Saturday, September 3, 2016

Siegfried & the roster flaw that could blow the season

Image result for trevone boykin seahawks
Coach Carroll counsels backup quarterback Trevone Boykin last week against Dallas (Photo Credit: TNB)
How is the Seattle's roster like Siegfried?

No, not the Vegas entertainer whose partner got mauled by a tiger. I'm talking about the tragic hero of Wagnerian opera.

In Germanic legend, Siegfried slew a dragon and bathed in its blood to become invincible. Unfortunately, a leaf fell on his back and stuck there, so that one spot--right behind his heart--remained unprotected. His wife Kriemhild helpfully stitched a yellow cross on the back of Siegfried's shirt to mark the point of vulnerability--ostensibly to help his comrades shield him, but in fact to facilitate his assassination.

[Illustration]Coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have sewn a similarly glaring weakness into the fabric of the Seahawk roster.

If Russell Wilson were to suffer a serious injury, then Seattle's season would be finished. Having lost the security blanket of Tarvaris Jackson, the team has settled on rookie free agent Trevone Boykin as its backup quarterback. A Horned Frog from Texas Christian University of the Big 12, he got drunk and punched a cop two days before last year's Alamo Bowl, thus blowing his chance to play in the biggest game of his life to date, while also convincing NFL teams not to risk a draft pick on him.

Boykin failed to impress during the preseason. He runs well, but his errant throws and questionable decisions should relegate him to remedial work on the practice squad. While DangeRuss has proven remarkably durable to date--he's never missed a practice or a game as a Seahawk--betting the season on that run of luck continuing indefinitely is simply foolish.

There are many better options. Let us begin with several quarterbacks who already know the Seahawk offense.

The Bears waived B.J. Daniels on Friday. (AP)
BJ Daniels, Seattle's once (and future?) backup quarterback (Photo Credit: CST)
Chicago just cut BJ Daniels. He served as Seattle's third-string quarterback and sometime wideout and kick returner from 2013-15. During the 2015 preseason, he executed the offense even better than Tarvaris Jackson did. Late in the season, the Seahawks tried to stash him on the practice squad, but Houston stole him to add quarterback depth. During the offseason, he tried to catch on first with the New York Giants and then with the Bears as a receiver and returner. That versatility certainly increases his utility for Seattle (fragile reserve corner Tharold Simon is our backup kick returner?!?!?), but it presumably would not take long for Daniels to knock off the rust and supersede Boykin as our best backup option under center.

Former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was arrested in Florida last week for investigation of aggravated assault. Photo: Courtesy WESH
T-Jack's mug shot (Photo Credit: P-I)
The Seahawks could roll the dice again on longtime backup Tarvaris Jackson, Presumably, he would owe a suspension of several games for getting drunk and pulling a gun on his wife, Given that he cited poverty to request a public defender for his criminal case, he seems so financially desperate that he would probably play for the veteran minimum salary. Employment could restore some semblance of structure to his life and help him recover from his demons and become a better husband and father.

Two other former Seahawk backups--Clipboard Jesus (Charlie Whitehurst) and Matt Flynn--remain available. Neither can credibly replicate the running dimension of Seattle's offense, but both of them throw well enough. Christ of Clemson and his pop star girlfriend Jewel could double date with DangeRuss and Ciara.

Jewel Dating Charlie Whitehurst
Clipboard Jesus & Jewel (Photo Credit: HW)
Even Matt Hasselbeck would be a good option, if he were not poised for stardom as an ESPN analyst.

Having exhausted the ranks of former Seahawks, we can contemplate quarterbacks with skill sets well-suited to the Seattle offense.

As I have suggested before, the team should consider coaxing local hero Jake Locker out of retirement. Injuries marred his stint in Tennessee, but being Seattle's backup would give him an opportunity to finish his career with dignity.

Mike Vick looked dismal with Pittsburgh last year, but may be worth a tryout to see if he's a better fit in Seattle's offense.

