Sam

Sam lives in Western Washington and goes by the name of @SamTrap84 on Twitter. He is not in to twerking.
Sam has written 12 posts for The Matchups Zone

Seahawks Look Unchampionship-Like in Week 1

Photo courtesy of Panthers.com

Photo courtesy of Panthers.com

The 2013 football season is potentially the one in which the Seattle Seahawks earn their first Super Bowl championship.

On Sunday, though, the ’Hawks were anything but championship-caliber for at least the first three quarters of the game.

And, yet, we all sit here delighting in Quarterback Russell Wilson’s 320-yard, one-touchdown game in which Seattle defeated the Carolina Panthers a meager 12-7.

Yes, it was a battle of defenses. Yes, the offensive lines of both teams generally looked pretty horrendous (Seattle’s far more than Carolina’s). Yes the Panthers have a great front seven on the offensive line and the Seahawks won’t see that every week. Yes, it was only Week 1 and folks were rusty. Yes, it was really hot and humid (how could we forget, having heard Fox Sports’ Tim Ryan and Chris Myers repeat this ad nauseum throughout the game?!).

Except, the team is likely to see great football teams in the playoffs, and they’re going to see the best of the best if they reach the Super Bowl. They may even see some horrendously-adverse weather conditions in an outdoor championship game that will be in New Jersey this season.

And so, I guess, I hoped that the Seahawks would start a bit stronger on offense than they did last year. It was anything but a good start, and while one game a pattern does not make, having seen the offensive line collapse in on itself like a black hole throughout the pre-season as well shows there may be some cause for concern.

The Seahawks must find solutions to the offensive guard position, where Paul McQuistan was frequently out-manned Sunday, including getting flat-backed at least once. The argument for McQuistan is that he is a utility player who can step into any line position. The problem is that playing shitty at every position doesn’t really make his service worth it for me. It’s almost pointless to single McQuistan out, too, because overall they sucked for most of the game.

This team again racked up too many penalties, with nine for 109 yards.

Wilson looked lost against the Panthers defense frequently, seemingly having no idea where pressure would come from or where he might get hit from. He continued to show a maturity most young players are devoid of, however, by generally not panicking and continuing until the last whistle. That right there earned the Seahawks the victory, and if there is any person who can bring this team to a Super Bowl victory, it’s Robot Russell.

Wilson the Android simply looked like he needed a disk defrag and a virus scan for the first three quarters.

Yes, I’ve focused on the negative. I tend to do that, because I want to recognize a deficiency and see it corrected. When I write about offensive line play or penalties or Wilson’s shoddy early play, it’s because I hope to see those things corrected in successive games. And I believe that this team must remain strong throughout the season to have the best chance for championship success. That’s what we want, is it not?

2013 can still be the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season. They just need to show us they can earn it.

Russell Wilson is The Terminator in Preseason Week 2

Photo courtesy of ESPN

Photo courtesy of ESPN

Why are we not calling Russell Wilson “The Terminator” yet? After the Seahawks’ Week 2 preseason match-up against the Denver Broncos, it should be clear that our sophomore quarterback is a finely-tuned robot, after all.

This week saw some promising progress from the offensive line, which provided far better protection for Wilson during passing attempts than the first week against the Chargers. It helped that All-Pro and Pro Bowl Center Max Unger was back in the lineup and snapping the ball to the QB during the 40-10 preseason victory that felt more like a regular season game with the 12th Man going bananas at Century Link field.

Wilson looked crisp; he was quick with throws and while he had a few overthrows, there were also a few occasions where it was the receiver’s fault. In particular I think there was a catchable ball thrown to rookie Tight End Luke Willson but he appeared to be fearing a hit coming his way and ended up with alligator arms, or, as I like to call them – creepy baby arms.

120919-tate-480It was a game that showed Wide Received Golden Tate doesn’t fall down because he is, in fact, a Segway, and Tight End Sean McGrath can’t drop passes because even if his hands slipped his massively-impressive beard would still snag the ball for him.

Overall, the line’s play was far superior from Week 1, and against what I believe to be a better defense in the Broncos. We also saw the first-team offense play the entire first half against a Denver team that many seem to believe are headed to the Super Bowl this year.

Line play was largely my focus of what I wanted to see in improvement for this game and I wasn’t disappointed. Some have complained that while pass protection was enhanced from the first to second games, run protection was still lacking. I think those people must have attended Hempfest in Seattle this weekend and were too high to really pay attention.

It seems that people saw a weakness there due to the fact that Robert Turbin, taking the majority of the snaps at running back this week, gained just 35 yards on nine carries.

To me, however, that was all on Turbin, coming back from injury and who seemed to lack his get-off step that he normally has. He wasn’t so much “Turbo” this week after he touched the ball. Part of Seattle’s running style, too, is that smash-mouth, wear-you-down football. I absolutely believe that had this been the third or fourth quarter the line would have continued to make great running opportunities and the defense would by that point have been so worn down there would be huge gains. We saw it time and again in 2012 and there is nothing that caused me concern this week to warrant otherwise.

