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!

Friday, February 03, 2006

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


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