Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

Seahawks – Critical Games for 2016 Season

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With the NFL pre-season underway, I thought I would take a peek at the regular season schedule and check for 6 critical games for the Seahawks.

Week 2 – at LA Rams

No matter what record the Rams have, they always seem to give the Seahawks fits.  This will be the home opener for the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum.  Rams last played in LA in 1994 so you know they are going to be hyped up.  Jeff Fisher always has a trick or two up his sleeve so Hawks need to be prepared for that.  I think a heavy does of Christian Michael and Thomas Rawls will be on the menu as well as some play-action fakes to keep the Ram defense honest.  As always, the game will be close and a win here is critical for both teams.

Week 3 – San Francisco 49’rs

I do believe the rivalry will be re-ignited with the presence of Chip Kelly, the new head coach for San Francisco.  And I really hope the Seahawks just pound the living snot out of the 49’rs to wipe that condescending and  smarmy expression off Kelly’s face.  San Fran isn’t much of a threat to the Hawks but they still need to remain wary.  Pretty sure (about 90% sure) this will be a win for the home team.

Week 7 – at Arizona Cardinals

A lot of mutual respect between the Hawks and the Cards.  Good, hard-nosed football between 2 innovative coaches who put faith in the players to perform rather than a system.  Toss up as to who will win but it won’t be by more than a field goal.  Depending on the standings, this could decide the NFC West despite having eight games left in the season.

Week 10 – at New England

Seahawks need to control their emotions because if they use revenge as a motive to try and beat New England, that’s just what Bill Belichick wants them to do.  Master of mind games, he will use that motivation to force the Hawks into mistakes.  Hawks defensive line needs to pressure Brady as much as they can and the secondary must have an exceptional game covering those pesky receivers that Brady throws too underneath.  They need to make Brady throw before he wants to.  They may get one or two sacks but if they can pressure him, they can force him to make bad throws.  I, as much as any Seahawk fan, would love if the Hawks can steal a victory here but they have to play smart and not get caught up in getting revenge for them stealing a Super Bowl from us.

Week 13 – Carolina Panthers

You don’t think the Seahawks watched Super Bowl 50 and took notice what the Broncos did to make Newton pout like a baby?  Look for Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to pressure and contain Newton as well as Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel to come up the gut and get in his face.  I also see Frank Clark being a difference maker as he has the speed and strength to deal with Newton if he tries to take off and run.  It will come down to defense vs. defense and a last second field goal.

Week 17 – at San Francisco

One can only hope the Seahawks have secured their playoff spot by the time they get to San Francisco because you know darn well that Chip Kelly will want to end the season with a win over a division rival.  Regardless of where the Hawks are at by the end of the season, a sweep over the 49’rs is always sweet (it was sweetest when Harbaugh was there, right?) and would put a nice finish to the regular season.

Looking forward to hearing a lot of fireworks going off after every game.  The 12’s are some of the greatest fans in the NFL.

Go Hawks!

Denver Wins Super Bowl – Newton Reveals True Self

CryBaby Cam

The Denver Broncos defense played an outstanding game and took poor Cam Newton to the woodshed.  The 24-10 win the Broncos accomplished was perhaps one of the most accurately planned I’ve seen in a while.

Denver knew they could win this game by accomplishing one thing…put a beat down on Cam Newton and never let up.

Cam always said that if you don’t like what I do when I score a touchdown, don’t let me score.  The Broncos must really hate what he does since he barely had a sniff of the end zone.

There has been plenty of Cam bashing prior, during and after the game.  I don’t like to pile on but his actions remind me of a three year old who doesn’t get his way.  I almost heard, when he walked out of his post game press conference, Cam whining to his mother “Mom, they didn’t let me win the game!”

Reading about Cam defending himself for walking out that he admits to being a sore loser, I agree with him saying “Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I’m here to win football games.”

I’m pretty sure that every football player feels the same way.  It’s not a popularity contest, it’s about winning the biggest game played.  One team wins and another loses.  And while I agree with his sentiment, there is one thing that Cam lacks in all of this and that’s respect.

Respect for the other team finding a way to beat him.  Respect for not recognizing the brilliant coaching job to come up with that game plan.  Respect for his teammates who looked to him to lead and all he could do was blame them for not doing what was needed.

There is an expected classiness between opposing players.  Peyton Manning, despite how I personally feel about him, always, always showed class and respect to the opposing team and QB in particular.

Newton, at the end of the game, did walk up to Manning but failed to take his helmet off and congratulate Manning for the win in what is sure to be his last game.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera attempted to defend Newton when Newton spoke to the media today about his actions: “Obviously somebody had a great conversation with him and explained it to him and he was able to compose himself and speak to you folks,” he said. “That’s huge. What he did today was a part of his growth. He is still growing and maturing as a man in this world.”

Hold the phone here…this guy is 26 years old, been in the NFL for five years and someone needed to talk to him so that he could compose himself?  He still is maturing as a man in this world?

I understand that 26 is still young but I know maturity from 21 years of age to 26 is monumental.  By 26 years of age, most people get how they should act and show some measure of respect to others.

These actions that he does, the dabbing, the temper tantrums, the immaturity of walking out of a press conference, does nothing but hurt what good things that he does do.

Cam does have a passion for helping kids.  He has been known to give $200 dollars to each kid at a sporting goods store during Christmas so those kids could by presents for themselves and families.

