Monday, December 31, 2007

CORRECTION: Redskins CBs

In a few earlier posts about the Skins, I referred to their strong threesome at CB, with Carlos Rogers, Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot. Turns out, I was fooled by the ESPN depth chart. Rogers is out for the year on injured reserve.

That means the Skins are leaning on Leigh Torrence in their nickel situation, and it's unclear who is in their dime.

That's good news for our 3rd and 4th WRs.

Hasselbeck chat transcript

Matt did a chat via his web site today. I was just reading to see what he said about his wrist, and it was not all that encouraging. He mentioned having trouble typing and that it was swollen and wrapped. He, of course, said he expects to be fine for the game.

You can read the whole thing here.

Initial observations about Redskins

There are few things I found after a cursory review of the Redskins game log:


In case you hadn't heard, this team is hot. In their last three games they are:
  • outscoring their opponents 27-12 (that is scoring 6 more pts than their reg season avg and allowing 7 less)
  • averaging 130 yards rushing (13 more than their reg season avg)
  • holding opponents to 2.84 YPC (nearly a full yard off their avg)
  • getting nearly a full yard more per pass attempt than their avg (7.38 vs. 6.60)
  • holding opponents to 175 yards passing/game (almost 40 yards below their avg)
  • allowing a microscopic 4.60 YPA (over a yard below their avg)
Wow. That is dominant. They are playing their best football of the season across nearly every aspect of their game.

I noticed one horrible game for Todd Collins when they played the Giants in Week 15. He 9-25 passing the ball. Aha! What did the Giants do to him? Lots of pass pressure, right? Nope, only two sacks. Turns out, there were terrible winds that day (have you heard how wind can effect a passing game recently?). No trail there to follow.

This team is coached by Joe Gibbs, and if you haven't heard, he likes to run the ball. In fact, the Skins are 5th in the NFL in rushing attempts, but near the bottom in YPC. What does that tell you? Gibbs will not be swayed from running the ball. I was struck by how many times they have run 30 or more times in a game (10). When they rush less than 30 times, their record is 2-4. By contrast, the Hawks have rushed more than 30 times in a game only six times this year, and they are 5-1 in those games. The only loss coming in this last game against the Falcons.

This commitment to the run has helped to keep most of their games close. Eleven of their games have been decided by less than 10 points. Only eight of the Hawks games fall in that category.

By far the biggest difference between their wins and their losses is their rushing yardage. There is a whopping 45 yard difference. The Hawks difference is around 20 yards. The Skins also average about 20 yards more rushing/game on the road. Odd. You might think they do this because Gibbs is more conservative on the road, rushing more often, but in fact, they rush fewer times on the road than at home.

Three of their past four opponents have attempted at least 40 passes in the game. The Redskins are 6-1 in games when their opponents pass 40 times or more. The Hawks are 2-4 when passing 40 times or more in a game this year. That will something to watch.

Being a running team, the Skins are 8-2 when scoring first. Hmm, but the Hawks are 7-2 when scoring first (their second loss coming in the final game). Getting on the board early will be key.

If this gets to be a shootout somehow (not likely), the Hawks have a huge advantage. The Skins have scored more than 23 pts only five times this year compared to 10 times for the Hawks. The Skins are 2-4 when allowing their opponent to score 20 or more pts, and the Hawks are 29-5 over the past three seasons when scoring 20 or more pts.

Time for lunch, more to come.

Final 2007 Power Rankings

The first season of Hawk Blogger power rankings come to a close with this week's installment. The Redskins have moved up 6 spots during their win streak. They went from being the equivalent to teams like Houston, Cincinnati and New Orleans to teams like Philly, NYG and Cleveland. Of course, if I were to compile these stats for the last 4 games of the season, they would likely rank at or very near the top.

The Hawks have remained in the 5-7 strength range for the last 6-8 weeks.

Five of the top six teams are the same as they were in week 3, with Philly being the lone loser. Nine of the top 10 are in the playoffs. Tennessee is the lowest ranked playoff team at 15.
















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
21.26
-1.98
2
Indianapolis
13.39
-0.96
3
Green Bay
10.21
-0.25
4
Pittsburgh
10.01
0.01
5
Dallas
9.96
-2.89
6
San Diego
8.2
0.06
7
Jacksonville
7.91
0.21
8
Seattle
6.69
-0.18
9
Tampa Bay
5.71
-1.10
10
Minnesota
5.43
-0.67
11
Philadelphia
3.19
1.72
12
Washington
2.48
2.45
13
NY Giants
1.4
1.08
14
Cleveland
1.4
-0.03
15
Tennessee
0.7
-0.13
16
Arizona
0.33
2.53
17
Houston
-0.58
0.44
18
Cincinnati
-0.69
0.82
19
New Orleans
-1.99
-0.48
20
Chicago
-2.91
1.86
21
Denver
-5.5
-0.74
22
Carolina
-5.69
0.58
23
NY Jets
-6.45
0.13
24
Detroit
-6.61
-1.29
25
Baltimore
-7.29
0.26
26
Buffalo
-7.29
0.05
27
Kansas City
-8.63
0.63
28
Oakland
-9.04
-0.59
29
San Francisco
-10.62
0.07
30
Atlanta
-10.65
1.88
31
St. Louis
-12.46
-0.65
32
Miami
-12.94
-0.96

Season logs for Skins and Hawks

I have completed my season stat sheets for the Skins and Hawks. A number of things jumped out at me that I will post about later. I wanted to provide the links so you can start drawing your own conclusions.

