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Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Tuesday links: World Cup, Raul, Sherm and The Jet

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Here’s some reading material before you settle in for the U.S.-Belgium World Cup match (1 p.m., ESPN):

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports upset the Belgians with this column about why the U.S. can’t lose to Belgium.

He writes:

Belgium has just 11 million people, which is like, what, a Dakota and a half? (Not certain since I was too lazy and distracted to look it up. You want worker productivity? Go hire a Belgian.)

These guys are Canada-Lite, one of these perfect, nice, polite, pretty countries that take pride in the fact they all ride bikes and recycle and don’t unilaterally invade other sovereign nations.

There is no place for someone like this on the global stage of the World Cup, where each match is life and death … literally in some places if you blow a critical assignment.

Jason Whitlock of ESPN.com writes about World Cup fever and the lessons our pro leagues can learn from it.

He writes:

Again, the point of a season-end revival is to showcase a sport as the best. The World Cup, the Super Bowl and the Final Four are primarily gigantic marketing events. They entice fans and media to come and worship for a month, a week and three days, respectively. These events are impossible to ignore. They help grow and maintain soccer, football and college basketball congregations.

It’s puzzling, and counterproductive, that the NBA and MLB haven’t constructed a season-end revival. Eight years ago it was still fashionable to laugh at and ridicule soccer in this country. And now the World Cup is drawing NFL-size television ratings and a lifelong football groupie is analogizing Cristiano Ronaldo to Joe Montana.

 

Joe Posnanski writes about Raul Ibanez, who is back in Kansas City with the Royals.

Posnanski writes this about the 42-year-old ex-Mariner:

There are a million Ibañez numbers I could throw at you to blow your mind — here’s just one: He hit 276 of his 303 career home runs after age 30. That’s 91% of his home runs. That is BY FAR the highest percentage among the 137 players in baseball history who hit 300 home runs.

He hit as many home runs after age 30 as Harmon Killebrew, more (at this moment) than David Ortiz, more than Yaz or Frank Thomas or (how about this one?) A-Rod.

Or this stat: Ibañez is one of only 15 players in baseball history to have more than 1,000 RBIs after age 30. With one more RBI for Kansas City, he will tie a pretty good player named Willie Mays with 1,091 RBIs after 30.

Or this stat: Ibañez has scored almost as many runs after age 30 (945) as Derek Jeter (977).

Or this stat: Ibañez has hit more doubles after age 30 than Stan Musial did. Or George Brett. Or Wade Boggs. Or Barry Bonds.

And just because y’all can’t get enough of Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks, here’s where you can check out Sherman columns for Sport Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback (mmqb.si.com).

In his love letter to coach Pete Carroll, Sherm wrote:

I can’t imagine what life in the NFL would be like for me if he hadn’t used a third-day pick on a still-raw cornerback. I get texts from guys across the league which remind me how good we’ve got it in Seattle. They ask, “Is he really as cool as he seems?” and “I hear you guys have fun at practice?” Yes and yes. All he asks is that we be ourselves and protect the team’s reputation by not saying anything controversial.

In case you missed it, here’s Todd Dybas’ story on Mariners’ rookie James (The Jet) Jones. Don’t know if the nickname’s catching on, but don’t you think it should? Jones is now up to 17 steals after pilfering three on Monday night in Houston, when he went 4-for-5 at the plate.


Grading the Seahawks’ draft

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Seattle Seahawks a C-plus for their drafting prowess this year. SI.com gave the Hawks a B-minus. They got a B-plus from CBSsports.com. What do you think?

Here’s Kiper’s thoughts:

Seattle Seahawks: C+

Top needs: WR, DL, OL, TE

Needs: B
Value: D+

Summary: There simply isn’t a better player development program in the NFL right now than Seattle’s. The players the Seahawks draft — the players I’ve spent many hours evaluating and making calls on — are often players that evolve, improve and become something new after Seattle drafts them. While they’ve had some notable misses in Round 1, both in value and development, they’ve been awesome thereafter. So when Seattle moved down to No. 45 overall and still had the chance to take either Stephon Tuitt or Marqise Lee, both players that would have been nice fits at pick No. 32, you almost had to laugh because you knew the Seahawks would go in another direction. Paul Richardson was the pick, and he hits a big need, though his lean frame is a concern. The key will be that he maintains his explosiveness as he adds some needed strength. The presence of him and a healthy Percy Harvin, will keep safeties on high alert. I also thought O-line was a necessity, and Justin Britt adds depth, but he was my 21st-ranked offensive tackle, and struggles to create any movement in the run game. I saw him as a likelier fit in the third or fourth round. Again: They trust their development, and they showed it again when they took what I’d kindly refer to as a deep sleeper in Jimmy Staten, a D-tackle I had at No. 44 at the position in my rankings. The Seahawks know what they are doing, but it’s fair to say they had a couple value questions again today. I look forward to seeing what becomes of these players.

2014 draft picks
Rd Pk Pos Player College
(2) 45 WR Paul Richardson Colorado
(2) 64 T Justin Britt Missouri
(4) 108 DE Cassius Marsh UCLA
(4) 123 WR Kevin Norwood Alabama
(4) 132 OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis Boston College
(5) 172 DT Jimmy Staten Middle Tenn. State
(6) 199 T Garrett Scott Marshall
(6) 208 S Eric Pinkins San Diego State
(7) 227 RB Kiero Small Arkansas

Here’s what SI.com (Chris Burke and Doug Farrar) had to say:

As usual, the Seahawks drafted unconventially, ignoring need at times in favor of players with specific athletic skills. The lack of a dominant guard could come back to bite them later, and I’m not totally sold on the prospects of second-round offensive tackle Justin Britt. However, getting Colorado speed receiver Paul Richardson, also in the second round, could be a major steal.

Alabama’s Kevin Norwood, a bigger target for the end zone and the red zone, adds a key component to Seattle’s offense. UCLA defensive lineman Cassius Marsh, who committed to Pete Carroll back in the USC days before changing his mind, reunites in an end/tackle role. Watch out for Marshall offensive tackle Garrett Scott as the possible sleeper pick — he has a lot of the qualities you’d like to see in a top-flight pass-blocker.

I have to knock Seattle down for passing on the two best guards in this class — Xavier Su’a-Filo and David Yankey — because it is a position of enormous need that wasn’t sewn up in free agency, either.

Grade: B-minus

Pete Prisco of CBSports.com gave the Hawks a B-plus.

The Seahawks traded out of the first round to add picks and added a lot of good players. Second-round receiver Paul Richardson can fly and I love fourth-round picks Cassius Marsh and Kevin Norwood. Grade: B-plus

Here’s how NFL.com wrapped up the Seahawks’ draft: 

Another draft in which Pete Carroll gets the guys he wants where he wants. There were perhaps some reaches in there, but you have to really like adding Richardson and the underrated Norwood on offense. Marsh can be very versatile in the Seahawks’ scheme.

Bleacher Report gave the Hawks a B:

Upgrading at wide receiver was important for Seattle and without many other holes, the team’s draft was solid.

 


Seahawks and DeSean Jackson? Read the latest buzz

Friday, March 28th, 2014

The Jared Allen watch has ended for Seahawks’ fans, but it’s time to start a DeSean Jackson watch.

The Eagles released the star wide receiver on Friday, and it didn’t take long for everybody to start speculating on Seattle’s chances of signing him.

Here’s some of the buzz:

Here’s what Doug Farrar of SI.com wrote about the Seahawks’ possible interest in Jackson:

There are two things we know about Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll — they’ll turn every stone to improve their team, and they will take risks on players with “interesting” pasts. They took a shot on Marshawn Lynch in 2010, and Lynch rewarded the team by becoming the heart of the franchise. Lynch played with Jackson at Cal, and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has Cal ties as well. The Seahawks need a speed receiver with Golden Tate moving on to the Lions and Percy Harvin’s injury status as a constant variable. This is a team with a fairly strong locker room, which could help. And if Jackson is looking to sign with a winner and will take a “prove-it” deal to do so, there are few better options.”

Farrar also lists some other possible landing spots for Jackson.

Here’s what USA Today had to say why Seattle might be interested in Jackson:

They have to replace Golden Tate. The combination of DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin would be both scary for opponents and scary for the Seahawks. It would be must see TV.”

Thirty minutes after the Eagles released him, Jackson’ spokesperson told USA Today that six teams had called inquiring about his services. Jackson also released a statement denying any involvement with gangs.