Of course, there's always Tim Tebow.

I mention him only to see if it attracts additional traffic to my website, and for the opportunity to troll him: Tebow reminds me of Michael Sam: both of them achieved more fame as cultural icons than their athletic achievements justified, and both lost my respect when they refused to pay their dues in the Canadian Football League, If they really loved the game, then they should have followed Joe Theismann, Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, Brandon Browner and other unconventional athletes who proved their detractors wrong by dominating the CFL and earning another shot in the NFL. Tebow's recent decision to try out for pro baseball seems particularly quixotic. Even if he makes it, how would playing his next-best sport for chump change in the minors be better than pursuing his true calling in the CFL?

Finally, there's Johnny Football. Sorry. Kidding again. Obviously, Manziel is kryptonite cancer dumpster fire train wreck.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Putting Tom Brady’s struggle in perspective

The owners Kraft, Bill Belicheat & Tom Shady gloat (Photo Credit:  AP/NFL)
Tom Brady just acquiesced to a modicum of martyrdom. Earlier today, the New England quarterback finally ended his prolonged appeal of a league suspension. Brady continues to maintain his innocence, but will accept the consequences for rigging game balls during his team’s defeat of Indianapolis in the 2014 NFC Championship. That victory enabled the ethically incorrigible Patriots to advance to Super Bowl XLIX, which they also won.
During his suspension, Brady will sit out the first four weeks of the 16-game regular season. For missing one-fourth of the regular season, he will lose nearly a quarter of his salary. Originally, forfeiting those game checks would have cost him more than $2 million, but New England kindly reworked Tom Shady’s contract to defeat league discipline. By shifting funds from game checks to untouchable bonus money, the team cut the cheater’s losses to just $235,000 of the $13 million he will earn this year.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft denounced the league’s punishment of his multi-millionaire employee as “unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable.” In a statement, the billionaire businessman put Brady’s struggle in perspective: “What Tom has had to endure throughout this 18-month ordeal has been, in my opinion, as far removed from due process as you could ever expect in this country.”
Evidently, Kraft doesn’t watch the news. Last week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile endured actual ordeals much farther removed from due process, and infinitely more damaging to the fabric of this country.
Perhaps their astonishing lack of ethical perspective helps explain Kraft and Brady’s affection for Donald Trump, who promises, if elected, to perpetrate even more extreme violations of our constitutional liberties.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bye, T-Jack

Hey, T-Jack.

I didn't want it to end this way.

I appreciated your contributions to the franchise. I'm sorry it never worked out for you to become a successful longtime starter in the league. We all felt safe with you as Russell Wilson's backup, and we would have liked that to continue.

But not now. Dude, why do you even have a gun? Why would you handle a firearm while inebriated? And why on earth would you pull a gun on your wife?

You need to get help. Your NFL career doesn't have to be over, but playing this year seems unlikely. Take the time you need to resolve your mental health issues, make restitution, reconcile with your family and sort out the legal situation. If there are second chances for Mike Vick and Ben Rapistberger, then there is hope for you, too. But getting your life together and providing for your children is far more important than returning to the field.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Who was history's greatest male athlete?

I am long overdue to write about Seattle's eventful offseason.

I've been posting a lot on my history blog. It rarely relates to sports, but yesterday was an exception.

I wrote this piece weighing the evidence for who deserves the title of greatest male athlete in recorded history.

Even the most casual reader of this blog knows what a hopeless homer I am, but no, I did not make a case for any Seahawks--not even my man Walter Jones, a transcendent talent who remains criminally underrated.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Good riddance, DirecTV

...and the horse you rode in on.

Once the Seahawks got eliminated from the playoffs, I eliminated DirecTV.

When you live outside of your home team's market, NFL Sunday Ticket is the only way to ensure that you can see every Seahawk game in the comfort of your own home. And subscribing to DefecTV is the only way to get NFL Sunday Ticket.

