The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Rams vs. Seahawks

Robinson was a favorite of Wilson, scoring a touchdown and running over Rams defenders.

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but seeing how the Rams had manhandled the division prior to this, how could you expect otherwise? The regular season came to a close with about 33 seconds left on the clock when Sam Bradford hung back in the pocket before launching a ball towards the end zone. It’d never reach its intended target when (and really, who else could it have been?) Richard Sherman, who had baited Bradford the whole time, launched from the side line and swiped the ball out of the air. He ran it out to around the twenty before sliding to the ground. 8-0 at home, 11-5 for the first time in franchise history.

The Good

The defense, despite not getting any sacks, forced Sam Bradford to go 25/42 for 252 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. By comparison, Russell Wilson was 15/19 for 250 yards, 1 TD, and 1 rushing TD. They took away the big plays and forced Bradford to resort to dinking and dunking to get the offense down the field. The run defense was stout as well, keeping Steven Jackson to just 52 yards on 11 carries. Jackson has yet to rush for over 100 yards against the Seahawks in his career. Notably absent was Danny Amendola who carved up the defense Week 4. He was limited to just 27 yards on 4 receptions.

Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s rookie TD record and ran for another to win the game.

The Bad

The offensive line looked like it did early in the season under a relentless Rams pass rush. The tackles were regularly getting beat and Chris Long racked up three sacks. Second half adjustments slowed things down some but the clean pockets Wilson had been getting lately still weren’t there. I don’t think this is an indication the line has regressed but it does show that there is still room for improvement.

The Ugly

Despite deflecting a sure touchdown, Marcus Trufant was again chasing receivers around the field. There were two times where Trufant was saved by an errant Bradford throw as he tried to hang onto his man. Without Thurmond and Browner there weren’t many options at nickel but with Browner returning we could see Lane get increased reps at nickel.

What Else I Learned

-Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record, seemingly passing up a chance to break it. On the final drive of the game he had an open Zach Miller but held the ball and ran it in for the touchdown.

-Rookie(s) of the Year? Executive of the Year? Suddenly the Seahawks have leading candidates for all three awards in Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and John Schneider.

-Michael Robinson is just as violent a runner as Marshawn Lynch. On a number of his plays he steamrolled defenders with big hits. Speaking of which…

-Russell Wilson is a heckuva blocker. Twice he was out in front blocking for Lynch and both times he seemed to find Janoris Jenkins and dropped him. A third time he had the ball and pushed Jenkins to the turf, taking him out of the game for a bit.

What’s next?

The Seahawks travel out to Washington, D.C. to face the NFC East Champion Redskins for round one of the playoffs.

Looking Forward: Rams vs Seahawks, Take 2

The final game of the season features a Week 4 rematch between the Seahawks and Rams.

Three weeks of straight dominance, two of those against NFC West opponents. Can the Seahawks keep the trend going?

The Rams, 4-0-1 within the division, come to town looking to post their first winning season since 2003 just as the Seahawks look to post a perfect 8-0 record at home and advance to 11-5 before preparing to head out here to Washington, D.C. or down south to Dallas for Wild Card Weekend. There are no story lines here, no drama, no historical match-ups to revenge (outside of divisional rivalry.) This will just be a good ‘ol football game.

Scoreboard Watching

With the 49ers sitting .5 games ahead of Seattle, a loss to Arizona and a Seattle win would give Seattle the NFC West for the second time in Pete Carroll’s tenure. Throw in a Green Bay loss to the above scenario and you have a recipe for Seattle getting the #2 seed. We also have to factor in the Sunday night game if Seattle isn’t able to win the division since that will decide who we face Wild Card weekend. Sunday’s game has the distinction of being meaningless and important at almost the same time.