From RantSports.com:

“If signed with the Seahawks, Jackson would immediately take over as Seattle’s top receiver. While they have Percey Harvin, he’s an injury waiting to happen and can’t be relied upon. Doug Baldwin showed some promise during their run to the Super Bowl, but is best suited as a No. 3 receiver. After that, the amount of talent is questionable at best. Jackson would bring legitimate No. 1 receiver ability to the Seahawks.

“The only issue standing in the way of a dealis Jackson’s alleged ties to a Los Angeles area gang, which are believed to have played a role in the Eagles’ decision to release him. The Cal product has vehemently denied such ties, but concerns will obviously linger. Before they get seriously involved in talks, expect the Seahawks to do their due diligence.

“Having Jackson in their offense would certainly make things easier for Russell Wilson moving forward, but off-field concerns must be alleviated first. Assuming there’s little to the gang ties story, expect the Seahawks to be big players in signing Jackson.”

More links:

Danny Kelly of fieldgulls.com wraps it up pretty good in this piece. It even includes a photo of Carroll and Jackson in Jackson’s living room when he was a high school all-american. Jackson originally posted the photo on Instagram.

Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN Seattle writes, among other things, about Jackson’s connection to Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll — he recruited Jackson when he was at USC — and to former Cal teammates Marshawn Lynch and Brandon Mebane.

Five days ago, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.nbc.com reported that the Seahawks had no interest in Jackson. Friday, after Jackson was released, Florio had changed his tune, writing that the Seahawks were one of the teams previously interested.


Blue Friday links

Friday, January 17th, 2014

You might have heard about the football game that’s going to be played on Sunday in Seattle: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers (3:30 p.m. FOX) for the right to advance to the Super Bowl.

I’m working on a story about Poulsbo’s Patrick Seahawk Duncan (yes, he changed in middle name to Seahawk). In the meantime,  here’s a few samples of what people are writing about the game. No, wait, I mean THE game:

Gonna start with this piece about the culture of the 12th Man as witnessed by an outsider. Really captures the passion of the Seahawks’ fans, and includes a video of the Seahawks anthem, or at least one of the anthems that’s been recorded by local artists.

Pete Carroll or Jim  Harbaugh? Who’s the better man? Who’s the better coach? Rick Reilly tackles those questions in this column on ESPN.com.

John Clayton, ESPN.com’s professor of football, calls the Seahawks-49ers rivalry one of the best in the NFL since he started covering the league in the early 1970s. He rates the top five rivalries in that time.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com studies the tapes of the first two meetings between the Seahawks and 49ers and he has some interesting thoughts on the matchup.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be handshakes after this one,” says Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman praises fellow cornerback Byron Maxwell in his MMQB.com column. He writes: “At this point, he’s well-prepared, and he’s playing as well as any corner in the NFL …”

Who has the edge? NFL.com experts break it down position-by-position.

This Associated Press story deals with how the 49ers are going to try and handle the noise-factor at CenturyLink.

And this Associated Press story addresses the noise issue from a Seahawks’ defensive standpoint.

Want stats? Here’s AP’s capsule look at the 49ers and Hawks.

The year’s Final Four — Seahawks vs. 49ers in the NFC, and Broncos vs. the Patriots in the AFC — doesn’t get much better. Check out CBS.com’s rundown of the two games.

Writers — one who covers the Seahawks and one who covers the Niners — break it all down.

And a late story: Brendon Mebane, the unsung hero on Seattle’s defensive line, a story by Doug Farrar for SI.com’s MMQB.


49ers-Seahawks: Greatest rivalry in sports?

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Seahawks vs. 49ers: The Trilogy.

That’s what some are calling Sunday’s NFC Championship game (3:30 p.m., FOX). Granted, it’s the third meeting between the Hawks and Niners this season, but this rivalry goes back to 2007, when Pete Carroll was coaching at USC and Jim Harbaugh was coaching Stanford. Stanford upset the Trojans that day, and two years later the Cardinal did it again. The 2009 game featured the now-famous post-game meeting when Carroll, apparently upset that Harbaugh attempted a two-point conversation late in the game with a healthy lead.

Carroll asked Harbaugh: “What’s your deal?”

Harbaugh came back with: “What’s your deal?”

