Updated Nov 4, 2013 - 4:10 pm
Wyman, Mike & Moore on 710 ESPN Seattle
Monday, November 25, 2013 @ 11:42am
By Jim Moore
Last year it would have been a shame if the Seahawks' season imploded or was somehow diminished by the absence of Brandon Browner after a performance-enhancing drug violation. As it was, the Seahawks won the four games that he missed with the help of the play of his backups, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell.
Because of that experience, we thought Seattle could withstand Browner's absence for the next four to five games because of a groin injury. But that matter is now complicated by the news that Walter Thurmond will miss four games because he allegedly violated the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Maybe they'll be fine without Thurmond, maybe they won't. Either way, the Seahawks shouldn't be in a position to find out.
For everyone who says the Seahawks will withstand the losses of Browner and Thurmond, I'd say I hope they're right, but I'd also point out that Maxwell and Lane are backups for a reason – they're not as good as Browner and Thurmond.
When they're on the field, Seattle's secondary is not at full strength, increasing the possibilities for quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints to beat the Seahawks next Monday night.
Thurmond's suspension is alarming on several levels. As someone who was already in the NFL's substance-abuse program, he knew he was subject to being tested eight times a month. So to continue to do whatever he was doing is like driving 90 mph past a state trooper and hoping he doesn't pull you over. Fate doesn't like to be tempted like that.
He should put more time into career and life decisions than fashion choices on game day. This is also a guy who will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the suspension could impact how much he stands to make. If you're an NFL general manager, how much do you want to spend on a player with a history of drug violations and injuries?
But wait a minute, let me guess, he's a Seahawk so you'll cut him all kinds of slack. Will you still feel that way if Maxwell gets beat over and over again Monday night?
As great as this season has been so far, something like this could play a part in derailing the Seahawks' Super Bowl aspirations.
|• Week 13: vs. Saints (9-2)||• Week 14: at 49ers (6-4)||• Week 15: at Giants (4-7)||• Week 16: vs. Cardinals (7-4)||• Week 17: vs. Rams (5-6)|
That would be just one loss, but it would give the Saints the tie-breaker in determining the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Then you'd like to be at full strength for the Dec. 8 game at San Francisco. What if receiver Michael Crabtree returns and has a big day at Maxwell's and Lane's expense?
The Seahawks could easily be 10-3 after that game, and San Francisco might be one game back at 9-4, tightening the NFC West race.
Then you head to New York on Dec. 15 to face the Giants, who might be desperately fighting for a playoff berth.
A few weeks ago, you would have thought two things about the last two games at home against Arizona and St. Louis:
• Those should be wins against a Cardinals team you flattened in Glendale and a Rams team you barely beat in St. Louis, but still, their quarterback is Kellen Clemens.
• The Seahawks might be in a position of already wrapping up the NFC West title and No. 1 seed, allowing them to rest their starters for the playoffs.
But now? Arizona is 7-4 and completely rejuvenated behind Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and a salty defense. The Rams are 5-6 and have blown out the Colts and the Bears the last two weeks. They are the best last-place team in any division and almost beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field last year.
Point being, the Seahawks could lose four of their last five games and finish 11-5 just like last year. And just like last year, that would likely mean trying to reach the Super Bowl on the road. Plus, in that scenario, they'd enter the playoffs as a suddenly-cold team and not the force they are now.
I don't think that will happen. I still like to think that they'll finish 14-2 or 13-3 and earn the No. 1 seed, home-field advantage and a first-round bye.
But you know how fine the line is between winning and losing from one week and one season to the next. Look at what happened to Houston. The Texans had the NFL's best record after 11 games last year, and look at them now, 2-9 after losing to Jacksonville Sunday.
You could argue that the Seahawks could just as easily be 7-4 instead of 10-1 given their narrow wins over Carolina, Houston and St. Louis.
The loss of Thurmond shouldn't be a season-wrecker, but it could be the difference between a memorable year and one that might have been.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
Sunday, November 24, 2013 @ 12:04pm
By Jim Moore
The Cougars are bowl eligible after beating Utah 49-37 Saturday at Martin Stadium.
They're 6-5 and can assure themselves of a postseason spot somewhere if they beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup on Friday.
After rushing out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, the Cougars held on to defeat Utah and clinch bowl eligibility in just the second year under head coach Mike Leach. (AP)
Three things we learned:
1. They're better than we thought.
Or than I thought anyway. I've had a hard time trying to figure them out.
After Arizona State smacked us around on Halloween, I thought we'd lose out. I didn't see us beating Arizona, Utah OR Washington. Now we're in a position to win all three.
