NFL Kickoff : Seattle Seahawks v. Green Bay Packers

Once upon a time the Green Bay Packers traveled to play a young team led by Pete Carroll on a Monday night in week 3 of 2012. That game ended in a debated Hail Mary that dominated the headlines the following morning. What Packer fans and pundits forgot was the fact the Seahawk defense chased Aaron Rodgers out of Qwest Field. They sacked him 8 times in the game with 7 of those coming in the first half.

Can the Seahawks repeat?? Absolutely

Can the Seahawks repeat?? Absolutely

In that game Rodgers never adjusted to the noise and neither has the rest of the league. Since that game the Seahawks are 21-1 over nearly 2 seasons since the “Fail Mary.” Seattle joined the league’s elite where the Packers slipped to the 2nd tier of playoff teams. Last year they made the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record and that isn’t elite.

Can Green Bay crack the Seattle defense on the road?

Can Green Bay crack the Seattle defense on the road?

Did you know the Green Bay Packers are 8-7 on the road since that game?? Ooops make that 8-8 on the road if you include the “Fail Mary” game. Well….upon further review, if we include the 2012 playoff loss to the 49ers they are 8-9 on the road. Now they have to go in to play a team returning 11 of 12 starters on a defense that had one of the best seasons in NFL history and win?? On a night where the 12th man will be rowdy as they raise their first ever league championship banner??

The key to the Packers winning is Eddie Lacy running right at the Seahawk defense.

The key to the Packers winning is Eddie Lacy running right at the Seahawk defense.

Only one way for the Pack to pull off a stunner… They have to run Eddie Lacy at the Packers on direct power running plays. Screens and trickery won’t work against the Seahawks since they rarely blitz. If the Packers try these plays the Seahawk defenders will beat Green Bay blockers to the point out in space.

Another factor is the history of Pete Carroll coached teams in big games. Aaron Rodgers will struggle with this pass rush and secondary tonight. Green Bay’s receivers can win mismatches against an average secondary. Not this one…and not when they are healthy.

The other is Packer coach Mike McCarthy who has a penchant for abandoning the running game. Tonight is the night he has to coach against those tendencies and he won’t do it. He wants to showcase his quarterback and this is looking like a shutout to The Chancellor of Football. Tonight 29-0 as Seattle is on their way to defending their Super Bowl championship.

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Next up: 2014 NFC West Preview

2014 Seattle Seahawks Preview – The Birth of a Dynasty?

As time wound down toward the end of Super Bowl XLVIII, there were several questions floating around Met Life Stadium. Was this one of the NFL’s greatest defenses?? Are we looking at the birth of a dynasty out in Seattle?? The first question is a resounding yes and the next question can’t be answered for a few years. Yet one point definitely remains, how can the Seahawks not be the odds on favorite to defend their crown in Super Bowl XLIX out in Arizona next February??

The Legion of Boom leads one of the best defenses in NFL history.

The Legion of Boom leads one of the best defenses in NFL history.

They just re-signed WR Sidney Rice to bolster the receiving corps along with a healthy Percy Harvin. The front office just signed Pro Bowl S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sheman to long-term deals. It’s only a matter of time before they ink a deal with QB Russell Wilson.

Next is the feel good story that shapes the Seahawks different from other NFL franchises from a culture standpoint. The signing of 6th round pick OT Garrett Scott knowing he had a heart condition, allows him his full compensation of $550,000 even though they had to release him. Guarantee that struck a positive chord in every player across the league. If you thought free agents wanted to play for Seattle now, this move will resonate for years to come.

Quarterback: The Seahawks seem slated for a 7-10 year run with Russell Wilson at the helm. Yet make no mistake he still has to improve his ability to go through his progressions within the structure of the offense.

Russell Wilson keeps plays alive with his legs if they're not there initially.

Russell Wilson keeps plays alive with his legs if they’re not there initially.

Think back to the NFC Championship where Russell was really in a slump. Up until that 4th quarter touchdown bomb to Jermaine Kearse, we weren’t sure Wilson could make a play to end the ball game. Too many times if his first read wasn’t there, he’d take off. Coach Pete Carroll’s staff does a great job in calling play action roll-outs and half rolls where he has two reads. Sure this limits throws to half the field. However Wilson’s decision making of when to run or when to throw has been great. It was off kilter for those first two playoff games though.

For the season, Wilson completed 63.1% of his passes for 3,357 yards 26TDs to only 9 interceptions. Terrific numbers but his game has to evolve. When the Seahawks are in shotgun they normally run slants and go routes. Teams will adjust and start throwing zone blitzes in an attempt to force him to be hesitant and cut off running lanes with speed. The Seahawks also should watch for delayed blitzes designed for him to pull the ball down and scramble into an area where a defender will be headed.