Back to Golden Tate – we got this guy named Percy Harvin this year and many have lauded his ability to make plays in space. Here’s the thing: We’ve already got the Golden One. He made at least four or five defenders miss on a 33-yard punt return, his only one of the night. If I’m a betting man, he’s our returner going into Week 1 and they’re just trying to keep him healthy now by giving return looks to Walter Thurmond and Will Blackmon (unlikely to be on the team in September).

Tate has amazing hands and his chemistry with Cyberback Russell Wilson showed with two catches for 42 yards. Tate can make any play Harvin can. I truly believe that. And I didn’t attend Hempfest.

There was so much to be happy about in this game. In Week 3 we need to see some progress in the pass rush, however. It’s unclear exactly when Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril will be ready to go for the ’Hawks, though it seems the team says they could both be back by Week 1. Still – this team has so much depth it’s silly at Defensive End and we need to see more from those other players.

Meanwhile, Russell Wilson is probably defragging his hard drive as we speak and Golden Tate is out there somewhere challenging guys to try and knock him over like an inflatable punching clown that never quite goes all the way to the ground.

 

The 2013 Season is Here, Suckas!

Go_Hawks.JPG

Hello Seahawks fans (and NSA spy overlords, thank you for reading my article … and please ignore that recent Amazon purchase for the Playmobil Security Checkpoint toy. It’s for a friend)!

It’s effin’ here – the 2013 NFL season. HOT DAMN!

I’m so pumped for this season that if I had a kitten here with me I’d excitement-squeeze it to death. Precious!

Football is a sacred time in my household. That is, my wife hates it – and so I get to leave her with our devil toddler and a 6-month-old infant for places where the game is appreciated. Where I can fuckin’ swear at people on television like they can hear me. Where I can use the word “fart” (I wish this were a joke. Save me).

But let’s recap a little bit of how we got to this point in the year:

  • January 1, 2013: Happy New Year!
  • March 12: Percy Harvin – Or, you might call this special time: “Harvana.”
  • March 15: DE Cliff Avril comes over from the Detroit Lions as a free agent.
  • March 16: DE Michael Bennett comes over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
  • March 16  – 5:30 p.m.: Seahawks fans collectively have their heads explode based on the past week’s worth of transaction news.
  • April 1: You’re still a Seahawk, Matt Flynn. APRIL FOOLS – The No. 2 QB is traded to the Oakland Raiders.
  • April 9: QB Brady Quinn is signed. Seahawks fans are like “Double-U Tee Eff?!” and “Huh?!” and “Bleep Blop Blorp.”
  • April 17: Veteran CB Antoine Winfield hops on over from the Minnesota Vikings. The 36-year-old comes because he wants to win a Super Bowl, and he probably is pretty confident that the Seahawks are the team to beat in 2013.
  • April 22:  Safety Kam “Bam Bam” Chancellor signs a deal through 2017 to stay a member of the “Legion of Boom.”
  • April 25-27: The 2013 NFL Draft occurs. The Seahawks pick up some intriguing players, but frankly I’m most excited by Christine Michael (as everyone points out, it’s pronounced like “Christian,” but I can’t help say “Christine,” because that’s how it’s spelled, you jerk). The running back is fast and has great hands, and he reminds me of Adrian Peterson without the bad mustache. Also picked up was giant Australian monster DT Jesse Williams and nine other dudes who I’m not really writing about because I haven’t paid enough attention to them. Did I mention the devil toddler and 6-month-old?
  • May 28: TE Anthony McCoy, injured in Organized Team Activities, is waived.
  • June 14: Seahawks former starting QB, and former backup QB, Tarvaris Jackson is signed from the Buffalo Bills. Seahawks fans are like “Double-U Tee Eff?!” and “Huh?!” and “Bleep Blop Blorp.”
  • July 29: I, your faithful scribe, celebrate a birthday. This is the most important part of this entire article. Where are my gifts, peasants?
  • July 30: KONZ! I’ll be honest, I just wanted to write that. I, frankly, don’t necessarily get as excited about this freak-athlete-but-not-so-stellar-football-player in TE Jameson Konz, who was then converted to linebacker, who is now apparently taking snaps as a tight end again because all of our tight ends are apparently made of fine china.
  • July 30: Percy Harvin breaks his own news that he will have hip surgery for a torn labrum. It’s something in your hip. You know: the hip bone’s connected to the … thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the delicious dark meat on the turkey. And so on. It’s science. This day in Harvin Hip Watch is collectively known amongst fans as “Harvinacolypse.” Many shops were looted and many dogs were eaten. It was a dark day.
  • August 1: And so here we are, the day I’m writing this helpful recap for you. Head Coach Pete Carroll has reported this day –- a day after the Seahawks refused to have him meet with local media and instead went on the NFL Network for an interview of literally 29 seconds on Harvin – that the $65 million wide receiver (costing us $2.5 million in 2013 folks, calm down) had a good surgery and is now on a road to recovery in which the team is “hoping” he is able to come back this season.

With or without Harvin, I fervently believe the Seahawks are a team that can easily go 13-3, take the division and bring Seattle its first Super Bowl. Thinking anything less for a team that went to the divisional round of the playoffs with a 5’10” rookie quarterback in 2012 makes you look like an asshat.