You can find the Redskins log here and the Seahawks log here.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Redskins it is

Glass half-full: We're going to get a stiff test to prepare us for a very tough second round matchup.

Glass half-empty: The only team with a good chance of winning in Seattle is coming to town.

I'll do lots of analysis on this game in the coming week, but the first things that come to mind are:

  • The Redskins believe they are on a mission from God after the Sean Taylor shooting. Juxtapose that with the Seahawks losing 2 of the past 3. Not good.
  • Every aspect of the Redskins team appears to be peaking. The passing game has faced some suspect secondaries the last few games. Washington does not give up a ton of sacks (11th in the NFL). Pressure may decide the game.
  • Chris Cooley scares me to death. He is exactly the type of player that give the Hawks fits.
  • This will be the best secondary we will have faced all year. It's a good thing we will have all of our weapons. If Hackett can bounce back, he may be a key player for us. They have the least amount of tape on him, and would likely want to bottle up Nate and his 9 TDs even though all of us that watch the team know that Hackett is a much bigger part of the offense than Nate.
  • Their good secondary means that our emerging running game could come in very handy. Wouldn't it be crazy if we become a running team in the playoffs?
More to come...

Quick observations, Seahawks lose 44-41



Losing this game is way more frustrating than I would have expected. The Hawks played their defensive starters almost the entire game and gave up 44 points to a pitiful offense. There was zero life in the Falcon players or crowd until the Seahawks gave them a reason to believe. We have gotten some swagger in our game during the 5-game win streak that now seems totally lost. That's not how you want to enter a playoff game against a hot team.

It was even more disheartening to learn that Matt Hasselbeck injured his throwing hand. Time will tell if the injury will play a role this week. You can never trust what Holmgren says about those things.

I take a very small amount of pleasure in having predicted the Hawks final record in my season preview. Although, as late as Wednesday, I had updated that prediction to 11-5, but why focus on the negative. :)

Some quick thoughts:
  • The running game was by far the best it has been all season, and not just from a stats perspective. The Hawks consistently ran inside and outside, in obvious run situations and with any back. They finished the game with a 5.4 YPC which is their first game over the 5 yard mark this season, and easily beat their best rushing mark established last week (167 vs 144). This was by far the most encouraging part of the game.
  • I'll have to check, but the 501 yards of offense may be a season high
  • The 9 penalties for 85 yards has got to be a season high, and shows the focus just was not there
  • DJ Hackett looked as bad as I've ever seen him. He dropped multiple passes and just seemed lost out there a bit
  • Nate's 9 TDs for the year almost completely replace D-Jacks 10 from the year before
  • Lofa played his worst game of the year. He was consistently out of position and not wrapping up. The most egregious error was on the 55-yard TD catch by Crumpler.
  • No pass rush again. Kerney has lost the sack lead with Jared Allen of KC having 2 so far, which gives him 15.5
  • Great game for Weaver. Almost 100 yards of total offense on 6 receptions and 8 rushes.
  • It looked like we went pretty vanilla on defense. People talk about coaches resting players before the playoffs, but they are even more likely to simplify their game plans to give their playoff opponents less to look at.
  • Ray Willis made an appearance and seemed to play okay.
  • Marcus Pollard showed some glimpses.
  • Bad game on kick coverage
  • Great game for Josh on FGs and on coverage
  • Plack took a step back on punting

Game Thread: Seahawks @ Falcons

I admit to not having scouted the Falcons at all. I know they gave the Cars a good game last week on the road and all that the national media coverage has told me (for what that's worth).

Basically, we're looking for a few simple things today:

- Stay healthy
- Play with aggression
- Try to keep the running game going
- Seneca's development
Is he any better than he was last season?

- Who mops up at the RB spot?
It used to be Mo, but he's kind of the starter now.

We've been told that this is a professional locker room with great leaders. I believe that. Winning a game like this would validate those beliefs a bit. Seahawks teams of the past would definitely lose this. My head is telling me we're going to lose, but I'm hoping for a solid victory leading us into the playoffs.

Red Zone Mystery

I was checking on some red zone stats during the pats game last night (because they've been near the bottom in red zone defense all year), and was surprised to see that there is only one likely playoff team in the top 10 in red zone defense this season (your very own Seattle Seahawks check in at #9).

I dropped our prodigal son Mike Sando a note asking him why he thought that might be because he made a very compelling case back in 2005 that red zone defense was a great predictor of Super Bowl success.

I hesitate to post his response because I don't want him to feel exploited for this blog and I don't know if ESPN would get mad if his commentary appeared outside their jurisdiction, but the gist was that a team with a great strength in one area can make up for deficiencies in others (e.g., the 2000 Ravens and 2007 Patriots). He also pointed out that the teams with the 26 best red-zone defense percentages since 2000 have won 25 playoff games while posting a 5-1 record in Super Bowls.

That's all great, but why are we seeing all the best teams grouped toward the bottom of red zone defense this year?

My short answer is that I believe this has been one of the strongest offensive seasons in the history of the NFL. People focus on the Pats, but look across the league.

