NFL

Three things the Seahawks are doing wrong

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Three things the Seahawks are doing wrong

Written by Julian Rogers 

Bad news, Bears. The Seattle Seahawks have screwed up the first two weeks of the 2015 NFL season. They know it. And now they’re going to fix it. Just in time for your visit.

Forgotten toy

Somehow, tight end Jimmy Graham got shipped off to the island of misfit toysRussell Wilson’s new difference-maker was supposed to be just that as the Seahawks endeavored to raise their passing efficiency to new heights. They certainly gave up a lot to import the guy they expected to come in and lead the receiving corps.

So why aren’t they using him? If there were one player apart from Marshawn Lynch the Seahawks should be force-feeding, it’s Graham. To date, Graham has received a mere 10 targets, with only seven catches and one touchdown. Most of those came in week one against the St. Louis Rams. He was held to one catch for 11 yards in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Making matters worse, Graham is being aligned as the tight end more than he is accustomed. It is no secret that blocking is a weakness in his game. Yet in critical third-down situations, Wilson’s new toy is tasked with blocking or at least chipping edge rushers, which means he’s either not an option at all in the passing game, or at the most, a second or third option.

This isn’t the Graham express. The lack of targets not only hurts the passing game, it also isn’t helping the running game. He may be a willing blocker, but he is not a good one. Regardless, his presence was supposed to create matchup problems for defenses that would loosen up coverage for the other Seahawks receivers and running lanes for Lynch. Frankly, there is no excuse for this circumstance to not exist. It’s why Max Unger was traded.

Least Mode

The early season stats for Lynch are alarmingly low. One of the reasons is obvious: an offensive line in transition. Another possible reason is more ominous.

First, the offensive line is a shadow of what it was just one year ago. Running lanes are as common as diamonds, only more difficult to unearth. The final play of the Seahawks / Rams game, which saw Lynch’s feet immobilized in quicksand as tackle Garry Gilliam and guardJ.R. Sweezy issued invitations to Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald to join them in the backfield may be the early season’s turning point. Least Mode lost a yard on fourth down. The game was similarly lost.

Is it all on offensive line problems and play design? Perhaps not. The ominous question: Has 29-year-old Lynch hit the inevitable wall? One day, the wall will be struck by No. 24. Are we seeing it now? True, Lynch has managed to put together a few Beast Mode runs two games in, but it bears watching.

The numbers tell a new and harsh story: 114 rushing yards in two games; 3.5 yards per carry. This scant production is easily the worst average of his career and well below his career average of 4.3. He may very well produce a breakout game against the Chicago Bears. If Lynch does not erupt against the leaky Bears defense (32nd ranked in terms of points allowed), then the Beast Mode era may be at its end.

Going Kam-less for summer

The first day of fall brought the return of Kam Chancellor to the Seahawks fold. Finally, a win for the blue birds.

Speaking of wins, each of these three problems currently plaguing the Seahawks were fatal to their chances at getting a win in both of their games. Pick any one, return it to its previous state, and we may very well be talking about an undefeated Seahawks team at this point. The chief difference among these three issues is that one has just now been fixed — Kam is back. The other two remain major impediments to the Seahawks’ plans to return to the Super Bowl.

Is it unfair to place this much emphasis on the return of Chancellor? I don’t think so. Chancellor’s absence may very well have cost the Seahawks two early season victories. But the defense’s newfound generosity (30.5 points allowed per game) cannot be pinned entirely on the Kam hole.

Even without Chancellor, defensive coordinator Kris Richard should be hard at work cooking up some new tricks for Sunday. Richard’s week three adjustments will likely begin with a helping of home cooking and end with playing a not-very-good team. He gets a dose of both this Sunday. He may also want to convince his defense that it’s December already, when they tend to play their best.

The home factor is the best news for the winless blue birds. Seattle is a different animal at home, to the tune of about three points per game. All of their home games are still ahead of them, including two winless teams in succession. This is get-well time for the Seahawks.

Here is how home field favors the Seahawks in terms of scoring and points allowed. It favors the Seahawks’ offense by exactly three points per game and a little less than that for the defense. In 2014, the Seahawks allowed an average of 14.12 points per game at home and allowed 16.25 points per game on the road. This differential, which is less than a field goal, helps but doesn’t tilt the field that much. But the winless will take any edge they can glean.

What the Seahawks really excel at is late-season defense. In their last six games of 2014, evenly split among three home and away games, they allowed an average of 6.5 points per game. You cannot lose allowing less than a touchdown. The 2015 Seahawks (or pretty much anyone) cannot win allowing 30.5 points per game.

