Jesse Williams hurts knee, leaves practise

July 30th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

This is unfortunate news for Williams who was hoping to prove he was healthy enough for a shot at a NFL career. There’s no report yet on the seriousness of this latest setback, but it doesn’t sound promising. At Alabama he showed minimal pass rush but an ability to anchor, hold his point and work against the run. At the very least he looked like a two-down run stuffer.

He may never get an opportunity to translate those skills to the NFL.


Seahawks add Eric Winston, McCoy injures Achilles

July 29th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Replacing Breno Giacomini isn’t going to be easy. Today’s addition of veteran right tackle Eric Winston explains why.

Michael Bowie has been slowed by injury while rookie Justin Britt is, well, a rookie. He was drafted highly in the second round but he’s also a Tom Cable project — not a decorated college prospect who was expected to go early in the draft.

At a time when neither Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman had signed new deals, you can understand the Seahawks not wanting to pay millions on a veteran right tackle. Even so, Giacomini was seriously underrated by many fans and media — a viewpoint seemingly based on a difficult start to the 2012 season. Having shaken off his liability tag regarding sloppy penalties, he’d gone beyond competent. There aren’t many better right tackles in the NFL.

Winston might be a decent make-shift tackle. He knows the ZBS — mastered it in fact during a lengthy and productive stint in Houston. He struggled somewhat in Arizona last year, albeit on a patchwork offensive line that offered little support.

If Britt isn’t ready and if Bowie isn’t healthy, he could end up winning a job in Seattle.

If that’s the case, at least he’ll only have to face Kam Chancellor on the practise field next year…

Meanwhile there was bad news regarding tight end Anthony McCoy today…

On the field at USC, McCoy flashed legit first round talent. It’s probably why Pete Carroll gave him a shot as a late round prospect while other teams sneered at his character red flags.

This will be his second serious Achilles injury (both legs have been injured) in two seasons. It’s too early to write him off, but this is a tough break. In 2012 he showed progression and greater consistency. He was trending upwards.

Now the Seahawks will be forced to look elsewhere.

They clearly wanted to utilise bigger targets over the middle having re-signed McCoy and looked at Jamichael Finley. This is a setback.


Seahawks add Terrell Thomas

July 29th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Thomas is an interesting case. He’s 6-0 with length, he worked with Pete Carroll at USC and in many ways a move to Seattle seemed inevitable. Eventually, he get gets here.

Back-to-back ACL injuries in 2011 and 2012 threatened to end his career, but the 29-year-old bounced back with a solid campaign last year. Now he gets the opportunity to compete in Seattle. He faces a battle.

The Seahawks are rich at corner as we know. Just a few days ago Earl Thomas compared Tharold Simon to Richard Sherman.

If Thomas is going to predominantly act as a nickel corner, he surely has to win the job outright. There really isn’t room for a veteran backup nickel corner (see: Antoine Winfield). And even then, I sense they want their nickel to have the ability to play outside.

Can Thomas do that?


Cassius Marsh off to a fast start

July 28th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

More than anything, this is what I wanted to see at the start of training camp: Cassius Marsh fitting right in straight away.

This is just my personal preference, but the two things I want to see in a pass rusher is get off/speed and hand technique.

The speed aspect is pretty obvious. You need it if you’re going to work the edge and compete against increasingly mobile quarterbacks. It’s not just about the pass rush either — the QB’s move around so much more these days you also need to contain and work against the read-option. DE’s and linebackers have to be faster and smarter.

The thing is, it can’t just be about speed. Too many college DE’s dominate a college tackle on speed alone and look great doing it. Then they make the step up to the pro’s and suddenly the speed doesn’t have the same impact. NFL tackles are quicker, bigger and stronger. You need a counter, you need a repertoire. You can’t rely on just being quick off the edge.

How many athletic DE busts have there been in the last 10 years? Pass rushers who look great flying off the edge and rounding the tackle. Then they get into the league and can’t make it happen. Sometimes being a little slower in college helps because you’re FORCED to work on technique. Speed is not the be-all and end-all.

Hand use is so important. You need to be able to engage and get off a block. If you’re relying on speed what are you doing? The same edge rush time after time with the occasional stunt inside?

If you can engage contact and release effectively, you’re just making life harder for an OT. They’ll take awkward angles, it might draw a guard into a double team. They can’t just set, kick-slide and mirror over and over again. Edge speed is great — but it’s even better with strong hands and the ability to get off a block.

When I studied Marsh after the draft (you can read the full article here) — he showed excellent technique. He isn’t a burner (4.89 speed) and it’s clear he’s had to work on other aspects of his game to compensate. Here’s a quote from that piece:

When he gets pro-guidance and can concentrate exclusively on development, he could make immediate and drastic improvements to what was already a pretty solid college career. It’s going to be hard work. He didn’t look in great shape at the combine despite slimming down to 252lbs. He could gain another 10-15lbs and look better for it. If he’s prepared to put in the graft he could be an exciting player.

