Pat Kirwan has tackled the task of ranking and rating the league’s defensive linemen in this piece at CBSSports.com.
A former scout, coach and front-office exec in the NFL, Kirwan begins by offering, “It’s not enough to refer to defensive linemen as simply defensive linemen. In fact, it’s not enough to call tackles just tackles and ends just ends. There is a lot more to the job description.”
He also includes four of the Seahawks’ D-linemen in his report. Here’s where they rank and what Kirwan has to say about them (the numbers for each are a combination grade for drawing double teams, hustle and pursuit and sacks/hurries/knockdowns):
On the rise
No. 8 Bruce Irvin (30.5) – “Irvin is a 4-3 RDE coming off a rookie season as a situational pass rusher. If he stays in that role, he will find himself back on this list next year, which isn’t a bad thing.”
No. 9 Red Bryant (6) – “Bryant will never have big numbers but he is a critical piece in Seattle’s defense. He two-gaps a lot in a 4-3 front and anchors the run defense. To appreciate all the dirty work he does up front, look at what happens to the Seattle D when Bryant isn’t on the field.”
4-3 right ends
4. Chris Clemons (42.5) – “Clemons is coming off an ACL injury and may not be ready to go, which means Cliff Avril gets the call. Clemons is a perfect fit in the Seattle defense and if healthy will have a 40-plus season.”
4-3 left ends
5. Michael Bennett (44) – “I can’t believe the Bucs let him go. Now he fortifies an already good Seattle defensive line. Bennett may not have the production he had last year and could struggle to match his numbers from 2012.”
If there’s a nit to be picked here, it’s: Where’s Brandon Mebane? The Seahawks’ nose tackle has produced 56 sacks in each of the past two seasons and was an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season. And he usually leaves the field on passing downs, while almost always drawing and handling double-team blocks when on the field.
Kirwan has the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork, Bills’ Marcell Dareus, Bengals’ Domata Peko, Rams’ Michael Brockers and Cowboys’ Jason Hatcher as his Top 5. Good players. But are all of them better than Mebane?
One word answer: Underrated. Two word answer: Still underrated.
When we get to the end of the three-day NFL Draft on Saturday and you still haven’t had enough football, the NFL Network will be there.
The network will begin unveiling its Top 100 players of 2013, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. PT with those ranked 91-100. At least one Seahawk will be included in the opening look at the Top 100, but the network isn’t saying who.
But the Seahawks have several players worthy of consideration at some point during the 11-week countdown: the All-Pro quartet of running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas; left guard Russell Okung and quarterback Russell Wilson, who joined Lynch, Unger and Thomas at the Pro Bowl; and perhaps even strong safety Kam Chancellor, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin.
Additional information is available here.
So, just what are the options for a team that does not have a first-round pick in next week’s NFL Draft?
We ask, of course, because that’s the situation the Seahawks find themselves in after trading the 25th pick overall to the Vikings as part of the three-pick package to acquire receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin last month.
The move leaves the Seahawks making their first pick in the second round, at No. 56 – barring the highly unlikely scenario that they trade back into the first round or up in the second round.
And who might be available at No. 56 that could help the Seahawks? We asked Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network who conducted another marathon conference call today.
First, he addressed the Seahawks’ draft position: “This is a draft that people are complaining it’s not sexy at the top. But I would tell you that there are probably 25 to 35 more draftable players this year than last year. So there’s more depth in this draft than I’ve seen in a while.”
Then he offered some options for that position: “What would I like to see Seattle come away with? Well, it could be a defensive tackle to complement Brandon Mebane – a John Jenkins, say, from Georgia. Big, 340-pound nose tackle who would make a lot of sense there. I think (Connecticut’s) Sio Moore could play (weak-side) linebacker. Really excited by his progress. He’s so versatile. I think he’s the kind of guy Pete Carroll would like. Then, maybe some competition at right tackle. Would you draft a Terron Armstead, who’s physical skill set is exciting but he’s awfully raw?”
Here’s a closer look at those three players that “I think fit a need for Seattle,” as Mayock put it:
Jenkins – His mass (6-4, 346 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine) and strength (30 reps in the bench press) are Jenkins’ most obvious assets, and have drawn comparisons to the Packers’ B.J. Raji. He got as high as 370 pounds last season, but reportedly is down to 332. As Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com put it, Jenkins is “built like a Coke machine and is just as difficult to move.”
Moore – The 6-1, 245-pounder had 274 tackles as a three-year starter for the Huskies and has been referred as “a classic 4-3 weak-side linebacker candidate.” At the combine, Moore ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds and also had a 38-inch vertical leap. As Dane Brugler at NFLDraftScout.com wrote after the Shrine Game in January, “Moore entered the week as an underrated prospect, but he showed during practice sessions what most already knew: He’s a pretty good football player.”