If The Chancellor of Football has seen this on film, you better believe Jeff Fisher, Bruce Arrians, and Jim Harbaugh within the division have. Yet because of his decision making and ability to run, their playoff level at quarterback.

Offensive Backfield: For all the conversation, the NFL is a passing league and the running back has been devalued, here is exhibit A on quite the contrary.  Marshawn Lynch is the attitude and toughness of his team. From an X’s and O’s standpoint his downhill running style is why Russell Wilson is effective.  Teams have to honor that stretch run which makes the play fake so successful. When they don’t, Lynch bursts through for 4.2 yards per carry. Last year he did so while running for 1,257 yards and a career best 12 touchdowns.

Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.

Lynch is the tone setter for the Seahawks.

Lynch runs with fury and reminds The Chancellor of Marion ‘The Barbarian”Barber yet he doesn’t seem likely to burn out in the next year or so. He sets the tone for the entire Seahawk football team. This year they may have to spell him in games to keep him fresh for the stretch run. If he’s able to power the team to another Super Bowl win, his resume becomes a Hall of Fame one. Still Super Bowl quality at running back.

Receiver: This is where the offense needs improvement the most. A rejuvenated Sidney Rice could help them stretch the field. Doug Baldwin is a gritty receiver who won’t wow you but slips to get open when Wilson scrambles and catches passes in traffic.

However the Seahawks have a serious jolt of speed with 2nd round selection Paul Richardson. If Harvin can stay healthy, this group could be lethal from multiple receiver (3 or more WR) sets on the field. First is where will Harvin line up?? In a slot position? Wing Back? Out of the backfield. While opponents concentrate on Percy, the Seahawks now have several receivers who can get deep.

The player who should be on the field more this year is Jermaine Kearse. Going into his 3rd year he should fully know the system. He just passes the eyeball test at there is more potential to his play than Baldwin. This year will also be a full year with Percy Harvin in the mix. This is still a receiver by committee group. If Sidney Rice can be the player he once was this could be a playoff caliber group. As of right now they’re average.

Offensive Line: The most misleading statistic afforded this team all year would be the 44 sacks allowed in 2013. How many times on rolls and scrambles were defenders able to track down Wilson to shove him out of bounds behind the line?? Those are recorded as sacks. Yet it’s a give and take scenario with Wilson making a rusher miss when protection breaks down.

Led by Pro Bowl Center Max Unger, this is a relatively young line with no starter past his fifth season. In pounding up the middle, Seattle in obvious power situations (3rd/4th & 2 or less) converted 60% of the time. For a straight ahead running team with 509 rushing attempts, to be tied for 5th in the league with just 6 negative rushing plays, says a lot about their blocking. When you can power your team to 2,188 yards, 14 TDs, and a 4.3 yard average, you’re playoff caliber up front.

Defensive Line: Now the best off-season move last year happened on day two of free agency when they plucked DE Cliff Avril, formerly of the Detroit Lions. His addition along with Michael Bennett allowed the team to terrorize opponents with a 3 DE alignment in Nickle and Dime sub packages. Bennett had 8 1/2 sacks while lined up inside Avril who had 8 as well. These two combined for 10 forced fumbles that usually broke the back of opponents.

Avril terrorized quarterbacks rushing them from the front side.

Avril terrorized quarterbacks rushing them from the front side.

Brandon Mebane is the stay at home Defensive Tackle that offsets this. So when teams run draws and screens, he’s nomally there with the linebackers to make a play. Seattle did lose DE Chris Clemons, but he had his least effective season with only 4 sacks. One replacement for the 3rd rusher is 3rd year player Bruce Irvin #51.  He was used more at linebacker in 2013 yet amassed 8 sacks as a rookie. Still a Super Bowl level group up front.

Linebackers: Did you know that Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith wasn’t a week 1 starter?? That’s right the man who sealed both the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl has to beat out KJ Wright #50 (80 tackles/4 passes defensed) for the OLB position on the weakside.

Yet Smith had a great postseason to boost his resume. In the regular season he started 8 games had 54 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack and 2 interceptions. He will definitely be on the field to accompany MLB Bobby Wagner (120 tackles/ 7 passes defensed/ 5 sacks). With another season like that he will replace either Bowman or Willis of San Fran in the Pro Bowl. Don’t forget Bruce Irvin also aids here. Defensive speed is the mantra to this group and it cleans up what makes it past the front four with aplomb. This is a playoff level group. They need to force a few more turnovers.

Once Seattle funnels your receivers to the middle, Cam is there to knock 'em  out.

Once Seattle funnels your receivers to the middle, Kam is there to knock ’em out.