Anytime that he scores a touchdown (after the dabbing crap), he seeks out a child to give the football too.

These are fine acts of someone who cares.

But none of this matters because of the lack of respect he shows his team when they lose nor the respect not shown to the opposing team for beating him.  I totally get this is a competitive game and no one like to lose.  but Cam is going to have other opportunities, the least he could have said was “We’ll get you next time.”

Instead, he chose to be selfish.  And that impression will last more than any good that he may do.

Super Bowl 50 – Carolina Panthers Take It, Dang It

 

So we have the Denver Broncos going up against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

For me, it’s about as much fun as trying to pick the lesser of two evils for the Republican Party.

Neither team catches my interest…I’ve had a dislike for the Broncos ever since John Elway became part of the team. I think it comes from how he kept the Cleveland Browns from getting to the Super Bowl a few times back in the 1980’s.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Detroit Lion fan but back then, the Cleveland Browns appealed to me. They were a good, hard-nosed football team with players such as Bernie Kosar, Ernest Byner, Kevin Mack, Clay Matthews and Webster Slaughter.

But John Elway and those Denver Broncos broke the hearts of Cleveland fans everywhere, not once but twice. 1986 Conference Championship when Elway connected with Mark Jackson for a 5-yard TD to tie the game and send it into overtime. Then he drove the Broncos into Browns territory for a game winning 33 yard field goal.

Then, in 1987, Elway engineered “The Drive” killing perhaps the best chance the Cleveland Browns getting into the Super Bowl to face the Washington Redskins. I truly believe the Browns would have put up a tougher battle than the Broncos did…but I was pretty happy when the Skins trounced them 42-10.

As for the Panthers, there are several reasons why I have an intense dislike for them. One is the fact they dispatched my second hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, from the playoffs this year. Second is Cam Newton.

Look, you can point to all the statistical information you want regarding Cam. You can point to his size and speed and his ability to throw a solid deep ball. I won’t deny that he is a talented and special football player. I just don’t like the way the man plays the game.

His cockiness and attitude toward opposing teams is bush-league and every damn game, I hope that some huge defensive lineman pops him a good one and shuts him up. He is an attention whore and he looks for people to tell him how great he is. I will admit I don’t know the man but all outward appearances show him to garner attention and be a show-off.

I’m sure those in the Cam Newton camp will have their arguments…but do me a favor and save your breath. There will be nothing you can say that will bring me over to your side. Would I feel the same way if he was on the Detroit Lions or the Seattle Seahawks? Hard to say though I would still disapprove of the way he carries himself and how he calls himself “Superman.” The attention should be on his team, not him…and he certainly shouldn’t call himself out for praise.

Sure, there have been other quarterbacks that have done celebrations. Aaron Rodgers does his discount double-check routine, Tom Brady has his screams, Brett Favre, who enjoyed the game as much as anyone, would run down the field with his hand in the air to celebrate with whatever receiver caught the ball. But for the most part, these were spontaneous, not the premeditated celebration that Cam does. I’m sure he sets aside an hour a day to make sure he gets the celebration down pat.

I have always been a fan who disliked the planned celebrations…even as far back as the infamous Billy “White Shoes” Johnson with his weird little dance that he used to perform when he scored a TD. Hated the Washington Redskins “Fun Bunch” planned group celebrations after scoring. Thought the Icky Shuffle was idiotic. And the worst was my own Detroit Lions celebrations to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen in the 1980’s.

All of those cases were a collective “look at me and what I did” celebrations. Selfish and self-absorbed. On the other hand, I don’t want to see robots on the field. Celebrations are the best when the person scoring looks for his teammates to high-five or chest bump and spike the football in warrior style conquest that gets the crowd into it as well as the rest of the team. I would say more so than any planned celebration…because it’s genuine.

But Cam will be Cam and I doubt anything I write will change anything. And before anyone accuses me of being racially biased, stop right there. I could give a damn if the man was white, black, green, purple or orange. If he acts like a jerk, looks like a jerk and smells like a jerk, then he’s just a jerk.

OK, enough of traveling down this road.

Who will be the winner of Super Bowl 50? As much as I hate to say it, I believe it will be the Carolina Panthers. They are just too much in a groove right now and I can’t see Peyton Manning getting the protection he will need to have any chance. And I won’t be surprised if Brock Osweiler comes in to relieve Manning.

Statistically, Carolina has the edge being ranked number 11 for 2015 scoring an average of 31.2 points per game over the 16th ranked Broncos coming in at 22.2 points per game. We need to take into consideration that Manning has not played the full season.

Below is the statistical information for the Denver QB vs. Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton:

Denver QB’s: Yards – 4,126, Avg. per Pass – 7.0, Completion % – 60.8%, TD’s – 19, INT – 23, Sack – 39

Newton: Yards – 3,837, Avg. per Pass – 7.8, Completion % – 59.6%, TD’s – 35, INT – 10, Sack – 33

We also need to take into account Newton’s threat to run…he has 10 running TD’s as opposed to 1 between Manning and Osweiler.

