Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Its hard to write about losses, especially when its the same song and dance as last year, but not nearly as competitive. Pull me off the ledge please, the season is only half over...right?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That old sinking feeling...

Once again, the Seahawks appear to be suffering another steady stream of injuries. I'd like to use that as a viable excuse for that catastrophe on Sunday, but offensively, it really wasn't. Sure Vallos and Unger in the middle is a mess and they desperately need Spencer back, but the offensive game plan sucked. The injuries of Mebane, Tatupu and Hill directly led to their backups overpursuing the expertly used cutback running plays of the 49ers.

The bright side, is that most of the injuries are short term injuries. I'm more optimistic than most for the Bears game, aside from their defensive line destroying our offensive line, its a decent matchup for the Hawks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First opening day shutout since 98

Going to watch the game again tonight, a few thoughts upon the first viewing.

Total growing pains with the offense early on, Hasslebeck looked awful, players weren't on the same page.

The defense was very good.

Lawrence Jackson, a few weeks after I question his heart, plays inspired football, and makes plays, I intend to watch him closely on the second viewing to see if he really played well or he just gambled and won a lot.

Daryl Tapp, another guy I piss on regularly for his selfish play, showed great instincts and pass rushing ability. He did a real good job of diagnosing plays.

Offensive line blocking was inconsistent, especially with the running game. Rob Sims had a few noticably excellent blocks.

Kind of disappointed it took a half for Knapp to realize the Rams coverage was heavily keyed on Housh and taking advantage of it.

Fumble aside, Nate looked good.

Aaron Curry is going to learn how to control himself a little better, but I loved his passion.

Patrick Kerney was nonexistant, might've been schemed that way, might be he's just getting old.

Getting tired of punters trying to drop it at the 1, the kick is a success if its downed from the 19 yard line and in.

Speaking of punters, it pains me royally to think that we once had Donnie Jones and let him go.

More thoughts tomorrow after I roll the tape again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I hate the Steelers, I really do. Which is a change for me, from 1994-January of 2005, I liked the Steelers. Everybody has teams that they casually like, and can quasi pull for when their team is out of it, and the Steelers were just that team. Throughout the 90's I watched Cowher, Neil O Donnel, Kordell, Greg LLoyd, Carnell Lake, Yancy Thigpen and the gang get close, but never quite win it all. Maybe I was drawn to them because they always took on teams I hated, the Chargers in 94, the Cowboys in 95, the Broncos in 97, the Patriots in 2001 and 2004. Its amazing how one game changes everything. Somehow, in two weeks, I went from being happy for Cowher and the gang for making the Super Bowl, to A) Wishing it was the Broncos so the Seahawks could win by 50, B) Fostering an unbelievable amount of hate for Joey Porter C) Fostering an equal amount of hate for Jerome Bettis and D) Allowing the media's complete and utter disrespect for the best team in the NFL get to me.

By the time the game rolled around, I was eager to stick it to those bastards, then the travesty that I will not speak of happened. And I have rooted against those bastards(exception: the last Super Bowl) for every single game.

Naturally, tonight, I hoped the Titans, a team I like and respect, would piss all over Heinz Field and disintegrate Big Ben the Guard Dog. I watched the first half and the ending. Pittsburgh won, which I expected. It was a good battle, and I get the feeling that Tennesse rolls over them if they meet again in the playoffs. Despite everyone disregarding the Titans for losing Haynesworth, that front four is unbelievable, that defense is very well coached, and I truly believe they would've hoisted the trophy last year if it weren't for all that fluky shit that happened in the game against the Ravens.

Chris Johnson is unbelievably fast.

Reports of the demise of Kerry Collins are exaggerated.

The Steelers defense, I hate to say, is still very good. However, a team with a quality tight end and a playmaking slot receiver(God, that sounds like the Seahawks) can still pick their coverages apart.

Go Hawks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dawg thoughts.

Maybe its the coach in me that is scared shitless of UW losing to Idaho. I really shouldn't be should I? I shouldn't be worried about a team that made a boatload of mistakes and still hung with LSU, should I? This isn't Tyrone Willingham's Huskies, these guys are in shape, they don't fade late in games, they don't fall apart in the second half, they don't play without passion or intensity. I am so used to every game being a real, concievable loss, ever since Nevada threw Husky fans for a loop in 2003. No matter the opponent, and in the world of Husky football, there are very few cupcakes on the schedule, a loss beckoned. I worry about the emotional letdown of playing a team like Idaho after battling LSU on national tv. I worry about them coming out flat.

This is the biggest game of the Huskies season. A loss will quickly undo all the good will fostered from the battle with LSU. A win, hopefully a convincing one, will end the nation's longest win streak. It would prove to the media, the Pac-10, the fans, and most importantly, the players, that they can indeed win.

It doesn't take a lot to get a team amped for a big game, you don't need to be a great coach for that. Good coaches win the games they are supposed to win, and win them convincingly. Their teams are always motivated and always energized. This game Saturday is huge. Its bigger than LSU.

Rams game Preview

A few keys for the Rams game this Sunday.

Contain Stephen Jackson. Do not let this guy get rolling. The Rams are going to line up in alot of tight sets and try to establish the running game. If they get the running game going, they'll use play action to get Bulger some time. They've got some big guys up front so leverage and gap control is important. Most importantly, the Seahawks have to fly to the ball and tackle, rarely does it only take one guy to corral Jackson, he's a horse.I'm not terribly worried about their pass game, I don't think our secondary is great, but I'm not too worried about anyone but Avery if they get the running game going and we have to man up on him. He's a burner.

On Offense: Run the ball. Even if its slow going early on, keep at it. That will prevent Little from flying up field. They won't throw as many exotic schemes and sell out blitzes as they have in the past. I'd anticipate seeing more blitzes than Spagunola(sp?) used with the Giants, but nothing compared to what we've seen the last few years with the Rams. They do have some good blitzers in the secondary, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the nickle corner flying off the edge on occasion.The fact is, the Seahawks are better than the Rams right now. The Rams have talent, but are young, they have a good coaching staff, but the system isn't in place. I'm confident the Seahawks, in front of their home crowd, will be passionate, and sound fundamental defense. I think this is our last year of walking all over them up here, they are a team on the up and up.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Game 3 Thoughts

Took a while to get rolling Saturday. The Chiefs have always been the team I dislike the least out of the old AFC West teams. I think they have a real good nucleus of young talent. I'm a huge Dwayne Bowe fan, Tyson Jackson is going to be pretty a damn good player. It pains me to see Glen Dorsey, a solid 4-3 defensive tackle, getting drafted by a 4-3 staff that got fired, now Dorsey is stuck in the 3-4, he could be an end, but did they really spend two top 10 picks on 3-4 line anchors? Will that get them to sleep at night?

I really want to see how the offense does when they cut it loose and use the whole passing game. Thats a very limited playbook right now, but they had a play last night that totally wet my appetite.

I believe it was in the first quarter, play action pass, branch ran a deep post to run off drag the corner with him on a Cover 3. Burleson ran a cross 15-20 yards downfield in front of the safeties and behind the linebackers. Hasslebeck dropped it in for a big gain.

This, my friends, is what Greg Knapp is all about. Play action an getting the ball downfield.

Brandon Mebane has been channelling his inner Cortez Kennedy and having at least one play a game where he utterly destroys the interior offensive line and ruthlessly disrupts the play. Its beautiful.

Max Unger is still getting used to playing guard. He did not have a very good game Saturday. When you pull, seal off the hole, don't push the guy into the hole! He still pulls like a Center, a little to circuitous for me.

Steve Vallos is really growing on me.

I think Patrick Kearney has given up on stopping the run and instead is choosing to just try and get up field and make a play, gap control be damned.

This is a real talented team, I say that every week. The line play was better, the running game was better, but still not great. They will get there. I'm feeling alright about this season.

Friday, August 28, 2009


There are two trails of thought on this whole Edgerrin James thing. One, is enthusiasm, a big name player from the U is gracing the Seahawks with his presence, hoping to bolster an anemic and punchless running game. The other, is wondering why the Seahawks have given up their best short yardage back to sign a guy who, aside from gold teeth and dreads, is a lot like Franco Harris in 1984.

I guess you could call me torn. I like the fact that James is still quick to the hole, shifty and all that jazz. But I don't like how we basically signed another Julius Jones(minus the fumbles) and gave up our best short yardage back. You talk about all-around players, and I suppose James fits that role better than the beastly Duckett. But Duckett gave the Seahawks attitude in a situation where they normally got pushed back and denied. Where Shaun Alexander would put on his skirt, twirl and fall, Duckett would power through the defense to get the first down.

And its not like they signed a game breaker, I'm not sure Edge could outrun an average high school player. Where's the pop going to come from in this run game?

On the flip side, when the o line opens holes, they will close quickly, so a guy quick to the hole is an advantage.

I hate Julius Jones, not just because he's a Notre Dame tool, that I'd trade both him and Edge for his brother, or that he absolutely ruined a Monday Night in December 2004 for me. I hate him because he fumbles. An runner who fumbles is an unreliable runner. There's a reason this guy has never had a full workload before, there's a reason the Hawks signed Edge in the first place. Nobody trusts Julius.

