Wednesday, January 21, 2015

best-laid plans...

So... I still haven't seen Sunday's game.

I know that's not very Diehard of me.

Here's what happened: My family took a road trip over MLK weekend, from the Bay Area down to L.A. and then over to Tucson, the town where our son was born. Of course, I carefully planned the itinerary to ensure that I would be able to see the game at the Skeptical Chymist, a Seahawks bar in Scottsdale. (I wanted no repeat of the 2010 NFC divisional round when I watched Chicago crush Seattle in the bar next to my Tucson hotel, which happened to be a Bears-themed joint.)

My partner didn't have time to look at the itinerary, so she booked a salon appointment along the way, and this triggered a cascade of dominoes that put us behind schedule and made my worst nightmare a reality: We had to hit the road on Sunday morning.

As my lovely partner and beautiful boy dozed, I sped demonically down I-10 eastbound, making extraordinarily good time. I pulled off in Palm Springs with time to spare before kickoff. While stopped at a red light, I wondered... could there be a Seahawks bar here? Yes, indeed: Google pointed my iPhone to Beer Hunter (love the Bob & Doug McKenzie reference).

I tried to sell my partner on the idea of depositing me at Beer Hunter for a few hours while she and our son enjoyed lunch, shopped and hit the playground. This did not go well. She wisely pointed out that a long delay like that would make for a very late night and derail our plans for Monday.

So, we bolted a quick lunch at Taco Asado (great Mexican hole in the wall in Palm Springs) while I scanned the radio dial until I found the game broadcaset. Then, we used Waze to find a good playground for our sun while listening to the dispiriting end of the first half. We let our son run around on the playground until imminent sunburn threatened his paleness (and mine), and then we piled in the car.

I thought we were bound for the interstate again, but I learned that there are more important things than the Seahawks and making Tucson by nightfall. Specifically, my partner needed to hit the Anthropologie in Palm Desert to find something fashionable to wear the following day.

My partner and I rather heatedly debated the priorities involved while I obediently drove her there and tried to listen to the game while our toddler son screamed in his car seat. The futility of Seattle's efforts at that stage of the third quarter threw me into overload, and I had to turn off the game to maintain my sanity.

I played with my son for a long time while my partner painstakingly scrutinized every garment in the store.

Finally, we left Anthropologie and hit the road again.

I was too broken to turn on the game, but my partner, to her infinite credit, insisted that we do so. We listened on the radio while Seattle drove for its second touchdown, scored an improbable 2-point conversion, recovered an impossible onside kick, and held Green Bay to a field goal to put the game into overtime. My partner and I shouted for joy. Our son seemed perplexed that the Seahawks could score a touchdown when the TV wasn't on. She doesn't like the sport, but she said she enjoyed football more on the radio.

We pulled off in a godforsaken stretch of desert somewhere between Palm Springs and Blythe so my partner could rummage around in the luggage to find something for the baby. In this desolate place, with a fading radio signal, we heard about Russell Wilson airing it out to Jermaine Kearse for the game-winning touchdown. I smiled and turned off the radio.

I saw the highlights that night in our Tucson hotel, but I can't wait to see the whole game when I get home.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

anticipation

What happens when the NFL's best defense meets the league's most potent offense? The 12th Man takes control.

Green Bay is a dangerous team. A hobbled Aaron Rodgers is still better than most of the quarterbacks who've ever played, including several with busts in Canton.

Eddie Lacey is a bruising runner, and Seattle has struggled with run defense since losing Brandon Mebane's bulk in the middle of the line.

The Packers field a terrifying trio of wideouts. During the regular season, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb caught 98 and 91 balls for 1,519 and 1,287 yards, respectively. Rookie reserve Davante Adams caught as many passes (38) as Seahawk starter Jermaine Kearse.

