Commentary

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The Point After: Seattle Seahawks “Juiced on Noise” edition

Photo courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com

Photo courtesy of Blacksportsonline.com

Everyone who has lived has lost.  As self-evident as that statement might appear it leads to the next part of the equation; what we do with losses, how do we respond, and what does that response say about who we are.  Some losses are personal.  The failed job interview, the low score on a test we thought we were prepared to take, or the loss that we thought (perhaps fueled by hubris) we assumed would be a win.

And then there are team losses.  Most of us have been a part of a team, the level matters little when discussing this because team losses can stay with us, make us question, make us relive.  But unable to change the outcome after the fact, most people, over time, let things go.  In the immediate aftermath of a loss, “nice try” is a bad consolation prize.

As fans of the Seattle Seahawks we have experienced our share of losses.  That is a fact but that is not what this article is about. There are plenty of columns (even books) that detail the more painful chapters of this teams’ history.  Personally, I have a tough time with my team losing.  I am a passionate fan, and I care a great deal about this team.  But I’m also a pragmatist and I realize that in the end, this is a game. I would like to believe–and convince you too–that I handle Seattle losses well.  But I don’t, at least not until a few days have passed.

Over the years the Seahawks have lost some tough games.  The year following our loss in Seattle’s first ever Super Bowl appearance, hopes were high.  But that next season was not to go our way.  The reasons vary but after losses I employ a few rules.  Chief among them is this: Don’t reach for worthless excuses.  It is not always easy to practice but frustrated as I have been, I don’t reach.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of two 49ers fans after losing to the Seahawks this past Sunday in Seattle. The game was not close. After a week one offensive clinic against the Green Bay Packers many picked the 49ers to win in Seattle. The Seahawks read from a different script. Throughout the game Seattle disrupted San Francisco’s offense, creating turnovers, limiting their scoring to just three points, and dominating them in every meaningful statistic.  It was a great game.  It was a battle, even if the war still lies ahead. As always, Seattle’s 12th Man was there to offer their full-throated support.  Everything about the game was big.  The rivalry (which extends well beyond the two head coaches) the divisional aspect, and the fact that these two teams generally don’t much care for each other all made for a frenzied environment. It was loud!  In fact, we set a world record. It started loud and it stayed loud.  That is what we do here in Seattle.  That is what this team’s fans do.  And that is what they’ve always done.

This is not new.  The 12th Man has always been loud and even before the record for crowd noise in a stadium environment was broken this past Sunday, Seattle has always been considered a very difficult place for teams to play.  After the game, I was relieved.  I knew that it was only week two, but I also knew how important it was to hold serve at home.  We needed this win!  Following the game, Twitter and other social media outlets were crowded with stats, stories, and some very happy fans. Bay area social media participants were understandably not as thrilled.  As I went to bed late Sunday night, I knew there would be some bitterness in San Francisco.  If Seattle had lost, I know I would have felt the same way.  But then a story emerged; a letter to the Editor at SFGate.com. Sunday night had given way to desperation Monday.

130915_seahawks_crowdThe letter was written by a man and woman who, in looking to understand the loss of their team, employed a number of suspect arguments.

From the letter:

“Was anyone else appalled by the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Seattle Seahawks and their fans, juiced on noise, which surely creates as big an advantage over an opponent as any performance enhancing drug and which, to their shame, NFL officials turn the same blind eye they have to concussions and drugs.”

First, it is incredibly disingenuous to question the conduct of Seattle’s players in this game.  Seattle was on the receiving end of more than one 15-yard personal foul penalty committed by the 49ers.  But it gets worse. The loss was not a result of poor play on the part of their team.  Nope, it was the juiced on noise fans, the result of which was so detrimental to the 49ers that the noise was akin to a performance enhancing drug.  The Adderall issue again; never too tired to be framed as a shot, regardless of how weak the analogy.  Then there is the shame and duplicity of the NFL officials who, much to the annoyance of the authors, turned a blind eye to a rule (crowd noise) that is no longer enforced, just as they have similarly done with concussions and drugs.  Bad arguments are everywhere in print and in voice.  But this argument isn’t just bad, it’s desperate.  It groans under the strain of its own inability to lucidly connect any of the dots.  Allow me to help.

The 49ers lost because they played a bad game and Seattle played a better one.  It happens.  Seattle has played bad games (I still have road game nightmares that date back decades) but so does every fan base of every team in the NFL.  They played a bad game.  In interviews prior to the game 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick made it clear that last year’s loss in Seattle (a worse loss point-wise than this past Sunday by the way) was not due to the crowd noise.  He dismissed it.  The authors of the article picked it up, dusted it off, and employed it.  They employed an argument their own team had dismissed. Yes, and as I have covered, the crowd was loud–very loud–but no one from the stands was given a shot at playing starting running back that night.  No one from the club seats had a ticket that along with admission allowed them to call a play or take a turn at quarterback after Russell Wilson was tagged a few times.  The players played the game while the fans played a vital supporting role.