Nonetheless, when the first Julius Jones touchdown comes in a shellacking week 1 with the Rams, I'll be cheering like the rest of you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm not going to start beating the "hear we go again" drum in regards to injuries. But I'm damn sick and tired of our o line getting banged up. I'm tired of all the shoulder injuries, I'm tired of the slow healing time of the Seahawks players, and I'm tired of Chris Spencer getting hurt. As for all the shoulder injuries the Seahawks have had over the past few years, playing on the line takes its toll on the body, especially the shoulders, I know, but I have to think that there has to be something in the weight program that is leading to all these injuries. I just remember the Huskies earlier this decade having a rash of shoulder injuries because of flaws in their weightlifting program.

I like Chris Spencer, I loved him in college and was massively stoked when the Seahawks signed him. He was strong, athletic and moved through traffic well to get to his blocks. He still does all these things, but he's not quick enough to be a real all pro center, despite his massive strength. People get in on his chest and control him. He's improving, but the injuries are really stunting his progress. I like Max Unger, but I don't like having a rookie playing center. The Seahawks offense was the most efficient when Hasslebeck didn't have to help Tobeck with the line calls. With everything Tobeck lacked athletically, he had a good build for a center and was exceptionally smart.

I think the Hawks receiving corps is going to be real solid, they just need time to get open.

I'm not freaking out about Locklear's dastardly performance, moving from right to left tackle is a complete change in technique and muscle memory, everything is flip flopped. I know he's been getting snaps at left tackle throughout training camp, but its hard to undo the years of right tackle he's played. The fiendish speed of the Broncos d line didn't help either.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How soon we forget

I know in our culture, we put a premium on what happens here and now. We like to label games the greatest ever, disregarding decades and decades of games previously. We like to label players the greatest ever when they have such otherworldly competition. Naturally, Tim Tebow has been labeled a god by the mass media despite the fact that he's playing with arguably the most talented players in the country, and two out of the last three years has had the best defense in the country.

Poor old Bobby Bowden is getting ostracized by the media for saying that Charlie Ward was better than Tim Tebow. The statement isn't shocking. The media's reaction is. Believe it or not, there have been better football players and better athletes to grace the college football world than Tim Tebow. The difference is, he is white, a christian, a quarterback and a missionary.

Maybe, if I wasn't such a sports enthusiast I wouldn't hard Charlie Ward in as high esteem as I do. However, he was my favorite player when I was younger, I would watch him during football season, and then watch him lead the Florida State basketball team. How many players in the history of college football have been a first day NFL prospect, MLB prospect and a first round NBA prospect?

As years went by, we forgot about Charlie Ward, just like we forget about many great college football players of the past. I'll even admit to falling victim to that. Then, a couple years ago, before the Florida State/Miami game, ESPN Classic decided to show some old Florida State games. And there was Charlie Ward and his uncanny accuracy, his amazing mobility, and his gliding running style.

People forget that in 1993, Tim Tebow was Charlie Ward. Charlie Ward was the guy who took Warrick Dunn in after the death of his mother, the student government rep, the avid Christian, the captain, and the great all around athlete.

Any disparaging remarks against Tebow, are treated by the media as heresy, they forget what an utterly outstanding player Charlie Ward was. Go put in a Florida State game tape, and realize that with all the great college players Bobby Bowden has coached, Deon Sanders, Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Peter Warrick, Walter Jones, Peter Boulware, Tamarick Vanover, Terrell Buckley, the list goes on and on and on, players that became Hall of Fame NFL players, and he considers Charlie Ward the best. That says something doesn't it?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Looking back on Game 1

You can't tell a whole lot from the preseason, but with new coaches, you do get to see the makings of the new scheme they are installing. And it appears that the scheme is actually going to use the players in ways that maximizes their ability. So, you no longer will see Patrick Kerney sprinting 20 yards downfield to cover the deep seam on a zone blitz. Instead, you'll see him cover the underneath on a shallow zone. You'll see Mebane put in a position to dominate, and the d line rotation will become more situational, rather than a systematic rotation.

I want to like Kelly Jennings, he has good technique, but is simply too small. Once Trufant comes back, you'll see him fade into the fourth corner spot. I like the top three of Trufant, Lucas and Wilson.

I think Craig Terrell's days are numbered.
Mike Teel is raw, has a huge arm, but accuracy will be an issue. Not bad for his first NFL game.

I watched the game with a large group of people, and the TiVo isn't working, so I wasn't able to watch as closley as I wanted.

Overall, this team is extremely talented, more talented than I thought. They are athletic, and I am really liking the defensive scheme so far. But, just one preseason game, doesn't mean a whole lot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nothing else to post today, thought I'd pass this along from Field Gulls.com

"Curry slapped around Forsett in pass rush drills. It exhilarated a very ugly part of the soul like a good medieval stoning. "

Monday, August 10, 2009

Training Camp Defense Preview

I think like a Coach, probably because I have coached, so when I think of the Seahawks, I think of their flaws far more than their strengths. But, I'll put on my optimistic hat on this review of the defense.

I've ripped apart this defense before and the teams propensity to make lateral moves rather than progressive moves, but how many teams have as many good players on a defense as the Seahawks.

Brandon Mebane is a damn good player.

Patrick Kerney is a damn good pass rusher.

Lofa Tatupu is a solid, and smart, middle linebacker.

Leroy Hill, when used right, is a monster.

Marcus Trufant is one of the best cornerbacks in the league(Watch how all teams avoided him last year).

Not many teams have one of the best cbs, two of the better linebackers, one of the best pass rushers and one of the best interior tackles and go 4-12.

The Seahawks defense was top heavy talentwise, and when injuries slowed down Tatupu and stopped Kerney, the rest of the defense couldn't pick up the slack.

You can point to the scheme, and I've pointed to it many times. But Tapp and Jackson couldn't get pressure, the d line couldn't keep blockers off the linebackers, Julian Peterson had a secretly awful year, Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson got picked on a lot. Deion Grant combined age with a bad knee and Brian Russell, I really don't know what happened with him.

I know, I said I'd be an optimist. Here goes. Aside from Grant and Russell, every other player that struggled was young. They will continue to improve, and with a new coaching staff that looks to be very solid, that improvement should be significant. You also have more beef in the middle with Trent Cole, a versatile player like Cory Redding and a supposedly healthy Red Bryant. Aaron Curry is everything Julian Peterson wasn't, a gap disciplined player that can tackle. I'm still not sold on Kelly Jennings, not because he's short, but because he's small. I think Josh Wilson will turn out to be a good player, he's short, but stout and strong. We are running a Tampa 2, you need strong corners, not necessarily big ones. I'm still a bit concerned at safety, but if the front seven does its job, Grant and Russell won't be an issue.

This defense could be very good, or just good, but I think it will be the strength of the team this year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh god...the Rookie Holdout

Haven't we seen this time and time again? Lamar King, Chris Spencer, Rick Mirer, Galloway doing exactly what a rookie shouldn't do. I know a lot of rookies are at the mercy of their agent, but for god sakes, how stupid do you have to be to miss practices your rookie year? The learning curve is steep, your already going to have to deal with the fact that your making more money than 90% of your teammates without having played a single down. Or is this Ruskell? Which wouldn't surprise me, he's shown to be too stiff a negotiator at times. Sign the damn contract.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mariners front office makes me feel like a guy who just got out of a real terrible relationship with a jealous, vindictive girlfriend, is scarred, jaded, wondering if you can love again, and then you meet a great girl(or the new M's front office) and they keep surprising you by not being jealous, vindictive, insecure or nonsensical. Instead they trade a middling, but still a prospect with value, a below average utility guy, and no name right handed arms for a raw pitcher and a solid hitting defensive answer at short stop.

I keep waiting for them to screw this up, but it certainly appears a plan is in place. The complete and utter opposite of the Bill Bavasi era.

Griffey is good for one clutch late inning bases clearing double a month. Not sure that makes his .215 average ok though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In regards to the lull

You can tell its a slow sports season, especially for someone who isn't a huge baseball fan like myself. Yeah, I follow the Mariners and the Yankees, keep up with the fantasy team, but my sun rises and sets with football, and this lull before training camp is utterly unbearable. Hence the lack of posts aside from the Holmgren thing.

When training camp gets going, I'll be posting damn near every day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2008

Its always funny how whats built up to be the last hurrah is never what people expected. Everyone expected the Seahawks to make another deep playoff run. The running game would be improved, the defense would cure its home/road woes, and another division title banner would be raised.

None of that happened.

I hate using injuries as a reason for lack of success. But the real reason the Seahawks limped to a 4-12 finish was injuries. When even remotely healthy, that wasn't a 4-12 team. Were they as good as we thought they would be? No. If they had stayed healthy would they have won the division? Probably.

Its hard to win when your entire receiving corps is injured. And believe me when I say "entire", in week 2, we were bemoaning the fact that Logan Payne was injured. Logan Payne.

They brought in Billie Mcmullen, Courtney Taylor, Michael Bumpus, Keary Colbert and Koren Robinson. They all showed why they weren't on a team to begin with, dropped passes, fumbles and poorly run routes.

The defensive completed their collapse that started last season. Well, that isn't exactly fair, they were a defense built to play with the lead, when it came upon them to finish a game, they were often worn down, or in the wrong position thanks to that hapless scheme. Its not fair that they were expected to play perfectly for much of the season, but they could've played better. I've wasted too much of my time griping about John Marshall's scheme, and I have chosen not to let him haunt me anymore.