Secondary: The reciprocal advantage to a pass rush is a secondary that won’t have to cover more than 5 seconds. When the secondary play extends beyond that, it allows the pass rush more time to get to the quarterback& you get the coverage sack.

Both happen in Seattle. Starting with the coverage of reigning Taylor Blitz Time Defensive Player of the Year in Richard Sherman. He led the NFL with 8 interceptions, returning them for 158 yards and that significant touchdown. He also was 7th on the team in tackles with 48, defensed 17 passes and recovered 2 fumbles.

By the time you add Pro Bowl FS Earl Thomas (105 tackles/ 5 ints/ 11 pass defensed/ 2 forced fumbles) & the thunderous shots by Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor (99 tackles / 3 ints/ 12 passes defensed/ 1 forced fumble) you have one of the best secondaries in history. That’s what a championship can elevate you to. Three of four in the secondary in the Pro Bowl. That’s beyond outstanding and now Sherman and Thomas are signed to long term deals.

Seattle did lose Nickel Back Walter Thurmond and regular starting CB Brandon Browner to free agency. However Byron Maxwell manned one of the corners after Browner’s suspension, and picked off 4 passes and defensed 11 others while starting 5 games. This is a Super Bowl caliber secondary if ever there was one.

Overall: This juggernaut has been the NFL’s best for the last two seasons and will be for a third. Although they are league champion you still can’t put a finger on where you would start to attack this team. One of history’s finest defenses and they come at you in waves with no true focal point. Right now the rest of the NFL is in a conundrum. Everyone is lining up in multiple receiver sets and playing in space. Seattle performs best here and Chancellor, Wright, and Wagner are there to lay pads on receivers.

teishaseahawks3

Teisha, will it be confetti or raining skittles next February in Arizona??

They stay to the ground and minimize offensive mistakes. Since they take long drives and dominate time of possession, opponents feel rushed to score and get back into the game. This plays into Seattle’s hands again where they have taken the 2007 New York Giants’ blue print of 3 DE alignments, and tweaked it. Instead of 3 power rushers they have ends who are speed rushers. Couple that with the crowd noise and this is going to be a 14-2 or 15-1 team when you look at their schedule. A possible loss to St Louis on the road in week 7 and maybe one more in Arizona in week 15 look like the only hiccups. Carroll’s team should bludgeon their way to Super Bowl XLIX easily.

Next up: The Denver Broncos

The model in the pic where it’s raining skittles is the lovely Teisha Lyons. International Fashion Model and friend to TBT. Please click the link and like her page as well.

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Super Bowl XLVIII Preview: Denver Broncos v. Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Sunday is going to be a little warmer than we thought. It’s projected to be in the 40s at kickoff and we should have full dimensional football. Has there been a Super Bowl in the last 10 years that had this much anticipation before the game??One way or the other we will have history made tomorrow night. If Denver wins, Peyton Manning will the first quarterback in 54 years to win championships with two teams. If Seattle wins,  his defense will go down as one of the all time great units and the first to do so because of their back 7.

Along with Percy Harvin, Moreno is an X factor. Even more so, he is the key to a Denver win.

Along with Percy Harvin, Moreno is an X factor. Even more so, he is the key to a Denver win.

The key to the marquee match-up between Denver’s offense and Seattle’s defense is Knowshon Moreno. If he can get yardage from the outset, it will allow Manning to throw when he wants to. Not when he has to. The Broncos let it get out they may not sign him as a free agent. He may use this game as a showcase of his skill and give the Seahawks fits. Remember he is from New Jersey so watch how emotional he’ll start this game.

Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.

Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.

Marshawn Lynch needs to keep his string of 100 yard games going in this one. Or at least he has to keep his number of rushing attempts up.  The Seahawks have to have balance to keep their offense going. Their receiving corps can get open when Champ Bailey and Dominique Rogers Cromartie have to worry about the run. These guys sneak open and Percy Harvin gets to return kicks and get open. In big games your weaknesses are exposed and no Von Miller will show up today. A mush rush will not get to Russell Wilson. His quickness will get him outside where he can run and throw. Denver needs to blitz Wilson and force him to stay in the pocket and throw against their pedestrian secondary. They have to take that risk.

seahawks defenseNow here comes the #1 defense and if they win tonight, one that goes down in history. Not because they’re Super Bowl champions. Because they are one of the fastest and intimidating defenses dating back to the 1985 Chicago Bears & 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They aren’t ranked #1 overall because they are good in certain aspects of the game. Seattle is #1 in four defensive categories. Tops in total yards, opponents passing yards, total points given up, and total turnovers at 39. No team has done that since the 1985 Bears.