The Seahawks are absolutely better in so many ways than they were last year. Our quarterback has a year under his belt. Our defense – which was insanely good last year –  got even better adding ALL THE PASS RUSHERS. Golden Tate, by all accounts, is poised for a star season at wide receiver. And Doug Baldwin so far still has all his teeth. I haven’t even mentioned All-Pro Stanford Graduate Richard Sherman (he mentions himself enough, I think, in this hilarious MMQB piece).

Hang on, 12th Man. We’ve only got a week.

Another frustrating loss for the Seahawks in Detroit (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 8)

Presswire

It feels like a first world problem that the Seattle Seahawks are 4-4 to end the first half of the season with wins against the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.

But here we are Twelves, forlorn and seeking the light after another road game loss — and the second loss in a row — this time against a Detroit Lions team that gave up 44 points to the Tennessee Titans in an overtime loss. This season is about as uncomfortable as a masseuse who just found out he’ll be working knots out of the back of John Travolta.

So much went right this game, and any other day it may have been a win. When your team, however, is going up against  Matthew Stafford — second only to Tom Brady for passing attempts this season, third in passing yards per game and fourth in overall yardage at 2,108 — it takes more than just a great offensive road game.

The Seahawks’ losses this year are more frustrating than many in the last few to me. We’re winning games that few believed we could and giving up sad road losses to teams that basically everyone believed we shouldn’t. There doesn’t appear to be much consistency with this team, particularly with out losses. If the defense has a stellar day, the offense lays an egg. If the offense starts to shine, the defense falters. Perhaps the only thing that seems consistent is that our coaching appears to be poor in 2012. And it appears aligned with the inconsistency on either side of the ball.

I’m a complete laymen when it comes to understanding coverages, but here are my very rudimentary observations: During games against the Packers and Cowboys our defense played a ton of man coverage it seemed, frustrating quarterbacks who had few options, getting sacks and laying huge hits on receivers. On a few of our losses, at least, we see the secondary playing zone coverage, off players and providing tons of space between themselves and the opposing receiver. This is a call from the defensive coaching staff.

With large cornerbacks in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, the modus operandi should be man coverage at the line of scrimmage and a quick smack in the mouth or shoulder pads to stop the wide receivers within the allowable five yards. Letting someone like Wes Welker or Titus Young have space only allows those quick receivers the ability to get open enough for quick slants and downfield bombs after a double move. The more aggressive coverage, lacking in Detroit, worked well against Steve Smith for the Carolina Panthers, for instance.

I’ll admit to being just as entertained as everyone else about Richard Sherman transforming into Optimus Prime for the game against Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, but there was more than one weapon on the field for Stafford Sunday. It showed. The ‘Hawks seemed so focused on that one player.

Conservative defensive playcalling on the road simply feels wrong for this hard-hitting Seahawks team. The type of coverages called today also seemed to impact the ‘Hawks stellar run defense. While the Lions only ran for 84 rush yards, it seemed clear they could have ran for more if they didn’t need Stafford to command passes downfield to catch up. It’s the second week in a row that an opposing offense has found solutions to what was supposed to be one of our greatest strengths.

I’m just so utterly frustrated today because this is not a game the Seahawks should have lost. It’s hard to really even focus and figure out what to say. How do you assess a team with different struggles basically every single week?

The only thing that seems consistent is the baffling calls of our coaching staff. If it’s not conservative offensive play calls in early games because (allegedly) we have a rookie quarterback, it’s conservative defensive calls against a very good Lions quarterback.

And where the hell is that pass rush pressure we brought against Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers? How can we have a response to those guys but not the Lions?

This is not the type of game the Seahawks should lose. Many are seeing a ton of positive in the fact that the Seahawks have five home games in the final eight. That’s all well and good but we’ll need more than winning those five home games to make it to the playoffs, likely. Our playoff chances got very slim after today.

I should end here with a few silver linings (and then I’m off to kick a puppy or steal candy from a baby. Or both):

– Marshawn’s 77-yard touchdown run was the longest run of his career.

– Russell Wilson had a great game with 236 yards, two TDs and one INT. He had a passer rating of 96.8 and an ESPN QBR of 93.7.  That ESPN rating is supposed to help better state the “clutch” plays of a quarterback to help lead toward a win. Wilson did everything in his power today to get that win.

– Wilson spread the ball out and had nine receivers with catches.

– Golden Tate generally had a redeeming game catching all seven of his targets for 64 yards. One minor complaint within this silver lining: On several catches he ended up running backwards or spinning to negate some of the yardage he’d gained, including losing a first down he would have had due to forward progress if he’d simply have stopped his feet. For the record, Tate also lost a fumble, too.

– The Seahawks had only two penalties for 10 yards.

Seahawks D Continues to Impress Despite Lackluster Offense (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 5)

 

(Photo: Bob Leverone, AP)

Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson picked a good time to have a basically solid performance during a week when many fans were (and probably some still are) calling for his head in a 16-12 win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

But despite the dubya and an as-expected intergalactically-stellar performance from the Seahawks defense, there clearly is still much-needed improvement for the ‘Hawks offense that must happen.

Wilson had his best performance of the regular season so far with 221 passing yards and a touchdown, though a bit marred by an interception for a Panthers touchdown. By a dude named Captain Munnerlyn. I mean, seriously, if a guy picks you off and runs back a pick 6, and it sounds like he should be starring in his own Saturday morning kids special, there is a problem.

