Tag Archives: Seattle Seahawks

New England Patriots: Looking Forward

One of the great things about being a fan of the New England Patriots is, when one season ends you always know that next season will be exciting, with  another legitimate chance for the Lombardi Trophy. It’s really a thrill to look forward to what will happen next and have confidence that it all will work out fine.

Just think about it. How many fans of other teams in the NFL can legitimately make that statement? The answer is – zero!

  • The current Super Bowl Champion Bronco’s? Who is the QB again?
  • The runner-up Carolina Panthers? Hell, their fans are thrilled to just make the play-offs. Although they are the favorites going into the year (the Patriots are #2), they have to show they can perform year in and year out.
  • The Green Bay Packers? Close, but no cigar. Last year the were vulnerable all season and are rapidly deteriorating.
  • How about the Pittsburgh Steelers? The fans and former players are still griping about how they were
    Steeler fans are stunned by NE distruction of the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game - photo sixteensundayscom
    Steeler fans leave the game stunned after Patriots 41-27 blow-out win in 2014 AFC Championship Game (Photo: sixteensundays.com)

    cheated out of a Super Bowl by….the Patriots…in the AFC Championship Game (No, not the Super Bowl)! That was 12 years ago, the Steelers lost 41-27 at home, and they are still crying about it. No looking forward there!

  • Seattle? With Pete Carroll making the final call 2 years ago the fans of the Seahawks were deflated (sorry, had to get that in). Carroll vs Belichick = a no brainer!

There are plenty of other teams that could be part of the conversation, Arizona, KC to name just a couple, but year-after-year, they haven’t proven good enough to carry the banner.

Another Year With The Two B’s

As we look ahead to the 2016 season we are, once again,

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebr
Tom Brady celebrates with Bill Belichick (Photo:  JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

concerned that the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination may not be available to start the season thanks to the continued obsession of the NFL and Commissioner Roger “Integrity of the game” Goodell, to punish Brady for a “crime” they haven’t proven ever occurred. I refuse to get into that again other than to say “so what.”

Belichick will be there to start things and Brady will, at some point early in the season, return. With a growing, young defense the team should be just fine and maybe Tom will be better off starting the season a little later (I know that’s heresy), so by the play-offs he won’t be so banged up.

Facts:

  • The offensive line will be better. Hell, it couldn’t be any worse. With the return of Dante Scarnecchia you know they’ll be better prepared. Rookies Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason will be in their second year and know their roll and the speed of the NFL better. Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder should be healthy. The addition of former 1st round pick Jonathan Cooper adds depth they lacked in 2015 when injuries destroyed any chance for consistency.
  • The two TE offense is back! Martellus Bennett is not Scott Chandler in any way, so please stop the comparisons. Provided he doesn’t tick off Belichick with his mouth, Bennett and Rob Gronkowski will ease the pressure on Brady (or Jimmy Garoppolo) and the red-zone offense with those two, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola (maybe), Nate Washington and Chris Hogan will be almost unstoppable.
  • Donta’ Hightower and Jamie Collins (both 26) are just coming into their prime years and are the key cogs in a defense that should be strong despite the loss of Chandler Jones.

2016 Schedule

HOME: BUF, MIA., NYJ, BAL, CIN, LA, SEA, HOU
AWAY: BUF, MIA., NYJ, CLE, PIT, ARI, SF, DEN

Although game dates have not yet been released, there is no reason to believe the Pats won’t have another run at the ring in 2016.. Along with in-conference games against teams that did not make the play-offs last year (J-E-T-S, Dolphins & Bills) they  play the clueless Browns, befuddled 49ers, sliding Ravens and homeless (???) Rams. That leaves Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Super Bowl Champion, but QB challenged, Denver as threats to a chance for ring #5 for Tom Brady, the oldest active non-kicker in the NFL.

So, no matter what, the best Head Coach/QB combo in the NFL and the New England Patriots are once again positioning the team for a run at the Lombardi Trophy and fans are having fun analyzing every move they make.

Follow me on twitter @SnowdonBob

 

 

 

 

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New England Patriots: Is The “New” AFC East To Be Feared?

