Tag Archives: Pete Carroll

Seattle Seahawks – Stubborn and Predictable

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The Seattle Seahawks, picked by many this year to return to the Super Bowl, are in danger of falling short of those expectations.

One issue that can be stated very clearly is that the defense is still one of the best in the NFL and if not for them, this Seahawk team wouldn’t be much to talk about.

There are three areas on offense that I believe are the issues that are preventing the Seahawks to be great instead of just barley good.

  • Offensive Line

By now, everyone must realize just how special of a running back that Marshawn Lynch really was.  His running style hid many deficiencies the offensive line had in the past.  Because of his retirement, it shows just how bad of a decision it is that John Schneider and  Pete Carroll have made to not properly invest in the one area that is critical for all plays to succeed:  The offensive line.

The starting offensive line accounts for a mere 7% of the Seahawks salary cap.  At $10.2 million, it is the lowest in the league.  My question is that why would you go on the cheap in the one spot where any offensive play has any chance of succeeding?

The Seahawks have not, in the past three to five years, made the offensive line a priority.  It is confusing as to why Pete Carroll, whose philosophy is to run the ball, eat up the clock and play great defense.  It worked just fine when Marshawn Lynch was the running back as he gave you the luxury of having an inadequate line with his running style.

Also, because of Lynch, the passing game was successful because defenses would stack the line but would freeze on play-action passing plays which led to some big plays downfield.

Tom Cable, the offensive line coach of the Hawks, stated back I August that he feels this is one of his favorite lines he’s coached.  That they have some good players that have a chance to develop and be good NFL linemen.

That’s just great…meantime, after 7 games, the offense is averaging an anemic 81.4 yards per game, 28th in the NFL, and have had only 2 rushes longer than 20 yards.

They are better in the passing game, ranked 14th in the NFL at 258.4 yards per game but that’s only because they can’t run the ball.

And they cannot get the ball into the end zone where they are 29th in the NFL at 18.7 points per game.

  • Jimmy Graham

We gave up a very good center in Max Unger to get Jimmy Graham and yet the Seahawks have not found a way to use him.  In his 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham averaged 77.2 receptions per year, 950.4 yards per year, 12.2 yards per catch and 10.2 touchdowns per season while playing an average of 15.6 games each year.

In comparison to his 1-1/2 years in Seattle, he has averaged 39 catches per year, 532 yards per year, 13.7 yards per catch and a measly 1.5 touchdowns per year.  It is inconceivable to me that the Seahawks, who brought Graham in to be more of a red zone threat, don’t throw to him more often.

A friend of mine wants some reporter to ask Pete Carroll in one of the press conferences he uses is why can’t you use Jimmy Graham correctly?  If Pete can’t answer the question, then we should trade Graham to get either multiple picks to use on the offensive line or for a good left tackle.

Which brings into light Russell Wilson.  While Wilson has made some great plays, he doesn’t appear to have the ability to throw receivers open and does not have the confidence in his arm to throw into traffic.  Drew Brees utilized Graham’s 6-7, 265 lbs. body perfectly, throwing to areas that only Graham could get to using his basketball skills.

Case in point, during the last game against the Saints and the last drive of the game, Graham was thrown a pass from Wilson that was at his waist.  Graham made the catch but had to slow down to adjust for it and was tackled when he could have made it into the end zone.  Brees would have thrown that pass above Graham’s head and in stride to allow Graham to walk into the end zone.

My suggestion on how to get Graham more involved?  That leads to the third area:

  • The Play Calling of Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell

When Marshawn Lynch was here, Bevell’s job was much easier as was Tom Cable’s.

But Lynch is gone and now the limitations of Bevell’s play calling is evident.  His refusal (or is it Pete Carroll’s refusal?) to take shots downfield and rely on an anemic running game is becoming laughable.

My suggestion to Bevell and to Pete Carroll is to move Jimmy Graham out to wide receiver and with Luke Willson injured, start either Nick Vannett or Brandon Williams at TE.  This will give the Seahawks a big bodied receiver on the outside who can run a 4.5 forty up against smaller cornerbacks and safeties.

It also helps improve the offensive line with a better blocking tight end, more chances for Doug Baldwin in the slot and you can either place Jerome Kearse, another big receiver or Tyler Lockett as a burner down the field.

This would also help the running game as linebackers would need to drop back into more coverage and not allow defenses to stack the line to stop the run.  And both Williams and Vannett can be used on TE screens just to make it that much more difficult for defenses to know what the Hawks are going to do.

