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Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.

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November 10, 2008 4:39 PM

The 2008 Seahawks: Anomaly or the new norm?

Posted by Jerry Brewer

In case you missed it, here is today's column. Simply put, it's on the latest sobering fact about these Seahawks: A team once so good at finding ways to win is now allergic to opportunity.

I didn't get to touch on one comment from coach Mike Holmgren's postgame media session, however. Holmgren has been in a very reflective mood lately, knowing this season is slipping away, trudging toward the disappointing end to his successful Seahawks tenture. On Sunday, after a 21-19 loss to Miami, he turned his attention toward the future.

In an almost apologetic manner, he called this season a "perfect storm." Then he vowed the Seahawks would be back, even though he won't be.

"It's not typical of what our team is about," Holmgren said. "And what our team is like in the future. I don't suspect you'll see this around here for a while."

In other words, he looks at the injuries to Matt Hasselbeck and the receiving corps, figures it got the team out of whack and expects good health to solve much of the Seahawks' problems. He's not foolish; he knows the team has other issues. But he thinks they are fixable in an offseason, and the Seahawks will return to being a playoff contender next season under new coach Jim Mora.

I tend to agree. But the Seahawks do require some significant tinkering on the defensive and offensive lines, in the secondary, and they could be in the market for a starting receiver, too. I hope they draft an offensive lineman with their first-round pick and go from there.

What do you think? Are the Seahawks headed for a downslide or was this just a Murphy's Law kind of year?

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November 9, 2008 5:48 PM

Seahawks Recap: Mistakes doom good effort

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Miami 21, Seahawks 19

Five observations after watching the Seahawks fall to 2-7:

1. The Seahawks should've won this game. The way the Dolphins played, they wanted the Seahawks to win. The old Seahawks would've taken this game and restored hope that the second half of this season would be better than the first. But they lost a chance at victory because of mistakes ranging from yet another ill-timed Mike Wahle penalty to Koren Robinson dropping a touchdown pass to Seneca Wallace missing a wide open Bobby Engram on
the Seahawks' second-to-last offensive play.

"It's been a little bit of the story this season," said coach Mike Holmgren, who was also frustrated by the ridiculous number of false-start penalties (five). "I mean, it is what it is. Unfortunately, it's happening too much."

Holmgren preached playing smart to his team before the game. Guess he can wad up that motivational speech.

"Emotion is a wonderful thing, and you have to have emotion to give yourself a chance in this business," Holmgren said. "But if that's all you have, you lose. So, you have to execute, you have to be smart, and you have to avoid penalties. Couple that together with emotion, you got something."

Well, that means the Seahawks had to settle for half of a performance. They displayed great, inspired effort, but that's about it.

2. The running game resurfaced. After gaining only 36 rushing yards in the first half, the Seahawks managed 90 in the second half. Julius Jones wound up having a fine game, finishing with 88 yards, including a nice 33-yarder.

The 126 rushing yards was the Seahawks' highest output since that Week 3 explosion against the St. Louis Rams.

"In the second half, we came out and got into a little bit of a rhythm," Jones said. "We just have to learn how to start fast and give ourselves more of a chance."

3. Tony Sparano can coach. The guy might be the next coaching superstar. Holmgren acknowledged how the Dolphins have gone from the worst team in the NFL to a playoff contender, saying, "I think their turnaround from last year to this year is something very special."

Give Sparano plenty of credit. With Bill Parcells running the show, the whole organization is in a good place. New general manager Jeff Ireland was a great hire, but Sparano's addition was even better. He's a hard-nosed coach with imagination.

He was asked about chest-bumping some of his players after that final defensive stand. He did it last week and provided the encore.

Said Sparano: "I can't be held accountable for my actions at that point, but I think I might have chest-bumped somebody, yeah. I came out on the losing end of the stick last week. I've got bruises all over the place, so I thought I might need to win one."

