Beast Mode Bids Farewell

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Miss you already, Beast.

There will never be another Marshawn Lynch. After nine seasons in the NFL, and six with the Seattle Seahawks, the 29-year-old running back declared his retirement on Sunday during the Super Bowl. The man nicknamed “Beast Mode” was a man of few words, so it was quite fitting for Lynch to make it official through this tweet:

Lynch came to Seattle in the middle of the 2010 season, one of the many moves that Pete Carroll and John Schneider made early in their tenures. Little did we know at the time how impactful this trade would be to the Seahawks franchise. The physical running style he brought embodied the style of play Carroll wanted from the team. I’ve never seen a running back with the mentality of a linebacker, but that’s essentially what Lynch did on every carry. And boy did he live up to the name Beast Mode during his time in the Emerald City.

From 2011-2014, Lynch rushed for 5,357 yards (1,339 per year) and 48 touchdowns (12 per year) and was consistently one of – if not the – best running backs in the league. He led the team to a Super Bowl title, and, if given the chance, almost another. In a run-heavy system, he thrived and was the heart beat of not only the offense, but the entire team. Everyone fed off Lynch’s energy and effort on the field, including the fans.

While he struggled through injuries this year, it’s important to remember all of the incredible runs Lynch had throughout his career as a Seahawk – the best of them in clutch moments. Many of his runs were some of the greatest moments in the team’s history. Here is a beautiful tribute to Beast Mode by the Seahawks:

While the above runs were the highlights of Lynch’s career, we shouldn’t lose sight of how many two-yard losses he turned into three-yard gains. It was those kinds of plays that made him so special.

It’s a sad day seeing #24 hang his cleats up, but I’m so thankful to have seen his greatness while it lasted. Even better, he chose to retire in Seattle rather than moving on to another team. I look forward to the day that Marshawn Lynch joins the Seahawks Ring of Honor.

Enjoy retirement, Beast. Cheers to you and your $50 million in game checks you haven’t spent yet!

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2015-16 Seattle Seahawks: Top 10 Plays

What a crazy year. While the season may have come to a bitter ending, there were many great moments during the Seattle Seahawks’ 2015-16 campaign. I thought that rather lament on how it ended, why not focus on the positives?

Coming off arguably the most heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl history, Pete Carroll did a masterful job at keeping his players focused and confident during some extremely tough circumstances. Kam Chancellor, one of the true leaders on this team, holding out – something that I still think affects the locker room today. Stumbling to a 2-4 record to begin the year. But our Seahawks, as they do time and time again, silenced the critics once again on their way to a fourth straight playoff appearance.

They may have come back to Seattle without a second Lombardi Trophy in three seasons, but the 2015-16 Seahawks were a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Let us visit some of the top moments of the year (bear with me if the videos don’t play on this screen…you should be able to click to view them on YouTube).

10.

One of the biggest headlines of the offseason, Jimmy Graham came to Seattle to give quarterback Russell Wilson a legitimate red zone target. Unfortunately, for Graham and the Seahawks, the superstar tight end was injured late in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but not before showing us a glimpse of his potential.

9.

Off to a rocky 0-2 start, Seattle hosted the Chicago Bears for their first home game of the season. But the home team was struggling to put points on the board until All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman ripped off a huge 64-yard gain on a fake punt return. This gave the Seahawks good field position for the first time in the game.

8.

This play would likely be higher on my list if it wasn’t for the guy who made it. Cary Williams was one of the worst signings in the franchise’s history, but he did make a handful of good plays before being cut late in early December. One of those came in the first game of the season, and likely should’ve been a game-winner.

7.

After a shocking loss on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals in the week prior, Seattle returned to CenturyLink Field to host the undefeated (and Super Bowl bound…) Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks roared out to a 20-7 lead, highlighted by this flea-flicker pass to Ricardo Lockette. The scoreline would not hold, though, as Cam Newton and the Panthers would rally in the fourth quarter for a 27-23 win.

6.

It sure didn’t take long for rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett to make his presence felt. After taking a couple of returns back for touchdowns in the preseason, Lockett began his Pro Bowl season with a touchdown on the first punt return of his career. Seattle has had trouble drafting wide receivers since Carroll took over, but it seems they really found a gem in the speedster out of Kansas State.

5.

Lockett wasn’t the only Seahawks rookie to burst onto the scene this year. Thomas Rawls may have gone undrafted, but he sure made the most of his opportunity. With Marshawn Lynch on the mend, the kid was thrust into the starting lineup early in the season. Before his injury in Baltimore, Rawls was leading the league in yards per rush, mostly because of runs like the one above. Ladies and gentlemen, we may have found a successor to Beast Mode.

4.

