Rob Staton - A View On The Seattle Seahawks
Fifty State Football is delighted to bring you our first ever interview. BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Rob Staton took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions about the Seattle Seahawks and some of the wider issues in the NFL. Rob covers soccer in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire and presents on a soccer radio phone in show six nights a week.
1. How long have you been following the NFL and what got you into it?
Since 2006 when I went to live in Vancouver. I always had an interest in the NFL but no reason to commit to any one team. Seattle was a short drive over the border and after my first trip to Century Link I was hooked.
2. Why did you chose the Seattle Seahawks as your team?
See above really. They were the local team in the North West. My first game was against the Packers in a snow storm on MNF. I'll never forget it.
3. The Seahawks are looking like the most balanced team in the NFL this year, which area would you like to see them improve on the most?
It's pretty evident the pass protection hasn't been good enough so far, but there's a legit reason for that. Russell Okung, Max Unger and Breno Giacomini has all missed time. Okung's absence has forced left guard Paul McQuistan to move to tackle. At one point J.R. Sweezy was the only starter featuring in his intended position. When Okung and Giacomini return, we should a big improvement.
4. Russell Wilson is an exciting quarterback. What do you like about his style of play the most?
The way he can improvise. It's an under rated quality. With the pass protection issues this year he's had to move around to avoid pressure. The touchdown throw against Arizona last week to Sidney Rice -- off balance -- was a great example of Wilson's playmaking quality. He makes plays in any situation -- and it's all down to his ability to improvise when things break down.
5. Pete Carroll has proved the doubters wrong (up to now) on the ability for his football team to win on the road. In your opinion what has changed this season to find that winning formula away from Centurylink Field?
I think the Chicago game last year was a turning point. The week before, they lost to Miami in an empty stadium. Lose to the Bears and they're a 6-6 team. The manner of the victory --with two long Russell Wilson scoring drives -- appeared to give the team a real belief that they can win anywhere. Since then they've lost just twice away from Seattle -- against Atlanta in the playoffs and recently against the Colts. You could also argue that experience is also playing a part here. It's still a young team.
6. Which of the Seattle rookies have you been most impressed with this year?
The rookie class has had a very limited impact so far. Christine Michael isn't being given any snaps, while Jordan Hill has been injured. Luke Willson has probably had the most involvement as a move-tight end. But for the first time, the Seahawks rookie class hasn't had an immediate dividend.
7. The Saints come to Seattle on December 2nd straight after Seattle a bye week, how do you think that game will play out if all the key players are fit on both rosters?
Seattle has a big advantage being at home. If it's in New Orleans, I think the Saints feel good about this one. But they'll find it tough on the road. The Seahawks have had a lot of success at home against high powered passing offenses over the last two seasons. They've been challenged by opponents who can run the ball and match their physicality. Can the Saints run on Seattle? I'm not sure. And not much scares me about the Rob Ryan defense. He didn't trouble this team when he was with Dallas last year.
8. Who has been the surprise franchise this season in the NFL and why?
The easy answer is Kansas City, now that they're 8-0 after a 2-14 season in 2012. In reality they always had good players -- they just needed better guidance and a quarterback. KC's schedule is also pretty soft right now. So I'm going to go for a group answer. Houston, Atlanta, Minnesota and Washington. Four playoff teams last year and currently with a combined 7-21 record. That's a shock in my eyes.
9. The NFL has looked at restructuring the play offs. Do you have any thoughts on the idea?
The NHL, for me, is weakened by the sheer number of teams that make the playoffs. I hope the NFL doesn't go down that road.
10. If you could take one player from any team in the NFL franchise and add them to the Seattle roster, who would it be?
On offense it'd be Larry Fitzgerald. A class act. On defense -- J.J. Watt.
11. What do you think about a London franchise? Should the organisation stick to the International series or do you think the NFL should make it happen during the next few years?
I'm not a fan of the London franchise idea. I'm a Seahawks fan and I don't live in London. If they move a team to the capital, I'm not travelling to London eight times a year to support that franchise. I am willing, however, to make 2-3 trips each year to celebrate the sport and enjoy the occasion. The London games have been so well received and that's fantastic to see. But I fear a permanent franchise will fail badly and tarnish this countries relationship with the NFL. The geography of having a team over here just doesn't make sense either. Keep the London games coming, but NO to a franchise.
12. If Seattle reach the Super Bowl who would you like to play?
I'm not fussy -- it'd just be great to be there! Let's say Denver as the perceived #1 in the AFC.
13. Where should the Seahawks strengthen in the draft? (posed by@UKSeahawkers)
There are a few areas. The 2014 draft is going to be full of offensive tackle talent and they might have to replace prospective free agents Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan. Golden Tate is a free agent and Doug Baldwin is a year away from hitting the market. They could look at receivers like Odell Beckham -- a big time prospect that very few people are talking about. Apart from that it's pretty much a case of looking for upside and talent -- as they did last year selecting Christine Michael in round two.
14. Would you consider it a failure if the Hawks fail to win the Super Bowl? (posed by @UKSeahawkers)
Not at all. We have to remember this is a young team. And while it's going to be tough to keep the group together over the next few years with Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson likely to be paid premium contracts, it's definitely not 2013 or bust.
We would like to thank Rob for his participation and @UkSeahawkers for the questions that they submitted.
You can follow Rob on twitter - @RobStaton