Doug Baldwin looks elite and the duos chemistry has never been better.

I go back and forth every week on Jermaine Kearse's future with this team.  He is responsible for some of the greatest plays in Seahawks history, but in the NFL, 'what have you done for me lately?' is the collective mantra.  He is arguably the best downfield blocker on the team, but lacks the consistency of a Baldwin or Lockett.

The offensive line performed admirably in the absence of George Fant.  They are far from being established, but I feel much better this year than I did the previous season. Ethan Pocic looks like we can plug him in anywhere on the line and get decent production.

A week or two ago, if you had asked me about Chris Carson's future with the team, I would've told
you that he was making a strong case to be on this roster.  After last night's performance-- I'm starting to think this guy might be the starting running back against Green Bay.

Thomas Rawls and CJ Prosise, two of the highest touted backs on this team, have largely been unavailable for most of the time that they have been apart of this team. When healthy, both look like they could start on any team in the league with Pro Bowl potential.  The problem is that they are seemingly injured more often than not.

Their continued absences have afforded more playing time to Carson, Alex Collins, Mike Davis and JD McKissic, who is himself making a case to be on the final roster. Collins looks vastly better than last season, but will be lucky if he finds himself on the Seahawks practice squad.  Davis has had a solid preseason and camp, but appeared to take a step back last night.

McKissic can play receiver, special teams and running back with an electricity unparalleled on this roster.  They have to find a way to squeeze him onto the roster in some capacity.

The 3 best backs on this team are Rawls, Eddie Lacy and Carson.  Rawls would ideally be the starter but we'd be foolish to bank on him like we did last season.  Lacy seems more of a change-of-pace type back but will see a healthy portion of touches.  With Prosise being a high draft choice last season and the potential he's displayed when healthy, it seems unlikely that he doesn't make the team, but I struggle to see where he fits, largely because of his availability.

Every week I fall more in love with this team's depth.  The depth of talent was, in my opinion, the greatest factor in Seattle's Super Bowl victory and the lack thereof has been their shortcoming the past few seasons. It is truly exciting to think about what this team is capable of accomplishing with not only the depth that was present during the Super Bowl season-- but added to that the experience that the veteran players have acquired since hoisting that trophy.

The sky is the limit this year and anything short of a World Championship will be disappointing.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Not for the Fant of Heart-- Seahawks 20 Vikings 13

As the Seahawks were gearing up for the opening kickoff at CenturyLink Field to face the Vikings, I was heading to my end-of-summer-softball-barbecue. We had planned this gathering weeks ago and it never occurred to me that the Seahawks might have a game on that particular Friday night.

"It's only preseason." I told myself.

As long as I set the DVR, I was confident that my wife and I could enjoy our party and watch the game Saturday morning without any issues.

Not long into our gathering, I felt a buzz in my pocket and-- like the trained monkey I am-- I instinctively grabbed my phone to investigate.  I saw the ESPN update flash in my notifications.  

My brain saw the word 'Seahawks' and connected the dots.  I quickly stuffed it back in my pocket. Later, I reached for my phone again to pull up something from Facebook to reference something we were talking about. I cleared my notifications, but I did see this before I could shield my eyes.

My stomach knotted up.  I put my phone away for good, knowing that whatever bad news was looming-- looking into it further at that point wouldn't accomplish anything productive.

When we got home late that night, we couldn't wait to watch the game.  We decided we'd fight through exhaustion and watch the first half, saving the rest for the following morning. We knew something unfavorable had occurred with regard to George Fant.  We knew it happened in the first half of the game.  We just didn't know the extent of what had transpired.

Watching the pregame with the benefit of hindsight was eerie.  Brock Huard and Curt Menefee were heaping praise on Fant's offseason progress and the unusual nature of his NFL journey.  It's not common for someone to come from a totally different sport, basketball in Fant's case, and walk on to an NFL team undrafted and start at left tackle-- one of the most challenging positions in the sport.

Fant was a guy we were all rooting for.  Earlier in the week, offensive line coach Tom Cable had declared that the left side of the line was set in stone.  Recently extended Justin Britt would be the Center, offseason free agent acquisition Luke Joeckel would play Left Guard with Fant manning the blind side tackle spot.  It was reassuring for a fan base that had watched it's team struggle to find continuity across the offensive line the past few seasons.

