Monday, December 24, 2018

Seahawks on Santa's 'Nice' List-- Seahawks 38 Chiefs 31

What a splendid way to get the holiday season underway.  In a prime time game that held tremendous significance to both teams, the world bore witness to a Seahawks team that looked every bit the part of a legitimate playoff contender.

Chris Carson surpassed the 1,000 yard mark on the season in this game.  He was the first Seahawk to achieve this since Marshawn Lynch.  He punished would be tacklers all night long with stablemate Mike Davis as the Seahawks put up 200 plus yards on Kansas City.

To everyone besides Cris Collinsworth and Al Michael, Russell Wilson out shined MVP favorite, Patrick Mahomes. Making plays with his feet, dropping dimes to Baldwin and Lockett, finding his
tight ends for touchdowns-- Wilson did it all.

Seattle's defense has been as fun to watch as they are nerve-wracking.  They're an energetic young unit with a high ceiling but not much experience.  They're just as likely to make a big play as they are to miss an assignment, it seems. 

For the most part, Mahomes was held in check.  Akeem King did a marvelous job locking down the formidable Travis Kelce.  Flowers and Griffin kept tabs on the shifty Tyreek Hill.  Clark, Reed, Jordan and the gang applied consistent pressure on the young MVP prospect throughout the night.

The alarming stat was seeing Chiefs 4th string running back, Damien Williams, rush for over a hundred yards.  Now, that could be a byproduct of the Seahawks game plan, which seemed to be eliminating the big play threat, but it's still concerning.

Nevertheless, Seattle has clinched a playoff appearance despite the majority of analysis predicting a major setback this season.  Tremendous credit to Pete Carroll and John Schneider for pulling off 9 wins and a potential 10th while majorly overhauling the roster and replacing both offensive and defensive coordinators.

I can't imagine anyone wanting to face these Seahawks in the playoffs.  They've shown that they can hang with and beat some of the best teams in the league.  It's shaping up to look like Seattle will be heading to Dallas in the Wild Card round, which sounds great to me.

The final week of the regular season is this coming Sunday.  The Seahawks have already punched their ticket to the playoffs, so this game is a mere formality, really.  I hope anyone with a nagging injury gets the week off-- Fluker, Baldwin, MacDougald, and KJ Wright, unless he feels he needs the reps. 

Let Bo Scarborough and McKissic handle running back duties.  Let Brett Hundley get in some live rounds. Have Joey Hunt take over for Britt.  Let's get some experience for the kids that need it and some well deserved rest for the guys that could use it.

I'm fired up for the playoffs.  To put it into a seasonal colloquial term-- I'm like a kid on Christmas!  Speaking of Christmas, enjoy this holiday song I made years ago when my band was still active.

Have a great holiday season and an even better playoff season!


Monday, December 17, 2018

Sloppy as the Field they Played upon-- Seahawks 23 @ 49ers 26

I'm sure I am not alone in saying that this game ruined my weekend.

In the grand scheme of things, this loss will not have much of an effect on Seattle's playoff hopes in general. Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, but this one hit me hard.

Seattle need only to win this game against the 49ers and they would've found themselves clinching the playoffs, a feat nobody expected given the turnover from the team that missed the playoffs last year. 

They also would've taken the record for most consecutive wins over an opponent-- a record that fell just minutes before kickoff, when the Browns beat the Broncos for the first time since 1990.

Still, Seattle's playoff hopes are very much alive and who cares about meaningless records, right?

I'm an ardent believer in the psychology of the game of football. I think momentum means something.  I think that intimidation means something. The intangible part of the game that cannot be measured, but the effects are nevertheless still felt by many who play, watch and study the game.

While I'm in no way suggesting that the Seahawks 'didn't come to play', I firmly believe that San Francisco wanted this victory just a little bit more.

San Francisco is on the right track.  They've found a good coach, their defense has some talent that they will undoubtedly build upon and, evidently, they have two viable options for quarterback this team next year.

But this season-- they're no where near Seattle's level. The score of the previous match up this season is indicative of that alone. 

Seattle started this game on script.  A stout defensive stand resulting in a punt that would give the offense tremendous field position.  The offense responded in kind with an opening drive touchdown.  Everything was going as plan.

Then Janikowski missed an extra point.

Everything went downhill from there.

Levi's Stadium has been an embarrassment to the game of football since it's inception.  There are high school fields throughout the nation with field turf that puts their's to shame.

Why this hasn't been figured out in the four years since it's opening is beyond all logic.  Furthermore, why the Seahawks didn't account for this is even more maddening.

The broadcast noted several of the players making equipment adjustments mid-game.  They even showed footage of Janikowski landing on his backside while attempting a kick.  Why on earth did they wait until the game was underway to make these changes?

After botching the kick, the 49ers ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown.  Janikowski's attempt to subdue the returner will no doubt find it's way to the follies archive at NFL Films.  Special teams had it's worst showing of the season on Sunday.

Seattle's offense played well.  Baldwin came back to form, catching two touchdowns from Wilson.  Carson ran for 100+ and scored a late touchdown. They continued their struggles of converting drives into points, but otherwise had an admirable road showing.

The defense was sloppy.  Missed tackles, guys being caught out of position, and generally making Nick Mullens look like Joe Montana.  The game was confusing, in the sense that there were many outstanding individual performances on the Seahawks defense, but there were far too many mistakes to negate those efforts. 

The officiating was the worst I have seen in a while.

Seahawks were penalized 148 yards, most in franchise history. Some were deserved, but there were a handful, particularly in the games final moments, that were mindbogglingly unnecessary. 

Referees should always throw their flags with caution in the final moments of a game.  Nobody feels good about winning on a technicality.  I know-- a win is a win-- but don't tell me you feel the same way about the "Fail Mary" game as you do with other close victories.

Peter Morelli, the head official from yesterday's game, looked like someone who would have rather been anywhere else on the planet than at that game.  He is only two months younger than Pete Carroll, but looks every bit of 67 compared to Pete. 

Pete's the oldest coach in the league.  He's also one of the most energetic and passionate.  The same cannot possibly be said of Morelli.  I'm trying my damnedest to not have this come off as ageist in any way-- but, for the love of God, can we get some younger officials?

Two pass interference calls that had a marked impact on the games outcome, were simply non existent.  The one called on Delano Hill was absolutely a pushing off penalty against San Francisco, but somehow was levied against Seattle. 

The officiating played a huge roll in this loss, but Seattle's sloppiness on defense and special teams meltdown were much to blame, as well. 

Seattle can clinch this Sunday, but instead of playing an opponent that was vying for the first overall pick in next year's draft, they'll be facing one of the best teams in the AFC with an MVP candidate at quarterback instead of a free agent walk on.

If they can right the ship and win these final two home games, Seattle can still roll into the playoffs with a full head of steam.  It's unfortunate they didn't take the easy path, but maybe this is the wake up call they needed to remind them that they'll have to bring their best every week once the playoffs are underway.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Prime Time Perfection-- Seahawks 21 Vikings 7

Of course, the NFL's narrative for this game just had to be the controversial blocked field goal. As if Seattle's defense hadn't just embarrassed the Vikings and their $83-million quarterback all game. 

I suppose the Vikings fired their offensive coordinator this morning because of that blocked kick, right?

Seahawks were donning the action green uniforms (more appropriately, 'electric mucus') but they were in throwback form for prime time.  Seattle's young and hungry defense hearkened to an earlier time when Pete Carroll's defensive stars were few of household names and eager to prove themselves on every down.

While Wilson's numbers were measly on the stat sheet, save for one arrant pass to end the half, he had a good game.  We all would've liked to see the team capitalize and finish drives, you have to give credit to a Minnesota defense that I predicted would carry them to a Super Bowl berth in the preseason.

