Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!!

What originally started out as a rather dull sports day actually gave rise to real conversation topics! Oh boy!

- I really appreciate this Seattle Times article about the Seahawks saying the team is looking at d-end or safety. If we cannot resign Marquand Manuel I agree with both positions (although I still think that whole Ting/Bing/Whatever his name is guy from USC is overrated. Anyone watch USC play "defense" this year? I think I saw Vlad Radmanovic playing middle linebacker). To follow up on our Shaun Alexander post, the general consensus around the league appears to be that Shaun will return to Seattle, tail between his legs, minus the billion plus signing bonus he is looking for. At this point Arizona won't pay for him (Denny Green making the correct decision? What?), Minnesota says no, and Carolina appears out of the running. So unless Shaun Alexander decided to convince Scott Boras to rep football too and finds a suitable Tom Hicks in the NFL owners club we may be back with the league MVP. Why am I not excited about that right now? I honestly can't wait for the draft, though, as I've written previously the NFL draft is the best one out there, because the talent can actually play right away. We rarely have to hear the word "project" or "length" to let execs weasel out of why they took a scared looking homie instead of someone with "talent".

Can I continue to laugh at this whole "Wonderlic" thing with Vince Young? Did anyone watch the Rose Bowl? Anyone? And you're worried that he has problems with multiple choice? Rose Bowl? Scouts are funny sometimes. That's my favorite part of the combine. Someone runs fast and all of a sudden they become an automatic first round bust. Did that TE who wowed everyone yesterday really do that much IN GAMES? Ummm... pause for effect... scratch head and wonder why football men can be such idiots every once in a while... there's a reason why Lofa Tatupu came to us, and until the rest of the league catches on, I'm glad Ruskell is on the side of performance.

- Enough about football... for today. I've yet to catch anything akin to Mariner Fever. Sodo Mojo is drained from my body. Actually, something just hit me. I have another year of Rick Rizzs, Dave Henderson, and Ron Fairly to listen to. That elicits a reaction similar to mine last night when Kim Bauer showed up on the preview for next week's "24". Hint: it involved words Daddy didn't teach me and probably made Jesus cry. I suppose we haven't had any cougars chasing Jack Bauer's daughter down lately, so it's time to have some fun again. (Colin: Best theory. The woman that the new bad guy called at the end of last week's episode? Audrey Raines, perhaps leading to Audrey chasing Kim around CTU with a gun, thus leading to myself both laughing and thinking about women's curling at the same time.) Anyways, back to M's. Joel Piniero feels "good". Here's my thought... Piniero goes out and cleans up in the World Classic, looking brilliant and eliciting all these "Joel's back" articles from inept Seattle beat writers. Then Jo-El comes back, puts on that M's uniform, summons the ghost of Bobby Ayala, and craps all over Safeco Field. Just a hunch. Maybe I'll start caring about the time I head down to Spring Training for a couple of games.

- For some reason I am really excited for tonight's Sonics games. I do feel they made all the right moves. I want to see what Earl Watson and Chris Wilcox can do. I am going to go nuts if the Sonics actually hold someone under 100 two nights in a row. I want to see three guards on the floor. I think I know this... I like Bob Hill right now. He handled Rashard's comments extremely well with the press today and I'm sure Rashard will appreciate it. I completely understand where Lewis is coming from. Unfortunately for him, I'm not sure that I believe him essential enough to our team to justify paying him the type of money he would be looking for. That's a discussion for another time.

- Four more days until UW-Arizona. Four more days until UW-Arizona. What do you think we are now? I'm guessing a five seed. Before the season I thought we would be a four, so it would be pretty cool if we hit that. (Colin: Remember, two more days until UW-Arizona State! YEAH! Arizona State! Go Sun Devils!)

- Colin: I'm actually going to add something to the Ultimate Explosion today, because it appears that the CBA talks in the NFL have hit yet another snag. Just what we need, more millionaires griping about how to split up their millions. Hey, NFL! Did you pay attention to the NHL the last couple of years? Geez, guys, just get together, get your stupid issues crammed out, and let's get back to thinking about football on the field.

posted by Gavin @ 2:06 PM  0 comments

Levesque, We Hardly Knew Ye

How Could You Not Love This Face?

John Levesque, television critic and erstwhile sportswriter for the PI, has written his last article. No, he's not being fired, but returning to management as befits a sportswriter of his immense caliber (snicker).

Gavin and I have laughed at Levesque for some time now, but now hope that the PI finds another sportswriter with the giant leaps of logic, the lack of any statistical backing, and the ability to contradict what he had just written last week with the same capacity and panache as Levesque.

John, old boy, you will be missed. Good luck with the whole newspaper management business. Tell me, what's the circulation rate doing up there (admittedly low blow)?

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:50 AM  0 comments

Monday, February 27, 2006

Cr(ushed)Fire: Should the Seahawks sign Shaun Alexander?

The Super Bowl is over (we lost, by the way).

The combine is.... THE COMBINE!!! Alright, stop it, people, stop the insanity. It's not the end of the world that Vince Young (allegedly) scored into the "dunce" category of the Wonderlick, or that one quarterback can squat more than another quarterback.

The free agent market is dim, to say the least.

That leaves Gavin and I the task of debating whether or not the Seahawks should bring back one Shaun Alexander, he of the MVP, record-setting performance of a year ago.

Many people will wonder why this is a debate, and that is an excellent question. But the truth of the matter is that there are two sides to this issue. There is a reason why Shaun isn't signed yet. And that is the area into which we will delve. Gavin and I will treat this the same way we treated some of the Hawks postseason games, and anyone out there is welcome to join the debate. Just as always, we will add your comment to the overall discussion thread.

Colin: OK, Gavin, let's get this show on the road. I'm going to start out by saying that at the beginning of last season, I was part of the "Kick Shaun Out" club. I was sick and tired of his no show's in previous postseason games, sick of his atrocious pass-blocking, and sick of his seeming inability to gain the crucial yard.

Well, last season proved me wrong in all respects. Shaun was incredible at gaining the crucial yard, improved to adequate in pass-blocking, and showed up for the postseason games after getting his bell rung by Levar Arrington. He was a complete back; as complete a back as you can hope to find in the NFL. He is, by all accounts, a good (if not great) teammate, and an excellent mouthpiece of the team in the media and the community. He has done everything asked of him, even patching up the rough spots of the relationship with Holmgren. He is a true weapon, and the Hawks will suffer without him.

But..... $80 mill? Long-term contract to a running back who is on the wrong side of 28? Gavin, enlighten us as to the reasons why running backs are rarely given long-term deals at this point of their career (hint: Priest Holmes).

Gavin: This is just a difficult decision. On the one hand you have a good guy who set an NFL record. On the other hand, you have an older guy. Let's take a quick look at some recent history.


These five backs represent a broad spectrum of running styles, offensive line strengths, and "punishment". We see a fairly significant drop off by age 31 across the board (outside of last year's freakish performance by Curtis Martin). Even Martin ran into injury problems and hit the wall this year. Shaun will be 29 next year. This means we can only reasonably expect two more good years at this stage of his career, possibly three (in line with Martin) before the wear and tear catches up to him. This is the "Bret Boone" stat line with running backs, an enormous drop off in productivity. The Hawks won't know which year he will go bad, but he will. Knowing this, does it make sense to pay him the type of money he is looking for?

Colin: First, is it a good thing when a movie advertises as, "By the same team that brought you "Hoodwinked"?" Does anyone even know that movie (Hoodwink) existed? And your main vocal talent is Jimmy Fallon, who can't get any real work outside of dancing with Parker Posey in a Pepsi commercial. All this to say.... when I have kids, I am not going to these movies.

Anyhoo.... I think that most people get the fact that running backs age extremely quickly. Gavin illustrated that well, and there are plenty more examples where those come from. The flip side, of course, is that running backs have an extremely small learning curve, allowing studs like Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown to succeed early on.

However, I tend to agree with the argument that Shaun has two, probably three great years left before he begins the fast and inevitable slide towards decay. Thus, I understand Shaun's desire to get the big contract. This is his final chance for big money, because, after now.... no way.

Before I can answer your question, Gavin, we should look at what the possible alternatives are for the Hawks.

Option #1: Resign Maurice Morris
Option #2: Sign another free agent (Edge, Jamal Lewis, etc.)
Option #3: Draft running back

Gavin, how about you start with #1 (and add some more if you can think of any...)

Gavin: Resign Maurice Morris as a starter? The problem is that we really don't know what to expect out of Morris. He's not a great kick returner, not a great third down back and not a great pass receiver. In fact, there's not much to like about Morris above what we got in Alexander. Would Maurice Morris become a 1000 yard rusher? Absolutely. A trained chimp could gain 1000 yards behind our line. That's the beauty of our situation. It's whether or not Maurice could gain 1500 yards that's in question. My thought? If we're getting rid of a 28 year old why would we sign a back who turns 27 in December to replace him? That doesn't seem to make much sense. If we are going to go with a different back for the "age" reason, Morris just doesn't make the cut.

And your numbers are fine, don't worry about it.

I personally think it's funny that the team that brought you "Hoodwinked" can come out with another movie one month after "Hoodwinked" and refer to the stupid thing. Any movie "starring" Whoopie Goldberg as one butt-ugly cow is not one I will enjoy. There are times when I pine for the Disney of the not too distant past, not this "churn out the camp" crap.

Colin: I guess that brings me to Option #2: Sign a free agent to replace Shaun. Again, let's look at the prime downside of Shaun (age) and how that compares with the (presumably) available talent on the market.

Shaun - 28; Edge - 27; Jamal Lewis - 26; Ahman Green - 29; Jerami Johnson - 25; DeShaun Foster - (transition) 26; Michael Bennett - 27; Chester Taylor - 26

As for character, you have Jamal Lewis put in jail last year. As for playoff performances, no one has choked in recent years like Edge and the Colts in the postseason. As for fumbles, look no further than Ahman Green. As for disappearing talent and potential, look no further than Michael Bennett. As for overhyped players, look no further than DeShaun Foster. Throw in one intriguing prospect (Johnson, from the Bengals) and a player that the Ravens will undoubtedly resign (Taylor) and the cupboard is extremely bare in the free-agent market.

