Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shaun Out of the Picture! (not really!)

I'm getting sick of reading posts trashing what Shaun has done for the Seahawks, or saying that Seattle should resign him at all costs, so I want to play another little "what if" game.

Let's assume Shaun has jumped to a new team in Free Agency. We'll put him on the Vikings, since they're not in our division, but are in our conference. What now?

Does the front office fatten the offer to Maurice Morris? Do we pick up another feature back through free agency? Or do we look to the draft for his replacement?

Here is the list of current free agent running backs on Seahawks.NET.

There are a lot of people who think that we should get Edge or Jamal Lewis in this situation, but in my opinion, that would be out of the frying pan and into the fire. Instead, I'd like to see them go for a back who younger and has shown some signs of potential, and who may really break out with a new team and a superb offensive line.

Someone like Anthony Thomas, Chester Taylor or LaBrandon Toefield.

Granted, Thomas is just a few months younger than Shaun, Taylor hasn't done much on the ground but catches a lot of balls, and Toefield has a history of injuries, but all three guys should be available cheap.

Plus, if you look at the teams Ruskell has been involved with, the Falcons (Dunn & Duckett) and the Buccaneers (Dunn & Alstott) , you'll see that he likes to make "the beast with two backs", so he may decide to fill the whole vacated by one GREAT back, with two GOOD backs.

So, let's forget about the number of years Shaun has left, or the signing bonus Seattle should give him, or if the Cardinals are telling the truth about not being interested, and let's talk about what you would do to replace him.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Did you know that IF is LIFE's middle name?

I've long since resolved myself to the fact that the officiating in the Super Bowl "was what it was", and no amount of whining and moaning about it will affect the official outcome. That being said, I cannot stop thinking about the big game, because the Seahawks played well enough to win, but still came up short.

Now the purpose of this post is NOT to start another diatribe on the inept officiating. As a matter of fact, I don't want anyone to mention calls that were made, or those that weren't, in this little adventure.

Instead, I'd like to play a little "what if" game.

If you could change ONE play of the Super Bowl, and hope that it would affect the final outcome, which would it be?

Would it be stopping "Fast" Willie Parker for a short gain, instead of giving up a 75 yard TD to open the second half? Would it be D.J. Hackett catching the ball on the rebound, to make up for the Offensive Pass Interference called on DJack a few plays earlier? Would it be DJack dragging his second foot instead of stepping out of bounds after hitting the pylong? How about Josh Brown hitting one of his field goal attempts?

I'll put my "wish" in the Comments to start the ball rolling.

Maybe this will generate a little activity on The Street while we're all waiting for the first shoe to drop in free agency.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Breaking News: Hutchinson Tagged

From Sando:

The Seahawks have informed Pro Bowl LG Steve Hutchinson that he will be their transition player. An announcement is expected soon. This means Hutchinson receives a one-year, $6.391 million offer. He can solicit offers from other teams once free agency begins. The Seahawks can keep him by matching any offers. They would receive no compensation if they declined to match. This is a chance to find out what teams are willing to pay an elite guard.

WHAT THIS MEANS: The Seahawks can continue negotiating a long-term deal for Hutchinson with his agent, Tom Condon, until March 17, at which time contract negotiations must cease until mid-July. Other teams can make offers from March 3 until July 22, with the Seahawks having the right to match any offer.

Very Interesting...odd idea, too...they must be REAL confident they can get a long term deal out there...basically, all they have to do, is resign him before free agency begins on March 3rd...then no one would even get a chance to offer him anything

UPDATE: Foster is wearing the transition tag currently, which would project his salary to be $5.13 million for 2006. However, the Panthers do have the option of revoking the tag if they were to go after Shaun Alexander. Revoking the tag would clear $5.13 million under the salary cap....another words...the Panthers are making a cheap move...smart, but cheap...they managed to get around the rules

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My Pilgrimage to Mecca!

As many of you know, my family and I are currently vacationing in Seattle, and while it's a few weeks too late, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to tour Qwest field.

My son and daughter and myself took the tour on Friday and it was awesome. I've been to a game in the old Kingdome but have never been inside Qwest before, and after this dream season, I just felt that I had to experiece the hallowed grounds.

The tour took us from the highest point in the stadium, to the famed 12th Man Flagpole, to the Press Box, luxury suite, visitor's locker room, post-game press conference room and then down to the field itself.