There were some silver linings. Even with a bad back Hasslebeck showed exactly how damn good he can be. When given receivers signed off the street the week before, he still put the ball right where it had to be. Often times the receivers failed to make the play, in the Niners game, that led to the Patrick Willis interception return. Hasslebeck missed most of the season, and with a lack of mobility and reps with the bum receivers, he didn't look good.

The team finally learned to run on third and short. T.J. Duckett found himself a role, pounding the ball in short yardage situations. Unfortunately, third and shorts were rare because they were contingent on the Seahawks gaining 9 yards on the first two downs.

Holmgren showed off his wizardry once again, pulling a bunch of guys off the street and somehow coaching them up to compete with the Redskins, Patriots, Dolphins and Cardinals. I can't overstate how injury riddled this offense was. By the end of the season the entire offensive line was backup or guys just signed weeks earlier.

A lot of fans will praise the play of Seneca Wallace. But playing well against teams selling out to stop the run and playing conservative defenses to not give up the big play, isn't the sign of a quality NFL starting quarterback.

The unquestionably best game of the season was Holmgren's last home game, in a snowstorm, against the Jets. The defense played by far their best game of the season. The offense did just enough to pull off an impressive win against the desperate Jets.

I suppose it was poetic justice that Holmgren's last season went like this. For years he had powerful, veteran teams that didn't require the great teacher, to actually teach. This year took him full circle, back to his first coaching gig with an overmatched team, with inexperienced players. That game against the Jets was the last magic act by the offensive wizard, outdueling his greatest pupil. With that victory, the greatest coach in Seahawks history rode off into the sunset.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NBA offseason thoughts

There have been a couple big moves so far this offseason in the NBA, but they really aren't that big. They are big names, but the impact won't be big, at least not in a positive way.

Ron Artest brings a shutdown defender to the Lakers, already a good defensive squad(when they try). He allows Kobe to slack off even more on defense so that Kobe can save his energy for offense. However, I think this is a lateral move at best. Artest is not a disciplined offensive player and seems like a terrible fit for the triangle offense. He likes to take over at the end of the game, too much in fact, I don't think Kobe will tolerate it. The Lakers ditch the triangle at the end of games and defer to Kobe. You'd think that they would continue to bring in players to compliment Kobe. Instead they bring in a guy who holds the ball too long and embarks on wild forays into the lane. This won't end well.

Bringing in Shaq to defend Dwight Howard continues to send the Cavs on the complete opposite direction that they should be in. A slow, plodding, aging center who can't run the floor and can't defend the pick and roll(something Orlando loves to run) seems like a terrible idea.

The Magic don't need Vince Carter. The team is a finals caliber team when Jameer Nelson is healthy, a penetrating point guard, shooters and an athletic center to grab the rebound doesn't need a guy who takes games off and sole concern is scoring.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Fall of the Dawgs

My mother went to UW, and in my grade school years, nothing was bigger than Husky football. The first season I truly remember was the 1991 season. One of the most dominating teams in the history of college football. The Rose Bowl was a shellacking, the defense was invincable, and the offense could run the ball like no other. I remember missing the Apple Cup on tv because we had to pick my mother up from classes.

I remember we were in the car when the Billy Joe Hobert story broke. I remember I was at my friend Adam's house when their almost three year long win streak was broken by Arizona. His dad sat by the radio at the kitchen table in complete disbelief, pounding the table and swearing.

I remember the Snow Bowl that year where Bledsoe solidified his draft status. I remember the Rose Bowl, and Michigan getting revenge.

Once Lambright took over, the teams were still good, but you can't quantify what those sanctions did(to check out the whole story on the atrocity of the sanctions, read Derek Johnson's book on the Don James years, it makes me sick just to think about it), the loss of scholarships killed the depth for the entire decade of the 90's. Keith gilbertson left for Cal and the offense didn't recover until Scott Linehan came along and the Huskies adopted a power running, vertical passing offense.

The 1997 team had national title level talent, but the team was riddled by injuries, and the depth showed. One must wonder what would've happened had Shehee played and Huard stayed healthy the whole game, or even most of the season.

Lambright never got along with Barbara "title IX" Hedges, and she canned him the first chance she got. Despite leading them through cataclysmic sanctions and a coaching change, Lambright was replaced by a coach Hedges thought was "cute".

The problem many Husky fans have with Neuheisel isn’t actually the lying, it’s not the deceit, or the NCAA violations, or his participation in betting pools. The real issue is that he took the very essence of Husky football, and destroyed it. The powerful running game, the intimidating defenses, the hard hitting linebackers, all gone. Why? A) He didn’t recruit quality linemen, B) He only recruited skill position players(Kind of like Willingham) and C) Running the ball was an afterthought. When you don’t stress running the ball, you aren’t able to stop the run. Thanks to two coaches, Willingham and Neuheisel, the Huskies don’t have linemen and are incredibly soft. The principles that the program was built on for 30 years were stripped away.

Granted, Neuheisel won the 2000 Rose Bowl, but whisperings are that the seniors that led that charge turned a deaf ear to Neuheisel and put the season on their back. For reasons previously explained, when Neuheisel was fired, he left Gilbertson, an average coach, great football guy and mediocre recruiter with very little in the form of recruits. Willingham, took on the same approach as Neuheisel, neglecting line play and going after the flashy players.

Now, the Huskies posted an 0-12 record last season. Some people blame it all on Willingham. Some on Neuheisel. All it really comes down to, is a President that didn't care about football, and an AD that was more concerned with the little sports than the program that brought in all the money for the sports that never turn profits. Now, with programs getting cut all over the place, I'm sure the big wigs at UW point to the economy, and don't stop to think what would happen if they hadn't set out to destroy exactly what made them all the money in the first place.

Thankfully, things have changed, the President is football crazy and the AD knows where his priorities lie. A good coach has come in and things are looking up.

It just makes me want to throw up how things got this way in the first place.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2007

Alas, the last of the playoff teams. And it was much like the first playoff team of this decade. Dominating at home, awful on the road. The defense was shocking in its inconsistency and despite putting up some gaudy numbers, was an atrocity on the road. They couldn't run the ball either, causing Holmgren to abandon the power running game, spread things out, and pass the ball nearly every down. Hasslebeck was incredible this year, that cannot be emphasized enough. It was a fun year, high scoring, exciting games with a surprising ending.

The first game of the season marked the emergence of Patrick Kerney and a fast, aggressive defense. The problems in the secondary were solved by the new veteran safeties, and Marcus Trufant was emerging as a shutdown cornerback. The Seahawks beat up the Buccanears in a thoroughly enjoyable game.

The next week the Seahawks lost when they couldn't complete a handoff on what looked to be the game winning drive.

The Bengals game was memorable, because it was such a battle. The Bengals hadn't self destructed yet and Houshmanzadeh had a huge game. This was really an outstanding game that I wish I had on tape.

They slaughtered the 49ers the next week. The 2007 meetings against the Niners were all about revenge, outscoring them 47-3 in the two meetings.

And then, things started to change. The Steelers trounced them 21-0 and the winless Saints came into Qwest and kicked their teeth in. The Saints are a tremendously well coached team and this was the first time I realized that the WCO under Holmgren was getting a little dated. Here's what I wrote at the time...

"I'm tired of the WCO. I've never been too big of a fan due to the fact that its more finesse and is based entirely on rhythm and timing. When they are thrown off rhythm they are screwed. Also, its the same signals and same checkdowns that they were doing three and four years ago.

Example 1: Sometime in the second half Sunday the Seahawks had a 3rd and 9. They lined up in their standard three wide set with one receiver to hasslebeck's left side. The Saints showed blitz, just as they had much of the game. Hasslebeck reads this, and checks down using the same hand signal that he did four years ago, which means, as it did then, for quick hook routes on the outside. The Saints know this, Hasslebeck takes three steps, has to pump fake cause no one is open and takes a sack.

Example 2: Fourth quarter, its third or fourth down, the seahawks are in a spread set with Weaver as the lone back. The Saints show a blitz that will hit all the inside gaps. Hasslebeck reads this and checks down to the hand off to the fullback that goes to the right side. The Saints showed this blitz to get to the check down, when the play is snapped they fall back and into the hole and Weaver is stuffed for a short gain. I knew this play was coming, and I have never studied film on the Seahawks. This is getting too predictable. Just like on fourth and short against a 3-4 defense the Seahawks will run a stretch play with the tackle pulling, the tight end blocking down and the fullback clearing the hole. Luckily for them, they don't encounter that situation enough for the opponent to catch on, yet.

Soon enough, they were 4-4 and I was losing hope on the season. The offense was looking old fashioned and the defense, for all of its bells and whistles and big hits, was getting its ass handed to them in road games.

Somewhere in all this Holmgren decided to start chucking the ball all over the place, some easy opponents stepped up on the schedule and the defense got its act together.

Five wins followed, some closer than necessary, some delightful blowouts, including an absolute annihilation of the Cardinals to lock up the division. The Seahawks stomped on the Cardinals throat early, overwhelmed them on defense, and gently informed them that the division was ours for at least one more year.