This triple threat will test the depth of Seattle's secondary. Byron Maxwell will be tested repeatedly. Tharold Simon, who is better than last week's repeated torchings implied, has missed some practice due to illness. It would hurt if he were unable to go. Backup safety Jeron Johnson is still recovering from a dislocated elbow. Jeremy Lane and Marcus Burley figure to see significant action.

Fortunately, Rodgers was roundly shamed for refusing to throw at Richard Sherman last time; he seems chastened and honor-bound to throw at Optimus Prime. So we have that going for us.

I say we blitz Rodgers mercilessly until he cries uncle and Matt Flynn is forced into action.

Green Bay's run defense has improved dramatically since moving Clay Matthews inside. Seattle had trouble running against Carolina last week. The O-line needs to take control and unleash Beast Mode.

Of course, Russell Wilson shredded the Panthers through the air, but getting the ground game going is even more important when time of possession means keeping the ball away from the league's best offense.

Much depends on Darrell Bevell. If he's in the zone calling plays, Seattle's offense should be hard to stop.

Is anyone else excited about the activation of reserve quarterback B.J. Daniels from the practice squad? One of the saddest failures of Mike Holmgren's coaching tenure was wasting the talents of Seneca Wallace for years as an inactive third quarterback when he should have been returning kicks and lining up as a wideout, which is apparently what Pete Carroll plans for Daniels. I don't know if B.J. Daniels is anything like the freakish athlete Wallace was, but I can't wait to find out.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jerry Jones? Seriously?

The Pro Football Writers of America just named Jerry Jones as their Executive of the Year.

Did he pay them?

They make a decent case for Jones: http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/2015/01/15/pfwa-announces-jerry-jones-its-2014-nfl-executive-year

Certainly, ending the Dallas playoff drought deserves some consideration, but the Cowboys were really never bad, just average. Recent awardees--Kansas City's John Dorsey in 2013, Ryan Grigson of Indianapolis in 2012 and San Francisco's Trent Baalke in 2011--won for turning terrible teams into good ones in a short span.

I'm sure there were worthier candidates. I think a better case could be made for John Schneider, who has worked with Pete Carroll to build a great roster to maintain excellence over three years running. I'm sure there are other worthy alternatives.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Green Bay vs. Seattle on the airwaves

So... The Lake 94.5, an FM rock station in Milwaukee, is showing solidarity with the Packers this week by banning Emerald City bands from their playlists. That means "no Heart, no Nirvana, no Pearl Jam, no songs from any band that calls Seattle home."

Ouch.

No one would ever notice if Seattle radio stations retaliated in kind. No one would miss Bon Iver, the Violent Femmes, Killdozer, Bongzilla or all of the great Wisconsin polka acts of the 19th and 20th centuries.

On the other hand, Cheeseheads will be denying themselves not just Heart, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but also Jimi Hendrix, the Fleetwoods, Bing Crosby, Queensryche, Sir Mix-a-Lot, the Posies, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, the Presidents of the United States of America and Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis.

Not only is our team better than yours, so is our culture.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freude und Schadenfreude

Man, what a great weekend.

The only bummer was seeing Justin Forsett's season end with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Carolina-Seattle contest was closer than I would have liked. Cam Newton exceeded expectations and made it a game for the first three quarters, but once he had to throw every down, you knew the Legion of Boom was going to bust out some neon lime Kryptonite and make him pay for his temerity.

Although I was looking forward to a chance to wreak revenge on the Cowboys, it was still fun to watch Green Bay demolish Dallas. The bottom line is that Jerry's Cowpokes weren't good enough to earn a ticket to Seattle. We'll take a rain check until the regular season and see them in the Jones Mahal.

Finally, it was wonderful to see John Elway fail in his quest for the white whale of a third Lombardi Trophy. There's a great article on Elway in last week's Sports Illustrated. Despite some sad stuff in there about the death of his dad and his twin sister, for which any human must feel great sympathy, the article mostly confirms the longstanding impression that Elway is a psychocompetitive moral vacuum who had his sisters write his term papers in college and threatened to stop throwing passes to a Bronco receiver unless he agreed to forfeit a trivia game to his quarterback. The article depicts an Elway obsessed with evening the score, balancing his three Super Bowl defeats as a player with his two late-career wins, plus at least one more as a GM.