Even though Sherman’s fake punt led to Seattle’s first points of the day, the Seahawks were only up 6-0 at halftime against a Jimmy Clausen-led Bears squad. That was short-lived, however, as Lockett took the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown. Something tells me that won’t be his last.

3.

Everyone should remember this one, as it just happened a couple of weeks ago. In my opinion, this play is the epitome of the Seahawks season. A nightmarish beginning. A scramble. A magical run. A bit short of the goal. A great play (season) nonetheless.

2.

The Seahawks-Steelers game was possibly the best game in the NFL in 2015. The game was largely a back and forth battle, with Seattle leading 32-30 late in the fourth quarter. Facing a crucial 3rd and 10 and trying to run the clock out, Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin on a completion over the middle of the field. 80 yards later, the Seahawks clinched a win that put them back in the thick of the playoff race.

1.

After a 1-2 start, the Seahawks hosted the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. It was a sloppy and low-scoring affair, with Seattle leading the entire game. However, Calvin Johnson and Detroit’s offense were driving down the field late in the fourth quarter. The Lions appeared ready to take the lead for the first time when Johnson caught a pass and ran for the goal line. But before he could cross the plane, Bam Bam Chancellor knocked the ball free. The result was one of the most controversial plays of the year, but one that gave the Seahawks a much-needed win.

Seahawks Acquire Superstar Tight End Jimmy Graham

jimmy graham seattle seahawks

These two will get to go against each other in practice every day now.

Just when we thought there wouldn’t be much news for the Seattle Seahawks on the opening day of 2015 NFL Free Agency, Jay Glazer broke Twitter when he reported the that superstar tight end Jimmy Graham was coming to Seattle:

My first reaction to this move was confusion. The Seahawks just restructured and extended Marshawn Lynch‘s contract after they found out the hard way how much he means to this team. So why would you get rid of arguably your best run-blocker in All-Pro center Max Unger and acquire a tight end, as talented as he is as a receiver, that isn’t known for his blocking ability. Unger was also one of the leaders in the locker room and as steady of a player as you can get. Plus losing a first-round pick is never a good thing, especially when you’re a team like the Seahawks and you’re trying to restock talent without paying for high-priced free agents.

You also have to account for the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner are also due for new contracts soon, and Graham’s cap hit will make this harder to accommodate who they resign in the coming years.

Not to mention, the first thing that came to mind was the altercations between Graham and some of the players on Seattle’s defense the past couple years. In the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints in 2014, Graham was warming up on the Seahawks’ side of the field and linebacker Bruce Irvin didn’t take too kindly to it. After the Percy Harvin-debacle, I don’t want any players, no matter how talented, entering Seattle’s locker room if they aren’t going to get along with the players. I’m not saying that everyone on the Seahawks’ roster is buddy-buddy with each other, but they can at least stand each other. It’s at least an issue that needs to be addressed before the season.

Because of these reasons I was skeptical about this trade. But once these initial emotions calmed down a bit, this transaction makes total sense, and it addresses the concerns this team faced this offseason. The Seahawks needed a tight end after the loss of Zach Miller, and they got one. They needed a legitimate first option for Wilson and the passing game, and they got one. They needed a big red zone target (2nd and goal at the one…), and boy did they get one. While they may have missed out on Julius Thomas in free agency, they ended up with an even more proven player in Graham.

Graham is the best tight end in the NFL and, at 28, still has many years of great football left in him. A three-time Pro Bowler, Graham compiled 4,752 receiving yards and and 51 touchdowns in his five years in the league. And at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, he’s a freak-athlete and a matchup nightmare for any defense, especially in the red zone. His presence will give Wilson and the offense an excellent second option in the red zone other than handing it off to Lynch and hoping for the best.

As far as losing Unger, it may not be as bad as it looks on paper. He missed 10 games in 2015, and most of them were during the second-half of the year when the Seahawks made their incredible run. Patrick Lewis did a pretty good job filling in for Unger during this time, and head coach Pete Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable seem to like him. It’s likely that Seattle was concerned about the long-term health of their now former center.

It will be interesting to see how the team will replace Unger, but if you want talent, you have to give up talent. The Seahawks definitely received a talented player, so what will they do with him? Well, only six months until we find out, but here’s a preview.

NFC Championship Review: “No Doubt”

Russell Wilson Jermaine Kearse Seattle Seahawks

These guys never doubted each other.

No doubt.

If you’ve ever watched one of quarterback Russell Wilson‘s press conferences, you’ve more than likely heard him say these words. Yes, it’s cliche. But it also perfectly explains how the Seattle Seahawks were able to overcome a 12-point deficit with less than four minutes left in the game and win their second consecutive NFC Championship. The Seahawks are going back to the Super Bowl. Never have I ever seen a team with so much resiliency.