Now lets add in the fact they led the NFL in interceptions as well at 28 and what are the factors?? For one, take a look at the size of this secondary. Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year Richard Sherman stands 6’3, Cam Chancellor is 6’3 232 lbs, and the best FS in Earl Thomas, and Byron Maxwell is 6’3 and 200 lbs at the corner makes them more physical than other secondaries. Head Coach Pete Carroll is a former defensive backfield coach and these guys are just that….well coached and fundamentally sound.

The Legion of Boom will go down in history as the best defense of the new millenium.

The Legion of Boom will go down in history as the best defense of the new millenium.

They muscle receivers at the line of scrimmage. Keep this in mind because of Manning’s 55 touchdowns 41 were from 10 yards or less. They key is to disrupt the short timing of Denver’s offense because they can’t and don’t get deep. Keep in mind the top side of this defense is the 3 Defensive End alignment they throw at opponents.

On the left side of the formation they put free agent signees Michael Bennett #72 and Cliff Avril #56 to rush the face of the passer. They use this to make the quarterback pull the ball down as the corners are pressuring receivers. Why can’t the opponent slide the line from an offensive standpoint?? End Chris Clemons, who missed last year’s playoff loss to Atlanta, is on the other side. These three combined for 22 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. Then throw in spy and delayed blitzer Bruce Irvin #51, and the Broncos haven’t seen a defense this solid, physical, and fast all year.

Peyton Manning has to best the #1 defense to get his second championship with a second team.

Peyton Manning has to best the #1 defense to get his second championship with a second team.

Peyton Manning is on the verge of history and needs one more game to solidify his legacy. Last night he was named MVP after his record setting season. So what gives when it’s time to pick the winner of Super Bowl XLVIII.

Defense wins championships doesn’t it?? When was the last time a #1 defense has lost a Super Bowl?? None we can remember. In the six times Super Bowl opponents met in the pre-season, the winner of that game is 5-1 in the big game. Of the five times the #1 ranked defense in points allowed played the #1 scoring offense, the defense has won 4 of 5 times.

For the last three years The Chancellor of Football has asked when are we going to have the marquee defensive performance that will leap up and beat the hell out of these passing teams. I think back to the ’91 Eagles beating Houston. https://taylorblitztimes.com/2011/06/10/death-becomes-of-the-run-shoot-on-a-monday-night/  We saw this in Super Bowl XXV and XXVI against our CEO’s Buffalo Bills, and the 2007 Patriots. Defenses normally aren’t out of sync but offenses can be. History has shown us this. Remember the highest scoring teams in NFL history are 0-7 in bringing home a championship. Watch for Nickel Back Walter Thurmond III #28 to make a name for himself shadowing Wes Welker. The Seahawks win tonight 34-23

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Top Ten Running Backs Going Into 2013 Season

As the NFL has evolved into more of a passing league, it seems that the importance of the running back position should wane. However there is nothing more powerful than a rushing attack to wear down your opponent or take time off the clock. What we have seen is the evolution of the type of back in most instances. Gone is the huge bruiser to lean on the defense and he has been replaced with a smaller, shiftier type of back. The type to take a handoff in a stretch running play whether the quarterback is under center or from the Pistol and Shotgun formations.

Do you realize Jamaal Charles has rushed for over 1,000 yards 3 times in a 5 year career??

Do you realize Jamaal Charles has rushed for over 1,000 yards 3 times in a 5 year career??

The best can operate in multiple sets as well as run routes to catch the ball in space. However there are a few throwback types who smash into the line and come off traps, sweeps, and multiple tight end sets as well. Each team needs to adapt their offense to the type of running and passing plays suited to their back’s ability. To make this list, running backs need to be able to break the first tackle. Well here we are with the Taylor Blitz Times best NFL running backs coming into the new season.

10. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars: Although he’s led the league in rushing with 1,606 yards in 2011, Drew is coming back from a major leg injury where he missed most of 2012, and has carried a heavy load the last four years. He has been the Jaguars offense and could be on the verge of possibly burning out as Michael Turner did. This year we’ll have to watch if he’s able to slip tackles and power through arm tackles as he has over his 7 year career. It’s those 954 runs between 2009-2011 that worry us about burning out. He should be good for 1,000 yards this year but we’re keeping our eye on him.

9. Chris Johnson-Tennessee Titans: Did we say gamebreaker?? Well CJ2K is still on the launch pad down in the volunteer state. With a head coach who is a Hall of Fame lineman in Mike Munchak, it’s expected the Titans will come together on the line. This former 2,000 yard rusher stands on the launch pad destined for another big year, yet the vision of that coming is beginning to wane. However he did flash his explosiveness with a 94 yard touchdown last year. In all he ran 276 times for 1,243 yards and 6 TDs.

Spiller could be the Buffalo Bills second 2,000 yard rusher behind OJ Simpson.

Spiller could be the Buffalo Bills second 2,000 yard rusher behind OJ Simpson.

