Wednesday thoughts

Signing day is here, and we get to read the hype on kids who will redshirt and/or be special teamers for the next couple of years. That said, I shouldn’t belittle it too much, as guys like Bumpus two years ago turned out to be something special, as well as Greg Trent last year looks like a player. So maybe one or two of this class will turn out to be something we can get really excited about? The problem for me isn’t just the Seahawks stuff for me, but not having the premium pass hasn’t let me learn much about these guys. So many of the names will be new to me, just like you.

This does look like a strong class, maybe slightly stronger than normal, with some serious size at WR. I’m a little down on the idea that there aren’t many o-line guys, but oh well, there are several young ones in the program ready to play that were recruited over the last few years. You know Pflu has it all mapped out in regards to team needs, so I’m not real worried about the makeup of this class.

On to the BIGGGGGG GAME. I guess for the first time in history, Pittsburgh is playing Pittsburgh?? Is it true that Jerome Bettis has been named Jesus for the week?? What next??? I can’t take it anymore.

On a big-picture type thing, I am going on these thoughts:
1) The Hawks are DEVOURING the underdog role. They are slurping it up like hot fudge over vanilla, and asking for seconds. They absolutely, positively love it, and it’s starting to become the perfect setup.
2) Why could a 1-seed be a 4pt dog to a 6-seed? It’s simple. It’s all perception. Nobody knows anything about the Hawks, everyone knows EVERYTHING about the Steelers. The AFC had the hype this year, the NFC was downplayed. The Steelers beat the 1-2-3 seeds, on the road, and that is impressive as hell, something Carolina tried but failed miserably at the end.
3) The other reason why everyone loves the Steelers? Because the times people have watched the Hawks? They haven’t been great, at least until the last game of the playoffs. Think about it, people ONLY paid attention when the Hawks played the following games – @Wash, Dallas, NYGiants, @Philly, and of course, the playoffs. The cynic could poke holes in each of these games, saying the Hawks were lucky rather than good (Dallas, NYG), that they couldn’t win a close game (@Wash), that the MNF win was a fluke over a bad Philly team, and that they benefitted from the homefield in an ugly win over a horrible offensive team (Wash) and blew out a one-man show, Carolina, who was also beat up, tired, sick, and flying 6 hours to get to the game.
Of course, the optimist could point out that 1) the Hawks came back vs. Washington early in the year, and only lost because of a missed FG, 2) Bledsoe screwed up on that pick, but Hass did drive the Hawks 81 yards in 6 plays with his 3rd, 4th and 5th string WR’s on the previous possession, AND Brown still had to nail a 50-yarder on a damp day, 3) Feely missed 3 FG’s, but none of them were gimmies. And, that game never should have been into OT, as the NFL itself admitted that the 4th-down TD by Shockey was a ref screw-up and shouldn’t have been a TD, 4) The Phily win WAS impressive, 42-0 over the defending NFC champs at their house on MNF when the NFL was watching, and Philly went on to really challenge the Redskins and Giants down the stretch, 5) They only won 20-10 vs. Wash, but that was losing the MVP early in the game, they had 3 turnovers, two of which gave Wash a very short field, and Wash coming into the game was playing NASTY defense, carrying that team and really might have been the 2nd best NFC team at the time. Hass putting that game on his shoulders is going to look very impressive as time goes on.
4) Some other stats to consider:
The Hawks coaching staff has 18 SB rings combined. The Steelers have 8.
Holmgren has been to the SB 4 times in the past, going 3-1. His lone loss was when he was a double-digit fav. Holmgren said in an interview last week “Going into the Denver game, I spent every ounce of energy I had trying to convince my team that Denver was going to be a tough game, but they didn’t buy it. And the funny, and worst thing to happen? Scoring so quickly, so easily on that first drive. I got a lot of looks on the sideline from some players, a “what are you talking about?” look, and I knew that we might be in trouble. Sure enough, we were. This year? I have no doubt that we will NOT take this game lightly!”
Cowher has ZERO SB rings. He is 0-1 in his only appearance as a coach or player. Also, get this – Cowher is now just 2-6 all-time in “championship” games. He’s 2-5 in AFC title game, 4 of those losses coming AT HOME in the AFC title game. If Cowher is sooooooo great, shouldn’t he have had his team in the SB at least a few more times, and even won a ring??
No #1 seed has ever lost a SB to a seed lower than a #3 seed. Pittsburgh is a 6-seed.
In SB history, the team with the better record overall is now 24-8. 9 times the teams had the exact same record. That’s exactly 2 of every 3 times, the better team does win.
Everyone thinks the bus and Willie Parker are going to run wild on Seattle. Well, of course, nobody realizes that Seattle only gave up ONE 100-yard rushing day, to Tiki Barber. But did you know that Barber only went over 100 yards when that game went into OT and he broke off a 60-yard run!??! So in reality, in 18 games including playoffs, ZERO backs went over 100 yards in regulation.
Everyone talks about how hot the Steelers are, and it’s true, they are hot right now. But could the Hawks be HOTTER!?! Yes. Take the Green Bay game out of the equation, a game that the starters were out early and was a glamorized exhibition game. In reality, the Seahawks haven’t lost a competitive game that mean something since October 2nd! By the time kickoff comes Sunday? That’s FOUR MONTHS and change that the Hawks haven’t lost a game that mattered! Think about it.