Huard was literally mid-sentence praising Fant's progress when he went down, clutching his knee in obvious pain. It was abundantly clear that a serious injury had just befallen our newly crowned tackle. 

My wife had run out of patience.  She grabbed her phone and began searching for clarity on the injury that had by this point happened hours ago. 

"Fuck." She muttered. "It's an ACL."

As we watched the team's training staff put Fant's leg in an air cast and cart him off the field, my heart sank.  I'm sure he knew in an instant that all of the hard work he had put in this offseason went up in smoke in the blink of an eye.

There was a lot more positivity to glean from this game than there were negatives, but Fant's injury was a black cloud over an otherwise great performance by the Seahawks against a top-rated defense.  Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson were in late-season form.  Kasen Williams continues to make a case to be on the opening day roster. The depth of this team continues to impress.

Now we're back to the drawing board.  Seattle made a trade for Matt Tobin to compete with Rees Odhiambo to replace Fant, who will miss the entire season.  It's not that the loss of Fant throws the Seahawks Super Bowl hopes into turmoil-- I don't believe it does. Seattle has had worse to work with and made it work.  At least this injury occurred midway through the preseason, when the pool of capable players is deeper than it tends to be once final rosters are set and the season is underway.

What really sucks is that George Fant is a likable dude who had made tremendous progress toward  achieving an improbable goal-- only to have the rug pulled out from under him. He's young enough to bounce back from this and get right back after it next year, but you have to feel for him. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rolling in the Depth-- Seahawks 48 @ Chargers 17

The Seahawks didn't enter this offseason looking to rebuild or make any drastic changes.  The championship window remains wide open, but the team needed to replenish their depth.  It appears as though Seattle did just that.

Seattle has had it's core group in tact for a handful of seasons now.  We've known for years now who to expect starting opening day at positions like quarterback, defensive end, cornerback, safety, etc. The issue the past couple seasons has been the depth behind those guys as the season drags on.

Injuries, big and small, hamper the team's efficiency down the stretch-- but even more important is
the need to look multiple seasons down the road.  There will come a time when hard decisions need to be made on contract extensions and the Seahawks need to make sure they are grooming young talent to push for those positions.

In Sunday night's preseason opener-- it certainly looked like the Seahawks have their deepest roster since the Championship season.

In all honesty, I have been concerned about the apparent lack of competition over the last couple of seasons. Much of the starting offense and defensive lineups were established just a few seasons in to the Pete Carroll era by hitting big on young, gifted and often inexpensive players in the draft and free agency. Maintaining competent depth behind those starters gets increasingly difficult with each season as more second contracts are established.

One area that was specifically concerning to me was our kicker.  Hauschka had been so reliable for so many years, but it was evident that the Seahawks would have difficulty retaining him under the salary cap.  I think many of us expected him to leave once the season was over.  With as many picks as the Seahawks had, I thought they could have easily 'wasted' one on a kicker and brought in a few veterans to inspire competition.

Instead, it appeared to me as though they handed the job to Blair Walsh-- most immediately recognized by Seahawks fans as the guy that missed a chip-shot field goal that sent the Seahawks to the Divisional playoff game in 2016.

Walsh has had a pretty successful career before that missed kick.  He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler his rookie season in 2012.  However, after missing that potentially game-winning kick, he skidded into a slump.  He had a rough season last year, where he missed 4 PATs and saw a decrease in field goal percentage and was released by the Vikings.

Still-- I wasn't against bringing him in.  I just wanted him to 'earn' the job through open competition.

When I saw that the Buccaneers released Roberto Aguayo, another kicker with past success that is struggling with the mental side of his job, I mentioned on twitter that I'd like to see the Seahawks bring him in and kick the tires.

Suffice to say, I caught some backlash.

Walsh performed excellently last night and looked every bit the part. Obviously, I hope that carries throughout the season-- I would've taken no joy in seeing him struggle. That would've only stood to amplify my concerns.

From what we saw last night, there will indeed be some difficult roster decisions looming over the next few weeks.  Two areas that seemed thinnest just a season ago-- running backs and receivers-- now seem brimming with talented, young players that could start on any NFL roster.

Kasen Williams took the same path as Jermaine Kearse.  Local UW standout on a bad team goes undrafted but fights his way onto the Seahawks roster.  Williams largely earned his keep on special teams and the practice squad previously and every indication was that the drafted wideouts from the previous two draft classes would push him out the door.  Kasen put on a clinic last night, pulling down 4 receptions for 119 yards, just missing out on a couple of touchdowns.