8. CJ Spiller-Buffalo Bills: Last year he burst onto the scene as the electrifying talent Bills brass and fan base had been expecting. The team needs to quit with Fred Jackson and give the ball to this game breaker 25 times a game. He was on his way to bust status after two years of flashes once he got onto the field. However an injury to Jackson left Spiller as the only runner in town and he exploded for 1,244 on just 207 carries. That is 6.0 yards a crack!! The same average as Peterson who ran for 2,000 yards. This year it should be his year and his team as he shows 2012 was no fluke. He also accounted for 43 receptions for 453 yards and combined for 8 touchdowns.

7. Alfred Morris-Washington Redskins: A surprise rookie performance was turned in by Morris, who was a fourth round draft choice. His 1,613 yards and 13 TDs were among the best in football but let’s ask a fundamental question: Was his performance indicative of his talent or was he the beneficiary of RG III carrying out read option fakes?? He was the second option when it came to rushing the football in many a defensive coordinator’s game plan. Year two will be interesting to watch how teams play him.

Yet you can’t underscore he was a tough durable low center of gravity back that thrived in the Redskin’s offense. He’s shifty enough, he seldom took a real big hit with most of the plays being stretch type runs. It reciprocated in holding linebackers honest and allowed Griffin III to rush for another 815 yards and 7 more TDs. He did disappear in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks once Griffin III went down. Would he be nearly effective if he played with another quarterback??

6. Frank Gore-San Francisco 49ers: One of the last of a dying breed, the do everything power back. One huge beneficiary of the new Pistol offense is Frank Gore. There are still running plays where the 49ers line up in power formations but in large part Gore isn’t facing downhill charging linebackers. The Pistol forces teams into 4-2-5 or 3-3-5 nickel variations where the linebackers are a step behind on the front side of the read option.

They are not attacking the run lanes like they do in a traditional sense and this will lesson the wear and tear on a running back entering his ninth year. For the first time in many years, Gore looked fresh the entire season. He started all 16 games while rushing for 1,214 yards 8 TDs while averaging 4.7 yards per rush. His carries will be split between Kendall Hunter and LeMichael James to keep him fresh for the stretch drive. So expect his totals to be a little less also.

NFL Network dubbed him "The Muscle Hamster" as he has shown tackle breaking power in his first season.

NFL Network dubbed him “The Muscle Hamster” as he has shown tackle breaking power in his first season.

5. Doug Martin-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A shifty power runner in an Emmitt Smith type roll yet he has a better downfield burst. If you’re new to the Taylor Blitz Times, we have touted him as an NFL ready back and produced an article on his Heisman Trophy legitimacy before his senior season at Boise St. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201301120den.htm His rookie campaign saw him rush for 1,454 yards 11 TDs while catching 49 passes for another 479 yards and a touchdown.

Last year it started when he burst onto the NFL scene with a national televised game against the Vikings. That night he ran for 137 yards with a touchdown while catching 3 passes for another  79 yards and a touchdown. He had a 41 yard run and a 64 yard touchdown on a screen. Just when folks began talking about him he breaks out with his masterpiece. He showed there was another runner on the field that night along with Adrian Peterson.

The following week out in Oakland, in front of his bay area family, Martin ran for 264 yards with 4 touchdown runs of 67, 70, and 41, and 1 yards. For much of the fourth quarter Fox was airing his exploits to all other games since he was so close to the all time record. Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, Jim Brown, OJ Simpson, nor Corey Dillon had ever run that far as a rookie in a game. No SEC back including Bo Jackson has ever run that far in an NFL game period. Only Adrian Peterson as a rookie ran farther. We’re talking all of NFL history here. He will be a candidate for 1,500 yards again down in Tampa.

4. Jamaal Charles-Kansas City Chiefs: The most underrated running back in football. We have heard former Chief now analyst, Bill Maas proclaim he is a smallish type back. The saving grace for the Chiefs offense last year was former Texas Longhorn Jamaal Charles. Last year he ran with enough power to break tackles and have a Pro Bowl season with 1,509 yards. He had a whopping 5.3 yard average and don’t forget he was a Pro Bowl performer in 2010, when he rushed for 1,467 yards and an even better 6.4 yard average. This is no fluke. He’s only going into his sixth season. Now with Alex Smith and a good passing combo, he should keep up the pace set last year.

Texans Super Bowl hopes ride with Foster.

Texans Super Bowl hopes ride with Foster.

3. Arian Foster-Houston Texans: Going into his 5th season, the Texans couldn’t be more solid at running back with Arian Foster leading the charge. Next to Adrian Peterson, no back in football has been more productive than Foster’s 4,264 yards and 39 TDs over the last three years. He is not the flashy runner breaking the huge play like CJ2K or Adrian Peterson, but he’s a steady performer that churns out important first down after first down as the Texans closer.

