Community Milestone!

July 20, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

Well, I always knew you guys were amazing, but I finally looked at the numbers. In the three iterations of our comments, the thousands of Seahawk Addicts out there have commented a lot. A whole lot.

In fact, on Friday, you guys broke a milestone — 40,000 comments. WOW. That’s in 534 days of this blog existing. That’s in 2,554 posts. That, my friends, is the definition of ADDICTION. (For you stat nerds, that’s 75 comments per day, every day, or 15 comments per post.) I just wanted to thank you all for keeping this great community going, even in the dreariness of the offseason. I also want to thank Michael Steffes for creating this site and trusting my blogging hands with it when he retired for life, liberty and the pursuit of golfiness.

So, again, thank you guys for reading out there and for helping us to get better each month. I’ve been working very hard the last couple of weeks to bring some much needed changes to the site and I think we’re about a week away on that. I think you’re going to like it, the few sneak previews I’ve shared with the other writers have all found it to be a big upgrade.

You guys kick ass and help make this an incredibly fun thing to do. Without the community and the comments, I can promise that all of us would have given up on this pursuit a LONG time ago. We’re about two weeks away from life getting good again… I think we can, I think we can, I think we can…….

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Did Holmgren Mail It In Last Season?

July 19, 2009

by: William P. Tomisser

According to Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio, Holmgren mailed it in as the Seahawks skidded to a 4-12 season. Mike Sando comments on the allegations here.

Said Cowherd on Holmgren:

“A source told me late, like Week 13 or Week 14 in the NFL season, a source that does not want to be identified on this network, that Mike Holmgren had essentially mailed it in. Very little energy, looking forward to retirement.
Putting in 9-5 hours. Bill Belichick is going 5-9 p.m. There was very little
cohesiveness. He was on his way out before Jim Mora took the job over. And it was sort of a un-energized last year in Seattle. Not that he mailed it in by
your standards or my standards, but by NFL standards, 17 hours a day, Holmgren wasn’t there emotionally.”

Did any of you Addicts feel that Holmgren had lost the fire later in the year when it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be able to salvage the season? In your eyes, did Holmgren give up and just play out the rest of the season?

Another point that Sando brings up is that Holmgren was a teacher and much more interested in teaching new players his system than trying to tailor his system to the specific talents of his players. Sando suggests that as the reason it took Holmgren so long to get it going in Seattle. He needed to get players who could play his system on board and trained and it took him a number of years to do that. Says Sando:

Holmgren was much more concerned about teaching his system than adjusting his system for the upcoming opponents. I thought this hurt the Seahawks during Holmgren’s first few years with the team, before the talent level was sufficient to make that system work.”

It was pretty obvious to everyone that Holmgren was worn out by the end of last season. You could see it on his face and that haggard look just didn’t go away during the last few games. For a coach who had known great success wherever he went and in Seattle particularly, that must have been a huge weight to bear. It was supposed to be his swan song but it became his death march instead as far as coaching went. It would have been an almost superhuman effort to continue to push himself as hard as he could under those circumstances.

The question remains. Did Holmgren mail it in early last season when he saw that the season was lost? Sando concludes his piece with this thought:

“The last thing to remember is that the 4-12 season definitely wore on Holmgren. It wore on everyone. By the end, he didn’t have a whole lot left. It was probably the most draining year of his career from a football standpoint. I’m sure that affected his energy levels during the season. Throw in his lame-duck status and I’m sure he wasn’t as effective as he’d been in the past. I would not necessarily call that mailing it in.”

So I’d like to hear from you Addicts. Did Holmgren mail it in last season as Cowherd suggests? Or did he just wear out and have an all too human letdown?

Hasta,

BillT

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Wallace still wants to start

July 19, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

A “team report” on Fox Sports starts off with a little look at Seneca Wallace.

“You always have to have confidence that you can come in and be the starter on any team,” Wallace said. “I always feel that way. I’m adamant about it. And I’m going to keep working to improve each day, and hopefully something happens.”

They also discuss briefly Seneca’s possible roles elsewhere on the offense. Check it out.

END

The 3-3 Defense

July 19, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

Last week, Eric Williams put together an awesome summary of the 3-3 Defense, a look that Gus Bradley has suggested the Seahawks would be sliding into from time to time throughout 2009 (amongst other looks including, most likely, a 3-4 — so ha!).