I've posted a full slate of pictures of the expedition, and my family is now the proud owners of $140 worth of new Seahawks trinkets! (you do not have to register to view the pix on this link)

So I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. And you get to see for yourself that I've been telling the truth all along, I'm a fat old dorky white guy from New York!

old sKool

Welcome to Citizen K's exhibit of pre-pubescent whoring to the Seattle Seahawks! (Don't worry--it's all legal. Well, most of it...) Early memories of Seahawks fandom are precious to most of us, I'd wager. Why not share them? Read Citizen K's Treasured Memories at Citizen K Likes This.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Will Rocky Stay?

Since we have a post already for Shaun, I thought it was only right to create one for our other key free agents, and that way we can segment the conversation by guy/position.

I think Rocky is our most likely free agent to lose, seeing as folks will pay big $$$ for a guy who racked up 12.5 sacks, but the Seahawks won't, since we need to sign Hutch and Shaun and some others.

What do you think?

Will Mack be Back?

Given the subject of this topic, I thought it was only appropriate to go with an old school retro-photo. Yes, I think if Mack doesn't retire before the season, he will retire as a Seahawk. What would be awesome is if we could get Hutch signed before the start of free agency, and then use the Franchise tag on Mack, as a symbolic gesture to underscore what he's meant to this team. (OK, probably not a good idea to pay him upwards of $7M in franchise money, but in the fantasy world in which I operate, it would be a good gesture!)

Will JJ Stay?

It could be argued that Joe Jurevicius was the MVP of the Seahawks in 2005, with the way he stepped up while DJack and Bobby lost significant time to injury.

That being said, with his age, injury history, and prospect of being a backup, he's not a guy you break the bank over.

However, with his wife having family in the area, and with all the comments he made over the year about this being a great lockerroom and good team environment, I think JJ remains a Seahawk in 2006.

Will Hutch Stay?

In my opinion, like most others, Hutch is our NUMBER ONE priority signing.

We have arguably the best O-Line in the league, and it's the straw that stirs the drink. They makes Hass better and they make Shaun expendable.

Sure Locklear has stepped in and maybe Pork Chop could replace Hutch, but it would be a distinct drop off in talent. Besides, we need Pork to step in for Gray, who should either retire or take a back up role.

My feeling is that Hutch will be a Seahawk in 2006, with a nice fatty long term deal, or with the franchise tag.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Will Alexander Stay

This is to figure out if you think Shaun Alexander will stay. Not if you want him to stay but if you think he will stay there's a difference you know. Will Shaun Alexander be with the defending NFC Championshs for next year or will he leave for another team? What do you think? I wanna know!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It's been one year....

Well this time last year, the few of us that were around where well into our offseason. My how things have changed. We've seen the 'Hawks make it to the big show, and out play a Super Bowl champ. We've seen the loss of one of our defensive leaders, and we've seen the emergence of a new, unheralded rookie who will end up in the Ring of Honor if his first season was any indicator.

We've seen an NFL MVP, and a rushing leader. We've seen an offseason where we lost several key cogs in our machine, and replaced them with what most "professionals" referred to as inferior talent, yet the team got better.

We saw an offense chew through the league despite losing its top two WRs for most of the season. We've seen Mike Holgrem re-gain the label "offensive genious." We've seen a young defense develop into a championship caliber squad, whose future is nothing but bright.

We've seen Tim Ruskell make more of an impact from the front office than any free agent signing. And speaking of FA signings, We saw the two biggest FA contributors end up in Seattle (JJ and Bryce Fisher).

We've gone from a few rambling idiots, to a bunch of rambling idiots (just kidding). We have developed a well rounded, highly insightful, and what I'd like t othink as highly respected forum for all things Seahawks. Here's to another year, and another and another.

I'd like this topic to be a wide open forum for comments on the last year, favorite memories, quotes, biggest impacts, it's a free for all. Myself? I'd like to tip my hat to the rest of you that comment, or just browse from the background cause you make our sharing of our knowledge and opinions worthwhile.

High and Low-is

Friday, February 10, 2006

Fuel the Fire!!!

I have pasted in a link from Fox regarding the holding calls in the super bowl. I think that this is a great unbiased look at what happened! Worth the read and calls the NFL out on to the carpet!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Free At Last, Free At Last...

...thank God Almighty I'm Free At Last!"
Martin Luther King, Jr. in his I Have a Dream speach

I was going to use "I Have A Dream" for the title of this piece, but couldn't after the nightmare of that Stupor Bowl experience.

