Wednesday the NFL Owners passed a rule outlawing crown-of-the-helmet hits outside of the tackle box for both offensive and defensive players. Judging by the outcry from football fans, media members and even players, you would have thought they approved no beer sales at stadiums. The main problem everyone has is in regards to running backs not being able to “RUN HARD” as one person tweeted me. I want everyone to relax, and here’s why.
The rule as I interpret it in regards to running backs applies when a running back lowers his head and hits the defender with the top of his helmet in the open field. It will NOT apply to a running back trying to punch it in from the 1 yard line coming in as a missile. Whewww, missile dodged. I coached RB’s (I am tired of typing “running back”) in High School, and at no point did I think about teaching them to have their heads down while running the ball. When your head is down you can’t see where you are going. When your head is down you have a tendency to start leaning forward, thus losing your balance. When your head is down it is dangerous as we all know. This notion that you can only “run tough” while your head is down just isn’t true. If a RB wants to add strength behind their carries there are things they can do. Keep the legs moving and the shoulder pads low and square. When a RB is in the open field, the best thing you can do is to make sure you have the ball in the proper hand, so you can stiff-arm and keep defenders off of you so contact isn’t even an issue. If you have/want to initiate contact, you use your shoulder pads. Let’s make sure we don’t mistake the front of the helmet/top of face-mask area for the crown of the helmet. Not the same thing. Keeping your head up while smacking helmets with a defender doesn’t look the same as a RB who looks like he either has osteoporosis or is looking for a contact lens as he runs in to a would-be tackler.
Do we really think Marshawn’s best weapon is the top of his helmet? Is he nothing without that? Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears must think that is HIS best weapon judging by his whiney tweets. “Guess I’ll get my fine money ready” is one of them. “Next year they’ll probably be a no jumping over defenders rule…” is another. Sounds like the fundamentals of running the football aren’t exactly his FORTE. Maybe that explains why he has never had more than 3 100-yard games in a season?
When an ex-player commits suicide by shooting themselves in the chest so their head can be examined to determine the source of their condition, in which direction does the finger pointing head? It’s easy for the fan in all of us to scream about how the players will be wearing flags instead of pads in 5 years. Junior Seau’s mom screaming “TAKE ME, NOT MY JUNIOR” takes a little wind out of that sail and makes you understand a little more from that perspective. Don’t think for a second that I am FOR this rule or the rule that Kam Chancellor broke last year when he lit up Vernon Davis at Qwest field. My feeling is that it is the nature of the sport and these players are more than fairly compensated for willingly participating. But I understand the League has to “do something”, and for all of the outrage, finger-pointing, and lawsuits that the NFL has to endure, this new rule is a very small price to pay. So rest easy Seahawks fans, and fans of the NFL. When the season starts, this rule will be about as impactful as a 6-pack of Tequiza at a tailgate party.
I was in a casino last night and talking about the Seahawks with my friend Chris. Even a casino can’t get the thought of the 2013 Seahawks out of our heads. We somehow came to the point that what the Seahawks are doing now is similar to what the Dallas Cowboys did when building the 1992 Super Bowl Championship team. Of course we all know there are no guarantees in this world, especially in sports. So NO, I am not telling you the Seahawks are going to win it all. I do however think they are on the right track and would not be surprised if they did. So for funsies (that’s right I said funsies) let’s compare the 1992 Cowboys and the 2013 Seahawks. With Schnarroll running this team, who knows what else will happen with the personnel before the season starts. Especially since the NFL Draft hasn’t even happened yet. For instance, in 1992 The Cowboys drafted a middle linebacker who started every game for them that year (see below). But I think we have a decent idea at this point. My favorite part about the way Schnarroll has built this team is collecting guys that have something to prove. That’s an important trait in the NFL. From Marshawn getting the opportunity to start again, to Bruce Irvin being a laughable 1st round selection, to the 5’11” QB who will “never start in this league”. The roster is full of these guys, and they have somehow managed to apply that method when signing guys either via free-agency or trades. Signing players to 2-year deals means to me that you can worry less about a guy mailing it in because he knows he is back on the market in 2 years. Pete takes a lot of crap about his “compete” motto. But hey whattya know? It’s working. Of course you bring out the best in an athlete when he’s being pushed. Do sprinters set records running solo or against a bunch of other sprinters? Jimmy Johnson’s 1992 Dallas Cowboys were 1-15 in 1988. They draft like archers the next three years (including Emmitt Smith in 89) with a lot of their picks coming courtesy of the Herschel Walker trade. The Seahawks have made their money in the later rounds of the draft, giving them some slack to take some chances in acquiring guys in trades or free-agency this year. Whereas out of the 22 starters for the 1992 Dallas Cowboys, they had 7 1st round picks and 3 2nd round picks starting for them (Thanks again Herschel). Both teams effectively drafting however. We all know this is a young man’s game. Too young, or too old isn’t going to cut it in the NFL. There is definitely a sweet spot. The perfect amount of young fresh legs (great band btw) combined with just enough veterans to add experience and leadership.
The 1992 Dallas cowboys starting 22 averaged 26.5 years of age. The 22 (potential) starters for the Seahawks average 25.7 years of age. Sweet spot? I included a list of the 22 (potential) starters at the bottom of this article. As a season ticket holder it may sounds as if I am talking myself in to the Seahawks winning it all this year. Perhaps I am. But the comparison to what some say is the greatest team of all time is intriguing to me. See what you think. Here we go.
1991 Cowboys went 11-5, 2nd in the NFC East, and qualified as the NFC’s #2 Wild Card Team.
The 2012 Seattle Seahawks finished 11-5, 2nd in the NFC West, and qualified as the NFC’s #1 Wild Card Team.