It is striking to me that the best scoring defense in the NFL this year is allowing 16 pts/game (Tampa). Last year, two teams held opponents under 15, with the lowest being Baltimore at 12.6. 2005, Chicago led the league with…12.6. Ah, it looks like we had a similar year in 2004 where the lowest scoring defense still allowed 15.7. Hmm, what’s the same about 2004 and 2007? Manning and Brady sure had similar years. Would that have a league-wide effect? Unlikely.

My gut tells me there is a pattern there to be unearthed, but my brain tells me I've got to spend time on house chores.

Any theories are welcome.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Maybe Mike is right

I'm back in my recliner after a week of vacation in Cannon Beach, OR, and am struck by the meaning in this meaningless Giants/Pats game. Forget the undefeated thing. I'm not sure anyone could convince me that the way they are performing in this game won't have a positive effect on their first playoff game. Inversely, coming out and laying an egg would make it harder to come out with confidence against the Bucs next week.

Holmgren has been preaching this for the last few weeks, but I honestly haven't believed him until I watched this game. Ideally, the Hawks get a sizable early lead, and can let folks rest in the second half, but I'm now officially in the "let's play this like other games" camp. Well...mostly. :)

I decided to run a quick check on the record of recent NFC and AFC champs in the last game in the regular season. Here's what I found:

(SB Winner in Green)

2006 Colts (W) - Bears (L)
2005 Hawks (L) - Steelers (W)
2004 Patriots (W) - Eagles (L)
2003 Patriots (W) - Panthers (W)
2002 Raiders (W) - Buccaneers (W)

Overall: 7-3
SB Winners: 5-0

I wouldn't expect a coach to build their strategy around that stat, but it's striking nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NFC Stock Market Week 16

I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC each week and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Neutral
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 11-5

The Hawks flipped predicted losses @Philly and at home against the Ravens. I expect a win this week, regardless of who plays. I can't say I really care if they lose, though. Balancing those with their unexpected losses at Arizona and Cleveland, brings us to 11-5.

NFC Top 5
  1. Green Bay Packers (Neutral): Did you see the conditions in Chicago? It was snowing sideways. Their punter had more to do with that loss than anyone else. Still, not a great showing.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): Blah dee blah dee blah. Whatever. Can we start the playoffs yet?
  3. Seattle Seahawks (Neutral): Decent bounce-back against a crappy opponent at home.
  4. Tampa Bay (Rising): Sleeper. I would pick them to beat the Cowboys if the game was this week. Garcia won't make a lot of mistakes, and their defense could force Romo to make some. I heard rumors they were testing out Jessica Simpson body suits.
  5. Washington Redskins (Rising): Props to the Skins. That was a pretty dominating win on the road. They believe they are on a mission from God. If they do have a line into the Big One, Seahawks fans surely have a few questions and requests.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Power Rankings Week 16

Minnesota takes a dive. Seattle seems to have settled into a third tier of teams (fourth if you consider the Pats on a tier by themselves).

If you'd like to play with the source spreadsheet yourself, it's stored here.

















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
23.24
0.89
2
Indianapolis
14.35
0.10
3
Dallas
12.85
0.21
4
Green Bay
10.46
-1.10
5
Pittsburgh
10
-0.25
6
San Diego
8.14
1.12
7
Jacksonville
7.7
1.00
8
Seattle
6.87
0.73
9
Tampa Bay
6.81
-0.34
10
Minnesota
6.1
-1.15
11
Philadelphia
1.47
-0.09
12
Cleveland
1.43
0.36
13
Tennessee
0.83
1.03
14
NY Giants
0.32
0.26
15
Washington
0.03
0.10
16
Houston
-1.02
-1.19
17
Cincinnati
-1.51
0.85
18
New Orleans
-1.51
-1.31
19
Arizona
-2.2
-0.28
20
Denver
-4.76
0.16
21
Chicago
-4.77
1.09
22
Detroit
-5.32
0.66
23
Carolina
-6.27
0.28
24
NY Jets
-6.58
1.00
25
Buffalo
-7.34
-1.34
26
Baltimore
-7.55
-0.24
27
Oakland
-8.45
-2.20
28
Kansas City
-9.26
-0.16
29
San Francisco
-10.69
0.26
30
St. Louis
-11.81
-1.45
31
Miami
-11.98
-0.24
32
Atlanta
-12.53
-0.17

Monday, December 24, 2007

PLAYOFFS: Might be more like 2005 than we thought

As you're likely aware by now, the Seahawks current first-round opponent changed to the Washington Redskins yesterday when they beat the Vikings.

My first thought, was "hooray!" I thought Minnesota was among the hottest teams in football, and could bring two things that travel well into Qwest, a good defense and a good running game.

After spending some time this morning looking more closely at the Redskins, I'm not so sure we're getting the best outcome. For all the significant strengths the Vikings have, they have some clear weaknesses. Namely, their QB is bad and their passing defense is weak.

The Redskins have no clear strength on offense, but are strong all around on defense. They might have the strongest threesome at CB with Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, and Fred Smoot. For obvious reasons, I was getting comfortable with the idea of having one of the league's worst passing defenses (Minnesota) come to face our offense. The Redskins will make it much tougher.

Looking back at our 2005 playoff run, you could argue that our toughest game (including the Super Bowl) was against the Redskins.