But this post isn't to gripe about the officials, or complain about the drops and missed FGs, no this post is to turn the page and to start looking forward.

Below is an alphabetical list of Seattle Seahawk free agents taken from Scout.com, showing their position, name, status and number of years in the league:

RB Shaun Alexander UFA 6
DE Rodney Bailey UFA 5
OLB Kevin Bentley UFA 4
DT Rocky Bernard UFA 4
TE Ryan Hannam UFA 4
S John Howell UFA 5
OT Wayne Hunter RFA 3
OG Steve Hutchinson UFA 5
WR Joe Jurevicius UFA 8
S Marquand Manuel UFA 4
RB Maurice Morris UFA 4
P Tom Rouen UFA 14
FB Mack Strong UFA 12
DE Joe Tafoya UFA 4
QB Seneca Wallace UFA 3
WR NR Peter Warrick UFA 6
CB NR Jimmy Williams UFA 5

Obviously, we'd like to keep them all, well maybe not Rouen and Williams, but we're all going to have our own opinion of who to keep and why. That's what the comment section is for.

Let's go boys. Time to put last Sunday behind us and start thinking about the 2006 version of the Seahawks, that oh by the way, are a 5-1 favorite of returning to the Super Bowl, ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For the love of the game!

To all fans of The NFL...regardless of who you cheer for keep the pressure on the NFL!!!

Just got off the phone with the league office!!! 212-450-2000 ask for the PR department and voice your opion about the the REf's! It may take awhile as the phone is ringing non-stop but it's worth it! This has nothing to do with who won the game...and everything to do with the state of the game! By the way an offical statement is due out by weeks end as they are reviewing the tapes now!!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Alan's D.O.G.: Super Bowl Edition

What more is there to say? Not a whole lot to be honest with you. But, like the Seahawks, I give a valiant effort.

Its all about missed opportunities in this edition of the D.O.G.
Alan's Drive of the Game.

Citizen K Likes This Award

This was a contest for the ages, well worth recording and watching over and over again, that is, if you're a fan of poor refereeing playing a monumental role in the outcome of a football game. Despite all that, the Hawks had a chance to win the game, for the most part outplaying their opponents at the latter's own home stadium. Oh, that the game site had been beautiful Boise, Idaho, where the Hawks fans could have made that type of showing, and it could have been Jerramy Stevens retiring after the game (which he can do, anyway, as far as Citizen K is concerned...) The Hawks did play inspired football, but once Manuel went down, the passing offense of the Steelers seemed to kick into gear. It was a game of momentum; the Hawks had a lot, but whenever they came close to climax, the cold shower of the officials bedrooped and bedraggled them once again. Frustrating it was, though quite entertaining. Did Citizen K find anything noteworthy to like?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Get Rid of Instant Replay!

As I sit here in a state of disbelief and depression at how the refs were such an integral part of this game, I realize that foundation of this problem is instant replay.

Instant replay has not only created a much larger "role" for officials in a game, it puts them at center stage, lone spotlight, in an intimate convesation with 65,000 in the stands, and millions around the world.

I got to thinking aobut this when NFL Network ran one of their "6 Days to Sunday" specials on Ed Hochuli, the referee with the enormous biceps. There's really no reason why the average fan should know the referee's name, let alone have a football special done about them.

These guys have hand signals, and we all know them. There's no need for them to have microphones and talk to the fans. All that does is make them pseudo-stars of the game, and there's no room for a third team on the field.

Just look at the way this ref was calling holding, so emphatically, you could hear the slap of his hand hitting his forearm. Why does he need to do that? Because he's on TV with over a billion poeple watching him worldwide.

These guys are becoming too big of a part of the telecast, and it's only a matter of time before they have their own agents, and are striking to get more "face time" during each game.

The refs should be as innocuous as the goal posts and pilons, but instead, they're becoming a big part of the game, and in some cases, another opponent on the field.

So get rid of instant replay. Get rid of the microphones. And stick these guys back into obscurity.

Maybe then, they'll concentrate a little bit more about getting the calls right the FIRST time.

NOTE FROM ADP: Hope you don't mind alba, but I dont want the flooble to knock off such a great thing to read, if you're in pain about our screwjob...