Sidebar: How high exactly do you think that man’s parents were when he came into this world?

On the Twittersphere many a folk were playing the “Nitpick Our Short Quarterback Game” by pointing out every single missed pass and what they felt should have been done differently. It’s baffling to me that people think they have the same vantage point as any players on the turf when all we see generally are sky box side views of the game. Of course you’re going to see someone open more often than the quarterback, no matter his height.

Despite Wilson’s solid showing, however, the Seahawks continue to have several major deficiencies, and this win only further highlighted those issues. The negative attributes should be concerning for any fan, most especially considering how middling of a defense the Carolina Panthers have. They’re basically ranked in the bottom 10 of every defensive category there is. Not only could we hardly touch them in the early part of the game in the red zone, we didn’t even use Lynch or rookie RB Robert Turbin very efficiently considering the Panthers have been giving up more than 134 yards rushing on average per game.

The Seahawks were held to under 100 yards total today. Yes, Beast Mode’s 85 yards on 20 carries is still damn good, and he remained second in the league in total yardage, but this should have been an even better game for him.

I attribute this to a rather lackluster performance by the offensive line, which hasn’t been that bad this season in run plays. As a matter of fact, that’s where they’ve stood out generally.

Both the defense and offense had absolutely stupid penalties today, and I’m about to be a rich man by selling “Bench Breno” T-shirts because No. 68 Giacomini can’t seem to stop himself from getting penalized. Some will say at least one penalty was due to reputation and it shouldn’t have been called. I would say that if he hadn’t gotten that reputation in the first place it wouldn’t have been called. You have to know that the locked out refs would be taking notes every single weekend, watching who was playing dirty and preparing to throw extra flags on those guys to whip everyone back into shape after the debacle that was the replacement referees. Whether Breno did it or not, he earned that reputation, and now he must live with it. He needs to cool down. Benching him was a good call, but he might need to not start next game, period.

Giacomini wasn’t the only one with some stupid penalties today. Not even sixth-ranked sack master Chris Clemons could avoid a roughing the passer call by pushing Panthers QB Newton too late after a throw was made.

Back to the red zone: The Seahawks continue to simply have very few answers to red zone scoring. Two first-half opportunities were squandered and again the team settled for field goals, going into halftime up on Carolina 6-3. Horrifying.

Thankfully the Panthers coaching staff is in no way as elite as that of the Green Bay Packers, who made some amazing halftime adjustments two weeks ago. I was truly concerned going into the final half of the game Carolina would have Cam Newton running all over the place, but it just didn’t happen.

Deserved Kudos

As usual, Seattle’s defense deserves the game ball for an amazing performance. Newton was sacked four times, the final hit coming from rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin who tallied a sack and a stripped ball that defensive tackle Alan Branch fell on to finalize the game. Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner also had an awesome performance with 1.5 sacks.

But probably the turning point of the game came on a strip by cornerback Brandon Browner on Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams (who has just a very, very gentle smile, based on the commercials I saw during the game). Browner also had a goal line tackle that shut the Panthers out of a potentially game-winning score.

So, a win is a win is a win, right? Not with the New England Patriots coming to Century Link Field next week. Having the second best defense in the NFL right now means nothing if the offense can’t put up some points. The Patriots are a top 10 rushing defense right now, but ranked 29th in receiving allowing nearly 300 yards per game. Let’s hope today’s QB performance by Wilson was a warm-up for next week.

He’ll need it.

Now I’m off to fire up my press for those “Bench Breno” T-shirts. Who wants in on this?

 

Seahawks Decide Tied for Last in Division is Cool (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 4)

Photo: Tom Gannam / AP

It’d be easy enough for this entire reaction blog post here to simply be me typing in all-caps just one big, long curse word and hitting submit. I should do that, because the amount of effort that would take is about as much as the Seahawks put in against a team like the St. Louis Rams. I’ll hold off on that, but I’m sure there will still be some blue language here.

The game was a frustrating loss and continued to keep questions about rookie quarterback Russell Wilson‘s long-term viability as a starter front and center. Perhaps what’s worse, however, is that it’s at times unclear if the issues the ‘Hawks offense is having is because of QB play, because of the line collapsing in like a dying star, because the receivers don’t have the ability to get open down field or the coaching.

Perhaps it’s all those things.

This week, coach Pete Carroll made claims that he has called for a conservative offense because he is having a rookie QB helm the ship.

It’s mind-boggling that is the tact of a coach who allegedly believes in his starting quarterback considering the play of some of the other rookie starters out there. Robert Griffin III put up another huge game in Week 4 against Tampa Bay (or as I like to call them, the St. Louis Rams of the NFC South) with 323 passing yards, 43 rushing yards on seven carries for a TD. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill dropped 431 passing yards on the stout Arizona Cardinals defense. Cleveland Brown’s rookie QB Brandon Weeden tossed 320 yards over the Baltimore Ravens. Both Miami and Cleveland lost this week, and they’ve got their own issues, but the point here is that there is a huge difference in what appears to be the faith of the coaching staff of those teams versus the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll can say whatever he wants to the media, but what we’re seeing on the field seems different.

