2012 NFC Playoff Teams Struggling in 2013

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Last year, the division champions in the NFC were the Green Bay Packers (NFC North), Atlanta Falcons (NFC South), Washington Redskins (NFC East), and San Francisco 49ers (NFC West). Wrapping up the wildcard spots were the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. Not counting the Seahawks, these five playoff teams from a year ago are a combined 3-12 in 2013. Let’s look at each on a case-by-case basis.

Green Bay Packers – 2012 Record: 11-5, 2013 Record: 1-2
Even with the infamous “Fail Mary” play that resulted in a Week 3 loss at Seattle, the Green Bay Packers ended last season with an 11-5 record. This season, they’ve dropped two out of three games.

In Week 1, they registered a 34-28 loss at San Francisco to a seemingly respectable 49er team that was ranked third in most preseason polls. The Packer defense played poorly, especially in coverage, but they showed signs of improvement from 2012. In Week 2, the Packers thrashed a hopeless Redskin defense 38-20 en route to Aaron Rodgers’ franchise-record tying day. Rodgers put up 480 passing yards, largely in the first two quarters, in a contest that was decided well before halftime. Week 3 brought another set-back, as the Packers lost 34-30 to a determined Bengals team in Cincinatti.

Neither of these losses was especially troubling or terrible, as both the Bengals and 49ers were playoff teams from a year ago. Regardless, the Packers had lofty expectations for this season and have one of the most effective quarterbacks in a pass-happy league. Look for the Packers to bounce back over the next two month, as they have easy contests against the 1-2 Browns, the 0-3 Vikings (twice), and the 0-3 Giants, with the still suspect 2-1 Lions at home. But if the Pack can’t win at least five out of eight games moving forward, they’re going to be in dire straits.

Atlanta Falcons – 2012 Record: 13-3, 2013 Record: 1-2
The 2012 Atlanta Falcons started out the season with a nine-game winning streak and ended the season with a divisional title. This year, however, the Falcons have already fallen prey to a resurgent Saints team in the NFC South. Atlanta heads into Week 4 with a disappointing 1-2 record.

The 2013 season began with a 23-17 away loss at New Orleans. While many analysts expected a shoot-out, the game featured a revitalized Saints’ defense that negated a Falcons’ fourth-quarter comeback. Traditionally, these two teams have split the divisional series; this loss isn’t anything to worry about, but now the Falcons need to beat the Saints in Atlanta to have a realistic shot at winning the division. In Week 2, the Falcons almost lost at home to the St. Louis Rams, a team that made some bold off-season acquisitions. Regardless, this isn’t a particularly talented or experienced team; Week 2 certainly raised a few eyebrows. Week 3 saw the Falcons traveling to Miami, where they lost a close game to the surprisingly tough Dolphins. Miami looks like a playoff team this year, so the Falcons need to find a way to win these games.

Atlanta’s big acquisition in free agency was veteran Steven Jackson, a bruising running back who, they hoped, would shore up a pathetic running game and create a bit of balance on offense. The Falcons averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 2012, good enough for 29th in the league. Jackson injured his hamstring in Week 2; the Falcons think he’ll be sidelined until Week 7. This is definitely a blow for Atlanta’s offense, but so far Jackson hasn’t been dominant. Wide receiver Roddy White is also injured and playing in a limited capacity, so these injuries are starting to pile up. Their redzone efficiency needs to improve, as their defense is getting scoring on early and often. The Falcons still have scary matchups with the Panthers (twice), the Saints, the Seahawks, Green Bay, and San Francisco. If they can’t capitalize against less dominant teams, the Falcons are going to be out of the playoffs this year.

Washington Redskins – 2012 Record: 10-6, 2013 Record: 0-3
Last season, the Redskins drafted Heisman Trophy-winner Robert Griffin III and implemented an exciting read-option offense, energizing the nation’s capital and making a household name out of Robert Griffin. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, as the Redskins coaching staff took a lot of heat for playing RGIII through a knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. This season, RGIII is back in the lineup but doesn’t seem like his old self. The Redskins defense looks absolutely terrible through three weeks, but the offense isn’t blameless. So far in 2013 Washington is 0-3.