The Seahawks will be on a “get well” trajectory if they can right these three wrongs. Therace to a playoff spot is far from over. They already got Kam back. Will the 12s get what they expect when the Seahawks kick off against the Bears at 1:25 p.m. Pacific at CenturyLink?

NFL's new CBA proposal is an obvious money grab for both sides

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NFL's new CBA proposal is an obvious money grab for both sides

NFL owners and the NFL Players’ Association will continue to negotiate on Thursday and Friday, but it appears that the two sides are getting closer to striking a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In fact, the owners have agreed on the new proposal and will now wait for the NFLPA's response.

As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday, there are two notable changes potentially coming to the format of the NFL season. The first is a 17-game regular season while reducing the preseason to three games, an idea that has been discussed for years now. According to Schefter, that part hasn’t been agreed to yet, and it wouldn’t go into effect until 2021 at the earliest. 

That’s likely due to the ambiguity for where that 17th game would be played. In order to avoid giving half of the league an extra home game, the sensible solution would be to have each team play one neutral site game – whether it be abroad or in the U.S. Such option would take time to orchestrate and plan, making it an impossibility to implement prior to the start of the 2020 season. If this eventually gets adopted, players would receive a 48.5% revenue share (up from their current 47% share). That 1.5% would be worth roughly $5 billion, according to Schefter. 

What has been agreed upon, Schefter says, is a new postseason format that will add an extra playoff team in each conference. This is expected to go into effect immediately as long as the new CBA is ratified before the start of the season. Assuming this is the case and the deal gets done, only the No. 1 seed would get a bye in each conference. That would add two extra games in the Wild Card Round (six instead of four). 

Applying this format to last year’s playoff picture, the Rams and Steelers would have made the postseason as seven seeds and the Packers and Chiefs would have been stripped of their bye weeks. 

In my opinion, both options are an obvious money grab for both sides, but the 17-game schedule is easier to stomach. The current four-game preseason is unnecessary, and I love the idea of each team playing one neutral site game.  

The addition of a playoff team seems like fixing a system that isn’t broken. I’d actually say that the NFL currently has my favorite postseason format of any professional sports league. There are 16 playoff teams in the NBA and NHL, 53% and 52% of the league, respectively. That’s silly. Teams with sub-.500 records shouldn’t be in playoff contention. The NFL is currently at 37.5% of the league making the playoffs, and that number will jump to 44% under the new format. 

The selling point is that more NFL markets will have postseason hopes alive throughout the entire season. That, in addition to the money, is surely why the NHL and NBA haven’t adjusted their formats.  

But is there a point where enough is enough? The NFL is already generating north of $15 billion and seems hellbent on capitalizing on America’s unending appetite for football. Even those who bemoan the new playoff format, like me, will still watch every down. And I suppose that’s the point. 

There’s not much else to do but shrug your shoulders and embrace the looming changes of the new CBA. 

Troy Polamalu on joining the Hall of Fame Class of 2020: 'I just felt unworthy'

Troy Polamalu on joining the Hall of Fame Class of 2020: 'I just felt unworthy'

In his 12-year NFL career, Troy Polamalu has seemingly accomplished it all.

He’s the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, a six-time All-Pro, eight time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, Polamalu has added Hall of Famer to his lengthy list of accolades. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, his first year eligibility.

But before Polamalu was living his dream as a professional football player, he was a teammate, classmate and close friend of The Bridge host Justin Myers. 

On this week’s episode, Polamalu and Myers discuss a variety of subjects, including his relationship with then Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and now Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, what it was like to go to three Super Bowls with the Steelers and win two, and why he felt unworthy when selected to the HoF.

 

Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

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Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota may no longer be the starter in Tennessee, but he is still making an impact for the Titans. 

Mariota, the former No. 2 overall pick, has failed to live up to lofty expectations in Tennessee. Midway this season, he found himself relegated to the bench as the team gave Ryan Tannehill the keys to the car. 

The story from here didn't play out as many fans expected. 

There were no hard feelings. Rather then be all "woe is me," Mariota supported the move and supported Tannehill. 

In fact, as the Titan's season came to an end in the AFC Championship Game, Showtime camera caught an exchange between the two quarterbacks that truly shows the type of person Mariota is. 

That's right, a visibly frustrated Tannehill was stopped and consoled by Mariota, with Mariota telling him “I am excited for you... it’s the start of something great, brother. I am so excited for you.”

Tannehill replaced Mariota, led the Titans on an improbable playoff run, and is now in Orlando prepping for the Pro Bowl. 

In an interview with the media, he had nothing but high praise for Mariota. 