In an imbecilic tantrum yesterday, Elway burned Coach John Fox after he won four straight division titles--including one with Tim Tebow as quarterback--plus last year's conference championship.

Who would want to work for Elway now?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kam Quake!!!


It was like the Second Coming of Kenny Easley, in more ways than one.

First, Kam Chancellor played like Easley, blasting ball carriers with bone-jarring hits before grabbing an interception and taking it the house. (I'm not sure Easley could have hurdled linemen like Chancellor did two plays in a row.)

Second, Easley was actually in Seahawks Stadium. Kam Chancellor's postgame Tweet showed proper filial piety to his forbear from the Knox-era Legion of Boom: "Great team win. Special to make big plays with original LOB Kenny Easley in attendance." #EasleyforHOF@Seahawks

In his postgame comments, Richard Sherman reiterated that Chancellor plays "in a dark place," and added, "Kam Chancellor damages people's souls."

Chancellor declined to be take the mantle of Superman from Cam Newton.

"Cam can have Superman," Kam said. "I am the Dark Knight."

Props to the 12th Man for rocking the earth again.






Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cam is not Superman

No hate for Carolina limping into the playoffs with a losing record. That was us a few years back. If you win your division, you qualify for the tournament, and you get to host a playoff game. Win that one, and you earn a modicum of respect, plus a road trip to the 12th Man's House of Pain.

I try hard to like Cam Newton, but his lack of humility makes it hard. I felt bad for him when his car got T-boned and he got hurt. While rooting for him to recover, I was hoping he'd grow from the experience, but he's back to the old Superman routine.



Dude, you're not Superman.

Why? Because you already look like a superhero. You are an impressive physical specimen at 6'5" with 245 pounds of pure muscle.

You can only be Superman if you can disappear into a Clark Kent persona.



Cam: No 3-piece suit could conceal the fact that you are a freak of nature. In fact, you're already wearing a superhero costume. That helmet, that armor, that uniform already make you look like a badass.

You pulling open your jersey to reveal the imaginary "S" would be like Bruce Wayne tearing off his Batman shirt to reveal a Spider-Man costume underneath. It's stupid.

You know who could pass as Superman? Marc Bulger. That dude looks like an accountant. If you saw him on the street, you'd never believe that he was an elite starting NFL quarterback. Slap some eyeshoes on his face, put him in a monkey suit, and you've got Clark Kent.



But Bulger's been out of the league for years.

Do you know who the NFL's real Superman is? This guy:



Put a suit on him and he looks like an average guy with average height and an average build. Put some glasses on him and he's an ethnic version of Clark Kent.

Turn him loose on a football field and you've got Superman.

Faster than a speeding linebacker! With a stiffarm more powerful than a locomotive! Able to juke tall defensive linemen with a single head fake.

Look, down on the field! It's Russell! It's Wilson! It's DangeRuss!

Yes, it's DangeRuss, strange visitor from another planet, who came to Seattle with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, who can decipher defenses with his X-Ray vision, elude the fiercest pass rush, shred defenders with his ability to throw on the run, and who, disguised as Russell Wilson, mild-mannered quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way to rip the faces off the Carolina Panthers.

This is our chance to strike fear into the hearts of whoever survives tomorrow's Ice Bowl redux. If the Legion of Boom puts in a merely average effort, that should be sufficient to suffocate the offense of Mike Shula and Cam Newton. The real test is for the offense. With the return of Max Unger, we need to establish the run against a tough Carolina defense and shred them with some explosive plays on the ground and through the air. The Diehard demands a fortyburger. I want T-Jack and Christine Michael mopping up in the fourth quarter. Make it happen.

Go, Hawks!