I was really intrigued by David Moore, a 7th round selection from this past draft.  He's built like future Hall-of-Famer, Steve Smith.  Kenny Lawler looked much more pro-ready, having bulked up from his rookie season. Paul Richardson showed that he's going to be a huge playmaking threat, if he's able to stay healthy.

The Seahawks coaching staff would've killed to have this group of running backs available to them last season. It seems evident that Rawls and Lacy are going to be the staples of this group, but how it shakes out behind them is anyone's guess.

Chris Carson, another late pick, looks like this season's Thomas Rawls.  Mike Davis might have been our starting running back if we'd had him last year-- now, however, he might not even make the final roster. We've seen CJ Prosise do incredible things last year when healthy.  Well, he's healthy, so we better make some room for him.

The defense restocked the cupboards, too. There seems to finally be legitimate competition for the linebacker spot not occupied by Wagner and Wright.  The young cornerbacks will eventually find their footing and we seem to have a contingency plan behind Kam and Earl for once. I would've liked to see more pass rush, but hopefully that will come in time. Four turnovers is plenty to get excited about.

By far, the most satisfying takeaway from last night's game was the performance of our offensive line.  Pass protection was good for Wilson, Boykin and Davis.  Run lanes were there for the taking.  It wasn't just the presumed starters-- we might actually have some reliable depth on the line this season!

I know it's just preseason, but football is back!  The Seahawks are looking ready to contend and we're only a few short weeks away from meaningful football.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Buying a Jersey for Life

I'd like to consider myself an expert when it comes to buying jerseys. I've been wearing jerseys since
I was 7 years old. While they are no longer a part of my everyday wardrobe-- I still wear a jersey on game day, all these years later.

My first Seahawks jersey was Steve Largent's #80. Obviously, this was something that was purchased for me by one of my parents or grandparents, but it certainly would've been my first choice even then.  To this day, Largent's throwback is still a great choice for any fan to wear on Sundays.

The first jersey I purchased for myself was Matt Hasselbeck.  I loved #8 and that jersey lasted me through the better part of a decade.  Like Matthew himself, this jersey is retired from my rotation. Both the Seahawks and myself got a terrific return on our investment.

When Hasselbeck left, I knew it was time for a new jersey. There are a lot of variables to consider when picking out a jersey. I wanted one that would last me, at a minimum, 5 seasons.  After all, anyone who has purchased a replica jersey can attest to how expensive these things can be.

Here are some tips to help you get the most bang for your buck with your Sunday apparel:

1.)  Pick a player that's going to be in the team's plans for the immediate future.

Longevity is difficult to predict in today's NFL.  With the average career lasting only about 3 seasons and free agency constantly shaking things up, it can be quite challenging.

Generally, quarterbacks are an easy choice.  Most teams in the NFL have a quarterback who is either in the developmental process, is an established veteran, or is otherwise under (a manageable) contract for the foreseeable future.

I got my Hasselbeck jersey in his second year as a starter.  I got my Russell Wilson jersey after his 3rd preseason game.  In both instances, I felt comfortable that the team was sold on the player being 'the guy' for a while. Fortunately, I was correct in both instances.

Conversely, don't buy a jersey of an aging veteran free agent that was brought in to 'win now'.  At every Seahawks game, you'll find a few suckers with a Jerry Rice or Percy Harvin jersey.  While it was exciting having those players at the time-- everyone knew there was a good chance they wouldn't last long.  

2.) Position Matters

Career averages can be drastically different from position to position. Couple that with the fact that team/player loyalty is at an all-time low, you'll find that there are a lot of variables at play. For example, Tom Brady just celebrated his 40th birthday and has has eluded in the past that his plans are to play well into his 40s. Meanwhile, he's probably had 20 different running backs start in his backfield.

The average career for a Running Back is roughly 2.5 seasons. Wideouts and Cornerbacks are closer to 3 seasons, but not by much.  So, outside of Kickers and Punters, Quarterbacks are typically the safest bet.

3.) Rookies are a slippery slope!

One way a rookie jersey is a safe bet is because they're immediately signed to an average contract of about 4 years, so it buys you some time.  NFL contracts aren't guaranteed, but organizations are typically more patient with rookies.  