When you roll in taxes, fees and nickel & dime equipment charges, RegreTV gouges customers about $100 per month for basic service--about double what cable costs, for essentially the same channels! And then, when football season comes, you still have to pay several hundred additional dollars to get NFL Sunday Ticket.

To add insult to injury, InepTV's college football offerings have always been feeble, unless you pony up another several more hundred dollars for yet another sports package. Penury forced me to choose between the Huskies and the Seahawks, and that's not right.

It almost used to be worth it to pay DiureticTV. Before I had a family, I played fantasy football and watched every televised NFL game, every Thursday and Monday night and all day on Sundays. Now I can barely make time for the Seahawks game once a week.

Aside from football, I've never watched that much television. I'm in the dad zone right now: I don't have much time to watch anything my son can't watch with me. In the unusual event that he falls asleep when I'm awake, watching television is generally dead last on my list of things to do.

However, when we had DefecateTV, my son could not get enough of the several Disney channels, the Cartoon Network, Nickel Odious, etc. While there is some good kids' programming (Wonder Pets, Octonauts), much of it is stultifying (Thomas & Friends), ugly (computer-animated everything), ultraviolent (superheroes, A Clockwork Orange) or idiotic (Paw Patrol--the dumbest thing to come out of Canada since Loverboy).

So, when Carolina eliminated Seattle, I leapt at the chance to cancel Hubris UncheckedTV.

Of course, it's not easy to cancel JesusWepTV. On their website, you can upgrade your package (i.e., agree to pay them more money), but you can neither trade down to a lower-priced package nor cancel your service altogether.

To do anything that might result in SuspecTV taking less of your money, you need to dial it back to the 20th century, pick up the phone and spend an eternity navigating an inefficient automated labyrinth designed to thwart you from speaking to a human being.

When you do reach a customer disservice representative, the conversation somewhat resembles the horrible experience that one guy had trying to cancel his service with Comcast.

Of course, Dick (not his real name... probably) asked why I wanted to cancel. I didn't feel like baring my soul to Dick, so I told him it was a purely financial decision and I politely asked if we could complete the transaction as quickly as possible.

"Are you aware that you are still under contract with us?" Dick asked ominously. He explained that I owed HenpeckedTV five more months and it would cost me money to break my contract.

"What's the damage?" I asked.

Dick did some math and said I would need to pay $120 to be done with GenuflecTV.

"That's a bargain!" I exclaimed. "That's like paying one month to get out of paying the next four months. Yes--please cancel my service now."

"Is there anything we can do to encourage you to stay with us?"

"Nope. I need to save money, so unless you are going to pay me to keep DirecTV, please cancel my service immediately."

"We can give you 5% off per month for the next year," Dick offered hopefully.

"No. That's not you paying me. That's still me paying you. Please cancel my service."

My broken record routine eventually got through to him. After twentysome excruciating minutes (hold time plus talking to Dick), I was a free man.

I enjoyed boxing up their equipment and shipping it back to them. Die, Wrecked TV!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Manning hobbles into the Hall of Shame

Manning in happier times (Photo Credit: Denver Post)
Along with most of America, I was hoping that Peyton Manning would play well in the Super Bowl.

Like many, I admired his dad, his distinguished career, his gaudy stats, his cerebral approach to the game, his heroic fight against injuries and Father Time, his quest for redemption after the Colts cut him and Seattle humiliated him in Super Bowl XLVIII.

I worried a little about the Al Jazeera allegations of performance-enhancing drugs, but not too much, because I don't regard Qatar's news leader as a particularly credible source for US sports news.

More than anything, though, I appreciated the goofy and likable persona he cultivates in all of those commercials.

Don't get me wrong: I didn't want Manning to win the game, because John Elway and the Broncos already have too many rings. I just wanted him to play well enough to retire on a high note.

I didn't get my wish: He played rather poorly, and the Broncos won.

Five years after he retires, Manning will be voted unanimously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But today he earned a more dubious honor, joining Bill Cosby, Jared Fogle, Ben Roethlisberger, OJ Simpson and Woody Allen in the Hall of Shame, where formerly beloved figures rot in the eternal discredit generated by their creepy and downright criminal behavior.