Edge: Panthers

Running Game:

Panthers are geared to run the ball first, pass second. They ranked first in the NFL with 32.9 rushing attempts per game, second with 2,282 yards gained, tied for first with 19 scores and ninth with an average of 4.3 yards gained per attempt. They don’t have a 1,000 yard rusher but between Jonathan Stewart leading the way with 989 yards and Cam Newton adding 636 yards, that’s a combined total of 1,625 yards.

Denver came in at the middle of the pack for most of the running stats. 17th with 22.2 rushing attempts per game, 17th with total yards gained, 12th with 13 scores, 11th coming in with 4.2 yards gained per attempt. Broncos failed to have a 1,000 rusher as well but the combination of Ronnie Hillman (863 yards) and C.J. Anderson (720 yards) put up 1,583 yards to go along with 12 TD’s

Edge: Panthers

Receiving:

If Denver is going to have any chance to win this game, this is where I think they can exploit the Panther secondary, provided their defense can hold the Panthers from starting out too quick.

Panthers are ranked 24th in the NFL in receiving, averaging 242.1 yards per game. Much of that is probably due to the fact they had huge leads and were just running out the clock. Panthers have some weapons so the Broncos need to be careful here. Their top receiver is tight end Greg Olson who finished the regular season with 1,104 and 7 TD’s. He is a clock killer and has a knack for getting open on critical 3rd downs and gains 14.3 yards per catch. Next up is Ted Ginn who is having a breakout year with the Panthers. He’s caught 44 passes for 739 yards and 10 TD’s to go along with his team leading 16.8 yards per catch. The next 3 receivers, Jerricho Cotchery, Devin Furness and Cory Brown have combined for 1,406 yards, 12 TD’s, and an average of just over 14 yards per catch.

Denver came in at 14th in receiving for 2015 with 263.5 yards per game. Leading the way is Demaryius Thomas with 105 catches for 1,304 yards and 6 TD’s to go along with 12.4 yards per catch. Emmanuel Sanders finished with 74 catches, 1,135 yards, 6 TD’s and 14.9 yards per catch. TE Owen Daniels pitched in with 46 catches, 517 yards, 3 TD’s with 11.2 yards per catch average. Vernon Davis, who was brought in to give the Broncos another weapon has virtually disappeared contributing only 20 catches, 201 yards, 0 TD’s and 10.0 yards per catch. If he can return to the player he was while with San Francisco, he could be a game changer for the Broncs.

Edge: Broncos

Defense:

Where ultimately I think the game will be decided.

Carolina has a pretty stout defense with a strong secondary though they will be playing with second string players at corner opposite Pro-Bowler Josh Norman. In addition to Norman, Panthers have several dangerous players the Broncos will need to account for such as Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Curt Coleman as well as Kawann Short who led the Panthers defense with 11 sacks in 2015.   Because of that rush, Panther ranked first in interceptions with 24 including 4 pick-sixes.

Panthers are going to go after Manning, and why wouldn’t you? He has a 4.8 40 yard time but that was way the hell back early on in his career. I’d be surprised if his 40 yard time isn’t somewhere in the lower sixes with him being 39 years old. He still has a quick release but he really isn’t a threat to go deep anymore. If there is a real advantage here it’s that Manning is so good at reading defenses and making adjustments. He will outthink the defense and get the ball out as fast as he can. He doesn’t take many sacks. In the 58 regular season games he has played for the Broncos, he was sacked a mere 72 times which breaks out to be about 1.24 times a game. The one area that has been an issue of late is his interception rate. From 2012 to 2014, he was intercepted 36 times over 48 games, less than once per game. In the 10 games he has appeared this season, he was intercepted 17 times in 10 games, a rate of 1.7 times. And some of the passes he’s thrown look dreadful. Look for the Panther D-line to get their hands up if they can’t get to him. They will need to force Manning to go deep where his passes will tend to lose velocity and be easy pickings for the Panther secondary.

Denver ranked first in team defense, the first time any Denver Bronco team accomplished that in their 55 year history. They limited offenses to an average of 283.1 yards per game, sacked the QB 52 times leading the league in both categories for 2015 and forced 22 fumbles, recovering 13 of them.

Denver’s defensive coordinator Wade Phillips put together a masterful plan forcing Brady to throw 56 times while limiting the Patriots rushing total to just 44 yards. And you know you are doing well when the leading rusher is Brady with 13 yards. The only rushing TD was by Steven Jackson from 1 yard out late in the first quarter.

Granted, Brady threw for 310 yards and 1 score but he was also intercepted twice, sacked 4 times and the Bronco defense harassed him all day. Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski 8 times for 144 yards and the one score but the rest of the 4 receivers collectively caught 19 passes for 166 yards and no TD’s.

Cam Newton presents a whole set of other issues for the Bronco defense. Granted he’s no Tom Brady when it comes to passing but he also has tools that Brady doesn’t have such as being mobile, huge (Newton is listed 6-5, 245 lbs. and has run a 4.59 40 yard dash time) and very difficult to bring down. He won’t be a sitting duck back there and if he gets flushed from the pocket, he has no issues becoming a rusher. He gained 636 yards to go along with 10 TD’s. When the Panthers get close to the goal or in need of a first down on third and short situations, Ron Rivera has no problem calling Cam’s number to get what’s needed.

Edge – Even

My heart wants the Bronco’s to beat the snot out of Carolina. But logic dictates to me that the Panthers have just too much for Denver to overcome.

Carolina Panthers 31, Denver Broncos 17.

