Monday, December 11, 2017

Hard Fought -- Seahawks 24 Jaguars 30

The better team lost on Sunday. For that matter, the better fan base lost on Sunday. 

I know there are a lot of people on both sides upset, frustrated, disappointed, angry and embarrassed by what transpired in the final moments of Sunday's loss to the Jaguars.  I understand why you would feel that way, just having witnessed the opportunity for victory slip from the hands of the team you worship. 

The blame for the transgressions of the last few plays rests solely with one group.

No-- it's not Michael Bennett, no matter how badly some 'fans' would love to vilify him as the everything that is wrong with the Seahawks.  All Bennett is guilty of is playing the game of football for a full 60 minutes.

Seahawks fan Bob White asks Mike Salk how he's supposed
 to explain the late-game skirmish to his children.
It's not even Sheldon Richardson or Quinton Jefferson who let their emotions get the better of them at the end of the game.

The fights, the penalties, the awful behavior of the fans can be squarely placed on this officiating group.

Jacksonville, its players, coaches and fan base, are about as familiar with success as fish are with the concept of aviation.  Winning is completely and utterly foreign to them.  There is no question that they are a good team right now with a spectacularly talented defense and a powerful rushing attack. However, it was evident very early in the game that this was their Super Bowl and because of that, their players were unnecessarily chippy.

There were no less than 4 plays in the first half of the game where Jacksonville players more than

warranted a late hit or a taunting penalty. There were a number of plays throughout the game where pass interference probably should've been called-- but these officials, for whatever reason, opted to 'let 'em play'.
Football is a game of extreme emotion.  When you let that kind of shit persist-- you're inviting fights like we saw at the end of this match.

Moose Johnson and Chris Meyers did fans a tremendous disservice.  Not just by virtue of calling the game, but by insinuating that Michael Bennett's actions were motivated by spite or poor-sportsmanship and ultimately suggesting that he's unworthy of his Man of the Year nomination.

The only thing Michael Bennett is guilty of is never giving up.  There was still 51 seconds on the clock and the Seahawks had a timeout.  When the Jaguars were in victory formation, Bennett tried to 'intercept' the snap by shooting low through the A gap. I will never be upset with a player going 100% until the game is over.

Seattle overcame costly, early-game mistakes to find themselves a touchdown away from victory.  A victory Seattle surely would have saw if only the officiating crew had seen the most blatant defensive holding penalty executed this season.

Once again, most of the obstacles Seattle faced were by their own creation.  As the offense continues to improve, our defense continually falls victim to attrition. Its no coincidence that Jacksonville scored 27 of their 30 points after Bobby Wagner left with injury.

In spite of a loss that undoubtedly left the team and fans emotionally exhausted, I feel good about the direction this team is heading. Seattle faces an equally banged up Rams team, that they already defeated earlier in the season, at home with the division title on the line. We have to hope that we start getting some guys back from injury soon, but the offense is rallying behind Wilson-- and I've always said that this team goes as far as Wilson will take them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thriving in December-- Seahawks 24 Eagles 10

Russell Wilson lives for primetime games in December.  Make no mistake about it-- this was far and away the most exciting game of the year.

The week leading up to this game had all the experts going against Seattle.  Even the staunchest of 'homers' believed the Seahawks to be outmatched by the NFL's top-ranked Eagles. Why shouldn't they feel the Seahawks were done?  After all, they are without Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, never had a single doubt.

Admittedly, I, too, was worried going into this game.  Not necessarily because of anything the Eagles do-- but because I know the Seahawks most difficult opponent has always been themselves.

My fears were put to rest after the very first play of the game when Darrell Bevell called a designed run for Wilson. The play only picked up seven yards, but it wasn't so much the result of the play that calmed me, but the statement that play made. Rather than cross their fingers and hope that Mike Davis was the answer to their rushing attack's prayers, they made a concerted effort to do what they do best.

The Seahawks basically said that they were going to play their brand of football and dared the young Eagles to try to stop it.

Seattle came away with a field goal on the opening drive, but it was enough to fire up the 12s and set the tone for the rest of the game. On their 3rd possession of the game, the Seahawks did what no other team had done this season against the Eagles-- they scored a touchdown in the first quarter.

When dumb penalties had become a consistent theme in Seattle's losses this year as well as their victories, you could tell early on that Seattle was executing at an extremely high level.  They played as if they had been preparing for Philadelphia for two weeks or more.

Seattle only committed 5 penalties all game. The offensive line seemed to have altered it's blocking style overnight, adapting a scramble-friendly style that provided protection while preventing bone-headed holding calls.  It was a hopeful sign that this line is solidifying just in time for the playoffs and meaningful December football.

The defense had been criticized all week.  They were told they were good, but that they simply could not be elite in the absences of Sherman, Chancellor and Avril. This obviously got back to the players, because we saw a colossal effort from the entire defense. 

Frank Clark has made it to the next level.  He's shown that he can be the Chris Clemons of this year's team, recording two sacks and numerous QB hurries.  Quinton Jefferson is starting to come along, too. Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Shaq Griffin and the rest of the secondary stepped up big in this game.

However there were three players on the defense that really stole the show.  Bradley MacDougald was lights-out with a dozen tackles, filling in for Chancellor. Still, this new amalgamation of the Seahawks defense belongs to and runs through it's veteran linebackers-- KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner. Those two are on a whole other level.

If Bobby Wagner isn't the Defensive MVP, no one is.

In private conversations leading up to this game, I said on more than one occasion that if Seattle doesn't win this game, there is no chance at them winning the Super Bowl.  While mathematically untrue, dropping this game to the Eagles would have been the 3rd home field loss for Seattle this year and would essentially confirm the national opinion that Seattle has not and cannot beat a good football team. 

There's still plenty of room for improvement in these final four games.  Seattle has the opportunity this week to get a road win against an playoff-bound AFC team.  The offensive line needs to continue to gel while showing consistency.  We should even get some guys back like DeShawn Shead and Dion Jordan that will provide rotational depth.

There was plenty of praise to go around from the Sunday Night matchup, but one point cannot be stressed enough-- Russell Wilson was extraordinary.

Number 3 is the very definition of a Most Valuable Player.  Over 80% of Seattle's offensive production has gone through Wilson.  He is carrying this team and the sky is the limit.

A lot can shake up in the 4th quarter of the season.  Seattle could very likely win-out and find themselves in the top seed.  This loss could potentially send the Eagles into a tailspin of self doubt.  The NFC South should continue to cannibalize itself and we essentially control the Rams fate. As good as Case Keenum has been, I'm just not convinced that he has what it takes to lead the Vikings to the #1 seed.

It's December now.  This is when Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are at their very best.  Buckle up and brace yourselves for a remarkable final four games.