I heard three radio interviews that caught my ear this week, and really cemented my pick this week. First, Rich Eisen got on KJR and said “I like the Steelers, because of all their Super Bowl experience vs. Seattle never being here. They have so much tradition, Seattle has none.” Oh REALLY Rich? So Pittsburgh winning 4 SB’s in the 70’s mean something? Well, did you know that Pittsburgh has ONE player – Willie stinkin’ Williams – who has actually been on a SB roster? He didn’t play in 1996, and he won’t play this week either. Meanwhile Seattle has 5 players that have played in the big game, including 4 that have started and 4 that have SB rings as players (Joe J, Darby, Wistrom and Sharper). Talk about uninformed. The 1970’s were a LONG TIME AGO.

Next, Willie McGinest was talking about how much this year reminds him of the year NE beat the Rams. He said all week long, EVERYONE was hot on the Rams, that they were loaded and were poised to make history, no way could NE beat them, etc. And he said all week, they just simmered, bit their lip, and played up the underdog role, and got PISSED off during the week. He said by Sunday, they were dying to hit those guys, and just beat them! He said sometimes when things are on the line, the team that has the chip on their shoulder, the team that has been dissed, disrespected and overlooked, is the most dangerous team. He said basically, the most dangerous pro team is the one that everyone picks against! Pro’s need motivation, just like in any walk of life, and any time you flat-out tell a pro player to his face he can’t do something?? Sometimes that is the thing that pushes them to heights they didn’t even know they could reach!

Finally, Trent Dilfer. He went on and on about how great Hass is, and how strong he has been in the last half of the year, and that he went back and watched game tapes of those old Niner teams led by Montana, and said there is no doubt, Hass is a Montana clone right now. Complete control, up-tempo, very accurate, doesn’t have the 100 mph fastball like Favre but has tremendous touch, and has a secret weapon that nobody talks about – his feet. Not in the Michael Vick sense that he is always a threat to tuck and run, but he can roll away from pressure with that 6th sense that only the great ones really have, and if he has to, he can tuck it and run for a big play. JUST like Montana. He also went to great lengths to explain how great the Holmgren offense actually is built to attack a 3-4 blitzing team. He talked about angles and things like that, but he said he’s really big on that this is the best matchup for the Hawks, and for Matt, because he has shown this year that he can kill the blitz. Sure, the Steelers will confuse things at times, and Matt might take a sack or throw a bad ball here or there, but in reality, Matt picks up the blitz and the hot route as well as anyone in football, and Pittsburgh blitzes a ton, which of course, will leave some open spaces. He also went on and on about how smart and how great the O-line is, and how it is THE story of the game. They will be able to handle anything the Steelers throw at them.

One last thing to think about. Big Ben. Yeah, he’s special, but he’s also 23. Remember Marino in 1984? He was pretty special too, 48 TD’s and a ton of weapons. But he was 23, in his 2nd year. And you know what? As great as Marino was in the playoffs, when he got to the big game? He played in long stretches like a 23-year old, and they got blown out, 38-16. So as poised and as talented as he appears, let’s just see what happens come Sunday. Because as Dilfer says, the pressure when the game begins is unlike anything you can even fathom unless you go through it yourself. He said he was poised all SB week, but in warmups, the hugeness of the moment hit him, and he was just out of his mind nervous/excited/etc. He said he can’t imagine what a 23-year, 2nd year QB must be thinking when that game gets going.

Not that my pick means ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING at all, but this is the prefect setup. I’m calling Seahawks 31, Pittsburgh 20. It will be surprising, but in the end, the 1-seed will do exactly what it should to a 6-seed. And I will be at that parade on Tuesday!