Let’s face it: the Green Bay Packers completely outplayed Seattle for nearly four quarters. The Seahawks turned the ball over five times. Wilson didn’t complete a pass (to his team, at least) until the end of the second quarter. The offense was unable to get anything going besides a fake field goal that resulted in punter Jon Ryan throwing a touchdown to backup rookie tackle Gary Gilliam. For 56 minutes the Seahawks were dominated.

I remember thinking when the game was over. Wilson and the Seahawks got the ball back down by 12 with good field position and 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. But on the first play of the drive, Wilson’s pass went off the hands of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and landed in the arms of Green Bay’s safety Morgan Burnett. It was Wilson’s fourth interception of the day, the most in a single game in his career. All of those passes were intended for Kearse. Two players having the worst performances of their careers in one of the biggest games of their careers.

But there was still no doubt in this team. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense got another opportunity with 3:52 left in the game but no momentum and down 19-7. Then the magic began.

It all started with a 14-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, who quietly had 157 yards on 25 carries. A 20-yard completion to Doug Baldwin got the ball into Green Bay territory, but his failure to get out of bounds kept the clock moving. Following an incomplete pass to Kearse, Lynch caught a pass down the sidelines and appeared to have scored a touchdown. However, a booth review revealed that Beast Mode had stepped out of bounds just inside the 10-yard line. Three straight runs resulted in a Wilson keeper into the endzone that cut the Packers’ lead to 19-14 after the extra point.

With only 2:09 on the clock, though, the Seahawks were forced to attempt an onside kick rather than leaning on their defense to get the ball back. A long shot, but still no doubt.

A brilliant kick by Steven Hauschka popped up in the air and off a Green Bay player. Undrafted receiver Chris Matthews‘ awareness to catch the ball in the air was one of those heads up plays that is rarely seen in such a young player. It was the momentum-shifting play that Seattle was looking for all day long. Suddenly, CenturyLink Field had life and the Seahawks had the ball at midfield with over two minutes and a timeout.

Four plays later Lynch rumbled into the endzone and Seattle had it’s first lead of the day at 20-19. A miraculous two-point conversion to tight end Luke Wilson put the Seahawks up by three with 1:25 to play.

But of course there would be more adversity for this team to overcome. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers down the field and Mason Crosby‘s fifth made field goal of the day tied the game at 22. For a second it felt like Seattle’s improbable comeback that ended in defeat against the Atlanta Falcons in the 2012 playoffs. In that game the Seahawks came back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to take the lead 28-27 with 30 seconds left, only to see Atlanta’s Matt Bryant kick a game-winning field goal that ended Seattle’s playoff run.

But this time the game was tied. While the defense had given up the lead, it still felt like the momentum was on Seattle’s side going into overtime.

Despite how he plays in a particular game, Russell Wilson always seems to shine in the clutch. It’s his short memory and “no doubt” attitude that make him such a valuable player. That ability is what we witnessed on Seattle’s overtime game-winning drive. Two runs by Lynch and two beautiful completions to Baldwin, one on third and seven, put Wilson and the Seahawks 35 yards away from a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

The final play was the epitome of the Seattle Seahawks. It involved a quarterback and receiver that, prior to the play, had failed to connect once throughout the game. Four of the five attempts from Wilson to Kearse ended in an interception. But this organization’s mindset is always on the next play and giving players the opportunity to always compete. It’s a team full of players who want to win for each other and that fully believe in their fellow teammates’ ability to make a play when it matters. It’s a team full of no doubt.

So when Wilson lofted that ball in the air towards the endzone, there was no doubt that Kearse was going to come down with it. For a second year in a row, a deep ball from Wilson to Kearse won an NFC Championship for the Seattle Seahawks.

On the other side of the ball, the defense played fantastic and was able to keep the game within reach even though it seemed over. Despite five takeaways, the Packers were only able to score six points off of those turnovers. Green Bay’s offense started in Seattle territory three times in the first half but the Seahawks held them to three field goals. Two of those field goals came off goal line stands early in the game. Without the defense’s “bend-but-don’t-break” attitude, this game could’ve been over early.

The Seahawks were outplayed by the Packers for the large majority of Sunday’s game, but they would not give up. That belief is what Pete Carroll has instilled in this team and is what has them on the brink of becoming a dynasty. So the next time you hear Russell Wilson say that “there was no doubt” in a press conference, think back to this game and believe what he says.

In case you somehow haven’t seen the highlights of this game, here they are:

Great Week For Seattle Sports…So Far

Percy Harvin Seattle Seahawks Green Bay Packers

Percy Harvin was as advertised in the Seahawks’ win over the Packers.

It’s #BlueFriday and it’s been a fantastic week for Seattle sports…so far (the Mariners still play all weekend and the Huskies have their home opener against Hawaii tomorrow). Let’s take a look at how each Seattle team has fared this past week.