NON Seahawk Fans Going OFF On The Referees (highly recommend you guys read some of the Non Seahawks fans going off)
Petition Thingy Against The NFL For Allowing Such An Obvious Screwjob

Thats all...sad day in Seattle, and for the NFL...I refuse to congratulate the STEALers


The day that Seahawks fans from all over the world has finally arrived. THE SEAHAWKS ARE IN THE SUPERBOWL!!!

Please join us today in GAMEDAY CHAT - SUPERBOWL XL EDITION by clicking on the #12 jersey below! Feel free to join anytime.

See you in chat -- all Seahawks fans are welcome, no membership, no registration.

Since there was no game last week, here are the UNOFFICIAL 12SS Blogger Awards for the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XL:

Moonlight Graham Award - goes to "accidental tourist" Jerramy Stevens, whose benign comments about Jerome Bettis riled up Steeler linebacker Joey Porter, and we presented by the media as an unabashed guarntee. Mr. Stevens definitely stepped out of obscurity this week.

Alan's D.O.G. - well, there may not have been a game last week, but there certainly was one critical and near tragic drive. This award goes to the trip from the Seahawks hotel for the first media event, where the van carrying Matt, Shaun, Walt, Mack and a few other key Seahawks players was struck by a security parking gate as the driver attempted to "piggyback" through with the van ahead of him. Key Stats: 1 play, 40 feet, nobody injured, van totaled!

Mon-KEYS Banana Peel Award - Seeing as the host city is Detriot, it shouldn't be a surprise that we have another automobile-related award. This week's award goes to the heads-up security personnel who noticed the hood on Coach Holmgren's vehicle had been tampered with, and wisely alerted the bomb squad, who thankfully found no threat.

Citizen K Likes This - While alba really wants to make a comment related to credentialed media personality Melyssa Ford here, I know that Citizen K is highbrow, and far above such sophomoric humor. No, Isaiah Kacyvenski is what CitK Likes, for his response to the Joey Porter situation. When prompted by NFL Total Access Anchor Rich Eisen that as a Harvad Graduate, Kaz was best suited to enter a war of words with the Steeler linebacker, since he probably knows some really big ones, Kaz replied, "why waste big words on someone who can't understand them?"

This One's on Check - Given the magnitude of this event, the number of transplants parading around Detroit in Black and Gold, and the way the media has been fluffing our opponent for 14 days, one bottle, glass or jigger will not do the trick this week, so here's a whole truck-load of consolation due to arrive around 10:00pm Eastern, to help the Steeler faithful, and media brainess, to drown their sorrows while watching the World Champion Seattle Seahawks parade around with the Lombardi Trophy.

* * * BREAKING NEWS * * *

ESPN Football Analyst and Seattle native John Clayton had to be rushed to the hospital just after midnight with an unidentified and rare medical condition. While details of his illness are sketchy, speculation has run rampant since several prominent veteranarians and zookeepers have been called in to consult with specialists at Detroit's Mercy General where he is listed in critical condition. One person close to the situation, who commented on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that after suffering intenstinal discomfort in the wee hours of the morning, accompanied by a severe case of constipation, all of the sudden monkeys began flying out of Mr. Clayton's sphincter! Officials are emploring anyone who may have any idea what may have caused such a unique and unexplained condition to step forward. When reached at his home South Alaska, 12 Seahawks Street creator and blog contributor Bluefoot responded with a terse "no comment!"


This One's on Check Award -- SUPER BOWL EDITION

And now for the triumphant return of the This One's on Check award. Yes, normally this is reserved for after the game, but I had to put a lot of leg work into this one, alot of research and what not. I haven't yet decided who gets this drink, but at the risk of sounding like Martha Stewart, I have a recipe to share with yall.

Long hours of drinking and experimenting with varoius inebriating substances resulted in the creation of the following drink. I don't have a name for it yet, so it open season for any suggestions. And if anybody wants to try this Seahawks motivated concoction, get your money out, cause only the finest go into it.

Fill a pint glass half full with Mountain Dew AMP energy drink.

Fill a shot glass 75% of the way with Bombay Saphire Gin.

Cap the remains of the shot glass with Blue Curacao.

Drop that bitch in there and slam the fucker.

Warning: This drink will mess you up. Trust me, I know.

Theres a good chance that this one will go to Joey Porter, but there's a better chance that this one will go the Seahawks in general for everything they've done for us this year. There's even an outside chance that I'll just dedicate this one to you guys, cause it's been real, and this has been a good outlet for me.

