A GRIP ON SPORTS • It seems forever since we’ve been able to sit down and watch a Seahawks’ game. But it’s only been about 10 days. Wait. That is forever in an NFL season. Read on.
• The NFL has been called a week-to-week league. In other words, teams can get healthy – or whatever the opposite is – quickly in a league with such parity. Take the Seahawks for example. They looked awful in their second game, a 9-3 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles. People wrote them off.
For a week.
Then came the 37-18 rout of the 49ers. Boom, the Hawks were back. And when they won the next week 27-17 over the Jets in New Jersey, there was talk the Hawks were in the league’s upper echelon once again.
Then nothing. There was a reason, of course. Seattle had an early bye. Four games in, one-fourth of the season, the Hawks sat for a week. No complaints, though. With quarterback Russell Wilson dealing with knee and ankle problems, the week off was fine.
But while the Hawks were off talking politics and visiting sick kids, other teams took over the spotlight. One of them is this week’s foe, the Atlanta Falcons.
Coached by former Seahawk assistant Dan Quinn, the Falcons are a surprising 4-1 and have displayed one of the league’s best offenses. They won last week in Denver, handing the defending Super Bowl champs a 23-16 defeat.
That win better have gotten your attention. Though the Falcons have struggled at times to stop teams – in their first four games only the Raiders failed to score 30 points against Atlanta – they proved last weekend they can score on anyone.
Not that Denver, or Seattle for that matter, are just anyone. They are, along with Minnesota, the crème de la crème of the NFL, defensively. But you may not know it. While Atlanta was grabbing national attention – and then throwing it away by staying out West all week – the Hawks were like Punxsutawney Phil in January. Out of sight and out of mind.
Now they get to re-enter our consciousness Sunday afternoon at 1:25. By then we may just have to re-introduce ourselves to everyone.
• WSU: So who does Jacob Thorpe think will win Saturday night in Pullman? He picks ... well, he’s now making you wait until Friday to find out. What a cheap way to sell another day’s newspaper. I applaud his forward thinking. And pass along the rest of his Pac-12 picks. ... Jacob also has a story on Gabe Mark’s appreciation of the Cougars’ improved defense and post-practice interviews with Mike Leach and Clay McGuire. ... And, no, we didn’t forget that he held a live chat yesterday. Here is the transcript. ... Logan Tago will be able to practice but not play in games. ... Luke Falk is no longer under the radar. ... UCLA is on a run of late-night games, though that’s about all that’s running in Westwood these days. ... ESPN had a fun ad yesterday and Leach’s irreverence made it even better.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there is a South showdown Saturday, with Colorado hosting a beat-up Arizona State team. Both have one Pac-12 loss. ... Arizona’s defense has not been good in the first half and must improve if the Wildcats want to have a shot against Sam Darnold and the USC offense. ... Both Stanford and Notre Dame have seen disappointing results this season. ... Washington quarterback Jake Browning paid a price for his finger-wag against the reeling Oregon Ducks. ... Maybe the running game will kick in this weekend for Oregon State and the Beavers game against Utah will be a quick one. It’s a Pac-12 game, though, so probably not. ... Who will win those games? Who knows. But we know what to watch.
• Gonzaga: There is a sister act facing off tonight at Gonzaga, when the Zags host USD in volleyball. Jim Meehan has the story.
• EWU: The Eagles’ football success is built on a lot of things. But at the core is recruiting. This season’s start can’t have hurt in that regard. Jim Allen has more in this notebook. ... Around the Big Sky, we have some basketball news, with University High graduate Kayleigh Valley’s season ending knee injury at Montana among the biggest. ... In football, it looks as if the Big Sky is going to add another league game. ... There are some interesting coaching matchups in Big Sky football. ... Montana State's receivers need to catch up a bit. ... North Dakota is running the ball well. ... The guys up front are crucial for Southern Utah. ... Idaho State knows it is in for a test at Northern Arizona. ... Cal Poly is being tested by injuries.
• Chiefs: Life on the WHL road includes some tough nights. The Chiefs had a long bus trip and a game on back-to-back nights so it’s little wonder they lost the second one. ... A trio of Chiefs will represent Canada in an upcoming tournament. Tom Clouse has the story.
• Preps: Greg Lee has a feature story today that not only is informative, but also uplifting. Gonzaga Prep coach Joe Feryn has faced a tough road. ... The eighth-ranked Bullpups have a showdown with Mead tonight at Albi, Greg has an advance. ... The Pick-6 battle tightened up last weekend, with Greg picking up a game on Sam Adams.
• Seahawks: The matchup with the Falcons will feature many key matchups within. None are bigger than Richard Sherman vs. Julio Jones. ... Quinn never set out to make a Seahawk clone in Atlanta. ... The Hawks had an unexpected injury pop up. ... Cliff Avril has pledged to do a special thing.
• Sounders: A home win vs. last-place Houston last night would have clinched a playoff spot for Seattle. Instead, the Sounders settled for a 0-0 draw and lost Ozzie Alonso in the process, ejected for losing his temper and earning a red card. That is two consecutive matches that has happened. Now the playoff road is a bit bumpier.
• It is raining. I’d keep playing. I don’t think the heavy stuff’s going to come down for quite a while. ... Also, file this under things I never thought I would see: Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. Wow. Until later ...