NFL’14 Cherry Picks W6: The New Belichick?

10 Oct

“Nam-myōhō-renge-kyō, nam-myōhō-renge-kyō, nam-myōhō-renge-kyō,…”

Seattle Mist: You can feel their prowess growing bigger by the week, their mystique hanging over the League like a heavy mist rolling in off the Sound.

With just over one-quarter of NFL14 in the books, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks are still sitting securely atop their bejeweled throne.


They dropped their royal scepter during a visit to San Diego in Week 2 (L 21-30), but then those highly-charged Bolts are not exactly compliant subjects, not since their fine showing in last season‘s playoffs that ended in close loss to eventual AFC champ, Denver (L 17-24), proving they could play with anyone, anywhere.

Sorry Vince, and Shirley (Jackson), but winning clearly isn’t “the only thing.”

Though, the Seahawks latest triumph, coming against the Redskins (27-17), where Mr. Cousins proved he belongs, if he wants to (“This is Rob’s team (9-22)”), raised one not insignificant red-flag in that Russ Wilson saw fit to go flash 11 times in the win.

Most novice football observers ooh’d & aah’d about the 122 yards & TD the 3rd-year QB gained in scamper-mode. But when your QB is your leading rusher it spells trouble.


Keep it up and that misty mystique will burn off quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.

Wilson’s fast-track to success was paved by managing from the pocket. A reversion back to college curriculum, i.e., rabbit-mode, is a risky road. DC’s defense pressed Russ with verve but couldn’t make him pay up-field. One day, one team will. “Guar-own-teed.”

On the plus side, Wilson’s excursions, if he must, are textbook for aspiring run-QBs.

He slides before the hit, appears to have motive in mind in aiming at sideline or endzone in play-action fake (TD run)), and even in mobile-mode has a cohesion, a synchronization with his receiver corps that translates into a fine completion % (18-24 v. DC).

This time his skill-set kept his rabbit-act from turning toothy (See: Bullwinkle & Rocky). But if you think Pete’s happy w/ a 100+ rusher from the QB spot you’re sadly mistaken.

Hawks didn’t hoist Lombardi last February on the shoulders of a run-QB (3-26y v DEN).

Lateral mobility is key, but hanging tough and fighting a college tendency to bolt-at-will, letting the big men carry the freight (Lynch) and implementing the boss’ game-plan, from the pocket, are reasons why Wilson & Seahawks’ offense clicked in Super Bowl 48.

If it works, don’t fix it, or something like that, Russ.


Imperfections aside, Pete Carroll & Crew are earning a reputation for making super teams (GB / DEN) look downright, super-silly-us.

And that gives the look of an organization with serious plan to royally repeat (SB49).

Seahawks look about as centered as a Buddhist monk in high prayer week.

Defense gets lion’s share of credit in Seattle. Why so special? Simple, no compromise on basics: tackle efficiency (Skins flaw) and over-lap in zones of responsibility, a team tactic that was SOP in olden days but in 2014 gets bumped by glory-stat strategy (sacks / INTs).

On the other side of the ball, harmony is the word.

Carroll and his young protégé Wilson share a symbiosis. In manager-QB system, the composer (Carroll) is as important as the conductor (Wilson) to making beautiful music.

It takes all styles to forge a championship caliber NFL offense. Ditka & McMahon (’85-86) were kismet, for a time. But longevity requires a rapport in style & purpose. Lombardi and Starr had it, Tom and Bill still have it and Pete and Russ are building to perfection.

Carroll may be the new Bill Belichick.

Beli-like, only in success, not personality, where Bill and Pete are moons apart.


Belichick plays it cool, almost aloof at times, though, with today’s petulant press corps it‘s hard to find too much fault there. Peter, on the other hand, he can’t talk enough. When he’s not jawing with the zebras he’s jawing his gum like nobody’s business.

Like William the Conqueror before his knighthood (CLE), Peter the Great met with poor results too in his first NFL head-coaching gig (NYJ). But he found the title-touch in sunny Southern California and is now gunning for Belichick’s roost as NFL’s top guru.

Some don’t cotton to the term manager-QB. Fantasy financials require big digits. But dedicated jocks & football fans know better. Who needs super-stats when you’re hoisting?