Armstead – The 6-5, 306-pound Armstead played at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but increased his draft stock with strong performances at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, and also after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and popping a 34½-inch vertical leap at the combine. “He could develop into a left tackle with great feet and long arms,” Mayock said.
Mayock referenced Carroll again when asked about two players from Utah State – cornerback Will Davis and running back Kerwynn Williams – and whether that program was improving its status as a producer of NFL prospects.
“Just ask Pete Carroll,” Mayock said. “Pete drafted both (running back Robert) Turbin and (middle linebacker Bobby) Wagner last year. And Pete had one of the best drafts in the NFL last year. Bobby Wagner played great. Turbin had a real solid rookie season…
“Any time you get players drafted out of a school like Utah State, that play at the level they did in the NFL, it just increases the visibility on your school. And I think that’s great.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 17.
Gil Brandt, a senior analyst at NFL.com, has his first 2013 NFL Mock Draft, and has the Seahawks selecting Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with the 25th overall pick, “The Seahawks have very good young players at most positions, though they could use a receiver who can get some separation. Hopkins might be a bit of a reach, but he’s quick.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his thoughts on the Seahawks after viewing Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2013 NFL Mock Draft, in which Kiper projects the team taking Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, “The Seahawks have recently given big contracts to defensive linemen Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Chris Clemons. They used the 15th choice in the 2012 draft for pass-rushing defensive end Bruce Irvin. Seattle has also gotten mostly good play from defensive tackle Alan Branch. Despite all the investments in the defensive line, I do think the Seahawks would be wise to address the position early in the draft if value warrants the pick. Adding Jenkins’ 358-pound body to the line might help shore up a run defense that ranked 30th in yards per carry allowed from Week 7 through the end of the season. Improving the pass rush should stand as Seattle’s No. 1 offseason priority, however. Clemons is 31 years old and suffered a torn ACL during the Seahawks’ playoff victory at Washington. His status for the 2013 season is in question. Irvin’s longer-term future was at Clemons’ position. Perhaps Clemons’ injury accelerates the transition. Pass-rushing defensive tackle Jason Jones, a free agent in 2013, also finished the season on injured reserve. Seattle could have used a stronger pass rush late in games against Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. Addressing that deficiency in the draft seems like a must even though Irvin and fellow rookie Greg Scruggs showed promise.
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps a conversation with 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” and Seahawks general manager John Schneider, in which the trio talks about backup quarterback Matt Flynn, “In the absence of any glaring needs outside of a pass rusher, and with only two starters set to become unrestricted free agents, the Seahawks’ decision on Flynn will be a leading offseason story line. ‘We’re going to do what’s best for the organization, period,’ Schneider said. ‘This isn’t like, ‘Well, now that Russell’s done so well, what are you going to do with Matt?’ We have two guys under contract that are good.’ “
Sarah Spain of ESPN.com highlights Seahawks tight end Sean McGrath as part of her “NFL 53rd Man” series, “He didn’t make the 53-man roster after training camp, but he found a home on the practice squad — for two days. Then he was re-signed five days later, then cut again two and a half weeks later. Each time the team would release him, they’d tell him to stick around, he’d be re-signed in a few days. Those days off were tough for McGrath, who got antsy sitting around waiting. But the success of other practice-squad players gave him something to hold on to. ‘First guy who gets called up off the practice squad, Jermaine Kearse. As soon as he gets pulled up we’re like ‘Man, this is real! They’re really doing it,’ McGrath said. ‘Then another guy gets pulled up. All these guys get pulled up and it just gives a light at the end of the tunnel.’ McGrath had to wait a while, but he finally got to that light.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.
Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.
Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as
the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “
Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.
Seahawks center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung have been voted starters on the NFC Pro Bowl squad, it was announced today.
Leon Washington is the kick returner, while running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves on the team.
Eight Seahawks named as alternates:
1st Alternates: DE Chris Clemons, FB Michael Robinson, CB Richard Sherman
2nd Alternates: SS Kam Chancellor, ST Heath Farwell, P Jon Ryan
3rd Alternate: QB Russell Wilson
4th Alternate: DT Brandon Mebane
The NFC and AFC Pro Bowl squads will be announced this afternoon (4 p.m. PT on the NFL Network), but the boys at NFL.com already have weighed in on who they think is deserving.
Running back Marshawn Lynch and cornerback Richard Sherman were selected by five of the six panelists (yes, one of them actually failed to recognize Lynch). Nose tackle Brandon Mebane was mentioned by three of the six, with left tackle Russell Okung and kick returner Leon Washington getting two “votes.”
Fullback Michael Robinson, free safety Earl Thomas and special teams standout Heath Farwell were tabbed by one of the panelists.
