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.


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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.
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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

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.