Williams links this article, which is invaluable in understanding the concepts behind the 3-3. Basically, the 3-3 defense is a nickel defense (five defensive backs on the field). In the past, when the Hawks have dropped into the nickel, you would see one of the linebackers trot off the field and Josh Wilson or Jordan Babineaux take his place. Would you trade Aaron Curry or Leroy Hill for them? The 3-3 allows you to keep all three linebackers on the field and relies on the ambiguity of the formation to confuse the offense and get to the quarterback as often as possible. It also gives a defense the option of getting as few as three or as many as eight men in on the rush.

The 3-3 is not an every down formation, but it has some good applications (shown in this anatomy of the play, for example). Like other nickel packages, the 3-3 will come into play on passing downs — 3rd and 4th and long, potentially some 2nd and longs. If you check out that video link, you’ll see it also can be effective as a goal line defense.

What do you guys think of the 3-3? What other defensive packages would you like to see the Hawks slide into from time to time?

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How bad were injuries in 2008?

July 18, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

It’s no secret that Seahawks fans have been complaining about the severity of the injury bug that hit the team last year. It’s also no secret that everyone and their mother has been calling us a bunch of whiners. Well, how much did injuries really affect us?

I could do all sorts of research and statistical analysis, but relatively speaking, I’m an idiot. Let’s leave the heavy lifting to the always excellent Football Outsiders. One of the measures that the stat-heads over there cover and follow is “AGL” — adjusted games lost (due to injury). How did the Seahawks stack up in 2008?

We use Adjusted Games Lost to track how badly each team was hurt by injury in any given season, then break it down by offense and defense. We currently have this data going back to 1996, and no offense during that span can touch the 2008 Seahawks, whose starters had 66.3 AGL. No other team has more than 60 AGL from offensive starters; last year’s Bengals come close at 59.8. More than half the teams in that time span came in under 20. Seattle stands well ahead of the curve here

So, not only did it affect us obviously, our offensive injuries were the worst since at least 1996. It wasn’t just that we had a ton of injuries — which we did — but it was who we lost to injury. I believe Jacksonville and New England both had more injuries than us, but they didn’t lose their whole receiving corps, quarterback and offensive line in the same year.

What does this all mean? It means that we’re right — injuries played a HUGE role in us sucking last year. Now lets all agree to be satisfied with that and keep our mouths shut when talking to other fans — fine, the Hawks sucked last year, fine, New England played well even with injuries, fine, the Cardinals were the greatest team in the history of the world last year. Whatever. It’s 2009 now, and it’s time for THIS Seahawks squad to re-assert themselves. Let the haters hate, in other words. GO HAWKS!!!

[Data from the Pro Football Almanac 2009 — buy it here]
END

Is Mebane up to the task?

July 17, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, it’s no secret to you that Brandon Mebane is among my favorite players in the league. While he’s not the perfect DT yet, the strides he has made since being thrust into the starting role in his rookie season have been substantial. In 2008, Mebane played in the nose tackle role and was very effective at gobbling up two blockers while also leading the team in sacks. Mike Clark, Seahawks strength and condition coach, spoke with Brock and Salk yesterday (audio link, check in at about the mid-way point), and singled out Mebane as needing to be “kidnapped” to get him out of the workout room.

It seems that Mebane is slimming down a hair and getting much stronger in anticipation of his role at three-technique tackle. Mebane has been strong but his main strength is his quick first step. He’s very explosive and if he’s left one on one there are very few guards that are going to be able to stop him consistently. Much of his 2009 success will be tied up in the Colin Cole experiment — if Cole can consistently take on two blockers, he’s going to leave Mebane free to disrupt the backfield.

Sando, another Mebane believer, points out that “[t]he team has turned him into more of an up-the-field defensive tackle. That should give him an opportunity to get more sacks as the Seahawks implement more of the Tampa principles that helped free up Warren Sapp.” Now, it’s a bit early to be comparing Brandon Mebane to Warren Sapp, but it’s not such a far stretch. Mebane, unlike Sapp, was underutilized in college and was still a star on a Pac 10 team.