In Week 1, Michael Vick and the Chip Kelly-led Philadelphia Eagles made the Redskins defense look like amateurs en route to a 33-27 Redskins’ loss. Vick marched the team up and down the field at will, catching cornerbacks out of position and handing it off to running back LeSean McCoy for huge gains. Griffin wasn’t stepping into throws, he looked tentative on scrambles, and overall just seemed rusty. Philadelphia took away the run game and hit Griffin whenever they could; it turned out to be a solid strategy that other teams have emulated.

Green Bay just absolutely dominated the Redskins, piling up the receiving and rushing yards on the way to a 38-20 Redskins loss. If the Packers hadn’t taken their foot off the gas pedal starting in the second half, the score could have easily passed fifty. Griffin showed a few flashes in the passing game, but overall he looked like a shadow of his former self. In Week 3, Washington lost a relatively close 27-20 game at home to the Detroit Lions. RGIII talked about implementing more designed quarterback runs, but so far he hasn’t come close to his 6.8 yards per carry average from 2012.

Washington reportedly has issues in the locker room between head coach Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III. On the field, their defense is allowing the second-most rushing and passing yards in the league. While this team led the league in rushing yards last year, they’ve had little success in 2013; so far, they’re ranked 20th overall with 100.7 yards per game. First and foremost, the Redskins need to fix their porous defense. On both sides of the ball, the Redskins aren’t starting with enough energy. When the offense stalls and can’t convert any third downs early in the game, the team falls into a two-touchdown hole. Griffin is certainly having problems, but if Washington can solve its defensive woes they can be successful again.

San Francisco 49ers – 2012 Record: 11-4, 2013 Record: 1-2
Over the last two years, the 49ers are 25-7. They’ve clinched the NFC both years, and in doing so haven’t lost two games in a row. However, over the last two weeks the San Francisco 49ers were outscored 56-10 and Colin Kaepernick played the worst back-to-back games of his career.

In Week 1, the 49ers dominated the Packers defense through the air on the way to a 34-28 home win. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin racked up almost 200 yards receiving and Vernon Davis caught two touchdowns after the Packers forced Kaepernick to stay in the pocket and took away the run game. Week 2 saw the 49ers in Seattle, where the Seahawks put on an absolute clinic. The Seahawks’ defense took center spotlight; cornerback Richard Sherman shut down Boldin and the rest of the team created turnovers and made stops all over the place. Kaepernick and the 49ers looked terrible in a 29-3 blowout victory for Seattle. In Week 3, the 49ers drew the Indianapolis Colts in San Francisco. Again, Kaepernick looked out of sync and confused in a 27-7 loss. Indianapolis took away certain aspects of the 49ers’ pistol offense and really had Kaepernick’s number.

Out of all five teams on this list, the 49ers’ struggles are probably the most worrisome. While they are still missing a few players (notably #1 wide receiver Michael Crabtree), the 49ers are getting dominated. Not only have they sustained the most lopsided losses, but San Francisco is now losing their star linebacker Aldon Smith to rehab for an undisclosed period of time. San Francisco plays in perhaps the most competitive division in the NFL, so these early-season losses are especially troubling. With out-of-conference matchups against the Texans, Falcons, Saints, and Panthers, this team has to address their shortcomings quickly.

Minnesota Vikings – 2012 Record: 10-6, 2013 Record: 0-3
Purely on the back of MVP Adrian Peterson (with an early-season campaign by Percy Harvin), the Minnesota Vikings clinched a wildcard appearance in last year’s playoffs. No such luck yet this year, as the Vikings are 0-3.

