Thursday cyber surfing: Bruce Irvin ready for first NFL start

Bruce Irvin

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 10.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times rehashes defensive end Bruce Irvin’s path to the NFL – a path that has led him into the starting lineup this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, “Irvin didn’t start this season, but was more than a backup. He was a situational pass-rusher on the field for about half of Seattle’s defensive snaps. He had eight sacks this season, more than any other rookie in the NFL. Sunday in Washington, after Clemons was injured, Irvin had a sack of quarterback Robert Griffin III that demonstrated just how fast Irvin is. ‘It’s his great asset,’ Carroll said. That quickness has carried him all the way to the NFL. And now, 10 years after he was headed toward a dead end in Georgia, Irvin is returning to the town where he grew up — for the first starting assignment in a career that is just beginning. ‘He can be a double-digit sack guy for a long time once he gets going,’ Carroll said.”

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that for everything Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has accomplished in four seasons in the NFL, he has still yet to win a game in the playoffs, “This year, Ryan has received MVP chatter for leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC. His coach, Mike Smith, said Wednesday that ‘individually, it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look for in a quarterback.’ Except one, and therein lies the paradox. In three playoff games over the previous four seasons, Ryan has yet to produce a victory. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in all three of those games, and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). His playoff QB rating of 71.2 pales in comparison to his regular-season mark of 90.9. It’s getting dangerously close to being a legacy-killer for the quarterback selected third overall out of Boston College in the 2008 draft (15 spots ahead of Joe Flacco, who already has six playoff wins with the Ravens). But rectify that omission to his resume, and Ryan will be celebrated both as the man who led the Falcons out of the wilderness of a 4-12 record the season before he arrived, and the one who can take them to the next level.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says head coach Pete Carroll’s decision making as a head coach has improved, “It’s not that the coach is arrogant. He often gambles within games because he’s too hopeful. Carroll is the ultimate optimist. And during his USC tenure, that optimism often resulted in dramatic success. ‘I got going for nine years straight of going for it every single chance you get — forever,’ Carroll said. But he is learning that, in the NFL, being conservative is both a virtue and a life-saver. ‘I think we’ve cleaned things up,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a good formula for doing it. It’s interesting: It hasn’t come up as much. We haven’t had that many dramatic opportunities to go for it or not.” You get the feeling that, if the Seahawks advance far enough in the playoffs, Carroll will have to make some tough choices under great scrutiny. Will he continue to play it safe? Or will the riverboat gambler in him sneak out?”RM2_6589

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times checks in with newly-signed kicker Ryan Longwell, “Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Atlanta. ‘It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching,’ he said. Changing kickers at this point of the season is “a big deal to us,” coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell’s experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday’s workout. ‘When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,’ Carroll said.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the signing of defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, “The 33-year-old Chukwurah, who most recently played two seasons in the UFL before that league folded, hasn’t played organized football of any sorts for more than a year. Yet he was impressive enough in a tryout Tuesday that the Seahawks signed him over other better-known defensive ends, a result that even he had a hard time believing. ‘Honestly, no,’ Chukwurah said when asked if he still thought an NFL comeback was realistic. ‘I was really set on moving on and starting the next chapter, so it’s definitely a blessing.’ “

Boyle also writes that the Seahawks are not letting the playoff pressure get to them, “Any player you ask will tell you a Super Bowl title is the team’s goal. But it has been clear the last two weeks that this young team, which has gotten better faster than most expected, isn’t tensing up now as the stakes become higher. ‘This team is in a real good place,’ said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant. ‘It’s good for us that we can focus and just kind of take the challenges as they come, and not get too high or too low. We’re just trying to stay the course, and that’s been good for us.’ Seattle’s levelheadedness has led to pretty consistent play all season — the Seahawks have not lost a game by more than seven points all year — and keeping things the same in the postseason has helped a young team from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs. ‘It’s very important to just maintain the same routine,’ said fullback Michael Robinson. ‘(Head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job of keeping practice the same.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press says defensive end Bruce Irvin is ready to step in for the injured Chris Clemons, “For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record. Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game. ‘I’m still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He’s like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,’ Irvin said. ‘Next year, I’ll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I’m not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons’) spot. I’m not looking for that. My time will come and when it’s that time it will all handle itself.’ “

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice – a practice running back Marshawn Lynch sat out with a foot injury, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not participate in practice. Unlike most weeks when he is given a rest day for his balky back, Lynch was listed on Wednesday’ practice report with a foot injury.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a conversation with NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, who believes that if the Seahawks can secure an early lead over the Falcons on Sunday, “it’s over”, “The Falcons, Seattle’s divisional-round opponent, have one of the league’s better passing attacks, ranking sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes during the regular season. Despite that, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes doubts their ability to come back if they were to fall behind to the Seahawks. ‘If they get up early, it’s over. Have a nice day, Atlanta Falcons,’ Dukes told “Bob and Groz” on Wednesday. ‘The Falcons’ line is not built to handle that pressure.’ ” Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” share their thoughts in this short video.

The staff at SportsPressNW.com passes along several notes from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s Wednesday press conference.RM2_6350

Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along QBR ranks from Wild Card weekend, “Wilson made positive contributions, impressing those who have watched mostly from afar to this point. The visuals were all there: Wilson flipping a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson, Wilson running interference downfield so his running back could gain additional yardage, Wilson firing downfield strikes to Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. If tight end Anthony McCoy hadn’t dropped a pass deep in Redskins territory, Seattle might have fared better than its 1-of-6 showing in the red zone. On the whole, however, this performance from Wilson was hardly consistent with the ones that separated him from Robert Griffin III and made him second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 8 through regular season’s end.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson joined ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike”, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.

ESPN The Magazine has a look into Wilson’s past as a professional baseball player, sharing conversations with the scouting supervisor of the Colorado Rockies, Wilson’s baseball coach at North Carolina State, the editor of Baseball America, and more.

Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com says Russell Wilson may be the best young quarterback in the League, “If Russell Wilson is too short, give me short! Facing Baltimore, first overall selection Andrew Luck wilted under a steady blitz. Experienced quarterbacks want to be blitzed — if Baltimore tries the same at Denver, Peyton Manning will eat the Ravens’ lunch. But Luck is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Facing Seattle, second overall selection Robert Griffin twisted his knee late in the first quarter, lost his amazing quickness, then lost the game. RG III throws himself at a defense, taking big hits. Experienced quarterbacks avoid big hits. But Griffin is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Then there was Wilson. Washington blitzed him hard, and by the fourth quarter, he wanted to be blitzed, because he was beating this tactic like a veteran — see more below. Wilson ran for 67 yards, including the game’s longest rush, but whenever a defender had him in his sights, he stepped out of bounds, slid or threw the ball away. Wilson played like a seasoned veteran. One reason is that he had the most college starts of the young-gun quarterbacks. Wilson started 50 games in college, versus 40 for Griffin and 38 for Luck. Add another dozen starts to RG III and he will avoid big hits. Add another dozen starts to Luck and he’ll be looking forward to the blitz. Wilson already has these skills.”

And Chris Burke of SI.com offers an X’s and O’s break down Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Will Seattle continue to use Irvin off the left edge this coming Sunday? Carroll said only that Irvin will start at the “Leo” spot — a position in Carroll’s defense reserved for a fast rusher, almost like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Irvin, as mentioned, has done a lot of his work from left end, but will the Seahawks try to play the matchups? Playing Irvin on the left means he’ll deal with Clabo; on the right is Baker. Neither is a slouch, but Clabo, a 2010 Pro Bowler, may be the stiffer test of the two.”