I think that Bevell can be the right play caller for the Hawks.  But he needs to convince Carroll, if they are going to continue down this path of spending the least amount of money on the offensive line, then they need to give that line all the help they can.

The Seahawks need to do something.  Relying on the defense to keep them in and hope the offense to pull some miracle each game is no way to run a football team.

Seahawks – Critical Games for 2016 Season

Cool Seahawk Logo

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!

Beer Thinker’s Mock Draft For Seattle Seahawks

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Since I did a draft analysis on the Detroit Lions, I figure it’s only fair that I do one for the Seattle Seahawks.

They have had some great drafts over the past few years, picking up some quality players and some great production from late round draft picks.  Did anyone figure in 2012 that he would become a Super Bowl champion in 2013?  Especially after signing Matt Flynn to a $20.5 million dollar contract who everyone thought he was going to be the starter.  But once Wilson won the job outright, Seahawks traded Flynn to the Oakland Raiders for a 2014 5th round pick and a conditional 2015 pick.

Once of many moves in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era that paid off handsomely.  Can they do it again this year?  I sure hope so.  A lot of the moves that have been made were at the cost of the offensive line.  True, they came together last year in the second half of the season but I’m pretty sure that during that first half, when they allowed 37 sacks in the first half, no one could envision Russell Wilson finishing the season let alone get into the playoffs.

Seahawks need, outside of an offensive line, is cornerback & defensive line.  I’m offering three options in each round but knowing the Seahawks, I’ll probably be off by quite a lot.

Round 1, Pick 26

  1. Eli Apple – CB, Ohio State: 6-0, 199lbs.
  2. William Jackson – CB, Houston: 6-0, 189lbs.
  3. Jack Conklin – OT, Michigan State: 6-5, 308lbs.

Seahawks have capable starter opposite Richard Sherman in DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane.  But injuries have plagued the right corner slot and FA Brandon Browner, while he knows the system, isn’t the answer.  Apple or Jackson can push Shead and Lane for the starting spot.  But, with the need to upgrade the offensive line, if Jack Conklin is there, Hawks should take him and forget about the LT spot for the next 10 years.  Alvin Bailey is capable at LT but isn’t the long term solution.

Round 2, Pick 56

  1. Jason Spriggs – OT, Indiana: 6-5, 301lbs
  2. Kenny Clark – DT, UCLA: 6-2, 314lbs
  3. Austin Johnson – DT, Penn State: 6-4, 314lbs

If the Hawks are lucky enough to get Conklin in the first round and Spriggs with their second pick, I would say they solved their O-Line issues.  Spriggs would be a great addition to the line and can push current starter Garry Gilliam for the RT spot.  Clark and Johnson are two good run-stoppers and can push the pile back.  Either one would give the Hawks the depth they like on the D-Line.

Round 3, Pick 90

  1. Yannick Ngakoue – OLB/DE, Maryland:  6-2, 252lbs
  2. Joshua Garnett – Guard, Stanford: 6-5, 325lbs
  3. Jacoby Brissett – QB, NC State: 6-3, 231lbs

Ngakoue could be the Bruce Irvin answer for the Hawks.  He is a hybrid football player who is fast with a 4.75 40 time and is slippery with an ability to get involved with plays even while being blocked.  Garnett is a big bodied guard and with Sweezy one in free agency, could be the answer at RG and open holes for Thomas Rawls.  Tavaris Jackson, while a great presence in the locker room, is getting on in years.  Brissett could be another 3rd round find for Schneider.

Round 4, Pick 124

  1. Vadal Alexander – G/OT, LSU: 6-5, 326lbs
  2. KJ Dillion – S, West Virginia: 6-0, 210lbs
  3. Bronson Kaufusi – DE, BYU: 6-6, 285lbs

This is where Hawks start to look for depth.  However, while Alexander needs some work on pass protection, he is already a pretty good run blocker.  Imagine him as LG next to Conklin at LT.  A lot a beef on the left side to protect Wilson’s blind side.  Kam Chancellor is starting to break down and why wouldn’t he with the way he plays?  Need to have a player in his style so we don’t lose a step and Dillion could be that guy.  Kaufusi would give a lot of QB’s some sight problems with his wingspan and again, would add a lot of depth to the defensive line.