Week 1 found the Vikings in Detroit, where they lost a fairly close game 34-24 to the resurgent Lions. Detroit running back Reggie Bush ran all over the Vikings, as did his backup Joique Bell. Minnesota struggled in pass protection and run defense, leaving little hope for their offense to keep the game close. In Week 2, the Vikings put up a solid fight but lost after a last minute Bears’ touchdown, dropping the contest 31-30 in Chicago. The Vikings offense was inept for most of the game, but did enough to secure one offensive touchdown and three field goals. Minnesota’s defense scored on a fumble return and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson ran one 105 yards to the house, but they were still overpowered by Chicago’s balanced attack and home-field advantage. Minnesota finally had a home game in Week 3, where they figured to destroy the hapless Browns. Cleveland was coming off the most publicized high-profile trade of the last few seasons, sending first-round pick Trent Richardson to the Colts for 2013 draft picks. Most analysts and Browns fans assumed that meant this season was effectively over; Cleveland sent a message to the contrary in Week 3, when they squeaked out a 31-27 away victory over the Vikings.

While quarterback Christian Ponder has been typically awful in the early going, Peterson’s complete lack of running room has absolutely killed the Minnesota offense. Peterson faced stacked boxes and eight-man fronts all last year, and yet he powered through it on his way to a nearly record-setting 2012 campaign. If Ponder can’t improve marginally and show some consistency, this team has little chance of repeating their 2012 playoff appearance. So far, Ponder’s only thrown two TDs to five INTs. Turning over the ball with that kind of frequency just digs too large of a hole, and it figures to be a point of emphasis for the Vikings moving forward.

Sources -

NFL Stat Lab:

http://www.nfl.com/stats/statslab

ESPN Team Stats:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/teams

ESPN Power Rankings:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/powerrankings/_/year/2013/week/0

Diagnosing the Eagles’ Hurry-Up Woes

Let me just say this: out of every offense in the NFL, I was most excited to see Chip Kelly’s revitalized Eagles attack. Shady McCoy out of the backfield, DeSean Jackson annihilating defenders on bubble screens and burning corners deep, and Michael Vick handing the ball off, scrambling when necessary, and making controlled throws. Three games into the season, Kelly’s offense is four for five. McCoy leads the NFL in rushing, DeSean Jackson leads the NFL in receiving (at least until Sunday’s games), and Michael Vick has flashed vintage wheels.

Unfortunately, though, Vick and the Eagles are still turning the ball over way too much. Mistake prone football, no matter how flashy, cannot happen in the NFL. After five total turnovers in their Week 3 home loss to Kansas City, the 1-2 Eagles are looking for answers and wins in a big way.

While Kelly’s offense catches opposing defenses completely off-guard at times, the mental errors that naturally occur while rushing to the line are fairly evident. Multiple times this season, McCoy has dashed through huge holes in unready defenses and Vick has taken advantage of blown coverage. And yet, Vick’s committed terrible turnovers early and often, throwing immediately into undisguised double coverage at the line. Similarly, the Eagles offense has suffered from miscues and miscommunications. Maybe they’re just working out the kinks.

Is Vick really the problem? In this game, yes. Vick threw for 171 yards and 2 INTs on 13-30 passing. While he did record a 61-yard rush, the longest of his career, Vick didn’t do enough to come up with a victory. Three weeks isn’t a long enough trial run for the veteran QB, so for now it’s a waiting game. But I can’t help thinking nearly any other dual-threat QB starting in the NFL right now could run this offense more effectively.

RGIII, Russell Wilson, or Colin Kaepernick would absolutely thrive in this hurry-up attack (Cam Newton too, but his playing style is more physical and less cerebral). Michael Vick paved the way for these younger guys, but their heady play would be a substantial improvement over Vick’s reckless turnovers. It will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly pursues a dual-threat quarterback in the next few years. Matt Barkley and Nick Foles may be talented, but their relative immobility make them poor substitutes for Michael Vick.

Turnovers are only part of the story. Through three weeks, the Eagles have failed to control possession in every single game. This week, the Chiefs racked up 39:07 in time of possession to the Eagles’ 20:53. While turnovers help explain that time differential (as does the Eagles playing catch-up for the entire second half), Kansas City just ran down the clock and kept the Eagles’ offense off the field. Quite ironically, their ability to keep the clock running stood in direct contrast to the Eagles’ inability to close out the Chargers last week.

