Monday, 25 February 2013

The Curious Case of Golden Tate

He could be jumping hoops to stay a Seahawk.. At least in the long term.

If you’ve read any columns on the Seahawks needs in either the draft or free agency, you’ve probably heard they could use an upgrade at receiver. You’ve probably heard this even if you haven’t read any of those “franchise needs” pieces. Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate make for a formidable trio in the passing game. Just not one that instills fear into the hearts and thoughts of defensive coordinators.

Assuming the Seahawks get a receiver in either the draft or free agency, you have to assume that one of these three receiver’s days are numbered with the Seahawks. Sidney Rice is just starting to find his game again with the Seahawks and had a good year with Russell Wilson. It went a lot better than his first anyways and it has Seahawks fans asking what he will do for an encore. Doug Baldwin’s 2012 season was one to forget. He struggled with injuries which kept him out of the lineup for large chunks of the season and limited his effectiveness when he did return to the lineup. He is just one season removed from leading the team in receiving yards though. Then there’s the curious case of Golden Tate. This season (his third in the NFL) he had more receiving yards than the previous two combined. He developed a great rapport and friendship with Russell Wilson and won over the Seahawks faithful. Is this a flash in the pan or is he finally realizing his potential?

It’s pretty safe to assume Sidney Rice will be a Seahawk for many years to come. The ceiling is incredibly high for Rice and he just so happens to only be in the third year of a five year contract. Doug Baldwin’s versatility and ability to play in either the slot on the outside in combination with Pete Carroll’s soft spot for him means he’s got a future with the team. Even though his contract expires in 2014, an unproductive second season and that whole not being drafted thing could make him sign for a bargain.

That leaves us with Golden Tate. It took him three years to do it, but he finally showed that he was worth the second round pick they invested in him. He had his most productive season in every statistic worth noting. He also seems to have a knack for being that open receiver that Wilson goes to after he runs half a mile behind the line of scrimmage. There’s no denying there is a lot to like about Golden Tate. Aside from his peculiar first name. Seriously, Golden?

As much as there is to like about Tate, I think his days as a Seahawk are numbered. For the Seahawks to take that next step as a contender they should, and likely will, pursue an upgrade at receiver. That will not bode well for Tate’s production. He runs sloppy routes and lacks the discipline and intelligence to thrive as a slot receiver, which is likely where he’ll end up if a new guy is brought in. Not a dumb guy, just has difficulty reading defenses.

Tate can be an above average second receiver, but that’s just not gonna cut it. I think it might even be worth trading him now while his value is at it’s highest. Fortunately for ye Tate fans his meagre cap hit of 880,000 means that it’s very, very likely he will be kept. With Rice’s injury history that might not be all that bad an idea either.

Suck it Packers. 

A small and maybe unnecessary disclaimer, but I have to give some credit to my looking into the possibility of Tate's time in Seattle coming to an end from some of the stuff I've read on . Not one to steals others ideas and don't feel I am now. He presented the possibility, I did my research and more or less agreed. Trolls, be gone.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Linebacker's Worth Getting A Look In Free Agency

Good bye Leroy Hill, hello Deandre Levy... maybe?

    With Leroy Hill's recent arrest making it all but guaranteed he won't return with the Seahawks next season, the question is now is, who will take his place? I expect his replacement will come in the draft, but assuming it doesn't the free agent options have to be looked into. Mostly because it's fun. The speculation continues here at The Hawks Nest. Enjoy our linebackers to watch out for in free agency.

OLB, DeAndre Levy: This young up and coming linebacker would be a great fit in Seattle. He finished third on Detroit with 81 tackles and a career high 9 stuffs. He has all the tools to be a great 4-3 linebacker and would have no problem adjusting to Seattle's system. He is also great in pass coverage. My favorite of all the free agent options.

OLB, Philip Wheeler: Not buying the hype on Wheeler. Sure, he did lead the Oakland Raiders with 109 tackles last season but his finish wasn't as strong as his start. It was also his fifth season in the NFL, and he's just starting to look like a starter. Word on the street is the Raiders will try to bring him back for next season, but if not I'd rather some other team over pay for him. 

LB, Nick Barnett: Things didn't go as well for Barnett in his second year with the Bills, but don't let his release fool you. There is still some good football left in Barnett. He is only one year removed from the best season of his career. His combination of size and athleticism, along with great tackling in the open field make him an ideal candidate to replace Leroy Hill. His age means he would be willing to sign a short term contract too. Wouldn't mind Barnett, and his experience as a Super Bowl winner and leader coming to town.

J.D. Burke

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tight Ends Worth Getting A Look In Free Agency

Fred Davis as the final piece?

