Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hawk Blogger 2009 Power Rankings Week 7

I recommend checking out the scatter chart this week (click Chart1 link below). You'll notice that the Saints and Colts have separated themselves, followed by the Pats, Packers and Broncos, and then it's really everyone else.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hawk Blogger 2009 Power Rankings Week 6

Here's the updated rankings for week 6. Scatter chart is available by clicking on the chart tab toward the bottom.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yesterday and Tomorrow

Games like the one we saw yesterday only happen when one team comes ready to play and the other does not. A full hour before kickoff yesterday, it was very clear which team had energy and enthusiasm. I tweeted about it at the time, but I'd be lying if I told you I expected an outcome like that.

The most likely scenario is that the Hawks season is now just about playing out the string.

Sun, Nov 1 @ Dallas

Outcome: Loss, 2-5

Sun, Nov 8 Detroit

Outcome: Win, 3-5

Sun, Nov 15 @ Arizona

Outcome: Loss, 3-6

Sun, Nov 22 @ Minnesota

Outcome: Loss, 3-7

Sun, Nov 29 @ St. Louis

Outcome: Win, 4-7

Sun, Dec 6 San Francisco

Outcome: Win, 5-7

Sun, Dec 13 @ Houston

Outcome: Loss, 5-8

Sun, Dec 20 Tampa Bay

Outcome: Win, 6-8

Sun, Dec 27 @ Green Bay

Outcome: Loss, 6-9

Sun, Jan 3 Tennessee

Outcome: Win, 7-9

A loss @ STL is possible as is a loss at home against SF. I can envision one upset here or there that gets us to 8-8, but that's about it.

As you've probably read by now, Lofa is out for the season with a torn pectoral. It will be very interesting to see if David Hawthorne's game against the Bears was a fluke. He had 2 tackles for loss after replacing Lofa yesterday. If Hawthorne emerges, what kind of trade scenarios does that open up?

A few things stood out to me from the game yesterday:

* Larry Fitzgerald is awe-inspiring. That catch he made on 3rd and 2 on the first drive of the game after falling to the ground was shocking. It's like he is out there catching balls with a big salmon net. I don't understand why they don't throw him the ball every single play. I honestly don't think he is defensible.

* What is the world was DD Lewis doing on that onsides kick? He moved toward it and then backed away from it. Embarrassing.

* People will blame the offensive line for our trouble moving the ball, but Matt was back there looking for receivers and finding nobody. He did not have endless amounts of time, but he had enough to make 1-3 reads and get rid of the ball. Greg Knapp gets an F- for yesterday. He was soundly beaten by the Cards defensive schemes. I can't remember the last time our offense looked that inept. Knapp also has shown a disturbing tendency to get desperate in the worst times. The 3rd and 5 call to go deep to Deon Butler was desperate and low percentage. We have not hit that play all year, and we're all of a sudden going to nail it then? Passing on 2nd and 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line? Starting the second half with two straight runs? If I had to pick one goat, he'd be the one.

* Nick Reed finally got significant playing time and was a non-factor. Too bad.

Those were the thoughts worth sharing. Bad weekend for Washington football.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GAME THREAD: Hawks vs. Cardinals

It has become quite the fashionable and correct thing to bash our now infamous head-basher, Owen Schmitt. Commentators and media alike quickly realized that showing any sort of support for his bloody act would potentially encourage younger players to follow his lead. I get that. I, however, have no such obligation or responsibility to worry about since I am not concerned that my faithful two readers will be bashing their heads with hard objects any more now than they were before Schmitt did the deed. I, for one, loved it. As a fan of a team stuck with the "finesse/pushover" label for its entire history, I was thrilled to see one of our own buck the trend and perception. Nothing would help this battered team more than to grow a collective spine and decide that toughness and anger and grit were their ticket to success and respect this season. Because let's face it, as much as we talk about how critical this game in against Arizona, our biggest aspirations are to make the playoffs. Nobody could credibly argue we can reach the same class as teams like the Giants or Saints.