One of the keys of the 2009 season is going to be the play of the defensive line. In 2008, the line was nothing short of awful. We have sent Rocky Bernard off to pasture and added bulk in the front four with hybrid end/tackle Cory Redding and half-man, half-laundromat Colin Cole. The entire defense is going to hinge on the ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. With Kerney battling to stay healthy through a full season, and both Tapp and Jackson having some question marks, the ability to pressure the QB rests largely on the massive shoulders of Brandon Mebane. Is he up to the task? You know my answer, what do you guys think?

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Ten Reasons The Seahawks Will Win The West

July 17, 2009

by: William P. Tomisser

Ten reasons the Seahawks will win the West in 2009.

1) Hasselbeck and Walter Jones are cornerstones of our offense. Both played well below their capacity last year due to injuries and have been talked about from a number of sources as being washed up and ready to be replaced. Both have a lot to prove this season and both are being reported as well along on their rehabilitation. Both have expressed assurances that they will be ready to play this season. Both want to prove the critics wrong.

2) Mora was criticized in his first stint as head coach for becoming too close to his players and not maintaining discipline. After watching a future HOF coach in Holmgren coach for two seasons from a front row seat, Mora is primed to show he can build a tough football team who will as he puts it “suffocate the” opposition. Mora also has a lot to prove this season as he takes up the reins of the head coach for the second time in his career.

3) Tim Ruskell was said to be in a behind the scenes battle with Holmgren for recognition as the instigator of the teams success while winning 4 division titles in a row and getting to the Super Bowl in 2005. His draft choices have been called into question by some and certainly his handling of the Hutchinson contract negations and trading a number 1 draft choice for Branch have been heavily criticized. Now he’s out from under Holmgren’s shadow and has had the opportunity to hire his hand picked successor as the new head coach. It is now unquestionably Ruskell’s show from top to bottom and he’s got a lot to prove along with Mora.

To continue reading………

4) Last season, even though the offense had question marks, the defense was back completely intact from the previous season in which it had made good improvement from the previous season. The result was that the defense played horribly and along with all the offensive injuries, contributed to the worst season in over a decade for the Seahawks. It was an embarrassing season for the defense and even though some of the problem was most likely the scheme that Marshall devised, the defensive leaders particularly Tatupu didn’t play well. For this season, the defense was revamped from front to back. The defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backfield were all upgraded. The defense as a unit has egg on their collective face from last season and they have a lot to prove this season. Listening to interviews from the defense, they all have talked about turning it around this year.

5) Burleson and Branch were going to be our big one two punch at wide receiver last season. Instead, Burleson got hurt right away and Branch wasn’t able to get back on the field until late in the season and both were much maligned in the press and by fans for being unworthy of their contracts. This season, Seattle finally brought in a blue chip veteran receiver in Houshmandzadeh and they are still counting on Branch and Burleson to compliment him in forming a high impact receiving corps for Hasselbeck to throw to. Branch and Burleson both have a lot to prove in 2009. Both have talked in interviews about proving up this season and both expect to make an impact.

6) Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett have also been criticized for not being worthy of their contracts and they have been characterized as ordinary running backs nearing the end of their effectiveness due to age. Although they are both reputed to be “one cut” backs well suited to the zone blocking system that Seattle intends to employ this season, neither has shown to be an elite level back in a conventional blocking scheme. Both have been interviewed and both are saying that under the zone blocking system they will be much more effective. The coaches believe they can do the job. The claim is that a good one cut back who can make the correct cut isn’t as easy to find as one might think and that both backs have proved that they have the vision and instincts to be effective in that system. It’s been speculated that both were brought in with the anticipation of migrating to the zone blocking system but under Holmgren last season, the new blocking scheme was never implemented. Obviously, both have a lot to prove this season. Both say they will do just that.

7) Spencer, Sims, and Wahle all had problems last season ranging from injury to mental mistakes. All are under the gun this season. Spencer is being pushed by Unger to prove he can be Seattle’s long term answer at center. Sims was hurt last season and hasn’t played well since his rookie season. Coach Solari has said that both should prosper in the new zone blocking system. Wahle had trouble with keeping his head in the game and made several mental mistakes which cost Seattle penalties at critical points in games last season. He also has injury problems. Add to that the fact that Wrotto has been around for 3 years now and hasn’t had more than a handful of snaps in real game action and most of those came last season when the entire offensive line who started the season ended up on injured reserve. Vallos looked as if he might have a future at center but since Unger came aboard in this years draft, he’s back to battling for a job along with Williams who got some snaps last season when the starting offensive line went on IR. Our offensive line is one of the biggest question marks for this season. Solari has stated that he thinks we could have a good offensive line and that the depth we have is good. He’s said that a lot of these guys will revitalize their career under the zone blocking system and become good offensive linemen for Seattle. That makes the entire offensive line a group that has a lot to prove this season. From interviews I’ve listened to, they know it and have confidence they can do it.