Russ may manage his way into Canton if his ‘mates keep playing to potential and he keeps playing like Roger “the dodger” Staubach: passin’ pig is first, then hit the road.

The wrapper is barely off this new NFL season, but if Pete-harmonic continues to orchestrate the right tunes and his men keep listening, Seattle could have a dynasty and we could have a new football genius in the Emerald City come February.

“Holy Bouncing Boilerplate, Batman!”


With negotiation like this, who needs NFL lawyers?

Some of the details in the recent revision to the NFL – NFLPA jointly negotiated drug policy were made available to the public earlier this week.

A few of the more notable changes to that policy:

For the first time beginning this week, NFL players are being subjected to blood draws, which’ll include testing for the banned PED known as human growth hormone (HGH);

While the prior urine test had been conducted weekly on 10 players from each of the 32 teams, the new policy will only test five players on eight teams, both randomly;

Testees will be drawn from pools of active rosters, practice and reserve squads; and

In one more body-blow to the Commissioner’s former authority to discipline wayward players, the union, under leadership of DeMaurice Smith (ED), won the player right to have their positive test result heard by a “neutral” arbitrator (“NFL Begins” / Fox / Garafolo / 10-6).


Haven’t seen holes like that since OJ ran for 2000 (’73). Oy vey.

“This is How We Do It”

It’s a hard sell, considering the NFL‘s troubles of late, but college football could take a lesson in gamesmanship from their professional brethren. Seriously.

While too many campus coaches shamelessly run up scores for profit in polling, the pros are much more prone to show some class.

Thursday night (W5) the visiting Minnesota Vikings were clearly out-matched by their Midwestern rival and host, the Green Bay Packers, who led 28-0 at half. Vikes were w/out #1 (Cassel) and #2 (Bridgewater) QBs and former starter Ponder was thrown “unto the breach.” The purple were also missing their star running back, Adrian Peterson, suspn’d indefinitely (exempt) pending criminal charge.


As if all that weren’t bad enough, in aftermath (42-10), Vikings DE Brian Robison was publicly distressed in belief that not all his ’mates gave full effort (“checked out“) when the chips were down, a suspicion his coach Mike Zimmer did not himself share (“I didn’t see that, and looked for it hard”) (“Vikings” / 10-4 / Shipley / twincities).

When, by 3rd quarter, the game was getting as ugly as that scene in Cool Hand Luke (’67) when George Kennedy (“Dragline”) was boxing new inmate Paul Newman (“Luke”) into oblivion (“Someone oughta’ stop this thing ( R. Waite)”), with the Pack practically waltzing into their opponent’s endzone, coach Mike McCarthy seems to’ve found some empathy and decided to pull his Mr. Matriculator, Aaron Rodgers, for back-up Matt Flynn.

There is no more bitter, contentious, disdainful rivalry than the one existing between the Minnesota and Wisconsin pro-football fandoms, but players & pro coaches know better, they know what’s important: winning with dignity. It’s not always achieved, but you do what you can.


Cherry Picks Week 6: Pretenders & Contenders

Colts (3-2) @ Houston (3-2): 10-9 CBS 8:30 EST: Indy wins
Steelers (3-2) @ Cleveland (2-2): 10-12 CBS 1:00: Pitt wins
Patriots (3-2) @ Buffalo (3-2): CBS 1:00: New England wins
Panthers (3-2) @ Cincinnati (3-1): Fox 1:00: Bengals win
Packers (3-2) @ Miami (2-2): Fox 1:00: Dolphins win
Cowboys (4-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Fox 4:30 (GOTW): Hawks win
Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia (4-1): NBC 8:35: Giants win

Record: 31 – 13

Steven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo credits: R.Sherman & P.Carroll, A.Quintano, wc.cca, 2.2.14; NFL – Wikiproject; R.Wilson, 11.11.12, wc.cca, L.Maurer; P.Carroll, 12.29.13, M.Morris, wc.cca; B.Belichick, 8.28.09, K.Allison, wc.cca; Batman & Robin, Ward & West, 1968 – wc.cca, PD; D.Smith, NFLPA, wc.cca, 4.1.09; M.McCarthy, wc.cca, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; ripe cherries, wc.cca, Chirak, 6.24.07.

Posted: 10-10-14 @ 12:22pm EST


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