While Minnesota's defense has been stout-- their offense has been abysmal despite a clear wealth of talent.

Kirk Cousins is good, but not exactly great. Coming out of Michigan State, I had championed the Seahawks drafting him.  He reminded me a lot of Matt Hasselbeck and would have been a great replacement for the recently departed offensive leader. To this day, I believe they were of a similar threshold.

They've surrounded Cousins with great pass catchers.  Thielen and Diggs are top-tier wide outs and Rudolph is one of the more well-rounded tight ends in the league.  Dalvin Cook had a promising rookie campaign before being lost to injury and hasn't really bounced back.  Latavius Murray performed admirably in his stead and has given them a great change of pace option.

Newly fired DiFillipo was the exciting young coordinator that was supposed to get that group to push them over the top, but it just didn't work out.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, have found their identity and ran with it.  They have an offense that perfectly complements their defense and vice versa. As with any season under Carroll-- they're hitting their stride just in time for the playoffs.

I do have one concern, however, and it strikes me as a glaring one.

I am not at all confident in our receiver group.  Don't get me wrong-- Tyler Lockett has emerged as a stud WR1, but beyond that we don't seem to have anything.

Baldwin is the offensive version of KJ Wright.  Huge leadership bump when they're in the lineup, but its becoming increasingly clearer that neither of them will be 100% this season. 

David Moore has flashed glimpses of greatness, but has been horribly inconsistent.  Moore was targeted 5 times on Monday night and didn't haul in a single reception.  He is effectively our #2 receiver when Baldwin is out and quite frankly-- those numbers are unacceptable.

At this point, I expect more contribution in the passing game from George Fant than I do either Ed Dickson or Nick Vannett.  We're simply not going to get much from our tight end group this year. 

Is the answer to the Seahawks receiver woes on this roster?  Probably not.  JD McKissic could get more involved down the stretch.  Keenan Reynolds may be called upon more if Baldwin can't stay healthy enough.  Jaron Brown and Malik Turner will likely earn their keep on special teams. 

Why not see what Kelvin Benjamin has left in the tank?

Benjamin was recently released by the Bills.  Still only 27 years old, his production has been declining since his rookie year, but at 6'5", he would give Seattle some much needed height and reach in the pass game.

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm hoping the Seahawks do.  Balance is integral to winning games in the playoffs.  Imagine if the Seahawks had found themselves down by multiple scores late in last night's game.  At a certain point, time becomes a factor and running isn't an option.  If Lockett is your only reasonable passing threat-- teams will adjust.

There is still plenty of time to sort that out, though.  Seattle can clinch the playoffs if they win their final road game of the regular season this weekend in San Francisco. 

With a few tweaks here and there, this Seahawks team could beat anyone in the playoffs, home or away. If the playoffs began today, Seattle would be taking on the Cowboys in Texas for the Wild Card round.  I like those odds.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Nine in a Row Against the Niners-- Seahawks 43 vs 49ers 16

The Seahawks effectively demolished their formal rival on Sunday.  In a game that showcased Seattle's upward trajectory in all phases of the game, there was one particular element that stuck out to me.

Russell Wilson threw 4 touchdowns in this game.  He did so while only attempting 18 total passes, completing 11 of them and amassing a meager 185 yards through the air.

Anyone that watched this game could tell you that the Seahawks were dominant.  At no point in this contest was there ever any doubt that Seattle would win and win handily.

San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullins, on the other hand, went 30/48 for 414 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a single interception.

Looking at those numbers alone, you'd be fair in assuming that the kid had himself a hell of a game.

This is precisely my issue with the infatuation with passing yardage statistics.

Passing yardage is one of the most deceiving stat lines in football. While it can sometimes be
indicative of a team's success in a given game or a quarterback's success in a particular season-- it can also be the byproduct of lousy defense, lack of a run game, or simply the way the game plan happened to shake out that week.

Games like this are an enormous factor in Russell Wilson's national perception.  It's painfully evident that many national analysts do little more than review the box scores of Seahawks games without watching a single frame of game film.

Seattle could have won this game without attempting a single pass. They certainly could've won without Wilson throwing four touchdowns.

Wilson made the plays that he needed to and he executed them flawlessly, save for one pass that was just a tad out of reach for Doug Baldwin. Unfortunately, there is no quantifiable metric that accounts for Wilson's preparation and execution.

Russell Wilson may never get the true recognition he deserves because of his incredibly diverse skill set and unrelenting determination to win, but Seahawks fans better recognize.

Similarly, on the other side of the ball, Bobby Wagner continues to amaze on tape while coming up short in the recognition department.  Like his quarterback, Wagner's intangibles and immeasurables are difficult to quantify on a stat sheet.

The Seahawks have put themselves in position to be a playoff team and largely from the efforts of those two, ego-less men. Seattle can solidify their post-season potential with a win against Minnesota on Monday Night Football next week.

Here's hoping they show a national audience what Seahawks fans have known for a long time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cam's Kryptonite-- Seahawks 30 @ Panthers 27

Man, I hate when the Seahawks play Carolina.

I know, I know-- Sunday's victory puts Russell Wilson's record against Cam Newton and the Panthers at 6-1, with that lone loss coming in the playoffs of Newton's MVP campaign.  Seattle has certainly proven themselves to be the Kryptonite to Cam's Superman.

But every damn time these two teams meet, it's a slugfest that always goes to the wire.

Ron Rivera's team is similarly built to Pete Carroll's and their match ups always make for great games. Still, they always leave me biting my nails until the clock finally hits zero.

This game was no exception.

The Panthers started hot, stuffing Seattle's red hot rushing attack before sacking Wilson to force a 3
and out.  They proceeded to march down field before Seattle finally slowed them up in the red zone. Rivera, undoubtedly in an attempt to seize early momentum for his team and home crowd, opted to go for it on 4th, but were stuffed by Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks defense.

I'm sure coach Rivera is catching a ton of shit this week for that play call.  Yeah, it might have cost them the game, but when you consider the fact that Seattle's greatest strength is running the ball, and running when you're behind late in the game is impractical, it's easy to understand how an early touchdown in that spot could've put Carolina in the position to really step on the Seahawks throats early and never look back.

Unfortunately for them and to the Seahawks benefit, that turnover on downs gave the team a confidence boost that kept the fight alive.

The Panthers effectively shut down Seattle's league leading rushing attack.  Despite what national analysts seem to think, this team never has been one dimensional despite Carroll's commitment to running the ball. The Seahawks have an elite, top 5 quarterback in Russell Wilson and he carried his offense to victory.

Before this game started, I kept telling myself-- It's okay if we drop this game so long as we win out.  I was trying to be optimistic about our playoff chances, knowing that this game could easily go against our favor.

This team has fight.  It looks good having only one remaining road game left on the calendar-- and that one is against the lowly 49ers.  Tough games ahead in prime time against the Vikings, who are struggling mightily, and the Chiefs, who may very well be resting their starters for the playoffs by the time that game rolls around.

The playoffs are in sight for our Seahawks who have already won 2 more games than the 'experts' projected them to have this season.  Below are two plays that, if you haven't seen, you absolutely must check them out.

The first is the remarkable flip that Chris Carson pulled off early in the game.  Had he managed to break free for a touchdown-- this would've replaced Beastquake as the single most impressive play I've ever witnessed.

Next, is this touchdown reception from Wilson to David Moore.  I have both complained about Moore's lack of aggressiveness on contested passes and marveled at his ability to sell the defender with his eyes while letting the pass fall into his hands effortlessly. 

