Pete Carroll and QBs and Seahawks 2022

We’re 12 days away from the Seattle Seahawks start to the 2022 season. As with any NFL team the success of this season will depend in large part on the play of the teams quarterback. After trading Russell Wilson in March the Hawks will have a new QB for the first time since 2012. After a thoroughly uninspiring Preseason Coach Pete Carroll has named Geno Smith as the team’s leader.

As with most people Smith doesn’t leave me tingling with excitement at the prospect of him doing much of anything, really. I’ve said repeatedly since March Geno is the reincarnation of Tavaris Jackson. He’s a quarterback who is capable of moving his team between the 20s and before the 2:00 warning. But he has shown no particular talent for getting the ball in the end zone or even coming close inside 2-minutes of either the 1st or 2nd half.

I, however, choose to be optimistic about the play of our quarterback in 2022. The ONLY reason I choose to look on the bright side is because of Pete Carroll’s history with quarterbacks. Simply put, it is unparalleled excellence when he is the head coach. Let me explain.

In Carroll’s 2nd Head Coaching job he led the New England Patriots for 3 seasons. At New England he had former Cougar and Number 1 NFL draft pick Drew Bledsoe as his QB. Bledsoe had already been in the league 4 years before Carroll arrived and had established himself as one of the best at his position. But I think it’s important to note that nothing Carroll did slowed Bledoe’s career. In fact in March 2001, after only one season away from Carroll Bledsoe signed a $103-million dollar contract making him, at the time, the highest paid player in NFL history. Not soon after that Bledsoe’s career crumbled having been replaced at QB by The Goat, Tom Brady.

After being fired in New England Carroll resurrected his career at USC where he won multiple NCAA Championships AND continued to produce top-notch quarterbacks. In his first year at USC Carroll inherited an largely unimpressive, underachieving QB named Carson Palmer. In Carroll’s second year Palmer played so well he won the Heisman Trophy and was the first player selected in the NFL draft. Palmer went on to have a good, not great NFL career. Many would say he underachieved in the NFL. He didn’t have Carroll.

Carroll then won the National Championship the next year with Sophomore Matt Leinart as QB. Leinart won the Heisman the next year, 2004, as the Trojans won their 2nd straight National Championship. Leinart then left school early and was an NFL 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals. He famously did next to nothing in his NFL career failing to come close to the level of play he demonstrated when under Carroll’s direction.

Next quarterback on Carroll’s roster of success was Mark Sanchez. While Sanchez didn’t win any Heismans or National Titles he did play well enough in only 2 seasons to be drafted #6 in the NFL draft by the New York Jets. Carroll famously answered a reporter’s question truthfully by saying he felt Sanchez could benefit by staying in college one more year rather than leaving as a Sophomore. Sanchez, like Leinart, flamed out in the NFL. He is probably most remembered for “the butt fumble”. Look it up. It’ll make you laugh.

Carroll also coached Matt Cassell at USC. And while Cassell never played much, since he played behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart he was coached up enough to earn a fairly decent NFL career despite never having started a game in college.

Lastly, in 2012 as Seahawks Head Coach Carroll and GM John Schneider drafted a short (5’10”) quarterback out of Wisconsin via North Carolina late in that draft’s 3rd round. It’s important to note that every other NFL team passed on drafting Russell Wilson, some of them 3 times. Carroll coached Wilson into a probable NFL Hall of Fame career. Whether Wilson will follow the path of Carroll’s previous QB’s and stumble forward in a less than stellar remainder of his career remains to be seen.

The point is Carroll has one of the best record’s in football history of producing GREAT quarterbacks. At least they were great while playing for him. Will Geno Smith be a likewise beneficiary of Carroll’s Midas touch? That remains to be seen.

However, even without high end quarterback play I expect a Seahawk season better than what other’s are predicting.

Their offense will have some great running backs hauling the rock. And they have a rebuilt offensive line with stellar talent that only needs experience to improve over what we’ve had in recent years.

Ken Norton Jr. is gone as Defensive Coordinator and we can all expect addition by subtraction for the Seahawk’s defense this year. Norton was awful. The schemes I saw him running last year, in particular, were laughable. I saw Poona Ford in pass coverage more than once! The Seahawk’s defense will be better.

In looking at the schedule game by game I see 7 wins. Just like last year. I strikes me as a particularly brutal schedule. Try as I might to envision an 8th or a 9th win…I just don’t see it. But, if Geno surprises me and everybody else and follows the path of past Carroll QB’s we might all get a New Year’s treat for 2023, a playoff birth.

