Autumn, What's that? Plus -- Knock on Wood.

NET Columnist Steve Utz discusses tonight's Monday Night Football matchup between the Seahawks and the Packers.

Autumn? What's that? Living as I do in a part of the country that doesn't really have those niceties of climate like "autumn" or "spring," I have to admit that my connection to the concept of a season called autumn comes as a distant memory. Down here in Southern California, we only have two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season isn't very long, either.

But Football? Now that makes me realize that the calendar is winding down.

Finally. We get to watch some sloppy, imitation, meaningless football games. Ain't it grand?

My struggle to escape the clutches of Southern California continue, but at least I can watch some football. Maybe not good football, but football none the less. Life begins to get good.

All the draft picks are in. The injury list, while it seems long, seems to contain more of the walking wounded kind, rather than any really serious ones. Please everyone, knock on wood. But it does seem that most of the injuries listed are the kind that would not keep players out of many regular season games. So far so good. Like I said: rap, rap.

We'll be facing a team on Monday night that is becoming a bit of a nemesis for us. The Packers have been a bit of a problem team for us lately, having ousted us from the playoffs last season, and having ending our season opening winning streak. There could be a bit of an edge for our players in this game.

While having a bit of a chip on our shoulders won't necessarily be a bad thing, the most important thing to do in this game is survive. We're all hoping that nobody gets hurt. Once again: rap, rap.

Something to remember is that players tend to get hurt more often when they don't play hard. One of the most dangerous things a player can do is slack off when others around him are still going full speed. The Seahawks have populated their roster with a lot of high motor guys that play to the whistle. Hopefully this won't be a problem. Rap, rap.

Goals. There should be goals, of course.

I'd like to see them win the first quarter. You know, our starters versus their starters, so to speak.

I want to see our No. 1 offense pound out at least one good scoring drive.

I want to see our No 1 defense put up a three and out.

I'd like to see some good pass protection. Last season, we gave up 40 some sacks. That can't continue if we want to be a championship caliber team. Part of that was the QB's fault, some of it was poor line play. Those things should be coach-able and solvable. Matt Hasselbeck will not survive to be our franchise QB for long if we force him to play many more 40 sack seasons. Gotta fix that. Rap, rap.

I'd like to see minimal penalties, especially no dumb penalties. Play smart football. If we don't beat ourselves, we can beat anybody, anywhere. Rap, rap.

There has been a lot of discussion about how our backups are better now than at any time in the Holmgren era. It appears to be that way. So, I'd like to see us win the first half, too. You know, show that our reserves are better than their reserves. It doesn't look like Trent or Brock are playing Monday, so that will be hard. No excuses, though. Just do it.

Which brings up the dropsies. How could we ignore that? Memo to wide receivers: you've said all the right stuff. You've done all the weird drills. Now go out and catch the damn ball. Simple, eh? Catch, then turn and run. Catch, then turn and run. Catch, then turn and run. Do I sound like Coach Cromwell, yet? Forget last year. That doesn't have to happen again. Rap, rap.

So, let's go out and play a clean, smart football game. And if we happen to spank the Packers by a couple of touchdowns, I won't be too hurt.

Random thoughts:

That commercial where Ray Lewis picks up the yellow line and drags it back 5 yards is one of the funniest and most creative things I've seen in a commercial in a while. It's for EA Sports Madden 2005, and if you haven't seen it you're missing something.

I know it's pre-season, but the announcers at the Skins-Ravens game were pretty complimentary of the Ravens, comparing them to their Super Bowl team of a couple of years ago. They looked scary good for a first pre-season game.

On NFL Live, Sean Salisbury proclaimed that the best football team in California is USC. Watching the 49ers/Raiders on Saturday, he may be right.

Can you believe the incentives the Chargers offered Rivers? $5 mill if they win the Super Bowl 4 times in his first 6 years, and he makes 4 Pro Bowls. And it gets worse from there. No wonder he's staying in North Carolina. San Diego is trying to make the Arizona ownership look good.

There are some attractive bets out there this season. 20-1 for the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl is tempting. 15-1 that Matt Hasselbeck makes league MVP feels even more so. I have to make a detour through Vegas on my way home.


Steve Utz writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Sunday. Send your feedback to Steve at wisecoyote1@cox.net.

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