Author Archives: Joe Loughery

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John Clayton: Legend

This video has gone completely viral. It’s the latest “This is SportsCenter” ad featuring John Clayton along with the west coast SC hosts, Neil Everett and Stan Verrett. I can’t tell you the level of awesomeness this video represents. The most noticeable is the “Robbed” Sonicsgate cap on Neil’s desk, along with the Seahawks Helmet in Clayton’s room. The rest is just fantastic.

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Seattle Seahawks Pre-Season Game 2 – Thoughts and Observations

Russell Wilson (photo credit: Seattle Seahawks – Rod Mar)

Seattle Seahawks Pre-Season Game 2 – Thoughts and Observations

The Seahawks traveled to Denver for week 2 of the pre-season, and here are my observations:

Matt Flynn – It’s easy to look at the 6 for 13, 31 yards and scoff. But if you do that please add a completion for 46 yards and a TD, because it wasn’t Flynn’s fault T.O. dropped a gorgeous sure fire TD pass (too much butter on Terrell’s popcorn?). Owens was targeted 5 times by Flynn, none were completions, and I’ll leave it to the coaches to decide whose fault it was. My guess it was on T.O., since Flynn knows this offense like second nature. So if you add this all up, it’s hard for me to be down on Flynn when it was obvious Pete was trying to work T.O. into the passing game, maybe against the better wishes of Flynn. Overall I though Flynn looked fine, running the offense without problem. I think Flynn should start next week and start week 1 at Arizona.

Russell Wilson – Wilson, for the second week in a row, played outstanding. He made all the passes, and even scrambled 5 times for 33 yards, averaging 6.6 yards a rush. Add to this his 9.1 yard average per completion, and it’s easy to see Wilson has no trouble running an NFL offense, albeit against Denver’s second string defense. Wilson is supremely confident, and his leadership is apparent. The current debate is whether Wilson should play next week against Kansas City’s number one defense so we can see what he can do verses a solid defensive scheme. I understand the sentiment, and in a perfect world, yes, play him verses KC. But this is not a perfect world. Sept 9 is just around the corner, and Flynn needs all the reps he can get with the ones to build timing. I think the Hawks have a great problem on their hands, both Wilson and Flynn can play, and play well. It’s a far cry from Jackson and Whitehurst. Let’s hope Seahawks fans don’t forget that.

Marshawn Lynch – Lynch played a couple series and looked great. Beast Mode is back. 6 carries for 37 yards for a 6.2 YPC average. The offensive line opened up some nice holes. It is extremely clear the Seahawks love to run the ball. It’s their bread and butter. The ease at which they run left, or run right is fun to watch. The great thing about a solid running game is it translates. Road, away, good weather, bad weather, no matter, just hand off the ball, get chunks of yards and move the chains.

Special Teams – Steve Hauschka was automatic. The Hawks punt protection though? Horrible, two blocked punts by the Broncos. Gotta tighten that up.

Defense – Mixed bag here. The Hawks got very little pressure on Manning, which allowed him to dink and dunk the Hawks to death on a couple drives. The flip side of the coin though was the three turnovers forced. I think this could be the story of this defense all year. Big plays, turnovers, stopping the run, but giving up a few drives here and there. Overall I was pleased with the turnovers.

Breno Giacomini – The dude has a serious mean streak, which I love, but multiple personal foul penalties is just stupid. Those kinds of brain dead moves could cost this team a win in the regular season. I love his passion but he’s got to control it, because we all know defensive linemen across the league will try and bait him.

For the second straight week, I am very pleased with what I saw. The running game was powerful and consistent; the passing game was extremely conservative, but not terrible, while the defense made big plays. Areas to improve, again, are the pass rush which could be a major Achilles heel all year, and punt coverage. Expect the starters to play 3 quarters this week in KC. Much more can be concluded after the next game.