Some sports analysts will point to the time of possession disparity when evaluating this Eagles hurry-up offense. NFL players aren’t as energetic and young as they were in college, and NFL rosters only hold 53 active spots. Multiple Eagles scoring drives this year have been under two minutes, and when the hurry-up offense fails to move the chains, the defense comes back onto the field gassed. I’d agree with the analysis on quick three and outs, but that happens all over the NFL and isn’t unique to the Eagles.

Until this week, I would have counted myself among those doubters. Look, the Eagles still need to learn how to close out games. They’re not going to run the hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter with a lead, and that’s been evident. If they can get first downs and run the ball with McCoy they’re going to be successful. The Chiefs’ fourth quarter drives behind Jamaal Charles kept the clock running and didn’t allow for late-game heroics. Take notes, Chip Kelly.

But all this noise about how Kelly’s offense exhausts his defense is completely premature. The offensive turnovers really didn’t help, but Kansas City only ran 77 plays to Philadelphia’s 63. Not bad at all. The Eagles’ offense averaged 9.3 yards per rush against the Chiefs; that number is insane. If they can hold onto the ball and close out a lead, this team is going to be successful.

The Eagles are entertaining to watch and talk about, but we definitely need a full season of this offense before we can speak in absolutes. For now, just enjoy the ride.

Articles -

“Chiefs (3-0) sack Michael Vick six times as Andy Reid wins in return”:

http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=330919021

“Vick: ‘I take sole responsibility’ for loss to Chiefs”:

http://the700level.com/eagles/vick-i-take-sole-responsibility-for-loss-to-chiefs/

Why Richard Sherman’s So Easy to Love (and Hate)

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Richard Sherman’s one of the most divisive players in the NFL. When he’s not trash-talking Tom Brady, calling out Darrelle Revis on Twitter, or taking shots at opposing players through the media, he entertains the crowd and shuts down top-tier wide receivers. Brash and loud-mouthed on and off the field, Sherman doesn’t have to work hard to cultivate a villainous image. But he does it anyway.

There are very few football fans who don’t have an opinion about Richard Sherman. In Seattle, we make excuses for him or laugh off his antics cause he’s our guy. Personally, I think he’s just as easy to love as he is to hate. Here are my favorite polarizing moments from Richard Sherman.

1. Sherman trash-talks Tom Brady (2012)

During the Oct. 14, 2012 meeting of the Seahawks and Patriots, Tom Brady told Sherman to “see him after the game when they win.” Well, Sherman found him after the 24-23 Seahawks victory and had a few words for the Patriots’ Pro Bowl quarterback. A picture of Sherman’s post-game diss with the caption “U MAD BRO?” became an internet sensation and still makes me laugh.

LOVE. (Really, I’m hoping only Pats fans hated this; Brady had it coming and it was awesome. Plus, Brady is known as one of the league’s best competitive trash-talkers)

2. Sherman calls out Darrelle Revis on Twitter (2013)

Widely regarded as the best corner in the league over the past few years, bar none, Darrelle Revis got a little taste of the Sherman charm over Twitter. Sherman first posted in February, “My season stats looking more like Revis career stats.” Revis responded, telling Sherman to sit down and wait his turn. Revis later stated to USA Today, “You can’t crown yourself as anything in this league. You’ve got to earn it.”

To his credit, Revis didn’t take many shots at Sherman and kept a fairly even keel (publicly, anyway). A media stunt like this is kind of showboating immaturity, but it’s pretty hilarious. If Sherman really thinks he’s the best corner in the league and someone needs to call out Revis, that’s his business.

LOVE/HATE.

3. Sherman changes his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime (2012)

When Calvin Johnson (aka Megatron) and the Lions met the Seahawks in Detroit on October 28th, Sherman decided to change his Twitter handle to “Optimus Prime,” Megatron’s arch-enemy in the Transformers series. Sherman didn’t cover Johnson all day, but Megatron only recorded three catches for 46 yards. Not bad at all.