Slot Receiver

Despite being at the top of the league defending against the #1 and #2 receivers,  the defense has consistently broken down when forced to defend against the #3/Slot receiver. Most of the blame, sadly, can be put on Marcus Trufant. Having lost his starting spot to Browner, Sherman, and even Thurmond he was brought back to fill the nickel spot but has been entirely ineffective, especially when being matched up against larger tight ends. Rams WR Danny Amendola cut up the defense in Week 4 so I’ll be interested in seeing how we decide to line up our secondary.

Rookie TD Record

2 touchdowns. That’s all Wilson needs to throw to break Peyton Manning’s record of 26 touchdowns passes as a rookie. I expect to see Carroll and Bevell give him a lot of opportunities to break that record.

Sherman Wins His Appeal

Richard Sherman, suspension, PEDS, pro bowl, adderall, testing, appeal, u mad bro

Richard Sherman tweeted out earlier that he won his appeal against the NFL’s 4 game suspension for allegedly violating the League’s substance abuse policy. His argument centered on the “chain of custody” after he argued that the cup he was given was cracked and that the tester grabbed a second, unsealed cup, to contain it. Apparently this was enough for the appeals board.

This news can hardly be understated considering Sherman is arguably the best at his position right now and has been playing out of his mind the past couple of weeks. Losing him for the playoffs wouldn’t just mean losing a talented player, it would mean losing a huge piece of the defense’s identity that can’t just be replaced with another body. The other good news about this is it means both Brandon Browner and Sherman will be back for the Wild Card round (although Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell did a great job filling in.)

While less important…it should be interesting to see if Adam Schefter or the NFL face any sort of private cause of action by Sherman or Browner. PEDs suspensions are supposed to be confidential until all appeals are heard. However, in this case both Browner and Sherman had their names tossed out there and for Sherman you could make a very good case that his Pro Bowl prospects and his reputation took a serious hit.

East Coast Hawks is Back from the Dead!

Wiiiiiiiins…I need wiiiiiiiiins…..

For all one or two of you who read my blog, you’ll be pleased to know that East Coast Hawks is back!      I unceremoniously went quiet after the first game of the season due to a combination of work getting busy and, as Pete Carroll would put it, getting a bit “hormonal” after that first loss. But fear not, I am returning! With some extra time and some exciting things to write about I’ll be bringing the blog back online just as the Seahawks prepare to the playoffs for the second time under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

So what can you expect in the next few weeks? First, I’d like to take a look back at my preseason predictions. I originally predicted 10-6 and with the team sitting at 10-5 and on the edge of 11-5 I think it’d be interesting to look at where I was right and where I was wrong. Also, with Russell Wilson emerging as one of the top QBs in the league (not just among his rookie class) it’s probably prudent to look at the role of Matt Flynn and whether or not he’ll return next year. Finally, I’ll look at the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent this weekend in the Rams and the potential playoff match-ups. From there we’ll play it by ear as the team makes its way through the playoffs and into the off-season.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Seahawks lose to the Cardinals 20-16

That was a rough game. Expectations were high going into the game but I think I knew the moment Steven Hauschka’s kick was blocked that we were going to be in for a long game. And while there seemed to be a resurgence from the Seahawks in the second half, it turns out that John Skelton spraining his ankle and Kevin Kolb replacing him would be the final nail in Seattle’s coffin. So now instead of celebrating a win, however sloppy, the Seahawks return home to face a schedule that’s suddenly looking a lot tougher.

The Good

Leon Washington, a relative non-factor last season, exploded yesterday after he had a 83-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return. They weren’t TDs like his first season with the ‘Hawks but they gave the offense a short field and allowed them to put some points up on the board. It’s hard to tell if he’ll have the same ability to threaten opponents like Patrick Peterson or Devon Hester but it was nice to see.

The Bad

There’s a lot to choose from…but I had to go with the defense. The first half was possibly one of their most embarrassing performances in recent memory. With little to no pressure on Skelton he was able to sit tight in the pocket and wait for one of the many receivers to get open. And they were open. They were able to pass the ball down the field almost without problem despite the running game being non-existent (27 yards total.) In the second half they seemed to have dialed in on Skelton’s but when Kolb came on the field he picked them apart with blown coverage and a complete inability to get into the backfield.

