3 Quick Hits; Weekend Warriors

Featured3 Quick Hits; Weekend Warriors

By Con / PNW Sports Fans

Here on another addition of 3 quick hits to start off your week. Our random thoughts and observations from any weekend activities.

1. OSU Baseball just misses sweep: While one of the PNW crew members is busy in the Basque country, an unlikely member was glued to the Oregon State baseball series vs Stanford this weekend. It was a pleasurable site watching OSU pound the Cardinal into submission game one and game two and to start game three. Then it all fell apart when frosh Kevin Abel walked 30 straight batters… Ok maybe not that many but you get the point. However, this does not put a damper on taking the series from your only competition in the Pac-12. OSU bats are FIRE right now. They will continue to be the rest of the season. The lineup is too good for any pitcher to get past. But the elusive Sunday starter still remains a mystery. We had faith in Abel as he had a few brilliant performances recently and with Grant Grambrell not being able to pitch effectively in t-ball right now,  Abel is one of our only options. We will see what Pat does. I prefer to try Brandon Eisert out as Sunday starter. He is more experienced then Abel and has proven the ability to keep his pitch count down and be semi consistent. We will see how this develops. Quote of the weekend from Steven Kwan regarding Pat Casey as a coach: “He’s the biggest motivator ever, the best coach I’ve ever had, but really hard to play for at first. He had the look that would bring you to your knees. That played into my self-doubts, made you think you’re the worst baseball player ever.”

GOD BLESS YOU PAT. NEVER CHANGE.

2. HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY??? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY?HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY?

PROOF THE NBA IS RIGGED. RIP DWANE CASEY THOUGH. Best record in FRANCHISE HISTORY and gets fired? LOL. Terry Stotts should retire then…

3. It’s a slow sports season…Braught what is happening with the Mariners? Oh yeah they suck again and over-committed to all fans and got everyone hyped about how good they were going to be and half their team is injured I guess. Oh and the Ichiro experiment? He is quickly to the front office…as what? Hopefully head translator so he can speak to the clone of himself he will bless the Mariners franchise with. Seriously, I am calling for a complete overhaul and dismantling of this franchise. A la the Florida Marlins except not with the slime ball Derek Jeter and with actual intelligence in trades and signings, not another MLB team working hard to make the Yankees better…

 

PS: Great job Wayne Tinkle for getting a midget point guard who can’t really shoot. So he will be slashing to the rim I guess at 5’5″??? Awesome strategy. But hey Nate Robinson is/was the ultimate OSU basketball killer…

 

Advertisements
Featured

Seahawks draft recap: No grades, just thoughts

The draft has come and gone and this is when all of the “experts” start handing out grades based on the picks all 32 teams made. That is probably one of the dumbest exercises I’ve ever heard of. It’s honesty just filler, because grading a team’s draft selections before they even set foot on a football field is a joke. Like I’m supposed to just accept the fact that one of the “draft analysts” at the big networks have a better idea of what a team should’ve done than the GM? It is such an idiotic practice to grade a draft as soon as the final pick is in. I’ll end the rant there, but as you can tell, the whole thing fires me up. As was evidenced by the Seahawks picks, teams draft to need and fit, not to what some stat nerd at ESPN had on their mock board.

So instead of draft grades, I’m just going to give you a brief summary on each player the Seahawks selected and what they bring to the table. If your looking for grades, maybe I’ll hand those out in 2020, when I actually have an idea of what this class is.

Rashaad Penny -RB San Diego State -Round 1 Pick 27

The Seahawks wasted no time making a statement in the 2018 draft. With the selection of Rashaad Penny in the first round, Pete Carroll and John Schneider told the wold that they   want to get back to their principles. This program was built on a run game and defense. Having Russell Wilson is what sets them over the top, but it makes his life much easier when they can run the ball.

Penny brings toughness and stability to a position group that desperately needs it. Some say drafting Penny in the first round is a stretch, but Pete and John got what they wanted. Throw on the tape and you’ll realize why they were so excited to land this guy. Penny never misses games, is a blend of power and speed, can catch the football, is a threat to score on every play, and is deadly in the return game.

I can’t wait to see this guy get on the field. He’ll have to earn his carries, but the potential is great. Penny, Carson, Davis, Prosise, and Mckissic? Yes please! Whoever emerges from that group will have earned their way onto the field and I expect to see a much improved ground attack in 2018.

Rasheem Greene – DE USC- Round 3 pick 15

This guy is an absolute beast. He wreaked havoc on every offensive line he faced. His athleticism makes him extremely versatile. I stated last week (right along with running back) that the defensive line needed some depth. Pete and John showed once again what they are committed to with this selection. I think this kid has a chance to make an impact immediately.

Will Dissly- TE Washington- Round 4 Pick 20

Sensing a theme here? Me too. Physical, punishing football. The Seahawks aren’t bringing Dissly in to be the next Jimmy Graham, This dude is a converted defensive lineman who wore number 98 throughout the entirety of his college career. Will is going to mix it up in the run game and be a nice frame for Wilson to throw too, Again, he’ll have to earn his way with veterans  Ed Dixon and Nick Vannett already on the roster. However, don’t be surprised to see all three on the field at once this season.