2. Connor Halliday is on a roll.
I think he still leads the country in interceptions, but he threw only one against Arizona and was pick-less against Utah. He actually did throw one against Utah, but I guess it doesn't count in the stats, coming as it did on a failed two-point conversion.
Halliday completed 39 of 62 for 488 yards and four touchdowns. He was throwing it all over the lot - short, wide, deep, down the sideline - and connecting more often than not.
"When everybody is playing together, that's what this offense can do," Halliday said.
3. The offensive line had a spectacular game.
Utah led the country in sacks with 36, and Halliday can move around a bit, but he isn't exactly mobile. Seemed like a bad combination, but the Utes never got to Halliday.
Four things we're still trying to figure out:
1. Should fans have stormed the field?
The Cougs beat a so-so Utah team, and to call the Utes so-so is probably generous. They've now lost six in a row since beating Stanford.
Does a win over Utah warrant an on-field celebration? Probably not, but what the heck -- we haven't had a six-win season since 2006.
This will be the first non-losing season in seven years, and if we beat the Huskies, it will be the first winning season since 2003.
2. Will a bowl game want the Cougs if they finish 6-6?
There are too many bowl-eligible teams for spots available. If you're weighing out the strengths of the Cougs vs. other teams, I'd think you'd want a team that would be thrilled to be there.
You'd also have to want a coach like Mike Leach and an entertaining brand of ball with the Air Raid offense.
But the Cougs could guarantee a berth with a win on Friday in the Apple Cup.
3. Have the Cougars ever had two pick sixes in a game?
It happened against Utah, and both came in the first quarter, delivered by Damonte Horton and Casey Locker. In 40 years of watching Cougar football, I can't recall it happening.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
Friday, November 22, 2013 @ 6:09pm
By Brent Stecker
Walter Jones is a universally beloved figure in Seattle, and with good reason. The former Seahawks left tackle spent his entire 13-year career in Seattle, during which he played in seven Pro Bowls, was named an All-Pro five times and helped the Seahawks reach their only Super Bowl in 2005.
Jones is on the precipice of even more greatness, having been named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this week, along with other former stars of the past decade like Marvin Harrison, Tim Brown and Michael Strahan.
Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Walter Jones was flagged for holding just nine times in his 13-year career with the Seattle Seahawks. (AP)
Jones' list of accomplishments stand out even more considering his humble beginnings -- as he told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Wyman, Mike and Moore" on Friday, even during his stellar pro career he stuck with a peculiar workout regimen that began during his days at a small high school in Alabama.
"We didn't have a lot of weight equipment, so I would push trucks around," Jones said. "That's what we was taught when I was in high school. ... You put the car in neutral, probably about a 10-percent slope. Once you get it going it was almost like you were pushing a sled. It was something I did in place of doing a lot of the lower back workouts like squats, because every time I used to do squats I would tweak my back. It kept me low and kept me driving after the ball."
Considering his resume, there's no use arguing his lack of weight training or notoriousness for skipping preseason workouts and training camp. He was charged with allowing only 23 sacks and flagged for holding just nine times in his entire career.
"The thing that helped me out a lot is I didn't have to change offenses, and I think you watch the game now and you see a lot of these young guys, they change offensive coordinators every year," Jones said. "I was in one offense for 10 years. There's only two ways you can run, right or left, so it made it pretty easy for me to come in and play right off the bat."
As much as Jones liked playing in the same offense for much of his career, he was just as pleased to have the opportunity to play his entire career in the same city.
"It feels great to end my career in Seattle -- to start there and end it there. To be recognized by one team, that feels great, and I love Seattle," he said. "It was the best opportunity for me to go out there and show my talents in front of a great fan base."
Now that he's four years removed from his playing days, Jones is honored that he has a chance to be enshrined with the greats of football history in Canton.
"It's amazing. Just to be mentioned with those guys, it was a great feeling," Jones said. "Just to say I did it the right way and I competed on the field the right way."
Friday, November 22, 2013 @ 11:48am
The Cougars can become bowl-eligible if they beat Utah on Saturday at Martin Stadium. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m.
You can watch the game on the Pac-12 Network with Kevin Calabro on the call, or you can listen to it on 710 ESPN Seattle with Bud Nameck, Bob Robertson and Shawn McWashington in the booth and our own Jessamyn McIntyre on the sidelines. Pregame coverage starts at 10:30 a.m.
I'll be doing neither. After a season full of conflicts with my kids' football games, I'll be at Martin Stadium with my wife and 9-year-olds while our dog waits for us to return in the truck. For the listener who asked, no, I won't be taking Willie anywhere near the owl in Mike Leach's backyard.