Unfortunately, Irvin seemed to be a complete non-factor in the game. He’s still trying to just bull rush through the tackle and he’s being pushed completely out of the play. I saw him almost get a hand on the QB but nothing came of it. This is quickly becoming unacceptable. Irvin needs to begin developing faster or…I don’t know, they need to do something.

The Ugly

When you find yourself in a whole, you should stop digging. Apparently the Seahawks didn’t get that memo and they ended up bringing a back-hoe with them. All told they committed 13 penalties (and got away with at least another two) which killed drives and force the offense to get away from the running game. An inopportune pass interference kept the Cardinals drive going that eventually led to the go-ahead touchdown. Surprisingly, and worryingly, Wilson committed two delay of game penalties meaning he was either having trouble reading the defense or lacks clock management skills. The latter is something that comes with experience so fingers crossed…

After suffering through penalty after penalty last year it’s ridiculous that the team started off this way.

What Else I Learned:

- The offensive line needs more work. What appeared to be an area of improvement took a big step back after they allowed multiple hits on Wilson and generally rarely gave him a clean pocket. Sadly, JR Sweezy was singled out for his performance by Pete Carroll who said he was “struggling.” Expect Moffit to start next week.

- The run defense is as strong as ever. We knew it was a strong point and that was confirmed after the Cardinals were only allowed 27 yards on the ground.

- Steven Hauschka is on a short leash. He’s missed a few field goals this offseason and his missed another yesterday (which ended up forcing the ‘Hawks to score a touchdown at the end, not a FG.) Being questionable at 45-yards+ is a liability we can’t afford.

Next week the team hosts their home opener against the 1-0 Cowboys.

Looking Forward: Seahawks at Cardinals

Seahawks Cardinals 9/9

We had our first taste of the NFL on Wednesday night with the Cowboys surprising the defending champ Giants, and tomorrow the rest of us get to join in on the fun. That’s right, it’s Kickoff Weekend. And while the 49ers and Rams visit NFC foes outside the division, the Seahawks travel down to face the Cardinals in a Week 17 rematch. And despite both teams making relatively few changes to their roster, there’s a lot of confidence out of this Seahawks team that’s looking to not just have a winning record but to win the division and go back to the playoffs. Here are the things to look forward to:

The Run Games

Marshawn Lynch has been having back spasms from an injury suffered against Denver and he’s a game-day decision. I think that he’ll end up playing, but if he can’t we’ll see if Robert Turbin can live up to his draft expectations and fill Lynch’s shoes. He’ll have the help of not only Kregg Lumpkin, Leon Washington, and Michael Robinson but also a much improved offensive line that’s been opening up big holes this preseason. Establishing the run game will be absolutely crucial in keeping the pressure off of Wilson and wearing down a very strong Cardinals defense.

And for the Cardinals they had a surprise announcement that Beanie Wells was battling a hamstring injury and was questionable. With some big question marks for the other RBs, the Seattle D has an opportunity to make the Cardinals a one dimensional team.

The Defense

At every level the Seattle defense has the ability to shut down the Cardinals defense and give the offense as much space as possible to operate. And to be honest, the teaming coming out with a W or an L will likely be up to the defense.

For “The Legion of Boom” (Sherman, Browner, Chancellor, and Thomas) they’ll be tasked with mitigating Larry Fitzgerald and taking away Skelton’s options downfield. In January they managed to keep Fitzgerald to a single yard in the first half before he blew it up in the second half. While they don’t need to keep him to 0 yards, they need to limit his big plays and not let him be the security blanket that Skelton will want him to be.