What has me the most pissed off this week is that we simply should not have lost this game. It wasn’t the damned fake field goal (though if I hear a Fox announcer say “trickeration” ever again I’m going to kick a puppy) or even the three interceptions Wilson threw (they didn’t, largely, appear to be fully his fault).

I’m angry our coaching staff appears to simply not believe in the person they’ve asked to lead this team.

Today we saw some great flashes from Wilson in the first drive of the game. The quarterback was able to zip some passes to wide receiver Sidney Rice and our ground game was superb. When the Rams brought pressure, he got out of it and it was clear climbing the pocket wasn’t the answer.

After that, everything seemed to falter. Red zone touchdown scoring simply doesn’t exist for the franchise right now. The offensive line doesn’t have any inkling as to what pass protection seems to mean. Russell Wilson does not have the ability to climb the pocket and appears to have some type of fetish for the scrambling boot leg (including loss of yardage while being tackled in the backfield).

Today’s game made it hard not to think that Wilson’s height really has a large impact on his ability to make plays, most especially when his line fails him in protection and closes throwing windows. If he were taller would he be able to get the ball to wide open tight end Zach Miller at the two yard line?

It’s just very hard to know where exactly the offensive failure is right now.

I’ll tell you where it’s not, though: The failure sure as hell isn’t our running game. Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin (aka Turbo) are the shining stars of the offense. If Turbin had been given the 20 snaps Lynch did, he could have had 150 rushing yards today based on his pace. Marshawn, too, was extremely effective in his runs, including an 18-yard Skittles Scramble (that’s trademarked)  for a TD on the first drive.

But the Seahawks simply cannot rely on only the running game to win. What’s baffling is that, with such a successful ground game, the passing game should be all the more successful. And, yet, when Wilson is back to pass it’s like a different team is playing.

Frankly I better end this now. I’m so frustrated this week I’m not even sure where to go with this. Just a few quick snippet thoughts and then I’m going to mic drop and go eat some apple pie:

1) Despite how pissed I am, Wilson should still start. He needs better coaching support, better play from receivers and damned better pass protection. Let’s face it, we’re still 2-2. I don’t know that Matt Flynn would have fared any better and frankly Wilson has a far better chance of escaping when our offensive line plays like shit, which seems to be the norm right now on passing plays. I’ll change my tune quickly if I don’t see some changes at QB, however.

2) The left side of the line with Russell Okung and James Carpenter was great today in run blocking.

3) Bench Breno Giacomini. Two after-whistle unsportsmanlike penalties for 15 yards each are unacceptable. Period. During Carroll’s post-game press conference he attributed it to Giacomini playing the full play or some such shittery. Bullshit. When the whistle blows, stop playing. You’re hurting your team. And I’m going to kick a puppy.

4) Our defensive secondary are clearly stronger when they jam at the line. Zone coverage is a weak spot. Getting burned by the Rams really showed it, and really, really hurt.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Next week we face a high-flying offense run by second-year star and big-ass cry baby Cam Newton over at the Carolina Panthers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a puppy.

Cowboys meet Legion of Boom in Seahawks Home Opener (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 2)

 

Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

Last week Doug Baldwin tweeted he’d need some new teeth after a costly-dropped past in the Seahawks Week 1 loss at the Arizona Cardinals.

Baldwin better let Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee borrow those falsies after getting absolutely here-I-am, rock-you-like-a-hurricaned (Scorpions reference, whaaaaat?) by Hawks receiver Golden Tate in a play that basically summed up how the day went for the ‘boys in a 27-7 loss at Century Link Field.

Frankly, this should have been an even bigger blowout for the Seahawks, but, per the tradition of the last few seasons they got out of the gate rather slow to begin the game. We saw the offensive line continue to struggle, frequently collapsing in to Russell Wilson, hampering his ability to make plays down field. Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch could do very little in the run game, with 10 carries for just 22 yards. I still attribute that to the offensive line. Let’s be fair that in the second half Lynch was able to open it up for 122 yards and a TD overall.

And, yet, through it all, Russell Wilson maintained poise few rookie QBs likely could, ending the half 9-12 with 85 yards and a 94.1 passer rating.

As always, the bright spot of the first half was the Seahawks defense and special teams, with backup linebacker Malcolm Smith blowing up a Cowboys punt that backup strong safety Jeron Johnson would take back for the first Hawks TD of the game.

The Seahawks came out in the second half with necessary adjustments and would end up obliterating a team that took to task the defending World Champion New York Giants in Week 1.

I could post an extremely positive write up here, but I think that wouldn’t be very genuine. The Seahawks have more work to be true contenders and we should have an honest discussion about it. This, you see, is a 12thman Intervention. We love you, Seahawks, but if you keep doing this, you’re going to lose … err … the playoffs?

First, let’s settle on the positive one last second: Kam Chancellor just gave every Cowboys receiver PTSD for the rest of their life; K.J. Wright had a solid game with solid tackling, smart football moves to nearly snag an INT and leading a great linebacker crew; Golden Tate is the meanest little man you’ve ever seen, nearly decapitating Cowboys LB Lee. He avoided two penalties on it – the blind side helmet-led hit as well as the unsportsmanlike for pointing to his name afterward. But the panther crawl he did after the hit was rather sexy. Like a sex panther. It’s illegal in nine countries.