Still, you should proceed with caution before buying your rookie jersey.  It's always a gamble seeing if these young men can mentally and physically pick up the game at its highest level.  Many 12s excitedly purchased Aaron Curry's jersey when the Seahawks selected him with the 4th overall pick in 2009.  I can't say as I blame them.  Top five picks are among the safest bets among rookies.  Still, Curry quickly flamed out and fans were forced to get replacements or suffer the embarrassment of wearing the jersey of a major bust.

4.) You can always play it safe

Look, jerseys are a luxury-- being a die-hard fan doesn't require a uniform.  If you want to play it safe, that's totally understandable.  Seahawks fans have a privilege that other teams do not.  We have our own jersey.

In tribute to their fans, the Seahawks organization retired the number 12 in 1984.  The gesture was to show that the fans impact was as important as the other 11 men on the field, so no one will ever wear that number for this team again.  That means it can never go out of style.

Additionally, the Seahawks now have 4 players in the Hall of Fame which you can wear as a throwback.  Plus, it's always cool to see someone with a less memorable throwback like Joe Nash, Eugene Robinson or Dave Kreig.

Then again, if all you can get your mitts on is a Darrell Jackson jersey you scored at a thrift shop or a Shaun Alexander jersey you picked up at a garage sale-- that's cool, too.  Your fandom shouldn't be measured by how much you've spent on merchandise. Just root for your team, win or lose.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Open Minds Change: I used to hate Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick's story is fascinating.  He's been polarizing ever since the 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season in the backup role before winning the starting job the following season. In his first season as a starter, he lead his team to a Super Bowl.

Five years later, the guy is unemployed.

There were no significant injuries, no incidents of substance abuse, no run-ins with the law or domestic abuse allegations.  Quite frankly, there wasn't even any decline in ability that might have lead to this former NFC Champion Quarterback finding himself between jobs. The only reason Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster today is that he spoke out on inequality in America.

Before I go any further, I have to admit-- I used to hate Colin Kaepernick.

In fact, I enjoyed hating him.  Not just because he was the starting quarterback of my favorite team's greatest rival.  I hated everything about him.

From the shit-eating grin he flaunted with every play that resulted in positive yards to the corny Instagram pictures of his shoe collection, sports cars, and celebrities.  He was the perfect villain for Seahawks fans.  Russell Wilson was Charlie Church who spent his free time visiting sick children in the hospital-- the Batman to Kaepernick's Joker.

Another reason I hated him-- he was pretty good.

I never thought of Kaepernick as the ideal franchise quarterback.  I still don't.  I doubled over in Ron Jaworksi suggested that Kaepernick could be the best quarterback ever.  But there was no denying that Kaepernick was a tremendously gifted athlete.
laughter when

Those Seahawks/49ers matchups with Kaepernick under center were some of the best games to watch
for both teams fans.  They would not have been nearly as entertaining if Kaepernick wasn't talented and polarizing.

The 49ers self-destructed after Jim Harbaugh left.  It was no fault of Kaepernick's. If anything, he was the victim.  All of the talent left in free agency, they brought in two coaches that had no business being NFL head coaches, and they drafted poorly.  Soon, the 49ers had fallen to Rams-level obscurity as a rival and we couldn't realistically consider Kaepernick our arch nemesis holding a clipboard for Blaine Gabbert. Kaep had become an afterthought seemingly everywhere in the NFL world.

After a long while out of the spotlight, Colin Kaepernick's name re-emerged into the headlines. Not for anything related to the game of football, but for deciding he would no longer stand for the National Anthem during pregame festivities.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

When I first read that statement, I thought "This isn't the same Colin Kaepernick I have spent the past few seasons hating."

This Colin Kaepernick has woke. It made me think that this guy who went from a high draft selection to the Super Bowl in such a short time, had experienced crushing failure for the first time in his professional career and began to take stock of his life.  Everything good that had happened to him so quickly seemed to vanish just as abruptly as it arrived.  He started focusing on what really mattered in life.

I'll admit-- I was apprehensive at first.

I thought, Alright, this guy has gone from conference champion to second-string, on a bad team, in the blink of an eye and now he's trying to keep his name in the headlines.

There was no way the guy that kissed his bicep after a big play suddenly gives a shit about anyone other than himself.