The Mariners got a HUGE series win in Oakland against their AL-West rival Athletics. After losing the first game, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez got the team back on track with stellar pitching performances. Having Felix back was big for the team, as he outdueled Jon Lester. The offense is still a bit inconsistent, but they only need to be average with Seattle’s elite pitching staff. However, the M’s did tally 10 on the board against the Texas Rangers last night, which is great because they only had a 6-9 record against the struggling Rangers going into this game. They finally took advantage of a bad pitcher in Robbie Ross. Anyway, back to the pitching. With King Felix, Paxton, and Hisashi Iwakuma leading the way, the M’s are going for a playoff push, as they trail the Detroit Tigers by a .5 game for the second AL wildcard spot and are now only 3 back of the A’s for the first wildcard spot. Their series against the Rangers continues tonight.

The Sounders continued to score goals, as they netted four against Western-Conference-worst Chivas USA. Obafemi Martins and Andy Rose had two goals a-piece, and those all came in the first half. In all honesty, Seattle probably should have won by more, as Clint Dempsey narrowly missed a couple attempts. All in all, though, it was a solid 4-2 win for the Rave Green. In doing so, the Sounders are now 5 points ahead in the Supporter’s Shield race. They get a much-needed rest before they take on Real Salt Lake next Friday, a game with bigger implications.

And finally there’s our beloved Seattle Seahawks. After unveiling the Super Bowl championship banner to a packed crowd, the Seahawks got the NFL season started with a 36-16 rout of the Green Bay Packers. The Hawks started this season right where they left off: as the best team in the league. The explosiveness of Percy Harvin to add to Marshawn Lynch‘s physical play makes this one of the hardest offenses to stop. Not to mention, signal-caller Russell Wilson looked the best he’s been. And the defense…looked pretty good, as they forced a couple turnovers and held a really good Packers offense to only 16 points. However, this team can still play a lot better, especially on defense – there were some missed tackles earlier in the game. THAT’S SCARY. They get a week-and-a-half off before they travel to San Diego to match up against the Chargers.

Tomorrow is the home opener for UW and they will look to have a much better outing against Eastern Washington. Cyler Miles will take the reigns at quarterback as the offense hopes to be more explosive this week. It will be interesting to see how the team responds after an underperforming win at Hawaii.

Go Seattle. Go sports. Great time to be a Seattle sports fan, folks.

Beatdown: Postgame Analysis from Preseason Week 3 vs. Chicago

2024371434The Seahawks left no doubt that they’re regular season ready as they showed up in mid-season form at CenturyLink Field tonight. The Hawks dominated the Chicago Bears in every phase of the game, cruising to a 34-6 preseason victory.  Around the league, the third preseason game is generally considered to be the most important of the four; a dress rehearsal where the starters routinely play into the 3rd quarter.  If you’re going to read into preseason scores, this it the week to do it, and the Hawks proved once again that they are the class of the NFL.

The Seattle offense, led by Russell Wilson, engineered four straight touchdown drives to cruise to a 28-0 lead and made it 31-0 at the half.  The offensive unit was firing on all cylinders and breaking down the Bears defense in a multitude of ways – quick rhythm passes, a powerful run game, play action passing down field, and well, Russell Wilson playing Houdini in the backfield.  The defense was dialed in as well, consistently disrupting Jay Cutler in the pocket and clamping down on underneath passes with ferocity.  Special teams did well, most notably significant kick and punt returns from Percy Harvin and Earl Thomas, respectively, as well as a 59 yard field goal from Steven Hauschka.

Game Balls:

QB Russell Wilson:

The third year signal caller was a man on a mission and displayed Peyton Manning-like efficiency (Super Bowl excluded) on several successful drives.  I found myself in awe of his arm strength and zip on his passes.  What was particularly special tonight was how he quickly got the ball out and found receivers in tight windows.  15/20 for 202 yards and 2 TDs in less than three quarters of play is a pretty good stat line which was indicative of how well he and the rest of the offense played.

WR Percy Harvin:

Harvin was all over the field catching passes, leaving little doubt that he is fully recovered from hip surgery and finally healthy (knock on wood).  He showed a nice burst, great body control, reliable hands, and a willingness to fight for yards after the catch.  He also had a nice 46 yard kick return to start the game and set the stage for the beatdown that would ensue.

CB Jeremy Lane:

Lane had a big interception on the goal line right before the half when the Bears were driving and in the red zone.  He had a near spectacular return on the pick, setting up the rocket launch of a kick from Hauschka right before half.  Lane swarmed up to the ball, making 4 solo tackles, and made a handful of nice breakups in pass coverage.