The Seahawks lost two out of their last three games, a lame duck performance against the Panthers(a game so boring I fell asleep) and a wacky, awful defensive performance against the Falcons. Sandwiched in between was a dominating victory over the Ravens in the first regular season game I had attended since the Rams playoff game in 2004.

Nonetheless, there was another playoff birth in store, and the inspired, red hot, physical Redskins sauntered in. This game shouldn't have been close, the Seahawks left a lot of points out there and the Redskins held a one point lead into the fourth quarter. Finally Hasslebeck pulled his head out of his ass, and Trufant sealed the deal with a dramatic, frenzy inducing interception return that holds its place on the list of great Seahawks moments.

Next up were the Packers, who I didn't consider legit, unlike the Bears the previous year. I hadn't seen the Packers play very much but counted on the Seahawks playoff experience to beat the new kids in green and their weathered qb.

Sure enough, it was 14-0 Seahawks in a snowstorm before anyone knew what happened.

Thats when all my complaints about the Seahawks came to fruition. I thought Green Bay might panic, I thought this would cause the Packers to force things offensively and continue to play out of place defensively. Instead they showed toughness I didn't know they had.

The Packers had a great game plan, their stretch running plays out of tight sets kept Kerney and the aggressive Seahawks defense from getting upfield. They stuck a tackle and a tight end on Kerney. They took advantage of the insane size advantage Greg Jennings had on Kelly Jennings. They took advantage of the fact that the Seahawks receivers, for all of their speed and quickness, couldn't handle physical coverage. Hasslebeck couldn't find open receivers, and when he did(Marcus Pollard) they promptly dropped the ball.
This was a very good Packers team. They were more balanced, more hungry and more physical than the Seahawks. I watched Patrick Kerney get erased, I watched Rocky Bernard quit, and I watched Kelly Jennings prove exactly why everyone thought he was a waste of a first round pick in the first place. Amist a furious snowstorm in Green Bay, the last contender of the Holmgren Era was buried.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Idle Musings

I think the Dodgers record should silence all the people who claimed that Joe Torre only won in New York because of the talent. Then again, people who believe in that don't really understand baseball in the first place.

I do not understand the fans of the Mariners who want them to turn into Pirates West. These are the fans that always root for the backup quarterback and always believe that whatever is next is the next best thing. Despite the fact that the Mariners are fielding an .500 team, Mariners fans want them to clean house, trade Bedard, Washburn, Beltre, Betancourt, Lopez, virtually everyone. In a situation where you are trying to build from the ground up, you keep the young guys, trade a quality veteran for some prospects, and have a couple of older guys to bring leadership to the team. Bedard, however injury prone, is young. The Mariners gave too much up to get him, but you can't do anything about that right now. He has great stuff and is a surgeon on the mound. Why trade him? His value isn't tremendously high, and it just leaves another hole in your rotation.

Washburn is a guy I would like to see traded. He's officially morphed into "crafty lefthander" status and his effort is contingent on team success. A playoff contender would love to bring him in to solidifer their rotation, and his mechanical and philosophical adjustments(going more off speed and relying less on fastball) have only increased his value. However, he's older, and taking the spot on the rotation of some younger arms, his value will never be higher, trade him.

Lets say the Mariners keep Bedard, Felix keeps improving, Murrow rounds into a solid 7 inning guy, Vargas continues to pitch well, and Roland Smith finally gets healthy. That is one hell of a rotation, not a single weak link, young, live arms, good left/right balance, the kind of rotation that could get you deep in the playoffs.

I'll admit I was wrong about Griffey, his presence has been invaluable and he's finally coming around to hit. The Mariners, in recent years, have excused their lack of plate discipline by claiming they are just "aggressive". Griffey is patient, he works the count, he gets walks and gets the pitchers pitch count up. The Mariners aren't hitting the ball very well, but they are slowly playing the game the right way. The minor leagues have some horses down there as well. The future is bright. For once.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2006

My naivete got the best of me this season. I figured the ultra motivated Seahawks would steamroll the NFC. However, I forgot the golden rule of success. When people win, they want to get paid, and losing teams want to fill their teams with "winners". Thanks to the Seahawks bungling, the Vikings signed a disgruntled Steve Hutchinson. A move the Seahawks are still recovering from. Andre Dyson left, Marquand Manuel got a much deserved pay day, and Shaun Alexander got paid. Robbie Tobeck was a year older and Chris Spencer was about to redefine the term "A man without a position" as he was about to start hopping from center to guard with frequency.

I had high expectations. But in the preseason, Chris Spencer was getting knocked backward, Mack Strong was just a little slower clearing out the holes and Shaun Alexander no longer was running for a contract. Marcus Tubbs was hurt, and Chuck Darby, a great rotation guy, was thrown into a starters role. I was unconcerned.

Until opening day. The Lions, fired up under their new coach, used the standard blitz happy, line crowding game plan that every team used to foil Holmgren. The Seahawks stunk, but won 9-6.

Things got better the next week, but the offense still was struggling. The Seahawks traded a first rounder for Deion Branch, unveiled a wide open offense because old number 37 broke his foot and annihilated, utterly annihilated the Giants the next week.

And then, everything changed. The Chicago Bears murdered the Seahawks. They became the first team to expose the Seahawks safeties, and overwhelmed the Seahawks offensive line. They also exposed a weakness in the middle of the Seahawks run defense that run oriented teams would exploit for the entire season. The image of the Seahawks as Super Bowl contenders came crashing down. They'd never look the same.

The next week, they won a wild game against the Rams, in the first of their annual "Flat start, Unbelievable Finish" games in St. Louis.

Then, the Vikings blew them out and knocked out Hasslebeck.

The Chiefs ran over them in a game not even as remotely close as the score. It was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and a cornerback falling down on a deep ball away from losing by 20 points.

They beat the Raiders, in a game with no offense whatsoever.

Unbelievably, with players dropping left and right, they won four of their next five games. Although you got the feeling they were just treading water, playing sound defense, and winning games at the end. Seneca Wallace was servicable, but limited, and Josh Brown won game after game.

Hasslebeck returned, and a tailspin began. They blew a game in Arizona and got shelled for the second time against San Francisco, a physical team tailor made to beat the Seahawks.

On Christmas Eve they lost a heartbreaker to a very very good San Diego team when Michael Boulware was beat on a deep ball. This was my first time watching Shawn Merriman play. It wasn't surprising when it came out later he was on steroids. The man could've been a boxer, his hands were that quick.

Thanks to the fact that the rest of the division sucked, the Seahawks wrapped up the division by beating Tampa Bay. However, two members of the secondary were hurt, Babineux and Jennings(I think). Leading to the Seahawks pulling guys off the street to START against the Cowboys.

Going into the playoffs, I knew the Seahawks weren't very good. But I subscribed to the notion that worse teams had made it deep and into the Super Bowl(85 Patriots anyone?). If they were going to win, it was going to be on coaching and guts.

Sure enough, in an utterly unbelievable game famous for Romo's botched snap. The Seahawks won by a single point.

Next up the Bears. During the Bears game, I destroyed a remote, and threw an empty water bottle so hard that it bounced off the wall, flew across the room and struck my friend in the head. Holmgren put together a game plan so beautiful it should be studied in coaching clinics everywhere. Shaun Alexander played his last great game as a Seahawk(He played two great games this year, his foray through the snow for 200 yards against Green Bay being the other). The defense, after a shaky start, held tough for the remainder of the game. The Seahawks did what few teams could do, and thats run right at the Bears. They harassed Rex Grossman, and held the ball in overtime with a chance to win.

I will forever believe that Hasslebeck choked in this game. He had one terrible interception, and was gunshy toward the end. This wouldn't be a concern if Rocky Bernard had held onto an interception with a clear path to the end zone.

They lost because the safeties finally got burned in overtime when the Seahawks elected to go on a balls out blitz on a third and long(when your front four is getting pressure, don't blitz!!!).

You were crazy if you thought Robbie Gould was going to miss that kick.

The season was a disappointment, but considering all the injuries, it was a testament to this teams toughness. The defense had its struggles, but was tough and tightened up as the season went on. Holmgren further proved he could compete even when he was working with guys off the street. This team gets forgotten because it was sandwiched between the offensive superpowers of 2005 and 2007, and winning ugly isn't sexy. But its still winning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2005

As a Seattle professional sports fan, we aren't often exposed to greatness. We had Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr in his prime and Steve Largent. But as far as great teams go, they are few and far between. Even in the year of our only professional championship, the Sonics went 45-37. The 1996 Sonics were an immensely talented bunch, but lacked the cohesion to be considered great, even with 60+ wins. The 2001 Mariners were record setting, and watching them on a day to day basis was a marvel. 116 wins, tied for the greatest regular season ever. But they weren't built for the playoffs, and a certain amount of playoff success is needed to be considered great.

The 2005 Seahawks were a great team.

I chronicled 2004 and explained how it nearly killed me. The effect of this was an apathetic approach to the season. Their offseason moves, so key, so beautifully constructed, were ignored by myself and others. It was just another 9-7 year, another early playoff exit. I didn't notice how Shawn Springs was gone, how Chris Terry was shown the door, how Anthony Simmons was given his walking papers, how Koren Robinson was finally let go. I scoffed at the signing of Joe Jurevicius and ignored the signing of Lofa Tatupu. I switched schools and found myself far away from the Seahawks.