That leaves the draft...... Gavin?

Gavin: If we decide not to keep Shaun, the draft is definitely the way to go. Again, whatever back comes in will be running behind the best offensive line in football, so they will perform, regardless of the pressure. Who would be available?
Obviously Reggie Bush is out of the picture. The next backs are:
Deangelo Williams, Laurence Maroney, LenDale White, Joseph Addai, and Maurice Drew. Even a Jerome Harrison (WSU product) is available in a very deep running back class. There are options here. We all know how much I love LenDale White, but unfortunately he did way too well in the National Championship game and so too many teams now know he is the bomb, including the Arizona Cardinals, who apparently are targeting him to run behind their abomination of an offensive line. Go White.
In two mock drafts on ESPN, Williams, Maroney and White are all drafted prior to our late pick. It is apparent we won't get a blue-chip prospect. Still, I would be pretty darn okay with someone like Maurice Drew, who exhibited power and blocking ability during UCLA's season. I guess the question becomes... is a running back out of the top five worth losing Shaun Alexander? What about cost? What else could we then do with that money?

Colin: Is a running back out of the top five WORTH losing Shaun Alexander? Is spending $80 mill WORTH keeping Shaun Alexander? Now we're getting to the real nitty gritty.....

Basically, what I see this coming down to either paying Shaun the big ones, taking the time to bring Shaun down to a more reasonable request, or letting Shaun go and grabbing a running back in round #1 of the draft.

So.... should we pay Shaun $80 mill to be our running back? In a single word.... no. No because, as the fount of wisdom named Denny Green stated today, it is foolish to tie up too much money with one player, ESPECIALLY with the murky recent CBA talks. A football team, unlike, say, an NBA team, relies too much on breadth and depth, especially in the salary cap era. The Hawks know, all too well, that you need a FEW quality players at every position. You need the Marquand Manuel's (I know, he isn't an Pro Bowler, but he was decent) to back up the Ken Hamlin's. You need the ability to sign Hutch to a long-term deal, to keep high-impact young players like Marcus Trufant, Michael Boulware, and Ken Hamlin. You need the ability to make the impact pick-up every year, such as Grant Wistrom, Jamie Sharper, or Bryce Fisher. A contract such as Shaun's make such things much, much more difficult.

Argument #2: Look at the running backs of recent Super Bowl winners. You have Willie Parker last year (no Pro Bowler, that one, though he made us look foolish once), Corey Dillon (right before a massive decline), Kevin Faulk (or whoever else Belichick threw out there), Michael Pittman (right?), etc., etc., etc.

Argument #3: Look at the best team rushing attacks of last year. Denver and Atlanta. Again, these are not $80 mill backs out there.

Does Shaun deserve some big money? Absolutely, same as Walter and Hasselbeck. He might even DESERVE to be the highest paid running back ever. But the Hawks can not afford to pay him that type of money.

Extra: From ProFootballTalk.com

SHAUN MIGHT GET SHORTCHANGED

Early talk at the combine was that running back Shaun Alexander, the 2005 NFL MVP, wants a contract with $22 million in guaranteed money and a total value of $80 million.

It's far more than Alexander legitimately should command on the open market. We're now hearing that the actual number that he will receive is dropping, not rising, as teams spend more time making plans for 2006.

The perception in some circles is that Alexander has the propensity to be a turd (the actual word we've heard is far less charitable than "turd" -- but the actual word does have four letters, the second of which is "u"). And the fear is that he was on his best possible behavior in 2005 and that once he cashes in he'll resort to being a chump.

It wouldn't be unprecedented. Plenty of guys during the free agency era play and behave well the year before hitting the market, but then go south once the check for the bonus money has cleared.

Another guy who some league insiders think might fall into this pattern in 2006 is defensive tackle Gerard Warren, a career underachiever who suddenly woke up in his contract season.

As to Alexander, we'd heard multiple times that the team was leery about signing him to a new deal during the 2005 season due to concerns that, once he got paid, he might no longer be as effective. It sounds like other teams might be starting to develop similar concerns.

POSTED 10:32 a.m. EST, February 26, 2006

Thoughts, Gavin? Anyone?

Gavin: Before I respond, we have some comments to check out!

I agree with MarinerGeek that Shaun appears to be unique from a wear-and-tear perspective. He doesn't get hurt, plays every game, and has for many years. Of course, Jamie Sharper didn't get hurt either until last year. With age comes the likelihood of year-ending injuries. In fact, in my table above, Curtis Martin was the only running back to not suffer an injury in year 31. That is nuts.

That's why MarinerGeek and Eric agree with our general premise, that Shaun doesn't appear to be worth more than three, maybe four years (if the money works out well). Eric has some darn good ideas about spreading the wealth around, with some large signing bonuses (ala Steve McNair) that we don't have to pay if he sucks by then. Finally, I completely agree with Eric. Running backs aren't quarterbacks. We can't drag some yahoo into our system to be Matt Hasselbeck the same way anyone can run for 1000 yards. Thanks for the inputs, guys!

Now back to the thread... Colin lays it all out well.

Option 1: Pay him oodles of cash. We know what happens when you dump too much money into one player... you surround him with crap. Good football teams are just that... teams. Without a good offensive line, Shaun is nothing. Without good wide receivers to force the safeties to play coverage, Shaun is nothing. Without a good quarterback to audible at the line of scrimmage, Shaun is nothing.

Option 2: Pay premier free agent oodles of cash. Why on earth would we do this? What conceivable back would be worth that?

Option 3: Pay mid-level free agent. This would be the Warrick Dunn class of free agent. I would be fine with this. They would be cheaper and more reasonable. We could then draft a back at our leisure to develop behind. This would be the Ricky Watters/Shaun Alexander scenario.

Option 4: Draft a kid and pay all our free agents to stay. I sure like this one a lot. Give Hutch a long term deal. Make sure you have money set aside for Tatupu, Hill, Trufant, Boulware, etc. There are good running backs in this class. We can and should draft one. Now, the argument against that is we do need another defensive end... probably more at this point. I suppose that's why there's free agency. We can't do both.

Here's what it comes down to for me. Either we sign a d-end in free agency and draft a running back or vice versa. Shaun Alexander is not worth the type of money he is asking for, and I sure don't want a pissed off running back tanking our season. We have seen what bad locker rooms are... and they are bad. If he's fine with three-four years at top dollar, then yes, pay the man. If not, good luck finding another team willing to spend it.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:32 AM  2 comments

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Seahawks Offseason Overview

It is finally time. Time for Colin and I to man up, get out of our end of the season malaise, and finally admit that we need to write this damn overview. Also, I'm finally starting to get moderately excited about baseball season (although I am avoiding spring training articles like the plague... one more fluff piece on Joel Piniero's "promise" and I'm going to flip) so it's time to close the book on what was an absolutely fantastic 2005 season.

Our first set of kudos go to Mike Reinfeldt, the original savior of this season, much less this franchise. Reinfeldt signed Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck, letting us franchise Shaun Alexander and essentially allowing Tim Ruskell to step into a stress-free environment.

Still, let's not minimize what Ruskell achieved. Colin and I have gushed enough, but there are very few moves he made which didn't work out. It's not his fault Etric Pruitt sucked... he brought him in to be a third string safety, not play the entire second half of the Super Bowl.

A few other awards:

MVP: The Offensive Line. While Matt Hasselbeck is definitely deserving of this as well, our offensive line dominated just about every opposing d-line, notwithstanding one effort against Dallas which was against the three lineman, four backers, eight samurai warriors, and two cornerbacks. They opened up the holes for Shaun. They gave Matt time. Our offensive stars struggle if they are forced into quick decisions. The offensive line made life easy.

Best Offseason Acquisition: One Joe Jurevicius as the free agent and Lofa Tatupu as the rookie. Jurevicius salvaged our offensive season with his performance after the injuries to Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. We thought he could be a great goal line threat and over the middle and he sure didn't disappoint. You just knew if you put the ball near him he was going to get it. The catch he made in the game against the Giants when he essentially took an interception away at the goal line to score a touchdown was one of my favorite plays of the year. As for Tatupu, what can you say? We now have a middle linebacker and quarterback for the next ten years. Honorable mention to Leroy Hill, who we would be touting as the best rookie linebacker we've seen in a good long time if not for Tatupu.

Enough about the season. Let's talk about what Ruskell needs to do in order for me to buy a ticket to Miami (if you think I'm missing that Super Bowl you are legitimately hurting upstairs).

1. Don't try to get all Isaiah Thomas on us.
An odd quirk of many teams who almost win the big one is to make large changes to one side of the ball or another in order to get over the hump. This seems odd and the Hawks would do well to avoid this train of thought. We really don't have to do much here.

2. Sign Steve Hutchinson to a long-term deal.
The transition tag is all well and good but let's avoid a potential holdout and just get a deal done. He knows we want him, we know we want him, there is no question. Just sign the man. He is our top priority (yes, over Shaun). If you want to see something amazing during a game, focus on the left side of our line for some of the best football you'll ever witness.

3. Don't sign Shaun Alexander.
Just kidding. Colin and I will actually debate this later.

4. Try to sign Rocky Bernard, but don't be too upset if he walks.
Rocky has a good motor and added a lot to our squad, but he is not worth the type of money someone is going to offer him, especially for a player who NEVER had that type of season before. Marcus Tubbs is a better player anyways, and a line anchored by Tubbs, Chartic Darby and Craig Terrill will still help us be one of the better rushing defenses in the league.

5. Resign Joe Jurevicius and Mack Strong.
I'm not going to get into all of our free agents, since most are people I could care less about, but these two (and maybe Marquand Manuel) are too invaluable.

So far these moves are all status-quo. That's good news... we made the Super Bowl! Let's see where those moves leave us.

Offense:
QB: Matt Hasselbeck, backup QB: ?
Hasselbeck is the best QB in the NFC. I think we're fine with him. Seneca Wallace has a lot of talent, but it's not like I'm going to be crying if he leaves. Backup QBs are everywhere. Go get Brad Johnson or someone similar.

RB: Someone who is going to get 1000 yards behind our offensive line. Maybe not 28 touchdowns, but take the 1000 yards to the bank.