It’s worth pointing out too that typically a home crowd is loud when their defense is on the field.  This being the case, no explanation is offered by the authors about the other half of the equation.  If the crowd noise is to blame for San Francisco’s confused offense, how do the authors explain their defense?  In the past two games against the 49ers in Seattle the Seahawks have outscored the 49ers 71-16.  Their letter does not even attempt to justify or explain this. Instead the letter attacks the NFL for ignoring the news while comparing the issue to the very serious and often times tragic issue of concussed players.  That’s right, crowd noise is right up there with the terrible deaths of players like Dave Duerson and Junior Saeu, whose deaths were likely at least partially related to a career of being blasted in the head and body. The memories of those players (and all players who have suffered from concussion related health issues) deserve better than the rip current of this article.

The authors then spend a paragraph of cyber real-estate arguing that the solution is simple.  Crowds (comprised of individuals who spend thousands of dollars to watch their team play live) will be regulated by the noise police.  If they fail to keep things quiet enough, they forfeit home field play, including playoff games!  It’s another terrible argument and not worth hyper-analyzing. The NFL is–before everything–a well crafted business.  Business suicide could be realized by the NFL PIO announcing that moving forward, fans will only be allowed to make a certain amount of noise.  Perhaps the announcement could include the following: “Folks, we know that your money is what sustains this business, but please, go with a movie theater approach–just keep it down.  “Project Shhhhhh” is now in effect.  Rome would fall.

Their letter closes with:

“At a time when the world seems sour, sports give us a place of joy, community and hope, and to have it spoiled is a bigger loss than it seems on the surface.”

The “world” is sour?  Really?  And then the final dart that misses wide the point; sports is about joy and community, and hope and those awful people in Seattle just ruined it.  Not just ruined it, but created a loss bigger than it seems on the surface.  Again, I’d like to help.

NFL football is an amazing sport and product.  There is joy and community found in the NFL and in particular, at home games played before a national audience.  And that joy and community is realized by giving all a fan can give to support his/her team.  We buy the jerseys (and then buy them again when that players is traded or cut) and we buy the tickets, sometimes at a mind-numbing cost. We take our sons and daughters to their first games, and we introduce a friend or family member to amazing time found in attending a NFL game.  We buy the beer, and food, and pay for parking.  We lose sleep and voice and we know that each time we head out, nothing is promised. Sometimes we’ll win, and sometimes we’ll lose. But there we sit (and in many places, stand) giving our team our very best.  And part of that best is found in the advantage of volume.  Eight times per year (at the minimum) we get that chance.  The rest of the time we cheer from home and hope that our team can make it work out on the road.  And here is perhaps the biggest issue I have with the letter: Every team’s fans have the same opportunity and chance that we have in Seattle.  Not happy with how loud it is in Seattle, be louder in San Francisco.  Not happy with crowd noise in general, score some points and work to silence them.  This option is a lot more productive than sending in an angry letter that lacks a certain volume of its own.

The authors of the letter have a right to write in to the editor and the editor obviously has a right to print opinions that vary in stance.  In no way am I advocating limiting that.  I am also not at all in favor of those who wrote the article being harassed beyond anything that is good natured and free of threats.

The point of their letter escapes me except to say that we all lose, and how we handle losing matters.  That is why this article is not directed at a fan base but specifically at those who authored the letter.  Their way of dealing with loss is to blame people who did not actually play in the game.  I find that to be silly and wrongheaded but it’s their stance and their voice.  They are allowed that.  But it won’t change the fact that each time a visiting team arrives in Seattle, a great team, and loyal following will be waiting.  We won’t be quiet and we don’t expect anyone will be quiet for us.  That is how it works.  It’s just too bad that the authors of the letter entirely miss the point.

Be loud Seattle and Go ‘Hawks!

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.

Seahawks Cut Day 2013: Saying goodbye to Michael Robinson

Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com

Photo courtesy of Seahawks.com

Last night I found myself on the corner of FANatic and logical human. In that moment, and despite my internal GPS yelling “re-calculating”, my fandom got the best of me and I made a decision…head down emotion street.

Michael Robinson was my favorite.. A 12thMan favorite and probably the favorite of most of his teammates on this Seattle Seahawks team.