LOVE.

4. Sherman pats Harbaugh on the butt after Week 2 win (2013)

Go find the clip. As a matter of fact, here… http://cdn3.sbnation.com/imported_assets/1808977/809084759.gif

After the Week 2 29-3 annihilation of the 49ers, Sherman ran up and patted Harbaugh on the butt. Harbaugh was Sherman’s coach at Stanford, and there’s been some bad blood between the two. Sherman believes that Harbaugh’s pre-draft interviews helped him drop to the fifth round in the 2011 NFL draft, and has frequently stated his animosity towards Harbaugh in the media. Whatever their backstory is, the clip is hilarious. Sherman’s clearly messing with Harbaugh, and Harbaugh somehow manages not to blow a gasket.

LOVE/HATE. Would be purely love, but Sherman took time in his post-game interviews to call out Harbaugh for not responding to the congratulations. First off, he tried but Sherman was already running the opposite way. And secondly, it wasn’t a real sign of respect and friendliness, so the entire comment was a little ridiculous.

5. Sherman dances with the Seagals after an interception (2013)

This clip is just awesome. It’s probably his best interception celebration, but there are some great ones out there. From the Week 2 victory over the 49ers. Happens at :20…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M_vy5COd4Q

LOVE.

6. Sherman trashes Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take (2013)

The infamous interview with Richard Sherman on First Take where he dismantles Skip Bayless… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6x-O3kb1sI.

This is one of the most uncomfortable four minutes of ESPN I’ve ever watched. Bar none. Look, I’m not a fan of Skip either, but that was just painful. Someone needed to trash Bayless on his own show, and I think it was awesome that Sherman did it. Doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable. I know there are a lot of Skip’s fans that developed an acute hatred for Sherman after his appearance on the show, and I’m well aware of people who point to this clip when they talk about Sherman’s lack of humility. All I can say is interesting TV should always provoke a strong emotional response.

LOVE/HATE.

7. Sherman interviews people about Richard Sherman v. Revis (2013)

On the streets of New Orleans during Super Bowl week, Richard Sherman interviews passing pedestrians and asks them who’s the best cornerback in the NFL. It’s hilarious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qa4S-31iU0

LOVE.

Love him or hate him, you have to respect the talent. The NFL’s an entertainment business, and there’s no doubt that Richard Sherman is one of the most entertaining players in the league. Go Hawks!

Sources -

“Richard Sherman v. Darrelle Revis: The battle of words rages on”:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/football/2013/08/28/richard-sherman-v-darrelle-revis-the-battle-of-words-rages-on/

“Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman trash talks Tom Brady, Patriots via Twitter after win over New England”:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/seahawks-db-trashes-brady-patriots-twitter-article-1.1184426

Wary of Creating a Seahawks Mythos

As a Seahawks fan living in Seattle, I can attest to the entire city’s excitement about this season’s prospects. We’re going undefeated at home. We’re winning the NFC West. We’re going to the Superbowl. This is the best Seahawks team in franchise history. These statements might seem like hyperbole, but on paper this team has the ability to fulfill every imaginable expectation.

And clearly, sports media outlets like ESPN are not concerned about overhyping the ‘13 squad. Unheralded stars Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are receiving their due to a point rapidly approaching ad nauseum. We’ve read and listened to the preseason noise over this undeniably talented team ever since spring training, and I have to admit that I’ve eagerly consumed it all. Flying under the radar can be an advantage and incentive to prove the doubters wrong, but at least sports analysts are finally giving the NFC West the respect it rightfully deserves. Where I draw the line is an ESPN The Magazine article published online on August 21 entitled “Lotus pose on two.” You can find the link below. This piece, written by Alyssa Roenigk, discusses Coach Pete Carroll’s “kinder, gentler” approach and outlines an overall team philosophy which influences everything the Hawks do.

Friends shared this article to each other online, sparking a rash of posts from proud Seahawks fans. It’s a well-written article that presents a team’s bold departure from NFL norms. Go read it. But before you do, consider this: amidst all the buzz lies an unacknowledged dichotomy between Carroll’s stated philosophy and reality.