Marcus is an incredible human being, and I have so much respect and love for him. The way he handled things... it was an incredibly tough situation. He was in Tennessee for five years, and it was his team and where he made his home. The way things went down, I don't think many guys in the world would handle it the way he did. He handled it like a true professional. He was supportive of me from Day One. I know he was hurting, and I tried to be empathetic with that throughout the season and give support to him as well. But he handled it so well.. he was supportive of me, helped me out on game days, in preparation during the week. He was just a consistent guy throughout the year.

That wasn't all. He added, "We are great friends and we will continue to be great friends."

It's moments like this that the world gets to find out what fans in the Northwest already knew -- Marcus Mariota is truly special. 

Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

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Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

The Titans season ended and so, too, has Marcus Mariota's time in Tennessee. 

After the Titans 35-24 loss to the Chiefs, the Heisman Trophy winner was confronted with the reality that he'll be an unrestricted free agent heading into next season.  

Benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill midway through the season, Mariota remained a consummate professional. He accepted head coach Mike Vrabel's decision, even if he might not have agreed with it.

And rather than try to force his way out or become a disruptive teammate, Mariota took the high road. He stuck with it.

Now, it's time to move on.

[RELATED: Teams that could most likely land quarterback Marcus Mariota]

Here was the scene in the locker room postgame.

Always classy, indeed. 

Reflecting on this past season, Mariota said, "It’s been a true pleasure. The organization took a chance on me and I felt like I gave them everything I’ve got. We’re not sure what’s gonna happen but I know when it’s all said and done that I gave this organization everything I could."

Mariota threw for over 13,000 passing yards with 76 passing touchdowns. Add another 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. 

In the process, here are some of the franchise records he holds:

  • Most passing touchdowns in a season by a rookie: 19
  • Most completions in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 230
  • Most passing yards in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 2,818
  • Most passing attempts in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 370
  • Most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback: 112
  • Longest run by a quarterback: 87 yards
  • Youngest quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 300 yards in a game since moving to Tennessee: (21 years, 332 days) September 27, 2015
  • First quarterback to catch a touchdown reception
  • First player to throw a touchdown pass to himself
  • First rookie to start at quarterback in Week 1
  • Highest single game completion percentage (95.7)

Despite all of that, the Titans moved away from Mariota. The Titans made the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship Game and became an integral part in the team's preparation for Lamar Jackson. 

Until the end, Mariota showed how a professional is supposed to act. 

It's been a gift, it's been a true pleasure," Mariota said. "The organization took a chance on me... Obviously, we're not sure what's going to happen, but when it's all said and done, I gave this organization everything I got. "

So, what has Mariota learned throughout his career and this most recent experience of getting benched?

"Faith," he said. "Having faith in things you can’t really see. No matter what happens, I know I gave it everything I got and we’ll see what happens next."

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

In breaking XFL news, the second go-around of the league started by WWE chairman Vince McMahon could be adding a former NFL star to the mix. 

Former Cincinnati Bengal star and Oregon State wide receiver Chad Johnson is getting a tryout with the XFL. But not as a pass-catcher, but as a placekicker. 

According to Johnson's Twitter account, he has a tryout next Monday in Houston. 

Johnson has big goals. As he stated, the hope would be to turn a successful XFL season into a chance to be a kicker in the NFL. 

Although it was in the preseason, Johnson does have a made extra point field goal on his resume. 

Johnson last played in the NFL in 2012 as a member of the New England Patriots. He spent one season in New England, after spending the previous ten in Cincinnati. For his career, Johnson caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. 

Here's to hoping the 42-year-old gets to add to that already impressive career. 

In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

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In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

The Tennessee Titans are heading to the AFC Championship after knocking off the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 Saturday night. 

Their road to this point has been an improbable one. They benched starting quarterback Marcus Mariota after the team started the season 2-4. 

Any sort of benefit of the doubt or long leash he might have gotten finally withered away.

Enter Ryan Tannehill. 

The Titans under Tannehill went 7-3 to end the season and earned a Wild Card berth. 

They shocked the world by beating the New England Patriots on the road. 

And they did it again by beating the No. 1 team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Many people would like to attribute the Titans success to the benching of Marcus Mariota. 

While people pour on Mariota, he remains a hard worker and a good teammate. 

And while some people say Tannehill was the answer, it's not like he lit up the stat sheet in the Titans two playoff games. 

Tannehill has 72 yards and 88 yards passing, respectively.  

Derrick Henry's performance will be lauded as one of the greatest performances of the postseason, rushing for 195 yards in the Titans win. 

But Mariota played a unique role for the Titans this week. He simulated QB Lamar Jackson as the Titans prepared for the Ravens. 

There's not many teams that have a 26-year-old backup quarterback with the pedigree that Mariota holds. A mobile QB, Heisman Trophy level talent, starting experience. 

Could he have been the difference maker, the X-factor for Tennessee?