The O-LINE!!!:

Tom Cable’s group was in sync from start to finish and played a huge role in how well the team moved the ball.  They opened up lanes for RBs Robert Turbin and Christine Michael and gave Wilson time in the pocket to throw.  Rookie RT Justin Britt was much improved from Week 1 and 2 and appears to have locked up the starting right tackle job for Week 1 of the regular season.

I know I’m supposed to give game balls to backups, role players, guys fighting to make the team, etc. since it’s preseason, but the guys above really stole the show tonight so… sorry.

Closing thoughts:

I’m going to pose a bold question: Is it possible that the Seahawks will be the best offense in the NFL this season?  This thought crept into my head during tonight’s preseason game, and it just felt like we were literally unstoppable with Wilson back there.  I can only imagine what opposing defenses must feel like.  Add in Lynch, Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and an emerging Jermaine Kearse and you’ve got a pretty scary group.  Let me know what you think – is Russell Wilson ready to join the truly elite quarterbacks in the NFL?  Will the offense be able to carry the team this year with phenomenal performances like the defense did last year?  I think the potential is certainly there, and Darell Bevell’s offense clicked as well as I’ve ever seen tonight – but I guess it was preseason.

Go Hawks!

yedlinnycarroll

 

Seahawks vs. Broncos: Review

Running back Christine Michael celebrates his first-half touchdown in Thursday night's game against the Broncos.

Running back Christine Michael celebrates his first-half touchdown in Thursday night’s game.

Well…the Broncos got their “revenge” in last night’s “super important” preseason game, beating Seattle 21-16. In all seriousness, the Hawks pummelled them so bad in the Super Bowl six months ago that, for them, winning any kind of game probably felt like a big deal. The Seahawks were one routine catch away from winning this game. Regardless, the result was meaningless and no matter how important Denver fans try to make it, none of what happened last night has any implications on this year’s postseason.

Yesterday, I posted five guys to watch for in the game, and I’d like to briefly review each player’s performance. There was some good and some bad to take away from this game, as anyone would expect in the first preseason game of the year. Here are the reviews:

Terrelle Pryor, QB

Pryor played one snap too many last night. With under three minutes left in the game, Pryor drove the Seahawks inside the Denver 5-yard-line, only to throw an interception on a forced pass in the endzone on third down. But this happened one play after the QB was robbed. Running back Demitrius Bronson dropped a routine touchdown catch in the right flat the snap before. No the throw was not perfect, but you need to catch that ball if you want a spot on this roster. That would have put the Seahawks ahead and likely would have won the game for them. But instead, Pryor had to play another snap, and one poor decision diminished his otherwise decent performance. Overall, Pryor led the Hawks in both passing and rushing, going 9-16 for 137 yards with that interception, and running for 28 yards on 7 carries. We saw his versatility and he even made some nice throws. Pryor likely would have been my offensive MVP of the game (and hero of the game) if he gets a little help from Bronson on that would-be touchdown. Oh well, rant over, we move on.

Christine Michael, RB

In his limited carries (mainly because they wanted everyone to get playing time), Michael scored the only touchdown of the game for Seattle. He flashed his potential in an impressive 8-yard scamper on that touchdown drive. But other than that, it was a pretty uneventful evening for the second-year player out of Texas A&M. He finished the night with 7 carries for 16 yards. He also showed the fact that he’s a young back with some poor ball security. Fortunately, his fumble ended up being recovered by the Seahawks and it didn’t really cost them anything. Overall, an okay performance by Michael.

Kevin Smith, WR

I thought he would see a little more action than he did, and he finished the night without a stat line. Instead, Ricardo Lockette played until the end of the game and we didn’t really get to see anything from Smith. Kevin will look to the next game to hopefully make more of an impact, especially on special teams. He’ll need it if he wants to be considered for the practice squad.

Tharold Simon, CB

LOL. Simon got in a scuffle and was eventually ejected…in a preseason game. Are you kidding me dude??? I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but here was a tweet he sent out following the game:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.29.10 AM

Whatever, dude. I like the intensity but I also want to see you play the game. Simon will look to prove to the coaches that it was just a one-time occurrence in next Friday’s game against the Chargers.

Benson Mayowa, DE

I thought for sure Mayowa would have been involved in a few plays last night, but I was wrong. It was a quiet night for him, and I didn’t hear his name once. Mayowa will look to have a better performance next week.

There were a couple standout performances that I should mention, mostly since they aren’t from my list of players to watch.

Offensive MVP:

Paul Richardson, WR

The rookie out of Colorado led the Seahawks in receiving with four catches for 37 yards. Richardson showed why he’s going to be so dangerous, and it wasn’t because he got behind the secondary with his speed. It was the threat of that happening. This caused the Denver defenders to play soft coverage, which allowed Richardson to run short comeback routes to get wide open. He was impressive with his route running and I was very pleased with his performance overall. He’ll certainly make an immediate impact on this offense.

