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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: As we wave goodbye to another weekend, we can’t let go just yet

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We have some thoughts on this Monday. Nothing earth-shattering but thoughts nonetheless. What a great way to begin the week.


• We wrote about the Seahawk defense last week after the loss at Cincinnati, comparing it in some ways to franchise’s gold standard, the Legion of Boom group from a decade ago.

False narrative? Fake news? Media blather?

OK, the last one is always true. But the rest aren’t in play here. This group is good. And only getting better.

Look, no Hawk defense will ever live up to that Super Bowl winning group. Even if the stats say so, the first is always the best. Luckily, it’s been long enough that a whole generation, tired of hearing Gramma extol the virtues of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, have no knowledge of the Boom’s impact.

The can call the 2023 Hawk D their own.

• As long as Geno Smith gets his act together.

The defense is playing really well. The secondary is special, the d-line is powerful and the linebackers are serviceable. It has stayed relatively healthy, too, which is crucial in today’s NFL.

But the quarterback can’t give the ball away. Put the defense in disadvantageous positions. Make mistakes.

Remember the first part of Russell Wilson’s career? When all he had to do was manage the game and make a couple of key throws or runs to keep a game-killing drive alive. Oh, those were the days. Pre-selfies and such.

That’s what Smith needs to do now. Take care of the ball. Make good decisions. Don’t throw picks from the 1-yard line. Either 1-yard line. Catch snaps. Hand off. Hit DK Metcalf deep – when he gets healthy – and everyone else on quick slants or open spots in a zone. Be solid.

Hey, that sounds like the Pete Carroll formula.

• Speaking of Carroll, he actually threw a challenge flag at the right time Sunday. Jake Bobo’s toe was inbounds. The catch was good.

Carroll getting a key challenge right is more of an upset than Virginia’s football team defeating UNC on Saturday in Chapel Hill.

• We brought up that upset because it kicked off Chuck Culpepper’s college football column in the Washington Post this week. We pay for a subscription to the Whole Foods of newspapers mainly to read his stuff – as us ink-stained wretches affectionately call what we produce.

Culpepper celebrates the best of the game, which is uplifting. He writes beautifully, which is soothing. But he also is a great investigative reporter when needed, which is laudatory. He gives us something to aspire to two or three times a week.

• Zach Collins just joined the long list of Gonzaga players – we usually write “graduate” but being Collins spent only a year on campus before turning pro, we can’t confirm that status – who have gotten paid in the NBA. And by “paid,” we mean rich.

According to the best NBA reporter out there, Adrian Wojnarowski, on Sunday, Collins and the San Antonio Spurs agreed to a two-year, $35-million contract extension. It will keep him in Texas through the 2025-26 season.

When Collins left Gonzaga in 2017, there was an oft-heated discussion whether the Las Vegas native was making the right choice. And a quartet of injury-riddled seasons in Portland certainly seemed to support those in the “no” camp. But, like others before him, Collins has blossomed in San Antonio under Greg Popovich.

The one-and-done decision might not have been the best at the time but signing as a free agent with the Spurs in 2021 certainly was. Of that, there is no longer any debate.


WSU: There is no doubt Cameron Ward is the best the Cougars have at quarterback. And that, at his best, he’s among the best in the conference. That’s a lot of bests, for sure, but Greg Woods points out today one way in which Ward can become even better. Be more decisive with the ball, even when he does what he’s best at, avoiding a rush that seems to have him dead to rights. Run, throw, hide, whatever. It’s a place for improvement. … The fourth-ranked volleyball team bounced back from its loss to USC to handle UCLA easily. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Sunday is poll day. We include this week’s rankings with each school. … As the season has wound along, we knew the conference’s playoff windows would begin to close. One more slammed shut Saturday, right on Lincoln Riley’s fingers. Actually, though, No. 24 USC’s expulsion is more a 14th-ranked Notre Dame-rout thing than Saturday’s two-point home loss to Utah. Win the nonconference game and the Trojans would still be in the picture. Jon Wilner covers that and more in his weekend rewind. … One team still in the middle of the hunt is fifth-ranked Washington, but the Huskies can’t afford to play again as they did against Arizona State last weekend. … Another playoff window closes this week in Salt Lake City. Either eighth-ranked Oregon, with a loss already in Seattle, or No. 13 Utah, who fell at 11th-ranked Oregon State, will pick up loss No. 2. That’s a killer. … Arizona, in Tucson, is the next Beaver game. … Speaking of the Utes, they have a grit year-in and year-out few teams have. Pig farmer grit. And they also have smart coaches. … Colorado comes off the bye for a road contest at No. 23 UCLA, which seems to have found the quarterback Chip Kelly is most-comfortable with.

EWU: Kendrick Bourne and Bill Belichick haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. But the former Eastern receiver played a big part in Belichick’s 300th NFL win yesterday. That news leads off Taylor Newquist’s roundup of the local players in the NFL. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Sacramento State’s loss to Montana State means the Hornets have lost to both teams that meet this week in Moscow. … Cal Poly used a resurgent offense to win its first conference game.

Chiefs: Three games in three nights in Canada. Doesn’t sound like an easy way to play hockey. Two overtime defeats to start made Sunday’s battle in Vancouver essential. It was also doomed. The Giants won 5-3, sending Spokane home winless. Dave Nichols has the story.

Seahawks: Bobo’s catch not only was key in the 20-10 victory, it also leads off Dave Boling’s column about the home victory. … The nasty defense was able to whitewash the offense’s mistakes this week. … The young receivers shined in the win. … There are always grades, even for the opponent. … Metcalf played spectator due to an injury. … Jamal Adams is a Devon Witherspoon fan. … The Cardinals are still all in the Caleb Williams sweepstakes.

Kraken: Some players seem to be hurt often. Seattle has one of those guys.

Mariners: Adolis García helped ensure the Rangers and Astros would play a Game Seven – has to be capitalized, right? – tonight at Minute Maid Park. The Houston fans’ Public Enemy No. 1 closed the door last night in a 9-2 win with a ninth-inning grand slam. We will say this. If the Astros’ faithful hate you, we’re all in with support. The enemy of our enemy and all that. The winner tonight advances to the World Series. … Philadelphia has two games at home to end Arizona’s season. Aaron Nola will try to match Zach Wheeler this afternoon.  


• We apologize a little. We know we’re missing some items due to having this column done so early in the morning. But we want to hit the road today. Another National Park to visit. Another one to check off in our quest to visit each one before we, well, you know. Let’s hope there aren’t any more added. The challenge is already pretty steep. Until later …