Let’s hope the players and coaches in the NFC gave more love to more Seahawks when they cast their ballots last week.
You can view all the NFL.com selections here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for 12-12-12:
The Power of 12. Matt Flynn wasn’t really plugged into the energy generated by the 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field on game days when he signed with the Seahawks as a free agent in March.
Now, he is – especially after the backup QB saw his first action of the regular season in a 58-0 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday, when he completed 5 of 9 passes for 68 yards and directed a six-play, 62-yard drive to the final touchdown.
“Obviously it’s a huge advantage for us, noise-wise,” Flynn said today, when he and teammates shifted their focus to this week’s game against the Bills in Toronto. “And they’re smart fans. They know when to get loud and when to be quiet.
“I didn’t really know much about the Seahawks when I came up here. But they’ve opened my eyes and made me a fan of them.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman is sure the Seahawks have the best fans in the league, and says they’re deserving of any and all tributes that come their way on the numerical significant day.
“I’ve seen fans with tattoos of player’s faces,” he said. “They’re so passionate about the Seahawks around here it’s incredible. So I think it’s an incredible tribute to them. I would be happy to do anything we can to give back to the fans because they give a lot to us.”
C.J. Spiller. Not surprisingly, the Bills’ suddenly fulltime feature back is no stranger to Pete Carroll. The Seahawks coach tried to recruit Spiller while coaching at USC when he came out of Union County High School in Lake Butler, Fla. Spiller opted for Clemson, but Carroll definitely remembers him.
“I have tremendous respect for C.J. Spiller,” Carroll said. “I saw him as one of the great players we ever came across. And boy, he has really torn it up. They build the offense around him and he’ll get even more activity now. That means you have a chance for them to score on every play, run or pass.
“So it’s a big deal for our defense to get ready for that.”
The Seahawks will see a lot more of Spiller on Sunday because Fred Jackson is out with a sprained right knee. The two had been splitting time, but Spiller and his league-leading 6.6-yard per carry average are now front and center.
“We want to make sure that we respect the heck out of that, because we know that he’s such a great player,” Carroll said.
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (foot)
SS Kam Chancellor (groin)
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Limited in practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
Rice was in a walking boot today after waking up Monday with a bruised foot. “He improved quite a bit from game day,” Carroll said. “But he’s got a pretty sore foot.” Carroll added that tests of Rice’s foot found nothing that should keep him from playing against the Bills.
Trufant has missed the past two games and Carroll said he’s still in process of returning from his injury.
Chancellor and Bryant sat out to rest injuries that have limited them in practice in previous weeks. Jeron Johnson and Jason Jones filled in for them. With Thurmond limited, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at cornerback.
For the Bills:
Did not practice
LB Nick Barnett (knee)
S Jairus Byrd (shin)
DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)
RB Fred Jackson (knee)
DT Spencer Johnson (knee)
CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)
DT Kyle Williams (ankle)
C Eric Wood (knee)
Limited in practice
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
CB Ron Brooks (hip)
TE Scott Chandler (groin)
OG Andy Levitre (knee)
CB Justin Rogers (foot)
TE Lee Smith (knee)
OG Kraig Urbik (knee)
LB Chris White (thumb)
WR Donald Jones (calf)
S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)
RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)
CB Aaron Williams (knee)
DE Mario Williams (wrist)
NO MORE PADS
The players practiced without pads today and will for the rest of the season because the team has utilized the allotted number of padded practices allowed under the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2010.
“This is the first ‘Competition Wednesday’ that we cherish so much that we aren’t in pads,” Carroll said. “I talked at length with the guys about that so we still gear and get our tempo and our speed and all the things we need to get done and still compete.
“This is a bit of a transition, so it’s a huge day. There’s a change coming up, so I’m concerned about it and want to get this thing started right.”
CLOSE, BUT …
Lynch and Sherman were nominees for NFC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, but the selections were Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ win over the Bears, while Lynch had 128 yards and three TDs – on 11 carries – in the Seahawks win over the Cardinals. Kuechly had a career-high 16 tackles in the Panthers’ upset of the Falcons, while Sherman returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks have had four players selected this season: quarterback Russell Wilson (last week), defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 4), Sherman (Week 10) and kick returner Leon Washington (Week 12).
WHICH SEAHAWKS DESERVE YOUR PRO BOWL VOTE?
Fan balloting for the Pro Bowl ends on Monday, so you’ve only got a few days left to rock the vote for the worthy Seahawks.
Lynch is second (431,114) among the NFC running backs to Peterson (668,942), but there are others who need your help – including center Max Unger, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, free safety Earl Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, punter Jon Ryan and special teams standout Heath Farwell.
You can cast your vote here.