Shaquem Griffin- OLB Central Florida- Round 5- Pick 4

This was seemingly everyone’s favorite pick and for good reason. Chances are even the casual fan has heard of Shaquem Griffin. He was an All-American linebacker last season while helping UCF to an undefeated season.

But what most people know Griffin for is the fact that he accomplished those impressive feats with one hand. Shaquem had a nerve disorder as a child that caused him so much pain, doctors amputated his left hand when he was young. He overcame that setback and has become one of the best stories in sports.

A lot of teams overlooked Shaquem because of his missing appendage, which is great news for the Seahawks. Griffin is an absolute steal and is probably the hungriest player in this class. He is ready to show the world what he can do at the highest level. Griffin’s biggest asset is probably his quickness. He can move better than just about any linebacker you’ll find. I can’t wait to see this guy in action.

Oh yeah… his twin brother is cornerback, Shaquille Griffin. How cool is that? I can’t wait to see what these two accomplish together.

Tre Flowers- S Oklahoma State- Round 5- Pick 9

Tre flowers was a nice pickup for the Seahawks in the 5th round. He is very solid in coverage which is why some people think the Seahawks will ultimately move him to corner. Either way, this kid has a good frame, can run and plays each snap like he’s on a mission.

Michael Dickson- P Texas- Round 5- Pick 12

That’s not a typo. The Seahawks did in fact draft a punter in the first round. I know, I about spit my beer out at Flattail Brewing (Go Beavs!) when I saw the pick come in. But hang with me for a second. This is perhaps the most insane punter I’ve ever seen at the collegiate level. He booms the ball and can seriously manipulate spin and bounce better than anyone i’ve ever seen. If you’re still furious, I totally understand. It’s a punter, it just feels wrong. All you need to know about Dickson is that he won the Ray Guy Award, declared early ( yes a punter that came out early) and was named MVP in the Longhorn’s Bowl victory. Take a deep breath.

Jamarco Jones- OT Ohio State- Round 5- Pick 31

I can practically hear the murmurs of “what about the offensive line?” from my couch as I type this. Don’t forget that the Seahawks traded their second round pick to the Texans in exchange for Duane Brown. Brown will probably sign an extension at some point this year, so think of him as the Seahawks drafting a pro bowl caliber left tackle in the second round. Justin Britt is steadily entrenched at center, Ethan Pocic and DJ Fluker will fill in the guard spots, and the team will get George Fant back who will probably take over at right tackle. So that just leaves Seattle with the task of filling in with depth. Jamarco Jones will provide that and could be a solid player down the road.

Jake Martin- OLB Temple- Round 6- Pick 12

Martin comes to the Seahawks as a bit of a project. Honestly I haven’t heard much about him or watched film extensively. However I know the Seahawks wouldn’t have selected him unless they thought he could come in and compete. Who knows? Maybe this is the next unknown commodity to become a star on this defense. We’ll see.

Alex McGough- QB Florida International – Round 7- Pick 2

Other then being a fun name to say, Alex McGough brings some good attributes to the table. A fiery competitor is the first thing that jumps out to me when watching this QB play. He plays each down like it’s his last. Sometimes you have to keep your emotions in check as a QB, so while I think his attitude is a positive trait it’s also something to watch.

McGough is also pretty athletic and shows the ability to throw on the run and also pick up yards on the ground. The Seahawks like having a QB that’s a threat with both his arm and legs. Though far from polished, I think McGough will be a good camp arm to have and could push Austin Davis for the back up spot come August.

Pete and John got their guys:

It’s obvious to me that the Seahawks were looking to regain their identity in this draft. Who knows how all of these guys will pan out. But one thing is certain; this is going to be a hard nosed physical football team, once again built on defense and running the ball.

I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal.

Go Hawks!

Featured

NFL Draft: Five things for Seahawks fans to watch for

field-sport-ball-america.jpgBy Andy / PNW Sports Fans

The 2018 NFL Draft gets underway this Thursday at 5pm PT at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. There is no shortage of storylines heading into this year’s spectacle. As usual, all eyes are on the young quarterbacks and a few other eye popping playmakers. For Seahawks fans, the draft is intriguing for different reasons. For us, the intrigue comes from wondering what unknown gem Pete Carroll and John Schneider will find. Although the last few years have been a little disappointing, I think we might be staring down the barrel of another legendary draft for Seattle’s dynamic duo.

Here are five things for Seahawks fans to watch for heading into Thursday:

Will the Seahawks actually draft someone at 18?

The Seahawks are slotted to have the 18th overall pick in the first round. For anyone who has followed the team more than a couple of years, it feels like a forgone conclusion that the they might be looking to trade back to secure more picks. According to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com , the last time the Seahawks used their original first round pick was 2011 when they selected James Carpenter. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Seahawks once again trade back in favor of securing more picks, especially considering the fact that the team doesn’t have a second or a third round pick. That being said, Pete and John are always predictably unpredictable.

Biggest Needs

This one might seem obvious given how horrendous the offensive line has been. While the line needs to be addressed, it’s far from the only position group that would benefit from reinforcements.