Let’s talk about what needs fixin’, though, shall we:

The offensive line had a solid finish, fixing much of the first-half collapsing and lack of run blocking, but that’s the point: That first half slop needs to stop. The Seahawks need a strong start to go with their extremely strong finishes.

Playcalling: Other than the crafty three tight-end set for a touchdown from Wilson to TE Anthony McCoy, Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell has done very little to show he’s at all innovative or willing to be gutsy on calls. He’s got what head coach Pete Carroll has called a special quarterback and I like to think that’s the star-kind of special and not the paste-eating kind of special. So let the kid make some big plays.

Speaking of Big Play Danger Russ: Wilson has got to work on bringing his throws down. When you over throw 6’6″ tight end Evan Moore, you just might be throwing too high. I’ll chalk that one up to first-half jitters for the rookie, though Wilson likes to say he doesn’t get nerves. Also, I don’t know how you don’t see 6’2″, 240-pound linebacker Bruce Carter, but Wilson threw right at him like he was as invisible as whoever the hell Clint Eastwood was talking to in that chair. That first-half play ended in a field goal instead of seven points for the Seahawks.

And, really, that’s about what I’ve got for today. This was a solid performance, and it’s these little things the Seahawks need to work on. We can all say this was a successful day, but we need those details in order to be successful, annual contenders in both this clearly stronger division (the Cardinals beat the Patriots today, folks, feel better about last week yet?).

I’m excited for Week 3 where we face Green Bay on Monday Night Football. Let’s show the world that we have an even better defense than those 49ers, alright? As Wilson says every press conference:

GO HAWKS!

 

Wilson solid in Seahawks heart-breaking opener (Sam’s Visceral Reaction Week 1)

Associated Press/Rick Scuteri

In the Twittersphere, the usual bandwagon, fair-weather Seahawks fans who cried out for Charlie Whitehurst last year blew their lungs out clamoring for Matt Flynn after a heart-breaking 20-16 loss against the Arizona Cardinals today.

Those people are stupid. And get them some oxygen, quick.

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had some hiccups in his first-ever NFL regular season game but there was much to like, and Danger Russ looked solid for most of the game, as did the Seahawks defense and special teams.

Let’s look at it this way: Only one rookie quarterback starting in 2012 had a better QB rating than Wilson today. Andrew Luck wasn’t that person. Wilson’s rating wasn’t stellar by any measure at 62.5. Hell, it was even below average. But he did no worse than most of the other rookie starting quarterbacks and avoided mishaps that most of them made, most specifically in the turnover category where he had one just one interception (Luck with three interceptions; Brandon Weeden with four; Ryan Tannehill with three). Wilson didn’t force anything, and if he threw a long pass, he threw it where, generally, a defender wouldn’t have access.

Unfortunately, our O-line members apparently were having conversations like this tonight: “Derp-a, derp derp derp,” and couldn’t seem to understand the value in providing a more solid throwing window for Wilson. The pocket frequently collapsed, forcing Wilson into tenuous situations, QB hits or sacks.

But we should also, as hard as it may be, give credit to the Arizona defense, known for exotic looks and stunts. While the media focus on the Cards’ QB kerfuffle between John Skelton and Kevin Kolb may have taken focus from the rest of that franchise, the defense is acknowledged as a solid unit. In many ways, the Cardinals and Seahawks were very similar in 2011 for that very reason. Solid D play, mediocre quarterback.

Only, the Seahawks were supposed to be the much more all-around improved team in 2012.

The offense still has some work to do. Receivers appeared to give up on routes. Offensive lineman ran around like chickens without heads. They looked meek compared to the aggressive style of the Card’s D. Odd, considering how nasty players like Breno Giacomini frequently looked for the Hawks throughout the preseason.

It’s like all of a sudden the lineman found a stash of Mom’s sedatives and decided to down the entire bottle on opening night. Russell Okung shocked the world by, again, turning into fragile tea cups, leaving the game with what has been announced as a knee injury. Think of him like a fine China set worth a guaranteed $29 million. Those are some expensive cups.

But there were some wonderful flashes tonight:

Wilson showed poise and smarts during plenty of pressure situations, taking the ball himself to gain a few first downs. It’s that talent that we don’t have with Matt Flynn, who is still accurate and would be a wonderful replacement if necessary (but he’s not necessary now).

During a terrible four-down series to end the game — including a botched decision by the replacement referees that gave the Seahawks a third timeout they shouldn’t have had — he tossed four completely catchable passes to receivers. Turns out their hands had been chopped off prior to each snap, unfortunately.

Sidney Rice, the previously-matching set of crystal stemware for the Seahawks offense to Okung’s China, caught multiple acrobatic catches and took some tough falls. At one point, he landed on at least one shoulder and it looked like he was about to break dance back up onto his feet.

Richard Sherman had an ankle-breaking sideline interception of Cardinals QB Skelton during the second half. Speaking of ankle-breaking, we’ve learned he came out of the locker room in a boot, though he claimed on Twitter he’d “be fine,” whatever that means. Fine for next week? Fine for another sweet “My Brother Dance”?

Braylon Edwards should have a breakout year. We saw it in the preseason and it translated in Game 1.