The Seahawks need another pass rusher. They didn’t just lose Chris Clemons this year, they also lost Clinton McDonald. Cliff Avril is a free agent in 2015. The defensive line is the one area Carroll and John Schneider haven’t had the midas touch in the draft. They’ve relied on veterans.

Marsh could break that duck.

He can work inside or out, he’s naturally strong and the extra weight gain will help here. He’s another Michael Bennett type of rusher. The Seahawks had a lot of success at the end of last season rushing Clemons, Avril and Bennett on obvious passing downs. It’d be a shame to lose such an aggressive and potent attack — and Marsh has an opportunity to fill the gap left by Clemons in these types of situations.

San Francisco and St. Louis both sport elite pass rushing units. Arizona has one of the best overall defenses in the NFL. Seattle’s defense is also right up there, but if they want to stay at #1 they’ll need the pass rush to continue to prosper. And that means some of the younger guys such as Marsh need to have an impact.

It’s early days but so far, so good.


Marshawn Lynch will hold out of training camp

July 24th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Nothing good was ever going to come out of Jamaal Charles holding out.

One of the best all-round playmakers in the game earning a relative pittance compared to his peers. It’s no wonder Kansas City promptly paid up. They have enough drama brewing with Alex Smith.

Here was a team rewarding its best offensive weapon. A guy they were building around. The moment Charles held out, it was inevitable Marshawn Lynch would do the same.

What chance is there Seattle will act like the Chiefs? Charles’ cap hit in 2014 is now $9.6m. Marshawn Lynch takes up $7m. Will they pony up a few extra million?

Is it just a hit and hope situation from Lynch? It’s not like anyone expects him to be pulling double time during camp. He might as well stay away and just see what happens. I doubt the team are overly concerned by his no-show, he’s usually rested at this time of year anyway.

They’ll want Lynch for the season opener that’s for sure. But they’ll also see this as an opportunity to really challenge Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. They drafted both players for a reason and won’t feel like they have to pay Lynch two years removed from signing him to an extension.

And let’s be right here — what alternative does Lynch have? Nobody is likely to trade for (and pay) a running back with his punishing style who turns 29 next year. Great player — yes — but not a long term investment for anyone. I’m not sure even Lynch expects to play beyond the next year or two.

Seattle’s offense and Beast Mode were made for each other. He may see this as a point of principal but time is running out. Surely he won’t turn his back on his career just yet to make a statement? Yet that seems to be the only realistic threat he can make. Perhaps, in light of Sidney Rice’s retirement, they’ll give him a little extra to calm the storm?

Or maybe they’ll call his bluff?

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.


Sidney Rice retires from the NFL

July 23rd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Sidney Rice always had the potential to be an exceptional NFL receiver.

Size, speed, incredible leaping ability and safe hands. Everything you look for. Plus that little extra something that usually separates the good from the great — an agitated, pissed off with the world attitude.

I never had a problem with Sidney’s fairly frequent visible frustration. He knew how to get open — and one of Russell Wilson’s major areas for improvement is to capitalise on missed chunk plays. I’m sure we can all remember one of the several times Rice — hands clasped to his helmet — knew his QB had missed a chance.

One sticks in the mind — an impressive scramble in the playoff victory over Washington 18 months ago. At the time it looks great on the TV — until they played the replay. Rice destroyed the coverage. He was wide open. One look and throw from Wilson — it would’ve been a touchdown. And but for a timely fourth quarter comeback that play could’ve been costly.

For all the clutch plays and grit shown by Seattle’s receivers last year, nobody quite knew how to get open like Rice. Even when he was covered he usually found a way to make things happen — a late knee to the turf, an elbow grazing the grass just as he was about to go out of bounds.

Who can forget his touchdown in Arizona? Brilliance from Wilson to scramble and throw off balance — but also brilliance from Rice to adjust his route and find a soft spot in the end zone. Textbook. Pure class.

I’m not sure why this announcement was made today. ‘Concussions’ seem to be the slightly vague determining factor. Has he received some fresh medical advice? Was this latest comeback from a serious knee injury a step too far? Did he secretly know deep inside he wouldn’t make the cut?

As talented as he was, Rice just couldn’t stay healthy. He’s one of those guys who always seemed to be banged up one way or another.

It cost him a potential shot at greatness. The talent, the physical qualities, the attitude. It was all there.

Yet his role in Seattle shouldn’t be underestimated. We talk about it a lot on here — but the 2010 Seahawks roster was a patchwork effort by Pete Carroll and John Schneider when they inherited a mess of a franchise. They needed to inject some proven quality in free agency to get it going.

When they signed Rice and Zach Miller during the 2011 off-season after a lengthy lockout, it continued the Beastquake momentum. It was the start of Seattle becoming a trendier destination for free agents. And as hoped, they made the team better. Good enough to contend and then eventually dominate.

He got a lot of cash for an injury hit spell with the Seahawks, but I highly doubt anyone in the front office will be second guessing the decision to sign Sidney Rice.

Seattle added Morrell Presley as a replacement — a TE/WR. Essentially, another big bodied target.