Here’s the deal. These coaches, and these teams,  don’t like each other.

There are those who believe that Manning vs. Brady is the greatest rivalry in the NFL. It dates back to when Peyton Manning was slinging passes for the Indianapolis Colts and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the toast of football. Manning, now with the Broncos, will take another shot at Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship game on Sunday (noon, CBS). By the way, Brady’s won 10 of 14 career meetings against Manning.

I think the Seahawks-49ers rivalry has eclipsed the Manning-Brady rivalry. Maybe it’s just because we’re so close to it, but these two West Coast rivals have forged perhaps the greatest rivalry in all of professional sports. The survivor of this game will be a lot like the cowboy who manages to hang on for eight seconds against the biggest, toughest, most physical bull in the world.

The teams are similar in makeup, featuring the most complete and feared defenses in football. The Seahawks have the best defensive backfield, and they’re deep and talented in the other spots, too. The Niners are loaded along the defensive line, and like Seattle, don’t have any weaknesses on that side of the ball.

Knowing the defenses are so sound, the offenses don’t ask a lot out of young quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, although both have been electrifying at times.

The Seahawks ram Marshawn Lynch behind a pretty good offensive line; the 49ers have Frank Gore, and perhaps the best offensive line in football.

The Seahawks have Percy Harvin, providing he’s cleared after sustaining a concussion late in the first half of the win over the Saints on Saturday. We’ve only seem a glimpse of the guy, but it’s pretty clear that Harvin is a rare talent, and opens things up for the Seahawks on offense. The rest of the receivers are sure-handed and have shown an ability to make big plays when they get open,. The 49ers have Anquan Boldin, who is as clutch as they come, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. As good as Seattle’s secondary is, these receivers will be tough to stop.

It’ll be interesting if any bulletin board material shows up during the week.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, called his ex-coach a bully and said he was part of the reason why he dropped to the fifth-round in the NFL draft. Cornerback Brandon Browner said he wanted to “put his hands around Harbaugh’s neck.”

San Francisco running back Anthony Dixon, in a tweet before the Week 2 game, which turned out to be a 29-3 Seattle victory, tweeted: “Extra weight on the racks all week getting less sleep preparing for these She-Hawks,” he wrote. “I love hostile environments Imma feel right at home.”

Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright responded: “lol the she hawks!! I’ll be sure relay the message to the fellas. Its gone be a long night for you and the forty whiners.”

Dixon and Wright both deleted their tweets.

After San Francisco beat Carolina 23-10 to earn a shot at the Seahawks, Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted: “Wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Pete Carroll talked about the game on his ESPN 710 Seattle radio show Monday morning.

“I think it’s the matchup that everybody wanted like to see,” Carroll said. “We don’t mind it one bit and they don’t mind it, either. It’ll be a great one.

“These are the two teams everyone was talking about early in the year, so it’s interesting how accurate all the (soothsayers) were. There’s not a better matchup you could find right now in the NFC. We’re thrilled about it.”

The 49ers are peaking. They’ll bring an eight-game winning streak to CenturyLink. One of those wins was a 19-17 victory over the Hawks last month in San Francisco.

Nevada oddsmakers favor the Seahawks by three points. In other words, the bookies give Seattle the edge because of the home-field environment. As electric as the 12s have been in the past, you know it’ll be even louder and more boisterous on Sunday. That’s going to be tough for the 49ers to overcome.

This game might come down to the team that can control its emotions and be the most disciplined. Leave the smack-talk in the locker room. Now’s not the time to go all Jimmy Graham on the opposition. Keep your mouth shut and play. I don’t see the Seahawks or 49ers losing sight of that, not with what’s at stake.

Here’s something to chew on: The home team has won four straight int his series.

Here’s something else to chew on. Since Carroll and Harbaugh have been in the NFL, Harbaugh and the 49ers are 4-2 against the Seahawks, but they’ve been outscored 71-16 in their last games, both losses, at the Clink.

So here’s the deal: If you’re going to the game, bring some sani-wipes because this is going to be like sitting ringside at a  classic heavyweight championship  fight. Snot and sweat and blood are going to be flying.

And when Harbaugh and Carroll shake hands after the game, the winner, no doubt, will be tempted to say: “Hey, you know what the deal is? We’re going to the Super Bowl and you’re going home.”

