I arrived in Washington, DC at 4:29 AM on Monday morning after a 12-hour drive from Jacksonville, Florida. My plan after attending the Jaguars game was to simply not have a plan, and it showed. I thought maybe there could be a good hole to drink water from somewhere in the middle, and potentially there was, but when it's 10 o'clock at night in the bushels of South Carolina, stopping and investigating doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
Instead I push and decide that I'll get as close to DC as possible before stopping at a Denny's and drinking all of the coffee until the sun comes up, and then I will be able to get access to the place I am staying at this week. I luck out and after only two cups of Denny's finest, I find that I'll be able to get access at any time. I push forward and after a two-hour nap, I move my car before getting my first offense in the nation's capitol.
I want to feel like a real politician, but not that real.
There will be no media pass for this game tonight, not for me anyway. Perhaps Jon Gruden rolls with an entourage of 30-plus; don't ask you country spider-y-banana, ask spider-y-not? I find the Seahawks tailgate party and bask in the glow of not knowing anybody there, but without the comfort of at least a wall to lean on and pretend I didn't want to know anyone there anyway. Finally one does show up, Mina Kimes, a friend from Twitter, but I'm confused because how can she be here and also on Twitter at the same time? How can I fave her comment about Bryan Walters IRL?
How can Ricardo Lockette be real if FedEx Field isn't real?
My plan to not have a plan is working out because it's an hour to kickoff and I don't have any tickets. I go up to a lady with a megaphone and ask her if she wouldn't mind telling the crowd that if anyone has an extra ticket, maybe they could come to the front and we'll work out a deal. She looks at me like I'm completely mental.
She's wearing a pink wig.
But she gives in to my abhorrent request and luckily a handsome and generous man steps forward with two tickets. I ask "How much?" and he says "Take 'em!" This Seattle bunch is a-okay in my book. Yes, I quite like it here.
Then I arrive at the stadium.
After stops in Arlington and Jacksonville, this place feels stale and old and in need of a make-over. Hell, maybe even a name change, am I right? Ironically, the stadium sits behind a beautiful untouched neighborhood that reminds me of a scene in War of the Worlds, mostly because it's so quiet and serene, without a soul outside, that it seems we have skipped straight past the apocalypse and right into the post-apoc. And trust me when I say that I got a good look at the brownstones because it's about a mile and a half walk from the Metro to the front gate.
At least fans in D.C. must be in good shape, especially if they sit in the 400-level. After another mile-and-a-half trek up the ramps, I arrive to the area that I was most looking forward to at that moment: Concessions. I had worked up quite an appetite and was ready for just about anything within my dietary restrictions, which unfortunately meant no soda, no beef, no sausage, and no dairy.
I must sound like quite the whiny little bitch to you right now, but in the year 2014 I kind of expect a stadium that's meant to hold 79,000 people to have options that have advanced past what was popular to eat in 1965. Nothing besides hot dogs, nachos, soda pop, and beer. Okay fine, I'll have a beer.
When I sit down in my seat with my IPA (what's the one with the dog that everyone likes? It was one of those and it was great) and stare down at the field, I'm quite happy with my vantage point. One of those "not a bad seat in the house" kind of places and that's how I felt at that moment. With 45 minutes to kickoff, I sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and soak in what it was like to attend a football game 30 years ago.
That's what this place is like and that's how the fans treat it. The most popular jerseys say "RIGGINS", the big screens say "Hail to the Redskins!" (though saying they are "big" compared to JAX or DAL would be like saying that housecat was "big" if you had never seen the nature channel) and the fans say, "Fuck you, Wilson!" This is football at it's roots ...
Which is to say, this is football if you never watered or cared for football or let it grow over the last couple of decades.
The game started, and I was excited, and the Seahawks pretty much did whatever they wanted on offense, which would have resulted in a blowout if not for penalties and one misstep that let DeSean Jackson do what he likes to do every now and then. And then my phone died abruptly in the first quarter, which was perfect because people didn't really have cell phones the last time the Redskins won a playoff game anyway.
But this forced me to leave at halftime, because I had much work due the next day, confident that Seattle would hold on for the win. Which, as you should definitely know by now, they did.
The Seahawks may have relented a bit here and there, but when you ask yourself "What should Washington's odds of winning be if they're only down seven in the third and fourth quarters at home?" you may be surprised to find that the answer is "Never greater than eighteen percent." It helps when your quarterback tiddlywinks all game long and wins NFC Offensive Player of the Week, as Russell Wilson did.
The game I saw from the stands was heavily in favor of Seattle, the stadium I sat in was at best a tribute to days gone by but unwilling to say "Bye" to days that are gone, and the experience was one I'll never forget. Which is impressive because it sure was a long way back to the Metro.
Here are some of the advanced stats of the week.
Seahawks at Redskins Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football-Reference)
Just look at it. The odds were forever in our favor and after a few minutes, never dropped below 75% to win for the rest of the game. People have been asking for some explanations on how these advanced stats are created. I'm not the best person to ask, so I'll link to the best people to ask. The inventors!