Seahawks Season Ends With Loss to Panthers 31-24

We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time….Vince Lombardi.

I use the quote by the great Vince Lombardi because it is the perfect metaphor for the game they played against the Carolina Panthers…they just ran out of time.

This game was an example of how the season went.  Giving up 31 points in the first half seemed like a very deep hole to dig out of but the resiliency of this team showed they just don’t give up.

But there is a reason why the Carolina Panthers are a 15-1 team.  They took care of business early on with Washington native Jonathon Stewart ripping off a 75 yard run on the first play of the game to set up the first Carolina touchdown.

The defense came up big on the very next series when Luke Kuechly picked off an ill-advised Russell Wilson pass and ran it in for a pick six to go up 14-0 barley four minutes played.

And the Panthers continued to pour it on, scoring 17 more points in the second quarter.

But the Seahawks regrouped in the second half.  The defense came up huge by shutting out the Panthers in the second half and allowing the offense to crawl it’s way out of the deep hole they dug for themselves.

Some great individual efforts and the one effort I want to point out is the one by Jermaine Kearse.  His play in the second half was stellar, catching two clutch touchdowns and making great catch after great catch to finish with 11 catches for 110 yards to go along with the 2 scores.

Another is rookie Tyler Lockett.  His TD catch was clutch and his receiving technique on a crucial third down situation was nothing short of amazing.  Seahawks have found a treasure in this kid.  He had only 3 catches for 75 yards but his 50 yard return to open the second half was a spark the Hawks desperately needed.

Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor in this game and I don’t feel he will be back in a Seahawk uniform next season.  I admire his running style and they way he fights for every yard he can get.  But he is at point in his career where he is starting to break down.

About the only way he comes back to the Hawks is a re-structured contract and a reduced role with the offense.  It appears to me that Thomas Rawls has the inside track to be the featured running back.

While I admire Pete Carroll’s mantra to run first, I also have to admire his adaptability to open up the passing game and put the team on the shoulders of Russell Wilson who showed the rest of the NFL that he is capable of carrying the team when needed.

Wilson showed remarkable leadership skills this game as well as the second-half of the season.  His decision making became sublime in his historic second half run.  At one point, over a 5-game stretch, he had 19 touchdowns with zero interceptions, something that no quarterback in the history of the game ever accomplished.  And there have been some great quarterbacks over the past 96 years the NFL has been in existence.

As always at the end of a season, there will be some hard choices to make.  With the Seahawks it will be with the following players:

Marshawn Lynch – No one can dispute when the Seahawks made the trade for the mercurial running back in 2010 that it was going to be Lynch to be the face of the Seahawks.  Lynch came through time after time, putting the Hawks on the playoff map with his seismic Beast Quake run against the New Orleans Saints later that same year.  But next year will be Lynch’s 10th year in the NFL and will be 30 years old.  Just coming off his first ever surgery and is one of the highest paid players in the NFL.  It may come down to a business decision to release Lynch to free up salary cap for younger players.  If Lynch decides to retire, Seattle should throw him the biggest freaking party it can…but it would be a coin toss if he showed up for it.

Russell Okung – Okung is considered one of the top left tackles in the game.  Issue I have with him is that we’ve never gotten a full season from him.  He was the Hawks first pick in the 2010 draft and landed a six year contract worth $48 million dollars with more than $29 million of it guaranteed.  Now that he’s up for free agency, he is going to command an even higher salary.  My opinion, while Okung is a good left tackle and I would hate to disrupt that line, Hawks need to part ways with Okung and find another left tackle in the draft, perhaps Jack Conklin out of Michigan State or Jerald Hawkins of LSU.  Okung is going to be way to expensive for the Hawks to keep.

J.R. Sweezy – This is a guy I think we need to keep.  He brings solidity to the right guard spot and is an good run blocker.  He is at the end of a 4-year, $2.1 million dollar contract.  If the Hawks can keep him with a 3-year at about a $5 million dollar contract, it will be less disruption on the offensive line which took a while to come around in 2015.

Jermaine Kearse – Over the last two years, Kearse has come up with some very clutch catches.  All of us can remember the acrobatic catch he made in the 2014 Super Bowl against the Patriots.  And this game, coming up huge with his performance against the Panthers.  Hawks need to keep him so the receiving corps of Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Luke Wilson and yes, Jimmy Graham are kept intact for the 2016 season.

Brandon Mebane – An absolute monster in the middle but may have to be a causality  of the business.  Gotta love the effort he puts out every game and how effective he is bottling up the middle against the run.  As much as I’d love to keep him, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to do so.

So here is to yet another great season the Hawks gave us and here is to hoping they continue to finds ways to keep finding players to maintain the level of excellence all Seahawk fans come to expect.

And while I applaud the Carolina Panthers season and their ability to survive the game against the Hawks, I will be rooting for the Arizona Cardinals next week…and if the Cards can get past them, I will be rooting for them against the AFC team they face in the Super Bowl.  Love to see one of the classiest players in the game, Larry Fitzgerald, get a Super Bowl ring.

GO HAWKS!

NFC Divisional Prediction: Seahawks-27, Panthers-24

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A lot of my articles are based on a feeling, which is why sometimes I wait to make any predictions until the last minute.  Much of those feelings are based on statistical research and I’ve done my fair share on this game.