The front seven should, on paper, have an easier time. Arizona is fielding arguably the worst offensive line in the league and the tackles will have their hands full dealing with Clemons and Irvin rushing off the edges. Add in the pressure up the middle from Jones and the ingredients for multiple sacks and hits on Skelton are there. The revamped LB corps. will also be called upon to contain Larod Stephens-Howling and John Skelton who were able to beat the much slower backs last time.

Russell Wilson

Finally…we come to Russell Wilson. After a dominating preseason he comes to Arizona for his first start against one of the tougher defenses in the league. He’ll be facing pressure up front from the D-line while simultaneously keeping his eyes on Patrick Peterson. This Seattle offense doesn’t require that he carry the team down the field, but it does demand that he be efficient and minimize mistakes. He’ll need to keep the ball moving and pick apart the defense which is already promising to use some unique looks to keep him on his toes.

But Wilson returns the favor with his ability to run out of the pocket. He showed his agility and athleticism in college and it translated to the preseason when he fired off big runs after the play broke down. Carroll probably doesn’t want to see him running around the field, but having that in his back pocket is invaluable

Prediction

This is a hard game to predict. On paper the Seahawks seem to be a clear favorite but the Cardinals have this odd ability to hang on and keep games close. The question is if they’ll look like the team that kicked of the season last year (and this preseason) or if they’ll be the same team that finished the season. And if the Seahawks are without Lynch, will Turbin and the other backs be able to pick up the slack?

Seahawks 20 Arizona 14

 

Marshawn Lynch May Not Play On Sunday

Marshawn Lynch's back may keep him out of the game Sunday.

Sparking flashbacks to a humiliating 6-3 loss to the Browns, it’s recently been revealed that the Marshawn Lynchback spasms has been suffering from that have kept him out of practice recently may keep him out of the season opener on Sunday. According to ESPN, a team source indicated that they are “uncertain” whether or not he’ll be able to play. So can we expect a repeat of the Browns game? I don’t think so…

First, the running game is more decentralized than it was during the game. Lynch is still the marquee player but after drafting Robert Turbin the Seahawks still have a bruising back that can churn out yards like Lynch. We’re also carrying a fifth backer in Kregg Lumpkin to compliment Leon Washington and Michael Robinson. Would they be better off with all five RBs healthy? Of course. But if this offseason has proven anything it’s that Turbin has the ability to carry the team if need be.

Another aspect of the Browns game that’s important is that Jackson sat out and Whitehurst started. Despite finishing out the win against the Giants and looking pretty good doing it, Clipboard Jesus came out flat and never got the offense moving. Fast forward to now and Russell Wilson is making his first start. There’s so much that’s been written here and elsewhere about Russell Wilson but the long and short is that he brings an athleticism and skill level that’s been missing since Matt Hasselbeck (and even that could be debatable based on his performance.)

Regardless, I have my doubts that Lynch will sit out the game against Arizona. For one it’s beyond important that the Seahawks beat the Cardinals before making a home-stand at The CLink against the Cowboys and Green Bay. Getting out of that series 2-1 will go a long way to putting them in the right direction. A 1-2, or even 0-3, opening would be devastating. There’s also no word on the severity of the issue. It may just be a matter of keeping him off the field until Sunday and that this is simply a continuation of that. Either way we’ll know a bit more tomorrow when teams have to release injury reports (remember those?) but even then he can simply be listed as “questionable.”

Kellen Winslow Released and Other Roster News

Kellen Winslow released by the Seahawks.

