Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Power Rankings Week 4

The Hawks actually move backwards three spots this week despite many games going in our direction. It is hard to argue that the Hawks are going across the country to face the best team in the NFL this week. Yikes. They will, however, bring the now second-ranked rushing offense in the NFL along for the ride. That Giants defense is seriously tough. They rank in the top 10 in both opponent passing yards and opponent rushing yards, while leading the league in sacks. More on that whole mess later...

I told ya'll not to sleep on the Titans. That's what statistically-based power rankings can do, find that diamond in the rough. That Titans defense is for real. Arizona and Atlanta took serious tumbles. We will see fewer large swings as the season wears on.

Explanation of ranking formula
















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change From Last Week
1
NY Giants
16
0.00
2
Tennessee
14.9
-1.50
3
Buffalo
12.4
0.70
4
Philadelphia
10.5
-4.10
5
Dallas
10
-4.60
6
Baltimore
9.1
-5.70
7
San Diego
8.5
1.00
8
Pittsburgh
6.8
-0.90
9
Tampa Bay
5.4
1.30
10
Chicago
4.3
-0.60
11
Carolina
3.5
5.60
12
Denver
3.4
-6.30
13
New Orleans
2.9
4.40
14
Atlanta
2.6
-7.90
15
Green Bay
1.9
-3.90
16
San Francisco
1.9
-6.20
17
Washington
1.9
0.50
18
Arizona
1.2
-7.90
19
NY Jets
0.2
6.80
20
Miami
-1.2
0.00
21
Minnesota
-1.8
-2.70
22
Seattle
-1.8
0.00
23
Jacksonville
-2.4
2.50
24
Oakland
-5.5
-1.40
25
New England
-5.9
0.00
26
Indianapolis
-6.5
0.00
27
Cincinnati
-10
0.60
28
Kansas City
-10.8
8.30
29
Cleveland
-11.4
6.70
30
Houston
-16
5.70
31
Detroit
-22.1
0.10
32
St. Louis
-29.7
5.10

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Investigation: Holding Opponents Under 20 Pts

A funny thing happened when I started examining our defensive performance on the road the past four seasons. I had this hypothesis that the Hawks had rarely held opponents under 20 pts on the road, so I started a little spreadsheet to log every game in the last four seasons that the Hawks held an opponent under 20 pts. What I found surprised me.

Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Hawks have held 27 opponents under 20 pts (home or away), not including the playoffs. That means we've held 42% of our opponents under 20. The Seahawks are 26-1 in those games. That surprised me. Holding opponents under 20 doesn't seem like that great of a feat, at least not to the point that it would result in such domination.

The only loss in the last four seasons when holding a team under 20 was a 13-10 loss on the road in Carolina last season. None of this is what I set out to investigate, but I certainly will look into this more at another time.

What I did want to know is how often our defense came through on the road. The game @ SF last year was such a vivid memory because I couldn't remember the last time our defense played with such swagger away from Qwest Field. Of those 27 games with opponents under 20, only 9 have come on the road, or 33%. We've held opponents under 15 pts seven times away from home. So if we're going to hold a team under 20, it's usually way under 20 because 78% of the time we've held someone under 20, we've held them under 15.

How many of those strong road defensive performances came in the dreaded Eastern Time Zone? Four. That means nearly half have happened in our most challenging time zone. I would like to spend some time finding out if there is anything that makes these types of performances more or less likely, but on first glance, the quality of opponent is the primary factor. I can't find a decent team in the lot. I might take a look again just to see what our quality road wins have been, regardless of score.

I've included my spreadsheet about the defensive scores below if you'd like to take a look. The Giants don't seem likely to get added to that list, but we can hope.


The Stage Is Set

Cardinals lose. 49ers lose. Burress out. Aaron Rodgers possibly out a few weeks with a separated shoulder.

Anyone that would say the Hawks should win next week is ignoring a lot of history, including recent history. If they can find a way to pull of that upset...man, we'd be setup nicely to take back our rightful place atop the division.

I almost feel like the opening day again. I barely know what to expect from a team that will look unlike any other we have put out there. It's possible that our top 4 WRs next week will have a combined 1 catch this season (Kerry Colbert, Engram, Branch, Robinson). We also get Sean Locklear back and don't know where he will play and who will play right guard.

I have a good feeling.

Congrats To The Guy Who Should Be Replacing Holmgren



Great win today for Jim Zorn, and it couldn't happen to a better guy. I have stumped for that guy to be Holmgren's successor for a while now, and was sorry to see him go. It was another example of why Ruskell is not someone I trust right now. Zorn only wanted a guarantee of a job next season after Holmgren left, and Ruskell wouldn't even do that. This guy should have at least been our offensive coordinator. He had Matt's confidence and was a legendary Seahawk. Oh well, spilt milk and all...

Congrat, Jim.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coincidence?

I pointed out earlier that the Seahawks run offense and run defense are improved this year. I have often heard that having and offense practicing everyday against a strong defense can help the offense improve, and vice versa. The same might be said about more specific sub-segments, like a strong run offense practicing against a strong run defense helps both units get better. It certainly does not appear to be hurting. None of this is my point, so let me get to it.

Can the opposite be true? I have trouble understanding why our pass defense has regressed so much this year, and then I started wondering...has there been an impact practicing against our crap pass offense since early in the preseason? Does going against Courtney Taylor and Logan Payne everyday really prepare you for game day against Lee Evans and Isaac Bruce? Can you really prepare properly if you don't have quality opponents?