Truth of the matter is, I’m not sure who is going to win this game.  My gut tells me the Seahawks are going to prevail only because time and time again, they have proven they can rise up in critical games and win.

The Panthers have played a wonderful regular season, putting together a 15-1 season isn’t anything to sneeze at.  And they have played some good teams, including beating the Hawks in Week 5, coming from behind at Century Link with Cam Newton directing two 80-yard touchdown drives in the 4th quarter after the Hawks and gotten the lead.

But the team the Panthers played then is vastly different from the team they will play on Sunday.  The Seattle offense, led by Russell Wilson, put together an historic second half.  Just in points scored, the Seahawks averaged 11.12 more points in the final eight games of the season over the first eight games.

The defense, while admittedly blowing several leads in the 4th quarter of games, played statistically even over the entire season.  First eight games they allowed 17.50 points per game while in the second half, they allowed 17.13.

The Panthers did better on both sides of the ball in the second half as well.  Offense scored an average of 28.5 points per game in the first half as compared to 34 points per game in the second.  Defense allowed 20.63 points per game in the first half and 17.88 in the second.

These two teams are similarly built, with a run first, kill the clock and force turnovers mentality.

I give the edge to the Seahawks for two reasons:  QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawk defensive front four.

I don’t want this to be a comparison between Wilson and Panther’s QB Cam Newton.  While their personalities and physical traits are polar opposites, their roles with their respective teams are eerily similar.  Use the run to grind down opposing defenses and to set up explosive pass plays.

It’s going to come down how well Seattle’s defensive line can contain Newton and how well Russell Wilson can sustain drives and put touchdowns on the board.

It will be a close game, coming down to Steven Hauschka field goal with no time remaining.

Hawks prevail, 27-24.

GO HAWKS!

Seattle Seahawks Win By A Hawk feather – Panthers up Next

What just happenend

I’m pretty sure that 95% of Seattle Seahawks fans was asking the same thing Archer was kicker Blair Walsh lined up for a 27 yard field goal, shorter than an extra point, and missed. It was a pretty sure thing seeing how Walsh had made 3 previous field goals of 22, 43 & 47 yards.

The snap was good, the hold was good and Blair Walsh, who had made 87.2% of his kicks this year, pulled it left. About the only thing that was “bad” about the kick was the laces of the football were facing Walsh when the attempt was made. This can cause some kicks to be erratic and might have played a part in it but Walsh wasn’t having any part of it.

He placed the blame solely on his shoulders. Teammates consoled him as he broke down. You can’t tell me that NFL is all business. This loss hurt the Vikings deep. Hopefully, they can take a page from the Seahawks and grow stronger from it.

Ah yes, the Seahawks, surviving the 3rd-coldest playoff game in playoff history. While I will give the defense their due, they played a fantastic game, the offense survived on individual efforts.

That’s not to say the Seahawk offense had totally fallen apart, that’s not the case at all. The offensive line run blocked well enough to allow Christine Michael to rush for 70 yards. But for the most part, it was individual efforts by Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

The first I point to is in the 3rd quarter. Hawks were at their own 20 yard line with a 3rd and ten. Wilson, out of the shotgun, drifted back in the pocket and threw high. Doug Baldwin, with a Viking on his back, came up with perhaps the best catch I have seen since the days of Steve Largent.

Baldwin went up, with his right hand extended and somewhat behind his head and brought the ball in. First down Seahawks!

The next play came from Wilson and rookie Tyler Lockett (who has not played like a rookie at all) in the fourth quarter. Seahawks had put together a decent drive and had 1st and ten at the Viking 40 yard line. Wilson, in the shotgun, was not prepared for the snap and it sailed over his left shoulder. Wilson chased it back in Seattle territory, picking it up at around the 47 yard line. He secured the ball, saw that no one was around him, scrambled to his right and found Lockett at the Viking 29-yard line.

It would have been a great play right there to pick up the first down but Lockett, with some veteran savvy, turned and ran to the left side of the field and turned up until he was driven out at around the 6 yard line. First and goal, Seahawks!

On second and goal, Wilson found Baldwin on the right of the end zone to put 7 on the board for the Hawks. Later, Steven Hauschka with 8:09 left in the game connected on a 46-yard field goal which turned out to be the game winner.

The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to be ashamed of on this game. They did all the right things to limit the Seahawk offense being on the field. They put pressure on Wilson and the cold, frigid air did the rest on his passes having them seemingly float in the air.

The Viking offense did its part as well, holding the ball for long stretches and building a 9-0 lead that in the game conditions seemed insurmountable to the Seahawks.

But then there are special players that seemingly find just the right time to create magic. Cue Baldwin, Wilson and Lockett.

There are some questions I have on some of the decisions that Pete Carroll made early in the game. For instance in the first quarter, the Hawks have the ball on the Viking 30 yard line with a 4th and 13. Instead of electing to attempt a 40-yard field goal, well within Hauschka’s range, they elected to go for it and completed a 7-yard pass to Fred Jackson.

Then, in the second quarter, Seahawks had gotten the ball to the Vikings 34 yard line and elected to punt instead of having Hauschka attempt a 44-yard field goal.

Hawks again had the ball on the Vikings 38 yard line and went with a punt instead of a 48 yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first half.