FB: Mack Strong, with Leonard Weaver there are terrific depth.

O-Line: Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear, the best line in the NFL, with Chris Spencer and Pork Chop Womack as extremely capable reserves. Our offensive line depth is simply tremendous.

TE: Jerramy Stevens and Ryan Hannam. Hannam is a free agent that I anticipate resigning, as Holmgren loves him. If not we'll see more of Itula Mili (unless we cut Mili). Stevens, regardless of the Super Bowl disaster, seems poised to become a top-five TE. I'm admittedly excited to see how we use him to attack defenses crowding the line of scrimmage to try and stop the run.

WRs: Darrell Jackson (elite wide receiver, by the way, hate it when he's disrespected like that), Joe Jurevicius, DJ Hackett. Bobby Engram is a free agent who I'd love to have back, but again we could easily replace him. We could still use a burner, but I think if we continue to develop Hackett he could turn into that for us. Just don't think Hackett can be a starter. He can't.

Defense: Remember, this group was one of the youngest in the league. We should be really excited about the possibilities we see below.
D-Line: Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher on the edge with Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby in the middle. Craig Terrill provide tackle depth while absolutely no one (perhaps last year pick Jeb Huckeba) provides good rush depth.

Linebackers: Jamie Sharper, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill should be our corps for the next three years, with DD Lewis a great immediate backup. We should never have to see Isaiah K in a game again.

Corners: Marcus Trufant finally started looking like the corner we thought he could be, while Andre Dyson and Kelley Herndon are fairly cheap as a two-three. Jordan Babineaux provides terrific depth. It sure would be nice to see what these guys could do if all were healthy. The playoffs provided a little glimpse.

Safety: This all hinges on the health of Ken Hamlin. If the Hammer is back, pair him with Michael Boulware and get excited. This is why we could still use Marquand Manuel, although I think he played well enough to get a starting job elsewhere.

Here's the truth. We have ZERO starting positions we need to fill, unless you count running back. That is nuts. We are only talking about backups.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Draft a defensive end. Wistrom only has one-two years left. He has lost a step and couldn't get pressure as much as in previous years. Fisher is the youngster but we need more depth. Anything is better than Joe Tafoya. I want to see Jeb Huckeba, who we drafted from Arkansas. He had some talent, but we need more. First round pick here.

2. Get better safety help. If Manuel leaves (probable), find someone we can trust to back up Hamlin.

3. Draft a return specialist (Jeremy Bloom?). This is what lower round draft picks are for, people. If we can finally have someone who is at least a mediocre threat to return the ball up the field we will gain 3-4 points per game.

4. Sign a veteran wide receiver with a little more size. The west coast offense needs size for those short crossing patterns. Jurevicius fit the bill perfectly. Getting another will force teams away from playing the "Dallas" defense against us even better than getting a deep threat, which again I think Hackett can be. There is no wide receiver available in free agency that can improve our long ball presence, not to mention that Hasselbeck sucks throwing it deep. Work to strengths.

I have to be honest... this is all I think we need to do. we don't need a huge star, don't need to trade away picks to move up in the draft, don't need more. The biggest change I would ask Colin and I will discuss later. This is going to be a damn good team next year. I'm excited to see what happens.

Go Ruskell!

Go Hawks!

posted by Gavin @ 6:50 PM  0 comments

Friday, February 24, 2006

An Early "Keep Shaun?" Preview

If Shaun wants this, it's not happening....

From ProFootballTalk.com...

The early scuttlebutt coming out of Indy is that running back Shaun Alexander is looking for a contract with $22 million in guaranteed money and a total value of $80 million.

Sorry, Shaun, but it aint' gonna happen.

It would be the biggest running back contract in league history, eclipsing the contract signed in 2005 by Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson. L.T. received $20 million in guaranteed money as part of an eight-year, $60 million package.

The problem is that the market for free agent running backs -- especially those on the wrong side of age 25 -- doesn't support that kind of investment, even for a guy who was the league MVP and who broke the single-season touchdown record.

More than ever, running backs are regarded as fungible. Only a guy with truly rare skills, like a Barry Sanders or a Jim Brown-type talent, would be able to get the kind of deal that Alexander supposedly wants.

The Carolina Panthers might have caught wind of Alexander's financial expectations, since they unexpectedly
applied the transition tag to running back DeShaun Foster on Thursday. Because the Panthers generally are expected to make a run at Alexander, having the right of first refusal as to Foster will give the Panthers some protection in the event that Alexander's price tag doesn't get a lot more reasonable.

And contrary to the wire report posted at NFL.com, Foster isn't automatically "guaranteed" $5.13 million for 2006. For transition players, the one-year tender only becomes guaranteed at the start of the regular season; until then, the team can remove the transition tag at any time, and instantly free up the cap room. Thus, if the Panthers are at some point close to striking a deal with Alexander, all they need to do is revoke the tag as to Foster, and they'll have an extra $5.13 million in 2006 cap dollars to work with.

Under the franchise and transition rules, the money only becomes guaranteed for franchise players who sign the tender. Also, and as the Chargers recently realized, a transition tender becomes guaranteed if (and only if) the transition tag is used on a guy who accepted the franchise tender in the prior season.


Shaun. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I was wondering if something like this was going to be Shaun's version of "treating him right". Now, all of a sudden, three things are going to happen.

1. Shaun gets paid an outrageous amount of money by a team like Arizona or Minnesota.

2. Shaun gets mad at Seattle for not paying him $80 mill and takes less money to go to a place like Carolina.

3. Shaun gets mad at Seattle for not paying him $80 mill, finally takes lesser money to come back, and then pouts for all time.

I don't like any of those options.....

Why am I so pessimistic about the offseason so far? First the transition tag, now this? Maybe I need some happy pills?

posted by colin_hesse @ 8:49 PM  0 comments

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Enter Bizzaro World

Seattle fans do not have great memories of trade deadlines in any sport. Mention the words and shudders creep down our spine as we start compulsively muttering "Heathcliff Slocumb... what the hell was Woody thinking?". In fact, trading in general has never been the strong suit of pretty much any Seattle team. More likely than not, you can be assured that in one of those articles in ten years, some smug punk like Chad Ford will write a "worst trades of the decade" piece and Seattle will be named somewhere.

That's what made today so weird. After dealing with "Stand Pat" Gillick, I wasn't really expecting Rick Sund to make the moves he needed to. I'm far too used to seeing all the juicy rumors and then watch Isaiah Thomas blow it all up by doing something stupid. That still happened (there needs to be a reality show that shows what goes on behind the scenes in Knicks headquarters... I'm assuming there's a beer bong involved) but Sund actually managed to pull everything off we needed.

As Colin wrote below, we dispensed with Wesley/Radmanovic earlier (small note... Colin ragged on the episode where Riker brought that mind-control game aboard and Wesley fought it off. I loved that episode. Colin's bitter about much of our childhood and he's taking it out on poor Wesley). Suffice it to say that 6-11 men need to play within ten feet of the rim, not treat it like a rabid wolverine. Radmanovic wouldn't post up Luke Ridnour if he could. After all, you can't miss threes when you're posting. 6-11 men also should at least attempt defense. Radmanovic played defense like a prepubescent. I still can't believe Sund offered him 42 million for the opportunity to suck for seven years. I shudder at the thought. In return we get Chris Wilcox. Here's what we're looking for. Danny Fortson without the insanity. Wilcox has the talent. No one can dispute that. You're not a high first round pick without talent. Can he put that into action? We have playing time to give and he has a year to prove himself. He played well against Atlanta, but, well, Vlade could look good against Atlanta.

Next off we needed to get rid of Reggie Evans. If you are one of the five readers of this blog who can remember our Sonics offseason overview and beyond, I really wanted us to be rid of this man last year. I still have visions of the Spurs series. "And Reggie comes down with the offseason rebound. He pumps once, pumps twice, turns around, pumps, gets idiotic idea that he can beat Tim Duncan and Nazr Mohammed, throws up terrible shot that gets blocked, and runs back downcourt with stupid grin on face, prepared to be run over by a larger offensive player." Players like Reggie Evans come along in every draft. He wasn't worth the money he thought he wanted, especially when he decided this year that he was a low post scorer. Riiiight. A low post scorer like Colin is a dancer (see post below). When you have someone like Nick Collison who actually can score a putback and play better defense, Reggie becomes, how to do you say it, extremely expendable. We manage to pass him off to the Denver Nuggets, who get to find out the hard way what the word "sucker" means. Not only did Reggie go, but in the same trade we manage to send Vitaly Potapenko to... Portland. I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall when Portland's GM discussed that one with Nate. "So Nate... we have managed to get Ruben Patterson out of your hair so you don't have to fear for your life anymore, much less that of any woman in the general vicinity. However, there is one eensy little snag." Nate: "Anything! I'm just so motherf***in glad to get rid of Patterson (editor's note: swearing added for cool effect). GM: "We had to trade for Vitaly Potapenko, who still has one more year left on his contract". Nate: "You're kidding me". GM: "No." Nate: "How long is my contract?" Vitaly basically ran like a giant melon this year, a giant sweaty melon with no hands. He apparently spent the offseason on the "Gavin Hesse" diet of McDonald's and Subway, because he was tired by the time the chest-bumping in the introductions were over. Then he discovered he had the vertical leap of my stool. So Reggie and Potapenko are gone. In return the Sonics received a second round pick (good trade bait or talent stockpiling), Bryon Russell (good ten years ago, will adorn our bench with manhood), and Earl Watson. I loved Earl Watson when we had him and was sorry to see him go. He is essentially a younger version of Antonio Daniels, which is why although the money is bad I'm excited about this. Watson gives us the ability to rest Luke or play that three-guard lineup that was so successful last year. He also can play enough defense with Damien Wilkins that perhaps we won't allow every guard this side of Dan Dickau to look like the next coming of Jesus. We also are sure to have Watson for another four years, which will help us when decision time comes around next year on Ridnour.