Something to noodle on...

2008 Power Rankings Week 3

These rankings are a good reminder of how big a hole we dug for ourselves in the first two weeks. The Hawks increased the team strength by the second-largest amount this week, but still have not broken 20 in the overall rankings. Our next game is against the second-ranked team in the league, and will be an extremely tough one to get.

Interesting to see the Titans and Ravens in the Top 5. Those would not have been the two AFC teams I expected to be there to start the season. If you are shocked by the Titans being #1, check out their defense. They are currently allowing 9 pts/game.

Another note is that two of our NFC West brethren are in the Top 10, and that both teams we lost to this year are Top 10 teams. By this time last year, the rankings were about 80% accurate of picking the playoff teams. Let's hope the Seahawks are part of that 20%.

Explanation of ranking formula
















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change From Last Week
1
Tennessee
16.4
1.70
2
NY Giants
16
-6.40
3
Baltimore
14.8
5.20
4
Dallas
14.6
-0.30
5
Philadelphia
14.6
-2.30
6
Buffalo
11.7
-5.10
7
Atlanta
10.5
9.80
8
Denver
9.7
-3.70
9
Arizona
9.1
-8.00
10
San Francisco
8.1
6.60
11
Pittsburgh
7.7
-9.30
12
San Diego
7.5
7.00
13
Green Bay
5.8
-10.20
14
Chicago
4.9
-2.50
15
Tampa Bay
4.1
-1.80
16
Washington
1.4
2.50
17
Minnesota
0.9
5.50
18
Miami
-1.2
18.60
19
New Orleans
-1.5
-0.20
20
Seattle
-1.8
14.80
21
Carolina
-2.1
-4.80
22
Oakland
-4.1
1.80
23
Jacksonville
-4.9
3.70
24
New England
-5.9
-14.20
25
Indianapolis
-6.5
2.60
26
NY Jets
-6.6
-7.70
27
Cincinnati
-10.6
3.70
28
Cleveland
-18.1
-0.90
29
Kansas City
-19.1
-5.10
30
Houston
-21.7
1.70
31
Detroit
-22.2
1.10
32
St. Louis
-34.8
2.30

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Plea To Pull Out All The Stops

I'm sitting here watching the Jets/Chargers game and noticed the Jets went for an onside kick. They didn't get it, but it reminded me of the weapon we have in Olindo Mare. Has there ever been a better time to start the game against the Giants in two weeks with an onsides kick?

It would be great to go on the offensive right from the start and show the team that Holmgren isn't going to hold anything back.

A Credible Case For Optimism



The Seahawks biggest weaknesses in the past couple of years has been their ability to run the ball and their ability to stop the run. Through three games this year, they are showing signs those could be turning into strengths.

OFFENSE (NFL Rank)
Rushing Yds/Game: 166.3 (4th)
+65.1/Game compared to 2007
Rushing Yds/Attempt: 4.9 (6th)
+1.1/Attempt compared to 2007

DEFENSE (NFL Rank)
Opposing Rushing Yds/Game: 88.0 (9th)
-14.8/Game compared to 2007
Opposing Rushing Yds/Attempt: 3.5 (7th)
-0.4/Attempt compared to 2007

That's a net 79.9 yards/game swing in the right direction! We went from losing the ground game by an average of 1 yard per game (we yielded 102.8 and gained 101.2) to winning it by 78 yards. That is a stunning turnaround. And while the game results have not been great, there is reason to believe this sets us up to surprise some folks.

Let's pretend for a second that Engram and Branch will not make it back, or will not remain healthy. We all saw how much more Hasselbeck was in sync with his WRs this week than last. I expect that to take another step forward with two weeks of practice before our next game. Even though the game was against the Rams, anyone who watched could see that the ball was coming out of Hasselbeck's hands with more confidence and his WRs were in the right spots more often. We have a good QB, a line that has yielded two sacks in the last two games, and a coach who is going to the Hall of Fame on the strength of his passing game.

Think for a second what opposing defenses will be doing when they study our film. What coach wouldn't stack 8 guys in the box and force us to beat them in the air? Now add back in that we should get a noticeable boost from at least Engram, and let's just say I'd much rather be struggling passing than running right now.

Random question: Does anyone else wonder if it is a coincidence that our breakout running games this week and last happened after Chop replaced Rob Sims?

Defensively, it's a similar story. I'd much rather have opposing offenses testing us over the top than pounding us up front. The problems in pass defense have been much more about coverage decisions than about losing physically. I trust guys like Brian Russell, Deon Grant and Lofa can get that corrected. You can't really correct getting thrown around by an opposing offensive line.

We will find out very quickly if this was just a two game mirage against bad NFC West opponents at home.

Next 5 Games:
@ NY Giants
Green Bay
@ Tampa Bay
@ San Francisco
Philadelphia

The Giants have arguably the best offensive/defensive lines in the game. On offense. they don't allow sacks and they pound the ball with a big fullback and halfback. On defense, they sack the QB (#1 in the NFL) and stop the run. However, their last two games have been against 0-3 teams as well (Bengals and Rams).

There is no way they will look at the 1-2 Seahawks and people like Billy McMullen at WR and think this will be a tough game at home. We're horrible coming out of the bye week and playing at 10 AM PST, so we certainly shouldn't expect a win, but it's not out of the question.