The Seahawks could also use some fresh bodies on the other side of the trenches. With the departure of Michael Bennett and the probable medical retirement of Cliff Avril, the Seahawks will be leaning heavily on Frank Clark. If the Seahawks want to get a consistent pass rush, they’ll need to add edge depth that can play meaningful snaps early.

Running back is also a need in this class. Sure, the line was bad, but the running backs weren’t doing a lot to help the big fellas out last year. I like that the team held on to Mike Davis for insurance and Chris Carson showed promise before getting injured. But the team can’t take any chances with a poor rushing attack in 2018.

Other positions of need? Look for additions at receiver, tight end and linebacker. A lot of you are probably screaming at me to include defensive backs on this list, but I actually really like the potential of the youngsters here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’ll bring in some guys to compete, but I think some of the athletes from last year’s class have a chance to join Shaq Griffin in the starting backfield.

Is Earl staying?

Speaking of the secondary. . . The biggest question of the offseason has been whether or not Earl Thomas will be traded. I think the longer it goes, the less likely it is that Earl plays elsewhere in 2018. If that’s the case, I’d be thrilled. Unlike his former Legion of Boom teammates, Earl still seems to be playing at the top of his game. While his window of dominance might be gradually closing he is still a huge asset on the back end of that defense. Especially when you consider there will be several  young players fighting for snaps around him.

A deal could certainly go down on draft day, but with each passing day I feel better about the fact that the man I affectionately refer to as the human missile will be back with the team for another season.

Significance of this draft

Simply put, this draft is of major significance. The Pete and John legacy will either be cemented or softened depending on how the 2017 and 2018 classes pan out. They will either be remembered as orchestrating a great five year run and then fizzling out, or showing that they built a generational culture that continued to win for a decade plus.

We won’t be able to judge that for at least a couple of years, but these last two classes will  write history one way or another.

How to feel after it’s all wrapped up

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably walk away from this experience feeling somewhat indifferent. Sure, the draft is exciting and all, but it’s impossible to know what you got out of it until the season comes around. Sometimes you don’t know what you have for two or three seasons. No matter how much of an expert people claim to be, it’s impossible to perfectly predict how a class is going to mature. Chances are almost every player the Seahawks select will be a name you’ve never heard in your life. That’s just the way it is. Once the picks are in I’ll watch some film and get excited. But truthfully, the draft leaves me feeling a little empty.

Though the draft isn’t my favorite event on the sports calendar, it’s still of great importance for a franchise looking to get back to its principles. I’m excited for a clean slate in 2018 and a renewed hunger inside the Virgina Mason Athletic Center.

Go Hawks!

2016 Seahawks Position Group Analysis: RUNNING BACKS.

thomas-rawls

Photo Courtesy: Sports World Report

By Andy / PNW Sports Fans

As training camp starts up and we inch closer to real football I’ve begun to pass the time by breaking down each of the Seahawks position groups. Today let’s dive into the 2016 Running Back competition.

First off it wouldn’t be right if I wrote this without paying my respects to the legend, and in my humble opinion the greatest running back of all time. Marshawn Lynch. He will be sorely missed. Enjoy some of his best moments.

Who They Are:

Thomas Rawls: Thomas Rawls came to Seattle as an undrafted free agent. So it’s safe to say we saw his success coming given the Seahawks track record. As Marshawn battled through an injury plagued season, of which he missed 12 games, Seattle needed someone to step up in the backfield. Thomas Rawls did just that. He got his first career start against Detroit. A typical Seahawks Monday Night game where the offense struggled to find its footing and the game ultimately ended in controversy (though anyone who claims they knew the illegal batt rule is a liar). However, the next week in Cincinnati was a different story. Rawls looked like a seasoned all pro ripping off 169 yards on 23 carries including an explosive 69 yard house call in the second half. From that point on Rawls seemed to be the next diamond in the rough of the Pete and John era. Rawls was extremely productive in his rookie campaign tallying 830 yards on 147 attempts. He no doubt would’ve eclipsed the thousand yard mark had he not suffered a broken ankle in December against Baltimore. Rawls had filled in so well for Marshawn, but his own sudden injury turned out to spell doom for Seattle heading in to the 2015 playoffs. Though the injury was serious, Rawls has spent his days relentlessly rehabbing to get back to being his explosive self. Last week Rawls was officially cleared and taken off the PUP list, which is a welcome event for Seahawks fans. Rawls will have to shake off a little rust once he starts taking game snaps again, but I think he is going to prove last season’s performance was not an anomaly. If my prediction comes true, look for this offensive attack to be highly potent.