All was still not well with my soul. The trade deadline was almost upon us and one name was not yet off the Sonics roster. Then KJR broke the news and joy covered Seattle on yet ANOTHER rainy day (seriously, can we quit with the rain already? Come on. We've suffered enough). Ronald "Flip" Murray was gone for a second round pick (again, trade bait or talent stockpiling) and a benchwarmer (hereby named "That Guy" since we will not know "That Guy" enough to ever become emotionally attached) to the Cavaliers. That is just rich. Flip Murray playing with LeBron James. I'd love to see how James reacts to Murray's adventures with the basketball. Anyone remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? Here's my shot at a Flip Murray possession.

You dribble the ball upcourt, dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble. Coach calls in the play. You can either: A. Continue to dribble B. Consider passing C. Execute play flawlessly.

You have chosen "A". You continue to dribble. Dribble-dribble-dribble-dribble. The opposing team begins to realize that they don't actually have to play defense this possession. The shot clock hits 10. You can either: A. Continue to dribble B. Consider passing C. Execute play.

You have chosen "A". Your teammates begin to take a break and scan the crowd for booty, perhaps US Women's Curling Team. You decide to fake a drive and then dribble back out. The shot clock hits five. You can either: A. Throw up desperation fade-away B. Throw errant pass to magical elf you thought was on your team in the third row C. Drive to basket with no control to throw up desperation shot.

You have chosen "A". By the grace of all that's holy you were fouled. You will shoot two. You can decide to A: Miss both shots or B: Miss both shots.

You get the point? Murray was the Black Hole of basketball. A one-man show I haven't seen since my C-squad basketball team (you know who you were... Nick). Not to mention he played defense with the passion of a dead squirrel.

At the end of the day we get rid of a bunch of cancer, acquire talent, draft picks, and money, and are way better set up for the future. As Colin said, we now have:

PG: Luke Ridnour, Earl Watson
SG: Ray Allen, Damien Wilkins
SF: Rashard Lewis, Damien Wilkins
PF: Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox
C: Robert Swift, Johan Petro

That's a great nine man rotation, just about right for the NBA. There's scoring and defense. Now with some draft picks and such we can see what else needs to change and go from there. A big thumbs up from the Crushed Optimists to Rick Sund.

posted by Gavin @ 3:10 PM  3 comments

Hutch Not a "Franchise", in "Transition"

Remind yourself, Colin.....

Let it be your mantra.

I trust Ruskell. I trust Ruskell. I trust Ruskell. I trust Ruskell.

I say this because Ruskell has decided to go with a little more risky approach with the best LG in the NFL, one Steve Hutchinson, by placing a transition tag on him instead of a franchise tag.

The difference? Read here.

Basically, a franchise player gets the offer of the average top 5 players at the position, the team gets to match any offer, and they receive two #1 draft picks as compensation if the player does leave.

A transition player gets the offer of the average top 10 players at the position, the team gets to match any offer, but they receive no compensation if the player does leave.

So.... this is done instead of the Hawks having a franchise player this year, as you can only do one or the other in any given offseason.

Ruskell, please know what you are doing. Keep Hutch!

Gavin: Wow, Colin... grab a paper bag and breath deeply. You're bringing the crazy all up in here. There is no way we are not keeping Steve Hutchinson. This deal already makes him one of the top two paid guards in the league with Larry Allen. Overall this is a trendsetting situation. Guards just don't make tackle money. The franchise tag is the top five offensive lineman... which means tackles. The difference between 6.3 and 6.9 million is our ability to bring in another Peter Warrick at the last minute. That flexibility is important. We still have the ability to match... we're not going to let him go away. I'm sure Ruskell understands the importance of keeping Hutch. With him we have the best offensive line in the league, with three Pro Bowlers on one side, and the other with one of the best young tackles in the league (Sean Locklear). Without him we can bring Shaun back to dance in the backfield for a three yard loss. Steve Hutchinson wants to come back. We'll make a fair offer and he'll come back. I really have no concerns here. There is no "respect" issue with the money. He's getting plenty of respect for a guard.

All this talk is making me realize that Colin and I have yet to do an offseason overview for the Seahawks. We should get going on that.

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:43 AM  3 comments

More Excellent Sonics News

Wow. It appears that, for once, a Seattle team realized that they needed to make some trades and, gasp, they actually made some trades!

First we received Chris Wilcox for Rad-Man in a trade that was awesome.

Now we receive Earl Watson (plus Bryon Russell and a 2nd rounder) and get rid of Reggie Evans and the Potato.

Now if we could only get ride of Flip Murray.....

Seriously, we now have a MUCH better balanced roster then the beginning of the year. We now have TWO actual point guards, TWO blossoming centers, TWO 4's who can play some defense, and then the obligatory backups to go behind Rashard and Ray. That's a roster. Finally.

Gavin, your thoughts?

Now, if everyone can learn how to play some semblence of consistent defense, we would have more than a roster..... we would have a team....

posted by colin_hesse @ 10:28 AM  0 comments

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oh yeah. I have a blog....

Now imagine a hundred of these guys attempting to dance, and you'll get a brief glimpse of my weekend....


Welcome once again, fellow travelers on the path to ABJECT BOREDOM through the month of February.

Honestly, what a boring, boring sports month, especially if you live in Seattle. We have had a post-Super Bowl loss depression brought on by a combination of poor play, poor officiating, and a tomahawk to the forehead (Family Guy reference right there). We have had the Sonics suddenly become the worst team in the NBA. That's right. The NBA. We are a worse team than Charlotte, a team that started its NBA journey last season. And the All-Star game? Besides the starters randomly trying to dance during introductions (bonus points to Steve Nash for looking entirely like a nob, and to Shaq for somehow straddling the line between tomfoolery and coolness (ahh, the good old days of high school dances when the cool guys would simply hold one hand up in the air and wave it back and forth while having a grimace/smile/smirk plastered on their face)) there is never any reason to watch that sucker. And, yes, it's cool that Nate won the Slam Dunk award, but do you honestly believe that a person who takes 22 attempts to make 2 dunks deserves to win any sort of award? 22 attempts? That percentage seems eerily similar to Gavin's winning percentage against me in basketball, mostly because I would always be losing to him and then use my extra inch in height to rock his world with a last-second shot for the win.


Oh yes. Seattle sports. Well, the Sonics are actually threatening to leave Seattle in the midst of the horror of this season, mostly because, I assume, Howard Schultz isn't quite making enough money to support the team. Howie, buddy, I'm sure there are a few street corners left in America without a Starbucks. Go for it, man. I believe in you.

Um, the Mariners? The recent stories in the press deal with how awesome a person Carl Everett is and how Willie Bloomquist might win the 2nd baseman job over Jose Lopez. That's enough to make a man wish for torture by Jack Bauer (who, by the way, really isn't killing enough people yet this season. Come on, man! We depend on you to un-p.c. our lives in ways that exhilirate and amaze us! Kill and torture some terrorists! And, by the way, writers..... we know they are supposed to be from Chechnya. You can just go out and say it. They're looking to free their homeland from Russia. That points to Chechnya. I know that might hurt some feelings to say that, but, hey, there's a FANTASTIC movie playing in Turkey right now that shows a homosexual American soldier randomly killing plenty of Muslims and then taking the bodies to a Jewish doctor who harvests the organs, so I think we can just offend some people ourselves, ok?).

What about the Olympics, Colin? What about the Olympics? The Olympics are awesome! The Olympics! Yeah! Yeah! The Olympics!

Don't make it come over there, you communist weasel.

Now, I admit, curling has been fun to watch, but the rest? Nothing to write about besides the ever interesting story of a black man feeling oppressed by his white teammate while the white teammate disrespects the black man's achievements and calls the black man many naughty names. Oh, yeah. In speedskating. Not quite Shaq/Kobe, that one. Not even Ryan Franklin/Bryan Price. At least in that debacle one of the individuals was amped up on 'roids purchased from your local Walgreens. I can't even write about women's curling anymore, because Jennifer (my beautiful bride) took one look at my last post about them and..... let's just say the ol' maritals didn't happen for a few days (probably won't happen for the next few days after this as well).

At least I was able to go to a communications conference this past weekend (AWESOME!!), which featured hundreds of people assured of their brilliance and intelligence; people who don't need to be told they are smarter then you. Did I mention there was an actual sock-hop at this event? Oh, yes. Dancing academics. I'd join you in the laughter, but I did actually dance a few songs myself, and discovered, to my horror, that I am still white, uncoordinated, and unable to learn any sort of "dance moves". Also, ladies (who am I kidding, ladies don't read this blog), don't automatically assume that all guys 1) know how to swing dance and 2) want to swing dance with you. No on both counts. You want a guy who knows how to dance? (Insert tasteless joke here). Best part of the weekend, which was titled, I kid you not: Cherishing (Our) Time (Together). No, I have no idea what the parentheses were for. A few of us were guessing that the title was the end result of a Mad Libs, so it could also read:

Cherishing (Colin) Time (At Disney World)
Cherishing (Burrito) Time (Book Club)
Cherishing (Jeffrey Dahmer) Time (Cafeteria)


You get the idea. Anyways, the best part was the opening act, which was a performance piece by several faculty members. Hint: If you are a member of a faculty that doesn't have the word "Theatre" in the title, you should probably stay off the stage. Hint #2: If you are going to have a conference with a cheesy togetherness title, you probably shouldn't lead off the conference with an hour and a half performance bashing anyone who is even moderately conservative.

Fortunately, the conference was in Palm Springs, so I didn't actually attend most of the conference. For good reason. Did I mention that this is my career choice? (Cue laughter fading into sobbing) Bonus points in Palm Springs goes to the English pub I ate at Sunday night, where I, for the first time in my life, tipped the waitress a whopping 0 pennies due to the absence of anything one might deem "service". For example, "service" means not having to wait 40 minutes before someone TAKES YOUR ORDER! "Service" means that when you order a $2 beer during Happy Hour, you don't #1) forget what beer you had ordered, #2) bring a light beer instead of the regular beer, #3) take another 20 minutes to bring another beer, and then, #4) charge you $5 for that beer. Just a couple of pointers for everyone out there in the service industry. Super bonus points goes to the helpful staff at the Riviera Resort, who managed to give my compadre and myself a room that, when we entered it, had a room temperature of 60 degrees. I should know. We checked. Well, turns out the heat wasn't working, so a nice chap came over, tinkered about for what couldn't have been more than 15 seconds, deemed the problem "fixed" and left promptly. Sure enough, the temperature started going up, and it was about 7o degrees when we fell asleep for the night. When we woke up? 90 degrees. No, I'm not kidding. The utter MORON had simply turned off the AC and turned on the heat. Well, at least the room wasn't $200 a night. Oh, wait......