At 5-5 heading into Saturday's game against Utah, Mike Leach's Cougars could become bowl eligible with a win over the Utes. (AP)
I was trying to get at the reasons why a season of higher expectations had gone so horribly south. I asked a question along the lines of: "Do you think all of your players would run through a wall for you?"
I thought we had enough talent to be better than 2-9, so I wondered if it had more to do with players not buying in.
Whether it was that question or probing questions in previous weeks that added up to what happened next, I don't know, but Leach launched into me and basically said he didn't care what I thought about anything.
Which is fine. Sometimes I don't even care what I think about anything. Nor does anyone else. But after he finished his pretty thorough tongue lashing, I think there was a really, really awkward silence that I finally ended by saying, "I guess my dog won't be staying at your house." Earlier in the year we had talked about his kids taking care of Willie when I was in Pullman at a Cougars game.
Leach replied that he was going to "sic" that owl on my dog.
Bottom line, I had a hard time believing that we were so bad in Leach's first year. I thought we had just hired a rock-star coach, and rock-star coaches turn things around immediately.
Well, I was wrong about that. It takes time. And look at the job Leach has done this year. We're still not ready to compete with Oregon and Stanford, but you know what? We at least look like we can play with them a little bit. And the mediocre teams? We can more than hold our own with them and even beat them half of the time.
The trending arrows for the program are pointing up. We're 5-5. I don't put much stock into wins over Southern Utah and Idaho. And you can diminish the win over Cal if you want, but it was still a Pac-12 win on the road. The win over USC? OK, maybe we can thank Lane Kiffin for that one, but still, it came on the road against a team with supposedly superior players.
But last week's 24-17 win at Arizona was legit in every way. We were 12-point underdogs. I even look at the 31-24 loss at Auburn in the season opener as encouraging given the Tigers' current top-10 ranking.
Now we face a Utah team missing its starting quarterback, Travis Wilson, who is out with a concussion. The Utes have lost five in a row since beating Stanford. I'm still wary of the Utes. They lost to Arizona State 20-19 two weeks ago while we were absolutely flattened by the Sun Devils on Halloween.
If the Cougs prevail, it will be a tough one that goes down to the final minutes. Utah is trying to get to a bowl game, too. The Utes are physical up front and lead the Pac-12 in sacks.
I've got an idea: Because there are so many bowl-eligible teams with six wins, why not beat Utah and the Huskies to get to seven wins and make double-dog sure that we're invited to a bowl game.
The way I have it mapped out, the Huskies are going to lose to the Beavers, too. In this scenario, we'll finish 7-5 and go bowling; the Dawgs will finish 6-6 and stay home while facing a holiday filled with Husky fans howling about Coach Sark.
The thought of it playing out like this would certainly put extra emphasis on "tis the season to be jolly."
Prediction: Washington State 38, Utah 35 (OT)
Season record against the spread: 5-5
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 @ 10:54am
When Doug Baldwin was seeking advice on how to improve his game during the summer, he went to the greatest receiver in Seahawks history.
"This training camp," Steve Largent recalled, "Doug Baldwin started emailing me and he said, 'Hey, Steve, I just really admire you and know your long history here at the Seahawks and I was just wondering if you had any tips for me?' "
Of course he did. Largent, after all, had ended his Hall of Fame career in 1989 as the NFL's all-time leader in receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdown catches (100). He made seven Pro Bowls and twice led the league in receiving during his 14 seasons, all of which he spent in Seattle. Safe to say he picked up a thing or two along the way.
With 36 receptions for 586 yards through 11 games, Doug Baldwin is on pace for the best season of his career. (AP)
"I just started with some of the basics and talked about some drills I worked on to catch the ball, some release drills that I worked on that were very helpful and just some basic stuff like that," Largent told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Wyman, Mike and Moore" Tuesday.
"So I emailed it back to Doug over a series of five or six emails and he kept texting me back saying, 'Hey, Steve, I've been working on that in training camp – it really works. Thanks. Do you have anything else?' And so I would send him another little something and he and I kind of developed an electronic relationship."
Largent and Baldwin have a few things in common as receivers. Each was to varying degrees overlooked coming out of college, Largent a fourth-round pick in 1976 while Baldwin was undrafted in 2011. Like Largent, Baldwin doesn't have elite speed or size. At 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds, he's an inch shorter and two pounds heavier than what Largent was listed at.
The first piece of advice Largent gave Baldwin was about one of the more fundamental aspects of the position.
"And so I talked to Doug about just some drills that I would do in training camp in particular to heighten my focus, if you will, seeing the ball to my hands, and just talked him through that a little bit."
Largent also shared with Baldwin some tips on beating press coverage for a clean release off the line of scrimmage.