Christine Michael: I’m not one who usually puts much stock in to preseason games as far as score results, but when it comes to evaluating players battling for spots it’s pretty telling. Christine Michael looked like a completely different guy on Saturday in Kansas City. The same guy that struggled to focus play in and play out was locked in from the first snap of the game. The guy that used to dance around instead of running into the hole looked as if he was being shot out of cannon upon taking each handoff. Everyone will tell you that they’ve seen flashes from Christine Michael but the inconsistency in his short career has overshadowed the potential. Last year was a bit of  sobering moment for Michael. After being released by the team that drafted him, Michael was picked up by Dallas. For a moment it seemed he might be able to fit there, but late in the season he was released. Michael then found his way to Washington’s practice squad. He was once again cut. As fate would have it in late December Michael was in need of a team and the Seahawks depth at running back was wearing thin. C-Mike approached his second tour of duty in Seattle with a renewed focus. He had watched the time in his NFL career nearly Prematurely run out. However, he did enough in his short end of the season spurt to catch the attention of his coaches. In fact they felt good enough about how far Christine Michael has come that he has taken all of the first team reps in Thomas Rawls absence. He made the most of his opportunity Saturday as I watched him rip run after run in the first quarter. There was no hesitation, there was no dancing. I saw a guy that understood the blocking scheme and how to read it. I saw a guy that ran full speed, straight ahead into the cracks of daylight. Most importantly, I saw a guy who looks like he is finally starting to get it. That is a very exciting thought. If Michael can figure out the mental aspect of his game, this backfield will become scary fast.

CJ Prosise: I thoroughly enjoyed watching the tape on CJ Prosise from his days at Notre Dame. A converted receiver, Prosise isn’t your prototypical running back. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. His time at receiver has given CJ a diverse skill set. And not to beat a dead horse, but Pete Carroll and John Schnieder love guys with a unique set of skills. That must’ve been why they used their third round pick to select the standout Fighting Irish running back. Coaches have seemed to be high on the young prospect since he’s arrived in Seattle. From everything I’ve heard in the media, it sounds like Prosise is poised to step into the third down back role that Fred Jackson filled last year. Given his quickness and ability to catch the ball, I think this could be a great fit for the rookie. Again, from early training camp reports and the way coaches talk about him i gather that he is in line to earn significant playing time. Prosise has temporarily suffered a setback to those aspirations as a hamstring injury has held him out of practice and the first preseason. CJ still has plenty of time to prove himself, but this is the time for rookies must leave an impression. Compound the injury with Christine Michael’s stellar performance on Saturday and Alex Collins breathing down his neck, Prosise finds himself in a dogfight. As a third round pick I don’t think he’s in any danger of being cut. I do think he will have to earn his keep if wants to see the field in 2016. I really like what Prosise brings to the table, but until he actually plays, it’s going to be difficult to get a read on him.

Alex Collins: Three straight 1,000 yard seasons while playing at Arkansas. Does anything else need to be said? Just in case you are reading this and are failing to grasp that, Arkansas is in the SEC. THE SEC! Alex Collins is only the third player in conference history to accomplish that feat. Anytime you are on a short list with Herschel Walker, you know you’re doing something special. Aside from the impressive stats, the film don’t lie. The fifth round pick’s tape is impressive. Collins runs hard and recklessly in such a manner that has already led to comparisons of  Marsha. . . woah! Slow down! I’m not ready to go that far. But this kid is not scared to run right through those foolish enough to get in his way. Collins brings a physical presence that matches the DNA of the Seahawks running game. Now unlike the  some of the delusional folks down south I realize there is difference between SEC and NFL football. A big one at that. As with all of the rookies we will have to how Collins adjusts to this level. So far so good as he’s been solid thus far in training camp and has earned high praise as a result. If i’m being honest, I really want to see Collins become a force on this team. He is so fun to watch and has that running style that just makes you want to jump out your recliner and punch a hole in the drywall.

Zac Brooks:  The Clemson product was the third running back the Seahawks took in the 2016 draft. Brooks had to wait a while to have his name called as he went in the seventh round. But we know that it doesn’t matter what your draft position is on this team. If you can play, they find a way to keep you around. Brooks is another tough runner with some burst. Like Collins, I think Brooks has that fearless running style that Seattle drools over. However on a roster chalk full of hungry running backs, Brooks may find himself as the odd man out. An injury has also impeded his death chart progress. And when your a seventh round pick you don’t have the luxury of missing too many practices before you find yourself in a mother line of work. I hope Brooks finds his way on to this team, because I think he’s a solid player, but at this point that seems like his opportunity might be slipping away.

Final Assessment:

Marshawn Lynch isn’t walking through the door at the VMAC this year. He is absolutely irreplaceable. That doesn’t let this group of running backs off the hook. For this team to be elite in 2016 it will need solid production from its running game. Marshawn Lynch or not, the identity of this team is still imbedded in a physical brand of football. And that means hitting on defense and running backs that aren’t afraid to lay the lumber either. This entire group is relatively young and has something to prove. I think they have enough gamers to be a dominant unit this year, but they’ve got to approach every single game with urgency and a desire to impose their will. I am excited to see this backfield in action in 2016.

 

2016 Seahawk’s Position Group Analysis: DEFENSIVE BACKS

legion-of-boom

Photo Courtesy: 12thmanrising.com

By Andy / PNW Sports Fans

As training camp gets underway I’ve decided to attempt to fill the time by breaking down each position group while focusing on key contributors, battles for snaps and other intriguing story lines. Today I’m taking a look at possibly the most diverse cast of characters  on the roster both in personality and play. The defensive backs. Or as they’re famously referred to, the Legion of Boom. Here goes.

Who Are They?