For the last few seasons in the NFL the AFC East has been the New England Patriots and a bunch of other guys.  Right now they are the only NFL conference without a loss. Yup, 4-0 while beating some formidable foes to get things started.  Many were predicting the Steelers were back, but the Patriots took care of that notion. The Colts had Luck on their side, but that was all as the rejuvenated Bills put them in their place.

The Dolphins didn’t exactly impress in their 17-10 win over the clueless Washington Redskins and the Jets…well, they destroying the Browns, who haven’t won an opener in about 320 years!  Both still have a lot to prove to the skeptics.

Last year the Jets (Raiders), Bills (Bears) & Fins won their openers while the Pats lost (to Miami). One of the few times the Patriots have been on the bottom of the pack!

After game one in 2014
After game one in 2014

While the NFC South has been an embarrassment, the teams in the AFC East have slid under the radar.  2015 could be different! While the beasts in the east are nowhere near the NFC West (Seattle, St.Louis, Arizona & SF), Miami, NY & Buffalo have all taken a step up, while the Patriots remain the favorite.

Strength Of Schedule

Here’s where I throw out a bunch of mean nothing statistics. You can browse over this paragraph in the reading room when you have nothing else to do (well, you’ve got something to do, but you know what I mean). It can certainly be misleading, but, based on strength of schedule, courtesy of CBSSports.com,  the Patriots (#22*), Buffalo (#19*), Jets (#18*) and Miami (#17*) all have relatively easy schedules. (* represents strength of schedule with #1 [Pittsburgh] hardest and #32 [Atlanta] easiest) Yes, they do play each other twice so, theoretically, with the division stronger it could mean more in-conference losses for each and that will be important if tie-breakers decide who’s in and who’s out at the end of the regular season.

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the match-ups.

This year’s common opponents:

The AFC East matches up with the relatively weak AFC South (Tennessee, Indy, Jacksonville & Houston) and, with Indianapolis’ poor/soft showing in their opening loss to the Bills, they all could run the table. The Colts looked incredibly soft in Buffalo, but you know they’ll play better with Andrew Luck at QB. Look for a lot of shootouts in their games as they still can’t stop anyone.

Eli Manning - I pooped my pants

It’s another story when the AFC East plays the NFC East, with possible powerhouses Dallas and Philly (yeah, I know, they didn’t look good on the road in their opening loss to the Falcons), the always tough Giants (Eli doesn’t make those same “dumb” decisions against the Pats)  and the helpless Redskins.

If all goes well, that schedule might give the AFC East teams as many as 6-8 wins. If they split games against each other their win total climbs to 9-11. Now, I know that’s a big leap after one game, but, hey it could happen and no one would be shocked…except Patriot and Colt fans.

Uncommon opponents

  • The Patriots beat the Steelers (whatever happened to the Steel Curtain? It’s turned to tin) and have the always tough Broncos in Denver coming up. Manning’s arm still looks dead, but playing the game at home is definitely to their advantage. The Bronco’s offense will be different under Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Peyton will have to adjust to the short, clock killing style Kubiak likes.
  • Miami faces Baltimore’s tough defense at home and the enigmatic Chargers on the road
  • The Jets have it easy beating Cleveland at home and the Raiders (who have no home advantage) on the road
  • Buffalo has the most difficult twosome, pairing off with Cincinnati at home and the powerful Chiefs in KC (my sleeper team this year).

Let’s face it, after one game no one knows what will shake out down the road. The only thing that seems certain is its great to have football back and lawsuits set aside for a while.

Please, don’t bet the family jewels (if you have any) on what I write, ’cause basically I’m just like you…A longtime fan who thinks he knows more than he does!

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

NFL Recap: 5 Things We Learned from Week 1

NFL football season is underway with week one’s slate of games finishing up on Monday Night Football, and the viewers got a good chunk of entertainment, surprises, and sloppiness. With it all, NFL fans everywhere learned more about teams, players and possible season outlooks.