-Joe-

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Seattle Seahawks Pre-Season Game 1 – Thoughts and Observations

Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks – Rod Mar)

Here are my thoughts and observations from the first pre season game of the 2012 Seahawks season.

The uniforms are sharp, I love them. The blue is vastly better than the multiple blue tones they’ve had for more than a decade. The gray and green ascents really popped well on TV. I love the fact the Hawks really took a chance with the uniforms, it gives them a unique identity that fits well with the whole 12th Man motif.

The starting defense looked tremendous. The eleven that started will (Lord willing) be the eleven who start in Arizona on September 9th. Outside of the obvious pick six by Browner, I was immediately impressed with Red Bryant who just seemed to be everywhere, and that’s impressive for a guy who’s 6’4′ 330 lbs. He swatted a pass down and got in a few good licks, all the while giving the Titans o-linemen and earful. Jason Jones made his presence felt, getting decent pressure on the QB. Bruce Irvin was boom or bust, but when he boomed, it was fun to watch. The stunts the Hawks ran were successful and caused Hasselbeck to be flustered when he threw. No sacks were recorded but there was pressure. Baby steps. I liked what I saw from rookie Bobby Wagner, he looked comfortable and ok with being a leader in the linebacking corps. Only time will tell how he grows into the role. On a very good note, I was glad to see Marcus Trufant running with the second team and embracing the role, looking fresh and excited to play. I think it’s vital Tru hangs around, he’s a great leader and could be a very nice nickel back.

You can probably tell I love what the Hawks are doing on defense. This crew has all the makings to be a top five defense. Teams will simply not be able to run the ball, forcing them into the pass, which will play into the hands of an extremely aggressive and confident secondary. Will those guys make mistakes at times? You bet, but they don’t string them together, and recover quickly with big play ability. Pre season games are traditionally marked by defenses who are way ahead of offenses, and that was on display Saturday night. But even in light of that reality, the Hawks looked ready to rock. I only see upside with this crew. They are the foundation Pete and Co. are building upon.

On the offensive side of the ball, I literary had no idea what to expect. Unlike most folks, all I cared about seeing Saturday was the defense because, well, I love defense, so when the offense finally took the field, I just tried to keep an open mind. Matt Flynn had a very thin wide receiving corps running routes, and no Beast Mode behind him, so what conclusions can we draw? He had one terrible pass (the INT to the LB), and a bad sack, but over all he looked solid. He got the ball out and on time to the receivers. He seemed comfortable running the offense. His best play was the roll out completion to Zach Miller, (who then promptly got blown up and received a concussion, not good). I was pleased with what I saw. Regarding Russell Wilson, I was equally impressed. Being a rookie, you simply take the good with the bad and roll with it. His athletic ability was apparent from the start. Bevell rolled Wilson out A LOT, which I think was designed to ease Wilson into his first pro game. He ran a lot of roll outs at Wisconsin, so it was only natural to keep him in that comfort zone. His arm strength was solid. His speed was great. His worst play was the red zone INT, which to my eye looked like jitters and nerves. His best play could have been the TD pass to Edwards or the TD run, but for me I can’t really grade at this point. Just seeing him out there looking comfortable was enough.

I was impressed with the starting offensive line’s run blocking. Washington and Turbin (The Turbinator was putting on a gun show, I’m pretty certain he lifts weights…) had gaping holes to run through, and Flynn had time to pass. Good to see considering the plethora of injuries that unit has seen the past two years. Michael Robinson was dominant run blocking, no surprise there. I wish I could say the same for the second unit offensive line. The Hawks don’t have any depth up front, so if further injuries rear their ugly head, they could be in a world of hurt.

Overall, it was a great night of football. There is a lot to be excited about with this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If they can identify a clear starting QB and develop some semblance of an aggressive passing game before week 1, I like their chances to get off to a good start in the division and then make a playoff push. But if a passing game is not developed, the upside this team could achieve will be stunted. The next three weeks are vital.