Round 5, Pick 171

  1. Jake McGee – TE, Florida: 6-5, 252lbs
  2. Geronimo Allison – WR, Illinois: 6-3, 196lbs
  3. Rees Odiambo – Guard, Boise State: 6-3, 314lbs

As of right now, Luke Willson is your starting TE with Cooper Helfet and Chase Coffman as back-ups.  It is unknown if Jimmy Graham can come back from his horrific knee injury.  Pete Carroll stated that Graham’s surgery went well but if he does come back, can we expect the same player that he was.  I doubt it because when knees start to go, it naturally limits movement.  Jake McGee is no Jimmy Graham but he would probably be the best blocking TE the Hawks have had in a while.  Allison is a big target but a little light at 196lbs and being 6-3.  Like to see him add at least 25 lbs. since he will need guile and finesse since speed is an issue.  He gets up for passes and blocks well on the edge.  Odiambo would add some much needed depth on the O-Line.

Round 6, Pick 215

  1. Jack Allen – Center, Michigan State: 6-1, 294lbs
  2. Brandon Allen – QB, Arkansas: 6-1, 214lbs
  3. Tyler Johnstone – OT, Oregon: 6-5, 301lbs

Patrick Lewis stabilized the O-line when he took over the starting center spot in the 2nd half of the season.  Back-up Jeanpierre is better suited as a guard so bringing in Allen to back-up Lewis would give the Hawks some flexibility and still have good depth at center with Jeanpierre as the 3rd option.  Allen would give the Hawks a younger back-up than Jackson and plays similar to starter Russell Wilson.  He comfortable under center and does well on bootlegs and rollouts.  But he tends to take hard hits on runs and doesn’t do well on long passing down situations.  Johnstone showed some good athleticism before a knee injury and scouts hope he gets that back.  Plays hard to the whistle and can finish blocks.  Could be a sleeper pick in the draft.

Round 7, Pick 225

  1. Joe Haeg – G/OT, North Dakota State: 6-6, 304lbs
  2. Jarred Norris – ILB, Utah: 6-2, 240lbs
  3. Jason Fanika – DE, Utah: 6-1, 276lbs

When drafting 7th rounders, it would be a surprise to find starters.  So if these players make the team, it’s most likely for depth or special teams.  Haeg is an interesting player as he is graded on NFL.com at 5.29, not bad for a projected 7th round pick.  He played both tackle spots and has good lateral quickness.  What gets him is getting caught on the balls of his feet in pass protection.  Would be a project for Tom Cable.  Norris is a team leader which would be great on special teams.  He has good reactive instincts and has a good feel for what running lanes opposing running backs will take.  Needs to work on staying low and not exposing his chest when taking on second-level blockers  Fanika would be a good situational player as he is able to get low and work under opponents pads to gain leverage at point of attack.  But with average speed, he tends to lunge to make tackles in open space.

Round 7, Pick 247

  1. Isaac Seumalo – Center, Oregon State: 6-5, 297lbs
  2. DeWayne Washington – RB Washington, 6-2, 226lbs
  3. Ted Karras – Guard, Illinois: 6-4, 307lbs

Seumalo would bring some good versatility along with adding depth to the O-line.  He has played center, right tackle, left tackle and right guard.  He has quick feet and above average lateral movement.  Good understanding of footwork and angles to secure running lanes and is a patient blocker.  Needs to add some mass to play in the NFL.  Washington has that rate combination of size and speed…kicks it into another gear when he hits the second level.  Former wide receiver can overmatch most linebackers in coverage.  Has a long stride which makes him struggle making quick cuts.  Will run up blockers backs rather than go between the tackles.  Also needs to work on ball security.  Karras has some football lineage including being the great nephew of Pro Bowler Alex Karras.  Four year started at Illinois at right guard, he uses brute upper body strength to get defenders turned.  Gritty demeanor on the field and is very intense on game day but stays within himself being penalized only twice over the past two seasons.

As I look back over this, I wonder:  What are the Seahawks going to do?

Guess we’ll find out draft weekend!

Go Hawks!

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!

Seattle Seahawks Must Play Championship Football vs. Cardinals

Seahawk Shining

I know the headline is an obvious statement but it needs to be said.

When the Seahawks enter the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals, it has to be as though they are playing in the Super Bowl.

We as fans, need to stop worrying about the offensive line and what the defense gives up.  Nothing we can do about it anyway.  But if there was ever a time this city needs to rise above any doubt about the Seahawks, now is the time.