I, for one, am sick of this "finesse" label that's hung around our necks. Nothing would be nicer than to see the Hawks shock the world by featuring a smash mouth running game and run stuffing defense.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quick Reactions: Hawks beat Rams 37-13

Dr Frankenstein would be proud. The Seahawks managed to sew a few spare parts into a formidable hole, and rise from the dead. Granted, that bordered on necrophilia against an unforgivably bad Rams team.

Even so, there are few things as satisfying as stuffing the football down an opposing team's throats, especially after enduring two seasons of powder puff running. This is a team that didn't rush for more than 167 yards last season, and not rushed for 253 or more yards since an Oct 16, 2005 game against the Texans when they rushed for 320 yards.

More food for thought:

- Running game redux
If you are the NY Giants, do you stack the line daring the Seahawks to pass with their WR situation? Doesn't that play right into Holmgren's hands? You think Matt would like to see 8 men in the box more often? It's great that we've given opposing defenses something to prepare for.

- Left still best?
I don't know if we had a major mismatch on the right side of our o-line, but I have never seen us so consistently run to the right. At least 80% of our second half runs went to the right, and you all saw how effective they were. Kudos to Chop and Willis. That balance is really important in the long run, and now we get Locklear back.

- Chop Shop
We almost went a record two games without Pork Chop getting injured. He hurt his hammy, but hopefully, it's nothing serious.

- Courtney Taylor is on notice
Who gets cut when Branch and Engram get healthy? I don't think it is going to be Colbert or Koren. I don't think it will be Bumpus. McMullen certainly has outplayed Taylor, so you do the math...

- Being wrong never felt so good
TJ Duckett deserves credit. The guy has proven his value in the last two games.

- Good pass protection
Second game in a row with 1 sack allowed, but the Rams and 49ers have weak pass rushes, so lets see them do it on the road against the Giants.

- Poor pass rush
Outside of the first series, Bulger had all day back there.

- Deion Grant came to play
Grant showed why he is a leader today by playing great against the pass, and contributing a few ringing hits against the run.

- LeRoy Hill. Period.
He was everywhere. Great game.

- North/South beats East/West
With guys like Mo Morris and Julius Jones, I expected much of runs to be predicated on speed to the outside, but today we got the vast majority of our yardage running straight up the gut. That's good to see. Finding out how we fare against a quality Giants line in two weeks will be telling.

Game Thread: Rams @ Seahawks

I will be in the stands wearing my vintage #81, Koren Robinson jersey, acting like it hasn't been hidden deep in my closet for years. I'll check back here when I return.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sando hits the Boob Tube

Look at Mike with his hair combed and everything...






Preview: Rams @ Seahawks



Misery loves company, and so misery may never have found a better match than these two teams on Sunday. By my own calculations, these are the 27th and 32nd "best" teams in the NFL. One team is not shocked to be 0-2 as much as they are shocked by the extent of their ass whuppings. The other team slid so far, so fast that Disney is considering featuring them in the much anticipated sequel, Cool Runnings II. One team is already shoveling dirt on its season, while the other is quite possibly playing the role of Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense and does not know it is already dead.

And now the bad news...

The Seahawks are not likely to be favored in any of their next five games.

@ NY Giants
Green Bay
@ Tampa Bay
San Francisco
Philadelphia

Where I once saw a real chance at a 7-1 start, we are now facing the possibility of the opposite. Unless, of course, we start to see some significant changes in all three phases of the game.

OFFENSE
Running to setup the pass is a foreign concept to Holmgren. I hope he saw what I saw last week when the Seahawks best drives were sparked by methodical 3-7 yard runs and the occasional pass to our only receiving threat, John Carlson. We are the Baltimore Ravens without the good defense, Todd Heap-wannabe and all. The only hope for our offense is to prove that we can force our will in the running game. Holmgren blinked last week and possibly cost us the game by calling a pass play on 2nd & G from the 6 in the 4th qtr after we had been consistently getting positive yards on the ground. The pass was nearly intercepted and left us with a long third down that eventually turned into a FG when we really needed a TD. We need to stay with the run.

People are putting too much hope in the return of Engram and Branch. Who knows what we will get from those two and whether they will stay healthy? We need to become a ball control offense starting tomorrow. I'd love to see how we look with Sean Locklear back in the lineup since I thought the line was pretty good last week without him.

DEFENSE
The defense has stuffed the run well in the first two games, allowing less than 100 yards/game and 3.8 YPC. That is a great sign. We got a ton of sacks last week, but the 49ers had a field day passing against our secondary. The Seahawks are allowing an average QB rating of 107.6 in the first two games. 107.6!! Thankfully, the Rams are allowing an average of 129.2. We need to stop the big plays. If we can do that, we might actually start to see the defense we all thought we had entering the season. Any letup against the Rams RB Jackson would be a bad sign.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Punt the freaking ball! Just punt it and make it go far. Don't get it blocked. Don't shank it for 20 yards. Don't force me to keep talking about Ruben Rodriguez, the only guy I have ever seen get negative yardage on a punt before. As Tim Gunn would say, "Make it work."

Most folks are assuming we will win this week since the Rams stink so much. Let's not forget we are the worst team they have faced this seasons, and it's not close. The Giants and Eagles are in a totally different class than the team we've put on the field in the first two games. As much as I'd love to see a blowout, expect a dog fight tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome Back, Koren!