But, Kaepernick put his money (and time) where his mouth is.

He answered harsh questions about his decision sit/take a knee with respect and professionalism.  He gave out suits to parolees so they can get jobs. He donated $1million of his salary to help his community. He gave the proceeds from his jersey sales and helped bring water to areas of need.

Kaepernick had seemingly changed and grown as a human being. He was starting to win me over, but in the process, he had angered a vocal minority of NFL fans across the nation. My next question was 'Why is he doing this and why is it upsetting so many people?"

I've always been opposed to contrived, pointless rituals.  Like being forced by your mother to apologize to your sibling after a fight-- being forced to express sympathy, gratitude or allegiance under duress always struck me as supremely disingenuous.

Apparently, I'm in the minority with that sentiment.  Many 'fans' to this day are so upset with Kaepernick's refusal to partake in this out-dated display of nationalism, they couldn't be bothered to hear the message of Kaepernick's protest.

Kaepernick, in my opinion, made a great point.  Why would any African American willingly participate in the anthem, which itself has questionable roots? At a particular time where news feeds were flooded with numerous stories of police officers killing unarmed black men, it only makes sense that someone would eventually say "This isn't right. There is a glaring absence of justice taking place in this country."

When I try to put myself in the shoes of Colin Kaepernick or any other African American male living in the united states, it doesn't take long for me to comprehend and sympathize with their plight.  Imagine waking up every day and seeing your news feed awash with videos of people that look like you having their lives taken from them by people who your taxes pay to keep us all safe.

It happens so frequently, it can't be a fluke.  It's clearly a systemic problem that needs to be treated at the source. A national dialog needed to be started-- and Kaepernick's taking a knee did just that.

The opposition turns a deaf ear to Kaepernick's concerns and instead makes the argument entirely focused on patriotism and the troops that bravely defend our country.   That could not be further from the truth.  Anyone with a lick of sense in their head can see that Kaepernick's statement is not intended to disparage our service men and women in anyway-- he's merely using his celebrity to shine light on a glaring issue we have in this country.  That issue is the rampant abuse of power and shoot-first mentality, particularly when dealing with African American men, that takes place every day in this country.

It's an issue that should concern every person that wants to live in a free and civilized society.  Even if you don't experience that sort of prejudice yourself, you should be willing to listen to those that do without making it about yourself.

The term 'snowflake' is thrown out frequently by those on the right to demean those who express any sort of sensitivity toward a particular issue.  Ironically, the same people making these statements are often the same people that claim to be so distraught by Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem, they suggest that they'll stop watching football altogether should he land on their team.

I certainly hope that we live in a society today that will give Kaepernick a second chance.  There is truly no reason for him to not be on a roster outside of the social issues he stands for. We have seen Michael Vick serve prison time for dog fighting and after a long road of redemption, he eventually was given a second chance.

We see players like Arian Peterson bounce back from child abuse charges. We've seen more drug, alcohol, and domestic abuses charges swept under the rug than I have time to list here.  How can someone who simply pointed out the flaws of our broken justice system be treated worse than those who actually caused physical harm to others?

Furthermore, I can point to a handful of players with greater skill deficits and weaker resumes who still draw paychecks in this league.  Mark Sanchez has been a disappointment for longer than Kaepernick has even been in the league.  Anyone named McCown seems to have a standing invite from every team to hold clipboard for millions per year.  Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden, Drew Stanton, Matt Cassell and Kellen Moore are all on NFL rosters and not a one of them is as athletically gifted as Kaepernick, nor have any of them lead a team to the Super Bowl.

At this point, it appears unlikely that Kaepernick will be signed by the Seahawks.  Personally, in the unlikely disastrous event that Russell Wilson should miss snaps, I would prefer Kaepernick take the reins than Jake Heaps, Trevone Boykin or Austin Davis.  All four options would be drastic steps down from the production and play making ability we get with Russell Wilson-- but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Kaepernick is the best option of the rest.

I went from hating Colin Kapernick to calling myself a fan of his.  It's silly to even consider what he did a 'failure' or a 'crime', because it absolutely is not.  Even if it were-- failure should not be permanent.  Some of America's greatest achievements came after a series of substantial failures. If we condemn failure so fiercely, we discourage people from taking chances-- chances that might have otherwise accomplished great things.

