Friday cyber surfing: Wilson unwavered; defense readies for Newton

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, October 5.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks need to get last year’s leading receiver Doug Baldwin more involved this week at Carolina, “Some of the trouble for Baldwin has been adjusting to a new quarterback in Wilson after building a rapport with Tarvaris Jackson a year ago. ‘I haven’t had much time with Russell, particularly on third downs,’ Baldwin said. ‘I kind of grew with Tarvaris last year. He always knew where I was going to be and when I was going to be there last year. I had that chemistry with T-Jack. It’s just a growing process with Russell.’  And there have been growing pains, to be sure. But before anyone goes and decides Seattle doesn’t have the weapons it needs in the passing game, it needs to use the components that it has on hand. ‘We had gone into this season thinking that Doug would be a focal point,’ [Head Coach Pete] Carroll said, ‘and we have not been able to get that done yet.’ “

O’Neil also has Friday’s injury report, noting that defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was a new addition with what is listed as a calf injury, which O’Neil says is something worth monitoring as Mebane was forced to miss four games in 2010 with an injury to his calf.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who offers some advice to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on leading a team as a rookie, “Despite their differing circumstances, the 6-5 Newton and the 5-11 Russell Wilson are members of an exclusive fraternity of NFL quarterbacks who have been asked to lead their teams as rookies. And since the experience is fresh in the mind of the second-year Newton, he was asked this week for advice he might pass along to the rookie Wilson, who will take snaps for the Seahawks on Sunday when they visit Newton’s Carolina Panthers. ‘This is a long season,’ Newton said. ‘No matter how the season is going, you have to play 16 games, win or lose. You have to have a strong foundation of mental capacity, and not let your values alter by no means. If you believe in something – no matter how the season is going – you just have to be strong as a person. In this league you’re going to have success, you’re going to have downfalls, but on those downfalls, you have to treat it like a speed bump and not a roadblock.’”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune details how the Seahawks defense plans to stop the attack of Newton and the Panthers, “Containing the explosive, playmaking ability of the Newton-led Carolina offense will be the top priority for Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Sunday. Bradley said the Panthers have 43 explosive plays in four games – runs of at least 12 yards or passes of at least 16 yards – so he wants to make sure that his players are sure tacklers and keep Carolina’s yards after the catch to a minimum. So, how do you tackle Newton? ‘You just have to have pursuit, and we’ve got to keep him contained, just like everybody else,” Bradley said. “(Aaron) Rodgers was the same way, the way he could get out of the pocket and extend the plays to throw it – but this guy can throw it or run it. So we’ve got to make sure that when he does get outside the pocket, we’ve got some guys that can really track him and try to lead him to the sideline, and use the sideline to help them, and just use our tackling fundamentals.’ “

John McMullen of The Sports Network previews Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Panthers, “While Wilson learns on the job Lynch leads the NFL in rushing with 423 yards and has had at least 85 yards rushing in 12 of his past 13 games. Stopping him is paramount to any Carolina success but that’s easier said than done. The Panthers had a franchise-record seven sacks last Sunday thanks in large part to Charles Johnson but their secondary has struggled badly and coach Ron Rivera is thinking about benching free safety Haruki Nakamura. Either way, it’s unlikely Wilson can take advantage. On the other side Carolina would also like to establish the run in order to slow an impressive Seahawks pass rush, which has 10 sacks over the last two games, and set up play action where Newton will look to veteran wide receiver Steve Smith outside and Olsen down the seam.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald comments on Wilson’s ability to ignore the criticisms that have come after last week’s loss to the St. Louis Rams, “He is exactly the same answering questions a few days after a tough loss as he was after winning two straight. His aphorisms and cliches haven’t changed, nor has his demeanor. And much more importantly than how he handles himself in front of the media, Wilson also has impressed his teammates with his ability to avoid the emotional ups and downs that could come with being a rookie quarterback. ‘He’s handling it pretty good,’ receiver Ben Obomanu said. ‘You never see him down on himself or stressed about anything. He’s always trying to get better, so even when he has some good days, he’s still asking questions to find out what he can do better. He just has a good mindset knowing that the reality is that, as the quarterback, he’s going to get scrutinized. He understands that’s the way football works being a quarterback.’ “