Anyhoo, I'll still be posting intermittently throughout the next couple of weeks before Gavin and I start rocking it with NCAA tournament stuff and MLB previews (extra preview: The M's are going to suck eggs).

Hope you're all having a great week, people!

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:06 AM  2 comments

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ultimate Explosion!!

Welcome back, campers! I took a nice little jaunt to Montreal through Chicago last week that kept me from my duties which involved freezing rain and winds of 60 k/ph. Good times.

Anyways, it was a fairly good weekend for sports. Let's go down the list.

- UW Men's Basketball had one of their better efforts of the season and ever since I gave up on them they are undefeated, going 4-0 in the time span and beating some nemesis opponents. If they could put together more games like Saturday I'd be more impressed. As it is, I still don't know what kind of team they are. Still, it was a nice reminder how awful the Pac-10 is this year this past weekend, as California, Stanford, and UCLA all lost. UCLA doesn't look good at all on the offensive end as the utter lack of an inside game just killed them against USC (who doesn't really have anything there either). Arizona is starting to look a lot better. That was a terrific showing against Stanford. If Ivan Radenovic continues to play like that they might be my dark horse out of the entire conference.

- The Olympics continue to bore the crap out of me, although men's curling at least is sort of entertaining (in a pretty nerdy sense). Let's see, highlights from the weekend... highlights... any see that ice dancing? Twizzle for shizzle. I didn't know Ludacris named ice dancing moves. I thought that Nordic competition with the shooting was pretty cool.

- NBA All-Star Game was yesterday. In other news, I'd rather watch Men's Curling.

- My favorite random moment from the Olympics yesterday came during the women's speed skating (another US disappointment) when this dude in the stands unfurled this huge GoldenPalace.com banner. That's terrific advertising.

- My least favorite moment? Bob Costas interviewing Jerome Bettis. Can we please not see Bettis for at least a few months? Is that too much to ask? It's bad enough he's going to be on the Sunday Night Football team with Costas and Chris Collinsworth. That's a trio from hell. When they go back to Detroit maybe we can hear all those "I'm going home" clips again. That would be terrific. No, I'm not bitter.

- New drinking game. Every time you see a mock draft and the Arizona Cardinals are taking a running back, take a shot. You'll get plowed quickly. Kudos to Tash for linking an awful mock draft yesterday in the comments below. My God. Four TEs in the first round? What?

February is boring. Probably could use it. March Madness is coming!

posted by Gavin @ 12:05 PM  0 comments

Friday, February 17, 2006

Olympics = Seattle Sports

Admit it. You're pretty bummed these two won't make it to the medal round...

Honestly, I haven't watched that much of the Olympic coverage this year. For one, it's the Winter Olympics. Two, I already know the results before NBC airs the events. Three, there's only so much Scott Hamilton that I can take.

But, mostly, it's because this year the U.S. Olympians have taken to acting just like Seattle sports teams. Talented and vastly underperforming.

Can I list some of the disappointments??

Women's Curling: I admit, I have really enjoyed watching curling, but the women's team continually choked in the final end. I mean, they lost to Sweden because the best player just bombed her final stone. Just bombed it.

Men's Figure Skating: Vastly effeminate Johnny Weir "felt black inside" yesterday and failed to medal, thus saving me from having to watch figure skating. Instead, I was able to convince the significant other to watch some of "Band of Brothers".

Downhill Skiing: First Daron Rahlves completely tanks in the downhill, finishing tenth. Bode finishes fifth, and then D.Q.'s in the combined, opening the door for some no name kid to win. Which is fine, but, once again, the big names choked.

Men's Luge: Tony Benshoof was supposed to, at the very least, earn the U.S. it's first medal in singles. Nope. He finished 4th, as he just couldn't get going.

Skeleton: Both women's and men's skeletons featured people capable of medaling. Of course, they could not get the job done.

Women's Downhill: We crashed and burned. A gutsy performance by the main American to continue, but the medal hopes were dashed.

Double Luge: Again, the US medal favorites crashed. Absolutely no luck.

Men's Hockey: First game? A 3-3 tie to Latvia. LATVIA!!

Short Track: Anton Ohno falls in the semifinals.

Without the sport of snowboarding, which we invented, we would basically be shut out at these Games. What a terrible performance by some great athletes who should be strutting their stuff for all of America to pay attention to. But, sorry, if you want the attention, you have to deal with the criticism when you choke it away.

At least pitchers and catchers have reported, right?

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:45 AM  7 comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Say Goodbye to Wesley...

VLADE: ANNOYING YET TALENTED

WESLEY: ANNOYING YET TALENTED


For those of you who didn't already know, I am a nerd. Super nerd, if you want to get specific. I actually had my college students write a list of characteristics that would classify a nerd, and I qualified for over half.

One characteristic was that you had to be a fan of any TV show or movie with the word "Star" at the front. And that goes for Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I was captivated growing up by the genteel voice of Patrick Stewart, the caring humor of Brent Spiner, and the "other qualities" of Mariana Sirtis. There were new worlds to explore, more opportunities to make fun of the word "assimilated", and, yes, plenty of cheesy storylines where the characters would go into the Holodeck, it would malfunction (for the 317th time, making it just about as reliable as the computer that does the employee background searches for the "24" counter-terrorist unit), and the characters would learn a valuable lesson from the individuals in (pick random time period).

One character, however, that continually rubbed me the wrong way was that of Wesley Crusher, played to nasally, annoying perfection by young Wil Wheaton, star of NOTHING ELSE. Wesley was a young stud on the U.S.S. Enterprise, taking control of the helm on multiple occasions, letting Picard point his finger and say "Engage". He even got to be in control of some missions, including the geological survey on Drema IV where where the largest lode ever of dilithium was discovered.

Wesley was well known for, somehow, saving the Enterprise crew when no one else felt capable. He saved the Enterprise from a fallen star, learned from some stupid "Traveler", and saved Picard's life on the diplomatic mission Pentarus V. He even, in the alltime STUPIDEST Star Trek episode ever, saved the Enterprise crew from looking at a stupid VR game where an alien race was taking over their minds. Remember that one? Where Riker got some alien boo-tay and, in return, the alien gave him a mind-control device that Riker was stupid enough to give to everyone onboard? Good times.

Why am I thinking about Wesley today? Because (and yes, this is a stretch) the Wesley Crusher of the Seattle SuperSonics got traded yesterday in a trade that can only be described as.... "F*&*((*&^ awesome!

You see, Vladimer Radmanovic, to me, shared many key traits with young Wesley. He was tall, gangly, white, exceedingly annoying, showed a tremendous deal of potential only to drop out of the Starfleet Academy to live with a group of Native Americans and learn from the Traveler. It's like a mirror image!

Sure, Vlade was good for pulling the Sonics out of the fire a couple of times a year, but that was massively overshadowed by the fact that he was a massive puss and spaz. Watching him attempt to play defense, I became aware of the fact that the Sonics could put a blind, mentally challenged chimp out on the court with better results. Every 3rd millenium Vlade would discover the gift of driving to the basket, but God help him if a defender stepped forward to challenge the drive. Vlade would immediately whimper, pass the ball, and retreat to the safety of the 3 point line, leaving a small trail of urine behind him.

Honestly, for a big man, he showed ZERO tenacity to get an actual rebound, content to just hang out from long range and hoist 3 pointers. Some games those would actually go in, rendering him valuable. Most games they would not, rendering him worse than useless.

Goodbye, Vlade/Wesley. You won't be missed.

By the way, go here for some cheap laughs at Wesley's expense....

posted by colin_hesse @ 11:27 AM  0 comments

Ultimate Explosion!!

Today's Ultimate Explosion starts out with a tip of the cap/wag of the finger (ala the Colbert Report) to Rick Sund of the Seattle SuperSonics. The Wag of the Finger is to him signing Reggie Evans, Vlad Radmanovic and Flip Murray this offseason when we needed to get rid of all of them. The Tip of the Cap is delivered in regards to the trade yesterday of Vladimir Radmanovic to the Clippers for big man Chris Wilcox. A few thoughts about this trade:

- Did anyone laugh as loud as me when reading Radmanovic's quotes about this season? It wasn't about the money? It was about "fun" when he turned down the insane 7 year, 42 million offer? No, it was about playing time, starting, and getting a max contract. Athletes crack me up sometimes. Remember the type of money Radmanovic was asking for? You have to be kidding me. We'll see if he was having "fun" in LA when they lowball him after noticing that he will only shoot threes and avoid anything near the rim, much less the foul line. I was tired of watching him play. He was the Mike Jensen of the Sonics. While Chris Wilcox apparently has attitude problems of his own, he is a big body and a restricted free agent at the end of the year. You know what that means? This is no risk. On one hand, Wilcox could take Danny Fortson's enforcer role and continue to strengthen our inner defense that Robert Swift has started. On the other, he could be out of shape and lazy and we get rid of him in the offseason. I'm not quite seeing the downside.

- This trade shows yet again that Bob Hill knows his personnel better than Bob Weiss. Radmanovic was never going to be a good basketball player and only took minutes away from people who play this thing called defense, ie Damien Wilkins. He has quickly determined that Flip Murray isn't a solution for anything. He has let Robert Swift and Johan Petro show that they could be a nice solution for quite a few years. I am already getting excited for next season. Next season? Well, hopefully they're about to tank this one so we can get a nice draft pick. We could see a starting lineup next year of Luke, Ray, Rashard, Nick/First Round Pick, and Swift, which could play with anyone.