The season opened in predictable fashion. In the searing heat of Jacksonville, the Seahawks were battered, outplayed and outmuscled by the brute force of the Jaguars. Hasslebeck was awful, and his protection was worse. The Seahawks went down 26-14, on an old Seahawks message board, I wrote a post bemoaning the start of another "same old Seahawks season". The next week they limped by Atlanta, it was ugly. They destroyed the Cardinals the next week, ordinary work I figured.

The next week, the Seahawks started to show something. In D.C, for much of the game, the Redskins beat them up. The Seahawks were down by two touchdowns, and then, things started to come together. Alexander busted a huge run. They scored soon after. They got the ball back, and scored again. The Redskins threw an interception deep in their territory. I went ballistic, finally a road win against a good team, finally!!! And then Josh Brown hit the upright.

After the Redskins scored in OT, I was crushed. They were 2-2, with a game at the Rams coming up, where they hadn't won since 1997. This game was the entire season. I knew it, I think everyone knew it.

The Seahawks went out and kicked ass, even after the Rams took the kick back for a touchdown. The offense was a machine, getting huge chunks of yardage. But the defense slipped late, and a 37-24 lead was cut to 37-31, and the Rams had forced the Seahawks to punt deep in their own territory. I think I had resorted to uttering, "Oh god please no, not two games in a row, no, not again, please!" When J.P. Darche forced Shaun McDonald(poetic justice) to fumble on the punt return.

The Seahawks would win their next ten games.

The offensive line was incredible. An ode to the old days of man blocking, spitting in the face of the zone blocking revolution. Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck and Chris Gray had been playing next to each other for five years, and they played like it. Shawn Locklear performed far better than anyone would've thought.

This was the one year where Shaun Alexander ran hard as well, it being a contract year and all.

Hasslebeck was golden, by far his best year.

The defense wasn't dominating, but it was good and surprisingly physical. Marcus Tubbs played the whole year, Tatupu was great, and the patched up secondary, with Kevin Dyson and Marquand Manuel filling in, was always solid.

People like to point to an easy schedule with this team. But a schedule is a schedule, they can't do anything about that. They beat the Cowboys, they beat the Giants, they slaughtered the Eagles, they went undefeated in the division. It was a season where everything came together, thats why it was so utterly shocking that they didn't win the Super Bowl. Rarely does a game like the Jay Feely game happen(one of the finest football games ever played before the missed field goals, trust me, an incredible old school brawl). Or the Cowboy game, where they were beaten down for 55 minutes before scoring 10 points in the last two minutes.

This team could finish, and in the NFL, where parity runs rampant, the ability to close out games is what separates the great teams from the good teams.

After Shaun McDonalds fumble, the Seahawks ran for three first downs to seal the game.

Against the Cowboys, an 88 yard drive in the driving rain tied the game and led to the Babineux pick.

Against the Cardinals in Arizona, a punishing drive for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter but the icing on a 33-19 win.

Against the Rams in Seattle, St. Louis had cut it to 24-16 before another run based drive clinched the game and the division.

Against Tennessee, a 24-14 deficit was quickly turned into a 28-24 win.

The playoffs rolled around, and I'll admit to being extremely nervous about the Redskins game. One thing you always know about NFC East teams, is that they play physical football, and the high pressure, blitz happy defensive style had always given the Seahawks fits. If they could just beat the Skins, I thought, they would go to the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks won, in a driving rainstorm despite letting a myriad of errors and Shaun Alexander being knocked unconscious. Mack Strongs run was the icing on the cake.

I wasn't concerned about losing to the Panthers at all. I knew the Seahawks would be able to run the ball, and move it at will. I thought they'd put together a good plan to neutralize Steve Smith. They did all those things. In the finest 60 minutes of football the Seahawks have ever played, they destroyed the Panthers 34-14.

I'm not going to talk about the Super Bowl. Other than to say I was utterly positive the Seahawks were the better team. Unfortunately, they weren't good enough to play poorly and survive shaky officiating, and an injury to Marquand Manuel(whose replacement was victimized on every Pittsburg touchdown).

I can't imagine anything worse in sports than losing a Super Bowl.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thoughts On The Finals

Well, the last five and a half minutes, because thats all I really saw.

People can say that experience doesn't matter in the Finals, but after this game, I don't know how that is even an argument.

Last year, the Celtics won the Finals because they played better defense, were tougher, and more seasoned than a early blooming, relatively green Lakers team. Now the Lakers are in the Celtics position, and the Magic are the newcomers.

I never felt confident in the Magic, even when they appeared to have it wrapped up. Why? Free throw shooting. Poor free throw shooting is footballs turnovers, if you miss a lot of free throws in a big game, you will lose. The Magic are young, they were tight, and it showed. They made mental error after mental error, and the Lakers, despite being outplayed, hung in there. The Magic are talented, but mentally weak, and now, the series is over.

Some of the errors made by the Magic include:

The poor free throw shooting, really Rashard Lewis? Splitting free throws when your an 80% free throw shooter? Earn that 100 million.

Van Gundy's mismanagement of the point guards. Jameer Nelson is not an offensive threat right now, he can create, and thats it. I personally guarantee you that if Van Gundy played offense/defense toward the end, and the taller, lankier, better defender, Rafer Alston was in there, Fisher doesn't make the shot. Nelson didn't pressure the ball, he allowed Fisher to step right into the three pointer. Nelson's indecisiveness and poor defensive rotation is why they lost the game.

The in bounds catastrophe at the end of regulation, horribly handled by the inbounder, and petrus missed a wide open rashard lewis in the corner(his money shot by the way) and instead threw up a wild jumper that had no chance.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why ESPN Classic Sucks

I have this problem with the NFL Network as well, but isn't the concept of ESPN Classic flawless? Shouldn't this be the greatest channel ever created?

Instead, we get old PBA competitions and the World Series of Poker? Every now and then you get a college football game, usually in the afternoon when no one can watch it. You rarely, if ever, get NFL games. Is it a licensing issue? If so, didn't they think to get these licenses before they launched the network?

You just get the feeling that they have a station they don't care to do anything with, so they find the worst, most irrelevant programming and run with it. When they get it right, the results are astounding.

For example, one day in college, during the week before a BC, Notre Dame game, I received a frantic text message from my friend ordering me to go to the dining hall as fast as possible. The Notre Dame/BC 1993 game was on ESPN Classic. This was an unbelievable game that I always remembered watching, definitely ranking in the "I know exactly where I was watching this game" category. I damn near sprinted the half mile to where he was to catch the unforgettable fourth quarter.

That, and the NFL Network, are the only stations where you can boost ratings by word of mouth. For example, during the three years I had ESPN Classic, I remember the joy/pain/or just awe of watching classic games like

the Florida State/Miami battles of the early 90's.
UNC vs Michigan National Championship
UNLV vs Duke National Championship
Michigan Ohio State 1994(The Tim Biakabatuka game)
Oregon Michigan 2003
Sonics Nuggets Game 5 1994
Dominique vs The Basketball Jesus
Sonics Bulls Game 5 1996
Sox Yankees game 7 2003
Nolan Ryan's no hitters

Your telling me they can't fill their programming with game after game after game? There are plenty of classic games, and plenty of simply irrelevant games, just to capture a moment in time that they can show. Why not show the USC Texas Rose Bowl once a week during football season? Its that good of a game.

Fox Sports Net stole from this idea and I loved it. Granted now they show the same games every year. But, watching these games, watching these great players, watching the 2002 Apple Cup, or the 2004 CAl USC game, or Oregon State's coming of age game in the 1998 Civil War, is a great experience.

ESPN Classic, instead of capitalizing on years of great sporting events, shows bowling and poker, the latter not even being a sport. Its disgusting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2004

This is a tough season to write about. Its a season that shook me to my foundations as a fan and caused me to give up my season tickets for my health. I don't think I plunged back into the emotional investment I had in the Seahawks until midway through the following season. After the 2004 season I didn't watch the draft, and only heard of the Seahawks free agent moves through friends. I was done.

After 2003, expectations were high, we thought the team could only get better, they were a year older, a year more seasoned, the Rams were slowly declining, the 49ers were about to fall off the map. This was the year. I should've taken the hint during week 1.

I expected them to slaughter the Saints, and they beat them, 21-7, but it was a skittish, disjointed effort that would be a sign of things to come. They beat Tampa Bay the next week in a game they had no right to win, the offense was dominated by the Bucs and if it weren't for Chris Simms blowing the game, they would've lost.

All fears disappated when they utterly annihilated the 49ers 34-0 the next week. It was as sound of a beating the Seahawks have ever laid upon someone. A bye week followed, then the hated Rams would roll into town, wounded, ailing, but, as those Rams always were back then, utterly confident.

I remember the game very well, the Seahawks dominated for 52 minutes, completely and utterly dominated. The Seahawks young secondary finally had a leg up on the elite Rams receivers and were jawing with them the whole game. And I remember committing the cardinal sin as a sports fan, from my spot atop the Nest, with the crowd thoroughly enjoying the 27-10 lead, I let my thoughts drift to the game the following week, a epic showdown with the Patriots, who were on an unrivalled undefeated streak. Then, suddenly, the Rams scored. There was a quick three and out, and a terrible punt. On the first play of their next drive, the Rams scored again, victimizing Terrell Bierra(this was to be a reoccuring theme). Another three and out, it was 27-24, but I was still confident, this was just a little burst, the Seahawks would hold them off. They didn't. The Rams got the ball back and kicked a field goal to put the game into overtime. Now, I felt the familiar sinking feeling all Seahawks fans are used to. That feeling of another collapse. Now the cheers were of desperation as the Rams slowly moved down the field.

