Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Morning Thoughts: Week 4

What to Think of the Seattle Seahawks?
Kam Chancellor has now been back with his teammates for two weeks now, and Seattle has won it's last two after a horrendous 0-2 start. Obviously, it is an understatement that Chancellor was missed by Seattle's defense, how could one not when it's missing the best safety in football? Flying around the field while making plays and laying the wood on people is his forte, yet it was the leadership that Chancellor brought to the table that was missing from the back to back NFC champions. Seattle, once Marshawn Lynch is restored to full health, will again look like the title contenders we've grown accustomed to seeing on Sundays, and all appears to be well again.

Or is it?

Kam Chancellor, make no mistake about it, still wants what is owed to him. Let's not forget the elephant in the room still exists, even if everybody pretends it's not there. At some point in time, Chancellor's agent will sit down with the Seahawks organization and try to extend his current deal. Whether you agree/disagree on Chancellor getting a new contract, it's simple to see what's currently happening is a mere band-aid on a situation that requires much more than quick fix.

In the off-season, Christmas came early for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks by acquiring tight end Jimmy Graham in a trade from New Orleans. Graham was expected to play a huge role on offense, as Wilson finally has a go-to man on the goal-line in clutch scenarios. Yet through four weeks of the season, Graham has far fell short of expectations so far, and has many wondering: Does Seattle remember they have Jimmy Graham? When taken under further analysis, the "Monday Night Football" analysts Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis said it best, pointing out multiple plays where Graham was caught not blocking/playing hard, and essentially saying Seattle needs more from him in that aspect, if Graham wants more of the ball.

Feeding off the Jimmy Graham trade, involved in that was sending one of the leagues best centers in Max Unger to the Saints. A stable offensive line is essential to long term success in the NFL, and Seattle just does not possess one without Unger as their anchor in 2015. Giving up six sacks in multiple games and 18 overall in four weeks (2nd worst in the league), Seattle is on it's way to allowing 72 sacks in 16 games, an astronomical and historical number that Russell Wilson should fear for his health and mindfulness. The Seahawks are built for a balanced attack that relies slightly more on the run game, and Marshawn Lynch himself has not been able to get his engine going quite yet either. Do the math, Seattle needs the offensive line to step up to make a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

Get a Kick out of This!
Man, 2015 has been a horrible year for NFL placekickers. Remarkable isn't it? Just move the PAT back and watch the misses pile up. Last week, there were 18 missed field-goals/extra point opportunities, as we saw a number of kickers wave good-bye as they were released after bad performances. Gone are the days of a "guaranteed" extra point, this is the new NFL. Four weeks in and the league has accomplished exactly what was intended, to make every point count.

Despite the raw performances displayed by some place kickers in 2015, the importance of the kicking game is in it's early stages of it's revolution. The art of kicking has become a  luxury in the league, and should you not have the likes of a Gostkowski or a Santos on your team, going for it on 4th down and two-point conversions start to sound more appealing.

Almost crazy to say, but kickers are a new-found essential need on every team. Fans will actually start to know their name and study them like all other positions, and thanks to the recent lack of efficiency from some kickers (we won't ever forget you, Josh Scobee), the place-kicker will look to be more appreciated by not only fans, but members higher up in the organization as well, resulting in more need for "game changing" kickers, and a slight increase in salary money for the position as well. Only four weeks in 2015 and these players have been the talk of the league. Who knows? Perhaps in the 2016 NFL Draft we'll see a kicker taken higher than expected.

Cowboys are Still Favorites in NFC East
Despite missing Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and a number of other key players for long periods of time, this Dallas team still has my vote of confidence. Picking a Brandon Weeden led team to win their division is scary, but Halloween is in-fact right around the corner, and there is a lot of football yet to be played. This week marks the return of new addition Greg Hardy, and if Hardy can salvage anything he had in Carolina, this defense will receive a much needed boost. While the offense has seen it's share of stalled drives/mistakes, considering all factors, the offense hasn't performed that outrageous.

The Giants at this moment pose the biggest threat of stealing away the division crown in 2015. Chip Kelly is too busy in Philadelphia trying to make square pegs fit in round holes (Sam Bradford, Demarco Murray) and ruining his team's chances by the week. Washington, although tied with Dallas and New York at the moment with a 2-2 record, find that the Redskins are more of a mess than what their record suggests. Their defense, a pleasant surprise thus far, can only carry a Kirk Cousins led team so far.

The possible returns of Tony Romo (week 11) and Dez Bryant (week 7) would no doubt help this offense, and the team in general. There's a nice five game stretch starting in the month of November (Eagles, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Panthers, Redskins) that would propel Dallas back in their righteous spot of NFC East favorites. All that's asked of Jason Garrett is to weather the storm while his two best players are out. Manage a winning record by time everybody is fully healthy, and you have one scary Cowboys team that has a deep playoff run on their mind.

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