It's been too hectic around here to snap the digital picture of my Koren Robinson jersey and post it here, but you should all know I'm a fan.

I may have the worst jersey luck of any Seahawks fan in history. The first jersey I bought after moving to Seattle in 1997 was #30 Green. That's right, Ahman Green. My second jersey was for Koren.

In an odd twist of events, I think we're actually stronger at the WR position this week after a couple more injuries. We never really got to see what we had in Logan Payne and Seneca Wallace. I certainly never saw them catch 80 balls from Matt for over 1200 yards in a single season. Koren has done that.

I've seen Koren win against bump and run coverage on a quick slant hot route. I have seen Courtney Taylor lose on those...a lot. I have seen Koren take a 5 yard pass and turn it into a 70 yard TD. I have seen him drop passes. I have seen Matt prefer and trust D-Jack for good reason.

My point is that while it is not all roses, this guy is 28 and makes me excited to watch the game this weekend. His ceiling includes the possibility that he gives us what we lost with Nate, a great playmaker and return man. Nobody else in the WR corps comes close to filling those shoes.

The USC kid we got from Denver is a solid possesion receiver with decent size (6'1"). I certainly would rather have him than Mr. McMullen.

I also liked what I saw from Bumpus. Plus, it's fun to yell "BUMP!"

Now if the defense could just hold a team under 30 pts...

2008 Power Rankings Week 2

The power rankings are starting to settle in. We should see these become very representative of the team quality after this week's games. Based on who the Seahawks are right now, I have no quibbles with their current ranking. It boils down to three things:

  1. Points allowed (33.5/game)
  2. Yard Per Attempt (4.9)
  3. Opponents Yards Per Attempt (8.8)
Those are dismal numbers. The defense has been a bigger disappoint than the offense thus far, and that's saying something. Our offense can at least hang their hat on a huge improvement in yards per carry (4.6).

It's interesting to see Arizona so high. We'll see if that holds as they play stronger competition.

















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change From Last Week
1
NY Giants
22.4
10.86
2
Arizona
17.1
12.88
3
Pittsburgh
17
-6.39
4
Philadelphia
16.9
-23.64
5
Buffalo
16.8
-9.82
6
Green Bay
16
8.60
7
Dallas
14.9
-8.65
8
Tennessee
14.7
4.15
9
Denver
13.4
-17.94
10
Baltimore
9.6
-0.09
11
New England
8.3
-0.61
12
Chicago
7.4
-11.69
13
Tampa Bay
5.9
11.63
14
Carolina
2.7
1.72
15
San Francisco
1.5
5.72
16
NY Jets
1.1
-8.58
17
Atlanta
0.7
-21.35
18
San Diego
0.5
1.48
19
Washington
-1.1
10.44
20
New Orleans
-1.3
-7.03
21
Minnesota
-4.6
2.80
22
Oakland
-5.9
25.34
23
Jacksonville
-8.6
1.95
24
Indianapolis
-9.1
9.99
25
Kansas City
-14
-5.09
26
Cincinnati
-14.3
-4.71
27
Seattle
-16.6
10.02
28
Cleveland
-17.2
6.35
29
Miami
-19.8
-10.12
30
Detroit
-23.3
-1.25
31
Houston
-23.4
-0.01
32
St. Louis
-37.1
3.44

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flatline

Our season was in critical, yet stable condition heading into this week. We flatlined multiple times today against a horribly mediocre 49ers team at home, before applying the paddles and getting a couple beats before the sheet got pulled over our faces.

A defense that returned every starter, and was unbeatable at home, fell flat on its face. I have never seen a game where a QB gets sacked 8 times, but still has all day to throw. At least half those sacks came because of coverage that forced him to hold the ball for 5+ seconds.

We got some really unfortunate calls made against us in the first half on phantom pass interference penalties. We also benefited from the most positive blocked punt I've ever seen.

The running game was as good as we've seen since 2005. I cannot remember another drive in the last 3 years where we just pushed a team downfield, often running straight up the gut. Julius Jones ran hard. Mike Wahle flattened people. The pass protection was acceptable, and maybe even good. Carlson is the player we wanted him to be. That's about where the positives end.

Losing to the 49ers at home has dreadful implications. I will take a look at our upcoming schedule later this week, but I think it's safe to say 12-4 is not going to happen.

Brace yourself for a week full of stats regarding how rare it is for an 0-2 team to make the playoffs.

Game Thread: 49ers @ Seahawks



What time is it? GAME TIME.

We find out a lot today. If the Seahawks can find a way to dominate, we still have every reason to expect a romp to the division title. I can't see our offense getting much more maligned than it already is, especially with the guys we'll be slowing adding back (Locklear, Branch, Engram, etc).

If we lose...let's not talk about that.

I will be the guy screaming from beginning to end. Enjoy watching the game.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Preview: 49ers @ Seahawks

The phrase du jour in the media is, "you can't put lipstick on a pig." I think it applies to the Seahawks as well. There is no point in trying to make last weeks game and the injuries this week prettier than they really are.

I am certainly not in panic mode, but the fact of the matter is that we're in trouble. There were so many problems areas exposed that it would be naive to expect them to be an aberration. The expectations are so low in the passing game at this point that anyone who appears competent catching the ball this weekend will see their jersey sales skyrocket. We need a hero.