If I could choose, I would still love to see the Saints come to town again. That's pretty unlikely at this point.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

DIVISION NEWS: Patrick Willis is a monster

Odd game in SF today where the 49ers surprisingly beat the Bucs. Bryant Young played his last game in SF before he retires. Jon Gruden rested his starters in the second half, even though they had a chance to push the Hawks into the final week for the #3 seed. He said it was about injury concern, but you have to wonder if he wants Dallas in the second round. Lots of old Hawks making plays with D-Jack scoring and Jerramy Stevens scoring a couple.

Most striking (pun intended) to me was Patrick Willis' line: 20 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 FF

The guy is already leading the NFL in tackles in his rookie year. I'm pretty sure we've got a young Ray Lewis in our division now. Not good.

On further review: Ravens @ Seahawks

Not a ton more to add:

  • Womack did play very well on both run blocking and pass blocking situations
  • For all my complaining, Chris Gray had a couple big blocks today
  • Weaver had a nice day blocking, running on short yardage and catching
  • The Hawks are getting on a nice roll against the run, allowing just 3.37 YPC in the last 3 games
  • That was probably better than a middling performance. The first half was solid.
  • Troy Smith was impressive. He can throw it with zip and with some accuracy, and can run when needed. He's better than I expected him to be.

Quick observations, Seahawks win 27-6

Just stealing a moment during bath duty to write down a few thoughts. Overall, a middling performance against a critically flawed team at home. Baltimore did not have a clue what they wanted to do on offense, but I give the Hawks credit for taking away their running game and forcing them into that state a bit.

  • Mo Morris gets the start. Shaun was introduced to the crowd, but Mo started. It did not seem to make much of a difference as the team started slow again on offense, but it's good to see Holmgren will make the move if he thinks the team has a better chance to win.
  • Probably just a coincidence that Shaun had his best game in a long time, but still worth noting.
  • I'll need to watch the game on tape, but it sure seemed like Womack was on the field for nearly every big run. His playing team appeared drastically increased this week. I have a really hard time believing we could go downhill from Sims or Gray at this point. I believe Sims got beat again on the early 3rd & 1 where Mo lost yardage.
  • Much of the running success came inside the guards. I have not seen the Hawks run there much this year. They are more of an off-tackle and stretch team. Wouldn't it be ironic if we turn out to be a better North-South running team?
  • Most rushing yards in a game all year. Not only that, but this was a much more even rushing performance than our 135 against the Eagles where we got 45 yards on Mo's one run. The Hawks have a chance to go into the playoffs more confident in their running game as they face the 27th-ranked run defense next week.
  • Matt made some uncharacteristically poor decisions today. We should have had more points than we ended up with.
  • The weather was pretty miserable. I'd bet players were wishing it was just windy like last week.
  • Nate Burleson has quietly almost single-handedly replaced D-Jack's 10 TD receptions last year with 7.
  • Nice game for Julian Peterson today, and it's about time. He's been mostly absent for the last 5-7 games.
  • There were a few Baraka Atkins sightings today as well. I don't know if he's not been getting snaps or just hasn't been noticeable, but I definitely saw him collapse the pockets a few times today.
  • I think we're officially over the punting and placekicking nightmare, and not a moment too soon.
  • We move to 10-2 this season and 29-4 in the last three when scoring 20 or more points. We're 9-1 when we score more than 20.
  • That 80 yard TD the Ravens scored sucked. I think that pretty much kills our shot at a top 10 defense this year.
More later.

Game Thread: Ravens @ Seahawks

It looks like anyone covering the Seahawks this week is required to write about how this team is weaker than you might think and that our running game is weak. Let me also inform you that Paul Allen is rich, we're hurting from the loss of Steve Hutchinson, and that injuries can effect your team's performance.

At the risk of repeating myself as well, the Hawks are now 9-2 when scoring 20 or more points this year (28-4 over the last three seasons), and 0-3 when scoring less than 20 (3-11 over the last three seasons).

You can look for more details here:


That's pretty decisive. It cuts through home and away, with Hutch and without, with a pass rush and without. I'll have to do some more digging to see what the patterns are that lead to us scoring less/more than 20 points.

I continue to think that we are a very good team when we cut loose with the passing game. Despite the perception, that simply has not been the case for the past few games. In fact, we are almost 20 yards *under* our season avg in passing yards the last three games, and have had a YPA under 6 in three of the past four. A ton of that has to do with play calling. Holmgren has absolutely returned to his old form. His commitment to this new style is *WAY* more influential on our season that Shaun and the running game.

I expect to see us win today, but if the Ravens are still in the game after the first half, this could be a much tougher contest. Expect a lot of running game from them. It won't be entirely unlike facing the Vikings (crappy young QB, good RB, good defense). Okay, so it won't be anything like that with their defensive injuries, but you get the point.

Enjoy, folks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

TEST: Playing with Google Spreadsheets

I want to see if I can start embedding my power rankings spreadsheet and other stuff in my posts.

Let's try it out:

Lewis likely out for Sunday

This is the worst kind of new regurgitation, but in case you didn't see, the Ravens likely won't have Ray Lewis on Sunday. If nothing else, I hope that reduces our chances of a injury on offense.

Can we please just roll these guys? I don't want to spend another week hearing from the "glass half-empty brigade."