Peace, y'all.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Congratulations Warren Moon, HOFer!

The NFL announced this year's inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a class that includes former player and current broadcaster for the Seahawks, Warren Moon.

Also elected were Reggie White, Harry Carson, John Madden and Rayfield Wright. Most notably by his absence is ESPN Baffoon and part time drug addict Michael "Play Maker" Irvin, which is just more evidence of the existance of Karma!

Congratulations, Warren. Even though you were with this team for a just few years at the end of your career, it's good to have another Seahawk enshrined in Canton.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Super Bowl Preview Part 3: Special Teams and "What's in the Cards?" for Seattle

I will keep part 3 brief. Actually, Aaron Schatz in his excellent game preview on FoxSports.com (scroll way down) beat me to the punch on much of what I had to offer about special teams in this game. The numbers seem to indicate that the teams are about even overall though each has a distinct advantage in a particular area (punt returns for Pittsburgh and kickoff coverage for Seattle).

I would add one other area that potentially favors Pittsburgh on special teams. Bill Cowher historically has been far more willing than Mike Holmgren to try to gameplan a big play on special teams. In fact, that is probably the one area where Holmgren is the more conservative coach. [Ooo; that just sent a slight shudder.] In a game I expect to be close throughout, a well-timed trick play on special teams could tip field position or lead directly to a score. The Steelers seem far more likely to attempt such a play than the Seahawks.

As for predictions, I have stated earlier that both teams have what it takes to score in this game. Beyond the obvious game-altering keys like turnovers and third down conversions, the two "hidden" determinents of the outcome will be number of offensive plays (NOT time of possession) and red zone success.

To paraphrase something I once heard from Tony Dungy, "No defense has more than about 60-65 snaps in it." After that point, no matter how how exotic the scheme or how masculine the outside linebacker, the defense will start to lose some of its... ahem... potency. The first offense to reach this number of plays usually controls the game. I see Pittsburgh's offense as more one dimensional--though that one dimension is playing out of its (fat)head(.com) right now--than Seattle's. So the Seahawks are the safer bet to reach the 60-65 play benchmark first. Still I suspect the offenses will run neck-and-neck throughout the game (obviously save turnovers/big special teams plays). Thus the second determinant is the return each offense gets on its drives. (If you put together a nice drive do you score touchdowns or kick field goals?) That is mostly a function of red zone success. You have to like Seattle's chances to convert red zone position into touchdowns, especially late in the game.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Pittsburgh 20

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's Prediction Time

Well, now that just about everything has been said about the Super Bowl matchup, it's time for the cajone parade, when everyone (including you) puts their game predictions on the line.

Predictions are popping up on the major media sites in waves now. In FOX's Super Bowl predictions extravaganza, 51 random know-it-alls, in various stages of headuptheirassia, submitted their picks and score predictions for the big dance. As expected, the the Steelers remain the favorite by a vote of 34-17.

But that's the boring part. Just out of a whim, I decided to add up the predicted scores from these brain farts. The result? The average predicted score of the Seahawks was 20.82353, while the Steeler's came to 24.82353. That's a difference of exactly four, the nationally accepted point spread for the game.

Does this validate the notion that Pittsburgh is a slightly more dominant team? Not hardly. A quick browse through the stated reasons for the Steeler's picks reveals a plethora of tragically underinformed points of view. It's pretty similar to asking Saddam what God is like.

Another interesting but useless prediction comes from SportSims.net. Aparrently these guys have played Madden, Colecovision, or the like 40,000 times to determine this year's champion.

""This will be an 'edge-of-your-seat' Super Bowl," said Dave Holt of SportSims.net. He continued, "We may see the first ever Super Bowl overtime. The results of the simulation show amazingly close scores." The average points scored: Seattle-25.2, Pittsburgh-24.6.

"In 40,000 simulations, the Seattle Seahawks won 53% of the time. When the Seahawks won, they outscored the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24. In the 47% of the games where Pittsburgh won, they outscored Seattle 24-21. "

40,000 simulations, and they only came up with two different scores? Give me a break.

Bottom line is this: Predicitions are a bunch of projectile defecation. (A crap shoot). Which is why I prefer a good analysis any day over three sentence predictions.

But they are fun. Which is why I'm starting this blog's official Super Bowl prediction thread.

Seahawks 30, Steelers 23.