- On to some Olympics thoughts on this Explosion. The United States continues to unimpress in just about anything possible. Bode Miller's DQ is yet another example of the hype machine providing a downfall. Today Jeremy Bloom doesn't get a medal in the mogul freestyle, Chad Hedrick loses his shot at five gold medals, and the men's doubles luge team crashes. So we are left with a bronze today from the guy in the McDonalds' commercial. At what point do we term these Olympics a huge disappointment? Now, I will say that the story of Joey Cheek, who gave his bonus money to a nice charity, proves why the Olympics are so great. I would just like to see the American's not suck it up in just about everything.

- Good post yesterday from Colin regarding the conventional Seahawk wisdom. My conservative approach (4-2 in NFC West, 2-2 vs AFC West, 2-2 vs NFC North, 1-1 vs Division Winners) gives us 9 wins, which should easily put us in playoff contention. A point Colin didn't make. The NFC South (Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay) will play the NFC East (NY Giants, Washington, Dallas, Philly) next year, which means that conference records should favor us for tiebreakers. Also, those Division Winners we play (NY Giants, Tampa Bay) are weaker than others in their same division. I'd rather play Tampa than Carolina and the NY Giants than Washington. Pretty good news all around, I'd say.

posted by Gavin @ 11:00 AM  0 comments

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Ripping Hangover....

Another Seahawks post? What the....

Yes, the first CONCLUSION of the 2006 NFL season has already been reached by multiple sportswriters. (Yes, the inestimable Clark Judge is one)

The Seattle Seahawks will struggle to make it back.

Not to the Super Bowl. Oh no. That might make sense.

To the postseason.

The main reason for this? A Super Bowl hangover.

You see, the last bunch of Super Bowl losers have all missed the postseason, including the Eagles last year and the Panthers the year before that.

This is what is known as faulty logic. There is no specific cause and effect here.

Look at the specific examples the last couple of years:

Eagles (2005): T.O. wrecks the entire team, McNabb gets injured Week 1 and Philly has to play half the season with Mike McMahon at quarterback. Ouch.

Panthers (2004): Steve Smith gets injured in Week 1, foreshadowing an absolute catastrophic rash of injuries to basically every important player on the team. They STILL almost make it to the postseason in the weak NFC.

Raiders (2003): Another huge injury, this one to Rich Gannon, overshadows the fact that this team was really, really, really, really old, and guaranteed for a fall.

Rams (2002): Again, BIG INJURIES derail the team, with Warner in particular finally getting benched in favor of Marc Bulger.

Giants (2001): Absolute fluke. Kerry Collins? Give me a break. And the defense wasn't ever that strong outside of Strahan.

Titans (2000): They make the postseason the next year, losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens.

Falcons (1999): Another absolute fluke. Not even worth mentioning.

So, here's what we have. Two flukes, 3 rashes of injuries, 1 prima donna AND injury, and 1 playoff team. That's not a trend. That's not even worth mentioning except perhaps in passing.

Here's what I want people to look at before anointing us as the losers of 2006. LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE!!

Here's the thing. The Seahawks are still, to the best of my knowledge, encapsulated in the NFC West. That's pretty nice. You see, the teams in the NFC West suck. There are a guaranteed 4 wins there, probably 5.

We then play the NFC North, home to such powerhouses as Detroit, Green Bay, and Minnesota. You know Chicago isn't going 11-3 again, but they'll probably still be good. Except a couple of wins here and we're up to say 7.

We also play the AFC West, a certifiably tough division, though we get the Raiders at home (W) and the Chargers at home (a probable W). Let's say 2 wins, just to be conservative. And we're at 9.

Who does that leave? The NY Giants and Tampa Bay. Again, conservative. 1 win there. And we're at 10.

That is an EASY 10 win season for the Seahawks, again barring catastrophic injuries or a black hole that swallows up Qwest Field and the 12th Man (er..... the Man Who Happened To Be 12th).

I'm not saying we should be the Super Bowl favorites out of the NFC. Nope, looks like Carolina and Dallas will be taking those honors. And that's fine, because we all know that Drew Bledsoe will remain Drew Bledsoe, albeit a year older, and that we just whupped Carolina a few weeks ago. So, whatever.

Just all these early conclusions, ALREADY, about the Seahawks, get to a man. Thank heavens for TMQ, who has a fantastic article detailing all the great predictions of the experts. Yes, there is a section on all the people who picked Arizona to win the NFC West.

Add: Clark Judge does state that no Super Bowl loser has returned to the Super Bowl in the last 12 years. In his words, "that's a trend." No, Clark. That's not a trend. That's an interval of time. You could, very easily, say something stupid like, "The NY Yankees haven't won a World Series in 5 years. That's a trend. They are, thus, unlikely to win the World Series this year." Or how about, "The NBA Finals loser has only returned twice in the past fifteen years and has lost both times. That's a trend. Thus, the Detroit Pistons (who happen to be 41-9 right now) are unlikely to make it back to the NBA Finals, and even MORE unlikely to win it."

You see what I did? I took a meaningless statistic and extrapolated wild conclusions based on it! It's fun! Try it out!

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:29 AM  2 comments

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gavin's Back!!

And the five of you who care can now rejoice...

Let's go down the topics here.

- Seahawks. If you weren't a fan of either team you could easily have turned that one off at halftime. What a terrible football game. Super Bowl XL will not be remembered fondly. Note to anyone who believes the officiating was good (the NFL, Steelers fans), it's the worst case of homer-itis I have ever seen. Going into the playoffs the Steelers were my second favorite team. Not any more.

- Mariners. Anyone hear that Felix Hernandez is going to play for us? Is there any other storyline?

- Sonics. I have to agree with Bob Hill. If they do not get a backup point guard they should just tank this season and get a high draft pick. Ronald "Flip" Murray is an utter failure at that spot and Luke Ridnour is going to break down. Murray is simply a turnover machine, either through creating poor shots through dribbling down the shot clock or just throwing the ball away. Vladimir Radmanovic continues to unimpress with a myriad of opportunities. He's not even shooting well. He can't rebound. Can't defend. Again, I agree with Bob Hill. Take the rest of the year to develop Damien Wilkins, develop Robert Swift (who is looking better and better), and develop Johan Petro. The Sonics are not far away from being a darn good team, and a high draft pick sure wouldn't hurt.

- UW basketball. I was at the game on Saturday against the Bruins. I have to admit I wasn't all that impressed with the team, even if they did win. UCLA did as much to lose that one as UW did to win it. Now, Ryan Appleby and Justin Dentmon played about as well defensively as I've seen, and didn't create as many stupid turnovers. However, Jamal Williams cannot do much of anything right now, Bobby Jones can't shoot, and Mike Jensen... Mike Jensen... the word "pansy" comes to mind. Is there any coincidence that the team started playing inconsistent basketball once Jensen got back?

- Olympics. I've watched a bit of this stuff so far and have to agree with Jim Caple. The Americans are basically choking a lot away. We almost shouldn't count the four halfpipe medals, as that's a sport we invented. Cheap stuff. We choked away the downhill. Anton Ohno choked away the 1500. That guy in luge came so close. Hasn't been a great start for the US. Still, the men's halfpipe was a lot of fun to watch. I can't believe how high they got. Great "amplitude" (Gavin's into the lingo). Long track speed skating might be my favorite overall. The downhill was fun (even if the US choked), and the pairs figure skating was even entertaining. That Russian pair in the lead was head and shoulders above everyone else. Now if the French would stay out of it...

posted by Gavin @ 10:52 AM  0 comments

Friday, February 10, 2006

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

OK, both Gavin and I told ourselves that we were going to take a week off and then come back to blogging. The Super Bowl loss hurt, and we wanted to take a step back, let the pain recede, and then return to analyze the Bowl and the Seahawks chances for next year.

But, seriously, I can't wait any more then this.

I am sick and tired of Pittsburgh fans telling Seattle fans to just shut up and that the officiating was excellent.

I am ALSO sick and tired of Seattle fans saying that the refs cost us the game, that the game was fixed, that the NFL desperately wanted Seattle to lose, etc., etc.

To Pittsburgh Fans:

Your team just won the Super Bowl. That's pretty neat, I am sure. So, tell me, why are you expending so much hot air complaining about what Seattle fans are doing? If you are getting ultra-defensive, that's probably because YOU think there is something to the complaints. Someone who is confidant about the win would allow the Seattle fans to gently buzz their annoyance away in the background until Starbucks comes out with a new flavor of coffee and the world is right again.

Second, it's not just Seahawks fans complaining, ok? Michael Smith is not a Seahawks fan. Neither is Jason Whitlock. Definitely neither is Skip Bayless, demon spawn. Neither are the entire staff of Football Outsiders, who are getting raked across the coals for daring to say that the officiating was terrible. Actually, if you would have looked at Seattle newspapers on Monday, there were ZERO stories about the officiating. ZERO. NONE. NADA. However, there were literally dozens of stories in other newspapers and internet sites around the nation.

So... get it through your head. You won. Congratulations. Your team deserved to win. Congratulations. You disagree on the disagreements about some calls made by the refs. Congratulations. None of that matters. Nothing will be changed. You won. Enjoy the moment instead of whining about the whiners. Are you not better then the whiners? Honestly. Just shut up.

Seahawks Fans,

Your team just made it to the Super Bowl for the first time in 30 years. That is pretty cool. They have a firm nucleus of players back for next year with a favorable schedule that should guarantee team a playoff berth once again. That is pretty cool. Millions of people around the country have a slightly better opinion of the Seahawks now. That is pretty cool.

But, honestly, do you really believe that the FBI should investigate whether the fix was in? Honestly? On Sean Locklear's holding call, the flag was thrown WELL BEFORE the pass was completed to Stevens at the 1 yard line. The official wasn't looking for the result of the play, he was looking at what he perceived to be holding. And he called it. The Big Ben touchdown was not reversible by replay; it was inconclusive. And, honestly, would you have preferred Bettis to score on 4th down? Can you imagine what THAT would have entailed?

Was the PI call on D-Jack ticky-tack? Absolutely. Can a reasonable person disagree as to whether it was PI or not? Absolutely (barely). I have no idea about the pylon rule, and, it appears, neither does anyone else in this great nation. The call on Hasselbeck was atrocious, and that was a horsecollar tackle on Shaun. Those are correct.