2. Marshawn Lynch-Seattle Seahawks: No runner sets the tempo for his football team like Lynch. He brings a physicality and attitude to the Pacific Northwest that is infectious and goes over to a swarming defense. He has been the lightning rod ever since his famous 67 yard touchdown run to oust the defending champion Saints in the 2010 wildcard game.

Although he’s entering his seventh season, he doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on him. In 2009 & 2010 he only carried the ball a combined 320 times as he played for both Buffalo and Seattle. Last year he thundered for 1,590 yards and 11 TDs as he powered the Seahawks into the playoffs. This is the only running back in the game today that raises the level of the entire football team with his play. Expect another 1,500 yard season easily.

Peterson is the best in the game today and is already a Hall of Fame talent.

Peterson is the best in the game today and is already a Hall of Fame talent.

1. Adrian Peterson-Minnesota Vikings: The 21st century version of Eric Dickerson is absolutely a Hall of Fame running back. Yes you read that correctly. He’s a Hall of Fame runner already. Less than 7 months from damaging his MCL and ACL, he burst for 2,097 yards in a season where the Vikings eased him in. In year’s past we had Jamal Lewis and other runners who tore their ligaments and came back, but they had nearly a full season they sat out or eased themselves into the game first. Not Peterson.

What’s startling is this is the season he’ll hit full stride and should break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards. Last year he broke breathtaking runs when he was the Vikings only legitimate offensive weapon. Now with quality receivers on the outside in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Pro Bowl TE Kyle Rudolph, defenses can’t key on him.

You do realize that he already holds the all time rushing record of 296 yards which is also the rookie record as well. When he get’s to Dickerson’s 2,105 yards, he will be the only back in league history to have two 2,000 yard seasons. There have been only 2 runners who have held these records at the same time. Both OJ Simpson and Jim Brown made the Hall of Fame along with Eric Dickerson. Peterson is already among that group. Another 2,000 yard season will cement it.

Next: Washington Redskins 2013 Preview

2013 Seattle Seahawks Preview – Ready To Make A Move

Coach Pete Carroll has the NFL's best young defense.

Coach Pete Carroll has the NFL’s best young defense.

There had to be some serious angst going through the minds of Seattle Seahawk players, coaches, and fans when the 49ers came back and won the NFC Championship. Just a week prior the Seahawks were :31 seconds away from the biggest road playoff comeback in NFL history. Being down 20-0 in Atlanta, the Seahawks made a furious rally that saw them take a 28-27 lead and a rematch with the San Francisco 49ers was beginning to crystalize.

A team they had throttled 42-13 just three weeks prior. Then Matt Ryan ended those hopes with two completions and a last second field goal for Atlanta to escape 30-28. As the two teams left the field that day there was a sense the better team hadn’t won. Then to watch history repeat itself with the Niners comeback and you could feel the groans coming from the pacific northwest. Furthermore, how different would the NFC divisional against Atlanta have been had sack leader Chris Clemons (11 1/2 sacks) not been injured??

Quarterback: For all the talk of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and even Colin Kaepernick, it was Russell Wilson that was the most impressive first year signal caller in 2012. It was his play that set in motion the late season quarterback change in San Francisco. They were tiptoeing around the issue playing Kaepernick in spots until they saw Wilson’s progressive improvement at the season’s midway point. Then the Niners pulled the trigger.

Center Max Unger was an All Pro and protected Russell Wilson like The Hope Diamond.

Center Max Unger was an All Pro and protected Russell Wilson like The Hope Diamond.

Russell’s performance last year was the best rookie quarterback season in NFL history. Not only did he help turn around the fortunes of the Seahawks, he tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 TD passes. However he only threw 10 interceptions compared to Peyton’s 28 during that same 1998 campaign. His total stats were 252 of 293 for 3,118 yards along with 94 car. for 489 yards and 4 touchdowns. He never showed any nerves nor did the games ever seem too big for him. Where the Seahawks started 1-5 on the road, Wilson’s play improved and they won their last 3 including a wild card win in Washington.

The key to his use of The Pistol was he improved his throwing touch and ball placement as the year went on. He knew when to throw the ball away as much as when to run when the ‘read option’ was called. Unlike a few of the other quarterbacks in the same offense, The Chancellor of Football doesn’t see a sophomore slump. The number one reason is he had to endure the baptism by fire at the beginning of last season. Where others like Luck and RGIII seem to hit a wall, Wilson kept improving and was within :31 seconds of the NFC Championship. Head Coach Pete Carroll has to get him in camp and get working on his second season and keep him from having his head in the clouds. At quarterback the Seahawks are Super Bowl quality.

