seahawks logo 1This Sunday morning in another dreaded 10 AM start our hometown Seattle Seahawks take on the Baltimore …er…I mean IndianapolisColts on their home turf, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You will have to forgive my lapse in referring to the Colts as being from Baltimore. Though I lived in Seattle I grew up as a huge fan of the Baltimore Colts[1] and their legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas. As a young football player my position was split end and I patterned myself after the great Colt receiver Raymond Berry.[2] Time and again in those late ‘50s  to mid ‘60s NFL  seasons I would watch and cheer as Unitas would connect with Berry on pass patterns intricately ran and  exactly timed through hours of extra practice. If you saw Doug Baldwin make that incredible game saving, toe tapping, sideline catch against the Texans last Sunday then you should realize you were watching a modern day incarnation of Raymond Berry; for it was Berry who first mastered and popularized that sideline route while receiving those laser precise throws from Unitas. I still smile when I think about Unitas, Berry, Lenny Moore and all the rest of those great Colts from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas

So it was that in 1984 when Baltimore Colt owner Robert Irsay packed up the team and moved them to Indianapolis he forever made enemies of Colt fans like me all over the nation and in Baltimore. We hate that guy…and now that he is dead many extend that hate to his son Jim, the current Colt owner, and this fake Indianapolis version of the Colts. To us that famous horseshoe helmet and logo is something sacred and not to be violated by allowing it to languish in a place as devoid of the hallowed Colt tradition as Indianapolis.

Looking down from above, Johnny Unitas has decreed it so.

Raymond Berry

Raymond Berry

That said, there is nothing fake about the current Colt quarterback Andrew Luck, his prime target Reggie Wayne, and a number of the other Colt players. These guys are good. Luck, of course, along with Robert Griffin III and our own Russell Wilson, is part of the triumvirate of rookie quarterbacks who set the NFL on its ear last year with their excellent play. Seasoned fans are just not used to seeing rookies at this most difficult position play like these three did. They all led their teams to the playoffs and ranked high in the quarterback standings.

This year Luck has picked up where he left off and has the Colts riding high with a 3-1 record that includes a 27-7 thumping of the San Francisco 49ers in week three; impressive because it occurred at the 49er’s Candlestick Park home field. Through four games he has completed nearly 64% of his passes for 900 yards and five touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. The venerable and Hall of Fame bound Wayne, now 34 years old and in his thirteenth NFL season, has hauled in twenty-two of Luck’s throws for 300 yards and two scores and looks to be having another Pro Bowl season. The Colts are also developing a running attack with the recent acquisition Trent Richardson from the Browns and Luck himself, who has rushed for 126 yards and a nearly eight yard per carry average. The Colts’ leading rusher, Ahmad Bradhsaw, will miss this game, and maybe the season, with an injured neck; a distinct point in the Hawk’s favor.

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck

An interesting thing about Luck, and something the Hawk’s Legion of Boom defensive backs will need to be alert to, is that, though his overall quarterback rating [3] is very good and about even with Russell Wilson (in the low 90s), it soars to over 130 on pass routes of 10 to 18 yards down field. On longer routes over 18 yards his rating drops drastically into the 70s. Richard Sherman and company will need to sit on these short to intermediate routes and try not to bite on the deep fakes.

As for the Hawks, as alluded to at the outset, it appears to this observer that Seattle has yet to overcome the 10 AM start bugaboo. They were terrible in the first half in a similar situation last week against Houston and were also dragging early in that first game on the east coast against Carolina. The improvement is that they won both of these games. I suppose it doesn’t matter if you ultimately win the game but it makes the angst of us fans watching that much more difficult to bear. Additionally it looks like starting center Max Unger will be out again, right tackle Brenno Giacomini is definitely out and now starting tight end Zach Miller may miss the game with a bad hamstring. Add that to the fact that All Pro left tackle Russell Okung is out for at least six more weeks and you have the recipe for another potential defensive free for all on quarterback Russell Wilson. You saw the havoc wrought by Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and his mates last week in Houston. Watching the film of that debacle, Colt defensive lineman Robert Mathis, who has already accumulated 7.5 sacks this season, must be licking his chops. The Seattle offensive line is a definite weak point going into week five in Indianapolis.

Robert Mathis sacking Cam Newton

Robert Mathis sacking Cam Newton

Despite the offensive line and the slow start the Seahawks prevailed in Houston in miraculous fashion. To expect something like that to occur again against the Colts is stretching the limits of both credulity and reason. The defense will be buoyed by the return of Bruce Irvin (eight sacks last year) from PED [4] induced suspension and also by the fact they should have defensive lineman Michael Bennett back at full strength after last week it looked like his season might be over. (He was taken off the field on a stretcher after what looked to be a severe injury.) These are good things. The Seahawks will not be able to afford another slow start, however. They will need to bring it from the get-go against the Colts and the defense will need a whole game effort of the caliber of the second half last week when they shut out Houston.

Bruce Irvin

Bruce Irvin

The NFL is a tough league. That is why only one team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, has gone undefeated through a whole campaign. As they say, “On any given Sunday,” any team can beat any other team. The Hawks will lose a couple of games this season at least and this game against the Colts, with the spate of injuries to Hawk players and the 10 AM start, has all the earmarks of one of those. The smart money should be on the Colts by three points or so.

Regardless, I think the Seahawks will win this game. Call it the homer in me or call it wishful thinking, I think the Hawks will prevail by at least a touchdown.

How do I know?

Johnny Unitas has decreed it so. He hates Indianapolis!

Go Hawks!

 

 Copyright © 2013

By Mark Arnold

All Rights Reserved



[1] The NFL’s  Baltimore Colts were formed in 1953 and for the next 30 seasons, until Robert Irsay moved them to Indianapolis, played themselves into the hearts and history of Baltimore and the NFL. All time great players such as Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Mike Curtis, Bert Jones, Lydell Mitchell and John Mackey helped the Colts to eight division championships between 1958 and 1977, two NFL championships (’58 and ’59), two Super Bowl appearances (’68 and ’70) and one Super Bowl championship  (1970)

[2] Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a result of their careers with the Baltimore Colts. Unitas, who died in 2002, became one of the most legendary quarterbacks in the history of football owning many all time records when he retired, most of which have now been eclipsed by quarterbacks playing 16 game seasons. (Unitas played 12 and 14 game seasons.) He and Raymond Berry formed a potent passing duo and are largely responsible for creating the modern, passing pro football offense including the now famous “two minute drill”, a staple of which was the toe tapping sideline route perfected by Berry. The NFL Championship game in 1958 in which the Colts defeated the New York Giants in overtime on a Unitas engineered game winning drive is widely considered the greatest NFL game of all time as well as the game that ushered in the NFL’s TV era, the result of which you see today.

[3] Quarterback Rating is a complicated system that takes into account a quarterback’s passes attempted, completed, passing yards gained, passing touchdowns and interceptions to arrive at a numerical figure that reflects the efficiency of a quarterback. The highest possible rating according to this system is 158.3. A rating of over 100 is excellent. Currently Russell Wilson is the eighth ranked NFL passer with a rating just over 95. Andrew Luck is 12th at just under 92

[4] PEDs means “Performing Enhancing Drugs” ; any of a number of substances banned by the NFL as being unnatural aids to performance.

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