File this one under the latter-- but don't forget that this happened on 4th & 3 with the game on the line. 3 yards keeps the game alive, a turnover, on downs or by interception, almost certainly seals the game for Carolina.

Russell went for it all.

While we await Richard Sherman's return to CenturyLink Field this weekend, make sure you vote for the Seahawks to make the Pro Bowl!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Do or Die-- Seahawks 27 Packers 24

The talk leading up to last night's prime time match up was all about two teams fighting for their playoff lives. 

A pair of elite quarterbacks,  post season regulars, trying to stabilize their respective franchises as they endure a retooling phase. The winner would remain in the Wild Card hunt while the loser would very much be on the outside looking in.

The game could not have gotten off to a worse start.

Chris Carson, returning from injury having sat out the previous match up against the Rams, coughed up the football on the very first play of the game.  The Packers inherited possession in prime field position, wasting no time in scoring the game's first touchdown.

If there are two things that are sure to give an opponent the edge over the Seahawks, it's forcing them to play from behind and taking the 12s out of the game.

The game was a little more than a minute old and Green Bay had already accomplished both of those things.

I love the Seahawks run-first philosophy-- it just doesn't work when you're playing from behind with a struggling, young defense.

Beyond that initial hiccup, Seattle's offensive struggles continued throughout most of the first half.  The difference was that the team never let the game get away from them. The defense kept it close as the offense gained momentum.

This was a huge game for many reasons beyond the playoff implications.  They beat a team with an elite quarterback. They closed out the game by asserting physical dominance with their offensive line-- a huge confidence builder.

Seahawks find themselves with a .500 record and largely in control of their playoff destiny. Four of their 6 remaining games are here in Seattle.  Three of those games (@Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas City) are against teams in playoff contention.

Next week's road game against the Panthers will be a statement game.  Seattle has the opportunity to bury Carolina as they come off 10 days rest.  A win at Bank of America Stadium would give Seattle a tie-breaker over a potential Wild Card contender.

Seattle will have to face the Vikings who are hoping to win the NFC North, but either them or the Bears will likely be vying for one of the Wild Card spots.  We've already conceded a tie-breaker to Chicago with our week 2 loss to them, so Seattle cannot give up any more ground to the NFC North.

My hope is that Kansas City will have long since clinched the AFC West before they come here.  It would be ideal to find the Chiefs resting key starters for the playoffs ahead of this match up.

Things look good for our Seahawks down the stretch. The young players are coming into their own and the team is gelling in November, as usual.  A loss last night would have been devastating as we would likely have had to watch and hope for other teams to lose for any hope of a Seahawk postseason.

Monday, November 12, 2018

WANTED: Playmakers-- Seahawks 31 @ Rams 36

I don't know how many more of these heartbreaking losses I can take.

I never bought into the nonsense that Seattle was somehow going to completely fall apart after losing a bevy of stalwarts from the team's supposed glory years.  Can anyone point to a single, former Seahawk that is playing at a high level on a new team?  Exactly.

Still, perhaps I was too optimistic in my assumptions as to where this team was at for the 2018 season.

The Seahawks past two performances along with the previous match up with these Rams have made one point painfully evident-- this team is sorely lacking play makers.

See the source imageClosing out games in the 4th quarter was once a specialty of the Wilson-led Seahawks.  Now, it appears to be their greatest deficit. In back to back losses, not only was the ball in Wilson's hands with the game on the line-- he committed costly turnovers to seal the team's fate.

Once again, I'm left scratching my head as I walk my mind back through the team's preseason decision making that got us here.  Instead of the problem being with the running back group, as it has been the past 3 seasons, Seattle's biggest problem is with their pass catchers.

You could say their problem is with pass rushers, and you wouldn't be incorrect in that assumption, but I'm willing to concede that those are the unicorns of the NFL-- hard to find and typically come with a heavy price tag.

The receiver market wasn't much better.  Seattle's outgoing Paul Richardson was one of the top free agents.  They could've improved through the draft, though the only productive receivers this season from the incoming draft class were all selected just a handful of picks after we took Penny.  Improving the run game was a priority, so it's hard to argue there.

I guess the thing that I find most maddening is that, after adding Ed Dickson and Jaron Brown in free agency, through week 10 this team's three leading receivers are Tyler Lockett, a banged up Doug Baldwin and backup running back, Mike Davis.

While Nick Vannett has contributed more than ever before, he doesn't appear to be transforming into the red zone threat we had hoped.  Will Dissley would undoubtedly have made that list had he stayed healthy. If 'ifs' were fifths, we'd all be drunk.

I love the Seahawks commitment to the run, but the NFL has a way of exposing one-dimensional teams. Committing to the run shouldn't mean abandoning the passing game, but it certainly feels like there is no grey area with this group.  They're either running the ball or making Russell scramble for his life, looking for someone down field.

Seattle needs to find their way back to the middle.  Just as the run can open up the play action pass, the short pass and screen game can open things up for the run as well as shots downfield.

I had assumed, incorrectly evidently, that the Seahawks decision to sign Jaron Brown was made as somewhat of a poor-man's replacement of Paul Richardson.  A guy who could stretch the field and take the top off of defenses.  So far, we haven't seen that from him.

It's refreshing to see that Seattle can get 100 yards from whoever they place in the backfield, regardless of the opponent.  It's nice to see that our defense, in spite of youth and inexperience, can keep this team within one score of seemingly any ballgame.  It's incredibly frustrating that nobody, not even Tyler Lockett, can come up with a big play late in the game to put this team over the top.

Four of Seattle's seven remaining games, including a match up with the Packers just 4 days from now, are against team's that will be in the playoff or are otherwise vying with Seattle for a Wild Card spot.  The other 3 are against lowly division rivals that are sure to play us harder than their record indicates.

In all reality, the Seahawks will need to win almost all of these games if they have any hopes of backing into the playoffs.  It's not going to be easy, but the way this team fights, it should be feasible.

We've seen it just about every year of Pete Carroll's tenure-- who will step up in the latter half of the season and emerge as the next star of this team?  They're going to need playmakers if they want to play in the postseason.

By the way-- Seattle leads the league in rushing.  You know you're doing something right if you're frustrating the NFL's best defender to this point.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Gross-- Seattle 17 Chargers 25

Only one of the teams on CenturyLink Field this Sunday appeared to have playoff swagger.

It wasn't the Seahawks.

This game was ugly.  The officiating was abysmal, but Seattle didn't perform well enough in any phase of the game for this loss to be laid at the feet of the refs. After Chris Carson's hot start, he quickly left the game with the hip and groin injuries that had been plaguing him all week.  Seattle's offense didn't get their act together again until the final drive of the game.

That, I suppose, would be the silver lining to take away from a game where Seattle appeared to take a huge step backward.  They took a playoff team down to the goal line with an opportunity to score, go for two, and take the game into overtime.

I knew Phillip Rivers was going to be a major challenge for this young defense, but Seattle had absolutely no answers for Ken Wisenhunt's offense.  Seattle didn't register a single turnover and they allowed for both a 100+ yard rusher and 100+ yard receiver.  Nothing was working.

For the first time this season, I'm going to criticize Brian Schottenheimer's play calling.  Once Carson left, the Chargers seemed to figure out Seattle's rushing attack-- but that didn't stop Seattle from insisting upon going to it.

After leading the league in 3rd down efficiency the past few weeks, Seattle finished this game with a disgusting 26% on third downs.

It did seem that Seattle was gearing up for a 4th quarter rally, but that was essentially thwarted when Wilson, the only player not allowed to make mistakes, gave up a costly pick six.