4. The Seahawks couldn't handle the trick plays. The Dolphins scored three times on gadget plays. Ted Ginn Jr. caught a 39-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker. And then the Dolphins scored twice by using their much-hyped Wildcat formation -- a 51-yard Ricky Williams touchdown run and a 16-yarder from Ronnie Brown.

In all, the Dolphins ran seven plays out of the Wildcat formation and gained 82 yards. The Seahawks knew it was coming and still couldn't stop it.

"We weren't surprised by it," Holmgren lamented, "but it sure looked like it out there."

5. The return of Big Play Babs. Seldom-used for most of this season, Jordan Babineaux helped the Seahawks get back in the game with his "pick six" in the second quarter. This was easily the finest game of the season for the versatile defensive back. Babineaux has been relegated to playing as the dime cornerback this season. His year began with a one-game suspension, and he hadn't made one of his trademark game-changing plays until Sunday.

"I thought the play was definitely going to jumpstart us," Babs said. "It gave us a little momentum, but in the end, we just didn't finish on the winning side. It's tough to say you played well because it is selfish because the team did lose."

Then again, the Seahawks will take all the bright spots they can find right now.

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November 8, 2008 7:37 AM

Crystal Helmet, Week 11

Posted by Jerry Brewer

College picks

Arizona State 41, Washington 14
Why:
Remember when the Sun Devils were considered a legitimate pick to win the Pac-10? Well, now they're hanging with the Huskies and Cougars at the bottom of the conference. But they have enough talent to win this game -- and especially against a team in disarray -- with quarterback Rudy Carpenter and his receivers providing the difference-making plays.

Arizona 50, Washington State 9
Why:
The Cougars haven't scored in 10 quarters, so the only real intrigue is whether they will break that streak. Give them three field goals in this one, but expect the Wildcats to become the fifth Pac-10 team to score at least 50 points on the Cougs.

USC 35, California 16
LSU 21, Alabama 20
Texas Tech 42, Oklahoma State 38

NFL picks

Miami 24, Seahawks 14
Why:
The up-and-coming Dolphins aren't the team you want to face after traveling all the way from the Pacific Northwest. They will fool the Seahawks a few times with their Wildcat formation, making for another long, frustrating road trip.

Atlanta 24, New Orleans 21
New England 19, Buffalo 13
Philadelphia 24, New York Giants 20
Green Bay 28, Minnesota 14

Last week's record: 8-2
Season to date: 67-33

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November 5, 2008 11:59 AM

Powerless Rankings: Odd endorsements, beleaguered coaches and a perilous Sharpie incident

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Our weekly tracking of the 10 most hapless stories in sports:

10. Steve Francis' bedazzling Obama endorsement
Comment: Check out what Francis wore on Election Night. I'm hearing that 78 percent of velvet-wearing NBA has-beens voted for Obama.

9. Brandon Marshall
Comment: The ever-frustrating Denver Broncos wide receiver played like a bum Sunday, got razzed by Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter and is now trying to talk his own smack. The loser never has a point, Brandon.

8. Brad Johnson
Comment:
Afraid to take chances, Johnson turned the potent Dallas Cowboys offense into dinky laughingstock. He should've retired the minute Brooks Bollinger replaced him last week.

7. Stephon Marbury
Comment:
Not only does he have the logo of his near-extinct Starbury shoes tattooed on his head, but Marbury can't get on the court and can't find a way to make the New York Knicks waive him. Remember when he and Kevin Garnett were supposed to be the new Stockton and Malone? Must've been a rumor.

6. Mike Holmgren
Comment:
The Big Show just might be out of good performances. It was tough watching him nearly fall apart after last Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. The only question now is whether this Seahawks team will give him the worst record of his NFL head-coaching career. The low mark is 6-10. The Seahawks are on pace for 4-12.

5. An Allen Iverson/Rasheed Wallace duo
Comment:
That's what the Detroit Pistons have now after a surprising blockbuster trade. AI can still play, but will 'Sheed revive the craziness hiding within the Answer?