Earlier today, the New York Daily News broke a story that USA Today inexplicably buried 15 years ago.

In a nutshell:
1. Manning allegedly sexually assaulted an athletic trainer he disliked at the University of Tennessee.
2. She filed a complaint.
3. Manning allegedly taunted her after the fact by twice mimicking the sexual assault in her presence with his teammates;
4. UT chose the star quarterback over the trainer. University officials allegedly...
a) invented an alibi for Manning, which he used;
b) lied to support that alibi;
c) pressured another football player to lie to protect Manning, and revoked his scholarship when he refused to do so;
d) asked the complainant to frame one of his black teammates for the offense, instead; and
e) terminated the trainer, but UT ultimately paid her a large settlement. As part of the deal, Manning and the trainer made a nondisclosure agreement.

That's bad enough, and it should have been the end of it.

In 2001, Manning violated the nondisclosure agreement. He and his father published a book (Manning) that included several vindictive allegations of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior against the trainer. Case evidence casts serious doubt on all of that defamation.

Nevertheless, The trainer--by then an assistant professor in Florida--lost her job due to the slurs in Manning. She filed suit. Ultimately, the case was settled on undisclosed terms.

Elsewhere in Manning, Peyton wrote of his Christian faith: "My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven."

I think Manning's response to today's report will tell us everything we need to know about the sincerity of his religious convictions.

Shaun King, the author of the New York Daily News article, wrote, "Peyton Manning... is the Captain America of sports.... He's also a prolific pitchman, the friendly face of several multi-billion dollar corporations...." Citing the available case evidence, King concludes "it's all a facade, an act, a well-designed for-profit creation, maintained and manicured at all cost."

I think King is wrong about that last point. The frightening thing about people like Cosby, Allen, OJ and Manning is that they are authentically fun and charming. That's what makes it so hard to believe when we encounter evidence that they have done evil things. And that's why it's so easy for them to get away with it.

In other news...

In other news, we note with sadness and gratitude the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. Beast Mode has left the building.

It was nice to see Russell Wilson and Michael Bennett play well in the Pro Bowl and claim offensive and defensive MVP honors.

Other than that, the playoffs were a drag after Seattle's elimination.

I had hoped Arizona would show some life against Carolina and get another Super Bowl ring for my man Red Bryant. It would be nice for the Cardinals to take home the Lombardi Trophy once. I confess to being a little soft on Arizona after living in the state for a dozen years.

After Carolina crushed the Cardinals, I was rooting for the Panthers to win the Super Bowl.

I don't buy into the Cam hate.

Yes, he's arrogant. There's a lot of that going around in professional sports, including on the Seahawks. ("I'm the best corner in the game!")

Yes, his celebrations sometimes border on gloating and taunting, but since Seattle has two Stanford grads prone to "drop a deuce" celebrations, we can't really claim the high ground there, either.

Yes, he tossed a 12th Man flag when a fan offered it to him after the Seahawks game, but in the exuberance of victory people don't always make great decisions.

Yes, it was unwise for him to say, "I'm an African American quarterback that may scare some people." Not because racism is over--it's not--but because the good guys won the black quarterback debate a long time ago.

We won it in 1988 when Doug Williams won the Super Bowl.

We won it again when Warren Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups, made nine Pro Bowls and entered the NFL Hall of Fame.

We won it again with the careers of Randall Cunningham, Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb.

And, of course, we won it once and for all when Russell Wilson hoisted the Lombardi Trophy two years ago.

So, I wanted Carolina to win because they've never won a Super Bowl.

But the game revealed that Cam deserves not our hate, but our pity. Early in the game, when the going got tough, the newly anointed league MVP started pouting, and he continued to sulk throughout the game. It is deeply demoralizing when a team leader displays such downcast demeanor and defeated body language. Oddly, for most of the game, his execution remained decent--he is that good at his craft--but if I'd been coaching, I would have benched him, anyway, until he could pull himself together and act like a man and a leader.

