A GRIP ON SPORTS • It was a metaphor, that’s for sure. On football weekends, we all feel like a cat hanging by a thread from the upper deck, don’t we? The first one of 2021, in the midst of a burgeoning pandemic and 20-year-old memories, we felt even more anxiety. Then Russell (and Shane) cooked. And all was right with the world.
• By “all was right with the world” we meant one thing: It’s time to overreact. To take one week’s worth of results and project them into infinity – and beyond. To have confidence that no matter how many times we are suspended in mid-air and facing certain death, we’ll land on our feet thanks to the aid of 53 guys wearing Seahawks uniforms.
That’s what we football fans do after the first NFL weekend. And two games into college football’s four-month-long slog.
The Pac-12 is back, baby. Green Bay has left the building. And the Seahawks’ new offense is going to propel them to the Super Bowl. Such is the way of the world, even if year after year all those overreactions prove to be, well, overreactions.
No one cares. Let’s jump aboard the Duck, or Bruin, or Sun Devil train as they chug to an undefeated season. Let’s pencil in Tampa and Kansas City for a Super Bowl rematch – if Shane Waldron and Russell Wilson don’t derail them in the NFC championship game en route to the league’s first 18-0 season.
As we ingest way too many calories, watch way too many yellow flags fly and drink way too many adult beverages, it all starts to run together. From Saturday’s 9 a.m. kickoff in Columbus to Sunday’s 9 p.m. kneel down in Los Angeles, from venues historic to modernistic, football dominated the weekend.
Everything else, from flyovers to Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam failure, paled in comparison – at least among football fanatics.
• The best part of Sunday, and by best we actually mean funniest, came courtesy of Pete Carroll. Speaking to the media after his team’s 28-16 road win over Indianapolis, he tried to find the right word to describe the synchronicity his quarterback and new offensive coordinator showed against the Colts. How the two of them seemed to be on the same page. How their minds melded, a la Spock and McCoy, en route to an actually fun offensive showing.
The term Carroll stumbled upon? They cooked. And he immediately regretted it.
Through a year of memes and misplaced desires, Carroll had studiously avoided any mention of “let Russ cook,” even as his quarterback earned a few more bucks selling the dream to the clucks.
And here it was, the first postgame press conference of 2021 and the term, which had been dying a well-earned death, just came out. Zombie-like.
If we are all assaulted with another 16 weeks of Russell Wilson-in-a-chef’s-hat images, blame Carroll.
• Just how good can the Hawks be? That’s almost impossible to determine after one game. But some things can be divined.
The offense will be more diverse. They may run as much as ever – if Chris Carson can stay healthy, why wouldn’t they? – but how the Hawks attack a defense should come from different looks and different places.
The defense, if healthy, can be OK, though the pass rush is still a work in progress. Too often Ken Norton Jr. had to bring more than four Sunday to get the needed pressure. And the corners need help in that regard. Without pressure, they will be exposed.
Otherwise, the answer to how good they can be is TBD. You know what we’re really looking forward to? The game in which the opponent’s defense has the Hawks dialed in. And adjustments have to be made in the heat of competition. How will Waldron, in his first year as a coordinator, and Wilson, with in-grown habits a decade in the making, react?
Then we will know more. And we can really overreact.
WSU: The 44-24 win Saturday came at a bit of a price, health-wise. Colton Clark examines that aspect of the victory as well as the Cougars’ pace in this day-after notebook. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, Jon Wilner rewinds the weekend for the entire conference in today’s Mercury News. … The Pac-12 was in the national discussion in a big way as well, mainly thanks to Oregon’s win at Ohio State. It seems the Ducks are right on schedule as they are ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll. … USC’s failure also was noteworthy and inspired two Los Angeles Times’ columnists – not just one, but two – to call for Clay Helton’s immediately firing. Nothing has happened yet. The Trojans are in Pullman this weekend. … We can’t move on without looking at Washington’s impotent offense at least once more. … Arizona State didn’t take UNLV seriously. Will the Sun Devils be ready to face BYU in Provo? It’s a matchup of ranked teams. … Oregon State seems to have settled on a starting quarterback. … Despite a loss, Colorado may have won some confidence. … Utah has to be questioning just about everything after being dominated up front by BYU. … UCLA comes off a bye week to host Fresno State, who lost earlier this season at Oregon. … Arizona has a lot to take away from the home loss to San Diego State. … In basketball news, there was a big party in Tucson as Arizona celebrated late basketball coach Lute Olson.
EWU: Around the Big Sky, Montana’s Bobby Hauck won for the 100th time with the Griz.
Indians: Spokane gave up seven runs in the bottom of the fifth and fell 8-4 to Vancouver in Hillsboro, Ore. The Indians have today off then face third-place Everett for six games with a berth in the postseason on the line. Eugene, who hosts Tri-City, leads Spokane by a game and Everett by 3 ½.
Shock: Massachusetts went into Arizona and came away with a 37-34 overtime win against the Rattlers to win the Pirates’ first Indoor Football League title.
Golf: A locally based group of young men had a great weekend recently in a regional tournament. That news leads off our weekly local briefs column.
Mariners: If the M’s come up short of the postseason once again, this past weekend was the difference. Facing a woeful Arizona team in Seattle, the M’s lost two-of-three, including Sunday’s 5-4 decision. … It wasn’t their best offensive weekend. … How will the Mariners handle the catching spot next year?
Seahawks: John Blanchette watched the Hawks’ season opener like the rest of us, in front of a television. He has his thoughts following the 28-16 season-opening victory. … So does Art Thiel and Larry Stone. … There were some injuries. … D.K. Metcalf was not a huge focus early.
Storm: Without Breanna Stewart, Seattle didn’t have much of a shot against the Sparks.
• If you are wondering, pork tenderloin sandwiches are incredible. Though they take a lot of work – the pork has to be tenderized vigorously – and the cleanup is a pain in the neck. But it was worth it, considering the late lunch/early dinner came with a side of victory. Next week: Tennessee. Thinking barbecue of some sort but we will see. Until later …
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