-Joe-

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NBA Preview news and my brief thoughts on the CP3 trade that wasn’t, or was, or could be…

Those crickets you hear? Yup, there coming from this blog. So I’ll turn the key a bit to get the engine running again. The resident NBA writer (myself) will attempt to preview the upcoming 66 game NBA season. I know you are all excited about this. I was really pumped to write my Kobe + CP3 = Must See TV post, but a certain troll living in NYC who helped facilitate the robbery of my NBA team nixed the deal for “basketball reasons”. Uh huh, whatever you say Chairman. The rejection of a totally fair, and I would argue, slightly lopsided trade in favor of New Orleans (and Houston…), is unprecedented, and will mark the end of the Stern era as NBA commish. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s incredible. I run a number of fantasy sports leagues and I would never imagine flat out stopping and reversing any trade unilaterally at the request of the lousy owners of the league, and I am only talking about fake teams. This is real life, in a real life pro sports league. I’m still in shock at what occurred. The Sports Guy breaks the fiasco down nicely. Season preview forthcoming. Cheers.

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MLB Division Series preview

Here are my quick picks for the various MLB Division Series starting this afternoon!

New York Yankees vs Detroit Tigers

How fun will it be to watch Justin Verlander vs CC Sabathia? A baseball fans dream to be sure. Because both pitchers are so dominant, they cancel each other out dramatically, so that perceived advantage the Tigers have evaporates quickly. I love Doug Fister, but who knows how he’ll do under the bright lights of pressurized playoff baseball. The Yanks have the best lineup in baseball, and I am encouraged by how well they played down the stretch. Detroit can hit, and the Yanks have issues in their rotation, but I can’t see anyone out slugging the Bombers. Yankees in 4.

Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are rolling into post season on one of the most incredible runs ever. Boston’s collapse opened the door for Joe Maddon’s crew to take the AL Wildcard in an unforgettable Wednesday night rollercoaster. It’s a great story, and I admit I’m rooting for Tampa to win this series. The problem is Texas is a better team. People tend to forget Tampa was struggling to score runs most of the season, and even down the stretch it took Evan Longoria’s bat catching fire for them to win. We know Texas can hit and score with anyone. They have a deep, balanced lineup. I think Texas’s pitching is underrated, they have a legit #1 in CJ Wilson and good pieces behind him, with a strong bullpen. Tampa is rolling a green as grass rookie out there for game one, and who knows in game 2. Texas won’t see Shields or Price until games 3 and 4, and then potentially another rookie in game 5. All this means is Tampa’s rotation is messed up for a short 5 game series, while Texas is setting things up nicely. My heart wants Tampa, and hey Joe Maddon gets more out of less than anyone, but I just don’t see how they out hit the Rangers. Tampa will stay on a roll and force 5 games, but that’s it. Rangers in 5.

Milwaukee Brewers vs Arizona Diamondbacks

This is the great mystery match up of the playoffs. Two teams that get almost no national attention, yet are packed with ridiculous talent. The Brewers are lead by Prince and MVP candidate Ryan Braun, while Arizona is lead by Cy Young hopeful Ian Kennedy and young stud Justin Upton. I’ve been intrigued by both teams all year. I love the Brewers make up, a tough, brash arrogant bunch that simply bashes the ball and wins a ton of home games. They have a decent bull pen, with ok starting pitching that is supported by the power bats. Arizona is simply a reflection of their manager, Kirk Gibson. They play tough and together as well, also playing with a chip that borders on arrogance. The key to this series to me is simple: Milwaukee has the home field advantage, statistically the best in baseball. And even on the road at Chase Field, a very homer friendly park, they’ll mash big flys. I think Prince blows up in this series, especially when they go on the road and the DBacks fans boo him again for his perceived all star snub of Upton. Kennedy and Hudson are solid pitchers, but completely unproven in the post season, especially against a powerful lineup. I’m bullish on the Brewers here. Crew in 4.