For those on social media last night that think I don’t understand the business of football you couldn’t be further from the truth. I understand the business of football very well. What I couldn’t get my arms around was Pete Carroll‘s apparent departure from the “best guy wins the position battle no matter what” deal. I find it hard to believe that Michael Robinson was not the best Fullback on this roster.

However, looking long-term I can’t escape the fact that the money saved by Michael Robinson leaving could help pay other players that are going to need big paychecks down the road. Guys like Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas come to mind.

Still, because I believe that Pete Carroll means what he says,  there has to be more to this decision than just money for other players later…Mike Rob must be hurt.

What made Michael Robinson unique was not just his pro bowl quality play on the field but his ability to bring us into the locker room like we’ve never been before.

I’ll admit I’m being selfish here and I’m okay with that.

That’s what got me. That’s what got me a tad emotional last night on Twitter and it’s what makes me sad today. That access is gone. Probably forever unless it’s produced professionally by the Seahawks media relations staff.  Even so, I would imagine it will never be quite as organic as when Michael Robinson walked around with his Real Rob report microphone.

Michael Robinson was more than the Seahawks fullback. He was more than just a replaceable leader on a football team. He was the perfect match for Pete Carroll’s new way of doing things and his walks around the locker room allowed us to see what Pete was building behind the scenes and be “All In”. It was amazing.

From John Moffitt’s hilarity to Marshawn Lynch‘s attempt to completely ignore the camera in seemingly every video, the team became more than just football players we cheer for on Sunday, they became actual people. It is because of that exposure I love the Seahawks even more today. Which for a fan of the team for over 30 years it’s crazy for me to say. I’m connected now on a different level.

So as a tribute to Michael Robinson I gathered some of my favorite youtube clips from his Real Rob report and as a Seahawks football player. I hope you guys enjoy.

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.

 

Richard Sherman is……

Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman (25) talks with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman (25) talks with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-23. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

For me, the thirst for Seahawks victories consumed most of my late teens and have continued into my late 30’s.

I’ll be completely honest here, I’m a football purist. I loved Coach Holmgren’s approach because I always felt the best way to win was to have a team that was assembled with a few things in mind.

1. Talent
2. Character (Not Characters)
3. Competitive fire to be great

Matt Hasselbeck, Bobby Engram, and Walter Jones-to name a few-embodied that image and came painfully close to what would have been the most satisfying Superbowl victory I could have ever dreamed.

But they failed, and with that failure the Holmgren era slowly eroded into oblivion and the Seahawks fell back to earth..hard.

I know, this is old news, but I need to you to understand the lens I see “the perfect team” through.

Enter Pete Carroll and his strong sense of “why” that permeates the Seahawks organization at every level. Compete, Compete, Compete is paramount, and this approach has done amazing things for this franchise.

Players on this current Seahawks roster meet or exceed two of my personal prerequisites for team success, but there’s a sticking point.

Character vs characters..

I will never judge anyone without walking in their shoes first. But unwillingness to pass personal judgement does not mean that I’m blind to the distractions that this recent Seahawks team is experiencing and the player that brings the most of that to the forefront is Richard Sherman.

From his alleged and overturned PED issue, to the embarrassing ratings grabbing interview Skip Bayless suckered him into on national TV, to the consistent over the top trash talk, like it or not, Sherman has become the face of the Seattle Seahawks.

The big market media wouldn’t have it any other way.

Funny thing is, I’m a HUGE fan of Sherman. His abilities on the football field are – in my opinion – unmatched in the NFL. His play alters the sleeping patterns of opposing coaching staffs and his physicality demoralizes the majority of receivers.

However, the Seahawks need a lot less Richard Sherman bloviating on NFL network and ESPN, and waaaay more Russell Wilson being well…Russell Wilsonish.

We have one of the best leaders in the NFL who could be one of the best QBs in time that -next to Sherman- is completely overshadowed outside of Seattle. I have a big problem with that and also know how lucky we are to have a talent like Sherman on the roster.. Conflict much?

So I’m curious to hear what you think…Vote, and then I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.

Seahawks Decide Against Bringing Thier Talents to Miami

Courtesy (AP)

Oh boy,

This game was a huge disappointment for Seattle. From defensive containment issues, to poor play calling on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball the result was hard to swallow.

This puts the playoffs into the dream category for Seattle, and puts tremendous pressure on the Pete Carroll regime to finish the season strong.

There’s a difference between flash and substance and the Seahawks have plenty of flash. It’s the substance that is keeping them from winning games they must win. The Seahawks need to find some middle ground in this area.

Russell Wilson: 21-27 yards, 2 TDs 125.9 Passer rating.

Wilson was everything for the Seahawks offense today. From his 21-27 224 yards, and 2 TDs, to his 38 clutch yards on the ground. The blame for this debacle can not be placed on Wilson at all. He was main reason game was close.