Richard Sherman: I’m hesitant to “open my mouth about the best.” But how can I not with the way 25 has played throughout his career? Simply put, Sherm is the most dominant corner I have ever had the privilege to watch. He has the physical traits, standing at 6’2” with the wingspan of a California Condor.  He has the ball skills, tallying 26 career interceptions and 79 passes defended. And most importantly, he has the mind. If at times it looks like Sherman knows exactly what is going to happen before the snap. It’s because he usually does. Not only does he spend hours watching film, but he is able to digest it all and directly translate it to the field. Sherman made the transition from receiver to defensive back in the middle of his college career at Stanford. Having an in depth knowledge of what it takes to play on the other side of the ball has clearly served Sherman well. Some might say Sherman hasn’t been as dominant the last two seasons. I argue he’s been so dominant that his impact can no longer be measured with stats. Or at least not interceptions. People aren’t throwing at him. Putting up big numbers is nice, but the ultimate sign of a great corner is when elite quarterbacks refuse to throw to their side of the field. I look for Sherman to have another dominant year in that sense and to continue  taking away half of the field.

Earl Thomas: The human missile. The Seahawks seem to love guys with unique skill sets because they put them in situations where they can maximize the use of these skills. Earl Thomas has speed. He’s one of those rare athletes who makes it seem like he could be lined up in the defensive backfield by himself and the offense still might have a tough time completing a pass. A perfect illustration of this was in the wildcard game at Minnesota last year. There was a play where  a guy was seemingly running free down the seam and Earl came from out of the picture to knock it away. That’s just one example, but Earl has made countless plays just like it. Even though he is great in the pass game Earl is never scared to stick his nose in the running game. He may be small but when he fills to make a tackle he acts like he’s bigger than Kam Chancellor. I never get tired of watching Earl play. On a defense that seemingly never gives up the big play Earl is right in the middle of it. Literally! Thomas flat out just gets  me jacked to watch football. His passion for the game is on display every single play. He possesses a rare intensity on and off the field. Like when he was recovering from shoulder surgery heading in to the 2015 season and showed up to training camp in what was basically full gear even though he wasn’t yet cleared for contact. Everyone that was fully participating in practice was in shorts and there’s Earl doing freaking agility drills in his game pants. That basically sums up ET. I expect him to return to his all pro form in 2016 as he comes in to camp fully healthy and well rested. When It’s all said and done and Earl hangs up his cleats (which he will probably try to avoid until he’s forty) I expect him to be considered one of the best Free Safety’s to ever lace ’em up. He will certainly be a guy who ends up in the Seahawks Ring of Honor. People need to appreciate Thomas while he is still in his prime. He is a huge part of what allows this defense to play so aggressively and won’t be easily replaced.

Kam Chancellor: Bam Bam Kam, Slam Slantsler, The Dark Night, The Enforcer, Vernon Davis’ father. Whatever you call Kam, it all means the same thing. This guy is an absolute monster on the football field and with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, he is now undeniably the most feared. Want a fun career highlight mix? Youtube Kam Chancellor. I have never seen somebody  tally as many devastating hits as the Hawk’s Strong Safety. Having Kam play safety is like having an extra linebacker on the field. I mean the guy is 6’3” 225lbs. Kam is no doubt the intimidator of this defense. He single handedly ruined Vernon Davis ,who before that fateful Sunday night game in 2012 was regarded as one of the best tight ends in the game. And if that wasn’t enough, he absolutely annihilated him again in the 2013 NFC championship game.  But Vernon Davis is far from an anomaly. Kam has rocked the world’s of several high profile players over the years. Demarius Thomas in the Super Bowl, Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker, and the list goes on. But perhaps one of my favorite hits was when he put Cardinals Right Tackle Eric Winston on his 300lb back. When I think of Kam, I immediately think of his big hitting bully style of play. Like Earl, but in a much different way, Kam gets me absolutely jacked as fan to watch every single snap. His big hits set the tone, but Kam’s game is so much more than that. Where he has really evolved in the last three or so years is his coverage. He isn’t just a linebacker playing safety. Chancellor has turned himself into an all around defensive back. His footwork has come a long ways and that’s really what makes him the complete package. When he is fully healthy and on his game, there really isn’t a way to exploit him. But the key word is health. Kam is an absolute gamer and has missed very little time in his career (excluding his hiatus from the first two games last year with his ridiculous contract dispute). But I’m not going to get in to that. Water under the bridge. Kam has had nagging injuries throughout his career, but rarely has he missed games do to it. However, the ongoing narrative is can he continue to stay healthy given his punishing style of play? Will all his nicks and bruises catch up to him and affect his play? I can’t say with certainty. I do think 2016 will be a good indicator of where Kam is at and ultimately what his longevity will be. I still hope to see a few more years of him making opponents involuntarily go to sleep.