The craziness of roster cut down seemed to be settling down before the Seahawks create a big splash with the release of Kellen Winslow this afternoon. Rumor has it he was unwilling to restructure his $3.3 million salary on top of concerns about his ability to stand up physically. In return, the Seahawks have signed TE Evan Moore who was released from the Browns. I don’t know much about him so I won’t even

Last night the Seahawks joined the rest of the league when they announced their final 53 players. These are the players they cut (thanks to Field Gulls for the list:)

DB Phillip Adams, DE Pierre Allen, LB Allen Bradford, WR Deon Butler, WR Kris Durham, T/G Paul Fanaika, G Rishaw Johnson, WR Jermaine Kearse, LB Kyle Knox, DE Cordarro Law, WR Ricardo Lockette, TE Sean McGrath, C Kris O’Dowd, QB Josh Portis, DB DeShawn Shead, LB Korey Toomer, and WR Lavasier Tuinei. TE Cooper Helfet and FB Vai Taua were waived/injured, and LB Matt McCoy was placed on the injured reserve. Pep Levingston was given an injury settlement after being waived. Allen Barbre was placed on the suspended list.

There weren’t too many surprises in the initial cuts; but the two that caught my eye were Deon Butler and Sean McGrath (eve more with Winslow’s release.) Butler was a victim of Obomanu’s versatility and Charly Martin’s late preseason surge while McGrath was the odd man out after Anthony McCoy decided to show up. Luckily for McGrath he cleared waivers and was signed to the practice squad, which looks something like this right now…:

QB Portis, WR Lockette, WR Tuinei, OL R. Johnson, OL Coughman, LB Toomer, TE McGrath. WR Jermaine Kearse

Portis is a typical Carroll player and they’re going to continue to try and develop him this year. Lockette showed some promise at the beginning of camp but faded quickly but his speed is a real asset. And finally, Rishaw Johnson made a positive impact in practice and considering the injuries that Seattle linemen seem to suffer, I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson has his name called at some point.

Looking Forward to Oakland at Seattle

Russell Wilson at CenturyLink Field.

Tomorrow is the final preseason exhibition game for the Seahawks (and the NFL as a whole) and they’ll finish at home before heading to Arizona next Sunday. This will be a different team taking the field than the team that opened the preseason a few weeks ago. The most notable change will be the man under center, Russell Wilson, who makes his first start at CenturyLink Field. So what am I looking forward to for tomorrow’s game?

Russell Wilson (and the other QBs)

Clearly we’ll want to see how Wilson performs in his second game as a starter. I haven’t heard how long Carroll plans to keep him in but I’d guess we’ll see at least a few drives, possibly the entire first quarter. Statistically I’d like to see him score a touchdown and keep the offense moving the same way he did against the Chiefs. Beyond that I don’t really see any need to risk an injury to Wilson by keeping him in for long.

Matt Flynn will also play again after missing last last week’s game with a sore elbow. There’s no chance that he’ll take back the starting job at this point so Flynn should have a little less pressure on him in terms of competing with Wilson. However, it’ll be nice to see him come out and lead the second string to some points, preferably a touchdown, and avoid making any mistakes from forcing the ball. We’ll also see Josh Portis get some extended reps, and while there aren’t any real expectations, I think we’ll want to see him do something to justify keeping him over any veterans who may get cut.

Bruce Irvin

He’s had a rough time of it during games, failing to record a sack or a tackle, but has shined during practice. Coaches have come out recently backing up his performance at the VMAC and said that his first two games were a product of rookie jitters and over-thinking things. Irvin did look a lot better in Kansas City and got some pressure on Cassel so hopefully that will continue and he’ll show up bigger tomorrow.

All the Rest

Tomorrow may be the last NFL game for a lot of players; the next day rosters have to be cut down to the final 53 players. For most positions the numbers are already settled but there is some wiggle room. I’ll be paying attention to a few people in particular tomorrow who are on the bubble but could make it.

Charly Martin is a receiver who’s been on the same page with Russell Wilson all offseason. With TO gone and Edwards appearing to be a lock for the final roster, that leaves one or two spots open and Martin has been making a case lately that he should be #5 or #6 on the depth chart. I’d like to see him make a statement tomorrow. Another is Rishaw Johnson. An undrafted O-lineman, he’s been a bit deeper on the depth chart but he seems to be a very “Carroll” like player. There have been some positive reviews and he could find himself still on the team this  weekend. Finally is Sean McGrath. With Cameron Morrah going to injured reserve, he’s become a favorite for the possible fourth tight end spot. He’s also shown a few flashes and he could make it through cuts with a good showing.