Despite the mess at the receiver position, the offensive line jumped out as the biggest worry spot. We'll have addition by subtraction this week with Sims out of the lineup. But we still have a major issue with Spencer. If I see another stunt with a defender running free up the middle at Hasselbeck, I want to see Vallos in there. We appeared far more effective running the ball with Vallos in the lineup than Spencer as well.

I think the defense played the way I hoped they would last week outside of pass rush. We stopped the run and shut down their offense until the game was taken out of their hands by a horrible offense and special teams. That is where we must win this game. If the 49ers offense starts to find a rhythm, this becomes a scary game.

Areas I'll be watching:

- Keeping the 49ers under 300 yards of offense
We need 60 minutes of pain from our defenders, and a few turnovers wouldn't hurt.

- Hasselbeck finding a favorite target or two
I don't care who it is, but we need to pull defenders off the line to enable the running game. Screen passes to Weaver, swing passes to Jones, curls to Carlson...they're all fine. Let's even get some stick'em on Taylor's gloves. The crowd will be unable to hold back its frustration if we see more drops, and that will have a direct impact on the game because we need the crowd to keep the defense pumped.

- Two to three plays that look like keepers
We had started to see the playbook develop in preseason, but the plays we ran there looked horrible last Sunday. We need some go-to plays that the offense can count on.

- Special teams
Punting, kicking and coverage are all question marks. I don't need spectacular, just competence.

It should be a beautiful day. I'll be at the game, as always, but will create a game thread for folks that want to chat at home. I will read the comments in case anyone has a question.

Mike Holmgren: Past, Present and Future

Take a long look at Mike Holmgren when he shakes Mike Nolan's hand this Sunday. You might see him utter the words, "See you next year."

Anyone that has paid attention to Holmgren, the 49ers and pro sports can see that all signs point towards Holmgren resurfacing with the 49ers either next year or the year after. He got started in SF and often talks about it glowingly. He coached there in the glory years, and seeing the franchise struggle is hard for him. Remember, this is a guy that loves to turn around franchises, and has done it both in Green Bay and Seattle.

The 49ers have a weak front office and a coach on the ropes. Their biggest question mark is Holmgren's biggest strength, the QB position. He'd likely have the choice of being a coach/GM, just being a GM or a President, a la Bill Parcels.

I also wouldn't underestimate the draw of being able to prove he is a better GM than Ruskell head-to-head. Any competitor would enjoy that.

The golden age of the Seahawks will officially be winding down when Holmgren steps on the stage to accept that new position.

Take it all in this Sunday, because it is likely the last time we will see Holmgren on our side of the field when the 49ers are in town.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Time To Buy Super Bowl Tix

Fairweather fans suck. What I have seen so far this week is much more panic than fairweather fan behavior. If you haven't already picked up on this pattern, you will notice that I tend to go against the grain.

While everyone else was freaking out this week, I bought the right to two tickets to the Super Bowl if the Seahawks make it. That's right, where everyone else sees doom, I see a great buying opportunity.

If you haven't seen it before, First Dibz is a web site that acts as a major sports event stock market. You can pick any team for any major event and bid on the right for face value tickets if that team makes it. You can also sell the rights to these tix when the demand is extremely high (e.g., before the AFC/NFC championship game) for huge profits.

I had a bid in place about $100 below market asking price before the Bills game, and someone paniced and sold it to me as soon as the game was over. You may think I'm nuts, but I still believe.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008 Power Rankings Week 1

Stat-based power rankings probably only start being useful after about week 3, but I wanted to get started in week 1 this season to be sure. The top 10 remained pretty stable after week 3 last year and was a great predictor of making the playoffs. The Hawks better start a steep climb this week if they want to sniff the top 10 in two weeks.

Take some solace in the fact that ours was only the third worst ass beating in the NFL last week.

Seattle was the second most disappointing team compared to preseason stats, and I'd argue the most disappointing team based on expectations.

You can find an explanation of how I came up with my formula here.
















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change From Last Week
1
Philadelphia
40.54
38.04
2
Denver
31.34
26.84
3
Buffalo
26.62
26.62
4
Dallas
23.55
26.65
5
Pittsburgh
23.39
21.29
6
Atlanta
22.05
18.65
7
Chicago
19.09
21.89
8
NY Giants
11.54
11.64
9
Tennessee
10.55
8.15
10
Baltimore
9.69
16.09
11
NY Jets
9.68
6.98
12
New England
8.91
18.31
13
Green Bay
7.4
14.70
14
New Orleans
5.73
-0.07
15
Arizona
4.22
2.02
16
Carolina
0.98
-8.42
17
San Diego
-0.98
-4.08
18
San Francisco
-4.22
-9.72
19
Tampa Bay
-5.73
-15.43
20
Minnesota
-7.4
-2.00
21
Kansas City
-8.91
-1.51
22
Cincinnati
-9.59
-6.29
23
Miami
-9.68
-16.78
24
Jacksonville
-10.55
-16.85
25
Washington
-11.54
-2.24
26
Indianapolis
-19.09
-9.39
27
Detroit
-22.05
-36.15
28
Houston
-23.39
-21.69
29
Cleveland
-23.55
-13.25
30
Seattle
-26.62
-35.22
31
Oakland
-31.24
-26.04
32
St. Louis
-40.54
-37.34

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ruskell vs. Holmgren Heating Up

People talked about Holmgren and Mora Jr having trouble coexisting in Holmgren's final season. I thought that concern was misplaced. I still feel that way. What we might have missed, though, was the Ruskell/Holmgren divide.