1. The New England Patriots came out with a vengeance.

The New England Patriots are winning, no new news there. But we’re going to be seeing the Patriots use a mantra we have not heard since Spygate, “It’s us versus the world.” Off the heals of Deflategate and Tom Brady’s suspension, we saw the Patriots play with such ferocity and intensity in their season opener versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though the final score was 28-21, the game was very much dominated by the Patriots. Tom Brady went 25/32 for 288 yards and four touchdown passes. The narrative of the Patriots dominating their opponents could be commonly heard throughout the season, and the “us versus the world” mantra could very well give them even more motivation to make another Super Bowl run. Also, don’t mess with an angry Tom Brady.

2Marcus Mariota is the real deal

Marcus Mariota, the number two pick in the draft, impressed in his first career start. In fact, impressed was an understatement. Mariota was historic and near-perfect in his debut as the Tennessee Titans squandered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14. Mariota threw for 13/16 for 209 yards and four touchdown passes. What’s significant about the four touchdown passes is that they all came in the first half. The feat of a rookie throwing four touchdowns in his opener has not been done since Fran Tarkenton in 1965. With the impressive debut, it has essentially eliminated the talk of Mariota only being a system quarterback under Oregon’s fast-paced spread offense, and also eliminated the questions of Mariota possibly struggling to adjust to a pro-style offense.

3. Jameis Winston on the other hand, needs more improvement

Number one pick Jameis Winston, however, struggled and at times looked inept in his debut. His debut went south quickly when his first career past was intercepted and returned for a pick-six. Winston completed lest than 50% percent of his passes as he went 16/33 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. But with those two touchdowns, Winston threw two interceptions. However, it is too early to be hitting the panic button on Jameis yet. Winston is playing behind a shaky offensive line, and was also missing key receiver Mike Evans. However, that is not an excuse for having trouble in finding rhythm with throwing to them. As the season progresses, hopefully he should improve.

4. Maybe Johnny Manziel does have a chance.

After a disastrous rookie season, many began to write off Johnny Manziel as a bust. After checking into rehab, and a successful off-season of growth, a spark of hope was ignited when the Cleveland Browns opened up the season in New York against the Jets. After starter Josh McCown got lit up and sent out of the game with a concussion, Johnny football stepped in. Immediately, he made an impact by throwing a 54 yard bomb for a touchdown. However, the positives would shy away as the Jets force an interception and a couple of fumbles from Manziel during a 31-10 rout. Manziel finished 13/24 for 182 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Though they may not seem like big stats, it is a vast improvement over his rookie season. If he does start week two in place of a concussed Josh McCown, expect him to put up bigger numbers and seize the opportunity. Johnny Manziel has changed, and has improved.

5. It’s going to be a season of chaos

The Buffalo Bills beat the Indianapolis Colts. The St. Louis Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks. Those results should not have happened. But yet the underdog came out on top. And it is only a sign of things to come. This NFL season is going to be a season of twists, turns, and most importantly chaos. Teams that we thought were juggernauts, will stumble and fall and get upset. Peyton Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass, Marshawn Lynch couldn’t run one yard to convert a first down, the San Francisco 49ers won despite being cast off due to the tumultuous off-season. Everyone better buckle up, because of what happened in week one, this season is going to be the year of chaos.

The Super Bowl After Glow that Wasn’t

Every New England Patriots fan can still remember THAT catch from Super Bowl 49.

I’m not talking about Malcolm Butler, I am referring to Jermaine Kearse. The Kearse catch took an improbable comeback story and nearly squashed it in the flukiest way possible. Why address a travesty that almost was? That Kearse catch is a perfect metaphor for every Pats fan’s 2015 offseason.

Jermaine Kearse caught a ball from Russell Wilson long after the Patriots assumed the play dead. It bobbled in the air, bounced off some limbs and seemed to place the Patriots in the losers column. After coming so close to sewing Super Bowl 49 up, New England now had to deal with this new unlikely circumstance.