I'd almost rather see the Hawks let go of the playoff dreams and focus instead on establishing a new identity as a team that is going to physically kick your ass every time we play you, win or lose. Aaron Curry plays that way. Lawyer Milloy plays that way. David Hawthorne plays that way. We need more violence from our defense. We need to punish teams just for playing us. It's a shame that the first demonstration of maniacal toughness this team has seen in years is so widely panned. I'll be showing my support today by celebrating Halloween a few weeks early with a fake gash and blood on my face today at Qwest. Hope to see you there!

I have gotten progressively less confident about today's game as the week as gone on. Matt got through last week almost untouched. It feels like he is one blindside hit away from being out again. Kelly Jennings might be the worst matchup with Larry Fitzgerald in the NFL given his total lack of ability to compete for the jump ball, and I expect him to line up against him for much of the day since Josh Wilson slides inside to guard the slot receiver in 3 WR sets. All that said, I think we have a shot given it's a game at Qwest and the Cardinals are not a dominant team.

To win, we need to hit Warner regularly. I'd take a few roughing the passer penalties if we could get some good shots in. I don't know that knocking out Warner to bring in Leinart is a net positive for us, though. I'd prefer a skittish Warner. Tackling will be key. Lots of swing passes to their RB and big, strong WRs. The difference today will be turnovers and passing. I'd bet the team with the highest QB rating wins today.

Feel free to chat during the game without me:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great Matchup Analysis

After scouring the web for years looking for a reliable place to find things like Red Zone success rate, I finally found a great site:

I would highly recommend checking out their analysis of the Hawks/Cards game this weekend. Lots of strong signs pointing to a Seahawks victory. Be sure to click on the matchup stats tab. It's chock-full-of great info.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hawk Blogger 2009 Power Rankings Week 5

The Hawks make a major climb up the charts after their blowout. You won't see this kind of movement in other rankings as mine are strongly influenced by point differential. That said, popular opinion-based rankings, like those of ESPN had New England ranked higher than the Broncos. I haven't wanted to believe it, but my rankings have had the Broncos in the Top 4 since Week 2.

The Hawks have two games left against teams ranked higher than them, both on the road (@Dallas, @Minnesota).

This week I've added a distribution graph to see if there is any grouping to the rankings. You can click the "chart1" link on the ranking sheet above to see the detailed view. You can see that the top two teams stand out, followed by a group of four that still eclipse the 10 point mark. From there, you have 12 teams bunched between 0-10 points. That's the scrum. That's where the Seahawks sit after this past Sunday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Look: Arizona Cardinals

Many NFL observers and experts expected the Cardinals to fall on their faces after a
Super Bowl run last season. The word was that they had a miracle run that was unlikely to happen again. I was in the minority that expected them to be a better, more consistent team this season.

They did not lose any significant players. Many of their best players outside of QB are young and still improving. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston and Kurt Warner appeared to be every bit the offensive Juggernaut they were last season. And yet, here they stand at 2-2, just a half-game better than our beleaguered Seahawks squad that has more missing starters than Jacksonville had first downs. Why? There was not an obvious answer on first blush.

This is a team that ranked 7th (2007) and 3rd (2008) in points scored the last two seasons, that is currently ranked 21st. The slide is even larger in yards/game where they slipped from 4th in the NFL all the way to 27th this season.

Kurt Warner's passer rating is down from 96.9 to 89.7. Not exactly the stuff that foreshadows impending offensive doom. His TD% (the percentage of TDs thrown per pass attempt) has dropped considerably from 5.0 to 3.8. Comparatively, Matt Hasselbeck leads the NFL with an 8.3 TD%. That likely means they are settling for more field goals than last year. Another stat that would support that theory is that the Cards are 29th in the NFL in 3rd down conversion rate, sporting a nasty 25% success rate. Show me a team struggling to convert third downs, and I'll show you a team struggling to sustain drives and likely struggling in the red zone.

It would be easy to point the finger at the Cardinals anemic running game, but they ranked dead last in the NFL last season, so even dropping from 3.5 YPC to 3.2 is not all that noteworthy since it clearly is not the key to their success.