"I wasn't a real fast guy so I had to have to pretty good moves to get down field," he said.
Baldwin is second on the Seahawks in receptions (36), receiving yards (586) and touchdown catches (three) through 11 games. He's on pace to better his 2011 season when he became the first undrafted rookie since the merger to lead his team in receiving. His 16.28 yards-per-catch average this season is exceptional for receiver who has mostly operated out of the slot.
Largent – who is 59 and works in the wireless communications industry as president and CEO of a company called CTIA – was in Seattle earlier this month as he and other members of the 1983 Seahawks team were honored during a halftime ceremony at CenturyLink Field. That's when he met Baldwin in person for the first time.
"He is a real student of the game and very impressive," Largent said of Baldwin, "and I am impressed with watching him play this year."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 @ 9:41am
Wide receiver Percy Harvin's first action in a Seahawks uniform stole a lot of the attention from Sunday's 41-20 win over Minnesota, but there were other big returns that impacted Seattle's play as it improved to 10-1.
Sunday's game against Minnesota was the first time since Week 2 that Seattle had its entire offensive line healthy. (AP)
Offensive-line coach Tom Cable joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Wyman, Mike and Moore" on Monday, and said he was clearly happy to have all his pieces healthy on the line.
"It was a big relief. It was a lot of excitement to get those guys back," Cable said. "(They were) a little rusty in some regards yesterday, but in other areas you could tell they were back, so it was cool."
Unger has missed significantly less time than Okung and Giacomini this season, so the Seahawks were especially glad to see their starting tackles back. But even though Okung is a former Pro Bowler, Cable thought Giacomini was more impressive in his return.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• O'Neil: Less is more for Wilson, Seahawks||• Henderson: Harvin shines in Seahawks debut||• Wyman: The Percy Harvin Effect||• Pete Carroll: 10-1 Seahawks only getting better|
But even back at full strength and in a dominant win, the Seahawks rushed for just 93 yards against the Vikings, a number Cable would like to see them improve upon.
"Our belief is it's not a pretty run game, it's a physical run game, and so yesterday we really kind of missed on my expectations," he said. "It was kind of an ugly 93 yards, and when you look at the tape today you say, 'Man, did we leave 100 yards out there or what?' just from not being very clean, and I think a lot of that has to do with putting new guys back in and that issue of being in-sync. But protection-wise, much better. It looked like what you wanted."
Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 9:52am
By Dave Wyman
With the amount of attention and coverage elite NFL players tend to attract, it's rare when someone lives up to his hype. But after watching Percy Harvin play just 16 downs in the Seahawks' 41-20 victory over Minnesota, Harvin is as advertised.
Along with his one catch and long kickoff return Sunday, Percy Harvin affected plays even when he didn't get the ball. (AP)
1) With 1:29 left in the first quarter, Harvin lined up in a slot formation with Doug Baldwin flanking him on his right. The Vikings were playing man defense with a single safety over the top. Although quarterback Russell Wilson did a great job of looking the safety off to his left, it was Harvin beating his man-to-man coverage cleanly that caught the safety's attention. Once he bit on Harvin's route, Baldwin was able to get open more easily on the outside and beat the defender for a 44-yard reception.
2) When Marshawn Lynch broke free on a 23-yard run, I wasn't surprised to see Zach Miller, J.R. Sweezy and Breno Giacomini destroy Vikings defenders with devastating blocks. But I was surprised to see the wispy Harvin engage cornerback Josh Robinson and drive him 10 yards downfield. He used perfect form to execute the block by first engaging Robinson and then working his feet and hips around to get in front of him in a way that would make offensive-line coach Tom Cable proud.
3) Although the play was offset by a Seahawks penalty, the pass-interference call that Harvin drew on what would have been a 50-yard gain in the second quarter is a sign of things to come. Again, the defender was beaten so badly he was forced to foul Harvin on a play that would've been a sure completion. With Harvin's speed, I can see that happening again sometime soon.
4) His biggest play of the day was his stabbing catch for 17 yards and a first down in the second quarter. It was crucial for two reasons: First, the Seahawks were facing a third-and-10 after a bizarre play call on second-and-10 – a Robert Turbin lead play off-tackle that was stopped for no gain. Second, the score was tied at 10 at that point and the Vikings – who had surely watched the Tampa Bay film from two weeks ago – were beginning to feel like they were in this game. Harvin's spectacular grab pumped life into the drive and four plays later, Seattle scored the go-ahead touchdown and never looked back.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• O'Neil: Less is more for Wilson, Seahawks||• Henderson: Harvin shines in Seahawks debut||• Pete Carroll: 10-1 Seahawks only getting better|
6) If Harvin's 58-yard return was the cause, the Vikings' next kickoff was the effect. In order to keep the ball out of Harvin's hands, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh hit a feeble pooch kick that Michael Robinson fielded on the 30 and returned to the 35, giving the Seahawks great field position to start off the second half.