Are Seahawks Good Enough? Yes!

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

It’s been five years since my beloved Seattle Seahawks reached the pinnacle game in American sports. But because of being in the Super Bowl 3 times in the span of nine years devoted fans like myself have come to expect them to compete for this ultimate title. In fact since the Seahawks had their chance at an NFL Championship taken from them by the officials February 5, 2006 in their match-up in Detroit with the Pittsburgh Steelers only the hated Patriots of New England have appeared in that game, the first Sunday in February more than Seattle. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been to six. Pittsburgh, like Seattle, played in the game 3 times.

The 2017 season was the only time since 2011 that Seattle failed to make the playoffs thanks to Blair Walsh who single-handedly kept them from having an 11-5 or possibly 12-4 season, earning a first round bye, and hosting a playoff game.

Carroll is a Hall of Fame coach.

Then came the 2018 season when some really outlandish national prognosticators predicted Seattle would be a losing team. Sports Illustrated even predicted Seattle would fall to 4-12. Having made the playoffs with a 10-6 record Pete Carroll again showed what a Hall of Fame Coach is capable of accomplishing. After losing Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Luke Willson and others who helped the team to two Super Bowl appearances and one Championship Carroll has nearly fully remade the team.

If there is any justice in the world, Schneider wins the NFL Executive of the Year Award.

Knowing this history and seeing how General Manager John Schneider has worked miracles in assembling the team this year and last, why would anyone think these Seahawks weren’t Super Bowl contenders again? Simply put, they are.

Let’s look at the roster:

Offense

Quarterback- Russell Wilson is at least among the top five QB’s in the NFL, and when he’s at his best there is none better. And while we hope he never plays Geno Smith gives Seattle the most capable backup Wilson has had in his career. NFL Ranking- 1-5

Running Back: In Chris Carson the Hawks have a third year back who has already rushed for over 1100 yards, last year. They also have last year’s first-round draft pick Rashaad Penny who the coaches have praised this off-season for his fitness and practice performance, and who showed tremendous potential in his limited role last year. He even had a 100-yard game in his only start. Then there’s the third string back who might actually be the best of the group. C.J. Prosise may have been injury prone in his first 3 years in the league since being a 3rd round pick out of Notre Dame. But again this preseason he showed himself to be a very exciting runner, and performed so well he was kept on the team when nearly everyone thought the team would cut him lose. Lastly, the Seahawks finally have a capable fullback again. Nick Bellore will be expected to slam his 250 pounds into opposing linebackers ahead of Carson, Penny or Prosise in a manner not seen since the days of Mack Strong. NFL Grade- 1-2

Wide Receiver- This is possibly the weakest position on the team and yet it includes the only receiver in the NFL to have a PERFECT passer rating with his QB last year. Tyler Lockett is the real deal. Now with Doug Baldwins injury retirement he’ll get a chance to prove it. The Seahawks invested heavily in this position through the NFL Draft, picking three who all made the team. DK Metcalf has huge potential. But the leading receiver in the preseason was 7th round pick John Ursua. But, as we all know, you really can’t count on rookies in the National Football League. Fortunately the Hawks plan on running the ball more than any other team, again, justs like last year. And they have a stated position of desiring to throw the ball to their backs more this year. So having a collectively weak receiver position may not hurt them much. NFL Ranking- 27-32

Tight End- Will Dissley, Nick Vannett and later on in the year Ed Dickson. All are very capable run blockers, which is what the Seahawks need. And if Dissley can duplicate his performance in the first four games of last year when he looked like a Rookie of the Year candidate then this position will be fine. But don’t count on it. NFL Rank- 18-23

Offensive Line- The only question about the capabilities of this year’s offensive line is, can they stay healthy? Particularly starting guards Mike Iupati and DJ Fluker who both have a history of injury, and Seattle’s depth in this area is weak. However, while losing J.R. Sweazey to free agency, replacing him with Iupati, this line was good enough to lead a second-year running back and 7th round draft pick to an 1100-yard rushing season AND lead the league in rushing as a team. So, how bad could they be? NFL Rank- 5-10

Defense

Defensive Line- Jadaveon Clowney, Jarren Reed, Poona Ford, Ziggy Ansah. By the time Reed returns in week 7 following his 6 game NFL suspension for being abusively physical (no offense intended in my wording) with a woman 3 years ago, Clowney will have had time enough to become familiar and comfortable with the defense. And when those two things happen this could be one of the best D-Lines in the league. I really am excited for Ford. I really think he’s going to be special. NFL Rank- 1-3 (…by the end of the year)