Remember all the talk about how Matt's game this week was somehow expected against a Jags team that is last in the NFL in sacks and 31st in pass defense? The Cardinals defense ranks dead last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing over 300 yards/game! They rank 25th in sacks. Their run defense is excellent.

At first glance, our strengths match up with their weaknesses. The Hawks boast the 7th ranked NFL 3rd down defense, and we just saw what our passing game looks like with Matt clicking. It's hard to feel confident when you're facing a trio of receivers like the Cards throw out there when our best corner is still out, but there are reasons for optimism.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Reactions: Hawks Beat Jags 41-0

This game was a little different from the beginning. I could have sworn I saw a thick red glob of blood running down Owen Schmitt's forehead after he banged his helmet into his head, but the big screen cut away before I could be sure. No video I have seen captures what I saw as the wound was initially inflicted. It doesn't much matter as everyone got to see the Hawks treat the Jags the way Schmitt treats his forehead.

There was lots to talk about in this game. Matt Hasselbeck returning with a 4 TD, 0 INT game. TJ Houshmandzadeh breaking out with two TDs. But the thing that jumped out most was the ferocity with which our defense got after the quarterback. FINALLY!

We saw blitzes from multiple angles. We saw pressure from a four-man rush. There were QB hurries, QB hits, QB sacks, QB fumbles and even QBs getting steam-rolled by defensive ends acting like running backs.

Daryll Tapp was a revelation today. Patrick Kerney who? Tapp was constantly in the backfield. He ends up with four QB hits, 2 tackles for loss, a sack and the statistically hidden feat of setting the tone for this defense. Tapp was not alone. Lofa Tatupu stood out from the stands. I was shocked when I got home to see he was only credited with eight tackles. The guy was everywhere today. His protege made a huge impact as well. Aaron Curry once again forced a crucial QB turnover (it's great to see he has a knack for causing turnovers when he does get to the QB), and made countless ferocious hits while leading the team in tackles. Curry played his most confident game. Let's hope he can build on it.

And what would a review of the Seahawks defense be without mentioning Nick Reed? He should have been credited with two sacks (the second was given to Josh Wilson), and applied pressure whenever he was in the game. This guy makes plays every time he is on the field. Not most of the time. E-v-e-r-y time. And it's not just pressuring the QB. He pursues the ball carrier with the same passion as he does the QB. Someone more clever than me needs to nickname this kid because he's something special.

The best player on the Seahawks defense in 2009? Lawrence Jackson. He put together another solid outing, including his team-leading fourth sack. His effort has been undeniable, and the results have been outstanding.

The offense didn't play quite as magnificently as the score indicates. The defense had the Jags pinned back all afternoon, giving the Hawks offense excellent field position. That said, they scored TDs, not FGs. Matt, after starting 10-19 with zero TDs, finished 8-11 with 4 TDs. Housh's demeanor was better, even back into the pre-game warmup where he was shadow boxing with his rave green gloves. We need more of that from him. Carlson was forced to stay in and protect Matt more than normal, but Burleson and Housh more than made up for it.

Justin Forsett finished the game with a 7.2 YPC average, which raises his season YPC total to 5.6. Can we stop dicking around here, and just declare him the starter? The guy is far and away our best runner, our best receiver (out of the backfield), and a great blocker. He is worth at least a full yard per carry more than Julius Jones. I hope they recognize that soon and make the switch. Forsett as a starter doesn't mean we become a fantastic rushing team, but it makes us better. With every other obstacle we are facing, ignoring something that makes you better is unacceptable.

Lastly, I'd give a little plug to our battered kicker, Olindo Mare. He got us on the board with a 47-yard FG into the wind toward the always challenging North end zone. It was a foot note in a blow out, but it got us moving in the right direction.

Nice win.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hawk Blogger 2009 Power Rankings Week 4

Barely finding time to sleep lately. Sorry for the sparse posts. Here's the updated power rankings:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GAME THREAD: Hawks @ Colts

Game thread open for the day. No time for analysis... Hope to see you all in a bit...

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