A recap of the day’s activities:
The run defense. It has been, in a word, stout. Or perhaps stellar. Or even studly.
After giving up 71 rushing yards to the San Francisco 49ers and old nemesis Frank Gore in their opener, the Seahawks held the Broncos to 65 rushing yards and a 1.7-yard average in Denver on Sunday.
The Seahawks effort against Gore (38 yards on 17 carries) looks even more impressive after he gained 112 on 20 carries against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night; and the Broncos’ Knowshon Moreno had 60 rushing yards on 15 carries in Denver’s opener against Jacksonville Jaguars, but was held to 51 yards on 24 carries by the Seahawks.
It all starts up front, of course, were the Seahawks have gotten bigger by moving 323-pound tackle Red Bryant to end and matching him with 328-pound nose tackle Colin Cole and 311-pound three-technique tackle Brandon Mebane. Bigger is good, but the fact that these three are playing better is even more telling.
“Mebane had a very good game,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He was really aggressive in the running game.”
Two of Mebane’s four tackles were for losses, while Cole had five solo tackles.
Carroll had singled out Cole for his efforts against the 49ers, and Bryant is the early season leader for not comeback player of the year but out-of-nowhere player of the year.
While these three and rotating tackle Junior Siavii have been throwing their weight around, Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock have been disruptive from the other end spot and the linebackers and strong safety Lawyer Milloy have been doing a good job clogging lanes. Milloy had a team-high eight tackles against the Broncos, while linebackers Aaron Curry (six), Lofa Tatupu (five) and David Hawthorne (three) combined for 14.
“It’s a combination of all that,” Carroll said. “That comes from, one, having good organization of the guys fitting and the scheme and all that, but also the discipline of it. Defending the run is more about discipline than you might think because we have to consistently be in the right spots all the time.”
That will be a key Sunday, when the San Diego Chargers and their six-legged running game roll into town for a game at Qwest Field. The Chargers are averaging 130 rushing yards a game and 4.4 yards per carry. Rookie Ryan Mathews is the starter, but he’ll be spelled by – and mixed and matched with – Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert.
“It’s an important asset to have when you know that you can stop the running game,” Carroll said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to keep doing that.”
The “third-day” draft class. Or, cornerback Walter Thurmond, defensive end E.J. Wilson, safety Kam Chancellor, tight end Anthony McCoy and rush-end/linebacker Dexter Davis – the players the Seahawks selected in April on the final day of the draft.
McCoy and Wilson have been inactive for the first two games, while the contributions of Thurmond, Chancellor and Davis have been primarily on special teams.
“I think we would be playing them more if we thought that they deserved to play right now,” Carroll said. “I’d love for them to be playing, but the other guys are doing a really good job.”
That would be Milloy, who is “playing like crazy out there,” as Carroll put it, to block Chancellor’s path to the field on defense; Brock, who is taking the snaps at rush-end that went to Davis during the preseason; Roy Lewis and Jordan Babineaux, who have moved ahead of Thurmond as the third and fourth corners used in the nickel and dime defensive packages; the 1-2 punch of John Carlson and Chris Baker, who are keeping McCoy at bay; and the already mentioned play of the linemen who have allowed Wilson to be among the inactives.
“Their time will come and they’re working on it,” Carroll said of the rookies. “We’re preparing them to play with that thought in mind. We’re not worried about them playing at all. The other guys are doing alright at their spots right now.”
192, AND COUNTING
The Seahawks made their 192nd roster move since Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired in January. Today, it’s the release of guard Brian De La Puente from the practice squad. He had been signed last Thursday because of injuries on the O-line.
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks have converted 54.5 percent of their third-down situations (12 of 22), which ranks third in the league behind the New England Patriots (58.3) and Broncos (56.7).
A big factor in that is Matt Hasselbeck’s 115.4 passer rating on third downs, which ranks No. 4 in the league behind the Broncos’ Kyle Orton (138.3), Falcons’ Matt Ryan (117.4) and Eagles’ Michael Vick (115.7). Hasselbeck is 14 of 16 on third downs, for a league-leading 87.5 percent. The next highest is the Jaguars’ David Garrard at 76.9 percent.
The players return Wednesday from their “off” day to begin preparing for Sunday’s game against the Chargers.
YOU DON’T SAY
“In a way, it’s almost encouraging. Because the stuff that we did wrong, or that I did wrong, is stuff that we all know we can fix and get fixed. So, in a strange way, there’s a lot of optimism after watching the film because we see how good we can be.” – Hasselbeck