We're seeing that play out in a very painful way right now. Why do we have two placekickers? Because Ruskell wants Coutu for the future and Holmgren wants Mare for right now.

Why do we have both Jason Babin and Baraka Atkins? Because Ruskell wants his 4th rounder from last year for the future and Holmgren wants Babin for right now.

Rumor on sports radio is that Holmgren wants to sign Koren Robinson. If that's true (which I believe is likely based on Holmgren's fondness for Robinson), then the only reason it's not happening is Ruskell.

I think this storyline is just getting started. If things go south, there is potential for the fissure to be grow and become public. I certainly hope it doesn't happen. Less drama, more football please.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hooray: Shuttle Service Reinstated For Hawks!

Thanks to HawkBloggerWife for bringing this fantastic news to my attention. Woo hoo!

Whaaa?

What the hell happened? The teachers in my kids school district are striking. People at work are causing so many fire drills that I have started wearing asbestos boxers and my favorite sports team got so pummeled on opening day that I felt the need to take a breather.

Now I come back to find we released Jordan Kent, Justin Forsett, and Ryan Plackemeier and that Rob Sims is out for the season with a knee injury. AAAnnd the best player to add at WR is some guy named Billy McMullen?

Can we start over? Hi, my name is Hawkblogger. I like long walks on the beach and obsessing over minute details involving the Seattle Seahawks. Who are you, and what have you done with my team?

Quick hitters:

- Rob Sims: See ya. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I'm not sure we can do worse. Better hope Mansfield Wrotto is practicing REAL hard because Pork Chop never lasts more than a game or two before getting injured.

- Jordan Kent: Huh? What? Why? The guy that showed the most during the preseason that plays Nate Burleson's position got released? Holmgren was always cautious about positive feedback and Kent. Maybe there are things in practice we don't see. We really are going to keep Coutu over this guy?

- Plack: Please let the door hit you on the way out, punk. You suck.

- Forsett: We knew it was happening. I think we're safe with him. Not worth more insight.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reaction: Hawks lose to Bills 34-10

I'm going to make this quick because I need to sleep that crapfest off. I listed a laundry list of items that would be really bad indicators for the Hawks in my preview. Let's take another look:

X Matt QB rating under 80
X More than 1 sack by the Bills
X More than 1 turnover
O More than 130 yards rushing for the Bills
X Bills special teams TDs
X Bills score more than 14 points
O 50%+ 3rd down conversions for Bills

That's one place that going 5-7 is not good. I'll be the first to admit that the WR situation was more of an issue than I expected. It was night and day from what we had seen against first team defenses in the preseason. Matt looked rattled and rusty. The offensive line was bad, and Rob Sims looked every bit the rag doll he was last season. Why the hell was Jeb Putzier getting all the throws early instead of Carlson? Carlson certainly looked deserving of more opportunities.

The running game looked exactly like last year, the punting was horrible, there was no pressure on the QB, the injuries were significant. And on and on and on...

I would like to say, "Remember that we got destroyed in Jacksonville in our opener in 2005, and that turned out okay," but even in that game Shaun averaged almost 7 yards/carry and there was something to build on. The offense was a disaster in almost all aspects. Dropped passes more than any of the other problems must stop...now.

The defense actually looked better than the score indicates. They were very solid against a good running team. I thought Brandon Mebane, in particular, was stout.

The Bills defense played a superior game. They kept the pressure on all game and dictated to the Hawks offense. Give them credit for a good showing. Their offense is not good enough to make the playoffs, but if they get to face a few more teams that play as crappy as the Hawks did today, who knows?

I'm a Bills fan now. The more they win, the better it is for the Hawks at this point.

Let's start the season again in seven days.

Game Thread: Seahaws @ Bills

Game day!! I will be here for every road game this year to chat with anyone who would like to join me. I'll be adding my commentary as the game progresses in the comments area. You may notice breaks in commentary if things start turning south in a game. That likely means I'm running on the treadmill while watching to avoid turning my wall into swiss cheese. I started doing that last season, and it's a life saver.

Lots of subplots in today's game. Here's what I'll be paying particular attention to:

- Road defense. Road defense. Road defense.
If we hold the Bills to 15 pts or less, we'd be off to a great start defensively on the road. This is going to be the best predictor of future performance this season. We could struggle/succeed in other aspects and it would not mean as much as a really good or really bad performance by our defense. We need to put last year behind us and move on. Run defense is the key overall. Holding the Bills under 100 yards rushing would be a huge accomplishment.

- Rushing offense
It's hard to believe that my expectations have gone 180 degrees on this part of our team in a very short time. I think we're going to shock the Bills and the league with a strong running game. I want to see what I saw in the preseason. 130 yards = Good. 150 yards = Great. 180+ = Cloud 9.

- Ray Willis / Rob Sims / Chris Spencer
This will be a test not only of these players, but of the new offensive line coach, Mike Solari. It looked like we installed some techniques and schemes that reduce the importance of winning 1:1 battles on the line. There should be more help from the backfield as well. The Bills are sure to bring blitzes and pressure. These guys must hold the line.

