Thursday cyber surfing: Controlling Carolina; Wagner solid; Moffitt out

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, October 4.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says that Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and second-year quarterback Cam Newton know the path the Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson are on, “They [The Seahawks] committed to a process that will include the peaks and valleys that come with someone learning on the job. Just ask Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who went with Cam Newton when he was a rookie a year ago. ‘A lot of highs and a lot of lows, that’s for doggone sure,’ Rivera said. There is no formula for this process, no manual that spells out the care of a rookie quarterback. There’s a lot of hope involved, some patience required, and resilience is an absolute must. ‘In this league, you’re going to have success, you’re going to have downfalls,’ Newton said. ‘But on those downfalls, you have to treat it like a speed bump and not a roadblock.’ “

O’Neil also brings us Wednesday’s injury report, which notes that guard John Moffitt has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game in Carolina.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that Wilson is not the only one to blame for the Seahawks last-ranked passing offense, “Seattle’s pass blockers and receiving corps, as well as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play selection, also are taking some heat for the team’s failures in the passing game. For now, everyone involved is shouldering the blame and vowing to get things turned around starting Sunday at Carolina. …The Seahawks have just six passing plays of 20 yards or more, worst in the league. ‘The easiest thing is to protect the quarterback so we can have those longer-developing routes to get down field,’ [Zach] Miller said. ‘Once you do a good job there, then it’s about the receivers running good routes and getting open, and the quarterback finding the open guy and getting it to him. We had some chances in the game where there was some guys open. Sometimes it was either pressure – a guy coming up and Russell would have to scramble and wouldn’t get a chance to get it out, or he just didn’t have enough time. Other times he didn’t happen to be looking at that read at that particular time. So if we can hit those, those are the easy ones that can really open up an offense.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald highlights the play of rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has quietly put together a solid first-quarter of the season and earned the respect of his new teammates, “Wagner had a team-high seven solo tackles in Sunday’s loss in St. Louis, and now is second on the team in tackles this season behind linebacker K.J. Wright. Wagner has proven to be a quick study since arriving in Seattle as a second-round pick out of Utah State. ‘I’m a lot more comfortable just because I’ve done it for four games and I’ve got the confidence and the players have backed me up,’ Wagner said. ‘… It’s gone pretty good. I thought it would go well, I just figured the faster I learned the defense, the faster I’d be making plays.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press also shares his impression of the impressive rookie Wagner, “Perhaps no Seattle defensive player is more prepared to face Newton and the Panthers’ offense than Wagner. Playing at Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference, Wagner regularly saw a number of hybrid offensive systems, including the zone-read offense Carolina uses. Wagner also played against Auburn, albeit a season after Newton led the Tigers to the national title and won the Heisman Trophy. Utah State opened the 2011 season at Auburn and while the plays were different without Newton calling the shots, the principles were similar. While it’s not exact, that experience gives Wagner and the Seahawks some idea of what to expect. ‘It’s going to be fun. I wanted to play him at Auburn and didn’t get a chance,’ Wagner said. ‘I get my chance now.’ “

Bill Swartz of mynorthwest.com takes a look at the increased role that Seahawks practice squad quarterback Josh Portis will have in practice this week, as he imitates the play of the Panthers’ Newton on the service team, “Portis, the Seahawks’ practice-squad quarterback, ran some option offense in college and told me about the ingredients to make it a success. ‘You just key on one person coming off the line,’ he said. ‘If he comes up the field, give the ball up. If he crashes on the running back, just keep it, or pitch it.’ It sounds simple, especially when you have an incredible athlete like Newton at the controls. ‘He’s 6-5 and 250 pounds now,’ Portis said of Newton. ‘Not only is he a giant, but he can run. It will be a great challenge for us, but we have one of the best defenses in the league….’ “

mynorthwest.com also brings us Brock Huard’s latest “Chalk Talk,” in which Huard breaks down the blocking behind Marshawn Lynch’s 18-yard touchdown run against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4.

