Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Did the Seahawks Suck So Bad on Sunday?

The Seahawks sucked on Sunday—I mean, insert stats here if you want, but you all saw what I did. The question is, why?

1) The Seahawks sucked because they suck. Minnesota lost at home on Sunday too, and the most likely reason is because they actually are not a good team. The Seahawks, on the other hand, won the Super Bowl last year, and have already beaten two likely playoff teams. 
Possibility: 2%

2) The Seahawks sucked because Dallas is really good. At 5-1, Dallas is tied with Philly for the NFC's best record. But they haven't been dominating, struggling to beat both St. Louis and Houston. Last year, with largely the same personnel, the Cowboys missed the playoffs. They are probably a good team, they are probably not a 15-win team.
Possibility: 8%

3) The Seahawks sucked because injuries. The Seahawks came into the game without Pro Bowl center Max Unger, starting tight end Zach Miller, and #3 and #4 cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon. Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, and Percy Harvin all missed some practice during the week with injuries. During the game, Bobby Wagner got hurt (though he came back), then Byron Maxwell (who didn't). Marcus Burley, nominally the team's 5th-best CB, was forced into a starting role. Then, after the game, we learned that Russell Okung is playing with a torn labrum.
Possibility: 15%

4) The Seahawks sucked because they got outcoached. The Cowboys destroyed many of the packaged plays that have been so effective for the Seahawks all season. Screens, jet sweeps, rollout dumpoffs—all were disrupted by a defense that seemed to be expecting them. Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli has been coaching football since Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell was an infant.
Possibility: 20%

5) The Seahawks sucked because Russell Wilson had a terrible game. Hey, "why not us" works both ways. Sometimes you just don't have it. The Cowboys loaded the box against Wilson and dared him to beat them. The Broncos tried the same strategy in the Super Bowl and Wilson creamed them. Sunday, Wilson didn't get rid of the ball quickly enough, and was inaccurate when he did. Of his 42 career NFL starts (including playoffs) this was Wilson's 3rd-worst by passer rating.
Possibility: 25%

6) The Seahawks sucked because biorhythms. Remember Oregon kicking the Huskies' asses in the second half for the last decade? Part of the reason may have been Chip Kelly's dedication of maximum rest for maximum recovery. With the Eagles, Kelly has his players wear sleep monitors to make sure they are getting 10-12 hours of sleep per night. How does this relate to the Seahawks? Well, the Cowboys played an afternoon game at home last Sunday, after which they presumably went home and slept. While the Seahawks were playing Monday night in Maryland, the Cowboys were getting another good night of rest. Pete Carroll was not unaware of the discrepancy—instead of flying back from the Washington game, the Seahawks spent the night, presumably to get a decent night's rest, and flew back in the morning (leading to Jon Ryan's "controversial" tweet). To sum up—the Cowboys had two nights of recovery time in their own beds, the Seahawks didn't get back in their own beds until Tuesday night. If Chip Kelly is right, that's more of a disadvantage than you might otherwise think—and might be responsible for Wilson's bad play, Bevell's bad play-calling, Maxwell's dropped INT, and Doug Baldwin's grumpiness.
Possibility: 30%

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Seahawks vs. Dallas: Tuesday Thoughts

Two things I'm thinking about for Week 6:
I have what I feel are legitimate concerns about the Seahawks' propensity to allow long passes!
One of the most amazing stats about the Seahawks last year is that they allowed 4 passes of 40+ yards, and had 3 interception returns of 40+ yards or more. Think about it: Opposing quarterbacks were only slightly more successful at throwing 40-yard passes to their own receivers as they were to Seahawks defenders. This year, the Hawks have already allowed as many 40+ yard passes as they did last year—all in the last 5 quarters.

Tony Romo likes to sling it deep, and you'd imagine that he, Jason Garrett, and former UW assistant and current Cowboys OC Scott Linehan are barricaded in an office somewhere, figuring out how to set up a deep ball to Dez Bryant. That or having a classy evening with Jerry Jones and some independent models. One or the other.

#STORYLINE! Can Hawks stop DeMarco Murray's 100-yard-game streak? 
I suspect that one of the week's big storylines will be DeMarco Murray trying to tie Jim Brown's record of six 100-yard rushing games to start a season. It's not a bad one as storylines go and sure beats hell out of the "Tony Romo Returns to the Site of His Biggest F-Up" that is the Dallas @ Seattle default.