Seattle is by no means out of playoff contention, they're most certainly vying for a Wild Card spot, but they must find a way to consistently improve and not give away games when they're in position to win.

I'm so frustrated with this game, I want to forget about it.  We have the Rams next week in LA. Find a way to get it done.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Back in Business-- Seahawks 28 @ Lions 14

I've grown rather fond of the mid-season bye week over the years.  Seattle had been dealt some early byes the last few years and I've blamed those premature sabbaticals for late season attrition. Perhaps unfairly, but it was a scapegoat nevertheless.

This time around, I had my concerns. Will this break kill the momentum this team has going? Not only are they getting their break after winning 3 of the last 4 games, they'll be coming off a road trip to London and reembarking on another trip to Motor City-- where the Seahawks first Super Bowl dreams had died.

Turns out it was business as usual.

Russell Wilson had a perfect game, slinging 3 touchdowns and no interceptions with a perfect QBR.  Honestly, he should have had a fourth touchdown, but Doug Baldwin forgot how to drag his feet and Nick Vannett got called for going out of bounds, but I never saw it.

Chris Carson beat up Matt Patricia's defense, gashing them for 105 yards rushing and a touchdown.  Paired with Mike Davis and a little sprinkling of rushes from Wilson and Tyler Lockett, Seattle has become one of the best ground threats in the NFL.

It's not just the mauling run game that's coming together-- the Seahawks pass catching group is really emerging.  Ed Dickson had his coming out party, snatching two balls, his first one for a Seahawks touchdown. David Moore posted a 4-97-1 line as his star continues to rise.  Wilson's trust in his receiver group is visibly improving with every game.

Tyler Lockett is swiftly becoming a superstar.  There were a lot of us that were concerned when he
signed his extension that he was being paid to be a type of player he had never been before.  An explosive returner and occasional playmaker ordinarily wouldn't be a priority resigning, especially with a disgruntled Earl Thomas campaigning for a new deal and guys like Frank Clark and Justin Coleman that are free agents at the end of this season.  The coaches saw what Tyler could be and decided to bet on that with his new contract-- and he's done nothing but live up to and exceed expectations.

Don't look now, but Seattle's defense is one of the league's finest.  No Kam, no Earl, no Sherm, no Avril, no Maxwell, no Sheldon-- no problem.  Seattle's defense is 4th in scoring and is gaining experience with every week. Far from the potential liability we expected this group to be, they were a big reason this team has won 4 of it's last 5, covering up for the offense's slow start.

With all of the great things that came out of yesterday's victory, perhaps none was more cool than seeing our rookie punter go rogue and get his first rushing first down.

Late in the game, the Seahawks found themselves pinned back against their endzone.  There was just over 2 minutes left to play. From what I understand, Michael Dickson was told to try to run the clock down to the two minute warning, taking a safety if necessary.  A safety would've resulted in the Lions getting only two points and then receiving a punt from Seattle that would be kicked from the 20 yard-line.

Even with the safety, the Lions would've found themselves still down by two scores, but with only a single timeout and no two minute warning. It would've been the safest bet to ensure the road victory.

In a post-game interview, Dickson recalled something Coach Carroll had said to him while in London.  He asked the Aussie "When are you gonna run one?" 

Dickson said at the time, he thought the comment was made in jest.  It must have permeated into his subconscious, because as you'll see in the clip below, Dickson saw some daylight and he went for it.  A ballsy play that could've been disastrous, but instead sealed the game for Seattle.

Next week brings on a whole new set of challenges as the Seahawks prepare for their former divisional foes, the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers.  The good news for the Seahawks-- six of their final nine games are at home.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Well Traveled-- Seahawks 27 Raiders 3

To borrow a colloquial phrase-- Seattle's trip to England was a jolly good show.

Despite the long flight to a strange land, Seattle seemed to roll their momentum amassed in their near-miss loss to the Rams into England as they embarrassed their former division rivals in a blowout victory.

The Seahawks continue their week to week improvement in a way not previously seen with Pete Carroll's teams.  Whereas in previous seasons, where it seemed Russell Wilson would find a new way each week to break the heart of their opponents, this team tends to build upon the same foundation with new wrinkles mixed in.

Continuing to build upon their run game, this week saw the long-awaited debut of first round draft

Seattle's young defense continued to shine.  Frank Clark had a dominant performance, notching 2.5 sacks.  Clark was a near constant menace to Oakland all game having struggled with food poisoning the week before.

Jarran Reed continues to develop into the destructive force that we haven't had since Brandon Mebane's departure. Reed came away with another sack in this game and was stout in facing former teammate Marshawn Lynch.
selection, Rashaad Penny.  It was by no means an MVP performance, but while Carson lead the backfield in touches, Penny came away with the highest average, netting 4.8 yards per carry.

Our team has now fought their way back to a .500 record and is poised to continue it's ascent in an NFC that is wide open beyond the Saints and, unfortunately, our division rivals in LA. The Rams squeaked out another 3 point victory against Denver yesterday.

As things wrap up in London, Seattle will prepare for it's bye week before returning to action in Detroit against the Lions. Hopefully, KJ Wright is ready for return and Ed Dixon should be returning soon.  Seattle will be helped tremendously by getting back some of the players they lost earlier in the year.

Another thing I may write more in depth on is Russell Wilson quietly playing his way into the MVP discussion.  Wilson left Wembley Stadium having tossed another 3-touchdown performance.  With David Moore emerging, Doug Baldwin returning from injury, Tyler Lockett stepping up and Dixon soon to join the fold-- he's only going to gain more confidence in his receivers.

If the run game keeps up and the defense continues to mature, we all know what Wilson is capable of doing.  If he puts up the numbers he usually does in November and December, it's going to be awfully hard ignoring him in the MVP discussion.

Same goes for coach.  If this team makes the playoffs, even as a Wild Card, how can you not credit Pete with his first coach of the year nod?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Everything but the Win-- Seahawks 31 Rams 33

So close.

For the better part of 60 minutes, the Seattle Seahawks played the style of football you would hope to see every time you tune in.  Hard-nosed, smash-mouth, run-right-at them and take-calculated-shots-downfield type of football.  They overcame adversity, they forced turnovers, and they even had the good fortune of seeing their opponent miss an extra point.

Everything was going as best as could be expected, but the Seahawks could not close out the victory.

With just under 6 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks found themselves at their own 22 yard line, down just two points.  They had timeouts in their pocket and enough time remaining to continue pounding the rock while giving Russell Wilson the opportunity to do what he does best-- win a game with the last possession.

The Seahawks began by giving the ball to Carson for a mere 2 yards.  No problem.  Now the clock is
moving.  On the next play, Wilson creates a little magic and finds Tyler Lockett for a 44 yard gain.  This one is almost in the books.

Then, Seattle began to choke.

The play doesn't get in on time.  Germain Ifedi is called for a false start that may as well have been a delay of game penalty. Again, no big deal.  Plenty of time.  Still in field goal range.  Don't stray from the gameplan.

Give the ball to Mike Davis.  Only two yards.  Don't panic.  Still in range and the clock is moving. The Rams have no timeouts left.

Next play, a give to Mike Davis for a modest gain of 5 yards.  Only, it isn't.  The play is called back on a bullshit holding penalty against DJ Fluker.  Shit, now we're out of field goal range.  Still, not to worry, a high-percentage pass will put you right back in Sebastian Janikowski's range even if it's short of a first down.

Hell, another modest run might suffice for the strong-legged Janikowski.

3rd and Long, Wilson incomplete to Lockett.  Now, you've got to punt.