Lazy week

I haven't spent a second looking at our opponent this week. I admit to being a little enamored with my Blazers 9-game winning streak.

As Mike pointed out, we're facing another rookie QB this week, and another weak offense/strong defense.

Losing this week would take a lot of the luster off of the 5-game win streak.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NFC Stock Market Week 15

I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC each week and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Falling
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 11-5

I switched my predictions for the Carolina and Baltimore game last week, but was wrong about Carolina. I still think we win this week, but Atlanta is a bit of a toss-up since we don't know who will be playing. I think we can win that game even with Seneca at the helm, but who knows. Balancing those with their unexpected losses at Arizona and Cleveland, brings us to 11-5. Championship teams don't lose games they should win, even when they lose focus. I still, however, believe Seattle has the same high ceiling they did before that game.

NFC Top 5
  1. Green Bay Packers (Rising): For the first time since week 1, there is a new top dog in my stock market. The Packers are now looking like the most complete team in the NFC with the running game taking off. Watch out for Favre in the playoffs.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (Falling): Some injuries here, and loss of focus. I've never thought this team was mentally strong, and we could see some cracks if things continue to go less than great.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (Falling): This team can still make it to the Super Bowl. Just a disappointing week.
  4. Minnesota Vikings (Neutral): Apologies to the Bucs, but there may not be a more worrisome team in the NFC than the Vikings.
  5. Tampa Bay (Rising): Nice win this week. They could surprise someone in the playoffs in the second round, especially the numskull Cowboys.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Power Rankings Week 15

Hawks slide, San Diego and Tampa rise. Congrats to the Fins on getting out of the basement.

















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
22.35
-0.80
2
Indianapolis
14.25
-0.31
3
Dallas
12.64
-1.31
4
Green Bay
11.56
0.39
5
Pittsburgh
10.25
-1.69
6
Minnesota
7.25
0.13
7
Tampa Bay
7.15
2.04
8
San Diego
7.02
2.31
9
Jacksonville
6.7
-0.03
10
Seattle
6.14
-0.70
11
Philadelphia
1.56
0.33
12
Cleveland
1.07
0.82
13
Houston
0.17
1.63
14
NY Giants
0.06
-1.37
15
Washington
-0.07
1.08
16
New Orleans
-0.2
0.51
17
Tennessee
-0.2
0.75
18
Arizona
-1.92
-0.38
19
Cincinnati
-2.36
-0.21
20
Denver
-4.92
-1.21
21
Chicago
-5.86
-0.46
22
Detroit
-5.98
-2.76
23
Buffalo
-6
-0.40
24
Oakland
-6.25
-0.39
25
Carolina
-6.55
0.63
26
Baltimore
-7.31
0.23
27
NY Jets
-7.58
-0.21
28
Kansas City
-9.1
-0.14
29
St. Louis
-10.36
-0.48
30
San Francisco
-10.95
1.25
31
Miami
-11.74
1.24
32
Atlanta
-12.36
-1.66

Reality check: "Pass first" lasted for two games

I have not had time to sit down and do all the proper analysis, but as I've mentioned before, this switch to a pass-first offense is being oversold. The only two games where we saw a distinct change in how the Hawks started the game on offense were against the 49ers and Bears at home. Our pass-run mix was massively skewed to start those games (on the order of 10 passes to 1 run), and then balanced out after we got the lead and started running the clock.

It looked like we were going to start that way again in St. Louis, but Matt got sacked multiple times to start that game, and we became more conservative.

This last week was a great example of how media and fans can be sheep. Despite the fact that we ended the game with a large disparity in passes (41) vs. runs (14), we certainly did not "pass-first." I was pleading to start slinging the rock during the game, as we opened with 9 runs and 11 passes. It was not until we ditched the run that we started moving the ball.

Holmgren can match his genius with his stupidity if he does not open the offense back up when we get to the playoffs. Getting Hackett back soon will be a lift for sure.

The other myth is that "pass-first" has led to us not running as much or as well. In fact, we've run the ball better when we made this switch. Our top three games in terms of YPC came during our 5-game win streak. I did more analysis of the positive side effects of this switch back in November.

The problem comes when we start the game trying to mix the run and pass. Ditch that, and we're back on track.

Monday, December 17, 2007

MNF: Rock star at QB?


Since when is Dave Grohl, lead singer of the Foo Fighters, QBing for the Bears?

Bandwagon media

The only thing worse than bandwagon fans are bandwagon media members. Art Thiel wrote another in his series of reactionary, cookie-cutter columns today about the Hawks' loss yesterday.

Perhaps my expectations of wisdom and insight from those paid to cover my favorite team are unfair. Mike Sando certainly set the bar high, as did John Clayton before him. These folks have total access to the team, and columnists have more time to spend researching their stories then the beat writers do.

Did the game yesterday suck? Yep. Do championship teams lose focus and lose games like that? Not usually. Teams like the Colts and Patriots would get a scare, but come out with a win.

That game was not indicative of what this team has been for the past couple of months. As poorly as we played, there was little doubt that our best effort would have won. I didn't see anything in that game that changed my perception of our team. Our weaknesses have been clear for a while now.