4. DeAngelo Hall
Comment:
The Oakland Raiders are expected to release Hall this week despite his team-leading three interceptions. Not sure why they want to get rid of him a few months after giving him a $7 million signing bonus (not to mention trading second- and fifth-round picks to Atlanta to acquire him), but if he's dumped, some lucky team will snatch a super-talented corner prone to talking too much. Seahawks, perhaps? Jim Mora knows him well.

3. Husky in-fighting
Comment:
Juan Garcia let the Dawg out of the bag -- the Huskies are a divided team. Of course, that doesn't completely explain falling behind 42-0 at the half last week, but who wants to revisit that nightmare?

2. Phil Fulmer
Comment:
After 17 years, the coach will be out at Tennessee when this season ends. His 150-51 record couldn't save him. The Vols are 3-6 this season, and in the ultra-competitive SEC, Fulmer turned into dead weight in record time. Welcome back to big-time college athletics, folks, where everyone lives week to week.

1. The doodling cheerleader
Comment:
Caitlin Davis got kicked off the New England Patriots cheerleading team this week after Facebook photos surfaced of her scribbling insensitive words with a Sharpie on the body of a drunken friend. If only Bill Belichick had been there. Then the Pats would've covered it up for her.

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November 4, 2008 1:28 PM

Life could be worse: Bereaved sports fans look here

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Tired of examining how bad we have it right now? Well, I'm introducing a new feature, entitled "Life could be worse."

The point is to show that our lives aren't all that bad. And what's a surefire way to make us feel better about ourselves? Make fun of somebody who has it worse, of course.

Today's source of, um, inspiration comes from Tampa, and it has nothing to do with sports. A friend who lives there forwarded me this story, about a couple arrested after a fight over missing teeth. Mike Tyson was not involved, unfortunately.

Continue reading this post ...


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November 2, 2008 8:01 PM

Seahawks recap, Game 8: Goodbye, playoff dreams

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Philadelphia 26, Seahawks 7

Five observations after watching the Seahawks fall to 2-6:

1. The O-line failed Seneca Wallace. Yes, Wallace had a horrible start, complete with his peculiar decision to spike the football on third down during a two-minute drill. He also threw some crazy underhanded passes. But he was flustered by the Eagles' defense, and although coach Mike Holmgren said he wanted to watch the film first, he believed it would confirm poor pass protection contributed to Wallace's struggles. Wallace was sacked four times, and he was running for his life the entire game.

Asked about Wallace, Holmgren said: "I would reserve judgment until I see the film. I didn't like our protection. I feel that he was under duress a good portion of the time. He can't do anything about the balls he throws that are not caught. We had a key penalty when we jumped on a protection call, and that wasn't him. I would like more productivity out of that position, but I have to look at the film first."

2. I'm happy for Koren Robinson. He still doesn't look right running on that injured knee, but Robinson did provide the lone offensive highlight of the game for the Seahawks, with a 90-yard touchdown reception on the Seahawks' first play. Though he called the TD "bittersweet" because his team lost, Robinson said he was excited to show that he can still play.

3. Donovan McNabb and Drew Brees are the best QBs in the NFL currently. Brees' numbers are incredible (320 passing yards per game), but McNabb is right there with him. He shook off an 0 of 7 start and finished with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns. At one point in the game, McNabb completed 13 consecutive passes.

4. The Seahawks made Brent Celek look like a Pro Bowler. Celek, the Eagles' afterthought tight end, entered the game with eight receptions this season. He caught six passes for 131 yards in this game. His breakout game was inexcusable. The Eagles burned the Seahawks defense on several one-on-one situations, and Celek proved to be a beneficiary.

Describing Celek's 46-yard reception, McNabb said: "They played him man press, and knowing they would go with an all-out blitz, and I tried to put it in a position where he could compete for it, and he came down with it."