You still have two timeouts and the two minute warning.  You might not have the formidable defense we've all grown accustomed to over the years, but you do have one of the most exciting, prolific young punters in the game.  Pin 'em back and force another punt.  You'll still have Russell with the ball in his hand and around 60 seconds to get back into Janikowski's range.

Michael Dickson, who had struggled earlier in the game, punted the ball a measly 24 yards to the Rams 21 yard line.  Not ideal, but a few stops could keep you alive.

First play of the next drive, Todd Gurley breaks a run of 12 yards.  Seahawks don't call a time out.  The probability of the Seahawks winning is drastically reduced. I would've stopped the clock here to refocus the defense, use the two minute warning as my second time out and still have one timeout left.

The next play is a two yard run, the clock runs down to two minutes. On the subsequent play, Gurley carries for 7 yards, just shy of the first down marker.  Seattle takes a timeout.  They have one remaining.

3rd & 1, Rams give to their MVP for no gain.  It's now 4th & 1 with the Rams on their own 42.  The offense hasn't left the field, but the punting unit is queued up nearby.  They take a measurement-- they're short.  The Rams ask for another measurement, no doubt to buy themselves more time to make the 4th down play call.  I have no idea why this was granted.  I can't recall ever seeing that before.  Nevertheless, the spot was measured again and once again, came up short.

Seattle then called it's final timeout.  Foolish decision.  You can argue that they wanted to give Wilson as much time as possible, but the benefit of the extra 40 seconds could not have benefited Wilson more than it did Rams coach Sean McVay and their offense.

McVay decided to keep the offense on the field.  Jared Goff kept the ball on a quarterback sneak and picked up the 6 inches that ultimately sealed Seattle's fate.

An otherwise well executed gameplan and outstanding physical performance was swept away and the Seahawks fell to 2-3 on the season, all but assuring the team will be, at best, fighting for a Wild Card spot.

There were a myriad of takeaways that should leave us all optimistic for the future of this team, but the reality is, they needed that home victory against perhaps the league's most complete team.  They had it and they blew it. 

The team should get it's first international victory next weekend when they take on a miserable Oakland team in London on Sunday.  Despite the loss yesterday, the Seahawks did seem to find their identity in that game.  If they can play like that in every game for the rest of the season, it's hard to imagine this team missing the playoffs again this year, even if it is as a Wild Card entry.

But today-- it's a hard pill to swallow.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Turf Monster of Glendale-- Seahawks 20 @ Cardinals 17

Perhaps it was closer than it needed to be, but the Seahawks managed to escape the desert with a victory. Glendale's football stadium, formerly University of Phoenix, now State Farm, has been cursed for the Seahawks.  That's where the repeat Super Bowl hopes were dashed.  That's where the team finished in a 6-all tie.  That's where Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman played their last snaps in a Seahawks uniform.

Now, it appears Earl Thomas has played his final down for Seattle.  Another victim claimed by the turf monster of Glendale.

The Seahawks also lost their promising young tight end, Will Dissly, to a season ending knee injury.  As devastating as that injury was, unlike Thomas, Dissly will be a fixture in Seattle for years to come.

The Seahawks defense should have had an easy go of things facing off against rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in his first career start, but that wasn't exactly the case.

Rosen looked relatively sharp and certainly unsphased by the gravity of the situation. If not for just about everyone around him imploding, the rookie might have pulled off his first win.  That would have crushed the confidence of the Seahawks going forward, but multiple drops and fumbles by the Cardinals offense kept Seattle in it.

Despite Chris Carson's last minute scratch from the lineup, Seattle had great success with their rushing attack, largely in part of Mike Davis' 101 yards and two touchdowns. 

I was shocked to see the vitriol on twitter for Seahawks Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer.  Not necessarily the fact that it exists, but the sheer volume of it.  I saw several people sincerely calling for Schotty to be fired in season.

Look, every time a new coordinator is brought in to a team with a new system, you can expect there to be some time before everything gels.  Not only is the coordinator and scheme new, but the offensive line coach is new and the personnel is vastly different. 

The confusing thing to me is that we're actually seeing improvement already through these first few games.  Back to back 100 yard running backs isn't something we've seen in recent history when Bevell was at the helm. 

For years, Seahawks fans begrudgingly granted Bevell's offenses the leniency of not getting their shit together until the latter half of the season.  Every season seemed to take Seattle several games before we saw the team gel and produce.  Why are we not granting this same courtesy? Sure, we've seen some struggles, but can't those be chalked up to growing pains?  We shouldn't punish the struggles while overlooking the progress that is being made.

I would be remiss to not talk about Earl Thomas having potentially played his last game in an historic career in Seattle. I'm sure someday I'll write a lengthy piece on everything Thomas has meant to this franchise and our city-- but I'm not ready to do that today.

This saga did not need to end as ugly as it had.  Teams grow, suffer setbacks, change, and turnover all the time.  It's the nature of the business.  Seattle was extremely fortunate to assemble a roster so rich with talent that the only thing that could stop it was Father Time and the salary cap. 

Earl Thomas was the first draft pick of the Pete Caroll era. He was the youngest of the Legion of Boom. I think breaking his leg when colliding with Kam Chancellor terrified him.  After all, he hadn't ever suffered such a devastating injury in his life before that. He even tweeted in the immediate aftermath of that injury that he might never play football again.  That showed just how scared he was.

He healed up and responded remarkably to that injury. He had another great season. Still, he saw long-time teammates leave in messy divorces with the team.  He saw dear friends and colleagues Chancellor and Cliff Avril forced out of the game they love as results of devastating injuries brought on by the same reckless playing style that Earl employs.

With all of the change surrounding him and the harsh reminders of his own mortality, Earl Thomas was understandably scared. Still only 29 years of age, this is uncharted territory for him.  At his age, he has to understand he's on the back nine of his playing days. Realizing that so much in life is out of your own control, Earl wanted to control the one thing he still could-- his availability to the team without a contract extension.

Holding out for a better deal almost never works for players, but it's literally the only thing they can do to force a team's hand. I understand why it happens, but in cases like Earl and Pittsburgh's LeVeon Bell, at a certain point you have to accept things as they are and keep playing.  Few things in this world are as fleeting and finite as NFL playing careers.

I heard from a reliable source, but admittedly haven't seen factual evidence supporting the claim, that Thomas ignored the team doctor's recommendation of having a rod put in his leg to strengthen it the first time it broke.  Apparently, this new break was in the very same spot.

Whether you're mad at Earl for giving the finger on his way out the door or you're mad at the team for not paying him the money he deserves, this whole situation sucks.  This, like all of the other recent breakups is going to stain the legacy this group created in their short time here.  

In time, it will pass.  Even the most disgruntled players won't be able to deny that their best performances came while they were Seattle Seahawks.  10-15 years from now, this team will reunite in various forms to be celebrated for what they accomplished together.

I wish the best for Earl Thomas and hope he continues his career at a very high level.  More than anything, I want Seattle to power ahead and try to recapture that lighting in a bottle. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Job Well Done-- Seahawks 24 Cowboys 13

The Seahawks won their 2018 home opener against Dallas by actually adhering to their own philosophy.  They committed to the run, they played stout defense, they protected the ball and forced turnovers.

Like the previous two games-- Seahawks found themselves up against another fierce defensive front. Dallas came into this game as one of the top rated defenses in the league, which could've very easily discouraged the Seahawks from running the football, but it didn't.

Chris Carson carried the rock an impressive 32 times yesterday.  He became the first Seahawk running back since Marshawn Lynch to rush for 100 yards in a game.  Everyone of Carson's 102 yards were hard fought.

More impressively, he earned those yards behind a patchwork offensive line.  Seattle was without their starting center and left guard. DJ Fluker was back at the right guard spot, but Sweezy filled in for Pocic at left guard and Joey Hunt assumed the duties at center.