But, here's the overriding factor. The Seahawks shot themselves in the foot WAY more than the refs did. The refs did not make Stevens drop several key passes; many of them would have resulted in a first down. The refs did not make Tom Rouen punt the ball into the end zone about 12 times in a row. The refs did not make Holmgren and Hasselbeck have two of the WORST two-minute drills that I have ever seen in my life. The refs did not make Josh Brown miss two makeable field goals IN A DOME. The Hawks were something like 5/17 on third down. That's atrocious.

Did those calls hurt us? Absolutely, and I'm plenty steamed about a few of them. But we can't forget the way that some of our players wilted under the heat. We allowed the conversion on 3rd and, what, 23? That set up the first touchdown. We allowed stupid Willie Parker to run for 77 yards. That was ridiculous. And, after being DRILLED for two weeks on what to do when Randle El touched the football, we played undisciplined on that play and gave up another easy touchdown.

It was an atrocious Super Bowl, ok? All sides sucked. The Steelers (beyond the three plays), the Seahawks, and the refs. It was a perfect trifecta. Make it a fourfecta, because ABC sucked as well.

But, seriously, it's time to move on. The proper response now for the Seahawks is to let the anger simmer, work extremely hard over the offseason, and come out in 2006 with some real fire in the belly, not stopping until they reach Miami. Take on, once again, the "us against the world" mentality, and use it to its' full potential.

What do I want to see happen? I would like the NFL to take another look at the officiating. That's fine. But I want to see the Seahawks in the Super Bowl once again, and I want them to play their best. That's what I want to see happen, and I'm optimistic (you can't be crushed without first being optimistic) that it could happen as early as next year.

This was the best season as a Seahawks fan in my lifetime. This game can't take that away from either Gavin or myself. The ride was absolutely incredible, and I thank the Hawks for that.

Thank you to all five of our readers as well. We, obviously, won't be posting as much about the Hawks, but will turn our attention to, first, the UW basketball squad, and then the M's and the wreck that is the Sonics. Look forward to total coverage of the World Cup as well. We might even have a guest poster during that run, since Jeff is an absolute fanatic and knows WAY more than the current staff here at CO.

But. Seriously. Enough already.

GO SEAHAWKS!!!

posted by colin_hesse @ 9:45 AM  1 comments

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Name of the Blog Remains

Colin and I are still on hiatus, but here are some articles that sum up at least my feelings pretty well.

John Clayton: Manuel's Injury Grounded Seahawks

Michael Smith: Officiating was less than Super

Bill Simmons: An XL Sized Diary

Kevin Hench: Refs Were Far From Super in this One

Art Thiel: For Heartbroken Hawks, it's 'as bad as it gets'

Seattle Times: What Others Are Saying

Larry Stone: Seahawks Miss the Points

Blaine Newnham: Hawks Perplex ABC's Madden, Michaels too

Jason Whitlock: Throw a Flag on the Officials

Greg Johns: Hawks Can Blame Only Themselves (and the refs, of course)

Tom Hoffarth: Replays Provide Only Satisfaction

More to come in the days ahead. Preliminary thought? Not a great game by any stretch of the imagination by anyone on the field.

add:

Football Outsiders: Wow. Bad Refs.

Bob George: Give Super Bowl MVP to Officials

Alan Pergemet: Madden, Michaels Adjust in Second Half

Robert Weintraub (Slate): Steal-ers

Jim Reeves: Officials....

Buck Harvey: Men of Steel

Michael Wilbon: On the Big Stage, This One is Nothing to Sing About

Pro Football Talk

Skip Bayless (WHAT!!): Steeling One: Hawks Get Robbed

These Aren't Seahawks Fans Complaining: SportsNation thread at ESPN.com

Interesting.... (added by Colin)

posted by Gavin @ 10:58 AM  0 comments

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Time to Take a Break

Well, campers, game's over. It's time to take a few days off to collect our thoughts, talk ourselves off the ledge, and such. We'll be back soon focusing on such winners as the UW Men's Basketball Team (soft), the Mariners (ugh), and the Sonics (double ugh). Good times.

The Hawks gave us a terrific season. Whatever frustrations or anything we or other fans have out there is due to our team being in the Super Bowl. That is pretty darn awesome.

See you all soon!

posted by Gavin @ 7:14 PM  1 comments

Super Bowl XL: Your Hawks vs Pittsburgh Steelers

The day has arrived.

Enjoy this. Enjoy it with friends and family.

Whatever happens, this has been one heck of a year.

Enjoy this.

posted by Gavin @ 11:06 AM  11 comments

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Land of Conclusions: Super Bowl Edition

Alright. It's come down to this.

Gavin and I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to analyze every facet of this game. Offenses. Defenses. Special Teams. Strengths. Weaknesses. Media Reactions. Predictions.

We have tried to present as complete a picture as possible as to what is likely to occur on Super Bowl Sunday. We have examined the statistical tendencies of the two teams and saw the terrific balance and poise of two great groups that definitely belong here. On this stage.

The media have tried to put some ridiculous storylines in play, and have come up with some, well, "interesting" explanations for how the game will play out. Now it's my turn. Here, based on everything we have talked about, are my Fact or Fiction conclusions about the final 60 minutes of the NFL season.

Stevens' statement will impact the Super Bowl: FICTION
These are two teams that are already mentally ready for action. No one needs anything more to be pumped up. The Steelers are playing for Bettis and for the storybook ending. The Hawks are playing for respect and the first NFL championship for a city that sorely deserves one.

A Super Bowl loss would mean failure for the Hawks: FICTION
This has been the single most successful Seahawks season of the life of the franchise. 13 wins. Two playoff wins, including the NFC Championship Game. An MVP in Shaun Alexander. Home field advantage. This was an amazing season, and, whatever happens on Sunday, that fact will not change.

The Steelers will gain 100 yards rushing: FICTION
Analysts are continually overrating the Steelers' rushing attack and underrating the Seahawks rushing defense, who only gave up ONE 100 yard rushing performance to Tiki Barber, and that took five quarters. If Cowher is intelligent, he is going to stay with the passing attack, because that is what has gotten his team this far. Willie Parker is not going to break long runs. Jerome Bettis is not going to find a ton of running room inside.

Shaun Alexander will gain 100 yards rushing: FACT
I say this as fact not as an insult to Pittsburgh's rushing defense, which is also great, but because Holmgren will give Shaun the rock at least 25 times during this ballgame, which, with a so-so 4.0 YPC average, will net Shaun his 100 yards. Do I believe that the Hawks' rushing attack will be dominant? Absolutely not. But it will be moderately productive simply because of our immense offensive line and our overall balance on offense.

Big Ben/Hasselbeck will crack under the pressure of the Super Bowl: FICTION
These are two fantastic quarterbacks who are both playing at the top of their games against what have been great defenses. Big Ben is findiing the open receiver and making extremely difficult throws under pressure, while Hasselbeck is a great decision-maker and has turned into someone who is cool under fire, which the Steelers will be bringing in spades. I see terrific quarterback play on both sides.

The Steelers will not be able to convert as many 3rd and longs as they have been: FACT
Have you seen this stat? The Steelers have recently been converting 45% of 3rd and longs, which is absolutely ridiculous and just can't continue. The Hawks will be bringing pressure and dropping 7 in coverage, so he will have fewer places to go with the football. No, 45%? No.

The Seahawks will make one crucial special teams mistake: FACT
Sorry, folks, but why should this game be any different? We seem to make at least one stupid play in this area basically every game, and have in both postseason games. It might be a Josh Brown miss. It might be a Tom Rouen shank. It might be a Scobey fumble. It might be allowing Randle El to break a long one. Sorry, but it'll happen.

Shaun Alexander will be the Super Bowl MVP: FICTION
Here are my top-5 contenders for Super Bowl MVP...
1. Hasselbeck
2. Big Ben
3. Michael Boulware
4. Darrell Jackson
5. Troy Polamalu
The Steelers' rushing defense is too good to allow Shaun to go off for an MVP-type performance. Just my opinion. Prove me wrong, Shaun!

The Seahawks passing defense will step up once again: PUSH
I can't go either way on this one. On one hand, I don't expect Big Ben to throw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the other hand, I am scared about Heath Miller, Hines Ward, and the playmaking ability of the Steelers' wide-receivers. So, no, they won't step up like they have the past couple of weeks.

The Seahawks were not respected this week: FACT
If you don't believe that, you might want to peruse the picks on ESPN, CNNSI, and CBSSportsline. It's a tad tilted. I'll just say that. However, if we actually want respect, we need to do one simple thing. Win. You want respect? Earn it. Win.

T.O. was a bigger story than Super Bowl XL: FACT
Do I need to talk more about this? C'mon.

The Seahawks wide receivers will revert to the dropsies: FICTION
I trust these guys now. Joe, Bobby, D-Jack, Stevens, Hackett..... these guys have improved to the point where I feel this is a non-issue now. However, they will need to be on their game, because the Steelers will be hitting them hard. HARD.

The Seahawks are a soft team: FICTION
Sure, I get it. The Steelers are a physical team. Guess what? So is Walter. So is Hutch. So are Tatupu, Manuel, Boulware, Trufant, Hill, Tubbs, Fisher, Strong, Alexander, Joe J., etc., etc. I believe that the Steelers will be surprised by this right off the bat, because you can be darn sure that Holmgren has talked to his guys about this all week long.

The Seahawks will be extremely well-prepared: FACT
This has been a fantastic coaching job by Mike Holmgren, who will cement his claim as a Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl win. The coaching in the NFC Championship Game was the best coaching performance I had ever seen as a Seahawks fan. If the Hawks lose, it will certainly not be because they were unprepared and hampered with a shoddy gameplan. Holmgren knows to attack Big Ben first and Willie Parker second. Holmgren knows how to attack the 3-4 defense. Holmgren knows how to achieve balance. And Holmgren will be mentally ready for Sunday.

Gavin: Pittsburgh will stuff the Seahawks in short yardage situations: FALSE
Interesting stat in the Perfect Preview I linked to below is that the Steelers, on runs to the left side of the offensive line (Jones and Hutch), gave up 4.7 ypc for the year. That is good news for our running game and especially good news for our goal line situations.