3rd and 5 from about midfield. The Seahawks have had enough, they are going to blitz, and they show blitz, the linebackers hitting the inside gaps. Marc Bulger(a hideously underrated quarterback), checks down, slot receiver, go route, right up the seam against the safety. The Seahawks blitz, the Rams block down(I think the Hawks blitzed seven here), Bulger gets it off right before he's hit. I see the ball floating in the air, I see Shaun McDonald has a step on Bierra, I start screaming, "Turn around! Turn around! Turn around!" Bierra doesn't, the ball lands right in front of him in McDonalds hands, who prances into the end zone. The image of McDonald catching that ball is burned in my mind. I'll never forget it. I sat there in a daze for a while, I would've sat there forever, but my brother jolted me, he wanted to flee the place. I'm sure that loss ranks somewhere on a Bill Simmons scale, and I bet that ranks highly.

The next week, the Hawks were flat. The Patriots jumped on them and had a huge lead, 20-0 or 23-7. And then, the Hawks woke up and the game became exactly what everyone thought it would. It was 23-17 with a few minutes to go and the Seahawks were driving to win the game. Shazaam, there was a phantom intentional grounding penalty, the Seahawks settled for a field goal. Their defense didn't come through and they lost 30-20.

They lost the next week to the Cardinals, I really don't want to talk about that game.

Then, they won a couple, and things seemed to right themselves for their clash with the Rams in St.Louis. This was the last time the Rams would beat them in St. Louis, and the last time they played against the Seahawks on their old AstroTurf, coincidence? That game was a beating, the Seahawks started slow(this team could never play 60 minutes). They came fighting back, Shaun Alexander broke a big run, Aeneus Williams ran him down at the 10, punched the ball out and recovered it. Game over.

The win over the Dolphins was memorable, because Michael Boulware saved the day with an interception return. I think my delirium as Boulware was running toward me in the end zone could most aptly be describe as relief. The Dolphins were 1-8. I think thats when I realized the Seahawks just weren't very good.

Somewhere in all this the Seahawks signed Jerry Rice, who played well, but was infected with the drops, aiding my theory that the Seahawks propensity to drop passes might have something to do with the way Hasslebeck throws. But thats another column in itself.

Come December, the Seahawks played the awful Cowboys on Monday Night. They went up 14-3, fell down 29-14, went up 39-29, and lost 43-39. I still haven't recovered from this. I slept two hours that night and nearly physically assaulted a guy in class who was ripping on the Seahawks the next day. I think this game is also why Julius Jones still plays in the league.

After that, I took the week off from the Seahawks. And they posted one of their only road wins over a playoff team ever in the Holmgren era(2 in total) against the Vikings. I didn't watch the game, instead I went to see Polar Express.

They stumbled into the playoffs and even won the division by defeating the Falcons backups at the last second.

Then, dear god, the playoff game against the Rams. It was as intense a game as I'd ever seen. Hasslebeck was playing simply out of his mind. Thanks to that shaky secondary the Rams had the lead late. Hasslebeck led them on a furious charge, but I had already given up. The season had whittled me away to nothing, absolutely nothing. On 4th and 5 with under a minute left I stood there, my arms folded across my chest, and watched Hasslebeck escape three Rams, and somehow throw a pass that hit Bobby Engram right in the hands. Who promptly dropped it.

You could write a book on this season. The fast start. The high expectations. The collapse against the Rams. The collapse against the Cowboys. The "me first" defense starring Shawn Springs, Rashad Moore, Anthony Simmons and Chad Brown. All taking their turns to bitch and moan to the coaches, and in Simmons case, get in fist fights with them. You could write about Koren Robinson once showing up for a game 30 minutes before the start, and drunk. The desperate aquisition of Jerry Rice. The fact that anyone could run right up the middle. This season nearly killed me. Nearly got Holmgren fired and got half of the defense canned.

It sucked.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jake Heaps

Husky fans are freaking out. The number 1 quarterback in the nation, Jake Heaps, chose to go to BYU instead of UW or any other big six school. But, when you step back and look at it, this wasn't a fatal blow, and, there are other qbs out there who are better fits.

Heaps has been running Skyline High School's offense since the sixth grade, at least thats when the youtube vids start and rarely been under center. Skyline's offense is like Texas Tech's, lots of short throws out of the shotgun. Going under center after spending your entire football career in the shotgun can be a difficult switch. Given Skyline's personnel during his two years at starter, a pro offense would've fit better, but hell, they've won the state title two years in a row, whose to complain. T

The first time I saw him play was similar to my first time watching Jake Locker. I didn't know that he was exceptional and was watching the game to watch Odea's plethora of D-1 recruits, just like three years prior I went to a Ferndale game to watch Kenendy's studs, figuring he was just another cog in the great Skyline passing machine. I watched Odea pound them for three quarters, left my place to go to a party, missed their comeback, and the next afternoon, my friend who watched the entire game told me that Heaps was one of the best high school quarterbacks he'd ever seen. He's very skilled, has a good arm, exceptionally smart and disciplined for a high school qb, and is cool under pressure. He's good.

However, he's not your standard 6'4" gunslinger, which is another advantage of him being in the shotgun. Granted, BYU was mostly under center last year, but they have a long standing tradition of lining up in the shotgun and slinging the ball all over the place. He's going to be a good player, but I'm not crushed that he's going elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2003

This was the year everything clicked and everything turned around. No longer were the Seahawks scrambling to get to .500, this was the year they turned into a contender. Don't let the easy schedule fool you, this team was good.

After 2002, they fired Steve Sidwell as defensive coordinator and brought in the simple, fundamentals based Ray Rhodes. He got a lot of heat his time here, but with a relatively young defense, especially a young secondary, this hire was important. The Seahawks already had Ken Lucas, but thanks to a Vikings draft day slip up, Marcus Trufant fell into their lap. Later on they drafted Ken Hamlin. Overnight, the secondary was leaps and bounds better.

I remember the first game of the season, a home game against the Saints, as being a huge game. If this team, with its gluttonous talent was going to be a contender, they had to beat the Saints. From high atop the Hawks Nest, I think I cheered harder than I have for most games, I was depserate, I didn't get my voice back for four days. They hammered the Saints 27-10, but showed their one fatal flaw, finishing games.

The Seahawks in 2003 and 2004, couldn't close games. In 2003, this only came back to bite them on the road, but in 2004, it ruined the season. Had the Seahawks had a bounce here or there, they could have easily been 12-4 or 13-3. They always started incredibly fast, but halftime always seemed to zap the energy of this team and Holmgren would often close up the playbook.

Look at some of the leads they had at halftime

Saints: 21-3 Halftime

Cardinals:24-0 Halftime

49ers: 17-3 Halftime

Lions: 35-14 Halftime

Ravens: 27-10 Halftime

Cleveland 17-0 Halftime

Cardinals: 21-3 Halftime

7 of their 16 games they held at least a two touchdown lead at halftime.

This season had unforgettable games, the infamous wild card game against the Packers where Hasslebeck and Favre had a duel for the ages until Alex Bannister(why was he in the game?) ran the wrong hot route.

The two battles against the last great Rams team were classics. In Seattle, the official "We've arrived" game when they came back from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to win. And the intense, brutal, maddening loss in St. Louis where the refs would sooner swallow rat poison than slow down the greatest show on turf and the back judge tackled Bobby Engram. I'll also remember the Rams offensive line holding so blatantly that the announcers were reduced to silence. I'll also never forget the column Pete Prisco of cbs wrote about this game, truly a precursor to the media as we know it today. If I ever meet him in person, I'd like to chat with him about it. It was a hell of a battle.

I'll also never forget the "loss" to the Ravens, the Seahawks got a nice apology letter about that one. They made the vaunted Ravens defense look silly the entire game, forcing them to resort to their standard tactics of grabbing Shaun Alexander by the throat, choking him, and punching him, while the refs looked on. Of course, the refs wouldn't have had the chance to screw it up if our corners could stop a jump ball on a 4th and 26.

The high point was coming back from 14 down for only the second road win of the season against the 49ers to clinch a playoff spot. Absolute delirium when that happened.

This team was good, and talented, but a bit immature and not as physical as the 2005 team, but they were good, and that offense was just lethal.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts on the Finals

My viewing of the NBA playoffs is slowly decreasing, not for lack of interest, but lack of time. I watched the second round obsessively on a week long foray to the East Coast, where games being on at a late hour was a great advantage. But, regardless, here are my thoughts.

Logic tells me the Lakers will win, and win easily. Its not hard to see why. They have the most talent, and the better coach. However, their Jekyl and Hyde act, a staple of the Lakers under Phil Jackson, has bitten them in the past. And sometimes, the bursts of dominance, the teases, hide the real truth, that they might not be all that good. The 2004 Lakers were bothered by inconsistency as well, but were still the heavy favorites against the Pistons, who summarily dispatched them with ease.