Seahawks offense: Points: 14 (Passing: 216 Rushing: 96) Lynch with only 46 yards.

The Seahawks game plan was abysmal.  The offensive line was man handled in the run game and the result was a total destruction of what the Seahawks were trying to do. The Dolphins were ready for the inside zone, play action, and crossing routes. Russell Wilson was  pretty much the lone bright spot today.

Note: I’m not ignoring the amazing Golden Tate catch.

Seahawks Defense: Allowed: 24 points, 435 Yards (Rushing: 189 Passing: 246)

The Seahawks did a good enough job for the majority of the game in every aspect. Time and time again the defensive line collapsed the pocket and forced quick throws by Ryan Tannehill. Reggie Bush (87 yards, 1 TD) was a minimal factor, but when they lost contain he burnt them badly including the crucial TD run. Something I talked about in my game preview.

However, later on in the game, the Seahawks looked worn down and continually went to a soft underneath zone. When pressure stopped getting close it allowed Tannehill to pick them apart. Very confusing game plan late to say the least. This was just another example of late game fizzles.

Special Teams:

Leon Washington‘s NFL record 8th kick return for a touchdown came at a great time. Credit to the kick return team for giving him a huge one-cut hole and nothing but green grass to the end zone. Jon Ryan was great again today and the punt and kick off teams came to play.

Coaching: 10 for 59 crucial yards.

Penalties, Penalties, and more penalties. These were killers for sure, but the biggest issue from a coaching standpoint was the refusal to utilize speed in the running game. The Dolphins are one of the better teams in the league at stopping inside runs yet the play calling stubbornly forced that very thing all day. Where was the creativity and adjustments after halftime? Why not try some outside zone with Leon Washington at least once? Why not give the Spread zone option more of a chance? We may never know.

From a defensive stand point, the decision to play soft underneath zones even when the pressure wasn’t getting home was baffling and I believe it cost Seattle the game in the end. Very disappointing loss in what is probably the nail in the Seahawks playoff coffin.

With remaining road games at Chicago and Toronto, the Seahawks will be kicking themselves for today’s debacle. Going two for two will be tough.

What are your thoughts on todays loss? Comment below and let’s discuss!

Quick thoughts after Seattle’s 28-7 Blowout of the Jets

(Courtesy AP)

Well that was fun wasn’t it?

This game further proved the point that the Jets are a mess as an organization, and the Seahawks are really good at home. Something everyone already knew.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has shown so much maturity in the last several weeks it is really astounding. From his savvy pocket manipulation-to his ability to maintain proper eye level as he escapes pressure-the growth is a great sign for this young Seattle Seahawks squad.

Golden Tate… This man is fun to watch when his head is on straight. It’s games like this you almost forget why people have complained about him. Playmaker is his role, and Sunday he filled it in stellar fashion despite the ugly throwing motion, and reckless ball carrying skills.

The Seahawks defense has also been a joy to watch but need this bye week to regroup. I think fatigue and K.J Wright’s injury has led to some run fit break downs and this break gives the team time to get refreshed for the playoff push. Yes, I said playoffs.

Bruce Irvin is proving to be really good at one thing, and that one thing is getting to the QB. Bruce Irvin’s 7 sacks places him atop the rookie pass rushing mountain top and is a testament to Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s ability to utilize Irvin in the right situations. Just imagine how good he’ll be when he learns how to play at the NFL level. Scary.

For the Jets, the writing is on the wall. They are not doing anything well on the offensive side of the ball and the blame is on a select few. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has installed a gimmick filled scheme and refuses to allow Mark Sanchez to play with a rhythm.

Tim Tebow should either start, play running back, or hold a clipboard. This QB swap approach is killing the Jets season by taking valuable practice time away from the Jets base offense.

Mark Sanchez is a rattled mess. Nothing he does looks purposeful of confident. This has permeated the entire offense. Time after time the Jets either failed at the QB position or the receivers failed the QB. Vicious cycle.

Going to be a long season for the Jets.

Stats that tell the tale:

Total Yards:
Seahawks: 355
Jets: 185
First downs:
Seahawks: 20
Jets: 11
3rd Down Conversions:
Seahawks: 5-14
Jets: 2-11
QB Comparison:
Russell Wilson: 11-17 177 yards, 2 TDs
Mark Sanchez: 9-22 124 yards, 1 INT
Turnovers:
Seahawks: 2
Jets: 3
Defensive Sacks:
Seahawks: 3
Jets: 4

Game balls:

Russell Wilson, Golden Tate, Richard Sherman, Alan Branch, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger and of course Bruce Irvin.

Enjoy the bye week everyone!

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.

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