Saturday, August 30, 2014

HAWK BLOGGER 2014 SEASON PREVIEW PART IV: Breaking Down The Offense

Photo by Jeff Marsh & the Seattle Seahawks

Scoring 43 points in a Super Bowl usually shines a light on a team's offense.  Having stars like Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin grants most teams the spotlight and respect. Somehow, despite their pedigree, the Seahawks offense remains one of the league's best kept secrets. Many laud the defense, but see the offense as along for the ride. This was a team that was scoring 28+ points per game and had a quarterback with a rating near 110.0 before a late-season slump. Even then, they finished 8th in the NFL in scoring, tied with the almighty Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay Packers, and more than Drew Brees and the Saints. People know the Lions to be an explosive offense, but they scored less than Seattle and had a lower percentage of explosive pass plays (12.4% vs 9.7%). People look at the Seahawks defense and see Kate Upton, but when they look at the offense, it's as if they have the Shallow Hal syndrome. The league will soon be forced to recognize what could be the most efficient offense in the league.

PODCAST: Guest appearance on Football Sickness

I joined Ryan Burns and his partner Sen on a 60 minutes podcast previewing the Seahawks season. We covered a lot of ground.

Check it out at Football Sickness or...

***DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST***
post signature

Friday, August 29, 2014

Final Roster Projections

It's that time. Here are my final projections of who will makes the 53-man roster this year. There were a number of big surprises last year, including cutting Sean McGrath and going with just two tight ends. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made a habit of looking for ways to improve their team down to the very last minute. Do not be surprised if we see trades for future picks or even straight player trades where the teams have a surplus at different positions and would rather swap than cut the guy outright. Defensive line is one are we might see that for Seattle, especially if they can find a guy who is stout against the run. A move like that could see Greg Scruggs or maybe Jordan Hill falling off the roster. That may seem crazy, but neither player has really grabbed hold of a roster spot, and defending the run could be a challenge for Seattle, especially if any starters at defensive tackle get injured.

CLICK TO VIEW


The Morning After: Seahawks Defense Disappoints In 41-31 loss to the Raiders


The last time the Seahawks lost a game by more than seven points, Marshawn Lynch had exactly one 100-yard rushing game in a Seattle uniform during the regular season. Russell Wilson was leading the Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl. Bobby Wagner was playing at Utah State. J.R. Sweezy was still a defensive lineman. Pete Carroll was still an NFL punch line. The Seahawks were still irrelevant. Fifty-six games. One-thousand and twenty-six days. It was a run of dominant play that saw the team go 44-12 over that span. The regular and postseason streak lives on, standing at 45 games, but this milestone still matters for a team that prides itself on blind consistency no matter the opponent or situation.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hawk Blogger 2014 Season Preview Part III: Grading The Off-Season

Pete Carroll and his players owned the 2013 season, but it is always worth a bucket of popcorn to sit back and watch John Schneider attack each off-season. Nobody scours the landscape for ways to improve his team more than Schneider. The pressure only increases now as he becomes the victim of his own success and must sign some of his early additions to large deals. That leaves less margin for error when it comes to free agent spending and hitting on draft picks. Not everything fell exactly into place this past off-season, but some important new talent was added to the mix.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hawk Blogger 2014 Season Preview Part II: A Look Back At 2013

The better team does not always win each week. The best team in the league does not always win the Super Bowl. Seattle finished on top of the hardest division in football. They beat Drew Brees and the Saints, and then Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. They played the most prolific offense in the history of football and a player many would argue is the best quarterback in the history of football on the world's largest stage, and won by a Nintendo score. Your 2013 Seattle Seahawks were indisputably the best team in all the land. This part of the Hawk Blogger season preview will look back at just what made them so special, and jog our memories for clues that could be helpful as we look forward.

Hawk Blogger 2014 Season Preview Part I: The Franchise

HAWK BLOGGER 2014 SEASON PREVIEW PART I: The Franchise

Players are told to approach each game one play at a time and each season one game at a time. Coaches and general managers build up their rosters and teams one season at a time. Fans are different. Seahawks fans have been around long before any current coaches, players, general managers, or even owners, and will be here long after they are gone. Fans endure. Seahawks fans have endured playoff droughts that lasted more than 10 years. They have endured referees that feel so bad about the quality of their championship calls, that they feel compelled to come forward and apologize years later. And now, they have felt the pure elation of winning a Super Bowl for the first time. Being a fan allows for a big picture perspective that nobody else can afford.