Since 2007, all Patriots fans have heard from just about any fan of any NFL team was that the Patriots cheated, and that they were fans of “the Cheatriots.” The most commonly asked question seemed to be “Why haven’t you won since Spygate?” which bellowed from everyone who was quick to point out how the Patriots couldn’t get it done without cheating. The 2014-15 New England Patriots finally had an offense and defense that looked like it could get the job done. Despite a lackluster two and two start, the Pats abused the Bengals in week five and never looked back. The Patriots played exceptional football and gave hope to many that finally, the Patriots we’re ready to get their fourth ring.

After winning the AFC Championship, the Patriots were ready to squash their doubters and regain the respect of the league, then came the “Kearse catch” known as Deflategate. Suddenly, New England, who had spent the entire season showing everyone that Brady still had “it” and that they were ready to move forward from the tarnish of Spygate, had a new enemy. This enemy robbed New England fans of the offseason glory they dreamed about since their team had been flummoxed long ago with camera themed controversy.

during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.
To compound the lunacy of Deflategate, free agency was about to land a huge left hook to Patriots nation. Patriots fans were treated to the loss of their entire cornerback squad. The once lauded Darrelle Revis returned to the New York Jets, leaving Bellichick and company to quickly jettison Brandon Browner and not too long after Kyle Arrington. The loss of Revis cannot be understated as he is an exceptional athlete and possibly the best defensive back in the NFL. Browner and Arrington were complimentary pieces that no longer seemed to fit.

Things did not get better for Pats fans. Soon the Wells report was released, and it was followed by the most outrageous penalty in NFL history. In one fell swoop, the Patriots lost their 2016 first round draft pick, their 2017 fourth round draft pick, $1,000,000 and 4 time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady, for the first four games of the season.

As the new NFL season finally approaches, Pats fans are left with the same gnawing, aching feeling of thievery they received after Kearse made that clumsy catch. Patriots nation was so very close to the end of Spygate and all the negativity that came with it, only to have Deflategate bobble its way into the collective consciousness of the other 31 teams and their fan bases. Respect is bigger than any Super Bowl or any championship, it’s something that every team wants and every fan needs. The big question is, will the 2015-2016 season bring to Patriot fans the “Malcolm Butler interception” that they all crave?

Seattle Seahawks: Wilson Finally Agrees to New Deal

Image from buzzpo.com
Image from buzzpo.com

The Seahawks finally secured their star quarterback today. Russell Wilson signed a 4-year extension worth around $87 million, including $60 million guaranteed. Wilson will now be one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL based on annual salary, and along with Cam Newton, has the third most guaranteed money amongst current quarterback contracts.

Wilson is entering his fourth year in the National Football League. In his three years, he’s taken the Seahawks to the Divisional playoffs, a Super Bowl Championship, and came within one play of winning another Super Bowl. Wilson has won a total of 36 games in his three seasons, all as a starter, which are the most by any quarterback in his first three years in the Super Bowl era.

This has been a busy offseason for the Seahawks as they attempt to keep their young core together. They’ve already locked up Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Doug Baldwin. While Wilson was certainly their primary focus, linebacker Bobby Wagner is entering the last year of his rookie deal as well, and Kam Chancellor is holding out of camp, as he’s unhappy with his current deal. Pass rusher Michael Bennett has also said he’d like a new contract, despite signing a 4-year $28 million at the end of the 2013 season.

There’s one position in this league that is more valuable than any other, and that’s quarterback. A lot of people are bothered by the amount Russell Wilson is going to make compared to other quarterbacks in the league. It doesn’t matter. The Seahawks have to pay him. People need to get over the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship. Wilson played terribly in the NFC Championship. Everybody has a bad game, and he was still able to rally in the second half to pull off the miracle. In the Super Bowl, Wilson wasn’t exceptional, but he played fine, yet people get hung up on the interception that won the game for the Patriots. It wasn’t a bad throw. Malcolm Butler made a great play. Not every interception is the quarterback’s fault. Russell Wilson threw a pass that was in a good spot, but Butler knew what play was coming and jumped the route.

While people focus on those two games, let’s look at the rest of Wilson’s career, which is what the quarterback got paid for. He’s had a completion percentage over 63% every year as a pro. He’s thrown for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns every year. After throwing 10 interceptions his rookie year, that number has gone down each year. Wilson is also a dynamic runner. He averaged over five yards a carry his first two seasons, and over seven yards a carry last season.