Here's a write-up on Win Probability from PFR.
Play of the Game
This right here is why Wilson is the best young quarterback in the NFL.
Hail-Yeah and Hail-No (Chart via AdvancedFootballAnalytics)
AFA Stats explained, including WPA.
Hail-Yeah: Bobby Wagner
There's no point in really arguing against Russell Wilson, since he was just named the best offensive player in the whole conference (and NFL, let's be honest) this week because he was completely in charge of his own destiny all game long. There weren't a lot of people sitting around me (hey, way to go Redskins on Monday night football against the defending champs) but there were a couple of Bears fans in front of me (yep, not even Washington fans) and at one point Russell early in the game kept it and had wide open spaces in front of him but slid when a defender got within maybe five yards of him.
"Oh, what are you doing!" yelled one of the Chicago fans, because Wilson could have definitely gotten more yards. Hell, he might have even scored with a little boost in the right direction. But I just leaned into him and said, "Hey, he knows better than to be the next RGIII."
Wilson isn't playing for five more yards, he's playing for five more years. Or 10 more. Or whatever. He's not interested in a play that might increase the odds of winning by a tenth of a tenth of a percentage point, he's interested in being healthy for this team, franchise, and city, for as long as he can. And we're grateful for that, not a "he might have gotten 10 more yards" moment.
Moving past all of that, I want to take a moment to highlight Baggy Pipesner. As of right now, ProFootballFocus has given him the second-highest grade of all middle linebackers. Now, PFF grades are almost entirely worthless for now, but it brings up an interesting question of whether or not Waggy is indeed better than Luke Kuechly (who is first at 9.0, whereas Waggle is second at 8.9 but on 50 fewer snaps) or Patrick Willis or any other player at the position right now with NaVoro Bowman out.
He's great against the run and the pass, he does what he's asked, he's fast, and probably very underrated. I don't think Bogner is a household name yet, and I can't think of a good reason why. His name is right there for everyone to see: Bobble Headner. Just say it outloud and you'll see: Carryon Bagners. It should be on the back of many Seattle fan jerseys:
He's really good.
Hail-No: Russell Okung, James Carpenter
It's easy to look at Percy Harvin's numbers (four catches, 27 yards, two rushes for seven) and think "What're we paying for this again?" but Harvin played quite well. His athleticism on the second called-back TD and his speed on the third were reminders that he's literally and figuratively the only "Percy Harvin" in the league. That's not to say that I don't wish he could be more productive up to this point (Wilson's rating when throwing to Harvin is just 72.9, but it includes his lone interception, which was Wilson's fault it seems, and not the TD from Monday) but Harvin gives you the feeling that on any play he could win you the game.
It's kind of like DeSean Jackson but without the baggage. Really it's more than even that because Harvin feels like he represents the future of NFL offenses, he's almost inventing a position right before our eyes. I asked Dez Bryant (no, you don't have to pick up that name, I dropped it for a reason) how he felt about the trend of receivers running and he said he was a wide receiver and not really interested or in need of doing that, though he would if he were asked. I think receivers will be asked to do it more and more each year.
The thing about Okung is that "You've seen the Best, now see a guy who's just pretty good." Okung will never be Walter Jones. Even if he were Walter Jones for the next 10 years, he'll never be Walter Jones. Okung is still making mistakes up to this point and could have more holding penalties than Jones had in his entire career already. He's a good player, but he's not great.
Is Carpenter a good player? I'm not so sure. Even if he does block well, where does the overall value stand when touchdowns are called back?
DVOAaaaaaaaa (I'm the Fonz, via FootballOutsiders)
What is DVOA, from FootballOutsiders
If the NFC West already de-throned from the "Best Division" crown? Where are the 49ers and Cardinals, you ask? San Francisco is currently 16th in DVOA, while 3-1 Arizona is 20th. The Cards dropped all the way from eighth to 20th after their loss, mostly due to the fact that they are just 24th on offense and not elite on defense or special teams. This does include a 1-for-8, 81 yard performance by Logan Thomas, however.
But it's a team that still doesn't know how to run the ball, and Larry Fitzgerald hasn't been elite for like three years now, whether you care to admit it or not. Maybe he's in a Randy-Moss-before-New-England funk but he's not that great, averaging just 41 yards per game and 12.6 yards per catch.
This Monday night, the 49ers play the Rams, now 28th in DVOA. San Francisco is 29th on special teams and St. Louis is 30th on defense. The Rams have one sack. I'm just really hoping for a miracle where Michael Sam gets activated by the Cowboys and has more sacks than St. Louis as a team does.
Oh, and the Seahawks are second overall and the only team in the NFL that's top 10 in all three phases of the game. This is how its been pretty much for almost two straight years now and it feels goooood.
- The Lions have the number one defense in the NFL.
- The Ravens are fourth overall, meaning that they could have cut Ray Rice when it was appropriate to do so and still been in this position.