Marshawn Lynch closed in on the goal line during the playoff loss to Atlanta.

Marshawn Lynch closed in on the goal line during the playoff loss to Atlanta.

Backfield: Is there a tougher running back in the NFL than Marshawn Lynch?? Along with Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, no running back clearly defines his team and inspires it through his play. He powered for a career best 1,590 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as he benefited from the Pistol and the read option in 2012. Last year Lynch was able to get a step on linebackers who were hesitant to attack the line of scrimmage trying to defend against Wilson pulling the ball out and running himself. He was able to be full speed at the point of attack in many of his runs. It’s no coincidence he had a career best 5.0 yards per carry average which was up from 4.2 just a season before. Both years he was a Pro Bowl player. Entering his 7th season, “Beast-mode” may have his career prolonged with this offense allowing less wear and tear on him. He’s only turning 27 this year so there is at least a three year run with him as the featured back barring injury. This team is Super Bowl quality as long as Lynch is running the football.

Receivers: This could be where the Seahawks address a need in this year’s draft. Sidney Rice (50 rec. 748 yards 7 TDs) needs a new running mate. Golden Tate (45 rec. 688 yards 7TDs) benefits more from Wilson’s mobility to get open than Rice does. With the right compliment, Rice could return to being a 1,200 yard receiver as teams try to jam the intermediate area (15 yards and under) playing the ‘read option’, it’s fakes and a bigger better receiver that can get open underneath. Because of his physical nature, Tate is better in the slot where he can block and doesn’t shy away from contact. Ask Cowboy linebacker Sean Lee after last year’s encounter.

When the team is lined up in more traditional sets, Wilson has Tight Ends Zach Miller (38 rec. 396 yards 3TDs) and Anthony McCoy (18 rec. 291 yards 3TDs) to keep the chains moving. Tactically they are good enough as a unit to win with but could use an upgrade at the ‘Z” receiver and that would free Rice to attack the deep safeties. If they don’t make a move here they will stay below average.

LT Russell Okung is one of the best tackles in the NFL.

LT Russell Okung is one of the best tackles in the NFL.

Offensive Line: This was one of the quiet strengths of the team last year and should be a staple in 2013. John Madden gave his award to the San Francisco 49ers offensive line but this group had a better season. Not only did they give up fewer sacks (33-41) but they paved the way to 2,579 yards (3rd best in the NFL) and 17 touchdowns. Center Max Unger and Left Tackle Russell Okung both made the Pro Bowl and are going into their 4th and 3rd years respectively.  In two games against the 49ers they only game up 1 sack against Aldon Smith in both games combined. Without any weaknesses, this group looks to be intact for the next three years and is Super Bowl quality.

Defensive Line: The end of the line for the Seahawks came when it was announced that sack leader Chris Clemons was going to miss the NFC Divisional round against Atlanta. They couldn’t mount a pass rush and Matt Ryan was never sacked in the game. This is where the Seahawks could go after another pass rusher whether they bring in a free agent or draft a few players. Clemons had 40 tackles to go along with 11 1/2 sacks and needs some help from LE Red Bryant never got to the quarterback all year. That has to change if they’re to get where they want to go. Designated pass rusher Bruce Irvin did amass 8 sacks but you have to be able to rush the passer on every down since it’s more of a passing league now.  Defensive Tackles Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch were stout against the run with 56 and 30 tackles respectively. They ranked 10th against the run and had 20 1/2 sacks but could use more quarterback pressures and are playoff caliber up front.

Bruce Irvin tallied 8 sacks in spot duty rushing the passer.

Bruce Irvin tallied 8 sacks in spot duty rushing the passer.

Linebacker: The speed of the Seahawks was most evident at linebacker. Bobby Wagner led the team with 139 tackles and also had two sacks and three interceptions. He had an even better season than divisional rival Patrick Willis at MLB. Whom he might replace in next year’s Pro Bowl with another season like he had. Outside linebacker K.J. Wright started 15 games and garnered 96 tackles and 1 sack. Thes two play a relatively fast game. Trained by Coach Ken Norton Jr, these two fly to the football smothering running backs and tight ends in the under and immediate areas. They don’t miss tackles and at 23 and 24 years old respectively, we should see even more improvement this year. Leroy Hill rounds out this unit and is the greybeard at 30. Will he maintain his starting role in 2013 is a question as this young team develops. This is a Super Bowl caliber group.

Earl Thomas patrols the deep middle for Seattle.

Earl Thomas patrols the deep middle for Seattle.