Patterns from history often repeat. Even while some teams have broken from their franchise histories in recent years (e.g., Patriots become champions, 49ers become a joke for a decade), much can be learned by exploring the patterns across generations. Before diving into the detail of this 39th season of Seahawks football, take a moment to see where we are in franchise history.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Russell Wilson Targets Rare Achievement

Pete Carroll has been very public with one of his primary goals for his young quarterback. He wants Russell Wilson to complete 70% of his passes this season. That sounds like a nice round number, and a quarterback as efficient as Wilson would seem a perfect candidate to reach that mark. The task may be taller than you think. Only three players in NFL history have started at least 12 games in a season and completed at least 70% of their passes. Those three players combined to accomplish the feat only four times. The names are legends. Joe Montana, Steve Young and Drew Brees have done it, and only Brees has done it twice. But what Carroll has not said is that besides wanting a historic completion rate, he also wants an explosive passing attack. The combination of efficiency and explosion would make it one of the most notable seasons for a quarterback in league history.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Packers Two Key Injuries Will Impact Seahawks Opener

BJ Raji was once a dominant force in the middle of the Packers defensive line. He has trailed off considerably, but the news that he was lost for the year with a torn bicep still takes a starter in the center of their defense off the field. Perhaps more impactful was the news that starting center JC Tretter is out for at least six weeks. The Packers let a high quality center in Evan Dietrich-Smith walk in free agency to the Bucs, largely due to their confidence in Tretter.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Morning After: Seahawks Overwhelm Again, Stomp Bears 34-6


Logo by Kevin Gamache, Hammerhead 

To say the Seahawks beat the Bears Friday night would be incorrect. The names and colors on the jerseys were irrelevant. The men occupying said jerseys...also irrelevant. Seattle has reached a point in their development that Pete Carroll has talked about for years. When you are truly the best team on the planet, your only competition is in the mirror. The Seahawks defense set a standard last season that very few in NFL history have ever touched. Seattle special teams nearly broke records of their own. A reality that is sure to catch many in the NFL off-guard, the Seahawks offense now has a chance to be the best unit on the team. A season after Seattle made big corners all the rage, we may be talking about small, fast receivers being back in style by this time next year.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bears Are The Perfect Warm-Up

The best part of pre-season games is also the worst: they don't count. Knowing that allows coaches and players to focus on player development and assessment. This third pre-season game is often used as the tune-up for the starters as the fourth game is almost entirely used to evaluate the back-end of the roster before cuts. The Seahawks could hardly ask for a better opportunity to get ready for opening night against the high-powered Packers offense than facing the explosive Chicago Bears.

PODCAST: Interview with Chicago Sports Radio

I joined the Fahey and Chavari show to discuss the Bears/Seahawks pre-season game, and how the Seahawks have looked so far.


***DOWNLOAD THIS PODCAST*** 
post signature

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Future Of The Seahawks Linebacker Corps

Malcolm Smith returned to full practice yesterday and returned an interception for a touchdown. The play elicited chants of "MVP! MVP!" from his teammates. It will not, however, help the Super Bowl MVP get his name announced as a starter in a very crowded linebacker group. Further, early indications are that Smith will not be re-signed when both he and K.J. Wright become free agents. That would be a mistake.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seahawks Roster Projections As Of August 19th

So many factors contribute to which players are chosen to fill out the bottom of an NFL roster that being exactly right is pretty darn tough. Special teams play, use of injured reserve and PUP to stow away players, a player coming free from another team that is higher on the value chart than what the Seahawks currently have available, and the ever-present injury bug can all play a role. Last year, I incorrectly expected the team to keep 4 running backs instead of 5, 3 tight ends instead of 2, 7 linebackers instead of 8 and 6 cornerbacks instead of 5. Of course, the team realized they made a mistake with the tight end decision after one week and added Kellen Davis right away. And looking at the thin cornerback depth this year, and the suspensions that happened last year, they might have been wiser to keep an extra corner around. It would be nice to have a Will Blackmon on the roster.

History is a valuable reminder in these exercises of what position numbers the team actually chooses:



Monday, August 18, 2014

The Cold War: How Pete Carroll Is Defeating Jim Harbaugh Off The Field As Well

It is no secret that the Seahawks won the Super Bowl thanks in large part to Pete Carroll's coaching ability. He has proven to be one of the best defensive minds in NFL history while contributing to dominant defenses over four decades. He has become a championship head coach by playing a classic style of football that emphasizes the running game while most teams are passing, and focusing on great defense when many teams chase points on offense. He is not alone in this approach. In fact, the San Francisco 49ers, his team's greatest rival, follows a nearly identical blueprint under Jim Harbaugh. The greater intrigue comes off the field. Two coaches who mirror each other in playing style, could not be more different in how they deal with people. Carroll defeated Harbaugh between the lines last year, and there are signs he is winning outside the lines as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

PODCAST: Pre-Season Seahawks Round Table With Davis Hsu & Scott Enyeart

It is always good to catch up with Davis Hsu and Scott Enyeart about all things Seahawks. We discussed every position group on the roster, and took our sweet time doing it. Sit back and listen to nearly two hours of in-depth Seahawks discussion and analysis.

***DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST***

post signature

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Morning After: Seahawks Remember Who They Are, Crush Chargers 41-14


Logo by Kevin Gamache, Hammerhead 

Mike Holmgren used to always say that to win a championship, you needed your best players to play their best. Seattle did not have all their best back on the field Friday night, but the ones they did have were more than enough as the starters raced to a 24-0 lead in the first half before giving way to still-suspect depth players. Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith, Kam Chancellor, Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, Russell Okung, and Max Unger did not dress for this game. Marshawn Lynch only played a couple of snaps. It did little to quell the seemingly inevitable onslaught that occurs each time Russell Wilson and the Seahawks step on the CenturyLink field.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Five Guys Who Need To Perform Well Versus The Chargers

Benson Mayowa

Mayowa was one of the stories of the 2013 pre-season. He was decent in practice, but shined in games. The coaching staff loved what they saw, and kept him stowed away on the roster the whole year in hopes that he could put on some weight and develop into a viable threat at the LEO position. He succeeded in adding muscle, but he has been outperformed by O'Brien Schofield and Cassius Marsh so far. His first pre-season game was forgettable. He is younger and cheaper than Schofield, and the team will always be patient with any young edge rusher that shows promise. A strong outing versus the Chargers could go a long way toward reminding the coaches why they kept him around.

Spencer Ware

A talented inside runner, Ware is facing heavy competition from Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and now, Demetrius Bronson. That doesn't include Derrick Coleman and Kiero Small. Ware has been mostly mediocre, and is at risk of becoming an afterthought in a crowded backfield.

Phil Bates

He has been the most improved player in camp, but Ricardo Lockette is a far more valuable special teams player. If Kevin Norwood recovers quickly, he has to take a roster spot, which leaves Bates to battle Lockette for the last opening. Bates needs to make some big plays, and preferably against the front-line Chargers defense. 

Kevin Pierre-Louis

He missed the first game, and a couple linebackers could be back on the practice field next week. Now is the time for Pierre-Louis to make his presence felt. His play on special teams matters just as much, if not more, than how he performs on defense. 

Justin Britt

The coaching staff is starting to foreshadow a possible switch in the depth chart at right tackle. Pete Carroll and Tom Cable have said on multiple interviews in the last week that Eric Winston is getting back into shape and is pushing the rookie. Britt was shaky in the opener and looks like a project in pass protection. A good performance Friday night could keep him atop the depth chart. A bad one, coupled with a solid game from Winston, could see a new first-team right tackle as soon as next week.
post signature

The Tenuous Seahawks 2013 Draft Class

Photo by: Anthony May

The genius of John Schneider's first three draft classes is undeniable. Each draft contained at least one Pro Bowl player, and is highly likely that each will contain at least one All-Pro player. There have been few comparable organic talent infusions in NFL history in such a compressed timeframe. It has been so impressive that draft pundits are now afraid to criticize Schneider drafts for fear of looking foolish. That started last year, and ironically, it may turn out to be a draft worthy of criticism if things do not take a turn for the better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cassius Marsh: More Than A Motor

Photo by: Anthony May


Ty Powell. Jaye Howard. Lazarius Levingston. E.J. Wilson. Jesse Williams. Jordan Hill. Bruce Irvin. Greg Scruggs. Jimmy Staten. Cassius Marsh. Four years of drafts under the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime have led to 10 picks on the defensive line. That means one out of every five Seahawks picks made during that time have been defensive lineman, and that doesn't count folks like Jared Smith or J.R. Sweezy who were college defensive lineman the team turned into offensive lineman. Bruce Irvin has easily been the most successful of the bunch, with 8.0 sacks as a rookie, but he has since been turned into a linebacker. The bar is low for rookie Marsh to become the best defensive lineman drafted by Schneider, and early signs are that he will not only clear it, but set a standard future lineman will be challenged to reach.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 Training Camp News & Notes: August 12th Edition


OFF THE CUFF
That's more like it
Arceto Clark hauled in a catch down the sideline and was stopped suddenly by Earl Thomas, who popped the receiver and let him know about it. Clark flipped the ball in Thomas' face and a little jawing ensued. Doug Baldwin was away from the play but wasted no time in getting in Thomas' grill, literally facemask-to-facemask. It ended with a love tap on the helmet from Baldwin to Thomas. That was just one example of an improved feel at today's practice. The defense blitzed early in red zone drills and the energy level from that alone changed the monotonous dynamic that had started to settle in the past few practices. It would not be a surprise to hear the coached did that intentionally. The offense was helpless during that drill, but counter-punched in team drills where they sliced up the defense with a number of big plays and clearly won that portion of practice. This is what competition is meant to do at a Seahawks practice. One side pushes. The other side pushes back. And when the day is done, they are all farther down the path.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Top 5 Energy Players In Seahawks Training Camp

The energy level at camp yesterday was below my expectations, and got me thinking of who the guys were who brought the most energy each day to practice this year compared to last year. It is not scientific. These are just my observations, but the exercise was revealing, so I thought it might be worth sharing.