The 12’s are what’s gonna get this team the lift they need to make their 3rd straight Super Bowl appearance.

I know, the shoddy showing they had against the Rams makes it difficult.  But this team has always had a rough time against the Rams, which has a very good defense and now looks like they have a marquee running back in Todd Gurley.

We also know that the Seahawks, at least over the last few years, rarely lay an egg two weeks in a row.

They march into Phoenix to face a Cardinal team that is the number one offensive team in the NFL.  The Hawks have some solace in the fact when they played them in Week 10 and were down 22-7 at the half, they came back against this team to take a 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.

It is my belief the reason why the Hawks lost this game is because the defense was gassed.  They played their hearts out to hold down the offensive juggernaut known as the Cardinals until 1:48 left in the game when Andre Ellington ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run that sealed the game.

Despite the loss, the Seahawks went on a record setting 5-game stretch to vault themselves into playoff contention, beating the 49’s and Steelers at home, Vikings and Ravens on the road and then dismantling the Browns at home before self-destructing against the Rams last week.

Right now, the Seahawks are the Number 6 seed going into the playoffs.  That points to heading to hallowed ground, facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.  Perhaps not the best scenario but not the worst either.  Seahawks and Packers have had games filled with controversy and while going 4-6 against them over the past 10 games, the point differential between the two teams is 12 points over that span.

Another possible opponent would be the Minnesota Vikings of which the Hawks have a 6-4 record over the past 10 games.  The last game played between these two teams was the Week 13 38-7 blowout in Minnesota.   They focused on stopping Adrian Peterson and dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat them.  The result was holding Peterson to 18 yards on eight carries and the only reason the Hawks didn’t shut the Vikings out was the 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter.

The third possible playoff opponent would be the Washington DC based team.  They have a 4-6 record against them over the last 10 games but have beaten them twice at FedEx Field in Landover, including a 24-14 playoff victory in 2013.

Regardless of who the Seahawks play in the opening round, the Seahawks cannot take this game against the Cardinals lightly.  Pete Carroll has stated in the press they are looking at this game as a championship game and won’t be holding anything back.

Hawks are going to have to rely on Christine Michael, Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson to get the running game going as well as QB Russell Wilson using his legs to keep the Cardinal defense honest.

The offensive line will need to get back to the caliber of play during that 5 game stretch and allow Wilson the time he needs to connect with receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Cooper Helfet, Tyler Lockett and perhaps Anthony McCoy.

The defense will need to get through the Arizona O-Line and make Carson Palmer uncomfortable.  Sacks would be good but I am looking for the Hawks front four to get him off his spot and force him into making bad decisions which would play into the heart of the Seattle D, the Legion of Boom.

It’s going to be a good game and I don’t see Bruce Arians pulling any of his starters to save them for the playoffs…unless the Seahawks put the game out of reach by the 4th quarter.  As much as I would love that scenario, I don’t see it happening.

But I do see a Hawks victory, 38-35 with Steven Hauschka kicking the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock.

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!

Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions – Beer Thinker is Conflicted

SeattleDetroit

I have been dreading to write this.  My heart wants my original hometown team, the Detroit Lions, to get off the snide and start winning.  Of course, all of us true blue Lions fans have been waiting for them to get off the snide for a very long time.

But my head is telling me the Seahawks are going to pull this one out and even their record to 2-2 on the national stage of Monday Night Football.  The Hawks are just too talented and well coached, playing at home and under Pete Carroll’s tenure, have done very well playing in nationally televised games.  Too many hills for the Lions to climb.

Not to mention the 12’s, one of the most fanatical fan bases in the NFL.  I know there is a contingent of loyal Lions fans that will be attending the game…I would hope that the 12’s will welcome the Lions Pride with respect.  We’re all here to cheer on our respective teams.  Let’s not do anything stupid on either side, OK?

Since I have lived in both Detroit and Seattle for approximately the same amount of time now, I feel I have a better perspective of both teams than the average fan.  Anyone that knows me knows that deep down, I am a Lions fan.  That will always be true.  But the Seahawks also have my attention as well…and why wouldn’t they?  They have achieved something us Lions fans have been waiting for since 1957…a chance to play in a championship game.

To further torture myself, I decided to do a comparison between the two teams.  To be fair, both are compared from 1976, the inception of the Seahawks, to 2014…a total of 612 games.