From that play on, Celek turned into Tony Gonzalez.

5. Toss the Seahawks' playoff hopes in the trash can. Or better yet, in the incinerator. It's over. At 2-6, the Seahawks aren't recovering with a dramatic second-half performance this season. If they get healthy, they'll have a chance to improve. But the Seahawks are playing for pride the rest of the season.

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October 31, 2008 10:12 PM

Crystal Helmet, Week 10

Posted by Jerry Brewer

College picks

USC 59, Washington 10
Why: A 46 1/2 point spread? Craziness. But the Trojans are going to get there. Their stable of running backs will run for 300 yards, and quarterback Mark Sanchez will chip in with an efficient performance.

Stanford 31, Washington State 6
Why: The Cardinal can't put up 50 or more on the Cougars, can they? I don't think their offense is explosive enough, so I'll call for what the Cougs should consider a moderate blowout. They'll only lose by about four touchdowns this time.

Oregon 31, California 29
Texas 48, Texas Tech 28
Florida 24, Georgia 20

NFL picks

Philadelphia 28, Seahawks 21
Why: The Eagles are too talented and aggressive for the Seahawks, who will definitely be without defensive end Patrick Kerney (and Matt Hasselbeck and Deion Branch) and might be missing fullback Leonard Weaver and linebacker Lofa Tatupu. But if Andy Reid drops his pants at halftime, it's anybody's game.

Tennessee 20, Green Bay 17
New York Giants 24, Dallas 13
Indianapolis 28, New England 19
Pittsburgh 17, Washington 14

Last week's record: 7-3
Season to date: 59-31

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October 29, 2008 1:52 PM

Powerless Rankings: Overdosing on Husky drama

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Our weekly tracking of the 10 wackiest stories in sports:

10. Greg Oden
Comment: After the long wait, The Next Great Big Man couldn't even get through his first game without injuring himself. What's his body got against him?

9. Lute Olson
Comment: The Arizona coach is retiring after an on-again, off-again past year with the Wildcats. The reason for the drama: Olson reportedly suffered a stroke last year. Let's wish him well as he leaves basketball.

8. Staph infections
Comment: It's a new mystery in sports, especially in the NFL. Why are so many players -- prominent players -- getting staph infections? It's a medical dilemma that transcends sports, actually. Doctors are perplexed.

7. Isiah Thomas
Comment: The overdose was scary enough. But to try to cover it up by using your own daughter? Zeke remains one shady character.

6. Bumetanide
Comment: The NFL has a drug controversy, involving some water pills that are considered a steroids masking agent. ESPN.com reported that the number of violators may be more than 15. Uh oh.

5. Mike Singletary vs. Vernon Davis
Comment: Can't get enough of Singletary's rant. Feel privileged to say I covered that game. But a question: How does the coach top that the next time the 49ers get walloped?

4. World Series rain
Comment: Just when you thought Phillies-Rays couldn't produce any history, ha, it pours. Anybody up for considering a neutral site, good weather Series in the future?

3. NBA-less in Seattle
Comment: Yes, it's sinking in big time now. No, it won't feel normal for a long, long time.

2. Jim Mora's silence
Comment: The Huskies have a coaching opening, the fans overwhelming want Mora, but the Seahawks' coach-in-waiting is trapped in a tough position. So, he's handling it by ignoring it publicly. Is he leading on the UW or giving the Huskies the silent go-ahead sign?

1. Tyrone Willingham
Comment: R.I.P. -- in six long, grueling weeks.

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More from this blog

Recent entries

Dec 28, 08 - 09:31 AM
Crystal Helmet, season finale

Dec 23, 08 - 08:41 AM
A reason to watch the NBA?

Dec 21, 08 - 09:39 AM
Crystal Helmet, Week 17

Dec 14, 08 - 09:37 AM
Crystal Helmet, Week 16

Dec 10, 08 - 12:35 PM
Powerless Rankings: Knives, lies and bribes

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