Lamar Jackson got his, throwing for 365 yards and rushing for 143 yards. But he was picked twice and was held without a rushing touchdown. 

The Titans moved away from Mariota. They had every right to do that. But he remains an integral piece in for the franchise. Whether he'll be on the Titans next season remains to be seen, but piling on seems like low hanging fruit. 

Congratulations to the Tennessee Titans!

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

The Seattle Seahawks (10-2) travel to play the Los Angeles Rams (7-5) for Sunday Night Football in Week 14. With the crucial NFC West game being played in the City of Angels, quite a few celebrities should be in the house. 

Ahead of the contest, two high-profile Seahawks fans shared their text messages in anticipation of their favorite team coming to town.


The actors are most well known for their starring roles in some of the more iconic comedy television series of the millennium; Rainn Wilson played Dwight in The Office and Joel Mchale played Jeff Winger in Community.  

They both grew up in the state of Washington as Seahawks fans and later attended the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Last season, Wilson got to party with the Seahawks in their locker room following a 27-3 victory in the UK over the Oakland Raiders. During the celebration, many Seahawks players called Wilson by his characters’ name. Maybe he’ll get to repeat that tonight.

Mchale quoted the tweet and asked for Seahawks twitter to show off their hats for the night.


They delivered.


 

https://twitter.com/megankaestner/status/1203821975128424449

 

Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

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Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

The Seattle Seahawks pulled off the big victory on Monday, handing the San Francisco 49ers their first loss on the season in a 27-24 overtime thriller. Despite the loss, a couple of former Oregon Ducks on the 49ers side of the field were making players. DeForest Buckner scooped up a Seahawk fumble in the second half and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. His big played brought the 49ers within one score and allowed the team to tie it late. Unfortunately for Buckner, his team lost. However, his teammate and former Oregon Duck Arik Armstead was all smiles talking about the play postgame. 

Armstead called Buckner's scoop and score, "one of the dopest things I've seen a long time."

Take a listen in the video below from our friends over at NBC Sports Bay Area and as always, Go Ducks. 

Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

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Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

Pro Football Focus’ grades are about what you’d expect following the Seattle Seahawks 30-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. Just two players were given grades of at least 80.0.

Here’s a look at PFF’s best- and worst-graded Seahawks from Sunday’s game.

Best offensive grades

Chris Carson – 71.1

Carson gained just 66 yards on 21 carries, but PFF gave him a 70.2 grade in the passing game where he added three receptions for nine yards. This grade is somewhat curious in general as Pete Carroll said that Carson bounced his runs outside too much rather than taking the two or three yards that were blocked for him.

George Fant – 69.7

Fant improved tremendously in his second start at left tackle, earning a 79.2 pass block grade. He only allowed two pressures compared to the eight he allowed against the Browns in Week 6.

Russell Wilson – 69.0

Wilson completed 20-of-41 passes for 241 yards one touchdown and one costly interception that resulted in a pick-six. The fact that his grade was still above average indicates that PFF likely didn’t think Wilson left much on the field in terms of missing open receivers. That said, on his pick-six, he had DK Metcalf running wide open down the left sideline.

Worst offensive grades

Jamarco Jones – 47.2

Jones 3 pressures and was given just a 34.7 pass block grade. With D.J. Fluker set to return, it will be interesting to see what happens with Jones. He may move to left tackle in order to get Fant back in his normal role. Pete Carroll sounded desperate to have Fant back as the team’s extra offensive lineman/tight end.

Luke Willson – 49.8

Willson didn’t catch his only target and was given a 50.2 pass blocking grade.

David Moore – 53.2

Moore had just one catch for 14 yards on three targets.

Best defensive grades

Jadeveon Clowney – 82.7

Clowney had four hurries, two stops and one tackle for loss. He continues to play better than his one sack would indicate, but he’s had little help on Seattle’s defensive line.

Tre Flowers – 80.4

After getting his first career interception the week prior, Flowers had another impressive showing against the Ravens. His big hit against Mark Andrews highlighted his day. Flowers only allowed two receptions for 14 yards according to PFF. He also had five tackles and two stops.

Al Woods – 76.9

Woods was given a 74.7 grade in run defense.

Worst defensive grades

Rasheem Green – 37.7

Seattle’s 2018 third-round pick has been largely a non-factor in his second season. He’s got 28 total tackles and two sacks as he, like most of the defensive line, struggles with consistency.

Branden Jackson – 46.5

Jackson accounted for Seattle’s first sack in three games, but it was due in large part to Lamar Jackson slipping on the wet turf at CenturyLink Field.

K.J. Wright – 49.2

Wright was given a coverage grade of just 47.5. Per PFF, Wright allowed three receptions on six targets for 59 yards, including 24 yards after the catch.