Philadelphia Phillies vs St Louis Cardinals

The Phillies come into the post season as the perceived favorites in the NL, and for good reason. When you roll Halladay, Lee and Hamels out there for the first three games, it’s hard to see how the Cards win a game, especially when Carpenter isn’t available until they go home. For this reason, and this reason alone, I love the Phillies here. St Louis is much like Tampa: red hot coming into the playoffs, but they have a jumbled starting rotation with a woefully over worked bullpen. Yes, I know the Phils struggled quite a bit down the stretch, but that doesn’t concern me at all. This is a veteran team with one goal, and that’s to win the World Series. They’ll regroup and refocus with renewed energy. I know the Cards are a chic pick in light of their recent success, but I see a let down coming, and I also see the Phillies starters dominating. Cards win one at home with Carpenter on the bump, and that’s it. Phillies in 4.

Pumped for some fall baseball! Wish the M’s were in it! Sick of the losing, wake up Howard and Chuckles! Time to hit the road!

Joe

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NBA Playoffs preview

It’s that time of year, playoff time. The Stanley Cup quest has begun, and the NBA playoffs begin. Since I know vastly more about basketball than hockey, I’ll stick with the hardwood.

Western Conference:

#1 Spurs vs #8 Grizzlies – On the surface this looks like a major mismatch. The best record in the NBA taking on a young Memphis squad. But don’t be fooled. Memphis has a huge front line with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph that could very well wear out Duncan and Blair. Manu Ginobili will miss the beginning of the series, maybe longer, which is anhuge loss because Richard Jefferson is nowhere near the talent Ginobili is. Mike Conley has the quicks to stay with Parker. The teams split four games in the regular season, so the Griz are not afraid of the big bad Spurs. I still think the Spurs win because of their notoriously dirty tricks in the playoffs, but look for the Grizzlies to take it the distance. Spurs in 7.

#2 Lakers vs #7 Hornets – I honestly don’t see how New Orleans wins this series, let alone is competitive. Yeah the Lakers have struggled lately, but this is playoff time, it’s the Lakers time of year. LA’s front line will wear out the Hornets, and Kobe will, as usual, school his opponent. Chris Paul has a clear advantage over the Lakers guards, but that’s it. One man can’t do it all. Lakers in 5.

#3 Mavericks vs #6 Blazers – Ok, now we’re talking. I absolutely love this match up. Dallas is the odds on favorite, they did win 57 games this season for a reason. Jason Terry, Dirk and Kidd are elite level players leading the Mavs. But, I like Portland here. The Blazers are primed to make it past the first round. The past two seasons have been heartbreak city for Rip City, two 50+ win seasons coming to brutal ends in the first round. Not this year. With the addition of Gerald Wallace, the Blazers have that power forward to combat what Dallas can throw them up front. This leaves LaMarcus Aldridge free to focus on offense. I like Andre Miller in the back court, and Brandon Roy ain’t a bad sixth man. As good as Dallas is, I think Portland has the emotional and “chip on the shoulder” edge in this match up. They want out of the first round. Bad. Blazers in 6.

#4 Zombies vs #5 Nuggets – Screw you Clay Bennett. George Karl in 7.

Eastern Conference:

#1 Bulls vs #8 Pacers – The Pacers made the playoffs? No brainer, MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls roll Indy. Bulls in 4.

#2 Heat vs #7 76ers – A lot of pundits are saying Philly can make this a series, and maybe so, but I don’t see it. The Heat have literally been waiting for this moment since last summer, to get to the playoffs and prove all the hype was worth it. The Sixers have some nice young players with Jrue Holiday at PG, and Speights and Young up front, with vet Elton Brand in the middle. They will compete and may steal a game or two from Miami, but the Heat with be focused and determined to win. Heat in 5.