The nadir, of course, came when Cam quit/wussed out/made a business decision, by declining to dive for a fumble with the championship on the line. That will haunt him forever.

Denver's defense was extraordinary, and I'm very happy for Von Williams and Wade Phillips.

But I wanted the Broncos to lose because John Elway is such an insufferable jerk.

And now we know that Peyton Manning is as bad, if not worse.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pity about the first half

The first half was so dreadful that it almost erased everything Seattle achieved this season.

The second half reminded us why the Seahawks made it as far as they did.

Carolina played well and deserved to win.

Assessments can wait for later.

Thank you, Seahawks, for another very good season.

Kam vs. Cam

When we played Carolina last year, Cam Newton carved us up with passes to Greg Olsen. In our base defense, Kam Chancellor is responsible for covering the opposing tight end.

As a runner, Newton keys one of the league's best running attacks. As the eight man in the box, Bam Bam also keys our run defense.

So, much of this game comes down to our quarterback vs. their strong safety.

The first game was close, but that was without all-world middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a fleet tackling machine. We also upgraded at cornerback by cutting Cary Williams and replacing him with a rotation of converted safety DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane, who returned from injury.

Our offense has seesawed radically of late. After a six-game streak of scoring 30 or more points, Seattle sputtered against St. Louis, blew out Arizona and then eked out a mere 13 points against Minnesota. Hopefully, the return of Marshawn Lynch and Luke Willson will help spark the kind of production we will need to bury Carolina.

King MortStar's prediction: Hawks win, 24-17.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Seahawks vs. Vikings and "Muskrat Love"

Bam Bam Kam strips AP (Photo Credit: ESPN)

Hawk Haters dismiss Seattle's victory over the Vikings as mere luck.

They're wrong. Unless they're using the correct definition of luck: When preparation meets opportunity.

The Seahawks earned that win. Blair Walsh choked on his fourth and final field goal try because Richard Sherman came within a fraction of an inch of blocking his third attempt. Walsh and his holder hurried both the third and fourth attempts. In neither case did his holder dare to spend a split second to spin the laces away from the kicker. On that last kick, Walsh kicked it even quicker, and he shanked it. Go ahead and hate on the man if you've never missed a layup or a 2' putt under pressure.

Even if Walsh had split the uprights, Seattle still had a few seconds to get into field goal range. With Tyler Lockett returning kickoffs, Russell Wilson under center and Stephen Hauschka kicking the ball, I liked our chances.

(By the way, how cool is it that several members of the Legion of Boom make regular appearances on special teams? I love how Coach Carroll's ethic of selfless competition makes star players want to contribute wherever they can, even in relatively unglamorous roles. I hope we get to see Kam Chancellor hurdle the deep snapper again at some point.)

Seattle's defense certainly earned the win. The Vikings averaged more than 22 points per game during the regular season. Only two teams held Minnesota to fewer than 10 points: San Francisco in the season opener, and Seattle, both times we played them.

Once again, Seattle's defenders smothered Adrian Peterson and the league's best rushing offense. Gap discipline was absolute. Kam Chancellor came through with the crucial strip. Michael Bennettrator invaded the backfield at will. Sherm came up big in run defense, scoring several solo tackles. Peterson is nearly as hard to stop unassisted as Marshawn Lynch.

The Philippine Dream's one-handed snag (Photo Credit: The Big Lead)
The linebackers and the Legion of Boom kept the Viking passing attack contained until that last drive.

Tom Cable's O-Line earned the win. They helped Christine Michael outgain AP (70 yards vs. 45 yards) on a comparable number of carries against a similarly stout run defense. They provided decent pass protection for DangeRuss against a tough Vikings pass rush. Aside from a few errant snaps, it was a solid performance.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell wisely used designed rollouts and read options to provide some additional protection for Wilson.