Will this contract make it more difficult for the Seahawks to resign those three key defensive players mentioned earlier? Of course. But Seattle should let Chancellor and Wagner pout. They can win games without a good linebacker, and with just one great safety instead of two. But they’re not going to win a lot of games with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback. A lot of fans and media members have labeled Wilson as an average quarterback who benefits from a great roster. He does have a great team around him. But anyone who acts like the Seahawks can put any clown at quarterback and win Super Bowls, think of this. The Buffalo Bills are very similar to the Seahawks. They have a tenacious defense, with Pro Bowlers all over the place. They have a solid running game, and better receivers than Seattle. But anyone who looks at the Bills as a Super Bowl contender with what they have at quarterback is delusional. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are a Super Bowl favorite every year. People don’t want to hear it, but Russell Wilson just got paid, and he absolutely deserves it.

Seattle Seahawks: Wilson’s Contract at a Stalemate?

Image from: nflbreakdown.com
Image from: nflbreakdown.com

With the ball on the one-yard line, less than a minute remaining on the clock, and a four-point deficit, Russell Wilson dropped back to throw a Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass. Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass and the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XLVIX. Russell Wilson was that one pass away from winning his second Super Bowl, in just his third year as a starter. Now, entering the final year of his rookie contract, both the Seahawks and Wilson want Russell to sign an extension. However, the two camps are on different sides on what the money should look like. It was reported recently that Wilson is looking to become the highest paid player in the NFL.

Russell Wilson was a part of a recent wave of young talent into the NFL at the quarterback position, a group that includes Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick. Tannehill, Dalton, Newton, and Kaepernick have recently signed lucrative extensions. Newton and Kaepernick’s contracts are each worth over $100 million (though Kaepernick’s is incentive laden), Dalton’s is worth $96 million, and Tannehill’s is worth $77 million. The four-year deal Wilson received as a rookie is worth under $3 million. Currently, Aaron Rodgers is the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, with an average yearly salary of $22 million. That’s the number Wilson and his agent are using to negotiate.

The Seahawks have gotten off easy with Wilson the past three years. They essentially had a free quarterback, able to funnel a lot more money into their defense and easily stay within the salary cap requirements. Pete Carroll’s NFL head coaching resume before Russell Wilson was: fired, fired, 7-9, 7-9. Then in his third year with Seattle, he names rookie Russell Wilson his starting quarterback. All of a sudden he wins a playoff game, wins the Super Bowl the next year and comes one play away from repeating last year. Is Russell Wilson the best player in the National Football League? No. Is he the best quarterback in the National Football League? No. But right now, that’s irrelevant.

In today’s NFL, finding an elite quarterback that can win a Super Bowl is becoming harder and harder. Wilson, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger have won 13 of the last 14 Super Bowls. It’s possible to win games with average quarterback play, but it is impossible to win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback in today’s NFL. It’s not that quarterbacks have gotten worse, they’ve actually gotten much better, but the responsibility of playing quarterback has gotten much more difficult. With the introduction of the no-huddle offense, quarterbacks not only have more responsibility at the line of scrimmage, they also have an extra 20-30 plays a game with the ball in their hands. The debate over Russell Wilson’s contract isn’t a debate over how he ranks in comparison to other quarterbacks in the league; it’s a debate over how valuable he is to the Seahawks. There’s a reason average quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill just got big contracts. Even at the level they’re at ability-wise, they’re extremely hard to replace. When all these things are considered, the Seahawks have no choice but to pay him.

This contract doesn’t have to get done immediately. Wilson is still under contract for the upcoming year, and he has no intention of holding out. Next year, if Wilson remains unsigned, the Seahawks will have the ability to franchise him, and Wilson has said he would be willing to play under the franchise tag. This would either mean him playing for one year, or the two sides hashing out a long-term deal. Either way, it doesn’t seem likely that Wilson will hit the open market. The only plausible questions that remain are when he signs, how long he signs for, and how much he signs for.

By: Rory MacCallum