#3 Celtics vs #6 Knicks – This series will have more media attention than probably any first round match up. The Knicks are back in the playoffs after many years, and the Celtics return yet again to make another run to the Finals. There is talk NY could pull this one out, especially after how uninspired Boston has looked the past month or so, and since the Knicks have looked solid during that same time span. Both teams have weaknesses. The Knicks struggle defensively and Boston struggles to score. So I think the C’s could break out offensively in this series. I think Billups could work Rondo here. Rondo hasn’t been playing well lately, and Mr Big Shot shines in the post season. The trade of Kenderick Perkins has left a gaping defensive void in the middle for Boston, so Amare will go off for some big scoring nights. I don’t see how this series doesn’t go at least six games. As much as I want NY to win, I like Boston’s experience. Celtics in 7.

#4 Magic vs #5 Hawks – I honestly have no read on this series. What I see are two underachieving teams with tons of talent who have been uninspiring all season. Atlanta is a flat out mystery to me. They have talent, but no heart. I don’t trust them. They’ve stunk down the stretch and they notoriously flop in the playoffs. Even though Hotlanta has dominated Orlando this season, I just can’t pick the Hawks. They represent a lot of what I don’t like about pro sports. Over paid clowns who get their coach fired even though he led them to the playoffs each year. Orlando has many flaws of their own, but I like their experience in the playoffs and Dwight Howard is a beast in the middle. Orlando in 6.

Further thoughts and remaining match up predictions:

In the west, I ultimately like the Lakers (I know, original huh?), but I’m not very enthused about the pick. I think they’ll start to find their way and somehow get past Portland in the second round, even though I think the Blazers can get them. In the conference finals it could be a war. They’ll play the Spurs or Zombies (I picked Denver above, but that was for show, I just can’t pick “the others”). Either match up will be a seven game series.

In the east, it’s much more wide open. Chicago, Miami, Boston, Orlando, New York, any of them could make a run. I think the Bulls cruise to the conference finals where they’ll get the Heat. I know, Boston has dominated them this season, but like I said above, this is what LeBron has waited for and I don’t see him failing, at least early on. The Bulls will beat Miami in the conference finals because I think Derrick Rose is the best player in the league right now and the Bulls play defense, they rebound, they are hot, I just love how they are built.

Finals prediction? It’s 1991 all over again!! Bulls vs Lakers, but this time it’ll go longer. The Windy City will be rocking. Bulls in 7.

-Joe-

**Postscript: This time of year without my Sonics is painful, especially considering how well the team has played since moving to the dust bowl. I hope someday we get a team back so I can actually enjoy, yet once again, playoff basketball in Seattle. Many of my fondest sports memories are Sonics playoff games. So, with that, I’ll enjoy this years playoffs from a distance, enjoying the best players in the world play the best game in the world, but all the while keeping my emotions in check, watching with some level of cold detachment…

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Jake Locker NFL Combine update

Jake Locker took the field today to compete in the annual NFL Combine. I watched all of his drills, along with the other QB’s. I thought Jake looked good, in fact his mechanics are different from the last game he played in the Holiday Bowl. His strides are more even, smoother. His throwing motion is slightly tweaked, but his footwork is so much better, it’s improving his accuracy. Jake still has a ways to go, he obviously needs to do it in a real game situation, but overall he has really impressed the scouts. He’s been solid in the interviews, which many teams weigh more than anything else at the combine.

I love his devotion to competition and hard work. Additionally, he has absolutely no character problems in the past or present, unlike Cam Newton who continues to not speak about his past because he knows his past is full of sketchy situations NFL teams will clearly not like.

Here are a couple videos from NFL Network you may like showing Jake at the combine. First with Brian Billick and Mike Mayock before the workouts and the second after Jake’s workouts.

-Joe

PS – I’m in a good mood upon hearing Mike Mayock interview Jake because it made me remember Mayocks amazing call of the famous Marshawn Lynch Beast Quake run. It never gets old!

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