But Seattle consistently failed to sustain drives. Given the tendency of balls to travel shorter distances in the cold, I wouldn't have called quite as many long passes--none of them worked. Moreover, instead of letting headset problems waste most of our timeouts and incur delay of game penalties, I would have turned DangeRuss loose to run a no-hurry no-huddle offense. (It works just like the two-minute offense, only slower.)

After three quarters of frustration, the offense finally came to life in the fourth quarter. Only a consummate athlete like Wilson could make something of a play when the snap sails past him. A slower quarterback would be wise simply to fall on the ball, but DangeRuss knew his speed bought him time to take stock of the situation, scoop up the ball, roll right and hit Lockett for a big gain. Wilson and the rookie receiver earned their share of the win on that play.

Two plays later, Doug Baldwin fulfilled Cris Collinsworth's prediction by using the referee as a pick to get open for a touchdown. With that reception--and his spectacular one-handed grab--the Philippine Dream earned a victory. Last night on the NFL Network, Nate Burleson claimed that after his circus catch, Baldwin told Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, "I'm the Captain, now."

I'm not normally a proponent of smack talk, but I hope that's true. The only way to improve it would have been for Baldwin to add, "And you're Tennille."

Except that Angry Doug and Munnerlyn are both too young to know about "Muskrat Love."

The Captain & Tennille (Photo Credit: The Daily Mail)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Did they learn that at Stanford?

Coach Pete Carroll with two Stanford alumni (Photo Credit: Juneau Empire).

Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman--both 2011 Stanford alumni--form cornerstones of the Seattle offense and defense. Most of the time, they provide inspirational leadership for the team and our city.

Both feel perpetually disrespected and underestimated. A dauntless determination to defeat disrespectful detractors fuels the phenomenal performance of both athletes.

Unable to make the cut as a wideout at Stanford, Sherman shifted to defense. A mere fifth-round pick, he emerged in the NFL as a perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback. Some continued to discount him because we always lined him up on the left, enabling opposing offenses to avoid him rather easily. However, Kris Richard adjusted our scheme this season, allowing Sherman to shadow each team's #1 receiver most of the time.

Baldwin went undrafted and toiled in anonymity, blocking selflessly and making the best of the paucity of receiving opportunities in our run-first offense. That finally paid off this year in the form of his first 1,000-yard season, the team touchdown receiving record and recognition as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Both possess fiery temperaments that make them polarizing figures, mostly loathed by Hawks haters.

Sherman became probably the most hated player in the game for awhile after his unhinged rant against Michael Crabtree in 2014. To his credit, he then turned over a new leaf and skilfully rebuilt his reputation as a thoughtful sportsman.

Baldwin remained generally ignored until his novel touchdown celebration during Super Bowl XLIX, wherein he mimed pulling down his pants, squatted over the football and pretended to drop a deuce.

Baldwin's poopdown (Photo Credit: Twitter)
This is not how you want to get famous.

NBC cut away fast from Baldwin's defecation celebration, but not fast enough.

Angry Doug was frustrated because Darrelle Revis had shut him down to that point and talked a lot of smack along the way. But that's no excuse.

Appropriately, the officials flagged him for unsportsmanlike contact.

To his credit, Baldwin later apologized and showed up this season with a constructive new attitude. Inspired by his Filipino mother, Baldwin has apparently replaced the sizable chip on his shoulder with the wings of an angel.

Living in the Bay Area, the epicenter of Hawk hate, I feed off the loathing I regularly receive from the many Niner fans I encounter. (I have nothing but pity left for the Raider faithful, because so few remain.)

As long as their antipathy constitutes pure jealousy for Seattle's success, it merely amuses and energizes me.

However, I squirm when our players disgrace our great franchise and offer ready fodder to our unworthy detractors. I hate having to apologize for the behavior of Seattle players.

The soul of the Seahawk franchise has always been built upon a foundation of decency, high character and good sportsmanship: Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Dave Brown, Curt Warner, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Marcus Trufant, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas III.

