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!

10 year anniversary Logo

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The Redskins name and my Sammamish Totems

Sammamish Logo

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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NFL Can Solve Concussion Problem But Isn’t

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

Now that the NFL concussion problem has gotten the attention of PBS’ Frontline tv news documentary program newsletterplease

its time for this multi-billion-dollar per year business to do the simple and necessary steps required to reduce dangerous head injuries to its players. They need to do so now before their neglect on this subject becomes a financial and legal liability that will eventually lead to the elimination of the game we love.

In “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” Frontline showed that the biggest sports league in the world has knowingly sent too many players into retirement with what appear to be permanent brain injuries.

//www.youtube.com/embed/

As I wrote in a June 2012 blog “NFL Concussion Problem is Solvable” one of the steps the NFL could take right now, this year is to put padding on the outside of the hard-shell helmets their players wear. It’s been done before by at least two players in the 1990s.

Buffalo Bill Mark Kelso padded his helmet.

Buffalo Bill Mark Kelso padded his helmet.

Buffalo’s Mark Kelso was no bench-warming back-up player. He wore his padded helmet while forging a 7 year NFL career and playing in four Super Bowls.

Steve Wallace in his "Cone helmet"

Steve Wallace in his “Cone helmet”

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Steve Wallace wore a foam cap. He was good enough to play in a Pro Bowl. Why don’t players protect themselves by wearing these easily manufactured foam caps on their hard-shell helmets? Because they can. Players can choose to do this on their own without the league stepping in. They don’t because too many of them think they make you look bad, or geeky, nerdy, or uncool. It’s such a sad statement in our society the clothing appearance is more important than the risk of life long medical disability.

The next question is why doesn’t the NFL require the foam padding on the outside of the helmets? It’s a mystery. Though you can guess it has something to do with style, appearance, aesthetics.

There is still more they can do. During the last off-season the NFL announced that it would require its players to start wearing padding in the football pants, in particular, over their knees. This is a huge step. Just think of how many times we’ve seen a player knocked senseless while blocking or tackling and inadvertently being kicked in the head by another players knee. It happens all the time. Common sense would presume that a pad on the knee and a thin pad on the players helmet would do a lot less neurological damage than a hard knee smashing into a head covered by a hard-shell helmet. The problem is the NFL delayed this change, the mandatory padding, until 2014. It’s hard to imagine why; especially when at the time of the announced change more than 2000 thousand former players had joined in a class action lawsuit against the NFL claiming damages from head trauma during their playing years continued to plague them into retirement.  The lawsuit was settled in August 2013 for $765-million and a guarantee of lifetime medical insurance coverage.

NFL Referees have increasingly thrown flags for helmet hits. The league has also increased the frequency and amount of fines it assesses players every week for those same helmet hits. And I applaud such action.

I am not among the foolish whiners who claim their taking away what we love best about this vicious game, the big hard hits. For the past 20-30 years players have not tackled properly. They fly at the ball carriers, usually with their head down, and essentially “push” them as hard as they can hoping the guy with the ball falls down. (I know I’m simplifying…bear with me) But watch the old, I mean 1960s-old NFL Films highlight reels of Tommy Nobis, Dick Butkis, Chuck Bednarick, Ray Nitschke, Deacon Jones. These Hall of Famers and all others at that time didn’t lower their heads and run into the ball carrier. They kept their heads up to see. They collided with the runner and they wrapped their arms around, and lifted and drove backwards with their legs. This is how I was taught how to tackle at Bellevue, Washington’s Olde Jr High, and then Sammamish High School in 1976-1982. In watching those old highlight films I challenge you to tell me they didn’t hit and tackle hard, and that those hits were exciting. They were savage and brutal. They were great. A perfectly executed hit-wrap-lift-and drive tackle is still more exciting to me then some head collision.

Teaching how to tackle properly again and added padding on the outside of helmets and over the players knees can only help. And it better. Because in our litigious society increasing evidence of repeated concussion trauma and its life time effects on the players will only lead to the inevitable legislative control and eventual loss of the great game of football.

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Seahawks vs 49ers is Gonna Be Great!

Seahawks logo

Though written in March of 2013 this post is still very timely.