Side note: This spot would have been Pryor’s if Bronson catches the ball.

Defensive MVP:

A.J. Jefferson, CB

Boy, this was unexpected. Jefferson is entering his 5th year in the league out of Fresno State. He was signed by the Seahawks this offseason to compete in the secondary. He sure made a case to make the roster last night. Jefferson put on a show in the third quarter, defending three passes and intercepting another. Unfortunately, he had such a good quarter that he injured his ankle celebrating his pick. It sounds like he’ll be fine for the next preseason game back in Seattle.

Tip your cap to Denver, they played well enough to win the game (a meaningless one). But we all know when and where the real Super Bowl rematch will be. See you week three, Denver.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights of last night’s game.

The Hawks will have another week of training camp before they play the San Diego Chargers in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field next Friday night. I’ll have another preview before that game, so keep an eye out for that.

 

Seahawks vs. Broncos: 5 Players to Watch

Russell Wilson benefited from the preseason two years ago. Who will benefit this season?

Russell Wilson benefited from the preseason two years ago. Who will benefit this season?

Just over six months ago, our hometown Seahawks were celebrating their first-ever Super Bowl title with a 43-8 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Tonight, the Hawks begin their quest to repeat with their first preseason game against those very same Broncos. Of course, preseason means that this game doesn’t matter, right? Sort of. While the final score will not affect either team’s playoff chances, the preseason exists for a reason (well a few of them).

It’s an opportunity for the starters to adjust to game-speed on limited reps so they aren’t playing the first game of the season under layers of rust. More than that, however, it’s about giving the young players a chance to live out their NFL dream.

“It is that time of year of opportunity. It’s what’s going on right now,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys have dreamed their whole life of being in the NFL and having a chance to play. Here it is. So we’ll kind of dedicate this…game tomorrow to these young guys playing in their first NFL game.”

Some of those young players won’t ever play another snap in the NFL after tonight. The result of the game tonight may not have playoff implications, but it does mean something to these young players who will get the bulk of the playing time. If Seattle wins, they get to know in their mind that they contributed to a win in an NFL game, even if it didn’t matter.

What really makes the NFL preseason special, though, is those young players that shine in these games and prove the doubters wrong. Remember when people doubted that Russell Wilson would start in the NFL, much less the first regular season game of his career? Then the 2012 preseason happened. His performances in the preseason games and potential made the offense so dangerous that Pete Carroll couldn’t help but not start Russell from the beginning. He was a natural leader, and that trait really came out during preseason.

Who will be the next Russell Wilson story? Will there even be one? Who knows. But I’ve come up with five players to watch tonight because they’re going to have a big opportunity to show something for the coaches. Without further to do, here they are (with numbers provided because there will be so much switching tonight that it could be hard to keep track of names):

Terrelle Pryor, QB, #2

After three seasons in Oakland, Pryor joins the Hawks and their backup quarterback competition with Tarvaris Jackson – behind incumbent starter Russell Wilson. Pryor, like Jackson, has starting experience in the NFL. But Jackson is clearly the favorite to be the backup behind Wilson because of his familiarity with the offense, how well-respected he is by the players in the locker room, and he’s just a better QB. So why did Seattle even bring Pryor in? Because he is an absolutely incredible athlete. His 6’6″ frame and blazing speed could land him in special (Wildcat?) formations this year where he could be used as a threat to run. However, he’s extremely raw as a passer, often struggling with accuracy. In other words, Pryor is a project. He should have some great chances to showcase his skills in tonight’s matchup with Denver’s defense.

Christine Michael, RB, #33

I mentioned in my pre-preseason accolades that Michael has a great chance to be a breakout star this season for the Hawks. Now the Marshawn Lynch is back from his holdout, Michael certainly won’t be getting starter reps this season. But Lynch won’t be playing at all tonight so C-Mike will get plenty of chances to show the coaches how much he’s grown over the past year. Michael had a solid preseason last year, but he was raw and struggled with injuries throughout the year and only carried the ball 18 times during the season. Not to mention, the team didn’t really need him. Look for Michael to get a healthy amount of carries tonight, and expect him to take full advantage of it. He and Robert Turbin will be battling to pick up the remaining carries that Lynch won’t get this season. That battle begins tonight.

Kevin Smith, WR, #17

Smith is a undrafted free-agent rookie wide receiver out of the University of Washington, where he was the leading receiver last season. Sound familiar? (Cough, Cough Jermaine Kearse). A long shot to make the roster, Smith will be looking to put on a show for the coaches in order to make the first round of cuts in a few weeks. He will really have to prove himself and show something very special in order to make this deep roster. But, no doubt, he will get every opportunity to prove himself tonight. It’s hard to not root for a guy like Kevin Smith. Best-case scenario for Smith is likely landing on the practice squad this season, much like Kearse did two years ago – and look what he did last season. Here is a touchdown grab from him last year against Oregon State.