These six plays accounted for a little over 200 yards – some tangible, some intangible. Whether Harvin touches the ball, draws a defender, throws a block or forces an opponent to adjust to him, he's having a significant effect on the game that is unique. Not bad for just 16 plays. If this is any indication of what the Seahawks can expect from him, this team has yet another valuable playmaker on the roster.
Most importantly, Harvin fits in whether he gets the ball or not. He's willing to do the dirty work of blocking, attracting a defender or forcing a kickoff away from him. On a team with great chemistry that is already winning, that is the most vital effect he can have.
Sunday, November 17, 2013 @ 3:26pm
By Jim Moore
If you read the previous post about this game, you'd know that I didn't think the Cougars had much of a chance against Arizona.
I thought we were going to get blown out. I thought Ka'Deem Carey would tear us apart. I didn't think our defense would hold up at all and didn't think our offense would be good enough to outscore the Wildcats. But the Cougs won 24-17. Our defense played extremely well – I don't care if Carey rushed for 132 yards, he didn't seem to be a big factor in the game.
Now we've got a realistic chance of making it to a bowl game.
Quarterback Connor Halliday played what coach Mike Leach said was his best game of the year against Arizona. (AP)
1. The Cougars are better than I thought.
I wasn't sure what to think after consecutive drubbings by Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State. Were we that bad? Or were the Beavers, Ducks and Sun Devils that good? Still not sure about Oregon State, but Oregon and Arizona State, I think we can agree that those are two of the best teams in the country.
The Wildcats were more our speed. Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker was not as good as I thought he was. As a passer, he lacks consistency and accuracy. Certainly glad he misfired on his last throw to the end zone.
2. We're better when we occasionally run the ball.
We ran for 101 yards Saturday, which won't happen every week, but I like that we had 20 handoffs, at least forcing the defense to not expect a pass on every play. Even if we gain 50 rushing yards against Utah this week, we need to keep the Utes guessing by handing it off from time to time. And unless I'm mistaken, our running backs are pretty good when given slivers of room to run.
3. Connor Halliday's the man.
Coach Mike Leach said it was his best game of the year after Halliday completed 39 of 53 for 319 yards. I know he's going to continue to throw interceptions from time to time like he did on Saturday, but he gives us our best chance to win.
Three things we're still trying to figure out:
1. Is Washington State a bowl team?
The weekly question goes back and forth. After the Arizona State game, you would've thought "no," "heck no," and "of course not." But after the Arizona game, you're thinking: "Hmmm, maybe so." All the Cougars need is one more win against Utah or Washington to be bowl eligible. We could even be slight favorites over the Utes in our last home game on Saturday.
2. Can we beat the Dawgs?
The Friday after Thanksgiving, we play Washington at Husky Stadium. A week ago or so, I thought it was really a stretch to think we'd have a shot at beating the Huskies. But now I'm thinking we might be able to pull it off.
Keith Price hurt his shoulder in a loss to the Bruins, and without him, they're vulnerable with backup Cyler Miles. Even with Price, the Huskies appear to be starting their annual late-season swoon. A loss to Oregon State this Saturday would not surprise anyone. Neither would a 7-6 record for the currently 6-4 Dawgs, who have gone 7-6 three years in a row.
I know we'd die for a 7-6 record, but 7-6 to Husky fans is not acceptable anymore. If they lose to the Beavers, 7-6 is in play again, and what a beautiful thing that would be. The Dawgs would go into the Apple Cup with all kinds of doubts – another promising season about to go up in flames. Again.
3. Michael Bowlin.
That's all. I'm just trying to figure out Michael Bowlin, our punter and kickoff guy. Against Arizona, he had a 3-yard punt and two kickoffs that went out of bounds.
I've decided that because he's a college kid, I don't want to rip him anymore. You would think with all the practice he gets punting for the Cougs that he'd be better at his job.
And the kickoffs? I like that Leach replaced him on the final kickoff with Andrew Furney. I hope that continues the rest of the year. But I don't think we have any backup punting options so I'm hoping that Bowlin figures out a way to clear his head and punt like he's capable.
He reminds me of me at the golf course – a mental wreck who can't clear his head and allow his body to perform the way that it can. Somebody get this kid a sports psychologist or something before I break my TV. Thank you.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl or bust.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website, jimmoorethego2guy.com, and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
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