    Sorry Hawks Nest fans and readers, I've been very negligent of late but hope to be very active in the coming days, weeks, etc. What say you I start off with tight ends that the Seahawks should pursue in free ageny? The Seahawks have a great thing going with Zach Miller, but it wouldn't hurt to add a tight end just a little more proficient in the passing game. It might actually be the kind of affordable move that puts this Seahawks team over the top, depending on who they acquire. If they acquire anyone that is. The Seahawks have been trying to find a compliment to Zach Miller in the passing game for quite some time. They've tried Evan Moore, John Carlson, Anthony McCoy and Kellen Winslow to little or no effect. They clearly want to use more two tight end passing formations, just lack the personnel. Maybe this is the off season where they find that last peace of the puzzle. Here are some options I think are worth a look in free agency.

TE, Fred Davis: Fred Davis is a bit of wildcard, but this is more of a positive than anything. He had a breakout campaign in 2011 with 59 receptions for 796 yards catching passes from Rex Grossman. His most recent season was a bit of a let down though. Davis struggled to find chemistry with RG3 and went on season ending IR in week 7 with an achilles injury. His failure to gel with RG3 and Washington's new look offense, along with his injury will make this stud in the passing game all the cheaper. My favorite of all the tight ends available on the market.

TE, Delanie Walker: Here is another great option. Delanie Walker is known by his current teammates in San Francisco as the 'Swiss Army Knife' and with good reason. He does it all; very well I might add. He has experience in a read option offense, is a great blocker and can play as a full back if absolutely necessary. Walker has never been the go to tight end with Vernon Davis in the picture, which might affect how highly teams think of him. This could make him relatively affordable, and worth kicking the tires on.

TE, Jared Cook: There's no denying there is serious talent with Cook. The only problem is consistency. Cook has all the potential to be a great tight end in this league, but never shows it for more than a few games at a time. He did have a 729 yard season only one year ago though, so he might be worth the investment. Would rather somebody else overpaid for Cook though.

J.D. Burke

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Super Bowl Preview

The big game is finally here.
For the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, only 60 minutes stands between heart wrenching defeat and sports lore.

Will Ray Lewis walk away from the game a champion? Will Colin Kaepernick cap off his brilliant first year as a starter with the Lombardi trophy? Will Chris Culliver do or say anything else so stupid that we concuss ourselves with a facepalm? It all comes down to this one outing.
The Harbowl is upon us.

For the San Francisco 49ers, just being at the Super Bowl doesn’t mean anything. This team was expected to at the very least be here – they simply did their part not to disappoint. The organizational depth is top notch. Heck, they even have two starting quarterbacks. They are the 3.5 point favorites and are deserving of that distinction. The only question now is: will their favorite status give them confidence or lead to them being burdened by over-the-top expectations?

The Baltimore Ravens have no business being here. They lost arguably two of their best players on defense mid season in Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. They started the season without Terrell Suggs. They fired their offensive coordinator late in the season. Not exactly a recipe for success. After limping their way into the playoffs they continued to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to get to the Super Bowl, beating New England and Denver. On the road, no less. Can’t imagine confidence is an issue with this group. And it shouldn’t be.

As is the case with any Super Bowl, nerves are going to be a factor. Haven’t seen a Super Bowl where they haven’t been. Both teams are just going to have to find a way to survive the first quarter; make sure they don’t beat themselves. Expect both to come out running. Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice versus Frank Gore and LaMichael James should be a fun match-up. Both teams use the more physical and bruising backs to set the tone, but have also worked the backups into their game plans of late.

It’s a quarterback’s league, though, and ultimately it will come down to the two unlikely Super Bowl pivots. Joe Flacco, who got the Eli Manning treatment when he essentially said he was in the same class as Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick who didn’t even have his first NFL start until week 11.

Now Joe Flacco is playing with such confidence, it almost doesn’t seem utterly absurd that he would consider himself better than Tom Brady. In this playoff run he set a new record for playoff road wins with six. Think that’s good? In this playoff run he has thrown 8 touchdowns to zero interceptions. With contract negotiations surely following the Super Bowl, he couldn’t have picked a better time to break out.
One thing that Flacco has really started doing masterfully is playing to his receivers strengths. He has a real knack for getting the ball into spots where only his receiver can get it. Be it Torrey Smith with the long ball, or Anquan Boldin with the contested catches in tight coverage he gives them the best chance to make the catch.

The Niners pivot hasn’t had all that bad a run himself. It started with a pick six on only his second throw, but it’s been all good since then. He set an NFL record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 181 in the same game and has an otherworldly QBR of 94.1. Experience beyond the years with Kaepernick. If the Ravens can’t find a way to keep him contained, they don’t have a hope in hell of winning this game.

Talk about a great matchup. Two very evenly matched teams, with similar strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t already heard, the two coaches are brothers. As much as I want to see Ray Lewis retire a champion, can’t see it happening. This 49ers team is on fire and relatively healthy. They have one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the game and a punishing defense to match. Regardless of who wins, I just hope it’s a great game for all of us to enjoy. It’s been a great season.
J.D. Burke