Earl Thomas continued his impressive season by adding a pair of interceptions to his stat line.   On the second interception, Thomas ran toward the Cowboy bench before taking a bow, which resulted in a taunting penalty.

Where Earl finishes this season remains to be seen, but it's hard to view anyone other than the Seahawks of the benefactor of this peculiar situation.  They've continued to get excellent production from Thomas in spite of the noise and distractions.  As teams suffer critical losses in their secondaries across the league, you'd have to imagine that his trade value is only rising.

With each performance, the idea of keeping Earl sounds increasingly appetizing. However, it still appears evident to me that the Seahawks have no intentions of resigning to All Pro safety, so I continue to hope for a trade that could net Seattle draft picks that could put this team back into the Super Bowl discussion next season.

It feels great to get back into the win column.  The Seahawks have a reasonably favorable schedule for the next few weeks.  However, there is still a lot of work to do.

Now that the Seahawks have shown that they can establish a ground attack, they need to find ways to get their first round draft pick involved in their offense. Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis will need to see their touches increase going forward-- 32 rushing attempts from Carson is unsustainable.

Someone not named Marshall, Baldwin, Lockett or Dissley will need to emerge as a reliable weapon in the pass game.  That could be David Moore, Keenan Reynolds or maybe even someone not yet on the roster.  As this team awaits the return of it's leading receiver, someone other than Tyler Lockett has to earn the trust of the quarterback.

Hopefully, the Seahawks can find a road pass rush in Arizona next weekend.  It will be by far their least intimidating road environment they will have faced this season and it's possible they'll face rookie Josh Rosen in his very first NFL start. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Offense, Same Bad Ideas-- Seahawks 17 @ Bears 24

No Doug.  No Bobby.  No DJ. No KJ. 

Everyone was prepared to deal with that-- but no identity?

This team is lost offensively.

Seattle's offense was downright atrocious last night.  The frustrating thing is that it didn't need to be that way.  The Seahawks started the game exactly how they needed-- by pounding the rock with Chris Carson. Even as they picked up that first conversion on the ground, I had a feeling it was only a matter of time before they got antsy and abandoned the ground attack.

"Unfortunately, we wanted to do better in the 3rd quarter." Pete Carroll said in his post game press conference. "I got Shotty (Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenhiemer) to take a couple shots and look at a couple of things and it got them out of rhythm a little bit."

"It was my fault." Carroll added.  "I got them trying a little bit too hard, take a couple shots to see if we could bounce something back and get back into the game quickly and I shouldn't have done that."

I'm glad the coach was able to confirm my suspicions. 

If, like me, you've watched these first two Seahawks performances and come away feeling like the scheme and play calling do feel improved despite the statistical evidence suggesting otherwise-- this does provide some insight as to why we're feeling this way.

Wilson and Carroll are bringing bad habits from the previous regime into this new offense.

710 ESPN's Mike Salk made a comment in the wake of the loss to Denver that he did experience some De ja Bevell.  I think I've pinpointed what is causing this phenomenon.

Perhaps it's PTSD from the Bevell/Cable era, but in both of these games where Seattle had one-possession deficits with the ball in Wilson's hands late in the game, they've failed. 

The one commonality I've seen between this season and previous years is the sense of panic the play caller demonstrates in the middle quarters of games where they abandon not just the run game, but all sensible fundamental football in general, in favor of praying to God that number 3 can pull a miracle out in a single play.

It doesn't have to be like that.

When pressed about his decision to effectively give up on Chris Carson, Pete said he was gassed from having to play special teams more than expected due to the team's injury woes.  A lame excuse even if that were true, but Carson played less special teams reps last night than he did in the previous game in Denver.

The Seahawks need to have one back, be it Carson or Rashaad Penny, carry the ball 20+ times in a game.  Win or lose, run the fucking football.  They need to establish trust, build rapport and instill some confidence in this offensive line if there is any hope for success down the road with this group.

Seattle has had one of the worst offensive lines in the league for almost half a decade now. Don't you think the constituents of this line are aware of that?  They have social media.  They watch ESPN.  They hear the criticisms loud and clear.

It seems like the past 40 games have seen the Seahawks turn away from the run immediately in favor of Wilson running for his life.  Wilson is among the best at making scrambles into highlight reel plays-- but it's a horrible strategy to base your entire offense around.  Not to mention, it exhausts your linemen and I would imagine, even if those plays net success, there's little feeling of accomplishment from the pass protectors in those situations.

Pete's admitted meddling aside, Seattle lost this game because of, not in spite of, Russell Wilson.

Whatever the reasons may be, he's not getting the job done.  He's holding onto the ball for far too long, giving up sacks, fumbles and putting the team in unmanageable down and distances. Even worse, he's seemed to given up on breaking off big runs on his scrambles, instead opting to pat the ball until someone gets open before pirouetting right into the arms of a defensive pass rusher.

These problems are fixable.  Perhaps that's the most frustrating aspect of our recent struggles-- these problems are completely avoidable.  They can design plays that get the ball out of Wilson's hands in 3 seconds.  It wouldn't kill Russell to throw a pump fake in every now and again, just to keep the safeties honest. I'd like to see them try to convert Keenan Reynolds into a Bobby Engram-type slant receiver that can be relied upon in those 3rd and 5 situations.

But it all starts with committing to running the football.

Running the football wears down defenders.  It builds continuity and confidence in your offensive line.  It opens up the play action pass. Play action opens up the bootleg, where Russell shines.  When you give up on the run, it emboldens defenses. It encourages the pass rush and blitzing.  It works against everything the Seahawks are supposedly trying to accomplish.

The Seahawks are finally coming home this weekend to face Earl Thomas' beloved Cowboys.  If Pete dares to suggest at any point this week that Seattle is 'a run-first team' I hope that he immediately follows it up with 'and I'm going to completely stay out of the management of our offense and let Shotty do his job'.

The patchwork defense did a marvelous job in spite of everything going against them, but this offense still has to carry the load.  Any game that the offense doesn't score a minimum of 4 touchdowns is more than likely going to be a loss this year. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sporadic & Erratic-- Seahawks 23 @ Broncos 27

The 2018 new-look Seahawks were expected to experience some growing pains.  This game was sure to test the fortitude of the young roster with KJ Wright recovering from knee treatment and Earl Thomas only joining up with the team a few days ahead of the trip to Denver.  Factor in the high altitude and scorching temperatures-- the Seahawks had their work cut out for them.

Even with all the challenges they were facing, this was a game the Seahawks absolutely should have won.  Alas, they did not.

I'm left with mixed emotions in the wake of the Seahawks opener.  For every issue that had be screaming at my television, I could find another that filled me with hope for the long season ahead. Still, you're only promised 16 games and when you drop one that you could've had, frustration lingers.

For all the struggles the Seahawks had, the one that bothers me the most was the late-game sacks that that Russell Wilson gave up on 3rd and short.  There were at least two in the final moments of the game where Russell inexplicably seemed to be looking down field, well beyond the first down
marker, only to give up a devastating loss of yards.

A veteran QB, no matter how mobile, needs to have the cognition to know where the line to gain is and get the ball out of his hand quickly-- especially against a ferocious pass rush like we saw from Denver's defensive front.

With about 11 minutes left in the game, the Seahawks were down 6 with plenty of time to mount what should have been the game winning drive.  They found themselves in 3rd & 3 on their own 27 yard line. They hadn't ran the ball well enough to even consider handing off to get the yards.  The

Seahawks needed 3 yards.  They ended up losing 13 yards.