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com catches up with Seahawks radio analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon on his mentorship with Wilson, “Part of Wilson’s problem so far, Moon believes, is a game strategy that alternately fails to give Wilson enough responsibility at times, and then overcompensates by giving him too much. Projected through a full season, Wilson’s numbers would be startlingly low for a 16-game starter. A prorated line of 240 completions in 400 attempts for 2,376 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions might have worked in 1973, but in the modern game, more is asked of the quarterback, even in the most rudimentary offensive system. ‘I’ve told him that the team has to help you more — getting involved in the offense,” Moon said. “He can’t go down the field — boom, boom, boom, run-pass run-pass, and then run-run-pass. They’re putting him in all these third-down situations where they ask him to throw the football, and it’s tough to throw the football on third down. Especially when you’re not in a rhythm of throwing the ball. It’s hard to complete that third-down pass when everybody in the building knows it’s coming, and they’re all coming at you. He feels that he can do more and handle more than they’re giving him. You’ve got to remember — Pete’s a defensive coach, and he preaches, ‘Turnovers, and take care of the football.’ He tells his quarterback constantly, ‘Don’t turn the ball over.’ And you become … frigid about throwing the football, because you’re so worried about turning the ball over. Matt Hasselbeck complained about it when he was here, and Tarvaris Jackson was told that constantly last year. He played like a robot, and Russell is starting to do that. They’ve got to relax on that stuff.’ “

Ron Green Jr. of the Charlotte Observer has a look at Wilson’s personal ties to the state of North Carolina, where Wilson played football for three season at N.C. State, and notes how this will be a sort of homecoming game for the rookie quarterback, “Between his three seasons as N.C. State’s quarterback, the one month he spent playing baseball in Gastonia and his personal ties to the area, Wilson has been inundated with ticket requests for what will feel a bit like a homecoming game Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Playing ticket broker is low on his priority list this week. ‘There were so many tickets (requested) I told people they may have to find their own,’ said Wilson, who will be the Seahawks’ starting quarterback when they face the Panthers Sunday at 4:05 p.m. He’s learning. Wilson estimates he’ll have at least 50 family members and friends in the stadium Sunday. However, his focus will be on continuing to grow into the job he won by acclimating in training camp, outplaying incumbent Tavaris Jackson and edging out high-priced free agent Matt Flynn to become just the sixth rookie quarterback drafted in the third round or later to start his opening game.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks have used eight starters on their offensive line, tied with Jacksonville for most in the NFL through Week 4. One of the eight, guard/center John Moffitt, will not be available against Carolina. Seattle listed him as out with a knee injury. James Carpenter’s return from 2011 knee surgery last week gives the team welcome flexibility. Carpenter started at left guard and survived an injury scare. Paul McQuistan will start at right guard for a second consecutive week. Cornerback Marcus Trufant (back) and defensive end Jaye Howard (foot) missed practice Wednesday. The team gave running back Marshawn Lynch the day off. Trufant’s role as the nickel corner gets him on the field for roughly 40 percent of the snaps, depending on the opponent. Carolina’s opponents have played with at least one additional defensive back about 60 percent of the time when the score was within eight points and 80 percent of the time otherwise, according to ESPN Stats & Information.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth also focuses on the rookie Wagner in his “Wednesday in Hawkville,” Tuesday, we tabbed the middle linebacker as our best rookie in the first quarter of the season. Today, coach Pete Carroll seconded that notion, and then some. ‘I think it’s worth noting at the quarter point of the season that there are a lot of good things that have happened, particularly for some of the young guys who have come on. Bobby is one of them,’ Carroll said of the Seahawks’ second-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. He’s really playing good football. He’s doing a terrific job of handling things. He’s shown up with big hits and he’s shown up covering well. He’s chasing the football. You can see the speed that he has.’ “

Farnsworth also notes the valuable play of running back Marshawn Lynch, and the praise he has garnered from opposing coaches and players around the League, “Ron Rivera, coach the Panthers and a former NFL linebacker, pointed to two elements on Wednesday, when he labeled Lynch ‘one of the premier backs in this league.’ First on Rivera’s list was Lynch’s combination of acceleration and vision. ‘He hits the creases and goes,’ Rivera said. ‘I think his acceleration is tremendous and he’s got great vision.’ … No. 2 on Rivera’s list is an external component that is a not-so-secret key to Lynch’s success – his personal escort, Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson. ‘His fullback is a terrific blocker,’ the Panthers’ coach said. ‘I like the toughness that Michael Robinson shows. I like his whole attitude, the way he plays the game.’ Rivera then added what might be considered an intangible, but is a very real reason for the Seahawks’ and Lynch’s success in running the ball. ‘Their offensive scheme reflects who their offensive line coach is,’ Rivera said, obviously referring to Tom Cable. ‘I think the whole of the way they play. They’re physical. They get after people.’ “

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily“, with a look at how the Seahawks plan to contain the explosive offense of Newton and the Panthers, and how improvement on third down on both sides of the football will be a big emphasis through the week of practice.

We also bring coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full press conferences from yesterday, and team photographer Rod Mar has a look at “Competition Wednesday” in photos.


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