Top 5 Most Energetic Players (2013, Last Year) 

Note: The following are in no specific order or ranking

Earl Thomas

Thomas was a constant source of movement and intensity. It was his field, and the offensive players stepping on it was an affront to him. Even his walk had an edge. Nearly every practice had him screaming at receivers and Russell Wilson after breaking up a pass.

Richard Sherman

Sherman brought a different kind of energy. He was fun and cocky. His dancing was a mainstay, and always got the crowd laughing and cheering.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Training Camp News & Notes: August 10th Edition


OFF THE CUFF
Energy level below Seahawks standard
Seattle returned to the field after their first pre-season loss in over two years and largely appeared to be going through the motions. A hallmark of Seahawks practices is the pace and passion on display. Music blares. Pete Carroll jogs and throws the football. Horns signal transitions from one drill to the next. There were many moments the past two years where Richard Sherman would start dancing, or Red Bryant would take exception with a Breno Giacomini block and start a scuffle, or Earl Thomas would woof at receivers and quarterbacks. Those moments have largely been absent during this camp. I have mostly chalked it up to a team growing up and being more professional. Today was different. There was no edge. It may just be the dog days of training camp taking its toll. Even if it is, now is the time for the leaders like Thomas, Sherman, Doug Baldwin, and Russell Wilson to step forward and remind everyone the bar they must clear every single day to be champions.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What exactly did the NFL fix with these stricter penalties?


The Seahawks and Broncos combined for 113 plays and 574 yards in last night's game. They also combined for 25 penalties and 226 penalty yards. That means a staggering 28.3% of the yards gained in that game were courtesy of an officials flag. They were not alone. The 49ers and Ravens combined for 15 penalties for 116 yards. The Redskins and Patriots combined for 19 penalties and 160 yards. The NFL needs to be careful to not oversteer what has been a very successful product.

The Morning After: Seahawks depth unimpressive in loss to the Broncos 21-16


Logo by Kevin Gamache, Hammerhead 

I hate losing. Losing a pre-season game means little. Losing the battle at the line of scrimmage means more. The Seahawks were run on and could not run. They gave up sacks, but had just one of their own. A staggering 17 players, including 4 of the 5 starters on the offensive line, missed the game. That is nearly 20% of the roster. Some that did suit up, like Percy Harvin, essentially sat out. Still, the bar is high, and the team did not reach it in their first live action of the new season.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Seahawks First Pre-Season Game: What & Who To Watch

The whistle blows. The beer flows. You know. Seahawks football is back. The team plays the AFC West in the pre-season, as they always do, but there is a little something extra in this game between the Super Bowl opponents. Denver fans, players, and possibly even coaches, will be approaching this game like it means something. Pete Carroll properly framed things yesterday when he said, "This game has nothing to do with our opponent. It's all about us, and learning about our young guys." Where most abhor pre-season football because of the poor play and meaningless outcomes, I love them. It is pure popcorn entertainment to see dozens of micro-battles play out, as well as getting early signs about how the team may be different than a year ago.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Michael Bowie - An Injury That Matters


There is no way to say this without being offensive to Seahawks players who suffered serious injuries before Michael Bowie, but this one is a biggie. There have been a series of players going down with season-ending injuries over the last week, and not just in Seattle, but Bowie becomes the first Seahawks starter to go on that list.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Training Camp News & Notes: August 2nd Edition (Scrimmage)


OFF THE CUFF
Starting offense scores 3, Starting defense allows 3
The team scrimmaged for almost the whole practice today. They ran Russell Wilson and BJ Daniels against the second and third string defense, and Terrelle Pryor and Tarvaris Jackson against the starting defense. The mismatches were apparent on both sides. Wilson had the offense moving on nearly all of his possessions. He found Percy Harvin multiple times, including what would have been a 50-yarder, or possibly a 70+ yard touchdown if they were not blowing plays dead after minimal contact. The starting defense held Pryor and Jackson's crews without a first down on 3 of 6 possessions.
Quantcast