In some other news, Lazarius Livingston, Cameron Morrah, and Jameson Konz all passed waivers and were placed on Seattle’s IR. Coye Francies was waived by Seattle earlier in the week and was claimed by, of all the teams, the Oakland Raiders.

Colin Cowherd, You’re Wrong About the Seahawks

Colin Cowherd

I usually listen to ESPN radio and 710 KIRO at work. It’s easy to tune in and out if I’m busy and I especially like staying connected to the Seattle sports radio so that I can feel connected with Washington. Since Russell Wilson was announced as the Seahawks’ starting QB, the team has been thrust into the national spotlight. For the most part, commentators have shown reserved enthusiasm for Wilson and the rest of the team. Well…everyone but Colin Cowherd.

It’s not exactly a surprise that Cowherd doesn’t like Seattle teams. At best you can expect a backhanded compliment despite the Mariners going 8 straight or the Seahawks destroying a supposed AFC West contenders. But starting Monday and continuing into today, he made a point of saying that despite their preseason dominance, the Seahawks really aren’t that much better than the Jets and went so far as to predict not only another 7-9 season but that Rams would overtake the Seahawks with a 9-7 record. I, clearly, disagree with his notion and I’ll just break down a few of the points that he brought up.

“For every home run Pete Carroll scores, he whiffs on two.”

There’s no doubt that during Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s time they have brought in some players that haven’t worked out. Probably the most notable and expensive example being Charlie Whitehurst. But even Whitehurst wasn’t a complete bust, going 1-1 as a starter and winning a second game over the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants. But in terms of huge gambles that haven’t paid off…the only other one that comes to mind is James Carpenter. And while some have made the case that Flynn is another big name bust, he was brought in to a relatively modest salary without any guarantees and without the team knowing that they’d get Wilson and that he’d perform like he has.

Just in drafting Pete Carroll has created arguably the strongest back four on defense, found two stud linebackers, converted a 6th round DT into a starting caliber RG, and found an undrafted free agent named Doug Baldwin who led the team in receiving last year. That’s not counting all of the other transformations the team has gone through since his arrival.

“The Seahawks have shown everything this preseason.”

Not sure what he was trying to get at or what evidence he has to support this, but he said that the only reason the Seahawks have blown out teams this preseason is because they’ve shown off all their plays. Ignoring that the star of the offense has played in all of two or three series, a key offseason defensive acquisition has sat out most games, Doug Baldwin hasn’t played, etc. The team also hasn’t used a two TE set with Kellen Winslow and Zach Miller. Only thing out of the ordinary this offseason was a lame end-around fake with Terrell Owens.

“The Seahawksare only as good as the Jets.”

Really? If you’re trying to decide between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow and one of your starting tackles was recently Wayne Hunter, you’re a pretty bad team.  Oh…and that’s not even getting to the little fact that in three games, the Jets have yet to score a touchdown.

“The Rams will go 9-7, the Seahawks will go 7-9.”

Who expected the 49ers to go 13-3 last year? But still, the Rams have been inconsistent at best this offseason having been blown up by the Colts and Cowboys but doing the same to the Chiefs. Their two marquee offensive rookies seem “meh” right now and the defense has given up a lot of points. Bradford seems to be exhibiting signs of “cabin fever” and is still taking shots behind the line. No one is expecting this team to go 2-14 again, most peg them around 6 wins, but to have a 7 point swing overnight without any serious personnel upgrades is hilarious.

And then to say the Seahawks will only notch seven wins? Uh-huh.

I get that there’s a lot of bias against the Seahawks, and most of the west coast teams in general, but this was just ridiculous.