Jeremy Lane: It’s funny because I still think of Jeremy Lane as this up and comer young guy in the secondary. That’s actually no longer the case as the multifaceted corner prepares for his fifth season. Lane has shown flashes of brilliance during his tenure in Seattle. With so much talent in the secondary, Lane is often overlooked. J-Lane seemed to be really coming along in 2014 as the Hawks made their stretch run to their second Super Bowl in as many years. As many fans remember, Lane actually made a crucial play picking off Tom Brady in the end zone in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX. Unfortunately just seconds later his return ended in a gruesome injury in which he not only broke his arm, but also tore his ACL. This changed the trajectory of that game as the Patriots found some success going after his replacement, Tharold Simon. It also changed the trajectory of Lane’s career. The injury obviously led to a long road to recovery. Lane missed a good chunk of last season trying to get healthy again. He was able to suit up for the final six games and actually bounced back pretty nicely. We only got a small preview of what Lane can be post injury last year, but I like what I saw. I love Lanes versatility. He has the capability of playing the nickel spot as well as outside. We’ve seen him play a good amount in both roles over the years and I think that is a huge asset for the defense. I think we will be seeing him playing both spots again in 2016, but I really believe he has the inside track to be the starting corner opposite Sherman. He will be pushed, but if he can remain healthy I think it could be his breakthrough year. The front office might have hinted at that by signing him to a nice extension in the offseason. A fully healthy Jeremy Lane could really shore up a secondary looking to return to Super Bowl form.

Deshawn Shead: Another guy who is extremely versatile is Deshawn Shead. Kris Richard can basically line up the Portland State alum anywhere in the secondary. Shead was a guy that I honestly didn’t think would last on this team. He always seemed to be just another guy who’s ceiling was basically being a solid special teamer who could fill in as a defensive back in a pinch. And for a while there it seemed like I was right. Last year disproved that theory entirely. With injuries, Chancellor’s holdout, and the Cary Williams disaster, the Seahawks did find themselves in a pinch. Deshawn Shead was called upon to play every position in the secondary throughout the course of 2015. He was far from a weak link and by the end of the season he turned out to be one of the most reliable guys on that side of the ball. He has blossomed in to a great utility guy, and that is incredibly valuable in this system. I now no longer place a ceiling on what Shead can be. He might be a dark horse to challenge Lane for that other corner spot, but I think the utility role suits him and the team perfectly. I look for Deshawn to have a lot of opportunities in multiple positions. If nothing else, this guy proved he needs to be on the field.

Tharold Simon:  To me Simon is the biggest question mark in the secondary going into 2016. It has been such a small sample size during his short career. Injuries and a steep learning curve to begin his professional campaign make it difficult to assess who Tharold is, heading in to year four. As far as  ability, I believe Simon might be the most athletic DB on the roster. He has size, strength, and explosiveness.  At 6’3” and 200lbs, Simon is a prototypical fit to play corner on a Pete Carroll defense. From the limited film Simon has put up, I actually really like what I see. He’s looked pretty raw at times, but I think at this stage in his career and coming in fully healthy, Simon might take a huge step forward. Whether we will end up seeing the potential realized or not remains to be seen. Simon is a guy I expect big things from this year and is my pick to make the biggest leap in performance. Of all the players I’ve mentioned, I believe Simon is the one that will actually push  Lane the hardest for that other starting corner spot. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Simon ends up winning the job at some point this season.

Marcus Burley: Burley has been a solid depth guy the past two seasons in Seattle. I Don’t see him as a guy with starting potential on this team, but he is nonetheless extremely valuable. The key to success over a long NFL season is having depth and, as I mentioned. Burley provides that. While other guys on this team possess more flash, Burley is a guy that can do the dirty work. There will be a point this season where I will be extremely happy that Marcus Burley is on this roster. There will be a time due to injury, matchup or otherwise, when his number will be called. And I fully expect him to answer in a big way.

Brandon Browner:  First off do yourself a favor and click on the links embedded in Brandon Browner’s name.

We all remember BB. Especially fellow OSU fans. The guy that resurrected his NFL career in Seattle and later became a staple in the OG Legion of Boom. Brandon isn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone and I love that about him. Sure there are going to be a good amount of penalties, but I’ve always taken the good with the bad. He has also had a knack for making the big plays in key moments.  But this isn’t the same Brandon Browner from two years ago. He’s gotten older and his time in New Orleans appeared to indicate he has in fact lost a step. The Seahawk’s knew this when they brought him back and everything I’ve heard would indicate  that they see him fitting into a hybrid role. They basically want him to be a bully that can line up all over the field. He might even play some outside linebacker in passing situations. If this is the case I actually love that idea. Tight ends in the middle of the field were the achilles heel for this defense last year. Someone like Brandon Browner can put an end to that real quick. I hope to see Browner mix it up with some of these guys and frustrate opposing offenses. It will be interesting to see how Browner adjusts to this new role.

Kelsey McCray: McCray was acquired from Kansas City last year as a way to buy a little insurance at the safety spot. When called upon he was able to fill in and do what was asked of him. I don’t see McCray as a major contributor on this team. If he makes the roster it will once again be for insurance purposes. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not that I don’t think he is a solid player, it’s just that this is such a deep and talented secondary. One thing I will say, is that if the injury bug bites this team McCray might quickly find himself playing crucial snaps. As I mentioned before, depth is as important as talent on an NFL roster and McCray is someone who gives the Seahawk’s depth.