A recurring theme from Roenigk’s article is Carroll’s emphasis on building coach/player relationships and truly caring about the individual. Carroll says, “I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?” Early and often, Roenigk establishes the contrast between Carroll’s Hawks and the uncaring executives atop teams around the league.

Perhaps her most effective juxtaposition comes after she quotes Chris Ballard’s message to recent draft picks, during which he callously stated, “Nobody cares about your problems. The fans don’t care. The media doesn’t care. And ownership doesn’t care. They care about results.” Ballard’s the director of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs, a team which infamously underwent a sobering ordeal last year in the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher; in light of those events, his words sound particularly insensitive. Although Carroll hopes to change these conditions in the NFL, his professed empathy for players stands in stark contrast with business realities. And the NFL is a business, first and foremost.

Roenigk carefully omits certain details from her team profile which call several of her evaluations into question. Since Carroll took over the reins in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks have led the league in roster turnover. In that first year alone, Carroll enacted over 200 player transactions. Make no mistake: Carroll has the final say in all personnel matters. Along with Andy Reid in KC, Belicheck in NE, and Shanahan in DC, Carroll is one of the only coaches in the league with that kind of authority. And he’s used it to mold his team as he sees fit. Only four players remain from the 2010 roster. Every year, Carroll attempts to put out the best possible product. His mantra, “Always Compete,” ensures players stay at the top of their game.

Last year, Carroll turned a few heads when he started quarterback Russell Wilson instead of Matt Flynn. The Seahawks were paying Flynn $26 million over three years (only $10 million guaranteed), whereas Wilson is under contract for only $2.99 million over four. Wilson competed every day in practice and emerged from the preseason with the starting job. Now, Flynn’s the backup for the Oakland Raiders, beat out by another young quarterback in Terrelle Pryor. Stories like this aren’t exactly the NFL standard, as most teams equate benching high-salaried players with burning valuable cap space. Wilson’s spectacular rookie season only validated Carroll’s decision.

Flynn was a brand-new player, but this tendency towards roster turnover also affects team leaders and veterans. Just one week after this article was published, 2012 team captain and locker-room favorite Michael Robinson was released. Robinson, formerly a fullback with the team, was quoted in this article, saying, “you need the right mix of older guys who get it. Pete can’t be in the locker room all the time, and the head man won’t resonate with everyone.” Unfortunately for Robinson, the Seahawks have multiple fullbacks with promise on the roster. More importantly, his second-year and rookie replacements don’t come with a $2.5 million 2013 price tag. Robinson frequently fired up the team before games and produced The Real Rob Report on Youtube, an entertaining behind-the-scenes locker-room look at the Seahawks. Immensely popular with the team, Robinson will be missed. Current players like Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner took to Twitter and expressed their frustration at the business side of the NFL. Expensive veterans QB Matt Hasselbeck, DB Marcus Trufant, RB Leon Washington, LB Lofa Tatupu, and WR Deion Branch were also cut during Carroll’s tenure.

As much as Pete Carroll does demonstrate respect and care for his players, there’s a certain irony in showing such a willingness to trim the fat every year. Other coaches might be able to get away with blaming the front office, but Carroll’s unique authority in personnel matters makes that particular excuse impossible. Publicly, the vast majority of his players support Carroll’s coaching style and claim a personal relationship with their coach. But privately, I have to wonder how many of them find his approach hypocritical. By promoting a caring atmosphere while simultaneously making purely logical business decisions, Carroll toes a fine line.

It’s also unclear if this “Always Compete” mantra had any influence in the recent string of performance-enhancing drug violations by Seahawks players. Over the last three years, the Seahawks have taken considerable heat for their league-leading PED sanctions. The list consists of Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, Allen Barbre, John Moffitt, and most recently defensive end Bruce Irvin. Shutdown corner Richard Sherman was originally suspended at the tail end of last year, although he successfully appealed the decision. Sherman claimed the suspension was due to a positive Adderall test, and even went so far as to suggest Adderall use in the NFL was widespread. Regardless, he denied the allegation and got off on a technicality stemming from a broken chain of custody. The testing company replaced his sample cup after the original cup sprung a leak, a mistake which was either harmless or corrupted the sample. Sherman wasn’t guilty, but in the eyes of NFL fans he didn’t come off as innocent either.