Bottom line for regular season games?  Seahawks went 305-307 for a winning percentage of .498.

The Lions?  242-370, winning at a .395 clip, just over a full percentage point worse than the Hawks.  If the Lions could have averaged just 1.61 games over the past 36 years, they could be at almost .500 since 1976.

Here’s the thing about the two teams:  From 1977 to 2010, both teams had frustrations in the playoffs.  Granted, in 2005, the Hawks made their first Super Bowl appearance but we all know what happened in that game.

But in 2010, Paul Allen, since purchasing the team from Ken Behring in 1997, hired Pete Carroll and most important, John Schneider.  With these two at the helm, they have made some fantastic draft choices, finding players they believe would fit their system the best.  And they found many of these players from the 3rd round to the 6th as well as signing free agent rookies.  They built a program around a power running game and protecting the football for an offense.  As for defense, they went unconventional to very tall and rangy cornerbacks such as Richard Sherman and safeties like Kam Chancellor with a linebacker mentality.

And in a span of four years, the Seahawks played in 10 playoff games with a record of 7-3, appearing in back-to-back Super Bowls winning it all in 2013 and losing in a heartbreaker in 2014.

I don’t believe in the history of the Lions that they haven’t had the same level of coaching or players.  There have been some very good coaches the Lions had…Bobby Ross, Steve Mariucci and Jim Schwartz come to mind…and current head coach Jim Caldwell has an impressive resume as well.  And yes, we have had some bumbling idiots as well such as Rod Marinelli and Marty Mornhinweg.

But the coach is only going to be as good as the players assembled for him.  And in this comparison, right now, the Seahawks have far surpassed the Lions in every single aspect.  The draft better, they scout better, they look deeper and they sign smarter.

The Lions would do well to take a page from the Seahawks…but that’s not going to happen until a progressive owner takes over.  I respect the Fords for being one of the longest-tenured owners in the league.  But I said this when I was writing for FireMillen.com:  The Lions will never become consistent contenders until new ownership comes in.

I want the Lions to remain in Detroit forever.  And any new owner that comes in will need to keep them in place.  But that new owner needs to bring in a new philosophy and a winning attitude.  Otherwise, I’m not sure when the Lions will ever get back to the big dance.

Russell Wilson Is A System Quarterback – Myth or Fact?

All he does is win games.
All he does is win games.

So I am going to weigh in on the Russell Wilson contract issue again.  But I am going to try and look at this from a different perspective.

About six years ago, I wrote an article for the Bleacher Report called The Myth About A System Quarterback.  At the time, I was writing under the pseudonym of Seattle Lion Fan.

According to Wikipedia, a system quarterback is defined as “is an American football quarterback who flourishes under a particular offensive system, specifically one that focuses on passing.”

Under another definition, a system quarterback could be defined as one that is successful but not talented.

I, for one, believe that every quarterback in the NFL is a system quarterback.  Each team has its own system whether they drafted a quarterback that fit the direction the head coach wants or they built a system to exploit the talents of a quarterback.

I think the best example of this was when the Miami Dolphins, then coached by the great Don Shula, took Dan Marino.  Shula made six Super Bowl appearances, going 2-4 in those games.  His teams from 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1982 were all keyed by a run-first offensive strategy, including the undefeated team of 1972.

That all changed when Dan Marino, drafted in 1983 and became the full-time starter in 1984 when he threw for over 5,000 yards and threw 48 touchdowns.  Shula recognized what he had in Marino and built a system around him which in my eyes, makes Marino a system quarterback.

Another great example is Joe Montana.  Bill Walsh needed to find the perfect quarterback to run his West Coast offense and in 1979, Walsh found him in the third round.  Montana, coming out of Notre Dame, was not your prototypical quarterback.  But Walsh kept saying is that “all this kid does is win.”

Four Super Bowl wins in a span of 13 years with San Francisco as well as never losing one puts Montana in a very elite class.  Many, myself included, put him as one of the greatest quarterbacks to have played the game.

In both of these examples, each quarterback fit the system designed by the coaches…one had a system built for him (Marino) and the other was a perfect fit for a system already in place (Montana).

In Pete Carroll’s system, he needed a quarterback that had the capabilities to:

  • Have lots of mobility but still look to throw
  • Take care of the ball on their possessions
  • Make smart and intelligent plays
  • Be the leader on offense
  • Make the big play when needed.