Steven Terrell: Much like McCray Terrell provides depth where it is needed at the safety position. Specifically the Free Safety position. If Earl goes down, Terrell is the prime candidate to fill in. Going into his fourth year he still has room to improve his game, but he also has enough NFL experience where the coaching staff can feel comfortable throwing him in on a moments notice. Steven Terrell isn’t going do things the way Earl can. Nobody can. But he still has the ability to fly around and make plays when called upon and that’s something every good secondary needs in their back ups. Injuries are part of the game and at some point over the course of an NFL season, depth is always tested.

 

The Other Guys: Jordan Farmer, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, DeAndre Elliot, Douglas McNeill III, Trovon Reed, Tye Smith, Tanner McEvoy, and Tyvis Powell. Similar to the unproven guys at receiver, all of these athletes will be fighting for their lives throughout camp and preseason. They are going to have to leave a major impression on the coaching staff to earn their way on to this roster. One guy I think is capable of just that is The Smith, who Seattle drafted last year. They really like his upside and I think he fits in well to this secondary’s style of play. He has a long ways to go but I think he might just make a big jump in year two and land a roster spot on a seemingly loaded team.

Most Intriguing Storyline: Will one of the most dominant secondary’s to ever play the game return to form in 2016? Don’t get me wrong, last season was still solid but they were not themselves. Between injuries and distractions there were times when everything was way out of sink. oftentimes this group fell victim to confusion due to miscommunication which is insane given how long they have played together. On top of that the three best players, Richard, Earl, and Kam all were coming off pretty difficult injuries and just never fully looked like themselves. The momentum changing plays were still there, but not as consistently as we’ve grown accustomed to. Interceptions were dropped, some tackles were missed, and coverages blown. I don’t mean to sound too harsh, but I know for a fact this unit is historically good and the way they played last year wasn’t up to the standard they hold themselves too.

Final Analysis: Party like it’s 2013 or 2014! I think the secondary will show up in a big way this year. Much like how we have been used to them doing in previous years. They won’t just be solid, they are going to get back to absolutely dominating and intimidating offenses. This group is the backbone of the team and this season should be one in which they solidify their place in history. I can’t wait for this thing to get going.

Here’s some highlights,

GO HAWKS!

2016 Seahawk’s Position Group Analysis: RECEIVERS

2016 Seahawk’s Position Group Analysis: RECEIVERS

Photo Courtesy SB Nation via Steven Bisig US PRESSWIRE

By Andy / PNW Sports Fans

With training camp just weeks away I’ve decided to attempt to fill the time by breaking down each position group while focusing on key contributors, battles for snaps and intriguing story lines. Today I’ll be looking at a group that’s sure to be competitive; the receivers. Oh yeah, I’ll also throw in links to highlights to hold you over until September. Just click on each players name to watch.

Who Are They?

Doug Baldwin: Fresh off the most productive season of his career and a shiny new 4 year extension, Baldwin will look to take another step forward both as a leader and playmaker. Angry Doug is the glue that holds this group together. He is the model of consistency. You don’t see him let the ball hit the turf very often. He runs his routes sharply and with a sense of urgency. Not to play in to the classic Stanford man clichés, but Baldwin is truly a student of the game. But perhaps  Doug’s best characteristic is the fiery passion he approaches the game with. How does an undrafted Free Agent become an All Pro caliber receiver on a perennial title contender? He never stops. The hunger to be better than yesterday drives Doug. It’s that fire that has helped him become a master of his craft. No matter the accolades or achievements, this guy will always find a reason to have a chip on his shoulder. Though some would argue  his emotions have got the best of him at times (See 2014 NFC Championship post game rant, or his act of dropping a deuce in the end zone during Super Bowl XLIX) I love to see a little nasty in one of the teams leaders. Doug has some dog in him and how can you not like that? That’s raw passion and emotion for the game. I don’t need my team’s receiver to be cool,calm and collected at all times. I don’t need him to say what people want to hear all the time. Those are things I ask out of our quarterback. At receiver, I simply need a playmaker who plays every down like he’s starving for success. That is what Doug Baldwin gives Seahawk’s fans. This dude has a contagious edge to him. And for those reasons I expect another big year out of one of the most integral parts of this squad.

Jermaine Kearse: Like Doug, Jermaine Kearse is also a former undrafted Free Agent “glue guy” coming off a career year and capped it by recently inking a new deal to stay with the Hawks. However the similarities pretty much stop there. Jermaine’s greatest asset is his frame. At 6’1″ and 210lbs, Kearse is the most physically imposing receiver in Seattle’s otherwise smallish lineup. His size and physical nature makes Russell Wilson feel that he has a favorable match up every time he drops back to pass, especially in man to man coverage. Kearse has had a knack for big plays in crucial moments throughout his career. Whether it was hauling in the only touchdown against Carolina in week one of the 2013 season, the human pinball play in Super Bowl XLVIII, the game winning grab in the 2014 NFC title game, or what could’ve gone down as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history ( had Malcom Butler not picked off Wilson two plays later) as he made the circus catch in between two Patriot defenders to set up first and goal. Yes, Jermaine has had a flare for the dramatic in his time with Seattle, but there’s also been stretches of inconsistency. He has struggled with drops here and there and sometimes disappears for stretches of time. But when this guys locked in, it’s a long day for the defense. If he can find a way to bring it all together for 16 games this season, watch out.