This is widely misunderstood, in part because has Seattle become best known in recent years for Sherman's mouth, Baldwin's squatting and Beast Mode's Skittles, crotch grabs and reluctance to talk to the media.

Those antics tend to distract our detractors from the real foundations of our team's success: Coach Carroll's philosophy of selfless competition, the righteousness of Russell Wilson and the badassitude of the Legion of Boom

richardshermanLast week, it happened again. In the midst of our triumphant domination of the Cardinals, Sherman revived Baldwin's dookie taunt: the same mimed pants drop and deuce drop (sans ball), followed by pointing at the Arizona bench just in case anyone missed the message.

Once again, the officials threw a richly-deserved flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Did Baldwin and Sherman learn this $#!+ at Stanford? Like many overpriced private schools, the Farm cultivates a haughty intellectual reputation. Is it part of the curriculum to inculcate a fecal fixation of nigh-Teutonic proportions?

Seattle team leaders need to mount an intervention to ensure that Baldwin and Sherman can maintain their personal dignity and that of the team and the city going forward.

As they consider their conduct during games, I wish all NFL players would remember that millions of us are watching with small children. I should be able to cite the behavior of my favorite Seahawks as models of sportsmanship for my son to follow, not as counterexamples or cautionary tales to avoid.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Retaking the AP test in a hostile venue

It will look something like this (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

Seattle roared back from that home loss to the Rams more convincingly than anyone expected.

Media reports claimed that the Cardinals players clamored to their coaches, demanding that they field Arizona's starters for the season finale against their hated division rivals.

That made it all the more puzzling when Bidwill's Redbirds played like kittens and quitters.

Fired up beyond belief, the Seahawks showed up with a mindset seldom seen since Super Bowl XLVIII, and dominated almost as comprehensively, exposing Arizona in all three phases of the game.

It was as if the loss against St. Louis had never happened. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's magic touch came back. Despite lacking our two best linemen, our O-Line could suddenly block again. Christine Michael ran for more than 100 yards. Russell Wilson reverted to flawlessness. Reserve tight end Chase Coffman emerged as a bona fide receiving threat.

The Legion of Boom shut down Carson Palmer and the vaunted Arians offense.

Tyler Lockett repeatedly gouged the Cardinals with spooky-brilliant punt returns.

And we did all that without Russell Okung, JR Sweezy, Marshawn Lynch and Kam Chancellor--all of whom appear set to return this week. It looks like Luke Willson may be the only scratch, but it looks like Cooper Helfet and Coffman can carry the load.

It was unfortunate that Green Bay's continued collapse denied Seattle the fifth playoff seed. However, getting stuck with the bottom berth just sets up the Seahawks for an epic road run in the postseason.

Presumably, the Vikings will put up a better fight at home than they did in Seattle back in November. But the Seahawks still match up very well against Minnesota. Adrian Peterson remains a dangerous runner, and he has something to prove after getting held to a humiliating yardage total in Seattle, but his back is ailing and if there's one thing the Seattle defense does reliably, it's shut down one-dimensional running attacks and dare marginal passers like Teddy Bridgewater to test the Legion of Boom.

King MortStar's prediction: Seattle 23, Minnesota 16.

Go, Hawks!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

DangeRuss & the Legion of Boom vs. the Team of Destiny

So deeply wrong: ex-Seahawk defensive lineman Red Bryant is a Cardinal now (Photo Credit: Seahawks)

Carolina may have a better record, but the Cardinals look like this year's Team of Destiny.

Arizona leads the NFL in points scored and yards gained, thanks to Carson Palmer's MVP-caliber quarterbacking in the balanced offense of Bruce Arians, who may win his third NFL Coach of the Year award in four years. They score touchdowns more often than they punt.