Russell Wilson fills each of these needs very, very well.  How can you argue when all this kid has done in his past three seasons as the Seahawk quarterback is win?

  • Three straight post-season appearances.
  • Two straight Super Bowl appearances (and it should have been two straight wins!).
  • 36 – 11 regular season record over three seasons.
  • Career passing percentage of 98.6 over those three seasons and averaged 100.6 over the last two years.
  • Has not missed a game in those three years.

I truly believe that Russell Wilson is the best fit for this Seahawk offense.  Is there another QB worth a damn that can do better than Wilson at this point?  Tavaris Jackson?  Been tried and he could do no better than 7-9.  Granted he didn’t have Marshawn Lynch as a running back but even with Beast Mode, I doubt he do much better than 9-7.  T-Jack is a turnover machine and checks down way too much.

Wilson fits the system that Carroll has designed.  Wilson needs the Seahawks and the Seahawks need Wilson.  What the question is now is what is the magic number to get the deal done?

The top seven highest paid quarterbacks (listed is guaranteed salaries, not the total contract) according to Sports Cheat Sheet:

  1. Colin Kapernick – San Francisco:  $61 Million
  2. Matt Ryan – Atlanta:  $59 Million
  3. Tom Brady- New England:  $57 Million
  4. Drew Brees – New Orleans:  $55 Million
  5. Tony Romo – Dallas:  $55 Million
  6. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay:  $54 Million
  7. Jay Cutler – Chicago:  $54 Million

So tell me, out of these seven quarterbacks, which one would you take over Russell Wilson?  If I had to pick, it would most likely be Aaron Rodgers.  Why?  Because he is a 6’2″ version of Russell Wilson…or to be more accurate, Russell is a 5’11” version of Rodgers.

Imagine how successful Rodgers would have been if he had the caliber of running back such as Marshawn Lynch as well as the defense of our beloved Seahawks!  Rodgers would be out of fingers with Super Bowls.  And yet, hardly anyone batted an eyelid when Rodgers signed one of the most lucrative contracts in the NFL.

I agree, you take away Lynch and Russell would be a different QB.  But I believe that he would still be successful because Wilson can adapt to compensate for the loss of a great running game…he would adapt to the changes in the system.

Russell Wilson deserves to be paid as one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league simply because of what he has shown what he’s done over the past three seasons.  Does he deserve to be the highest paid?  If he can get it, more power to him.  But this is one player the Seahawks cannot say “next man up!” because they don’t have a player of his caliber to take his place.

Pay the man, he deserves it.

 

Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson – Get The Deal Done!

All he does is win games.
All he does is win games.

I’m not so sure what the hold up is on either end of the negotiations between the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson.

Wilson, who has done everything that has been asked of him by the Seahawks, is looking to be paid as an elite status quarterback.  To be honest, I do believe that he has a very strong case.

I understand that he doesn’t have a lot of 300 yard games and isn’t your prototypical NFL quarterback.  But all he does when he’s in the game is win them.

Since he has been the starter, he has gone 36-12 in the regular season, taken the team to the playoffs three straight years, the Super Bowl two years in a row, winning one of them.  The Hawks are 6-2 in playoff appearances in that time.

There has been a speculation that the reason for Wilson’s success is due to having a premiere running back in Marshawn Lynch as well as a top 5 defense during those seasons.  And I agree with that speculation because it’s true.

Why?  Because football is a team sport…and it takes a team of very talented players to get to a Super Bowl let alone win one.  And a great leader at QB to guide them.

Let’s take a look at a football quarterback the complete opposite of Russell Wilson.  This guy is a former player and during his playing days, he was 6’4″ and weighed 240lbs.  Many consider him to be one of the greatest passers to ever play the game, including myself.

I am talking about Dan Marino who played for the Miami Dolphins for 16 years.  And despite all the accolades heaped upon Marino, despite all of the passing yards and 300 yard and 400 yard games, Marino played in only one Super Bowl in 1984, his second season.  The Dolphins lost that game to the San Francisco 49’rs who had another QB that wasn’t your prototypical QB in Joe Montana.

Why didn’t Marino win any rings?  He didn’t ever have a running back to speak of and he had to outscore the other team because many of his defenses were ranked in the lower half of the defensive rankings.  And yet, he is lauded as one of the all-time greats to ever play the game.

Wilson has talent but also knows that he is an integral part of Pete Carroll’s offense that relies on a power running game and a staunch defense.