Tyler Lockett: This guy is the real deal. If you want to incite passion and excitement in your conversations with fellow Seahawk’s fans, simply drop Tyler Lockett’s name. EXPLOSIVE! In all caps and with that exclamation point is the word I would use describe Lockett. He’s a small guy, who is an absolute nightmare lining up inside or out. The old adage , “you can’t teach speed” definitely applies to Lockett. He has the ability to blow the top off of the defense on a go route, but can also catch a  five yard slant in traffic and turn it in to a monster play. This guy makes defenses play on their heels. Nobody is happier to have Lockett back for year two than Baldwin and Kearse. It’s a lot easier to get open when the defense is terrified of this guy getting the ball in space. As the season progressed for Lockett last year, you could see the light go on somewhere near the midway mark, and after that I knew number 16 was going to be a “dude” for years to come. Tyler is probably the receiver I’m most excited to watch in 2016. With a full NFL season and off-season under his belt, you can bet Lockett has only scratched the surface of his potential. We might witness something pretty special with him this season. And I’m not even going to dive into his ability in the return game in this installment. So when you go to bed tonight, dream of Lockett leaving entire defenses and special teams units in tears for the next decade.

Paul Richardson: P-Rich oozes big play capability thanks to his world class speed. He showed flashes in 2014 and just seemed to be hitting his stride late in the year, when he went down with an injury that ultimately ended his rookie campaign. He fought nagging injuries well into the 2015 season and when he tried to come back in a Monday Night game against the Cardinals, it looked like he might be a real spark to the offense going forward. He hauled in a deep pass along the sideline, but the excitement was quickly replaced with disappointment as he came up gimp following the big play. The lack of real game action for about 10 months proved costly. He injured his hamstring and wouldn’t be healthy again the rest of the year. I hope to see a fully healthy Paul Richardson this season. He no doubt has some play making potential and could be yet another weapon for this offense. The question is, will he be healthy enough to be on the field and give us a chance to see that potential materialize into ability? That is what will define Richardson in 2016. In my opinion, if this guy is healthy he’s going to find a way to make a sizable contribution to this team. There is simply too much raw speed and ability to not get the ball in his hands.

Kevin Smith: An undrafted Free Agent from the University of Washington, Kevin smith is somewhat of an unknown. I like the physical attributes. A taller receiver with a thick frame, Smith has shown the ability to make plays on the practice field. The coaches are high on this guy, but this is an extremely deep and competitive position group. Smith will have to show up in a big way during training camp and preseason to push for playing time. I think the capability is there, but he’s got to show something on every single snap he gets. I’m excited to see what he does in August, because it will go a long way in deciding his role this season.

Kasen Williams: An undrafted  U-Dub receiver with size. Sensing a theme here? Pete Carroll and John Schneider seem to really like the talent pool within city limits. Like Kevin Smith, I don’t know what Kasen Williams will end up being as a member of the Seahawks. Another guy the coaches love, go figure. Will he be able to do enough to separate himself and really challenge for playing time? I can’t say. I do know he is another big physically imposing pass catcher, and Pete likes to have guys like that on the roster. Again, there is a lot of talent in the receivers meeting room and if Williams wants to earn field time, he’ll have to leave a resounding impression come camp and preseason.

Kenny Lawler: For those of you who pay attention to PAC 12 football, you know what this guy is all about. Kenny Lawler can flat-out catch the football. A wiry dude who’s build and hair remind me of a young Randy Moss. This guy can flat out make plays and showed it in his time at Cal. A seventh round draft pick ensures that he is in no way a lock to make this football team. However in his limited time on the practice field he’s already seemed to leave an impression. I believe the Hawks will take a long hard look at Lawler. The NFL is certainly a different animal from college, but I think this guy has the ability and work ethic to translate his game to the next level.  On a roster that also boasts receiving tight ends in Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, I don’t see the powers that be keeping more than six receivers on the team. As with others, Lawler will have to earn it.

Other Guys Currently Battling for a Spot:

Deshon Foxx, Antwan Goodley and Tyler Slavin: It will be an uphill battle for any of these three to make the final 53 man roster. But Coach Carroll’s “Always Compete” mantra is no joke. He lives by it and so does the entire organization. Look no further than the two most accomplished receivers on the roster. These young guys will have their chances. The only question is what will they do with it?

Most Intriguing Storyline Heading into Camp:

I alluded to this earlier, but I really don’t foresee the Seahawks keeping more than six receivers on the 53 man roster. Again, Jimmy Graham is essentially another receiver and Luke Willson is an adept pass catcher as well. On a team loaded with talent you can’t use up too many roster spots on any one position. It’s going to be an absolute dog fight for that sixth spot. If I had to make a prediction I would say that Kenny Lawler will snatch one of those spots and force Richardson, Williams or Smith out of the mix. One thing is for sure,  training camp and preseason will be quite a spirited competition amongst these teammates.

Final Analysis:

Overall, this group of receivers has a chance to be one of the best in the league in 2016. Certainly health will play a role in what they will ultimately be, but on paper this platoon is as deep and as talented as any I can ever remember in franchise history. But paper doesn’t win you football games. Only time will tell what this season will hold for Seattle at the receiver position, but I can’t help feeling very optimistic.

GO HAWKS!