I know the conditions were brutal but I feel they left points on the field. Blair Walsh proved that a ball could be kicked from as far out as 47 yards and I think Hauschka as a better leg than Walsh.

As for heading to Carolina, the Seahawks are going to need a much better played game than what they showed against the Vikings. There is a reason that the Panthers went 14-1 during the season. However, Seahawk fans can take solace that the Hawks played them very tough in Week 6 and had the lead in the 4th quarter playing them at home.

Seahawks match up well with the Panthers and I suspect this will be a slugfest. Which it should be since this is for the NFC Division and the right to move on to the NFC Championship game.

Historically, the Seahawks have played well at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Since 2000, they are 3-2 there and the Hawks have an overall record of 7-3 against the Panthers. Over the last 4 games played in Charlotte, Seahawks are 3-1 and the score differential is only 4 points between these two teams.

I don’t see a low scoring game here however. Panthers led the NFL during the regular season scoring 31.2 points per game and the Hawks were in the Top 5, averaging 26.4. Defenses were close as well. Hawks allowed a league leading 17.3 points per game while the Panthers held opponents to 19.2 points per game.

It will be decided on who has the ball last I think. Perhaps 27-24 Seahawks on a Hauschka 50-yard field goal?

We’re just gonna have to wait and see, won’t we?

I’ll be writing a prediction of the Hawks/Panthers game later this week.

Stay tuned!

GO HAWKS!

Seattle Seahawks – Team of Destiny? I’m In!

Seahawk Im In

From the few who’ve read articles I’ve written on Beer Thinker Sports, it’s a known fact that I am an unabashed Detroit Lions fan. And make no mistake, this article is me jumping on the Seahawk bandwagon…I admit it freely.

While most of my articles have been about the Lions, I’ve also written about my second hometown team, the Seahawks. Let me tell you that the Hawks recent success has buffered the pain and agony of being a Lions fan.

This season though, had me worried of being a fan of both teams. Lions started out the season 1-7 despite having success of an 11-5 season last year. Seahawks weren’t much better over the first 8 games going 4-4, including a game saving win by Kam Chancellor over the Lions in week 4.

If you look at both teams, on paper, one could say that they are pretty evenly matched. But the one distinct advantage the Hawks have over the Lions: Heart.

The 2015 Seahawks may be the most exciting team Pete Carroll and company have put together yet. He continues to stick to his guns and play rookies and undrafted free agents that have a quality that he looks for. Again, heart.

And just what is the definition in this respect? In my opinion, it’s the player that won’t give up, isn’t afraid to make a mistake but learns from them as to not repeat them and will give his all until the final second ticks off the clock.

Perfect example is that victory over the Lions in week 4. Lions had the perfect play drawn up against a tired Seahawk defense when Lions QB Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson at the 8-yard line with an open lane to the end zone with about 1:45 left on the clock.

Trust me here when I say I was on my feet yelling “Yes!” at the top of my lungs when the play developed. Johnson was hit at about the one but leaning forward over the goal line when it happened.

Kam Chancellor, in only his second week, clinging to Johnson punched the ball from his grasp…and sealed the victory for the Seahawks.

I was devastated. But had to admire Kam’s heart. He never gave up, never stopped and found a way to make a play.

I figured that if the Lions had scored on that play, they were going to win the game. After all, the Lions defense had harassed Russell Wilson all day and sacked him 6 times. And after giving up only a field goal in the second half, the defense was primed to give the Lions a rare West Coast road win.

But the collective heart of the Seahawks, as well as Kam’s ability to dig deep, denied the win.

Was it a turning point for the Hawks? I’m not sure. While the win evened their record at 2-2, they did lose the next two games to be at 2-4. There was the epic meltdown against the Bengals, blowing a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter as well as the 15 point lead against the Carolina Panthers at home.

The Seattle press wasn’t really lambasting the Seahawks but were beginning to question Pete Carroll’s coaching decisions. Allowing the offensive line to be in rebuild mode, with several players that were being defensive linemen converting to offensive line which resulted in an alarming rate of sacks on Russell Wilson. At one point, with the rate of sacks being allowed, the Seahawks were on target to give up over 65 sacks over the season.

Where I think the turning point for this season was the home loss against the Arizona Cardinals in week 10. The Cardinals came out hot in the first half, building a 22-7 lead. But the Seahawks made some adjustments and starting to peck away at the Cardinal lead. At the end of the third quarter, it was 25-17 as the Hawks gave up only a field goal in the third.

And in the fourth quarter, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 3 yard run and Bobby Wagner recovered a fumble and ran it back for another TD. Both 2 point conversions failed but the Hawks were right back in it, leading 29-25.

But Carson Palmer playing out of his mind this year, tossed a 4th quarter TD and Andre Ellington busted a 48 yard TD run to re-take control of the game.

But the heart of the team became evident in this game…and I think it brought them together to reel off 4 straight wins and all in pretty convincing fashion. Hawks averaged just over 35 points a game over the stretch of the 4 games and the defense allowed just 14 points a game.
The offensive line has finally come together and Wilson has only been sacked 10 times in that 4 game stretch. With the line playing as it is, it has allowed Wilson to show just how talented he is. He’s thrown for 16 TD’s and no interceptions over the last 4 games. That puts him with only 2 other quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish that feat, those being Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Not bad company to be in.