Boyle also recaps a media session with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, “For the defense, the issue was getting off the field on third and long. Bradley said his team should stop teams 85 or 90 percent of the time in third-and-10 or longer situations, but the Rams were five of eight in those situations Sunday. ‘I think teams are 9 for 21 against us in third-and-10 plus, and we should be lower,’ Bradley said. ‘We had a bust on one of the coverages, and we had a three-man rush in one situation, the quarterback held the ball, and we really cued into (Rams receiver Danny) Amendola, and he was running around free and we got nervous and jumped him short, and they threw it in behind us, so some things like that with extended plays. That’s unacceptable. We can’t continue to operate like that, so we’ve got to address it. I don’t know if we have to change things, we just have to be more disciplined. And maybe it could have been on me, just get more of a four-man rush in that situation.’ “

Dave Wyman, contributing to mynorthwest.com, says the Seahawks have 11 reasons to not fear the Panthers’ Newton, referring to each player on the Seahawks defense, “Across the board, this defense matches up well against quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers. Newton possesses not just the ability to run the ball, but the ability to run the ball with power. At 6-feet-5 and 245 pounds he’s a load, but to a man, there’s not one Seahawks defender that will lose that battle. I’m sure he loves to find a little cornerback to run over but I’ll bet he’s figured out by now, don’t try to run over Seattle’s cornerbacks. A guy like Brandon Browner will tune you up.”

Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of “Bob and Groz” discuss the elevated role the Seahawks linebackers must play Sunday in Carolina in containing Newton in this short video.

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM brings us some Seahawks offensive third-down statistics – an area that needs to improve on Sunday, “The Seattle Seahawks continued struggles on third down have become a major focus for the team this week as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon. The problems have been even more of a focus after the struggles increased the last two weeks. Seattle has converted just 14 of 50 third downs offensively this season – a mere 28-percent. The last two weeks against Green Bay and St. Louis, they converted just 4 of 20 third down opportunities. ‘That’s out biggest issue right now. It’s our main focus,’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘We kind of like what we’re doing on first and second down. I think 309 of our yards have come on first and second down and I think we’ve netted like minus-14 (yards) on third down. We’ve got to do better there.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a “must-listen” for Seahawks and Rams fans, as former NFL assistant coach Rick Venturi has analysis of the teams’ Week 4 game, “Seattle played far too much zone coverage. Venturi: “(Pete Carroll) ought to press every single down man to man. If he were standing here, I would say it to him. Every time he plays zone defense, he gives you a chance to throw the ball.”

Our friends at NFL Films preview Sunday’s matchup with Carolina in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his “Thursday in Hawkville” item with a focus on Wilson’s ability to play through the criticism, “This week, Wilson’s focus is on improving the passing game, in general, and the Seahawks’ performances on third down and in the red zone, specifically. The passing game ranks last in the NFL, averaging 130.8 yards per game. The Seahawks also are converting 28 percent on third downs (14 of 50) and have scored three touchdowns in 11 trips into the red zone. Wilson’s background as a baseball player has helped him in being able to ignore the noise during the early struggles for the offense. ‘In baseball, when you go 3 for 10 and you’re a Hall of Famer,’ he said. ‘In football, that’s no good. So I think the main thing is just having amnesia, like I always say. Just remain humble during the good times and remain humble during the bad times, and just keep fighting and keep working to be great. Don’t ever let that change. And that’s one thing I’ll never do. I’ll never let my desire to be great ever waver.’ “

Farnsworth also catches up with linebacker K.J. Wright and safety Winston Guy, who have experience playing against the Panthers’ Newton in college, “The second-year strongside linebacker played against Newton two years ago, when Wright was at Mississippi State and Newton was quarterbacking Auburn to a national championship. ‘He’s a real physical guy with a lot of speed,’ Wright said. ‘You don’t see guys like him too much in the NFL, so we know we’ve got our hands full. But we’ll do a good job.’ Winston Guy, a rookie safety from Kentucky, also played against Newton in college. ‘He’s a very good player and he’s very versatile,’ Guy said. ‘And his size don’t lie. He’s all of that 6-5 and almost 250. But Gus (Bradley, defensive coordinator) has a great game plan for him. So if we do what we have to do, I feel like we can get a win this week.’ “

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily“, as the Seahawks look to learn from the mistakes they made in Week 4 against the Rams and capitalize on correcting them Sunday against the Panthers.

We also have Wilson and Bradley’s full press conferences from yesterday, and team photographer Rod Mar has a look at the week of practice in photos.


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