Some links

Here’s another look at the Seahawks-49ers rivalry.

As I type this, 63% percent of the fans in this ESPN poll feel the Seahawks will beat the 49ers.

Are Seahawks trying to keep 49ers’ fans from buying tickets to Sunday’s championship game?

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that no team has an emotional leader like Jim Harbaugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Is there a ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ in the Seahawks’ future?

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Someone on the NFL Network pre-game show, and I can’t remember who it was, compared the Seahawks’ defense to the defense that carried the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory in 1985. He talked about the secondary, and the overall quickness and aggressiveness of the unit.

That’s some pretty high praise.

Da Bears finished 15-1 in ’85 and punished New England 48-10 in SB XX in New Orleans.

Seattle’s currently 6-1 and 15-1 seems possible at this stage of the season — only two of their final nine opponents, New Orleans and the 49ers, are currently over .50o — if the defense keeps playing at its current level. If you had to vote for postseason honors right now, Seattle safety Earl Thomas would get a lot of votes for Defensive Player of the Year. The guy — pardon me Marshawn — is a beast. He’s got 43 solo tackles (six more assists), four interceptions and he’s forced two fumbles.

But back to the team. On the road, against a decent but not great Arizona Cardinals team, the Seahawks  had their way . They allowed just 30 rushing yards, had seven sacks and two interceptions, one by Thomas and another that should have been returned for a touchdown but cornerback Brandon Browner was tripped up by Casper (the friendly ghost) before he got to the end zone.

Seattle ranks No. 5 in points allowed (16.6), No. 2 in total yards allowed (282.1), No. 3 in passing yards allowed (190.6) and No. 5 (91.6) in rushing yards allowed. They are first in interceptions with 11, first in forced fumbles with 10, and first in recovered fumbles (8). They have the best secondary in the league, led by Thomas and Richard Sherman. Browner raised his level against the Cardinals after a so-so start. Cam Chancellor remains one of the hardest-hitting strong safeties in the game and you just don’t see him making mistakes.

The Hawks are also as deep as anyone in the league along the defensive front. It doesn’t seem to matter who ‘s in the game — Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril are getting things done from the outside and Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel are getting it done inside. If Seattle duplicates the rush it had against the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer, he won’t be the last quarterback who is going to have a miserable day against the Seahawks.

When Chicago was wreaking havoc, the Bears weren’t facing the kind of high-powered offenses that now exist in the NFL. But I can’t remember a defense that was more intimidating, or dominating. Coached by Buddy Ryan, they used an innovative attacking “46 zone” defense that allowed the fewest points (196), total yards (4,135) and few rushing yards (1,319) that year. They also led in interceptions (34) and were third in sacks (64). Middle linebacker Mike Singletary was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the award could easily have gone to teammate and future Hall of Famer Richard Dent, who had 17 sacks. Another Hall of Famer, Dan Hampton, was also part of the defensive line.

Da Bears, under head coach Mike Ditka, were also pretty good on offense. Led by His Sweetness, Walter Payton, and quarterback Jim McMahon, Chicago outscored opponents 456-198. Payton was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher at the time and he danced and pounded for 1,551 yards and caught 49 passes for another 485 yards.

Seattle’s offense, considering all of the injuries to the offensive line, has been pretty good. The Seahawks have been successful ramming Marshawn Lynch at opponents and quarterback Russell Wilson, just seven games into his second pro season, is the best at extending plays and keeping opponents guessing.  McMahon spread the ball around to his receivers — speedster Willie Gault (33 catches, 704 yards) was the deep threat, Dennis McKinnon (31-555-7 TDs) had his best season and tight end Emery Moorhead was clutch (35-481) was clutch. It’s similar to how the Seahawks are getting it done. There’s probably not anybody you want on our fantasy team, but Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller and Jermaine Kearse have all demonstrated they can make big plays. And the offense should get better. Receiver/returner Percy Harvin has yet to play, but is getting close to being game ready and he is one of the best offensive weapons in the league. Plus, they’ve been without starting tackles Russell Okung (foot) and Breno Giacomini (knee).

One more comparison. The Bears were led by Ditka, who was as fiery as they come during his day. He was never afraid to speak his mind and remains a beloved figure in the Windy City. Enthusiastic Pete Carroll does it with a different style in Seattle, and the outgoing coach has captured the 12s, as well as the team, while turning the Seahawks into legit Super Bowl contenders.