8) Colin Cole and Cory Redding both came from programs where they were expected to produce at a higher level and where they had some disappointment in doing so. Cole was going to be Green Bay’s nose guard in moving to a 3 – 4 alignment on defense and was said to be Green Bay’s number one priority for resigning from their unrestricted free agent pool. Redding was given a contract that put him in the top echelon of defensive tackles but didn’t live up to that contract last season in Detroit. Obviously, Green Bay felt that Cole could be an unmovable object in the center of their defensive line and that’s the role he is being asked to play in Seattle. While he’s somewhat one dimensional, that one dimension is just what Seattle has been lacking since Tubbs was unable to play. Redding played for Detroit. I think that’s enough said at this point. Detroit thought he had the goods to play at a higher level. Redding was willing to work for Seattle on a one year contract at a reasonable cost and prove himself before seeking a long term deal. He wants to prove himself first. That certainly speaks of having confidence in his abilities and is a refreshing attitude. He will play both inside and out on the defensive line in the rotation and the Seattle coaches think he will be able to help out at both positions. Both new defensive linemen along with Mebane who is at a new position as an interior pass rusher have a lot to prove this coming season. All three are ready to prove themselves and can’t wait to put on the pads and show what they can do. The two new defensive linemen are ready to prove that they are better than their play at their former teams would indicate.

9) Coach Solari has a burning desire to prove that the zone blocking system can be effectively implemented in Seattle and that it can make the running game easier to plug new components into and get them up to speed quickly. He has repeatedly expressed confidence that the offensive linemen Seattle has under contract now can become effective under the ZBS and that it will turn around the Seahawk’s running game. From the dismal results of the running game in Seattle over the last three years since 2005 when we were at the top of the league, it will be no small feat to put a ground game together that once again strikes fear into opponents hearts and that all starts with the offensive line. Solari has a lot to prove with his new scheme and how well it lends itself to bringing in new personnel and integrating them into the ground game. Solari says it’s going well and that Seattle will be able to run the ball effectively in 2009. Music to all our ears.

10) The injuries Seattle suffered in 2008 are already legendary. There has been speculation that some of the problem was that coach Holmgren was too soft in off season programs and training camp not wanting to get players hurt so as a result, the players weren’t in the best shape they could be and the resulting injuries were in some cases related to the soft training methodology. There were significant injuries in 2006 and 2007 also and the big difference in 2008 was only in the numbers of players injured. Mora has stressed conditioning and as a workout warrior himself, has influenced a lot of the players to get into the best shape of their lives as some have reported including Hasselbeck. His run up the mountain and recent climbing of Mt. Rainier have showed his commitment to being in great shape and he is preaching that the Seahawks will still be putting on the pressure in the fourth quarter where some games are won or lost based on conditioning. It won’t be Seattle that can’t put out maximum effort throughout the game. The new paradigm in conditioning for the Seahawks is one more thing that has to be proved for it to be believed.

Altogether, this team has a lot to prove from one end to the other. Most of it’s key players have a lot to prove this season and a lot of the Seahawk players have a chip on their shoulder this season from being heavily criticized for their play last season or being counted on to produce and having injury take away the opportunity to prove up. You could say this team from the GM on down to the 53rd player on the roster has a chip on it’s organizational shoulders to prove to the community as well as to themselves that last season was an aberration cause by a host of factors from having an unsettled situation for the coaching staff to the multitude of injuries unprecedented in even a coach of Holmgren’s experience. That chip on every shoulder and the need of every critical piece in the machinery of the team to prove themselves this season is going to make for a hungry team who will play more like a team who hasn’t been to the playoffs in a decade than a team who is recovering from one down year. I expect the Seahawks to become a band of demons this year on the field and fueled by the coaches and upper management’s enthusiasm, will play above their heads and take back the West from the Arizona Cardinals. If they can keep that need to prove up and erase the bad taste of the 2008 season at a high level throughout the season, I can see them making a good showing in post season play or even going all the way again. To do so, they will need to keep injury free and as I said maintain the chip on the shoulder attitude. I see a team who is banding together and getting ready to show the rest of the league that some respect is due. Some of you may see something different. Agree or disagree. The floor is yours Addicts.