Tharold Simon, CB, #27

As with Michael, I mentioned Tharold Simon in my pre-preseason accolades as the breakout star on the defensive side. Tonight will be a great opportunity for Simon to show that he belongs in the regular rotation of this defense. He’s been one of the stars of camp, intercepting passes left and right with his lanky 6’3″ frame. With Denver’s pass-happy offense on display tonight, Simon will be playing and likely will have balls thrown his way. It’s what happens once the ball is thrown that will determine the fate of the LSU-product.

Benson Mayowa, DE, #95

Mayowa was last year’s preseason star, but never found himself in the rotation on the defense during the regular season. With the spots behind Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril wide open right now, defensive end out of Idaho will be looking to capitalize on his reps tonight. He’s been impressive in camp, and he definitely has some speed and great pass-rush skills. Expect those to be on full-display tonight as the Broncos will be dropping back to pass fairly often. Here is a highlight against the Raiders last preseason.

These are certainly not the only players you will end up watching tonight. In fact, Carroll said that he hopes to give everyone on the active roster playing time tonight. Expect Seattle’s depth to prove the difference tonight in a Seahawks victory.

FOOTBALL IS BACK, BABY. GO HAWKS!

Beast Mode is Back!

Hopefully Beast Mode will have more Super Bowl-victory-parade cigars to light after this season.

Hopefully Beast Mode will have more Super Bowl-victory-parade cigars to light after this season.

Rest easy, Seahawks fans. The Beast is back. After holding out of training camp for over a week, Marshawn Lynch has reported to the VMAC. The often-unorthodox running back arrived at the Seahawks training facility this afternoon, much to the delight of fans and reporters. This comes as a bit of a surprise because most people were thinking that this holdout would last through mid-to-late August. It’s even more shocking that Beast Mode showed up because the Seahawks didn’t give him any new money or a new contract. So the Hawks kept to their plan…sort of. Money was moved around in the remaining two years of Lynch’s contract to make it more appealing for the running back. Here is a quick breakdown of Marshawn’s “new deal”:

  • On top of his $5 million base salary in 2014, Lynch will also receive an additional $1 million that was previously incentive-money ($500,000 for per-game roster bonuses and $500,000 for rushing for over 1,500 yards).
  • The Seahawks also moved $500,000 of his incentives from 2015 to his guaranteed 2014 salary.
  • Lynch is now scheduled to make a guaranteed $6.5 million in 2014.
  • He is also eligible to make $7.5 million in 2015.
  • The team has waived all of his fines for missing camp

Lynch had threatened to hold out of mandatory OTA’s (Offseason Training Activities) earlier in the year because he was unhappy with his contract, but ended up showing up. But then former Seahawk and Lynch’s good friend Michael Robinson reported last week that Marshawn would hold out of training camp for the same reason above. The issue was that Lynch wanted more upfront money because, in today’s game, running backs, even the best ones, tend to have very brief careers. The above deal did that for Lynch without giving him any new money. So it’s a win-win situation for both sides. Beast Mode gets the upfront money he desired and the Hawks get one of the best running backs in football back without reworking his contract too much. Even better, the organization didn’t set a bad precedent by giving Lynch a new deal. Technically, Lynch is still “honoring his contract” because the money he is receiving was already taken into account.

It’s uncertain if Seattle will hang on to Lynch after this year as he will be turning 29 next offseason – an age where running backs’ careers often begin to decline, especially if they run as violently as Beast Mode. But it is certainly very comforting knowing that he will be wearing blue and green this season.

Marshawn has been the center of the Seahawks offense since he joined the team in the middle of the 2010 season. When GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll signed Lynch, they knew they wanted to build the entire team around his running game. Since then, he has amassed 4,624 yards and 45 touchdowns on his way to leading the squad to a 36-24 record (excluding playoffs). His physical running style has completely changed the culture of this organization. The run-first and hit-em-in-the-mouth mentality of the current Seahawks was practically trademarked by Marshawn Lynch himself. In all seriousness, without Lynch, the revitalization of the Seahawks under Pete Carroll would have taken a lot longer.

Simply put, everybody loves Beast Mode and the Hawks don’t win the Super Bowl last year without him.

Expect Lynch’s carries to decrease once again this year, as the Seahawks begin the transition into the “Christine Michael era.” But having (at least) one more year of Beast Mode leading the rushing attack gives Michael a chance to ease his way into the offense without throwing him into the fire.

Ah…the Beast is back…and all is well! Below is his highlight video from last season.