The only thing missing?

The Bears recorded the “Super Bowl Shuffle” and released it to rave reviews three months prior to the Super Bowl. I remember it as being a bit corny, but after some extensive reasearch (thank you, Google), I discovered that it sold more than a half million records, hit No. 41 on the Billboard charts and was even nominated for a Grammy.

I’m sure the Seahawks could get a little help from one of their biggest fans, Macklemore, if they wanted some help on recording their own rap video. The “Super Bowl Shuffle, Seattle-Style” just might be in order.

 

 


Seahawks, Sounders popular in Cabo

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

So I’ve been on a little R&R in Cabo San Lucas, mostly doing nothing but sitting poolside and having an occasional cerveza or whatever the 2-for-1 drink of the day happens to be.

I’ve watched very little television since I’ve been in Cabo, but the Seahawks’ 40-10 beat-down of the Denver Broncos caught my eye. I know, I know, it’s only preseason, but seems like the Hawks have got it going on.

Mike Silver, formerly of Yahoo! Sports and now working for NFL.com, is the latest to jump on the Hawks’ bandwagon. You can read his story here.

And I just read another interesting story about the Hawks. Alyssa Roenigk of ESPN.com writes about how the Seahawks are using meditation and other methods to build a healthier franchise.

When the locals in Cabo find out I’m from the Seattle area, they invariably ask about the rain and the Seahawks, not necessarily in that order.

I ran into a guy at the market yesterday that trailed me around the store for about 30 minutes, asking questions about the team and telling me what he thought. He was a big Seattle fan, knew all about Russell Wilson, the “beeeeg and fast defensive backs” and he loved Pete Carroll. “Players, they respect him, no?”

And when it was time to leave, he wanted to know if I would go to a timeshare presentation. Said he’s throw in a Seahawks’ poncho or blanket.

Sports fans south of the border also know about the Seattle Sounders.  They know that the Sounders fill the stadium, and when I told a young waiter that the Sounders had recently signed Clint Dempsey, his eyes bulged. “Oh, my, Cleeent Demsee! The forward? He’s soooo good.”‘

Muy bueno huh?

“Mexico has nobody like him,” said the waiter. “You are so lucky.”

When I asked him about Mexico’s soccer team, he cringed. “Don’t ask, it makes me crazy. We don’t have any good players. I’d rather cheer for the Sounders.”

 


Handicapping Dawgs and Cougs; Jonson tied for 5th at PNGA Amateur; Sherman’s softball game Sunday

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Chris Huston, college football writer for CBS Sports.com, took a look at the over/under lines on how many games Pac-12 football teams will win in 2013.

The line for the Washington Huskies was 7.5. It was 4.5 for the Washington State Cougars. Will the Huskies win more than seven games? Will WSU win more than four?

Here’s how Huston sized up the UW and WSU:

Washington, 7.5

Over (-120)/Under (-120)

The Huskies have been consistently mediocre under Steve Sarkisian with three straight 7-6 seasons. This may be his last chance to show he can get it done in Seattle. The talent is certainly there, with all-star recruits on both sides of the ball. But this Husky program is still trying to find its identity. The schedule does Sarkisian no favors, as Washington opens withBoise State, then travels to Chicago to take on Illinois. October is a bear, with a home game against Oregon sandwiched between road games at Stanford and Arizona State. It’s going to be tough for UW to break out of its 7-win gulag. VERDICT: Under

Washington State, 4.5

Over (-130)/Under (-110)

Mike Leach is in his second season in the Palouse and his team should be much improved after last season’s disappointing 3-9 record. Whether that will translate into more wins is the big question. The season starts out rough, with road trips to Auburn and USC, but games against cream puffs Southern Utah and Idaho means the Cougars should be 2-2 heading into a late September game against Stanford in Seattle. WSU doesn’t have Colorado on its schedule, but it also misses UCLA. The last three games against Arizona, Utah and Washington will determine the win total and I like Leach’s chances to get two of those three. VERDICT: Over.

