Archive for July, 2014

Camp update: Marshawn arrives, McCoy to IR

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Marshawn Lynch is back. He’s ended his holdout but does so without a new deal. As Adam Schefter reports, Seattle maintained a firm stance with Lynch — they rewarded him two years ago with a new deal, and they were (quite rightly) wary of setting a bad precedent going forward.

If you pay Lynch this year after a holdout, do you do the same with Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman in a couple of years? They had to stick to their guns.

Lynch is paid handsomely in running back terms. He knew the team had a strong leverage position unlike the Chiefs with Jamaal Charles. Now it’s about calming the storm. Reports suggest the Seahawks won’t enforce the financial penalties Lynch accrued during his short holdout, plus they’ll escalate his pay for 2014. But there’s no true pay rise — just a re-working of the contract leading to a small top up.

If the options were play on or retire, thankfully for Seattle — Lynch has chosen not to call it a day just yet.

And yet I can’t help but feel it’s about time he showed up. As Dan Pompei puts it, “The team already makes a lot of exceptions for Lynch and has done a lot to accommodate his idiosyncrasies, many of which are becoming more pronounced as he becomes more successful.”

This isn’t me bad mouthing Lynch. He just appears to be treated differently to some other players. Whether it’s not turning up to OTA’s, appearing to give the finger to the sideline during the Cardinals road game last year or any of the other things that come with the Beast Mode package — sometimes you just need to accept when you’re onto a winner.

The Seahawks have been good to Marshawn Lynch, just as he has to them. Hopefully this fruitless holdout has led to an epiphany there.

This merely confirms what was feared yesterday. Surgery is likely and Williams’ NFL career may be over before it ever truly began. It’s a real shame for the player and the team. Yet this is why he was available in the 5th round last year.

Teams knew he had knee issues. He was at worst a second rounder without these complications. The Seahawks took a chance and had it paid off, they’d look great. But he fell because of the risk element involved.

Sadly, Williams’ knees wouldn’t afford him a shot in the pro’s.

The recent addition of Kevin Williams looks wiser and wiser with every passing week. Aside from the obvious experience/talent benefit — that extra depth looks crucial today.

It’s terrible news on McCoy as we touched on earlier in the week. It’s also a big blow for the Seahawks, who clearly had visions of big targets roaming the middle of the field in multi-TE sets.

People have asked about Jermichael Finley, a player they showed interest in during free agency. I’d say it’s unlikely. He’s due a sizeable insurance payout (approximately $10m) if he doesn’t play football again. Not only is he risking his long term health if he takes the field this year, he’s also taking a huge financial gamble.

Seattle won a Super Bowl without three assured tight ends and will be able to adapt to this. It’s still disappointing we won’t get to see what they were planning with McCoy, Luke Willson and Zach Miller.

Steve Maneri has been brought in on what appears to be a trial basis. They may look at other TE’s down the line. Maneri runs in the 4.8’s at 6-7 and 270lbs.

Jesse Williams hurts knee, leaves practise

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

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

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

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

Monday, July 28th, 2014

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

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

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

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

UK podcast appearance

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

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

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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.