Doug Baldwin played a fairly solid game after sitting out preseason due to a hamstring injury that required blood to be removed to help the healing process (hello year 1642, bloodletting is BACK BABY! Where my leaches at?), despite the end-zone drop that could have clinched the day.

There’s almost no reason to mention the defense and special teams, because as usual they looked great. Of course, that’s why they should be mentioned, because they deserve it.

But back to Wilson and those “fans” screaming for him to be replaced. After one.friggin’.game.

Despite his claim during his post-game press conference that he had no jitters at all, I think that Wilson will only get better, and those jitters he didn’t have will slowly fade and he’ll settle. Note he also mentioned working on quicker reads, which likely is not only something he needs to work on to continue his progression in the pros, but also because his offensive line is going to force him into that situation.

He’ll need to ensure he doesn’t overthrow receivers on his bombs, too, and game clock management is essential after a few false starts thrown directly because of him.

But he has great field awareness, knows when to scramble when necessary and doesn’t make a bunch of stupid mistakes. He’s a playmaker, but he can’t be the only one doing the heavy lifting, and that’s where that line comes in to play.

No, 12th man, it’s not time to bring Matt Flynn out for a test drive. Not after one game. Not after five, in my view. Wilson has been given a shot, and he needs more time. It was one loss. It was a hard-fought game and everything the Seahawks did they earned through tough work.

For Marshawn Lynch, who gained 90 rushing yards through sheer will power and Beast Mode-style runs, it’s a familiar place to be. That same trudging patience Lynch has attained was embraced by the rest of the team. We nearly had it. This was not a loss in the mold of 2010, or even 2011.

Fixing those red zone mistakes, not leaving the game in the hands of replacement refs, and all of those other things I’ve mentioned (i.e. ~ Derp-a, derp derp offensive lineman) will happen. Pete Carroll will make it happen.

There are 15 weeks to go until the Seahawks are in the playoffs, folks. Let’s all watch it happen.

Russell Wilson for President (And other overreactions I’m having)!

Russell Wilson EVERYTHING!!!

If the November elections were held today, Seattle Seahawks fans would elect rookie quarterback Russell Wilson not just to the presidency of this great nation, but as Emperor of the World!

My wife and I are expecting our next kid in February, and we’re likely going to name it Russell. The gender of the baby doesn’t matter.

And I’m also fairly confident Wilson can cure diabetes.

These overreactions brought to you by Top Pot Doughnuts, the official Hand-Forged Overreaction Dessert of the Seattle Seahawks!*

(*Full disclosure: Top Pot Doughnuts in no way endorses or advertises on this blog, but remember that one time Golden Tate totally stole some of those tasty treats? I just thought I’d bring that up for no reason at all.)

They may be exaggerations, but it is extremely likely if you watched the third Seahawks preseason game last night versus the Kansas City Chiefs you have had similar thoughts. Or feelings. Personally? I want to make love to the Seahawks. That’s my feeling, alright, Dad? I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!

Keep in mind these reactions are coming from an ardent supporter of Matt Flynn, who I still believe is quite talented and would do well as our starter. That’s what makes watching this QB “competition” so fantastic. No matter what happens, we’re far better off than last year.

But last night we got to see why Wilson was so coveted by Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and it appears that they really have wanted him to succeed and win the starting job since the evening they drafted him at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. As Seattle Times reporter Danny O’Neil shared from the Seahawks live chat last night, it is also the case that “Every day I’m Russeling.”

Like many watching this four-part QB miniseries unfold, I was convinced that Wilson’s wonderful play during the initial two preseason outings against Tennessee and at Denver were due to playing against second and third stringers and players that aren’t even going to make the final roster of those teams. He was a shining star on the rise, but who may lose some luster against the big boys who start games. I was wrong, and so were plenty of others.

But I wasn’t adamantly against Wilson taking first-string snaps during the Chiefs game, and so I can haughtily say: “Na-na, na-na boo boo, stick your head in doo-doo.” And not really caring all that much who took the snaps, because I was pretty comfortable with either guy (though I still felt it was likely Flynn would be the starter no matter what), it made watching Wilson shine that much more lustrous (I’m using a lot of clichéd adjectives to seem impressive, here, you see).

Wilson had poise in the pocket, made intelligent throws and had enough balls to toss a few up in to traffic with confidence that his receivers would win the jump. And they usually did. We saw his mobility, and how he used his run game only when necessary or when he could take advantage of it, not because he was scrambling in a panic. There were a few minor hiccups: Some overthrows on finesse balls and throwing behind receivers a few times. Before you knew it though, he came back with a touchdown throw. Those misses didn’t look like rookie mistakes, they seemed like minor veteran errors that would inevitably corrected with points on the board a few plays later.

Now I’m taking a more aggressive tact on this whole QB battle. Wilson must start and anything else will end with Pete Carroll being the most loathed coach in the history of the Seahawks franchise (right behind Jim Mora, nobody will ever beat him for that spot). Carroll is the one who told fans he didn’t care about conventional wisdom and wanted to see what Wilson had. Now he’s seen it, as have countless thousands of others and it’s a pretty simple choice.

Tap the electric play of a rookie and know that we have a win-win situation with Flynn sitting right behind him. That is, of course, unless they trade Flynn away already.