It ended up costing them the game.  It was a bad play call and worse decision making from #3. For those of you that were able to still stomach football after this loss and tuned in to the Sunday Night Football game, Aaron Rodgers hosted a clinic on getting the ball out of your hands early to disrupt an aggressive pass rush.

I hope the Seahawks were able to catch that game on the flight home.

Rodgers, on a bum knee, orchestrated a remarkable comeback after having been ruthlessly disrupted by a fierce Chicago defense for the entirety of the first half.  Rodgers returned calmly and picked apart the Bears defense.

Unlike Wilson, he didn't behave as though he had to make up the point disparity on every throw.  Rodgers got the ball out quick and methodically moved the chains. This put the Bears D on their heels, which opened up the run. Eventually, that opened things up for big plays in the passing game.

Sometimes, you have to take what the defense is giving you.  You also have to be mindful of not just your own limitations, but your team's limitations as well.  For years now, this concept seems to have been lost on both Carroll and Wilson. 

I could drone on about this for pages upon pages, especially knowing that we'll be facing those same Bears a week from today, but instead I'll just hit on a few positives and negatives from yesterday's game and then we'll adjust our focus to next week.

+ Positives +

  • Will Dissley alleviated our fears of lacking talent in the tight end group. Uncle Will was spectacular in his rookie debut.
  • It was difficult to see against a stout defense like Denver's, but it appears as though we have a competent stable of running backs on this team.
  • I think Brian Schottenheimer (offensive coordinator) is a major upgrade from Bevell.  You could see the offense make adjustments throughout the game. 
  • Michael Dickson kept this game much closer by winning the field position battle. 

- Negatives -

  • Rookie growing pains-- while not awful, Griffin, Flowers, Green - all rookies we're counting on to produce early & often, struggled mightily.
  • Once again, the run game was abandoned too soon.  
  • Seahawks pass rush was abysmal and I don't see it getting much better any time soon.
  • What pass catcher can Wilson count on?  Doug is hurt and Marshall is my age.  Tyler Lockett isn't set up to be a workhorse type and every other receiver was insignificant. 

I saw enough to have the hope that, if this team continues to develop young talent as they always have, this could very well be a playoff team. However, it is frustrating to no end when you lose a game, particularly on the road, where you had every opportunity to win. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Big Salty Tears and a Sneak Diss

Stop me if you've heard this one.

The NFL is a quarterback driven league.

Chances are, you've heard that phrase uttered ad nauseum.  Every coach, analyst, player, and talking-head alike has either used this phrase or is otherwise intimately familiar with it's sentiment.

It's a term so rudimentary, it's like saying 'life on earth is oxygen driven'.

No shit.

An article titled "The Dynasty That Never Was" came out today on that is causing a stir throughout the football community. The premise of the article is essentially that Russell Wilson, along with Pete Carroll and John Schneider's faith in his abilities, are the primary cause of the Seahawks recent woes and ultimate undoing.

That could not be further from the truth.

The article, which directly quotes several former and recently outgoing Seahawks players, makes
them come off as entitled crybabies. With several players suggesting that Wilson is treated differently than everyone else, they complain that they did not receive their share of the accolades of the team's success while Russell skirted responsibility for the teams struggles.

There were a few things in the article that I agreed with.  Darrell Bevell's play call, Russell Wilson's ill-advised pass, and Ricardo Lockette's piss-poor attempt to get his body in position to make the game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLIX will never be lived down-- nor should they.  The fact that Pete Carroll subsequently lost the locker room is hard to deny, even for those of us on the outside. I even agree that the Seahawks lost sight of their philosophy in the wake of that Super Bowl loss-- a sentiment I was extremely vocal about throughout the past few seasons.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but here are some excerpts I personally took umbrage with:

Tony McDaniel, Richard Sherman and Cliff Avril were all on the record, along with anonymous sources, bitching about Russell Wilson getting preferential treatment. They claimed that Russell Wilson was never called out by the coaches in the media.

“We talked about that,” says Tony McDaniel, a defensive tackle with Seattle in 2013, ’14 and ’16. “Russell had his f----ups; he never got called out. If I was Pete Carroll, I’d tell Russell, I have to call you out in front of the team so there won’t be any problems.”

That might be a valid complaint if you can point to a single incident of Carroll calling out any of his players.  That's just not who Pete is.  He has consistently been shown to use optimism as his coaching method, never throwing a player under the bus no matter how deserving they might be.

The players go on to contend that Wilson was too 'emotionally fragile' to be held to the same standards as the others-- just before they whine about Russell not interacting enough with them at the company holiday party. 

Russell's work ethic has been well-documented in the press.  Yet, these bitter ex-teammates have the audacity to suggest that Russell is too focused on his business and charitable efforts, "prioritizing his business efforts over football". That sentiment reeks of jealousy, if you ask me.

These guys go on to gripe about Russell being asked to be interviewed after the 2014 Championship Game victory, in which the Seahawks came back to defeat the Packers in spite of Wilson's four interceptions-- as if to suggest Pete Carroll should have yanked his ass off the podium as punishment for his turnovers.

Guys, if you don't understand that this is a QB driven league by now-- I don't know what to tell you.  Maybe you should've learned how to throw a football.

The most infuriating line from this article is the following, referencing the play call that cost the Seahawks a championship repeat:

"Many who lamented how Wilson was treated differently now believed, truly believed, that Carroll had called a pass play to give Wilson a better chance to win the Super Bowl MVP award and decrease Marshawn Lynch’s chances"

To suggest that thoughts of who might be the MVP recipient was anywhere close to the mind of Pete Carroll in that instance is profoundly ignorant. Astonishingly and embarrassingly ignorant.

That play will never be forgotten.  Those responsible (Wilson, Bevell, Lockette, Carroll) should never live it down.  It should motivate them every day for the rest of their lives.  That decision, as well as several subsequent moves the organization made, did fly in the face of Pete's mantra of being a run-first/defensively-stout team.  But it wasn't the fault of one specific person any more than it was a premeditation decision to get Wilson an MVP.

I completely understand how that move might have lost the trust of some people in the organization. Hell, I spent the better part of the following season questioning the response of Carroll and company.  I still don't think that the team responded properly, but after reading this article, I feel that no response would satisfy some of these salty veterans who came off as petulant.

“That one play changed the whole locker room,” McDaniel says. “When Pete would give a speech or try for a heart-to-heart, people just stopped responding. They didn’t know who to trust anymore.”
Like any good team that faces adversity, you have to learn to put this shit behind you and focus on the next game, the next season.  From the sounds of things, guys like McDaniel, Avril, Bennett and Sherman folded their arms and turned up their noses at Carroll's attempts to get past XLIX. I'm sure there are things that could've been handled differently by Carroll and his staff, but I'm not convinced in the slightest that those who felt spurned would have been receptive to any of it.
 The quarterback took members of the offense and defense to Hawaii for a retreat before that season, to, according to sources, repair any lingering issues. But some lingered. “A lot of people felt like he was doing that to save face,” says one player who was there. “We were like, What is thisWhy are we here? He was disingenuous."
Prime example right here.  Russell showed leadership by footing the bill to take the team to Hawaii to resolve past issues and move forward to the next opportunity.  Evidently, it wasn't enough for some.

They momentarily shift the focus of their vitriol from Wilson to the team's personnel decisions. They complain about the decisions to move on from players like Red Bryant (career quickly fizzled out after leaving Seattle), Bruce Irvin (couldn't afford to keep him, you know, because of all the Pro Bowl players on the defense already eating a handsome portion of the salary cap), Malcom Smith (Super Bowl MVP that has yet to be healthy for 16 games since leaving here) and Tony McDaniel, who was eventually lured out of unemployment to return to the team.