He is the first Seahawk quarterback to have two 5 touchdown games in a season. He is also the first Seahawk QB to have at least three touchdown passes in four straight games. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to have four straight games with at least 3 touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 70% completion rating.

Wilson isn’t the only Seahawk to play at a historic pace. WR Doug Baldwin, an undrafted free-agent who came to the Seahawks in 2011, put up some fantastic numbers over the last 3 games: 17 catches for 321 yards and eight touchdowns. He is on pace to be the first 1,000 yard receiver for the Seahawks since Bobby Engram accomplished that feat in 2007.

And the defense, the Legion of Boom, is back. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin are getting after QB’s. Along with rookie Frank Clark, the rest of this season is going to be very tough on opposing quarterbacks. Kam, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Deshawn Shead have brought back the attitude of the Legion, that nothing is going to get by them and no team is going to score on them. And if they do, they will pay for it.

And the dismantling of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday just clarifies each point. Russell Wilson added to historic pace with 3 more TD’s with Doug Baldwin catching two of them. Jermain Kearse made some very clutch catches and caught 7 passes for 110 yards.

And what about Christine Michael? Coming off the scrap heap for a second chance with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft? Once a promising RB with comparisons to Adrian Peterson, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys as the Seahawks felt, and rightly so, that Thomas Rawls beat him out as back-up to Marshawn Lynch.  He played sparingly with Dallas before being released in November. He signed with Washington as a practice squad player but was released November 17th, his career seemingly over at age 25.

The Seahawks and Pete Carroll are all about giving players another chance.  And Michael responded well to this opportunity, heeding safety Earl Thomas’ advice to reel it back and play without pointing fingers at himself for doing well. The result was 16 carries for 84 yards and a repentant Michael gave credit not to himself, but to the offensive line for his success.

Perhaps this will be the window of opportunity for Michael to have a successful career in the NFL.

Who knows, right? I don’t see Lynch coming back in 2016 as he is breaking down. I think the smart thing for him would be to retire now while most people can remember just what a remarkable running back he was.  With a tandem of Thomas Rawls and this version of Christine Michael, the running game would be in good hands.

The Hawks are 9-5 right now. If they can win out, that will put them at 11-5 which most likely will put them as the number 2 as a wild card. They will most likely travel to the NFC East division champion, most likely the team from Washington which I see them as winning.

Next up are the St. Louis Rams, a proverbial thorn in the Seahawks side if there ever was one…if they can win that game, I believe there will be a re-match with the Patriots and this time, the outcome will be very different.

I’m in!

GO HAWKS!

What The Future Holds For The Detroit Lions

Right now, as of this very moment, many Lions fans, despite them being 1-7, are pretty happy.

Martha Ford

Martha Ford, at a spry 90 years of age, is starting to clean house.

Gone is the non-effective President Tom Lewand.  I’m not sure what his accomplishments were while he was with the Lions other than helping getting Ford Field built and getting the Super Bowl played there in 2006.

As president of the Lions, he was supposedly responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Detroit Lions organization.  I think we can all assume he was a big fail in the aspect of putting together a consistent, winning football team.

One of his major responsibility was to negotiate player contracts and manage the salary cap.  I’ve looked in several areas regarding Mr. Lewand’s background and while he holds degrees earned from the University of Michigan in law, Business Administration (Masters) and Political Science and Economics (undergraduate), I see very little relating to football.  I doubt if he’s ever played the game.

Some will say that a football background isn’t necessary in dealing with player contracts and salary cap.  I say that you need to know the business your in to manage it properly.

Also gone is GM Martin Mayhew.  He was hired by the villain Matt Millen.  When that useless piece of trash was fired, William Clay Ford, Sr. went with his recommendation to hire Mayhew as his replacement.

Really?  You take the word of a man who drove a proud organization into the ground and to the first 0-16 season in NFL history?

Mayhew didn’t do too bad his first few years.  He basically fleeced the Dallas Cowboys with his first trade, that of Roy Williams for 4 draft picks (1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th) in 2009.

Out of that, with what you could call a successful pick, would be Brandon Pettigrew who is still with the team.  Derrick Williams, in his 4 years as WR with the Lions had a total of 9 catches for 82 yards and is out of football.  Running back Aaron Brown, in his 4 years as a Lion, rushed for 189 yards and is also out of football.

There are other trades of note but of the 28 trades he made, I would say he missed more than he hit on.

But at least Mayhew knew football.  He played the game for 8 years in the secondary and had 21 career interceptions.  Funny that a guy with that kind of success just could never get the right players for the Lions secondary.

So just where does this team go from here?  There has been a lot of speculation that head coach Jim Caldwell will be gone after the season…and I have to agree with that.  He has been a mostly ineffective and directionless leader this year.  I don’t think his strength is being a head coach, I believe it lies as an offensive coordinator or QB coach.

But Lions fans have been down this road before.  What I am hoping is that Martha and her daughters (Bill Ford Jr. has publicly stated that he is stepping away from the Lions) see the wisdom of hiring someone like Mike Holmgren or Ron Wolf to find the right General Manager for this team.

The new GM needs to have a solid football background.  Someone who knows what a successful team looks like and be allowed to build it.  So it would be no surprise the Lions would look at successful teams to find one.