Linebacker- With Bobby Wagner widely regarded as the best, or at worst, second best linebacker in the NFL a healthy KJ Wright, and an un-jailed Mychal Kendricks plus a very impressive rookie in Cody Barton this could be the best linebacking unit in the league. NFL Rank- 1-2

Defensive Backs- Safety Bradley McDougald is the only player here the team can positively consider good and dependable. However, I do expect second year corner Tre Flowers to improve on his very impressive rookie season. Third year corner Shaquille Griffin needs to perform better and more consistently. I think he can. But will he? The other safety position seems to be going to Lano Hill. But by the end of the year unless Hill performs up to his high draft position status from 3 years ago he could be replaced by one of two rookies; second round pick Marquise Blair or 4th rounder Ugo Amadi. Both Blair and Amadi have shown fleeting glimpses of promise. And don’t be surprised if the important Nickel corner position doesn’t go to Parry Nickerson. Why else would Schneider trade one of his beloved 2020 draft picks to acquire him on cut-down day last Saturday? Fortunately with the d-line and linebackers expected to put good pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season the secondary may not need to cover receivers for extended stretches of time. NFL Rank- 20-25

Special Teams

Punter- Michael Dickson is the best punter in the NFL. NFL Rank- 1

Kicker- Newly signed Jason Myers was the AFC Conference Pro Bowl kicker last year when he was with the Jets and set a record for the number of 50+ yard field goals made. NFL Rank- 1-3

With six position groups (including punter and kicker) among the very best in the league, and a coach with a history of great success, and a quarterback who knows nothing but winning this Seattle Seahawks team will be no worse than 9-7. At best I think they can go 12-4 and challenge for home field advantage, which is the only way Seattle has ever made the Super Bowl. I’m counting as losses road games against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Los Angeles and a home loss to New Orleans. The loss to the Saints coming only because its the 3rd game of the season and Reed will still be suspended and Clowney will not yet be completely comfortable with his new team (remember he didn’t go through training camp or ANY off-season program with Houston).

Will Seattle go to the playoffs, win and go to the Super Bowl? I definitely think they can. Home field advantage is key. It will be an exciting season.

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I LOVE April!

IMG_8755I have said for years that April and October are my two favorite months of the year. They just bring so much of what I love.

Sure I love Christmas and the whole Christmas season.

Snowy Renton Street

Snowy Renton Street

The parties and the love shared between people is like no other time. The busyness doesn’t bother me. It energizes me. But December doesn’t make my top list because of the weather. In the Puget Sound, where I live, temperatures in the 30s and 40s and a near constant drizzle or grey cloudy days are the norm. No. I want sun shine. Even if its cold, I want sun shine. So, sorry December you don’t make it.

July and August are very high on my list. It’s frequently sunny. I often enjoy BBQ parties with friends. Sunset at Birch Bay, WA And the baseball season is entering its second half, with pennant races looming. The good weather makes outdoor activities that I love more frequently possible. I love fishing. I love camping. I love driving in my convertible with the top down. It’s all good. But in terms of sports…baseball is the only thing going. I love baseball. But there is no college sports. NFL football is only in training camp and exhibition games that no longer interest me like they did when I was a kid. And basketball is fortunately only limited to the women’s game, which I only tacitly pay attention to. Sorry, all you Storm fans. I’m just not there. And sorry Sounders and MLS fans. I don’t hate Soccer like some who complain of its boring low scoring matches. But they have so many, boring low scoring matches. And I still don’t understand what games count, what trophies count, and how you can play in a tournament in the middle of a season that is completely unrelated to the league in which you play. So, July and August are close, very close. But they fall just a tiny bit short.

Green Bay Packers v Seattle SeahawksOctober is great because the weather at the start of the month is still pretty decent. We have FOOTBALL! Both college and NFL football are well underway, promising fun and excitement every weekend. And Major League baseball is conducting its playoffs and World Series with nearly daily intrigue. I can still go fishing. And, while I don’t do it much anymore…I can go hunting and enjoy a weekend with my dog. October also is the start of the NBA season. Since the Oklahoma Raiders stole my beloved Sonics from Seattle, the start of the NBA season means considerably less to me. In fact, it means almost nothing. I am still a bitter Sonics fan. But…I do love October.