The rivalry between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers has gone from simmer, to slow boil, to 3rd degree- “Oh My God THAT’s HOT!” burn in the past week. And isn’t it just exceedingly fun to watch? I’m lovin’ it. And what’s most exciting is that it’s likely to last for many, many years. All the evidence shows that this will push historical rivalries for significance. We’re talking Yankees vs Red Sox, Duke-North Carolina, Ohio State vs Michigan,  Steelers vs the Raiders in the 70s, Redskins vs Cowboys, Celtics- Lakers, Ali-Frazier. Welcome to Seattle! Home of the NFL Universe. Folks, it’s here.

English: Picture of the 12th Man Flag at Centu...

What made the rivalries of yesteryear so darn compelling were two things. First, and perhaps most important, the teams were always good….championship level good. Second, THEY HATED EACH OTHER. Does anyone hate each other more in big-time sports right now than

English: Head Coach Pete Carroll leads his Uni...

Pete Carroll led his University of Southern California Trojans football team

Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and Niner’s Head coach Jim Harbaugh?

Head coach Jim Harbaugh at the 2010 Stanford f...

Head coach Jim Harbaugh at the 2010 Stanford football open house

Not based on the evidence that we’ve seen. From the time when Carroll was at USC and Harbaugh was at Stanford and Carroll greeted the Cardinal coach with a not-so-politic “What’s your deal?” after Harbaugh had his team go for 2-points late in a blow-out win over the Trojans to last October when Harbaugh complained to the NFL about that Seahawk cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were too physical with his receivers.

As we all know the Seahawks were 30-seconds away from meeting the 49ers in the NFC Championship game this past season with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line; a trip won by S.F. Then the team from the Bay area came oh-so-close to winning the league championship and establishing themselves as a potential dynasty.

This week the rivalry was brought back to the nation’s attention when Seattle traded for elite Minnesota wide receiver-Kick Returner Percy Harvin only to be equalled in the headlines by San Francisco trading for Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Bolden of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Fortunately for Hawk’s fans Seattle came back again yesterday by signing free agent defensive-end Cliff Avril to help bolster the team’s greatest need; an improved pass rush. Important to note that while the Hawk’s achilles heel in the past season, and projecting to the coming season, was their pass rush, they still managed to lead the league defensively in fewest points allowed.

After the trade of the 1st round and 7th round draft picks in the upcoming NFL Draft for Harvin, Seattle stills owns 8 picks in the April allotment of college talent. But San Francisco has 14 picks, five returning Pro Bowlers and plenty of cash to acquire more free agent help.

Seattle has Russell Wilson; one of the most exciting young quarterbacks to come into the league in years. S.F. has Colin Kaepernick; one of the most exciting young quarterbacks to come into the league in years. Seattle has Marshawn Lynch one of the best running backs in the league. S.F. has Frank Gore; one of the best running backs in the league, and probably a future Hall of Famer. They both have stout defenses. And their two combative coaches both preach a grind it out, smash-mouth style of football. S.F. has won the NFC West each of the past two years. Seattle won it before that. And both teams have among the youngest rosters in the National Football League. So, as excellent as both teams are. They ought to be excellent for years to come.

After this week’s player acquisitions odds-makers have installed Seattle and San Francisco as co-favorites to win this next year’s Super Bowl. And being in the same division they’ll always play each other twice each season. The fact that S.F. is the team that’s geographically closest to the far-away Northwest outpost called Seattle is just the cherry on top of the Sundae.

Woody Hayes

Woody Hayes

Bo Schembechler vs Woody Hayes.

English: Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and ...

Bird vs Magic.

Richard Petty 1984 Photo By Ted Van Pelt

Richard Petty 1984

Richard Petty vs Cale Yarborough. Alydar vs Affirmed.  We’re talking about this kind of historical rivalry, and it’s staring us in the face.

NY - Long Island - Belmont Park - Affirmed

NY – Long Island – Belmont Park – Affirmed

It’s absolutely delicious for any sports fan. But for the long-suffering fans of Seattle it’s a banquet for a starving man. Thank you Paul Allen for the hasty decision to fire Jim Mora. Thank you Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider for the wisdom and the guts to go after Wilson. And thank you to Seattle tax payers for funding CenturyLink field‘s construction.

I can’t wait, though it’s still 6-months away. I just renewed my Seahawk season tickets for next season. My company Total Broadcasting Service will be giving some of them away, again. I’m predicting a pretty fantastic ride.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

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