If UW quarterback Keith Price gets his mojo back after a disappointing 2012 season, I think Washington has a chance to win nine, maybe 10 games. The defense was much-improved a year ago, and it should be even better. The offensive line should also be a strength. And, like Huston pointed out, this could be Sarkisian’s last chance to get it done. Another seven-win season and the honeymoon will be over. Another seven-win season and Sark’s stock will drop considerably.

I’m think Leach will get it done on the Palouse, but only if his team can get some sort of a running game established. Doesn’t need to be much, but it has to be better than it was a year ago when WSU ran for an average of 29.1 yards a game. They’ve got some experience up front, including John Fullington, the senior from North Mason who has started the last 30 games for the Cougars. Look for the Cougs to win six games. If they won’t win four, Leach might catch the next pirate ship out of Pullman.

 

Jonson tied for 14th

Bainbridge’s Carl Jonson, who will be a junior at UNLV, is tied for 5th after the first round at the PNGA Men’s Amateur, being played at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon. Jonson shot a 3-over 75 on the Bandon Dunes course Saturday. He plays Bandon Trails today. The low 64 advance to match play. Here’s the leaderboard.

Jonson was medalist in this event a year ago at Wine Tree Golf Club in Walla Walla and advanced to the championship match, where he lost 5 & 4 to Ban Shotaro of San Jose, Calif. Shotaro also carded an opening-round 75. He’s playing in the same threesome with Jonson. The other player in the group, Mark Strickland of Mukilteo, shot 1-under 69 and sits atop the leaderboard.

Ed Jonson, Carl’s dad, won this tournament in 1974 at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish.

Port Orchard’s Bjorn Bjorke is in a good position to make the cut to match-play after shooting 77 on the Bandon Dunes course. The Olympic College golf coach is tied for 16th at 5-over.

Sherman’s softball game today

Festivities for Richard Sherman’s Celebrity Softball Game Sunday, July 7, at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium begin at noon. Here’s a list of some of the celebs scheduled to show up. Lots of Seahawks will be there. Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals and ex-Sonic Shawn Kemp are also playing. Says here that Golden Tate’s the early favorite to win the home-run derby. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson will coach the teams.


Some NFL stuff: The Shermanator, “Kickalicious” & More

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Richard Sherman threw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday night at Safeco Field and it was a strike. The Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback was back in the news earlier in the week when he said that half of the NFL’s players were using Adderall. The Vancouver Sun in British Columbia reported that story. The NFL called Sherman’s comments “irresponsible” and “ill-informed.” Sherman later said he was misquoted, but The Sun is sticking to its story, and released video of the interview. Sherman made even bigger headline earlier in the offseason when he ripped Skip Bayless on ESPN’s “First Take.” Bayless had criticized Sherman, the Stanford grad took Bayless apart:  “I’m better at life than you.” He called Bayless “a pompous, egotistical, arrogant cretin.” He said: “I’m gonna crush you in front of everybody.”

Has Sherman gone too far? Have you lost any respect for the guy, who is clearly one of the elite pass defenders in the NFL? Should Pete Carroll rope him in? Or is it all of his trash-talking simply fun and games and harmless? I’m kind of on the fence. I don’t mind a little rebellion once in a while, but it seems the more he puts himself out there, the less funny he becomes.

Havard Rugland, a Norwegian kicker, has been signed by the Detroit Lions to compete with David Akers for the job previously held by Jason Hanson. He’s been dubbed “Kikalicious.” Check out this video and you’ll understand why.

Jeff Garcia, the former NFL quarterback who now works as a quarterback instructor, says the Jets should release Tim Tebow sooner than later.

Why Brady Quinn? “He’s a pro,” said Carl Smith, the Seahawks’ veteran quarterback coach. Smith coached Quinn, who was signed to compete for a backup job earlier in the week, at Cleveland. “His best years are ahead of him,” Smith said.

No. 56. That’s when the Seahawks will pick in the NFL Draft. Claire Farnsworth of Seahawks.com. writes that the team once drafted Michael Jackson, a linebacker from Washington who led the Seahawks in tackles from 1980-82, with the 57th pick. They got cornerback Josh Wilson with the 57th 55th pick in 2007. They’ve never had a 56th pick. Who will it be?

A billion dollars for Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers? Teammate A.J. Hawk said whatever Rodgers gets, he’s worth every penny.