Continuing to point them out so that you look omniscient when they show up is just a veiled attempt to look like an insider instead of actually earning the moniker.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Observation from today, Seahawks lose 13-10

No need to over analyze this one. It was a stinker, plain and simple. The best part may be that I no longer feel compelled to do an in-depth comparison of the 2005 Hawks and this version. So, here we sit at 9-5, guaranteed of finishing no better than a third seed and no worse than a fourth. The lower seed will have the easier road this year, but if we lose enough to get us to that point, it may not matter. I admit to splitting my attention between the game and the TNT Lord of the Rings marathon, so take my observations with a grain of salt:

  • Congrats to Bobby E on 1000 yards this year. Good for him
  • This game was on the offense and on our lack of pass pressure
  • I can't remember the last time our leading rusher had under 20 yards rushing
  • The defensive gameplan was conservative, and the Panthers were bad enough that they still only scored a few points. I think we would have seen a much more rattled QB if we brought the pressure early and often.
  • No turnovers today on defense
  • That lapse on third down that led to a Panthers TD instead of a FG turned out to be a big deal. There is no guarantee we score the TD if they had gotten the FG, but you never know.
  • Plackemeier had his best day punting in quite some time (yes, it was that kind of game that gets those kind of observations)
  • I think Chris Gray and Rob Sims are killing us. Womack should be a starter at this point for one of them.
That's really all I've got. Time to go forget this game happened.

Game Thread: Seahawks @ Panthers

If the Hawks attitude about this game resembles mine in any way, this could be a tougher game than you'd think. There is a palpable feeling this week among the fans and media that the Hawks have reached a new tier of strength and consistency. Lots of praise is being showered on them. When you've had three emotional wins in a row, culminating in a division championship, and then you head out on the road for a game against a weak opponent, you had better watch out.

Even with that setup, the Hawks should roll today. A big part of their win streak has been their ability to play at a consistently high level the last few weeks. Perhaps, more importantly, Carolina looks to be a doormat.

A few items I'll be watching for to see if Holmgren is gearing up for the playoffs:

- Leonard Weaver
I think this this guy has untapped potential. I'd like to see Holmgren try some different things with him today to see if we can pull him out of a hat come playoff time.

- Marcus Pollard
Same thing here. I'd expect the Hawks to sacrifice a little bit of their normal game plan to see if they can force Pollard into a rhythm.

- Pressure from Non-Kerney's
It's time for the LeRoy Hill's, Darryl Tapp's and Julian Peterson's to make other teams pay for double-teaming Kerney.

- #94 DT Howard Green
He played a fair amount last week. It will be interesting to see if that's a new member of the rotation.

- Kelly Jennings breakout game
It's coming. I'm going out on a limb and predicting a pick-6 for this guy. His breaks on the ball have been outstanding.

- Bobby getting to 1000 yards
He needs ~70 (too lazy to look up specifics) yard to get his first 1000-yard season. That would be nice to see.

- Shaun 100th TD
He's one away.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The real difference between this year and 2005



Lots and lots of talk about whether this year's Hawks team is comparable to our 2005 Super Bowl team. I may spend some time doing an in-depth comparison later, but I just had to share my opinion here.

By far the biggest difference between this team and that one is the playoff seeding. We may actually be a better overall team this season, but will likely have to win three playoff games instead of two and two road games instead of zero to reach the big dance.

It's going to take a better team to walk a clearly tougher road.

PLAYOFFS: A look at Minnesota's pass defense

Players on sports teams need to take it "one game at a time." Fans, on the other hand, have no such limitation. I find myself thinking much more about the likely Minnesota game in our playoff future than this weekend's matchup with Carolina.

I consider the Vikings to be a bit of a nightmare draw. They are hot. They can run. They can defend the run. They can pressure the passer. Those things all play well on the road where crowd noise has less of an effect than it does on a passing attack. Even if they are hot, no team is 7-6 without some real flaws. Thankfully, for the pass-happy Hawks, pass defense appears to be one of them.

  • Minnesota allows an average of 273 yards passing/game (dead last in the NFL)
  • QBs are completing 63.6% of their passes (25th in the NFL)
  • They have yielded a QB rating of 84.0 (17th in the NFL)
  • In two games against GB--a comparable offense to the Hawks--Minnesota has given up an average of 353 yards passing/game, 2.5 TD passes/game, zero INTs and 28.5 pts
They have extremely young CBs. Other than veteran Antoine Winfield, no CB on the roster has been in the NFL more than 2 years. They have solid vets at the safety positions in Dwight Smith and Darren Sharper, but their weakness seems to match up nicely with our strength.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sando Alert: More national coverage for the Hawks

Our old pal (and first person to post a comment on HawkBlogger), wrote a great article on the Hawks for ESPN.

As usual, he managed to tell me something about the Seahawks I didn't know (Walter Jones can't take pain meds). He also made some observations that were spot on. In particular, this bit about Kerney:

Up front, Kerney's addition has dramatically altered the line, particularly now that he isn't rushing from the inside on passing downs.
I had not noticed that they were not sliding him inside anymore. I do remember a comment from one of the coaches about learning how to use him better. This is likely another factor in his late-season rampage.

New Look

I did some remodeling. It's definitely flashier, but I think it's a little harder to read. Let me know what you think. I've got the old template saved if ya'll hate it.

PLAYOFF NEWS: Bulger should play against Packers

Not that any QB has made a big difference for that team this year, but maybe now the Rams have a 5% chance of beating the Packers this weekend.