McDaniel was eventually brought back, in 2016, finding himself in a time-share with other players whom he argues he was outperforming. “I was one of the guys who came in, put my hat on and went to work. Didn’t complain, didn’t say much,” he says.
Well, he didn't complain until this article came out, anyway.
“Everything they preached about competition stopped being true,” says one former Seahawk. “It wasn’t like that anymore. The Kasen Williams move was one. The way they treated the running back situation for years, the offensive line. They would draft offensive lineman high and tell them, You’re a leader now. No, you earn that. It all became artificial.”
It's important to keep in perspective, Kasen Williams couldn't win a spot on the Cleveland Browns roster.  Yes, the same Cleveland Browns that have won one more NFL game than I personally have in the past two seasons.

We all saw this tension unfold throughout the past season.  Changes were going to need to be made.  The players knew it, the staff knew it, and even the fans could see it coming.

There were quite a few foolish opinions in that piece, but this might be the stupidest excerpt from that article:

In December, during what he thought was a private moment with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett after a game against Dallas, Thomas was caught on camera telling the coach, “If y’all got the chance to come get me, come get me.”

Now, I've been openly critical of Earl Thomas' perceived intellect, but even I was taken aback to read that he sincerely believed that his dumb ass, blatantly disrespectful decision to chase Jason Garrett through the back hallways of AT&T Stadium like a schoolgirl during Beatlemania was in any way 'a private moment'.

They say that it's never a good idea to meet your heroes.  Too often, you'll find out they're not as extraordinary as you'd held them up in your mind to be. This article proved just that-- these Seahawks players that are no longer part of the plan moving forward, but significant pieces of cherished past memories, are just as flawed as you and I.

I will always be bitter about XLIX.  Every Seahawks employee, player and fan that gives a shit should be.  But what matters most is how you handle that bitterness.  I'd like to think that I would align more with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll.  Understanding that there is absolutely no benefit in holding on to anger, frustration and bitterness of the past and that letting go and moving forward is the only path to getting better.

I would certainly share the feelings expressed by the contributors of this article, but I wouldn't hold on to them as fervently as they have. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes.  For many of them, that may well have been their last shot at winning it all.  Something they'll never get back. Something, as a fan, I will never understand that feeling. 

However, they need to understand that they are not coaches and general managers with a multitude of responsibilities to delicately juggle.  Tony McDaniel criticizing the Seahawks personnel decisions is almost as absurd as me criticizing his personal training regimen.  Neither of us have any experience dealing with those subjects.

It's not surprising to hear the criticism of Wilson. He plays the most criticized position in professional sports, he's a Charlie-Church/Bookworm kind of guy, and he has the one thing those guys will never have again-- youth and his best years ahead of him.

However, it is upsetting the cowardly manner they chose to air their grievances.  Real cool waiting until you're off the team and just two days before the regular season to release your sneak diss track.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Earl Thomas is a Liability

After holding out through the entire offseason program, Earl Thomas finally reported to Seahawks headquarters.

On paper, it seems a headline worth celebrating.  The reality isn't so rosy.

Earl's reporting to the team isn't indicative of some sort of resolution.  Thomas still doesn't want to be here.  The Seahawks aren't any more interested in signing him to a long-time deal today than they have been in the past few months.  There still doesn't appear to be a market or a willing trade partner for his services.

The only reason he reported is because he doesn't want to lose any more money.
By holding out all of the offseason, Earl Thomas has incurred over $1.3 million in fines-- all of which are levied at the team's discretion.  This means that the Seahawks can forgive or enforce these fines as they see fit.  I've heard that the team has decided not to enforce these fines now that he's reported, a decision I personally do not agree with.

Had Earl continued his holdout into the regular season, he would then be forfeiting game checks.  There is no way to recoup that money, which in Earl's case, is over half a million per game.

Ultimately, this suggests that the Seahawks 'won' this battle against Earl.  He's in no better bargaining position than he was when this holdout started.  In fact, his position is arguably worse. However, the Seahawks aren't in a much better position in spite of having their star safety back in the building.

For starters, they now have a disgruntled, cancerous personality in the locker room.  This is a locker room filled with young players and a team searching for a new identity.

“I worked my whole life for this,” Earl wrote. “I’ve never let me teammates, city or fans down as long as I’ve lived and don’t plan on starting this weekend. With that being said, the disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten. Father Time may have an undefeated record but best believe I plan on taking him into triple overtime when it comes to my career.”

That doesn't strike me as the thoughts of a player that will do all he can to help his team win. That sounds like a selfish player that is only looking out for themselves. He doesn't have any interest in helping the young players around him get better.

When Earl made the erroneous decision to chase Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett down the back hallways of AT&T Stadium, he was essentially telling his teammates, Seahawks fans, and the entire world that he cares only about himself.

What exactly makes you think that he's not going to pull something similar when the Seahawks host the Cowboys for the home opener this season?

Just in case you can't discern my tone in this article-- I'm pissed off at Earl.  I'm angrier with Earl than I am with Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett or any other former Seahawk that now calls another city home-- and Earl is still on our team!

Number 29 is irrefutably one of the greatest players to ever put on a Seahawks uniform.  He changed the landscape of the franchise and helped bring home our first Lombardi trophy. I will never dispute his contributions to this team's success.

I'm angry because Earl is damaging his own legacy. Not only is he voluntarily ruining his legacy here in Seattle, but he's doing so to no benefit of his own-- or anyone, really.

I had begun preparing for a post-Earl Seahawks team ever since that incident in Dallas.  I was prepared to move on while holding tight the many fond memories of Earl's time here in Seattle. Just as I have with Sherman and Bennett, who will be donning opposing uniforms this season, and with players like Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, whose departures were unanticipated.

The selfish tantrums of Earl Thomas will not get him the long-term contract extension that is the supposed motivation for his behavior this offseason. I can't believe that is sincere.  If it were truly a long term extension with the Seattle Seahawks that he was after-- there are a million better ways to have gone about that.

Earl doesn't want to be here anymore.  And, you know what, that's totally fine with me.  He has every right to feel that way.

However, if he feels that way, I don't want him around. When this team inevitably faces adversity this season, I don't want Earl's selfishness on display.  I want guys like KJ Wright and Frank Clark, both of whom are in the exact same predicament as Earl in the final year of their deals, that are willing to put the work in and bet on themselves to lead by example.

I don't mean to suggest that Earl would stoop to espionage or otherwise half-ass it against his beloved Cowboys, but I've reached a point where I have accepted that this team is likely to experience a step backward defensively this season.  Maybe this team's future starting Free Safety isn't currently on the roster, but the interim replacement for Earl Thomas is.  I'd much rather get them reps and experience that could prove valuable down the stretch should the Seahawks find their way into the postseason, than trot out a disgruntled future hall-of-famer that might be more focused on his next employer more than his current one.

I don't believe that we're getting a final season of All Pro play from Earl. He will not be the guy that recklessly flies around the field, torpedoing into opponents twice his size.  Believe me, he'll be protecting his body, hoping his old film is enough to motivate his next team to pony up the dough for a rich, third contract.

So the Seahawk have to consider their next move.  Do you let Earl play out his contract, risking the development of your team and it's young players and be content with the 2020 3rd Round compensatory pick we'll likely get once he signs with a new team?

Or do you cut your losses, trade him to any team willing to pay at least a 3rd round selection? Or whatever Dallas is willing to pay, but after we face off in week three?

This could potentially be a defining moment for Pete Carroll and John Schneider.  I'm very curious to see how this plays out.  I just hope that, when all is said and done, my love of Earl Thomas isn't completely tarnished.