Gavin: There's been one good analysis written of why Pitt should win: FALSE
I could write something better than what's out there. I believe the Steelers can win. I just haven't seen it written anywhere outside of "physical" and "Jerome Bettis is super-cool".

Gavin: Our red zone defense and red zone offense will play a big role in the game: FACT
When you score touchdowns and force field goals you win games. Period. We will stop the Steelers at least twice on TD drives.

The Seahawks will end up winning the Super Bowl: FACT
I actually predict a fast start for the Hawks, and a potent performance by our offense. Our defense will be just good enough. Hawks 27-Steelers 20.

Gavin: Our offense will be good enough to support a bend-but-don't-break effort by the defense. Big Ben has a darn good game and he'll be back here soon, but the Steelers leave without the thumb. 100 yards for Shaun, 80 for D-Jack, and a 2 TD game for MVP Matt Hasselbeck. Hawks 27-Steelers 20.

Go Hawks! BAM!!

posted by colin_hesse @ 1:04 PM  0 comments

Best Preview Ever

Colin and I have railed against the media for so long the past two weeks that at times it's probably hard to remember there are good writers out there. I have been incredibly disappointed by the dearth of good solid analysis. It's all been "hit in the mouth" and "physical" and "Steelers running game" and no "facts". I mean, these people get paid ungodly amounts of money to tell us that Joey Porter's comments will make a huge impact in the game.

With that said, the perfect preview has been written. Oddly enough, it was done by a member of Football Outsiders, one Aaron Schatz. Yes, I like it more because it picks Seattle, but you could take his thoughts and predict a close Pittsburgh win too... just like in all our long-winded previews below.

Perfect Thought #1: "This offense literally has no weakness. The Seahawks had the league's second-best offensive DVOA, even though their No. 1 receiver, Darrell Jackson, played in only six games due to injuries. The running game features the league's Most Valuable Player, Shaun Alexander, running behind the Pro Bowl fullback, Mack Strong. The offensive line features the league's best left tackle and best left guard along with above-average players at the other three positions. No NFC quarterback had a better season than Matt Hasselbeck. Jackson and Joe Jurevicius were both in the DVOA top 10 for receivers. Bobby Engram has earned the nickname, "The First Down Machine," thanks to his sure hands and crisp routes. D.J. Hackett had more value in our metrics than any other receiver thrown fewer than 50 passes. Tight end Jerramy Stevens finally fulfilled his first-round potential with 554 yards and five touchdowns, and the Seahawks can bring in Ryan Hannam when they need a dependable blocking tight end.
But the Steelers are the best defense the Seahawks have faced since ... well, since two weeks ago, when they beat Carolina in the NFC championship game. While the Steelers ranked third in defensive DVOA during the regular season, Carolina ranked fourth and Washington, the team Seattle beat in the divisional round, ranked second. Seattle's offense had no problems scoring against those teams."
I sure wish Merrill Hoge or Rod Woodson could read some copy like this before spouting off their nothingness. Our wide receiver depth is huge... Colin and I didn't even mention DJ Hackett below or Ryan Hannam's blocking ability against the 3-4. I also hate all the "physical" talk one day almost after beating Carolina... who wasn't physical?

Perfect Thought #2: "The confusion of LeBeau's scheme is exacerbated by Pittsburgh's 3-4 alignment, because even during a normal play with four pass rushers, the quarterback never knows where that fourth pass rusher is going to come from. All of Pittsburgh's linebackers are skilled at both rushing the passer and covering receivers, and the offense never knows if safety Troy Polamalu or even a cornerback is going to be coming while three linebackers drop back into coverage. Three weeks ago, the Colts tried to block the Steelers' pass rush with just five linemen, which was a triumph of hubris over good sense. The Broncos were far better at recognizing the blitz and using a tight end or running back to block, but they ran into problems because tight end Stephen Alexander and running back Tatum Bell are terrible blockers. The Seahawks can easily keep extra players back to block, and those players will be very good blockers: Strong, Hannam, Stevens — and even Shaun Alexander, who made some nice blitz pickups in Seattle's first two playoff games."
The Steelers are a terrific blitzing team, and this is the best explanation of that success I've read all week. It also explains a bit why we can do better than the Colts, who just like the Bears before them, attempted to win a game while completely ignoring the other team's strength. The Hawks are vaguely humble in their play calling. We can beat a defense in so many ways that we can craft a plan to a certain strength. Hopefully Holmgren is doing that again.

Perfect Thought #3: "Denver is a good comparison for Seattle in one respect. Seattle center Robby Tobeck, like Denver center Tom Nalen, depends more on technique than power, and Nalen had trouble with Pittsburgh's powerful nose tackle Casey Hampton. Tobeck needs to be careful; he was called for holding 10 times this year, which gave him two more holding penalties than any other player in the NFL." I loved (even if it's bad) hearing someone write about how often Tobeck holds. It's not that great.

Perfect Thought #4: "There's been plenty of discussion of Seattle's struggles against the Dallas Cowboys and their 3-4 defensive alignment earlier this year, but the Seahawks also struggled because they played that game without their top two wide receivers. Lost in the discussion is the fact that the Seahawks played two other opponents with 3-4 defensive alignments, Houston and San Francisco, and walloped them. (Yes, everyone walloped Houston and San Francisco, but Seattle beat up on them even more than most teams did.)"
It was about at this time that I was practically wriggling in delight. How about that mental image?

Perfect Thought #5: "The big surprise of the 2005 postseason has been the explosion of Pittsburgh's passing game. But, except in one specific situation — third-and-long, Pittsburgh's passing game really isn't any different than it has been for two years. The Steelers might emphasize the running game, but that running game isn't as good as people think it is, and the passing game is one of the league's best."
Yes! Pitt can't run but can pass extremely well! Yes!

I could go on and on about this preview. Suffice it to say that it is a must-read.

posted by Gavin @ 11:16 AM  0 comments

WhatIfSports simulates crap

What happens when a computer simulates 100 versions of the Super Bowl programmed by morons? Apparently, you have WhatIfSports and their "representative game". Apparently Pitt won 66% of the time by about 24-20. I can deal with that (barely). But the representative game is just RICH with idiocy.

Idiotic statement #1: "the age of Bettis and the inexperience of the Seahawks were on full display as the Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Seahawks 23-20" For some reason the newest conventional wisdom is that the Hawks are inexperienced while the Steelers are. This would apparently come from Candyland, since Seattle actually has more players and coaches with experience in the Super Bowl than the Steelers do.

Idiotic statement #2: "There is no mystery to what the Pittsburgh Steelers try to do with the ball on offense, run." Anyone who agrees with that, please read below preview posts. The Steelers are not a good running team. Please understand this. If Pittsburgh wins (and there is a good solid chance of that) it will be because of one Ben Roethlisberger.

Idiotic statement #3: "Fittingly, on the first play from scrimmage Willie Parker took a pitch to the right and hit pay dirt for 16 quality yards. This was a sign of things to come as he went off for 149 yards busting big gain after big gain." Let's get this straight. The #1 ranked rushing defense (on our favorite Football Outsiders site) against Willie "do nothing against good rushing defenses all season" Parker, against a rushing offense averaging 3.2 ypc in the postseason, and the MOST representative simulation has him going off for 150 yards? Number of times Willie did that in the regular season? Once... in week one. What statistics are these people using?

Idiotic statement #4: "Seattle responded with a drive of 60 Yards capped off by a 9 yard scamper by Mack Strong for the TD to tie the game at 7." Again, the most representative simulation has Mack Strong getting our first TD with a 9 yard run? Mack Strong? What?

Overall idiocy: Hasselbeck throwing 3 INTs. A man who has thrown 6 INTs the last 17 games deserves better than that.

Here's the deal. All the stuff above could happen. But if you are passing this off as a good statistical representation of the game, I could think of something on the can and pass it off better.

posted by Gavin @ 9:15 AM  0 comments

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Let's Just Play the Game Already

My cable was out for forever and now that it's working I sort of want it to be out again. All NFL commentators are doing is discussing Joey Porter's comments. That is simply ridiculous. Grown men and former football players are literally saying that Porter is so insecure he needed a harmless statement from Jerramy Stevens to be ready to play in the Super Bowl, because all of them now believe this will have a huge impact on Sunday.

Riiiight. This is what happens when they don't want to talk about Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger, and they have to discuss something.

Really? Affect the game? If the Steelers win it would be a large measure of disrespect to say they did it because of this.

Let's just play the game already.

Colin: It's almost gotten to the point where I'm missing the "good ol' days" where we were the forgotten team in the Northwest. Sure, there have been a new nice articles written the past two weeks, mostly by people I respect like John Clayton, KC Joyner, and Michael Smith. But I have also had to listen to analysts I simply don't respect, people like Skip Bayless, Mark Schlereth, and Mike Golic, and when I hear those people say that a comment like that would have a big impact on the Super Bowl, I simply can't comprehend it.

Here's what I hear when they say those things. Pittsburgh, coming to Detroit, hometown of Jerome Bettis (you may have heard about this), and coming off beating the 3 top seeds in the AFC, needed to hear a Seahawk say that he thought the Hawks would win in order to get charged up for THE SUPER BOWL! That's a slap in the face to the Steelers, in my opinion.

If I'm a Seahawk, I AM EVEN MORE FIRED UP RIGHT NOW after listening to people like Joey Porter and Hines Ward attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill, including Porter proclaiming that he would try to "tap out" as many Seahawks as possible (which, by the way, is WAY MORE offensive and disrespectful then anything Stevens said).

Final point: I heard one analyst, I think Hodge, say that people in Seattle must be upset at Stevens and that he would be a huge goat in Seattle if the Hawks end up losing. To me, a diehard Hawks fan, that idea is ridiculous. The goats in Seattle will be the individuals who screw up ON THE FIELD if we end up losing. If Brown misses a game-winning field goal, he would be a goat. If Alexander has a key fumble, he would be a goat. Stevens saying that he thinks Seattle will win? That is not a goat. That is the confidance I would like to see from the #1 seed in the NFC, a 15-3 team who comes into the Super Bowl an underdog to the #6 seed from the AFC.

C'mon, Sunday. Just get here already.

posted by Gavin @ 1:10 PM  2 comments

 


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