Their defense is nearly as good, ranking fifth in points and yards allowed. At cornerback, All-Pro Patrick Peterson has made a case to be NFC Defensive Player of the Year. For extra meat on the interior defensive line, they have recruited former Seahawks Red Bryant and Cory Redding

Now riding a nine-game winning streak, the Cardinals last lost a game in October. Their current tear included a Week 10 desecration of Seahawks Stadium. The redbirds haven't had this much regular season success since 1925, when they played in Chicago. If Arizona beats Seattle tomorrow, then that would make 2015 the greatest regular season in the history of the Cardinals franchise.

Of course, the Angry Birds are thinking much bigger than that: the franchise has only tasted one true championship in its history, and that was also in Chi-Town, in 1947. This coach and this team give the Cardinals the best shot they've ever had to win a Super Bowl.

Our division rivals sees this game as a mere warm-up for the playoffs: Behead, pluck, skewer and roast the Seahawks to show them what is in store for them if they earn another trip to Arizona in the playoffs.

What Is at Stake for Seattle?

By losing, the Seahawks would condemn themselves to a barely respectable 9-7 record, probably backing into the playoffs as the sixth seed. Seattle would likely face the fading but still potent Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, where history has not been kind to us in the postseaon.

Winning, on the other hand, would salvage a solid 10-6 record and a fifth seed ticket to face the flaccid Foreskins of the NFC Least. More important, it would serve notice that Seattle is a team to fear in the playoffs.

After letting the Lambs lay us out last week, few fear the Seahawks right now.

What Hope Is There?

Nor much.

Despite my typical starry-eyed optimism, the Diehard feels grim about tomorrow.

Sure, on a good day, the Legion of Boom can hang with Arizona's explosive offense and keep Seattle in the game.

However, it is hard to see how a Seahawk offense that couldn't score against St. Louis could turn around in one week and light it up against an even better Cardinal defense.

What Went Wrong Last Week?

Three forces conspired to doom Seattle last week:

1. St. Louis played very well, while the Seahawks played less well.
2. Seattle had some bad luck.
3. The Rams outcoached us, especially on offense.

In my opinion, offensive coaching was the most decisive factor. St. Louis adapted its game plan to the limitations of its personnel and the universe of the possible as dictated by Seattle's defense.

In stark contrast, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and O-Line coach Tom Cable failed to adapt our game plan to our personnel situation and to the strengths of the Rams defense.

Namely, Seattle is shorthanded at tight end, has injuries on the offensive line, and has two relatively inexperienced running backs in Bryce Brown and Christine Michael. Given the remarkable strength of the St. Louis defensive line, Bevell and Cable should have known that the same recipe that had been working might not work against the Rams. They should have been ready to call read-options, spread formations, designed rollouts, screens and multiple receiver sets to give Russell Wilson a fighting chance. Instead, they expected the makeshift O-Line to handle a defensive front comprised almost entirely of All-Pros, Pro Bowlers and first-round draft picks. DangeRuss got pummeled as our offense sputtered.

Some blame Brown and Michael and pine for the return of Marshawn Lynch. I want Beast Mode back as much as anyone, but it would not have mattered last week, because there was no room to run. If Lynch had grinded out twice or thrice as many yards as his replacements, that still wouldn't have been enough.

If Bevell and Cable fail to adapt their schemes, then we're likely to see the same outcome tomorrow. Last week, St. Louis needed a defensive touchdown to eke out a victory.

Another suggestion: You know what you can do when you're running short of tight ends? If you just need someone to block, then you can insert an extra offensive lineman and have him report as an eligible receiver. You could also put Derrick Coleman in at fullback and have Will Tukuafu line up as a tight end.

Another suggestion: Do we have any trick plays on offense? A flea flicker, a wide receiver pass, anything?

Yet another suggestion: Practice onside kicks. That was pathetic.

What Happened to Our Home Field Advantage?

Seattle has allowed three opponents to defile Seahawks Stadium this year. 5-3 represents the franchise's worst home record since 2011. (That was Pete Carroll's sad sophomore season; we went 4-4 at home and 7-9 overall with Tarvaris Jackson under center.)

Go, Hawks!