Other sites' picks:

USA Today


Jerramy Spoke in Class Today

Well, to be technically accurate, it was yesterday, but how could I pass up that lyrical reference for this topic?

To hear the media pundits tell it, Stevens "guaranteed" a Seahawks victory, and in doing so, stuck the collective head of the Seahawks into the Lion's mouth.

To hear Joey Porter's reaction, you'd think that Stevens raped their cattle and rustled their women.

Here's what our brash and outspoken tight end had to say:

"It's a great story that he's coming back home. But it's going to be sad when he leaves without that trophy."

That's it.

No trash talk. No guarantees. No disrespect.

He just refused to genuflect at the alter that his Jerome Bettis in the temple of Detroit.

No, if I'm not mistaken, at the Steelers pep rally before leaving for Detroit, Mr. Bettis himself said something to the effect of "..and when we come back, we'll have one for the thumb!"

Putting aside the obvious fact that with this being Mr. Bettis' FIRST appearance in a Super Bowl, he seems to be under the impression that he'll be receiving FIVE rings should they prevail, but how is THAT not a "guarantee" of a victory?

Where's all the media outrage and coverage over those remarks?

Personally, I don't have a problem with what Stevens said, as he's got to be twice as sick about all the Jerome Bettis Homecoming hoopla as we are. And I like the fact that he's not backing down.

"If he still wants to act like he doesn't know who I am, then I guess it's going to be a big surprise to him on game day," Stevens said. "I wasn't trying to rile them up, I was just telling the truth."

So while everyone in the media is going to use this as additional fuel to prove why the Steelers will win this game, I like the fact that Stevens now has just a little extra incentive to raise up his level of play and take it to Joey Porter and the rest of the babbling bumble bees.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Super Bowl Preview Part 2: The Rhythm is Gonna Getcha... To the Red Zone...

What you do once you're there will determine whether you win the game.

In part 1 of my Super Bowl preview I tried to make the case that Seattle should be able to move the ball offensively and score on the stellar Pittsburgh defense. Mind you, I am not suggesting that the Seahawks will run roughshod but merely that the team is equipped with the balance, skill, and blocking necessary to meet with success against Pittsburgh's 3-4 blitz-heavy scheme.

In part 2 I want to turn my attention to the other major facet of the game from Seattle's perspective: defense.

What must Seattle do to slow down the white hot Pittsburgh offense? Well, it's complicated. Pittsburgh's second year starting QB Ben Roethlisberger is currently making like Dan Marino. He's not just on a hot streak. He's in that zen-like place where he seems in complete control of the offense; where the defense just seems like it's a beat too slow. [Cue soundtrack by N. Carlos Nakai] His mind and his spirit are as one. [Slowly fade music... and cut.] Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator seems to have finally been able to put into practice what all good offensive coordinators know: points come from the passing game but the running game needs to be good in short yardage/goal line, it must provide offensive balance, and must help manage the clock. Check. Check. Check and check. So let me state right up front that I think Pittsburgh is going to score. I'd be stunned to the point of near coronary to see Seattle dominate the way they did against Carolina. Actually, I expect a high scoring game (mid-high 20s) from both teams.

So, when a defense faces an offense that is not "shut-downable," an offense that is going to get its points unless everyone mysteriously comes down with food poisoning, there are two keys to keeping the offense from running wild; one philosophical and one tactical.

The philosophical key is to disrupt rhythm and timing in the passing game. Most teams favor a particular approach. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia try to overwhelm protection schemes with exotic blitzes and overloads. By contrast, Tampa and Chicago try to get their hyperathletic front four spread out and force linemen to block in space with little help. The Giants and Carolina simply defy you to block them. However, the key to Seattle's defensive resurgence, in my opinion, has been its promiscuity. John Marshall and Ray Rhodes don't seem wed to any one approach. Of course, Seattle's constants this season have been outstanding play by the front four and linebackers. But, Marshall and Rhodes make week-to-week adjustments featuring different approaches to different offenses. For instance, Seattle does not blitz often, but will blitz based on matchups and situations (as they did at Philadelphia and at San Francisco--where it worked well until they went away from it and let the Niners back in the game). So offenses don't know exactly how the defense will approach it in a given week. The best example was the one week change between the divisional round and the conference title game. In the divisional round against Santana Moss (who is the "economy" version of Steve Smith, the one with fewer standard features and no sun roof) Seattle gave the corners help but also mixed in far more man coverage. Their one week adjustment to Smith, described by some as a sort of roving "box and 1," was really rather innovative. I'm sure Carolina did not anticipate such a substantial change in approach between similar single-receiver dominated offenses in one week. (Of course had Sir William of Foxborough or Sir Tuna of Dallas devised a scheme that practically shut out the NFL's best wide receiver--one who had consistently beaten double- and triple-coverage all season--we'd all still be marveling at its understated genius. But I'm not bitter; not bitter at all.) My point is that when facing an offense firing on all cylinders, playing behind a good offensive line, it's imperative that you be able to show more than one look. Even if the quarterback is unflappable you may be able to throw something else off kilter just enough to make a play.