The Cowboys beat Chicago, in Chicago 17-13 in the 1st round Wild Card game, and lost to Detroit 38-6 in Detroit the next week (Detroit was good at one point???).
The Seahawks went to Washington to beat the Redskins 24-14 in the 1st round Wild Card game, and lost on the road to the Falcons 30-28 the following week.
The Cowboys had high expectations the following season where they went 13-3, won the NFC East, and eventually the Super Bowl.
Not 100% sure how the Seahawks will do this (the following) season, but I can’t remember a Seahawks season with higher expectations than the upcoming 2013 season.
Jimmy Johnson was the coach of Dallas in 1992 and won the Super Bowl in his 4th year, after coaching the University of Miami to two National Championships games, winning one of them (1987), and losing the other (1986).
Pete Carroll is entering his 4th season as the Seahawks head coach. He had two BCS Championship Game appearances, winning 1 of them. He also had 2 AP National Championships (2003 and 2004)
The big 3 (QB, RB, WR) on Offense. Say what you want about Defense winning games, everyone knows the success of an NFL team starts with the quarterback. The Cowboys nailed down their QB position via the draft taking Troy Aikman, and at 26 years old he won the Super Bowl. It looks as if the Seahawks struck QB gold via the draft, and Russell Wilson will be 25 during Super Bowl time.
At running back, the Cowboys had a future hall of famer in his 4th season, and the Seahawks have a 3-time Pro Bowler and 1st team All-Pro (2012) in his 7th season.
At Wide Receiver the Cowboys had a Pro-Bowl Receiver in his 4th season who went on to be a hall of famer named Michael Irvin. The Seahawks acquired via trade a 24 year old WR named Percy Harvin who had 60 catches and 3 TD’s in 8 games as well as a 105 yard kickoff return for a TD before being injured in the 9th game of the season against Seattle. The Cowboys Drafted Alvin Harper in 1991 to go along with Michael Irvin, but didn’t start until 1992. Seattle will start Sydney Rice alongside Harvin who was the #1 WR last season. Both teams upgraded at WR from the previous year.
Tight End and Fullback. Both teams went out and grabbed themselves a tight end via free agency. Zach Miller is entering his 3rd year with The Seahawks after spending 4 with the Raiders (Pro-Bowl in 2010). Jay Novacek played 5 seasons with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals before winning the Super Bowl in his 3rd year with the Cowboys. Having fun yet? The cowboys had a future Hall of Famer at fullback named Darryl Johnston in his 3rd year. Fullback is a tad tricky when it comes to the Seahawks. Although they are a team that prides themselves on running the ball, they aren’t what you would consider a classic pro-set (2 RB’s, 2 WR’s, and a TE) team. When they do use a fullback, Michael Robinson is the starter. He is 30 years old and made the Pro-Bowl in 2011.
The Offensive Line for the Cowboys averaged 28 years of age and included two Pro-Bowlers. Of the starting 5, 2 were 3rd round draft picks, 2 were free agents (one of them undrafted) and another acquired via trade. The offensive line for the Seahawks as-is, has 2 Pro-Bowlers and averages 25 years of age. All of the starters were drafted except Giacomini. The right mix of pro-bowlers with free agents desperately trying to prove their worth can be potent.
Before the 1992 season, the Cowboys traded for a 28 year old DE named Charles Haley to take over for a 30 year old Jim Jeffcoat. The Seahawks signed 2 DE’s via free-agency (Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril) to potentially take the place of an injured 31 year old Chris Clemons.
In 1992 The Cowboys drafted Robert Jones to play Middle Linebacker. He started all year and was the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie Team. The Seahawks Drafted a rookie middle linebacker in 2012 who led the defense with 140 tackles.
Jimmy Johnson put together a secondary that included a 12th (yeah that’s right) round draft pick, a free agent who couldn’t find the field his first two years in the league with the Rams, and two guys Jimmy Johnson traded for. A secondary full of guys relishing their chance to play. Something to prove. The Cowboys secondary averaged 27 years of age. The Seahawks secondary, and easily the strength of the defense is 24.75 years of age. It includes a first round pick. A F/A who spent 4 years in Canada trying to get a starting gig in the NFL. A 5th round pick “too tall” to play CB, and a safety who was a 5th round pick that didn’t start a game his rookie season. All four have seen Pro-Bowl honors. Something to prove.
It feels like something special is happening in Seattle with the Seahawks these days. The way Cowboys fans felt coming in to the 1992 season. Even if the Seahawks don’t win the Super Bowl, it looks like the right moves are being made and the amount of youth on this team is very encouraging. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the 1992 Cowboys were full of Hall of Fame-ers. Who knows if any current Seahawks will be in the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done with this group. But having that need to prove yourself as a player/coach in a league that is full of guys who play just for the money, is a quality that you can’t measure, or put a yellow coat on in Canton. Barring any catastrophic injuries, I’m feeling that come playoff time, the National Media and football fans all over this country will “Start Spreading The Newwwwwwwws”.
Here are my potential 22 starters for Seattle. It is a little tough to figure out exactly because I am writing this before the draft even happens. I am including Leroy Hill because he started last season. This is pretty close to who the starters will be I think.
QB Russell Wilson
FB Michael Robinson
TB Marshawn Lynch
WR Sidney Rice
WR Percy Harvin
TE Zack Miller
LT Russell Okung
LG John Moffitt
C Max Unger
RG J.R. Sweezy/James Carpenter (same age, 23)
RT Brino Giacomini
DE Michael Bennett
DT Allen Branch
DT Brandon Mebane
DE Cliff Avril
LB Bobby Wagner
LB Leroy Hill
LB KJ Wright
SS Cam Chancellor
FS Earl Thomas
LC Richard Sherman
RC Brandon Browner