I believe many of the Kaepernick detractors have misplaced hate and I would love to interview them to get to the bottom of where it comes from.  The bottom line should be that we're all Seahawks fans that just want our team to succeed. Our loyalty is to the laundry-- not the human beings that wear it.  The Seahawks would be a better team with Kaepernick backing up Wilson than Davis or Boykin. That's plain as day to see.

I honestly can't fathom someone being so hurt by someone taking a knee during the anthem-- an event usually spent getting last minute concessions at the game or literally sitting on your ass in front of your home television-- that they would prefer their favorite team be worse off without them.

Seriously, I can't.  If you do-- reach out to me for an interview.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Seahawks 2017 Draft Class

The 2017 NFL Draft is officially behind us. The Seahawks, as usual, did not make a selection in the first round.  This was truly a rollercoaster draft for Seahawks fans, myself included.

At the end of the first round, I was despondent and that feeling bled well into the second round of the draft.  Perhaps unlike last year, the Seahawks had legitimate needs to fill in their roster that went unfulfilled in free agency.

Seattle seemingly passed on potential starters like Kevin King, Reuben Foster, Jabril Peppers, Budda Baker and TJ Watt.  All of which I felt could have addressed an immediate need and became day one starters for this team. It was especially painful to see Baker land with a division rival and King go to the Packers, who many would say have been our chief conference rival over the past half decade.

WVU's Skylar Howard signed as possible Travone Boykin replacement
We should all know by now that Pete Carroll and John Schneider march to the beat of their own drum.

As that drum beat on and the draft with it, I began to relax more and more. Seahawks addressed many of the areas of need with the wealth of picks they acquired by their trademark incessant trading back. They went hard after secondary help-- a huge problem down the stretch last season. 

They brought in offensive line help and pass rushing depth, too. They even selected a few pass catchers and a running back to bolster the competition for starting jobs this offseason. With so many roster spots solidified over the last few years, competition has been lacking in the previous two training camps.  I would like to see some of these young receivers push Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson for their jobs.

Seattle was able to bring in 11 new players from the draft and 14 additional players coming into camp undrafted which will certainly fuel the competition Pete Carroll bases his philosophy upon-- I question their decision to pass on some top-tier talent.  It's possible they could've taken the guy they seemed to have wanted most (Malik McDowell) without passing on King or Baker.  I'm still scratching my head as to why they felt that Ethan Pocic was more valuable than say a Cam Robinson who could've started at Tackle, but we'll see how it shakes out in camp.

This upcoming season will reveal more from not only this draft class but the previous 2 or 3 as well.  Depending on where Seattle finishes this year, we can more accurately dissect Pete & John's draft history.  Will this be more like the early, homerun draft classes P&J had when they first took over?  Or are the Seahawks brass trending more toward mediocrity?

Only time will tell, but I can't wait for the regular season to begin!

Seahawks 2017 Draft Selections

23 (35)Malik McDowellDT6'6"295Michigan St.
226 (58)Ethan PocicOL6'6"310LSU
326 (90)Shaquill GriffinDB6'0"194Central Florida
331 (95)Delano HillSS6'1"216Michigan
338 (102)Nazair JonesDT6'5"304North Carolina
342 (106)Amara DarbohWR6'2"214Michigan
44 (111)Tedric ThompsonFS6'0"204Colorado
63 (187)Mike TysonS6'1"204Cincinnati
626 (210)Justin SeniorOT6'5"331Mississippi St.
78 (226)David MooreWR6'2"225East Central (OK)
731 (249)Chris CarsonRB6'0"218Oklahoma St.

Seahawks 2017 Undrafted Free Agent Signings

Darreus RogersWR6'1"215USC
Algernon BrownFB6'1"250BYU
Jordan RoosG6'4"302Purdue
Skyler HowardQB6'0"207WVU
Jordan SimoneWR5'11"190Arizona State
Tyrone SwoopesTE6'4"249Texas
Otha PetersLB6'0"238Louisiana Lafayette
Calvin SteynOL6'4"320Weber State
Tony BridgesDB6'2"185Mississippi
Hayden PlinkeTE6'4"265UTEP
Nick UsherLB6'4"245UTEP

Seahawks 2017 Tryouts and Camp Invites

Bernard DawsonDT6'2"248Georgia Southern
Ronald ButlerQB6'3"180Tennessee St.
Al RilesWR5'10"212Lousiana