The Magic are growing on me, mainly because they keep proving me wrong. They have shooters, lots of them, a horse in the middle, and athletic guards that can give the terrible point guards of the Lakers fits. The whole reason Denver hung around against LA, despite the bench not showing up for any road games, was the disparity among the guards. When the Aaron Brooks of the Rockets played well, the Lakers lost, when he played poorly, they won. With Jameer Nelson supposedly back, this could be another series where Derek Fisher and friends get toasted.

The Magic run their offense similar to how they ran it with Shaq in the mid 90's. One big man on the block, shooters lined up on the perimeter, and(when Nelson is healthy) a point guard that can penetrate and create. I'm not dogging Skip To My Lou Alston here, but he's not a playmaker.

I think Phil Jackson will find a way to break the Magic. I think his team will be able to stay focused long enough to put the Magic away. I think Van Gundy's way of overcoaching will come back to bite him, and I never trust teams that rely on the three point shot. However, f

f the Magic somehow steal one of the first two games, its an entirely different series. This Lakers team is nothing like the Lakers of earlier this decade. Those teams would sleepwalk, but would awaken with enough desperation and confidence to eventually win. Those Lakers teams could close games, I haven't seen it from these guys. They don't strike me as champions, they strike me as an uber talented squad with no character and no toughness, their big guns are too inconsistent, Odom and Gasol are completely inpredictable, they don't look like they enjoy playing basketball.

With all that said, I still can't see the Magic winning it all, or even pushing this to seven games, the talent and coaching disparity is simply too large.

Lakers in five.

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2002

The season started with high expectations. New uniforms, new stadium, a new starting quarterback in Trent Dilfer. In the first preseason game against the Colts, the WCO never fired with more precision. It was 10-0 immediately. Then Dilfer was injured, and things went downhill from there.

Hasslebeck came in and started, and the Hawks got thumped by a damn good Raiders team in week 1. Dilfer came back, inexplicably, for week 2 against the Cards. The stadium was open and everyone was optimistic that things would really get going. Dilfer threw or 352 yards, but the achilles heal of the Seahawks reared its ugly head.

We didn't realize in 2001 that Eaton, Randle and Kirkland were in the absolute twilight of their career. And we weren't that concerned when Kirkland was cut for being too overweight, we had plenty of young linebackers, and Isiah Kacyvenski was a hard worker.

Come 2002, Eaton is done, he can't play anymore, but his mouth keeps yapping, which is funny because he was an utter joke. John Randle just flat out wore down. They couldn't keep the line off Kacyvenski, who was having enough trouble on his own(his gap discipline was awful). With Chad Brown plagued by injuries, the pass rush didn't exist. Rocky Bernard started fast and peetered out(A standard for him) and years of shaky mid round drafting on the defensive line left them with Antonio Cochran as a full time starter. Ken Lucas aside, the secondary was old, Springs was always hurt, Marcus Robertson and Reggie Tongue were corpses, and Doug Evans, wow, Doug Evans, I forgot about him. The run defense was the worst in the NFL, giving up over 200 yards rushing a whopping five times.

The Seahawks stumbled to a 1-5 start, Dilfer popped an achilles. Then things started to change. Hasslebeck came in and led them to an ugly win over the Cowboys, and the offense started to move, even if the points didn't come yet. Soon, Hasslebeck and the offense exploded, eclipsing 500 yards of offense three times in the second half of the season and winning their last three games. That stretch, where the offense was utterly unstoppable(including a rare road win over the playoff bound Falcons), led directly to the string of five playoff appearances in a row. They were utterly on fire, and it led directly to 2003, where the real fun would begin.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2001

I liked this team. After the catastrophic defensive performance during the 2000 season Holmgren went out, opened the wallet and brought in some defensive help. In came John Randle to provide an interior pass rush, and Chad Eaton to eat up blockers, and big Levon Kirkland, to stuff the run. Chad Brown woke up, and started playing like Chad Brown again. Reggie Tongue had one of his two good years in a Seahawks uniform and Anthony Simmons started to blossom.

Statistically, this defense wasn't great, they still bent a little too much, and every now and then gave up too many rushing yards. But they were better, and tougher. Their 3rd and 1 run defense was inpenetrable and only gave up more than 30 points once.

This season also marks the beginning of the Matt Hasslebeck era. Early on, he was terrible, but was welcome relief from the days of Jon Kitna(Out routes and corner routes were now part of the passing game. His first two starts were hideous including the atrocious affair against the Eagles where the Seahawks managed 21 yards passing. It wasn't entirely his fault, the Eagles defense spent much of the game virtually unblocked.

He got hurt, as well as Ricky Watters, and Dilfer and Shaun Alexander came in and righted the ship.

Shaun Alexander, in one of the "I was there" games, rushed for 266 yards against the powerful Raiders in an absolutely "Must win" game. Hasslebeck played perfectly, managing the game and not trying to do too much.

The Seahawks were 6-2 at home, using the poor weather to their advantage to unleash their physical running attack. This was the first year of the Steve Hutchinson/Walter Jones tandem on the left side of the line, and it showed.

With Hasslebeck plagued with injuries, Dilfer finished the season in style with two wins over the Chargers and Chiefs. The Chargers game memorable for being the game where the door reopened to the playoffs when the Bills beat the Jets that morning. Despite beating the Chiefs, the Jets beat the Raiders and the Seahawks missed the playoffs. That wasn't the most painful moment of the season though.

Holmgren's infamous "four point field goal" while down 24-20 to the Dolphins with just over two minutes left and facing a 4th and 4 caused everyone in attendance's head to explode.

The Seahawks played unbelievably at New York against the Giants and held a lead and had the Giants pinned inside their own 10 late in the fourth quarter. Unbelievably, the Giants converted third down after third down as they marched down the field. They were inside the ten when Anthony Simmons dropped a sure interception that would've iced the game. As things go, the next play, Kerry Collins, Ike Hilliard, touchdown. That game ruined my Christmas.

This team could've made some noise if they'd got into the playoffs, but thats the case without a lot of Seahawks teams, a lot of "ifs".

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2000

This season was brutal. It was the year Jon Kitna completely lost his confidence. It was the year the defense officially went from experienced, to ancient, and it was the first year playing in Husky Stadium. The terrible weather(two non rainy games all season) and horrific traffic issue caused for non existant crowds.

Any buzz from the playoff season the year before was ruined with Jon Kitna's five INT stinkbomb in week 1 at Miami. They actually played three good games in a row after that, losing to the Rams at the last second and beating the Saints(playoff bound) and the equally atrocious Chargers. They took a 2-2 record into Kansas City for a Monday Night game, had a 17-7 fourth quarter lead, blew it, and embarked on a five game losing streak.

The season wasn't all bad, it was Shaun Alexander's rookie year and he ripped off a few big runs to wet everyones appetite. Ricky Watters was a gamer, and busted his ass every play of every game despite dealing with a shaky offensive line. Darrell Jackson was also a rookie and was third on the team in receptions, showing great promise despite occasional dropsies.

They managed to shock the Raiders despite being behind 11 in the fourth quarter and enduring monsoon like weather and were on pace at finishing a respectable 7-9 before getting scalded by the Bills on the last night of the season.

The real story was the defense. 30th in large allowed, gave up nearly 5 yards a carry, gave up 200 yards rushing multiple times, 499+ three times. Sinclair was finished, Tez was finished. Lamar King sucked. George Kounce couldn't move. The secondary gave up nearly 4000 yards passing. This defense was the worst I'd seen in Seahawks history. An absolute swinging gate with a defensive line as resistant as a wet paper towel.

Doug Flutie managed a perfect quarterback rating against them in a rainstorm.

Next up: 2001: A much better, tougher, and quite often, forgotten team.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 1999

So, by no particular schedule, I've decided to look back on the greatest era of Seahawks football. It is without doubt in my mind that these great years are coming to an end, and a slew of mediocre seasons are about to arrive. So, without further adieu, for the sentimentalists in us all, I'll offer my fans perspective on the seasons of Mike Holmgren. First up, 1999.

Hiring Mike Holmgren was at that point the highlight of my life as a Seahawks fan. He was a great coach, and everyone knew it. He took the down and out Packers, a wild gunslinger quarterback, and turned them into a superpower that went 3 years without ever losing a home game, went to two Super Bowls in a row, and were a miracle play from another deep playoff run(Owens! Owens! Owens!). The Seahawks had talent and everyone assumed, the playoff dry spell would end.

It didn't start well. On the first offensive play of the season, in front of a sold out crowd in the Kingdome against a Lions team that everyone left for dead after the sudden retirement of Barry Sanders, Holmgren tried a flea flicker, which resulted in a sack. The Lions were up 25-7 before anyone knew what happened and a late comeback attempt failed and they lost 28-20, Kitna was hurt, and Glenn Foley was to start the next week.

They really should've been 0-2, they were down 13-0 entering the fourth quarter(should've been 20-0 if Curtis Enis hadn't fumbled going in for a touchdown), couldn't protect the quarterback and looked dead. Suddenly Holmgren switched to the shotgun and two big plays later the Seahawks won 14-13 and didn't look back for two months.