Hasta,

BillT

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Speculation on T. Jones for D. Branch

July 16, 2009

by: Mike Parker

By now, the Seahawks’ unproven backfield is no secret.

Julius Jones got off to an impressive start last year, but saw both a sharp drop in production and an increase in benchwarming as the year progressed. Holmgren stuck to a very one-dimensional approach with Mo Morris being the primary back, with TJ Duckett being brought out only to shoulder his way into short-yardage gains. Justin Forsett was sadly all but forgotten after being re-acquired from the Colts.

Evan Silva over at Rotoworld posted an NFC West minicamp review today, and, as predicted, makes some gloomy predictions about the Seahawks’ 2009 season. Among them? The inefficiency of the passing game, due to Greg Knapp’s infamous run-first approach (something he’s already said he’s not sold on doing again), which Silva says will particularly affect TJ Houshmandzadeh’s numbers. He projects 88/940/5 for Housh at season’s end, which I think is ridiculously low for a player like Housh, and also for what Ruskell is paying him. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think five touchdowns a year for $40 million really pays out. I’d say the team wants to realistically see something like 90/1,100/10.

But even though Silva underestimates Housh, he points out that Deion Branch could be in trouble. Remember those trade rumors we heard about Branch for Thomas Jones? Well…

Deion Branch still has his roster spot, even though he lost his position to Houshmandzadeh and didn’t practice all spring while recovering from knee surgery. If GM Tim Ruskell gets serious about Thomas Jones, a straight-up swap sending Branch to the Jets makes too much sense…

I can’t see this happening. Branch may have been a disappointment for the exchange of a first-round pick, but when he’s actually healthy, he shows up. He didn’t break 100 yards last season, much to everyone’s chagrin, but he did put up decent numbers against his former team, the Patriots — four catches, 88 yards and 2 TDs. Plus, he had another two-touchdown game at Arizona in the final game of the season. What I’m still hesitant to believe is if he can continue this streak.

Even still, would Ruskell really risk subtracting from what could be an elite receiving unit to add a running back who would have an uncertain role? Would adding Thomas Jones mean letting him fight it out in camp with his brother and TJ Duckett? Or does the team simply have too much invested in Branch to trade him away, even after a spell of injuries?

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Seahawk Addicts on Facebook

July 16, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

Hey there guys and gals, after a few months of saying I was going to do it, I’ve done it! If you’re on Facebook, you should add Seahawk Addicts as a friend. There isn’t a whole lot to it at the time being, but in the coming weeks it is likely to become a good place to keep in touch with us. I’m working on integrating it and Twitter (zomg, follow us there too or else) with the blog more, and when you add to that a couple of forthcoming site changes/additions, I think the community is going to be enabled to grow a bit while operating more effectively.

Feel free to leave some comments on our wall, let us know what you’d like us to be writing about, shoot any articles you find our way, or just say ‘whats up.’ Looking forward to putting some faces to the names, guys and gals!

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Duckett wants to run

July 16, 2009

by: Chris Sullivan

TJ Duckett was on Mitch in the Morning yesterday and spoke about his desire to increase his role on the Seahawks’ offense in 2009. Duckett said that he did not want to “settle with being a short yardage back,” which he has been pigeonholed into because of his size. He seemed happy about his role in 2008, though would have liked to get the ball a bit more; still, “there’s only one football to go around.”

Duckett did discuss the zone blocking system at a bit of length, and said that the ZBS fits his style well. He is predominantly a one-cut back who can run hard downhill. He thinks he’ll get a chance to run a fair amount more at different points in the game and not strictly third downs and fourth-and-short.

I wonder if Duckett looks at a guy like Brandon Jacobs and feels that he can be that guy. I don’t know that he can, but I do believe he will see an increased role in Knapp’s offense. Duckett is good at pounding the ball, but he does have a little bit of speed too. Key term there: little bit. Jacobs is a special (and injury prone) back. It’s not likely that Duckett is going to put up career numbers this year barring an injury above him in the depth chart.

END


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