Story is here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Panthers & Seahawks Recent Performance

I mentioned that the Panthers have been really struggling on offense and defense in the last few games. I was curious how much of a disparity in the numbers between the Hawks and the Panthers. Here's what I found over the last seven games for each team:
































Carolina PanthersSeattle Seahawks
PTS/Game For
12.43
30.14
Top Passer
138.43
269.29
Top Rusher
60.14
65.43
PTS/Game Against
26.29
18


Clearly, nobody should be expecting a running showcase. As bad as that 12 pts/game is for the Panthers, it's inflated by a 31 pt game against the 49ers. They have not scored more than 17 in any of the other six games. The Hawks, on the other hand, have not scored under 24 points in any of the last seven games. They are now 16-4 over the past two seasons when scoring 20 points or more, and 9-1 when they score more than 20 pts this year.

That top passer stat is nuts for the Panthers. What will they do against one of the hottest pass rushes and secondaries in the NFL this week?

NFC Stock Market Week 14

I will take a look at what happened for the Seahawks and the NFC each week and update my predicted record for the Hawks and the Top 5 teams in the NFC. I will try to do this each Wednesday.

Seahawks Stock: Rising
Pre-season Predicted Record: 10-6
Current Predicted Record: 12-4

In my predictions, I had them losing @ Carolina and @ Philly and at home against Baltimore. I see them winning all of those games now. Balancing those with their unexpected losses at Arizona and Cleveland (at least unexpected in my preview), brings us to 12-4. It won't mean a whole lot if the Hawks go 11-5 or 12-4. I am upping my prediction largely based looking more closely at Carolina. I didn't realize how far they had fallen.

NFC Top 5
  1. Dallas Cowboys (Neutral): Like I said last week, they'll have trouble in close games...oops. Don't mistake this team for the Patriots, though.
  2. Green Bay Packers (Rising): Wow. They rolled the Raiders. Their running game is becoming a real weapon.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (Rising): The Hawks can play with anyone at this point. Look out for when they get DJ Hackett back. I've also started to see some better run blocking in recent weeks. If that starts to gel, we should be good to go.
  4. Minnesota Vikings (Rising): Apologies to the Bucs, but there may not be a more worrisome team in the NFC than the Vikings.
  5. Tampa Bay (Falling): A solid, but not spectacular team.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seahawks are getting popular nationally

It's time to start worrying. The Hawks are getting national respect after their most recent win. Everywhere I look, people are jumping them up in their power rankings and talking about them as a sheik NFC playoff sleeper.

There's quite a backlash on the ESPN Hashmarks Power Rankings.

But, what got me to write a post was when I saw Bill Parcels talking about us:



All Hawks fans get uncomfortable when we start getting this much attention. How can we complain about a lack of respect from the national media?

Logic prevails: long snapper has a short tenure

Thanks to cwu91 for calling my attention to the story of our crappy long snapper getting the axe. Let's hope this leads to a more stable situation on special teams.

I still believe Plackemeier takes too long to kick the ball, regardless of who the snapper is. The same way baseball coaches time a pitcher's time to the plate, I'd love to be able to compare his time to release a kick versus other punter's.

One thing I will say is that a good snapper can make a significant difference in the kicking game. I remember years ago when we added JP Darche--the best long snapper in Seahawks history (apologies to Trey Junkin fans)--that Feagles punts suddenly got longer and more accurate. It was overnight, and he credited the snaps.

Even More Seahawks Podcasts

I mentioned the Seahawks.com podcast earlier, but was thrilled to find even more podcast content for my commute over at KJR's website.

If you are a Mitch in the Morning fan, his podcast (including Seahawks Roundtable) can subscribed to via this URL: http://www.kjram.com/podcast/mitchinthemorning.xml

Again, you need to copy that into your podcast software as described in that post referenced above.

Softy's stuff can be found here: http://www.kjram.com/podcast/softy.xml

Groz's stuff (including Hardcore Football with Hugh Millen) can be found here: http://www.kjram.com/podcast/groz.xml

Enjoy.

Power Rankings Week 14

The Hawks continue to improve their team strength, but Minnesota is improving even more rapidly, increasing the distance between them and the Hawks. The points for and against are better for the Hawks, but the Vikings advantage in YPC (5.5 vs 3.6) and YPC against (3.0 vs. 4.0) is the difference. Who knows how much a good run defense matters against the Hawks anyway? We can run for 70 total rushing yards against anyone.

How are these rankings calculated? Read this
















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change
1
New England
23.15
-0.32
2
Indianapolis
14.56
1.06
3
Dallas
13.95
-1.13
4
Pittsburgh
11.94
-2.95
5
Green Bay
11.17
2.21
6
Minnesota
7.12
1.37
7
Seattle
6.84
1.11
8
Jacksonville
6.73
2.70
9
Tampa Bay
5.11
-1.32
10
San Diego
4.71
0.23
11
NY Giants
1.43
0.14
12
Philadelphia
1.23
-0.48
13
Cleveland
0.25
0.53
14
New Orleans
-0.71
2.16
15
Tennessee
-0.95
-0.53
16
Washington
-1.15
1.03
17
Houston
-1.46
1.04
18
Arizona
-1.54
-1.80
19
Cincinnati
-2.15
1.00
20
Detroit
-3.22
0.11
21
Denver
-3.71
3.84
22
Chicago
-5.4
-0.38
23
Buffalo
-5.6
2.56
24
Oakland
-5.86
-2.49
25
Carolina
-7.18
-2.49
26
NY Jets
-7.37
0.24
27
Baltimore
-7.54
-1.91
28
Kansas City
-8.96
-2.67
29
St. Louis
-9.88
-0.23
30
Atlanta
-10.7
-0.99
31
San Francisco
-12.2
-0.72
32
Miami
-12.98
-0.88