Way Too Early Predictions for 2014 Seahawks

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Russell Wilson throws a pass to rookie receiver Paul Richardson during training camp.

Today was only the fourth day of training camp for our 2014 Seattle Seahawks, but in the Pacific Northwest that means it’s football season. And already there are several storylines revolving around the VMAC:

  • ESPN’s SportsCenter aired live at the Seahawks training facility this morning in a Tuesday edition of “Competition Wednesday.”
  • Marshawn Lynch is holding out in the hopes of renegotiating his current contract, which the Seahawks front office seem unlikely to do.
  • And NFL Players Association president Eric Winston has signed with the team.

We can only expect more headlines to come our way as the preseason approaches, but in the spirit of the new season coming up, I’ve decided to preview this year’s team by choosing my predicted MVP’s, Rookies of the Year, and Breakout Stars of the Year. I’ve provided highlight videos to accompany each description.

Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball.

Offense:

MVP – Russell Wilson, QB

This one is probably the easiest to pick, especially with the uncertainty regarding “Beast Mode.” Wilson has been absolutely brilliant in his first two years at the helm of the Hawks offense. Entering his third year in the league, he has won more games than any other quarterback in their first two NFL seasons. While the running game is the juggernaut of this team, Russell’s play-making ability is what makes the offense truly dangerous. He makes something out of nothing, and does so routinely. With Percy Harvin healthy, expect Wilson to create even more explosive plays for the Hawks this year (remember the Super Bowl?).

Rookie of the YearPaul Richardson, WR

Two words: pure speed. Seattle’s 2nd-round pick out of Colorado is a major deep-threat that will help the Seahawks stretch out opposing defenses. His ability to get behind secondaries will make this offense even more deadly. At the very least, opponents will have to account for Richardson’s 4.2-speed, which will open things up for the running game or short passes underneath. Expect this burner to make an immediate impact and get lots of playing time, because even having him on the field is an effective threat.

Breakout Star of the YearChristine Michael, RB (Michael’s highlights are the first 2:50 of the below video)

This pick also largely depends on the outcome of Marshawn Lynch’s holdout. We didn’t see much of Michael last year because he was injured for most of the season and we didn’t need him. But with the possible exit of “Beast Mode,” Michael may be called upon to carry the running game. Even if he comes back, Lynch’s carries are already likely going to decrease this year, which means that Michael and Robert Turbin are going to get more chances – and I’d expect the Texas A&M-product to get the bulk of the remaining carries. Without a doubt, Michael’s combination of speed and power makes him the unanimous choice as the running back of the future for this organization. Is that time now? Is he ready? Those are both questions that will get answered in the coming weeks.

We’ll move on to the defense now.

Defense:

MVP – Kam Chancellor, S

You can easily argue that Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas are rated as better players than Chancellor. But this award should go to who is most valuable to the team – i.e. least expendable. The L.O.B. as a whole is really the most valuable piece to this defense. However, the player who is least expendable in the Seahawks secondary is Chancellor in my opinion. Why? The guy is a bone-crushing enforcer and, perhaps more importantly, the tone-setter of the entire D. His hit on Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl set the table for the entire game. Suddenly, Peyton Manning couldn’t just throw short passes over the middle of the field, a staple of their passing game. That one hit changed the entire game plan for Denver’s record-setting offense and, as a result, they were never able to get going. I look forward to “Bam Bam” putting the hammer on many more receivers coming over the middle this year. That kind of impact is deserving of MVP.

Rookie of the Year – Cassius Marsh, DE

The fourth-round pick out of UCLA has been one of the most impressive players in offseason workouts. His incredible quickness and pass-rush savvy have left Seattle’s coaches drooling, including Pete Carroll. He has already seen a large amount of reps with the first-unit. A pass-rush specialist, Marsh anticipates getting some solid playing time this year, something that is difficult to do for a rookie on this defense.

Breakout Star of the Year – Tharold Simon, CB

Who? Most of you may not remember last year’s fifth-round choice out of LSU because he was on the injured reserve list last season. Simon is another late-round gem for which Pete Carroll and John Schneider have become so well-known. He has all the characteristics of a “Carroll Corner,” meaning he’s tall, lanky, and extremely athletic. His 6’2″-frame has been picking off passes regularly in many of the offseason practices. While Sherman and Byron Maxwell may have secured a starting spots at cornerback for now, look for Simon to get some first-unit reps in nickel-situations. If all goes well I could see him taking Maxwell’s spot by the end of the year.

There ya have it, folks. It’s obviously really early to be thinking about end-of-the-year awards, but I expect all of these names to be making an impact on this team this year. Obviously, Marshawn Lynch’s holdout affects some of the picks I have made. Hopefully, this situation gets resolved sooner rather than later and the organization can move on in the appropriate way.

Until then…GO HAWKS!!!