Nick Caserio

I would look at one of the most successful franchises of the past decade, the New England Patriots.  Nick Caserio, currently the director of player personnel for the Patriots, was a key member for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Elliot Wolf

Want some youth and perhaps a new way of thinking but still want an NFL football pedigree?  If the Lions can wrestle away Elliot Wolf from the Green Bay Packers, they would have it.  He is the son of Ron Wolf and was promoted to player personnel in January.  At 33 years of age, he would breath some new life into this franchise.  But I’m not sure he would be willing to leave the Packers.  Too strong a tie to the team.

Trent Kirchner

Maybe the best bet would be Trent Kirchner, co-director of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks.  He has an extensive history as a scout with the Carolina Panthers and was a large part of a staff with the Seahawks that went to back-to-back Super Bowls.  With him, you bring part of Seattle’s shrewdness in drafting as well as making deals for key players.

I won’t get into new head coaches nor will I speculate on Matthew Stafford.  A GM will more than likely want to hire his own head coach which is why I think Caldwell is out after this year.

As for Stafford, I still think he has way too much talent to give up on him.  But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a QB and allow for some transition.  Besides, Stafford is only 27 years old…and too be honest, I think he can still be successful with a good offensive line in front of him as well as some better play calling.

The Lions need to stop repeating history.  I can only hope that Martha Ford breaks the trend that was set by her husband.  If these firings of Lewand and Mayhew are any indication, I would say that she is.  But we have heard from the Lions front office before that “the fans deserve a winner” mantra.

But not in her voice….until now.

 

Seattle Hitting Their Stride, Win Over Panthers 31-17

Seahawk Shining

Seattle has it going on again with a solid 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers.

I wrote yesterday that the Seahawks were going to win 31-14.  Naturally, I heard from several Carolina Panthers supporters that questioned my sanity.  With good reason since the last three times these teams played, Seattle won by a combined 13 points.

However, all of those games were played in Carolina.  It was time for the Panthers to come to Century Link and despite all what they may have been told, there is nothing like 67,000 fans cheering as one.

The Panthers did everything they could to take the 12th Man out of the game.  But the Seahawks were going to have none of that.  They took it to the Panthers.  They forced 3 turnovers and intercepted Cam Newton twice, the back-breaker coming in the fourth quarter when Kam Chancellor stepped in front of a pass and returned it 90 yards for the game’s final touchdown.

Yes, the Seahawks played an excellent defensive game.  But I want to talk about how well Russell Wilson played yesterday.  15 for 22, threw for 268 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.  The line hardly tells how special of a game Wilson played.

His first touchdown came on a 3rd and 9 from the 16 yard line.  Doug Baldwin caught a beautiful floater for the games first score.

Touchdown number two was perhaps his best throw of his career.  Again, on third down from their own 37 yard line, Wilson backed up and saw Jermaine Kearse streaking down the seam.  Wilson let the pass fly and Kearse made a great one-handed catch.  Wilson could not have placed the ball any better even if he hand handed it to Kearse.

His last touchdown, again on third down came in the 4th quarter.  From the Panthers 25 yard line, Russell dropped back and saw Luke Willson in the flat.  He gunned an absolutely perfect passed at the 20 yard line.  Willson had no defenders around him and used his 4.5 speed to get into the end zone.

I also want to point out how great a game that Kam “Bam Bam” Chancellor had.  While the 90 yard pick six was a thing of beauty, Chancellor was all over the field.  Too say that he left it all out there is an understatement.

How bad did Kam want to win this game?  Did anyone see his two jumps over the line in attempts to block field goals?  That alone tells me just how much heart Chancellor has.

I don’t really care which opponent comes to Seattle next.  I am kind of hoping it’s Dallas since I want to have the Seattle defense wipe that goofy look off of Romo’s face.  But I just can’t see the Cowboys beating the Packers in Lambeau.

Take care all and Go Hawks!

 

Seattle Will Take Care of the Panthers, 31-14

Seahawks Will Have Their Eyes On The Prize!
Seahawks Will Have Their Eyes On The Prize!

All I can say to the members of the Carolina Football team is welcome to the Thunder Dome!

Over the past week, I have had to go thru some rather intense therapy sessions to get over the fact my hometown team, the Detroit Lions, got royally screwed in their playoff against the Dallas Cowboys.

With a lot of alcohol and some really top-notch swearing, I got thru my disappointment and now can focus on my adopted team, the Seattle Seahawks.

This game, while it may start out as a battle, is going to end up a blood bath with the Hawks coming out on top 31-14.

I predict that on Sunday, the media is going to be talking about the offense and how well they were able to distribute the ball to Paul Richardson, Doug Baldwin, Like Willson and Jermaine Kearse.  In fact, I predict that Richardson is going to catch a bomb from Russell Wilson early on and it will go down as at least a 60 yard TD.

I have no worries about that defense, ranked number 1 in the NFL.  They are going to get to Cam Newton…they are going to frustrate him and they are going to contain him.  There will be no “Superman” poses at Century Link.  I’m pretty sure at the start of the fourth quarter, there will be camera shots of Cam Newton on the sidelines with a Gatorade towel over his head so no one can seem…well, you can fill in the blanks on that.

This game will be a message to the rest of the playoff teams that the Seahawks are just getting started.

Bring some earplugs cause the house is gonna rock!

Go Seahawks!