It’s not that Wilson can’t throw the ball.  He has three 300 yard passing games in his career and is the only player ever to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game.

But what’s most important is Wilson’s ability to focus…focus on what needs to be done, focus his teammates into reaching for more and an unwavering belief that his team always has a chance to win.

He has 10 fourth quarter comebacks to go along with 15 game winning drives in three years.  He is cool and calm under pressure, takes care of the ball and doesn’t commit many turnovers.  What else do you want your QB to do?

Can anyone tell me how the Seahawks might have done if Tavaris Jackson would have started over the past three years?  Never better than .500 I would guess.

Or perhaps if Wilson hadn’t beaten out Matt Flynn who I believe was an overrated quarterback and would have turned into a turnover machine…and not at all a good fit for Pete Carroll’s offense.

Your quarterback is the team leader.  He is your field captain and he is the only player on the field who handles every single snap on offense.  He’s the one that all the plays funnel through.

So I ask, who else do you want as your NFL QB for the Seattle Seahawks?  I trust Wilson…he makes great decisions on the field and takes care of the ball to give the Seahawks a chance to win every game.

There aren’t many games the Seahawks have been blown out of with Wilson at the helm.  Yes, a lot of that is attributed to the fantastic defense the Hawks have.  But a lot of it can also be attributed to Wilson’s style of play.

So what are the measurable to justify the salary that Wilson could get?  Is it based on passing yards and touchdowns or is it based on wins?  I’ll take the winner thank you very much.

I’m not sure why the Seahawks even want to mess with that.

Seattle Seahawks and “The Call”

Sad Seahawk

It has been five days since the 12th Man was stunned by the Seahawks loss to the New England Patriots.  Not sure how anyone else felt but for me, it was a blow to the stomach and I had all the air knocked out of me.

I haven’t looked at a sports page, listened to very little sports talk radio and have avoided the NFL Network and ESPN altogether.  Because I just can’t stand how the last call of the game has been diagnosed to the Nth degree.

I allowed myself some time to get through this.  This loss was more difficult to process mainly because of the suddenness of it.  We were right there at the one yard line, Russell Wilson calmly at the line and then New England rookie Malcom Butler drove the stake into the heart with an amazing play.

A lot of things have been said about “The Call.”  Some have indicated it was the worst call in Super Bowl history.  Others have wondered long and hard that why, with 26 seconds on the clock and with the freak of nature running Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, would you even consider throwing a pass.

Here is what I know:

  • I am not the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks with 80,000 screaming fans yelling, all kinds of traffic coming in on the headset, trying to make a decision in 45 seconds.
  • I am not the quarterback who has such a belief in the system he plays in, that he never considered questioning the call.
  • I am not the wide receiver who was assigned to bump the corner back.
  • I am not the receiver who was supposed to make the move to the ball.

We can all sit back, with the help of instant replay, stop action and slow motion in high-definition media, tear apart the play frame by frame.  We can drag a play that took all of four seconds to execute, into a full 10 minute dissertation on every single thing that supposedly went wrong.

When the play occurred, there wasn’t a Seahawk fan that didn’t think the Seahawks weren’t going to score and be the first repeat champions since the New England Patriots.

But it wasn’t just that play that got us.  The spectacular interception by Jeremy Lane in the first quarter and in instant later, after being tackled, he is out of the game with a severe broken wrist.

Earl Thomas, who stated that if the Super Bowl had been played the previous week, he would not have been able to play with that injured shoulder.

Richard Sherman was not near 100% with a rotator cuff injury he sustained while playing in the NFC Championship.

Kam Chancellor wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to play due to a knee injury sustained at the Friday before Super Bowl practice.  Through what Pete Carroll calls a superhuman effort, Chancellor strapped on a speed brace and gutted it out.

Cliff Avril, so key all year long on the defensive line, went out in the third quarter with a concussion.

And even with all the injuries, the Seahawks were right there, poised to win the game with yet another spectacular comeback.

But we just didn’t quite make it…and we are all trying to find a place to place the blame.  You know what?  There is no one to blame.  The play was called, the players actually executed the play fairly well and Malcom Butler just made a great play.

There is one last thing I can say about this:  It’s over, it happened and we still have one helluva football team to cheer for.

The Seahawks will learn from this…they will use it to come back stronger and hungrier than before and be one of the rare teams to make a Super Bowl appearance three years straight.

It’s just gonna seem like one helluva long wait!

Go Seahawks!