With every Seahawk knowing their job is on the line every day in practice and that guaranteed money doesn’t guarantee job security, it would logically follow that some of them used PEDs to get an edge on the competition. It’s unclear whether Carroll’s coaching philosophy caused the Seahawks’ league-leading PED violations or whether it’s just an unfortunate coincidence. Regardless, the situation raises a few eyebrows around the league.

Carroll’s Zen coaching philosophy, emphasis on positive imagery, caring approach, and desire for team meditation are also unheard of in the NFL. Especially on a hard-nosed, physical team with a defensive mindset and the self-named “Legion of Boom” in the secondary, these progressive team policies make for an unconventional union. Defensive backs Cam Chancellor and Richard Sherman take pride in lowering the boom on ball carriers. Seattle’s offensive line is built to push around opposing defenses and set up Marshawn Lynch’s punishing running style. Teams have espoused practices like ballet for years, but Carroll’s unique blend of new-age ideas seem poorly suited for the violent game of football.

Last year’s success was gratifying for Pete Carroll, but I wonder about the legacy of his particular coaching style. For the present, it’s an intriguing departure from policies around the league. Only time will tell how Carroll’s innovations affect the future of the NFL.

As fans of the game, we need to be careful about assigning blanket values to teams. Look at the New England Patriots, whose “Patriot Way” myth was recently debunked in the aftermath of the Hernandez case and failed personnel moves. They built their brand on rehabilitating seemingly washed-up players with personality or maturity issues. Through the strength of their coaching staff and system, it was believed, the Patriots earned turnaround seasons out of guys like Randy Moss and Corey Dillon. Their mystique was revered around the league. But over the years, starting with the 2007 “Spygate” video-taping scandal, the Patriots slowly lost their cache.  Player acquisitions from Albert Haynesworth to Brandon Lloyd and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson further debunked the myth. The Patriots drafted Aaron Hernandez with the belief that their system would turn his life around. They were wrong.

Articles like “Lotus pose on two” are easy to write because they’re concise. All the information works towards one message. But life isn’t that tidy or easy. Sports myths almost always end in disappointment. Football’s entertainment, and at the end of the day it’s just a game. The 2013 Seahawks play a hard-nosed, in-your-face style that makes them incredibly fun to watch on both sides of the ball. Not only that, but they have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and talent all over the field. Isn’t that enough to be excited about?

Original Article-
“Lotus pose on two”:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9581925/seattle-seahawks-use-unusual-techniques-practice-espn-magazine?ex_cid=espnapi_public

Sources -
“Red Bryant embracing his elder Seahawk status”:

http://www.seahawks.com/news/articles/article-1/Red-Bryant-embracing-his-elder-Seahawk-status/e802887b-40f3-4f88-9ba1-9decd096aa94

“Richard Sherman wins appeal”:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8783832/richard-sherman-seattle-seahawks-wins-appeal-suspended

“Seahawks’ lead in PED bans under Carroll”:

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/100145/seahawks-lead-in-ped-bans-under-carroll

“Belicheck bought into his own myth”:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp13/story/_/id/9512471/nfl-patriot-way-was-myth

First Blog Post: I Hate Blogs, and Possibly Myself

So… my self hatred is at an all-time high this week. I’m writing a blog. If the 2008 version of myself could time travel, he’d waste his one shot at changing history to come kick my ass. For my next act, I’ll be signing up for Twitter and subsequently offing myself. The day I start using hashtags and tweeting slightly witty one-liners to celebrities will be the official start of open season on slapping me full in the face. We’ll form a line at my front door and everyone can take a turn. Here’s to hoping this post isn’t the first step of a downward spiral into my self-inflicted demise. Welcome to Late-Night Rants.