Holmgren showed off his ability to work with crap(in this case Jon Kitna) and still win. The Seahawks went through a stretch of starting on fire, building a big lead, then sitting on the ball. His game plans dazzled teams despite the fact that his passing game was severely limited. Kitna's arm was weak and didn't have the required zip on his out routes. Aside from fade routes on the outside, the Seahawks largely worked the seam and the middle of the field. Passes any quarterback can throw(similar to Mike Martz's offense).

The defense did what they did best, force turnovers, 5 against Pittsburg, 4 against Buffalo and 7 against Green Bay, all blowout wins. They bent, but didn't break.

Of course, to anyone who knows football(not me at the age of 14), the Seahawks couldn't run and relied on turnovers on defense. All this spelled disaster come the cold weather months.

After an 8-2 start, the Seahawks were slaughtered by Tampa Bay, well, not slaughtered, despite five Jon Kitna interceptions, it was still a competitive game until a late Tampa Bay touchdown, and would have been close till the final minute had Joey Galloway not dropped a touchdown in the first quarter. The wheels came off, defenses figured out Kitna, whose confidence was shattered, and a tailspin ensued, including an absolutely awful, heart wrenching miserable loss at Denver. The Seahawks were down 30-20 late in the game, cut it down to 30-27, recovered an onside kick, drove down the field and Sean Dawkins dropped a wide open touchdown pass that would've won the game. The pain didn't stop there, the Seahawks tied the game, won the toss(I think), and drove into Denver territory where Jon Kitna missed a WIDE OPEN Joey Galloway down the seam by about six inches. The next play consisted of a sack, fumble, and a touchdown. Game over. That was utterly crushing.

They recovered to beat Kansas City soundly in what was probably their best game of the season to go 9-6 and only needed a win against the disappointing Jets to win the division. They lost 19-9 thanks to some ill timed Jon Kitna passes and needed the Raiders to come back from 17 down twice to win the division in what was one of the wildest games I've ever seen, ever.

The playoff loss to Miami was only memorable for being Marino's last stand and the last game in the thunderous Kingdome. The Seahawks had a 17-13 lead and the Dolphins at their own 10 yard line facing a 3rd and 17. Of course the Seahawks played a soft cover 3 or 4, don't remember which, with a 20 yard cushion and the Dolphins picked it up, drove down, and won the game. Heart wrenching, but as in 2004, probably a merciful end to the season. I remember walking out of the Kingdome that day, thankful at least, to have finally experienced a playoff game.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Lebron Problem

I know, I know, he just dropped 49 on the Magic last night, where's the problem?

Remember when Lebron was in high school and ESPN put on his games to further the quantifiable hype of the arrival of King James? I watched those games, and I watched him closely early in his career and I always felt the comparisons were all wrong. The NBA is searching for the next Jordan, but there will never be another Jordan. The Cavs and the NBA want him to be a scorer when all along he should have been trying to be the next Magic Johnson.

I'm always raving about his court vision, his ability to make every pass, to see openings before they even appear, he has all the traits of a great passer and ball distributor. He's unselfish to a fault. He could be the next Magic Johnson.

This isn't all his fault, in fact, its Cleveland's fault. Lebron is built for this age of basketball, an absolute horse who can run the floor and has the perfect skill set for this era. However, Cleveland has built him a 90's team. A standard team with a lumbering center, average, unskilled power forwards and a plethora of iffy, unreliable guards.

Their offensive system sucks, it involves a pick and roll with Lebron, a two man game with Z and Lebron, and Lebron posting up. They slow the game down, use the shot clock, play the half court game, compressing the defense and sabatoging Lebron's talents.

Imagine him on the Knicks, with Dantoni's spread offense, giving Lebron space to create and score, put him in Steve Nash's role with his constantly improving jumpshot. Wouldn't that be positively lethal?

Get Lebron out in space, leading the charge on the fast break, get him a couple of long, athletic forwards that can run with him, make him the point, make it his show, don't confine him, let him play.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Legend Killer

No, I'm not talking about the WWE's Randy Orton. I'm talking about the tendency of the overprocessed, reactionary, relentless, overexposing attitude of the media to destroy greatness.

Its no secret that the media has an inferiority complex, as well as most of this nation. Thats why everyone hates the Yankees, and the Patriots and locally in Seattle, everyone hates Bellevue High School. Down in California everyone hates De La Salle. Its why the Seattle Times and the Pac 10 teamed up to destroy the University of Washington football powerhouse and the Pac 10 is trying to bring down USC now.

Its a loser attitude, envy, jealousy and insecurity team up to hate the Yankees. You ask why and someone will respond, "They try to buy championships", even though they haven't won a title since they started on their spending spree and the four titles they won in the 1990's contained a roster full of homegrown talent, savvy free agent pickups, and great coaching. The Patriots have a system, thats what got them their titles, coaching, and a system.

The crime is, everyone hates these teams because "they win all the time", when everyone should actually be studying what they do and emulating it.

But, thats not what this is about, we live in a media processed culture that operates like the oldwcw. Push the hell out of a team, player or story, to the point where everyone is sick of them, and tear them down ruthlessly and without remorse. The media pushes the hell out of stars, legit players, players that should be appreciated to the point of repulsion, society ends up hating these very athletes instead of savoring their talents.

Its shoot from the hip, reactionary journalism, you see it all the time on message boards, espn and sports talk radio. Harsh opinions are voiced with no accountability and when they are proven wrong, it is completely ignored.

The Seahawks, without a qb, an offensive line, or a wide receiving corps were 4-12, and all of a sudden, Mike Holmgren couldn't coach. People ignore the fact that the Seahawks beat the Jets, and were in games against the Redskins, the Patriots, the Cardinals, all with guys off the streets. They played disciplined, competitive football, and no one lauded Holmgren and his staff for the achievement of getting five offensive linemen who never played together to not just compete, but play well, they bitched about the loss, the lack of a blitz pickup.

We bitch and we bitch and we bitch about athletes and coaches, never enjoying the time they have given us. Expecting perfection in an extremely difficult game. Sports fans spout what they hear on the radio and tv, passing these ideas off as their own, completely blind to how these sports actually work. Why the hell is Edge NFL Matchup on in the wee hours of the morning but ESPN's First Take is on right after Sportscenter.

The NFL Network has blown their chance to be the best network in the history of sports, instead falling victim to showing NFL Total Access 10 times a day.

Knowledgable commentators are told to dumb it down and stick to the "storylines" that apparently keep the casual viewer interested. The last time I was drawn into the "storylines" was when I was about 10 years old. What happened to letting the pure beauty of the game display itself.

Nobody knows how the triangle offense works, they just hear the term "triangle offense" and throw it around to sound intelligent.

We have an entire generation of great players that people rip on. Few appreciate Peyton Manning, they get sick of him and don't like him because he's in a lot of commercials, instead of appreciating the mind games he plays with the defense and his unbelievable accuracy.

I fall victim to this as well, one of the first thing I noticed about Tom Brady is that when things don't go well for the team, and a loss is eminent, he tends to overthrow his receivers, letting his anger get the best of him and occasionally he gets a little statuesque in the pocket. Instead of appreciating the fact that he has one of the most underrated arms in the game and has ice water in his veins, and his mechanics are near perfect, I noticed one of his few flaws.

Few appreciate how great a passer Lebron is, that he has unbelievable court vision, they just like his dunks, and some people don't like him for playing in Cleveland.

Its sick.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I know cheering for the Nuggets against the Lakers is like cheering for the Timberwolves in 2004's conference finals, an act that will inevitably lead to disappointment. But, I'm going to anyway.
I'm going to finally set aside the wounds from one of the worst moments in my life as a basketball fan(aside from the Sonics actually leaving) and root for the Nuggets. Why? George Karl. My favorite coach for the Sonics taking a middling team to heights unseen just like he did with the Sonics and Bucks. He's smug, he's a bit of an ass, but I like him.
Why is it as a sports fan that you remember the worst moments so vividly. I remember everything about Mothers Day 1994 when the Nuggets, at 42-40 beat the 63-19 Sonics in Game 5 to win the series. I remember opening up the Seattle Times and a sign with "NOT IN OUR HOUSE" written in big block letters fell out. I remember not being able to watch most of the game because we were going to the Woodland Park zoo with my grandparents. I remember watching the first five minutes where the Sonics blazed out of the gate trying to end the series once and for all. I remember bringing a walkman so I could listen to the game as we walked throughout the zoo and various people asking what the score was. I remember at the end of the fourth quarter thinking the Sonics were finished before Kevin Calabro started screaming because Kendal Gill made an improbable shot. And I remember my nine year old self fighting back tears as Lafonso Ellis made a three point play and then Mutumbo grabbing the last rebound. This utterly scarred me.
Yet once again, the following year I was back on the bandwagon, the Sonics roared through the regular season again but this time it was Nick Van Exel, Eldin Campbell and the Lakers summarily dispatching the Sonics in four games. I've never fully recovered, the 1996 season helped and I found myself a couple years ago watching the game again on ESPN Classic, noticing things my nine year old self never could have. The Sonics playing tighter than a drum, missing free throws, open jumpshots, getting caught in their achilles heel, the halfcourt game. God that was awful.
The Nuggets are back now, instead of Robert Pack, Mutumbo, Lafonso Ellis and Reggie Williams, its Carmelo, Kenyon, Chauncey and Nene. They'll probably lose, but I'm hoping they'll break a few Laker legs in the process.