And then…there is April. April is the first month since October or even September some years, when you can expect daily temperatures near 60-degrees. ! YEA! Warmth! I’m a fair weather fisherman, so April see’s me out on my canoe on local lakes.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

And in terms of spectator sports for the sports nuts like me? It’s a plethora of enjoyment, a cacophony of choices, a riches of experiences. It all starts with the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball championship. And in years like this when a local team, Gonzaga, is playing deep into the March Madness tournament it’s even better. Baseball’s opening day dawns in the first week with every year promising championship dreams…even when those dreams are irreconcilably impossible. I seldom watch golf or play it. But The Master’s this week and every year is not so much golf as it is an event and tradition and history. It’s often high drama. And for others, as I’ve already mentioned this doesn’t really apply to me…much…their is the soccer season underway with the Sounders here in Seattle and there is the start of the marathon NBA playoffs, the only major sport that takes two months to finish the season after having finished the season. Seahawks logo Lastly, us NFL and Seahawks lovers are given the gift of the NFL Draft in April, with the promise of new stars coming to your team to help take you to the promised land by filling the wholes you perceive your team has.

And I haven’t even mentioned the blooming of flowers and their scents and colors, and the return of leaves to the trees and birds and little animals scurrying about after a winter in hibernation. Life begins again in April. I LOVE IT!

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My Incredible Morning Run

IMG_8755In my on going efforts for fitness, health, and continued youth I woke this morning, dressed in my sweat suite, grabbed my cell phone and ear plug headphones and embarked on a morning run. After I was done I realized what an extraordinary start to my day I experienced.

It was a cold March morning with temperatures in the upper 30s. As I left my Renton home through my garage I zipped up my jacket all the way to my neck. I plugged my headphone buds into my ears, plugged the cord into my phone, and turned on the music. I like up-beat music as I run, and classic rock is my up-beat music of choice. Journey was the first band I enjoyed.

At 51 years of age with arthritis in my hips and a slightly torn right labrum loosening up for anything physical takes a little more time than it used to. The darkness of pre-6am enveloped me as I awkwardly began running out of my driveway. The first few hundred yards of my runs see me looking quite geeky as I shake off the cobwebs of a nights sleep and free-up my muscles and joints. I’m flapping around like a fish out of water, and my legs are rotating as a wheel with no lug nuts.

After the first song had played Led Zeppelin was in my ears and head. Good Times, Bad Times. I wasn’t feeling great. My hips were growling at me and the cold was nipping at my ungloved fingertips.

I then looked up from the sometimes dangerous cracked sidewalk and saw a beautiful full moon through the Douglas Firs setting in the west. It shown through the trees and was hallowed by a cloudy mist. It was my beacon lighting my dark path on my journey. It inspired me. Between looking down to watch for missteps on the uneven sidewalk I would look up at the glowing orb. Sometimes I had to search for it as it ducked behind a tree or apartment building. Cars whizzed by at 40 mph when I finally grunted my way to a main road with a smooth level sidewalk, the moon still glowing in the west, descending over the Olympic Mountains.

I run a route that’s about 3.5 miles. It takes me about 30-35 minutes. I’m not fast, just steady. As I rounded the Fairwood shopping center I began the journey home. That would take me east. No longer fighting to keep running or feeling stiff from old age and a thorough nights sleep I am quickening my pace. And a funny thing happened. Dawn had broken.

Rush, Seal, and Pink Floyd sang in my ears as the sidewalk became more easily visible in the growing light. As more hills, and the start of a side-ache begin to challenge me I begin reciting the Hail Mary, over, and over, and over again asking the Mother of Jesus to bless me in my efforts and carry me through.

The final 2-300 yards to my home is the steepest hill on my route and a real struggle as I’ve already run over 3-miles. But not this morning. My eastward trajectory and up hill slant had me peering into a glorious sunrise. Pink skies and some blue clouds inspired me to sprint. It was a beautiful morning.

Sunday, daylight savings time begins. So my next run will be in what is now the 5am hour. It’ll be dark, and I won’t see a darkness and a full moon followed by a beautiful sunrise in the east. I realized and asked myself how often, in the Pacific Northwest, will I run on a clear sky morning, with a full moon, and clear starlit skies followed by sunlit blue, and biting and exhilarating cold all during the same 30 minute run.

Is it pessimistic to say I may never experience this glorious combination again? There are only 12 full moons each year, the number of clear skies in Seattle are notably few, I only run 2-3 days per week and because of my age and my arthritis that amount is going to decrease as time moves on.