We may still have Tarvaris Jackson, who we all know can maintain some semblance of game management, despite the fact he holds on to the ball so long it’s like he’s doing a monthly cancer screening on it.

More Reasons to Love the Hawks

Wilson wasn’t the only one with impressive play last night, and other rookie standouts are showing just how well John Schneider works an NFL draft. I’ll point to the most obvious, because I’m a basic fan, not a nerd, you  nerds.

Robert Turbin, with his Hulk-sized biceps, showed lightening speed through gaps while he out-ran Chiefs linebackers for a TD. For all the talk we heard about him still having to work on the basic one-step then through the hole stuff early in camp, he seems to have it down.

J.R. Sweezy man-handled opponents at the right guard spot, making another impressive show as he transitions from the defensive line to the offensive side of the ball. He mad huge gaps for the running backs and played so well that my wife and I will probably name our third child Sweezy.

And lest we not forget that the entire Seahawks defense is amazing, and appears to be making party plans to move from a top 10 defense to a top five.

There are plenty of things to be excited about with this 2012 iteration of the Seattle Seahawks. They may or may not be overreactions. It’s just exciting to see success after some lull years.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get Russell Wilson’s face tattooed on my left ass cheek.

Mike Williams is gone and all I got was Twitter blocked

Mike Williams.. Former Seattle Seahawks receiver.

It was a rather unlucky Friday the 13th for now-former Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams as the team announced today they have released him.

Word around the Twitterverse is that Big Mike Williams (also known as “BMW,” which I’m sure really helped his ego) had expected it “for some time now“. I expected it from the day he blocked me on Twitter, but we’ll get to that (so that I may show you just exactly how too seriously I take both 140-character social media and professional athlete maturity. And myself).

In a way, I feel bad for Williams, who had one of those redemptions stories in 2010 fans eat up like stadium nachos. You know, all gooey, messy but you really want more. The only difference is that Williams came cheap to the Seahawks in comparison to those nachos to your wallet.

I, too, was enthralled by the story. Williams, who had basically been blacklisted by NFL teams after becoming overweight and pretentious, had been given a second chance by the Big Man in the Hawks Nest – Pete Carroll. The Seahawks head coach has quickly made a name for himself these few years back in the pros by providing said redemption to lost athletic souls.

And it paid off. Williams was the Seahawks’ top receiver in 2010, with a respectable 65 catches and 751 yards for the team. Big Mike’s size allowed him to win match-ups in the air for catches and he appeared to have hands of steel. Not even a broken finger stopped him from catching nearly everything thrown his way that season.

The 12th Man had found its very own Magic Mike, you know, without all of the body oil, gyration and 40-year-old women screaming for more. Okay, there was probably some of the lady screaming.

But 2011 was a different story. Along with a change in quarterback, which didn’t appear to help, Williams’ production plummeted and he instead became Tragic MIke. Us casual, armchair quarterbacks out in Hawk Land can’t be sure if it was a failure of Williams or mash potatoes QB Tarvaris Jackson not getting him the ball.

Toward the end of the year, Williams left the season with a broken leg.

And now he’s gone. We knew it couldn’t last, the question was whether one more year with the team would bring back that fairy tale BMW we had all grown to love.

Well, at least, most of us had grown to love. You see, Mike Williams blocked me on Twitter last year. It was literally July 2011 when he and I got into a bit of an electronic spat over his attitude on the social media platform.

You see, I take Twitter way too seriously, and I’m a very odd sports fan. Here’s the thing: I believe professional athletes owe some respect to fans, the people who make what they do even possible.

That’s not a sentiment held by a lot of people. Most fans would tell me to shut my face and just watch the game. I can’t do it. In a world where athletes work to brand themselves and demand attention on social networks, I swoop in as some type of hell bent hall monitor calling them out when I think they’re being, well, asshats.

And Mike Williams was an asshat with this tweet:

Image

The rest is lost in the Twitterscape because archiving doesn’t go back that far and I can’t find keywords. But it went something like this:

My response was something very cordial and similar to “I do say, my good man, I take a smidgen of umbrage at your fairly racial tone. Please do appreciate that we’re all created equal and even the fair-skinned folk who have derived from the European continent enjoy watching you on the professional football sport pitch. Huzzah!”

Williams didn’t like my extremely-polite response and tweeted something else along the lines of “Sit on a bowling pin, biiiiiiitch!”

And then I said something along the lines of “blah, blah, blah, you’re an asshole who only cares about money blah, blah, blah.”

The next thing you know, my BFF Big Mike Williams has blocked me. It was an invigorating exchange of mature words, I assure you.

So, for nearly a year, I’ve not had the pleasure of following the “raw” thoughts of this consummate professional. Needless to say, he liked to brag about simply speaking his mind, whereas I thought he could have use a tad bit more humility, considering this was a shot at redemption, and he was not yet a star.

In the grand scheme of things, the argument was trivial, and his blocking of me was simply another day in the life of this armchair quarterback.

But there’s a big difference between Mike Williams and this writer: I still have a stake in the Seattle Seahawks this Friday the 13th.

Now excuse me while I go police Twitter for some athlete using curse words like “darn it” and “shucks.”

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