- Lawrence Jackson
Wild card. This guy stripped the ball every time he sacked a QB in the preseason. He's bigger than Tapp, and should be able to hold the point of attack against the rush better. But who knows? That's what is fun about young guys or new players. I would not be shocked if this guy makes a big play or if we never hear his name.

- Jason Babin
Sticking with the DEs, I am really pumped to see Babin out there. The guy was everywhere in every preseason game. He could be a huge story this year if he can bring it in the regular season.

- Punt returns
Josh Wilson is doing the kick returns. Nate should be doing the punt returns, but we'll see. Nothing will get me on the treadmill faster than a fumbled punt.

- Olindo Mare
Looking forward to the deep kickoffs. Nervous about the FGs. We need this guy to be reliable.

- Hasselbeck
Please don't be rusty. Please. If Hass is sharp, we're always in good shape.

Let's get it on!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Changing Forecast

Looks like there might be some rain in our future. I'm not sure who that benefits.

Hyde Hawks Still Better

The Seahawks trouble on the road last year was well chronicled. They were a completely different team, especially on defense. They went 3-5 away from Qwest, 3-6 if you include the playoffs. I thought it would be interesting to compare the "bad" Seahawks to the normal Bills.

2007 "Road" Seahawks
Pts For: 19.29
Pts Against: 19.43
Total Yards For: 314.72
Rushing For: 84.86
Passing For: 229.86
Total Yards Against: 333.57
Rushing Against: 118.57
Passing Against: 215

2007 Bills
Pts For: 15.8
Pts Against: 22.1
Total Yards For: 277.1
Rushing For: 112.5
Passing For: 164.6
Total Yards Against: 362.9
Rushing Against: 124.6
Passing Against: 238.4

They managed to outrush the "bad" Hawks, but that's it. Think about that. The Seahawks played their worst football on the road last year to the point that it is a major focus point going into this season, yet they still statistically outperformed the Bills in almost every category.

How bad are we in road openers?

By far, the biggest reason the Hawks could lose tomorrow is their reputation when playing on the road. I decided to look specifically at road openers during the Holmgren era to see if it was as bad as it feels like its been.

First Road Game
2007 Loss 20-23 @ Arizona
2006 Win 9-6 @ Detroit*++
2005 Loss 14-26 @ Jacksonville*++
2004 Win 21-7 @ New Orleans*++
2003 Win 38-0 @ Arizona
2002 Loss 17-31 @ Oakland*
2001 Win 9-6 @ Cleveland*++
2000 Loss 0-23 @ Miami*++
1999 Win 14-13 @ Chicago++
*First game of season
++10 AM PST start

TOTALS:
5-4 overall
3-3 if first game of the year
4-2 in road openers starting at 10 AM PST
Avg 15.78 pts for
Avg 15 pts against

That's not nearly as bad as the perception would indicate. This is not arguing that the Hawks are a great team in these situations, but a .500 record in road openers is completely respectable. The offense certainly is not likely to be firing on all cylinders, but I find encouragement in what these numbers show me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Preview: Hawks @ Bills

After spending countless hours talking about football, we're getting close to actually playing a real game again. The ratio of time spent talking Seahawks football to time watching the Hawks play has got to be 200:1 for some of us.

No reason to change that now.

Let me start by saying that the Seahawks are the superior team in this game. Despite what people say nationally, the Seahawks are better at every position other than running back. You could argue that Marcus Stroud is better than the Hawks defensive tackles, but if he is, it's not by much. All that said, history proves that the Hawks can underperform and lose games like this.

Signs of the Apocalypse

- Matt QB rating under 80
Matt is a rhythm passer, and has been out the whole preseason. He's a great QB and only needs to get his muscle memory back and locked. Give him time, and he should be fine.

- More than 1 sack by the Bills
The Bills ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks last season. The Hawks have a solid o-line, but will be unbalanced. Walt and Wahle should be better than fine on the left, but sitting Locklear means we've got Willis next to Sims next to Spencer. Teams tend to be more aggressive at home, so I expect to see some exotic blitzes from the Bills, and we need to see our line pick them up properly. This should benefit from some better blocking TEs and running backs this year.

- More than 1 turnover
In the 2005 opener, Josh Scobey-Doo started our season by fumbling away the kickoff in Jacksonville. Can't happen. I don't have enough spackle to fix the hole I would put in the wall next to my recliner. The places to watch here are punt and kick returns, as well as our running backs. Morris, Jones, Duckett and Weaver have all had fumbling issues at one time or another. No easy points for the Bills, please.

- More than 130 yards rushing for the Bills
The Hawks are a stellar 23-2 in the last three years when they hold a team under 100 yards rushing. If we can consistently stop the run in this game, I think we can afford to see some of these other bad things happen and still win.

- Special teams TDs
The Bills have a top-notch return game, and their special teams are very well regarded. We need to make this offense march down the field to beat us. Nothing easy.

- Bills score more than 14 points
The Hawks offense does not usually start the season firing on all cylinders. I don't think we win a shootout. Not to say 14 points is a shootout, but this happening would be a sign that a number of the other signs already mentioned were occuring.

- 50%+ 3rd down conversions for Bills
We need to get off the field on third downs.