My morning run was extraordinary, special, inspiring, fun, and possibly one-of-a-kind.

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The Redskins name and my Sammamish Totems

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The Seattle Times newspaper announced today that it would join the ever-growing list of publications that will ban use of the name Redskins in future paper and online articles. The news comes one day after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled the name Redskins can no longer enjoy trademark protection because “€œbased on the evidence properly before us … these (trademark) registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.”.

In the Times article it is pointed out that my high school, Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, is one of many schools and organizations that has a name/mascot derived from Native American culture. Sammamish is “The Totems”. And the article points out that in addition to banning the racial slur Redskins from popular culture, that other sports teams and or schools are being encouraged to ban ALL nicknames derived from Native American culture.  This would include Chiefs, Warriors, Braves, Indians and on and on.

redskins-logo

I’ll admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I honestly never thought of my high school’s nickname as being Native American. Clearly it is. I just never thought about it. Even though the subject of removing the name Redskins and other less offensive Native American nicknames has been in the news for years, I never made the connection. Interestingly (for me) the Time’s article also points out one of the lone remaining school sports names in Washington that carry’s with it some racial over tones toward Native Americans (or any other ethnic group, I guess) is my Dad’s high school alma mater The Bellingham High School Red Raiders. While keeping the nickname the Bellingham School District years ago removed any logo or symbolism associated with Native Americans from its High School, choosing instead on displaying a Hawk in depicting Red Raiders.

So my questions are these: 

1. Should the NFL’s Washington football team change its name from Redskins?

2. Should ALL nicknames with Native American connotations be banned/removed?

3. Am I alone in not giving any thought toward my own school’s nickname…along these lines?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office admits in its report that only 30% of Native Americans surveyed find the term Redskins offensive. And survey’s of the team’s fans throughout the D.C. area strongly approve of owner Daniel Snyder’s stance to “NEVER change the name”.

My position is not unlike my thoughts about my own Totem’s nickname from my high school days. I’m rather indifferent. I see how the term Redskins can be offensive (who can’t?). But I also feel…INTENT has to play a big part in how a word is used. Nobody in their right mind believes Snyder or anyone associated with the Washington Redskins intends to offend anyone. It’s as if simply writing or saying the “n-word” is offensive; which it is…to a lot of people. I respect that. But I’m going to write it here, now. Nigger. Am I a racist? In the context of how I am using it I would openly and strongly call you an idiot for accusing me of being so. And my African-American wife, children, and friends would defend me; I’m sure. Still the word is offensive because of how it has historically been used, and the frequency with which its been used. The same can be said of the word Redskins. Though nobody with any scruples would use the word in any other way but as a reference to the football team. And such has been the case for decades. You can’t say that about the N-word.

Nonetheless, the tide to remove the name Redskins from the NFL football team is certainly unmistakable; and I predict it will be done in the next 2-3 years. Chalk up another one for political correctness. Still, it’s not something I don’t understand or would strongly argue.

However, to the politically correct wimps who would remove all nicknames, like my Totems, from schools and sports teams I would say, GROW UP. As I already pointed out, INTENT, must be taken into consideration when choosing to be offended otherwise you can find offense in way too many things in this world. The nursery level idiom “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, comes to mind. I could point out all the other nicknames of some racial derivation…like a lot of people arguing this point do…but I won’t. Because it’s a waste of time.

If someone offends you and does so intentionally or unthinkingly, do something about it. Say something. But if their Intent is non-offensive keep that in mind. When I was young and going to school studying broadcasting I created an audio character with an English accent named “Bueno Mike”. It was a character I used for product commercials. And it was intended to be funny. Bueno Mike was supposed to be an English explorer in the vein of “Stanley and Livingston”. I decided Bueno Mike needed an assistant and innocently came up with a new character I called “Sambo”. This was in 1985. My then-girlfriend, and future wife, was incensed. I had no ill-intent. I was thinking of the restaurant named Sambo’s, and the young Indian character who spun a tiger around a tree and turned him into butter. But my girlfriend couldn’t believe I would use a name so offensive. I admitted I didn’t know that it was offensive to African-Americans. But after she calmed down and explained it to me I didn’t hesitate to ditch the plan and not use the derogatory name. But I have to admit my girlfriends strong first reaction put me on the defensive and I was a little upset. Only through a calmer approach was my mind changed.

What do you think? I’m really interested in hearing from my fellow Sammamish Alums to my 3 earlier questions.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

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