Don't sleep on the Saints

I was shocked to see that the Saints have the best conference record of any team in the NFC that is 7-6 or 6-7. I believe that would be one of the first tie-breakers for the playoffs. They have a difficult remaining schedule, hosting the Cardinals and Eagles before finishing @ Bears, but so do the Vikings with Bears and Redskins at home before finishing @ Broncos.

Wouldn't it be nice to get another shot at the Saints instead of playing Hutch and his maulers?

Monday, December 10, 2007

DRAFT TANGENT: Too good to be true

I've been talking draft with some friends the past couple weeks regarding the Hawks. We all agree that we need some o-line help, defensive tackle, and my current favorite, running back. (Although punter is rapidly going up the charts)

My dream would be for a back like Jonathan Stewart or Darren McFadden to find his way onto our roster. My mostly uneducated guess is that these guys are early 1st rounders and would require us making a major trade to land them. I, for one, am in favor of such a dramatic move based on what I've seen at the RB and o-line position this year, and where we are in our "championship window."

While trolling the web for Hawks news just now, I came across this ESPN Mock Draft (requires insider subscription) that predicts this for the Hawks:

24. Seattle Seahawks

Current record: 8-4
Scouts Inc.'s three biggest needs: OL, S, TE
Projected pick: Jonathan Stewart*, RB, Oregon
The Seahawks have some tough questions to ponder at the running back position in the upcoming offseason. Will Shaun Alexander return to form? Can Maurice Morris be the full-time load-carrier if not? Stewart has yet to indicate his intentions but it wouldn't be a bit surprising if he followed QB Dennis Dixon out of Eugene. Stewart has the versatility, power and burst to thrive in coach Mike Holmgren's system.


Can I get an "amen?" How sweet would that be? He can catch, run inside, run outside and just plain run away from people. Not to mention the hometown ties.

My heart says "yes!" but my head says the guy is nuts. Stewart is probably a Top 15 pick after the combine. Even so, it's fun to dream.

ADDENDUM:
I forwarded this post to one of my friends that is a die-hard Duck fanatic. Here's his take:

Your Seahawks can't have Stewart....yet! I need him for one more year! No word out of Eugene yet. I've heard he's leaving, staying etc... He has the opportunity to be the best back in Oregon history if he stays. His career has been great but he has underachieved a little bit with the injuries so it would be great to have him for one more year. I've heard that he really is a down-home kid that promised his mom a degree and really isn't caught up in a lot of the hype and other things that I young prospect gets caught up in.

On the flip side I look at him and say how can't he go. He has battled injuries throughout his career but has been fortunate enough not to blow a knee or have a severe injury that could threaten him long-term. This guy will be a combine king, so if he does come out expect his draft status to rise after his performance in the combines.

I just hope he stays, if we can have Jonathan Stewart and a healthy Jeremiah Johnson in the backfield next year it will help cope with the loss of Dennis "heisman" Dixon. By the way it was an insult that Dixon didn't even get invited to New York for the Heisman. East Coast Bias sons of b*tches.
You have to give it to those Ducks fans. They're nothing if not classy. :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On Further Review: Cardinals @ Seahawks

I watched the game on DVR, and here are some more thoughts:

- Shaun deserves a ton of credit for that 4th down run. The fullback went the other direction, and there was nothing there. Shaun saw the opening and made the play on his own. That's what makes him special.

- Red zone update: Cards were 3 for 3 scoring TDs in the red zone. The Hawks were 3 for 5. Not a great day for red zone defense.

- Kerney is a complete player. He made a number of great plays against the run. It's easy to lose track of that with the flurry of sacks.

- Does anyone miss D-Jack? I certainly don't. Seeing those amazing catches again just made me think about Seahawks past with those brutal, momentum-killing drops. You know how they talk about 4 pt swings in basketball when one team misses an opportunity on offense and the other team makes a play? I wonder if you could quantify the difference between a team that drops catchable balls and one that turns likely incompletions into catches.

- Did you see Chop running down the field on that Weaver screen? Wow. He looks in better shape than I've ever seen him. That guy could make a difference this season.

- Mebane's gotta work on the sack dance. What was that?

- I'm really eager to see us get Hackett back. He really brings a unique dimension to the offense.

- Kearney's new nickname (on this blog, at least) is Drago

















- That PI on Tru was horseshit. It was crap when I saw it live, and it was even worse when seeing it on tape.

- Hugh Millen made a great point about Tru's big INT after the onside kick. The play the Cards ran was designed to have Edgerrin James out in the flat. They decided to leave him in to help Levi Brown block Drago, and that allowed Trufant to play a deep zone because he didn't have to honor the pass in the flat. Really interesting to the see the chain of events that led up to that huge play.
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