I usually would talk more about what the Hawks have to do, but I really see this game as one the Hawks need to control and avoid mistakes. They should have an advantage in almost all situations, and simply need to capitalize on those advantages. The Hawks are 30-6 in the past three seasons when scoring 20 points or more. If they score 20+ in this game, I feel great about our chances.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What are you smoking?

I'm still trying to find some information that convinces me the Bills are a legit playoff contender. I just read this whale of an analysis in the Buffalo News.

The writer does a fair job of laying out why Bills fans should believe and why they should be worried. As a somewhat objective third party, I come to completely different conclusions than he does.

Forget our game against them for a second. Any team has a shot to win their home opener against any opponent. But if you look at the things he lists as questions marks, there does not appear to be much chance that those things *won't* happen.

Look at the last two, for example. They have no pass rush and are questionable at the CB position. They added Marcus Stroud who has not registered more than 3 sacks since 2004. The writer blames a poor run defense last year leading to short 3rd downs. I got news for ya, buddy. If your corners aren't covering long enough, your pass rush will never get home. If your pass rush is not getting home quickly enough, poor corners get exposed.

It's a vicious cycle. We've seen it work the other way around. That's a virtuous cycle for those keeping score at home.

He also calls our their lack of weapons on offense, specifically WR and TE. How do you get past that? We all saw last season in SF what happens when you have a team with a great running back and weak passing game. The league learns.

Lastly, how does Trent Edward get a free pass? The guy has played in 10 NFL games. How many times has his passer rating eclipsed 90? The correct answer is twice. His QB rating was UNDER 70 *six* times! Please get me some of the kool-aid they are drinking.

Seahawks Roundtable This Morning

I encourage any Seahawks fan close to a radio or a computer to listen to the Seahawks Round Table on KJR 950 AM this morning ~8:30. Mitch Levy talk Hawks with a local beat writer, an ex-Seahawks (I'd guess Robbie Tobeck or Mack Strong this year), and Hugh Millen.

The start times vary, but they target 8:30. You can listen on the web here by clicking the Listen Live button.

You can also listen to it via podcast later in the day from here. I will be in a meeting during the broadcast, so I just download the podcast and listen to it on my drive home.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Am I Missing Something?

Alright, I know the Seahawks stink on the East Coast, and I know they stink at 10 AM PST starts, and I know the national media tends to overlook them...but I look at this game and can't figure how the Seahawks aren't the consensus favorites.

Yet, you see 4 of 6 "experts" picking the Bills on ESPN.

Here's what I see:

- Buffalo was ranked 30th in the NFL on offense and 31st on defense in 2007, and have made modest improvements on defense and very few on offense
- Seattle was ranked 9th on offense and 15th on defense in 2007, and have made significant improvements on offense and moderate improvements on defense
- The Bills are without their best offensive lineman, and his replacement is lined up against Patrick Kerney
- A 2nd year QB vs. a veteran Pro Bowl QB
- One proven quality WR on their side vs. one proven on our side
- Weather is not expected to be a factor

I see more that I'll share in my official look ahead at the game, but I would be very disappointed if the Hawks don't get this one. What is the Bills major advantage outside of playing at home?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

LeRoy Hill Featured On ESPN.com

Great article from Sando on ESPN.com about LeRoy Hill as a breakout player in 2008.

2008 Preseason Power Rankings

Let me start off by saying these are *not* like other preseason power rankings. They are based completely on stats compiled during the preseason with absolutely no analysis. That seems kind of dumb, but my goal was not to try and assess who the best teams are, but who had the best preseason and who may be among the most improved teams. Clearly, any ranking that has the Patriots at 30 and the Colts at 31 are not something someone should consider a credible predictor of regular season success.

I included a column with the change in their ranking since the last time I compiled these at the end of the 2007 regular season to see how similar or different they looked in the preseason this year.

The things that stood out to me were things like Detroit allowing 8 pts/game and Tampa allowing 2.7 YPC. Those type of stats make up the basis for these rankings, but don't show up here. You can find the full spreadsheet used for my power ranking formula here.

You can find an explanation of how I came up with my formula here.



















































































































































































































Rank
Team
Team Strength
Change From Last 2007
1
Detroit
14.1
20.71
2
Tampa Bay
9.7
3.99
3
Carolina
9.4
15.09
4
Seattle
8.6
1.91
5
Miami
7.1
20.04
6
Jacksonville
6.3
-1.61
7
New Orleans
5.8
7.79
8
San Francisco
5.5
16.12
9
Denver
4.5
10.00
10
Atlanta
3.4
14.05
11
San Diego
3.1
-5.10
12
NY Jets
2.7
9.15
13
Philadelphia
2.5
-0.69
14
Tennessee
2.4
1.70
15
Arizona
2.2
1.87
16
Pittsburgh
2.1
-7.91
17
Buffalo
0
7.29
18
NY Giants
-0.1
-1.50
19
Houston
-1.7
-1.12
20
Chicago
-2.8
0.11
21
Dallas
-3.1
-13.06
22
St. Louis
-3.2
9.26
23
Cincinnati
-3.3
-2.61
24
Oakland
-5.2
3.84
25
Minnesota
-5.4
-10.83
26
Baltimore
-6.4
0.89
27
Green Bay
-7.3
-17.51
28
Kansas City
-7.4
1.23
29
Washington
-9.3
-11.78
30
New England
-9.4
-30.66
31
Indianapolis
-9.7
-23.09
32
Cleveland
-10.3
-11.70

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