Secondary: Twitter feud and arguing with Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take withstanding, Richard Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Last year he made the Pro Bowl with 8 interceptions, 63 tackles, a quarterback sack, and 3 forced fumbles. That’s a tremendous year for a player going into his 3rd season. You play like that, you can talk like that. FS Earl Thomas joined him in Hawai’i after a 61 tackle, 3 interception performance. However a couple of dropped interceptions kept SS Kam Chancellor from joining them. He had 91 tackles and several thunderous shots as the enforcer of the best secondary in football. These three are 24, 25, and 25 years of age and play a fast physical game.

Brandon Browner is at the other corner and stands 6’4. He along with 6’3 Richard Sherman are the first issues that teams face. They can’t throw over them. They also manhandle smaller receivers when they jam them on the line of scrimmage. Don’t forget Head Coach Pete Carroll’s expertise is coaching in the secondary. Right now he has the best in football and is definitely Super Bowl quality.

Overall: If you thought you read the phrase Super Bowl a bunch while you were reading this, you weren’t mistaken. This team was undefeated at home in 2012 and then learned to win on the road as Russell Wilson matured. Their margin of victory at home got wider and wider as the season progressed. In their last two home games they beat the Cardinals 58-0 and the NFC Champion 49ers 42-13. They are aggressive, young and fast.

They were the first team to score 150 points in a 3 game stretch in the last 60 years in the NFL. Even in defeat down in Atlanta, Russell Wilson concluded his rookie of the year campaign with 445 combined yards and almost pulled off a great comeback. If you think this team isn’t on a Super Bowl course for 2013, you haven’t watched the NFL that long. They have no obvious weaknesses. The Chancellor of Football sees the NFC side of the ledger going to this group from the pacific northwest.

Ahhh…Yes The NFL Playoffs

This is the most wonderful time of they year!! Spare me that Christmas talk…lol We were taught old lessons and had some performances remind us that the league is ever evolving and new stars will emerge.

How many of us really had Matt Hasselbeck outperforming Drew Brees and leading the  Seahawks to an upset win?  I didn’t for sure.  I thought the negative talk of reseeding the playoffs or the legitimacy of their being there would galvanize them, but not pull off an upset.  Like many of the scrappy teams that refused to go quietly in playoffs past, the Seahawks were on a respirator when Marshawn Lynch took us on that electrifying run.  Qwest Field was quiet as a tomb when that play first developed.  The Seahawks momentum had crested, the Saints had just roared downfield for a touchdown to narrow the lead to 34-30.  Mike Williams and the Seahawk receivers had dropped passes to short circuit two previous drives and a hushed nervousness hit the Pacific Northwest.  Can you say tenuous grasp?  Enter Marshawn Lynch…

Simply put, Lynch’s jaunt was the greatest postseason run in NFL History. It had significance, determination, and came at the most critical point of the game. It mirrored the Garrison Hearst 96 yd overtime run to lift the 49ers over the Jets in the 1998 season opener with 7 broken tackles. Yet Marshawn’s was in the playoffs.  Now John Riggins run in Super Bowl XVII (as ESPN showed) did give the Redskins the lead in the 4th quarter, but Riggo only broke 1 tackle.  On top of that, go back and view the footage; Riggins broke the tackle of Don McNeal, who was a cornerback he outweighed by some 40 lbs.  Furthermore Don McNeal couldn’t grab him because he had a cast over a broken wrist.  That run may be the spark to propel the Seahawks on a spirited run through these playoffs.  Food for thought; Weren’t we laughing at another NFC West Champion a few years ago? We woke up with 3 minutes left to go in the Super Bowl and Arizona had just taken the lead.  Remember that??  Yet we’ll have to wait and see…

As for the Jets and the Colts?  We knew this is who the Jets had retooled to beat and they won.  Peyton Manning needs more options.  I had said all along that their pedestrian receiving corp would come back to haunt them and they did.  Eventually those receivers would see better corner back play and teams were clamping down on them starting in last year’s playoffs.  The Jets came back with one more corner in Antonio Cromartie.  Who would have thought that his biggest contribution would be from forced kick return duty.  Lets face it, had that been a kick return to the 20, Sanchez would have had to complete 4-5 passes when there was already less than a minute to play.  With the way he’d been off with his passes up to that point???  Ehhhh… luckily he only had to complete a few.

From Ladanian Tomlinson’s 2nd half rebirth, to the offensive line taking control of the game, and Sanchez finding his rhythm late. What did they win? Respect? Yes they did achieve that avenging their championship loss to the Colts.  Their reward?? An all expenses paid trip to the worst battle for first place ass whoopin’s of all time. The 45-3 loss to New England.  However these are the playoffs where strange things can happen.  For the Jets to win there they need to do two things.  Burn the video from when they played New England and watch the game where Green Bay nearly beat them. They each run the same 3-4 defense and the players will hear enough from the media about the last trip.  Good luck with that Rex…

Which brings us to day two…and I’m already out of breath. So that will be another entry later today…

Thanks for reading