The tactical key is playing well in high leverage situations, particularly on third down and in the red zone. I expect Seattle to play conservatively on defense; lots of zone to guard against the big play, leaving the front four to play the run, mixing in a little blitz. On the season Seattle was pedestrian in third down conversions, 16th overall (Pittsburgh was 20th), but the more compelling data come from drive stats. Overall, Seattle allowed roughly 65% of opponents' offensive series to result in a first down or touchdown (discarding end of half/game kneel downs), good for 12th in the league (Pittsburgh ranked 11th at 64%). Drive stats are not adjusted for opponent or situation but they appear to tell a consistent story about Seattle. Defensively, Seattle will sacrifice yards to protect its mediocre secondary between the 20s. But in the red zone, where secondary play matters less (everyone plays zone) and the emphasis shifts to the front seven, they are among the league's best. Pittsburgh's offense is certainly good in the red zone (if not quite in the same league as Seattle). Of their 56 trips to the red zone roughly 61% ended in touchdowns (about 38% ended in field goal attempts). Yet, the Seahawks allow only 40.4% of opponents' red zone trips to end in a touchdown (second only to Chicago). For Seattle's defense the game hinges on keeping the ball in front of them. It'd be fantastic if they could force Roethlisberger into an uncharacteristic mistake but that has not been a real strength this season so it's not something I would count on. More realistically, Seattle must force Pittsburgh to settle for field goal attempts and keep them out of the end zone. All things considered, Seattle seems well equipped to do just that.

Up next: Special teams and prediction (Friday)


I have to admit that for most of my life I've watched the Super Bowl, and for most of my life I've decried the abundance of hype surrounding it. Why do we need two weeks between the Championship game and the Super Bowl?

Why do we need reporters from all over the world asking football players either the same question they've answered 1,000 times already, or irrelevant questions such as "if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be."

But I'm here today to tell you that I'm a changed man, because I LIKE HYPE!

It took 30 years for the Seahawks to finally make it to a Super Bowl, and the same amount of time for me to really appreciate, absorb, enjoy and completely wallow in the hype surrounding this big game.

Not to mention the serendipity of choosing THIS season to break down and get DirecTV and the Sunday NFL Ticket, which also provided me access to the NFL Network, or as my wife refers to it, "that bitch you're sneaking around with after I go to bed!"

I'm not only TiVo-ing the games and watching them again, but since the playoffs began, I've been recording and rewatching the pre-game shows, post-game shows, Seahawk appearances on NFL Total Access, special programs like Game of the Week, Sounds of the Game and Birds of Prey, and just about everything else related to this event.

Like one of Pavlov's dogs, I begin to salivate every time I hear that violin intro to the NFL Network catch tune "10% Heart, 20% Skill, 15% Overwhelming Power & Will...". Being tragically un-hip, I'm not sure if this is an original ditty or a reworking of some classical rap song, it's having the same effect on me as a full frontal report from Melyssa Ford*!

Hell, I even totally enjoyed Tory "Big Flame" Holt's interviews with both teams, especially when he asked Matt what was the best thing about this season, to which Matt replied, "beating the Rams twice and winning the NFC West!"

And as somebody else already mentioned, I find myself getting teary eyed every time I see/hear that ESPN Super Bowl promo spot to the tune of "You can't always get what you want", because as a life-long Seahawks fan, no truer words have ever been sung.

So as long as I've got a clear view of the Southern horizon, room on my TiVo, and waking hours to burn, BRING ON THE HYPE!

Because to paraphrase Mick and the boys, "if you give it enough time, you might find, you get what you need!"

* again, being tragically un-hip, I never heard of her before media day, but will now go home and find BET on my DirecTV dial!