What are Murray's chances? Well...the Seahawks have allowed only 5 100-yard rushing games by a running back since 2010, and this year have been almost ridiculously stingy to RB1s:

OpponentRB1AttemptsYards
Green BayEddie Lacy1234
San DiegoRyan Matthews1131
DenverMonte Ball1138
WashingtonAlfred Morris1329

So all Murray has to do is run for three times as many yards as any back has against the Seahawks all year. Seems unlikely, but so does DeMarco Murray being within one game of tying a record of Jim Brown's, so who knows? One interesting note is that Murray has four fumbles this year, most of any NFL running back. The Seahawks are notorious ballhawks and will surely be emphasizing Murray's butterfingers in practice this week.

On an egregious and unnecessary personal note: I have Murray on my fantasy team; so it looks like I'll need C.J. Spiller to have a big game (FOR ONCE!) or I'll be losing my matchup against my girlfriend's 23-year-old cousin.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The *1979* Finals Game 4: Sonics Win "Ali-Frazier Fight"

The Seattle Supersonics are one win away from an NBA championship after winning a wild foulfest at Seattle Center Coliseum last night, 114-112 in overtime.

The Sonics led for much of the game, but never by more than 10 points (and that was at the end of the first quarter). And they were only able to pull away from the Bullets after Washington's three top players fouled out.

"This is like an Ali-Frazier fight," said John Johnson after the game. "There's a lot of contact going on out there. It's a knockdown, drag-out fight."

The teams were called for 59 fouls in Game 4, and four players fouled out. Foul trouble for Sonics forwards Paul Silas and Lonnie Shelton forced Jack Sikma to play 51 minutes.

"I'm tired," Sikma said after the game. "It's a battle all the way."

Gus Williams led the Sonics in scoring--just as he has in all four Finals games--scoring 36 points. Dennis Johnson had 32, and Jack Sikma had 20 to go along with 17 rebounds.

After 53 minutes of seesawing, the game came down to one final shot--and it was the shot the Sonics were expecting. Down two points with six seconds left in overtime, the Bullets inbounded the ball to guard Kevin Grevey, just as the Sonics thought. As they'd talked about in their huddle, Paul Silas flashed out to help.

Grevey, surrounded by three Sonics, forced up a desperation heave. Dennis Johnson partially blocked it, and the ball floated through the air, well short of the basket. While most of the Bullets turned toward the rim for the expected rebound, Sikma perceived the ball's true trajectory, and plucked it from the air.

"When I got the ball, I was just waiting for the buzzer to sound," said Sikma. "I thought it was forever."

The moods of the two coaches couldn't have been different.

"I'm still up there," said Lenny Wilkens. "I think it was one of the great spectator games. It was a super win."

Bullets coach Dick Motta refused interview requests after the game, though he did angrily denounce the officials for calling no fouls on the Sonics in the last 14 minutes of the game. (In fact, the count during that time was 9 against Washington, 2 against the Sonics.)

The series moves back to Washington for Game 5. The Sonics will have three chances to win one game. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in NBA Finals history...but the Bullets did it just last week, in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Spurs. Can they do it again?

"We're going to win it now," says John Johnson. "If we don't, we certainly don't deserve it."

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The *1979* Finals Game 4 Preview: What Defense Will Wilkens Deploy?

While America watches the Zombie Sonics in the Finals, I'm following the Sonics of 1979. Follow my "live-tweets" of every game--roughly simultaneous with the "real" game--on @SethKolloen.

Even though they lead this NBA Finals 2-1, at least one Sonic thinks Game 4 at Seattle Center Coliseum is do or die.

"This is a must-win game for us, or the series turns around," says veteran forward Paul Silas. "We can not afford to let them win this one."

For the Bullets to win, they must get better production out of their guards, who were outscored 64-19 by the Sonics in Game 3.

"That comes from us not forcing the game to them," says Bullets guard Larry Wright. "We walked the ball up the court and telegraphed every pass we threw."

Bullets coach Motta launched a tirade at his team during a closed practice on Monday. "A pro team ought to be able to shoot better than we're shooting," Motta told reporters. "I can't explain it. We're searching, I'll admit that."

For the Sonics, the recipe is more of the same--which could mean something different. In their Game 2 win, the Sonics pressed and trapped frequently. In Game 3, they hardly did at all. "You don't want to do the same thing all the time," says Lenny Wilkens. "We'll use the trap again when we're ready for it."

Game 4 is in the Coliseum because the Mariners have the Kingdome booked for a baseball game. Some Sonics prefer the smaller, louder Coliseum to the cavernous Dome. Of course, the Bullets won Game 7 in the Coliseum last year.

"Tonight's" game begins at 6pm with coverage on Twitter, @SethKolloen.

MORE PREVIEWS:
"Bullets try to change 'this thing' in Seattle," The Miami News
"Can the Bullets fight back again?," St. Petersburg Times

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