Jay-Z could help Victor Cruz land a big deal with the New York Giants. The rapper’s Creative Arts Agency recently announced that it had formed an athlete management firm called Roc Nation Sports. Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano was his first client.


Brandt’s crystal ball sees Seahawks playing at Atlanta down the road

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Gil Brandt, a senior analysis for NFL.com, shook up his crystal ball and it’s tell him that the Seahawks will beat the Redskins on Sunday. He’s predicting victories for the Packers and Seahawks in the wild card round, which means Seattle would play at Atlanta in the divisional round. The lowest remaining seed after this weekend plays at the No. 1 seed (Atlanta) on Sunday, Jan. 13.

Brandt was one of the most respected minds in the NFL when he was the vice president in charge of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys (1960-89) and he now writes a blog for the NFL.

If Minnesota (No. 6) beats Green Bay (No. 3)  and Seattle (No. 5)  beats Washington (No. 4), then the Seahawks head down the coast for a rematch with the 49ers (No. 2) on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Here’s how Brandt sizes up the Hawks-Skins game:

» Wilson and  RG3 are obviously the headline-grabbing rookies in this matchup, but the key guy in this game is another first-year player: Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. He has to make plays against Redkins rookie Alfred Morris for Seattle to have a chance.

» I think the Seahawks caught a good break with this game. Even though they have to travel out east, it’s a late game, starting at about the same time they’d get going in Seattle.

» Both teams have left tackles in the Pro Bowl, which makes it a lot safer to be a rookie starting at quarterback.

Brandt also breaks down all of the QBs in the playoffs, rating RG3 and Russell Wilson No. 8 and 9, respectively.

You can read his thoughts here.

More Links

Some of Seattle’s favorite musicians were on hand Friday morning to raise the blue 12th Man flag at the Space Needle in Seattle. Several Seahawks’ anthems are included with this link, including “Russell, Last Name, Wilson,” by Tim Crispy.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune writes about coaches Pete Carroll and Mike Shanahan. They share a similar philosophy and a mutual respect for each other. Shanahan wanted to hire Carroll to be his defensive coordinator at one point in their careers, but Carroll got a late offer to return to his hometown area and run the 49ers’ defense.

The Associated Press capsule report on Sunday’s playoff game is loaded with facts and stats (note, the Seahawks are now favored by 3 points; it was 1.5 when this was first published). Did you know that Washington’s last two playoff games were against the Seahawks. Seattle won at home 20-10 in January 2006, and 35-14 in January 2008.

Jim Trotter of SI.com writes how Russell Wilson went from ordinary to extraordinary this season for the Seahawks.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post writes about how Wilson and Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III can change a game in a snap.

Oft-criticized owner Daniel Snyder has taken a hands-off approach with the Redskins, and it’s working, according to this story in the Washington Post.

The Post looks an an interesting matchup: Washington’s receivers vs. Seattle’s rangy defensive backs.

Redskins’ linebacker London Fletcher, one of the most underrated players in the NFL, has gained the respect of his teammates

Mike Sando of ESPN.com breaks the game down.

What They’re Saying …

Steve Raible, voice of the Seahawks and a former Seattle receiver, to ESPN 710 radio:  “Somebody had to remind me in fact that we haven’t won a playoff game on the road — and I bite my tongue when I say this — in 29 years. But that, I think — I feel pretty strongly about it — that one’s gonna go out the window this weekend … I just think the Seahawks, given everything I’ve seen them do in the last half of this season, I believe they’re gonna win the football game.”

Mack Strong, the fullback on Seattle’s Super Bowl team, said this on KJR radio: “If they (Seahawks) don’t have a lot of turnovers, honestly, I don’t think this game will be close. I just think the way the Seahawks are playing, they’re just way too powerful, way too physical, playing at a much higher level, I feel like, than the Washington Redskins. Not to take anything away from them, they’re paying at home. But I just feel like you line their 53 up against our 53, I think we win by at least 10 points.”

KJR’s Dave ‘Softy’ Mahler, who also thinks the Seahawks are going to win: “I mean, some could argue that RGIII is a better quarterback than Russell Wilson. Some may argue that Alfred Morris is having a better year than Marshawn Lynch, but I’ll take the veteran come playoff time, OK? It’s not about being a better team than Washington. It’s about being a better team than them on Sunday. That’s all that matters.”

 


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