- The Seahawks have the second-best offense in the NFL. A lot of people criticize Russell, but most of them don't even do a good job of that. It's clear that they don't watch the games because if I were playing devil's advocate, I'd say that Darrell Bevell is doing an elite-level job of playcalling this year. Seems like Seattle hits a lot of open receivers and that's gotta have something to do with a mastery of the game of football chess by Carroll and Bevell. That being said, they feel comfortable making those playcalls because they have Wilson, and a lot of those players are open because defenses have to account for Wilson as a runner.
- The highest ranked losing team is the Falcons (6!!!) and the lowest ranked winning team is the Texans (24) which, I think, exemplifies how little we know.
- The best thing a shitty team does: The Raiders are sixth on special teams. The worst thing a "great" team does: The Falcons are 28th on defense.
- The Eagles once seemed to present a major challenge to Seattle's hopes of repeating in the NFC, but if they weren't going nuts on special teams, they could be a one or two-win team. They beat the Jaguars, Colts, Redskins, and Rams.
He's the Russell Wilson you need stats update
Wilson this week: 18-of-24, 201 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 127.3 rating, 8.38 Y/A, 11 rushes, 122 yards, one touchdown, 62 DYAR (8th overall for week, 58 DYAR for rushing)
- It's the highest passer rating and Y/A that Wilson has posted this season.
- It's his second career 100-yard rushing game, and a career-high overall.
- It's his 20th career 2+ TD game out of 36 career regular season games.
- Wilson is now tied for 8th in most career games with 2+ TDs in first three years.
- His 14 career games with 2+ TD/0 INT through three seasons broke a tie for most in NFL history.
- His 20 career games with a rating of 100+ broke a tie for most in NFL history through three seasons.
- His 18 career games with a Y/A of 8+ tied Peyton Manning for 6th most. He's five shy of tying Cam Newton's record.
- He has nine career road games with a passer rating of 100+, three shy of the most in NFL history through three seasons.
Wilson this year: 78-of-111, 852 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 112.9 rating, 7.7 Y/A, 29 rushes, 209 yards, 7.2 Y/A, one touchdown, 154 Passing DYAR (18th), 80 Rushing DYAR (1st for QBs, twice as much as second place), 54.2 QBR (24th), 8.1% DVOA (10th)
According to PFF, this season Russell Wilson is:
- 2nd in PFF QB Rating behind Aaron Rodgers (same as traditional rating but takes into account drops, throwaways, spikes, YAC) at 102.16. Rodgers is at 102.27.
- 1st in Accuracy%, which is Completion% without a few types of passes. Wilson is first in the NFL in completion percentage.
- Wilson would be second in Accuracy% on deep passes if he qualified, but his eight deep shots don't quite count yet.
- 1st in Accuracy% when under pressure.
- 1st in passer rating on all passes that come without play action.
- I think some people say Wilson might be too quick to run with it, but his 4.68 seconds "to scramble" is the 16th-longest in the NFL. He has the most time in the NFL "to throw" at 3.11 seconds because he moves around in and outside of the pocket to buy time. His QB rating of 134.6 on passes with 2.5 seconds or less in the pocket is by far the highest in the NFL.
- And his PFF grade of 0.6 is 18th in the NFL because ...
Wilson's career: 587-of-911, 7,327 yards, 60 TD, 20 INT, 102.1 rating, 8 Y/A, 219 carries, 1,237 yards, six touchdowns
- I do a lot of "up to this point" and "first three years" records that don't involve Aaron Rodgers because Rodgers sat for his first three years (not insignificant) but let's do a Rodgers special.
Over Rodgers first 36 career starts: 775-of-1199, 64.64%, 9,412 yards, 66 TD, 25 INT, 98.3 rating, 7.85 Y/A, 592 rushing yards, 11 TDs
There are several clear advantages in Rodgers' corner, not the least of which is 77 total TD to 66 total TD for Wilson, but Wilson holds up surprisingly well; he's got a higher rating, higher Y/A, more rushing yards, and if you wanna be that guy, Rodgers hadn't won a ring yet. They both had 20 career games with a rating of 100+ up to this point.
Wilson is up there with anyone -- AN-EE-1 -- you can place him against. In context, out of context, in the present, in history, it doesn't matter. Name somebody, compare him to Russell Wilson, contrast if you feel like it, it won't matter. Maybe you find that Wilson doesn't stack up to that one person or era or context that you decided upon, but it's close. It's realllllll fuckin' close. So why is it that so many people dismiss it all? Why do the throw the facts, the stats, the highlights or the person away like he's an illusion. Like his supporters are the delusional ones?
Because someone smarter than them once said that he was too short. I went right with it too, once. I was a person that said, "Eh, this guy? Is this a good choice for a franchise? Well, it's only a third round pick I guess." I'm not going to forget that I said it, and I welcome any of his detractors to point out that I said it.
I was wrong! I admit it.
When will they?