NFL Top-100 Google Hangout

July 9th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton


UK podcast appearance

July 6th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I took part in a podcast for the UK End Zone web site. If you want to hear three English guys talking about American Football (and in the meantime learn a little about different British accents) then click here and check it out.

It’s a piece about the NFC West in general — my bit begins at 21:20 where we get into the Seahawks.


Dorial Green-Beckham gets second chance, joins Oklahoma

July 3rd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Usually when a big name talent like Dorial Green-Beckham is kicked off a program like Missouri, they don’t get this lucky. They’re left scrambling around for a small school opportunity or sitting around waiting for the draft.

They’re certainly not paraded on Twitter like the returning hero, all smiles and sunshine.

Perhaps it’s testament to DGB’s supreme talent that he’s been afforded this unlikely — and perhaps undeserved — second chance.

There aren’t many 6-6, 225lbs 5-star recruits. Green-Beckham was a major catch for home-state Mizzou — coveted by all the top teams and destined for the NFL before he ever played a down of college ball.

Was there a sense of entitlement? Is he just a bad apple? Did he get in with the wrong crowd?

A string of issues led to a shameful exit from Missouri. Multiple drug charges and then an incident where he allegedly forced his way into an apartment and pushed an 18-year-old woman down some stairs.

He was dismissed and destined for the scrap heap. Well, Eastern Illinois if reports are to be believed.

Now this.

Oklahoma is pursuing a waiver for immediate eligibility, although as things stand he won’t be able to play for the Sooners until 2015. If he can’t play this year he could just declare for the next NFL draft. If he can compete in 2014 — what a fantastic opportunity to get back on track.

Whether he deserves this fresh start is debatable. But it is what it is.

If he makes the most of this, he could easily be a top pick next April/May. If he fails to stay away from trouble then I’m not sure how you can trust him — however talented he may be.


Guest article: Why didn’t the Seahawks draft the right guy?

June 23rd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Why Didn’t The Seahawks Draft The Right Guy?
The Confidence Bias and How It Affects the Way We Experience the Draft
by Steve Nelsen

Studies have shown that most people are not as good at objective tasks as they think they are. This psychological effect is known as “the confidence bias.”

For example, a study of people spelling words found that those who were 100% confident that their answer was accurate were only correct 80% of the time. A similar study of math and verbal questions found that 75% of participants overestimated their ability to answer multiple choice questions correctly.

I recently read a very interesting article about a study by two economists who applied the principle of risk diversification to the NFL draft. They determined that teams that trade down in the draft to stockpile extra picks are more likely to draft starters and Pro-Bowlers than teams that trade up. And they get those players at a lower cost.

They also found that teams that trade down in the draft win more games. Does this sound like the Seahawk model? Not surprisingly, the Seahawks were mentioned as an example of a team that successfully built their team through the draft. Check this article out if you complained about John Schneider trading down in the draft and you might never complain again.

So, why do teams trade up?

They concluded the answer is the confidence bias. Some NFL executives are so confident in their ability to analyze player prospects that they will pay a steep cost to trade up for Sammy Watkins or RGIII even though the objective data shows that their course of action is less likely to produce a successful team.

If NFL executives are not immune to this psychological effect, what does this mean for us; the readers of the Seahawks Draft blog? How many of us read analysis from NFL draft experts or did our own analysis of what the Seahawks needed going into the draft? (I’m raising my hand.) How many of us eagerly read Rob’s posts on this blog about different player prospects and the comments from other readers and developed an opinion about who we thought the right guy was for the Seahawks to draft? (Hand still raised here.)

And how many of us reacted with some disappointment or anger when “our guy” was not drafted by the Seahawks? (Yeah, me too.)

I remember reading a post from one guy who said he was physically ill on draft day about the Seahawks trading out of the first round and then blowing their pick on Paul Richardson. I responded to his comment with some empathic insights about how what he was experiencing was a side effect of the confidence bias. (Hit me up in comments if that was you and let me know if my remarks provided any solace or just made you want to choke me.)

So, now that we are all aware of the confidence bias, how are we going to react differently to the next Seahawks draft? Human nature being what it is and all of us being humans, most of us will react by trying harder to pick the “right guy” next year. Studies on the confidence bias show that we become more confident with more data so we will seek out more information about players (“What is his SPARQ rating?”) or the Seahawks drafting philosophies.

How many of us heard John Schneider talk after the draft about how a prospects perceived ability to survive in the super-competitive environment of the Seattle locker room has gained importance in his player analysis and thought, “Now that I know this, I will be better able to correctly predict next year’s pick.” The studies show that the confidence bias increases as we receive more data even if the data is incomplete or does not produce additional accuracy.

Having some idea of a player’s “grit” may be helpful, like knowing their SPARQ measure of athleticism, but we will never know a player as well as the Seattle front office.

We have all heard it before but now we have scientific analysis to support the conclusion that the best thing we Seattle Seahawk fans can do to prepare for the next draft is to prepare to be surprised.