Fan balloting counts one third toward selection of the NFC squad, with the coaches and players scheduled to cast their votes Dec. 20-21.
STAT DU JOUR
Staying with this 12-thing, the 12th Man helped prod three false-start penalties out of the Cardinals on Sunday, raising the league-leading total at CenturyLink Field to 119 since the start of the 2005 season. For those not in the stadium to see the scoreboard graphic that ticks off the false starts as they occur, here’s a look at the league leaders in that category during that span:
Stadium (team) False starts
CenturyLink Field (Seahawks) 119
Metrodome (Vikings) 115
Ford Field (Lions) 107
Edward Jones Dome (Rams) 102
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for their final road game of the regular season. With the game in Toronto, the team will travel on Friday following a midday practice and hold its Saturday walkthrough in Toronto.
YOU DON’T SAY
“He’s just totally out of character. I don’t know where that’s coming from. But, keep running.” – fullback Michael Robinson on the pile-moving Lynch bouncing outside to score on a 33-yard run and then hurdling a couple of fallen players on a 20-yard TD run against the Cardinals
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 10:
The challenge of winning big, and losing big. The Seahawks are coming off their most lopsided victory in franchise history after Sunday’s 58-0 rout of the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. But coach Pete Carroll also has been on the other end of lopsided games, like the 41-7 loss to the Giants in his first season as coach in 2010.
What’s the difference?
“It’s the same challenge,” Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “Each game, because of the dynamics of it, has a story to it; it’s got different issues that you deal with.”
The issue this week is enjoying a rare romp in the NFL, then putting it into perspective – as well as behind you – as the team prepares for this week’s game against the Bills in Toronto.
“I’ve tried to be consistent in telling you, I think it’s just as impactful when you lose as when you win – potentially, if you don’t handle it properly,” Carroll said. “So yeah, you’ve got to put it in perspective, you’ve got to put it behind you. There’s kind of a mechanism and a language and a routine that should kick us right back into this next week.
“At this time of year, we’re counting on that.”
An overcautious coach just being overcautious? No. Carroll had a point the day after his team scored all those points. Yes, the Bills are 5-8. Yes, this “home” game is being played in Canada. But the Seahawks already have lost on the road to the Cardinals, Rams, Lions and Dolphins – teams with a combined record of 19-32-1.
And don’t be talking to Carroll about anything beyond Sunday’s game at the Rogers Centre, either. Not the fact that one more win will give the 8-5 Seahawks their first winning record since 2007. Not the possibility of securing the top wild-card spot in the NFC playoffs, or challenging the 49ers for the division title – as they must play against the Patriots in New England next Sunday night before coming to Seattle for a Sunday night game on Dec. 23. The 49ers have a 1½ games lead over the Seahawks, so the math that matters is eighth grade Sewickley.
“All of that stuff doesn’t mean anything,” Carroll said. “We haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t accomplished a darn thing at this point.
“It’s still out there in front of us. So we just keep pushing all the storylines from behind to the back and keep moving forward. There’s a discipline to that, and I take a lot of pride in trying to make this work for us because we want to be consistently moving up all the time.”
The Seahawks have accomplished one thing. With their eighth victory, they already have their best record in three seasons under Carroll. But you tell him.
Malcolm Smith. The second-year linebacker from USC had another strong outing against the Cardinals in his second game replacing sore-ankled veteran Leroy Hill on the weakside.
“He played well again,” Carroll said. “He did a nice job. He was really active, around the football a lot. This is the best I’ve seen Malcolm over the years. He’s the most confident that he’s been and he playing aggressively and tough and chasing really well.
“He’s kind of got a nose for the football. Things happen when he’s around it, that’s kind of always been the case.”
That was indeed the case on the muffed punt he recovered for a touchdown against the Cardinals. Returner Patrick Peterson, teammate Jeremy Lane and the Cardinals’ Rashad Johnson got a hand or foot on the ball before Smith snagged it as he was crossing the goal line.
Hill was active Sunday, but Carroll was hoping we would not have to play him to give the ankle another week to mend.
“We’re in good shape with either one of those guys playing right now,” Carroll said.
Safety Chris Maragos strained a muscle against the Cardinals, but Carroll said the injury is not considered serious.
Veteran nickel back Marcus Trufant has missed the past two games with a pulled hamstring. This is the week the coaches were expecting to get him back, but Carroll said that Trufant’s status remains wait-and-see.
49ERS GAME FLEXED TO PRIMETIME
Not surprisingly, the Seahawks’ Dec. 23 game against the 49ers has been moved into the Sunday night slot on NBC. The game was scheduled for a 1:25 p.m. kickoff on Fox, but now will start at 5:20. It replaces the Jets-Chargers game that was slated for primetime.
Asked about the switched, Carroll fained surprise and offered, “We’re going to play them this Sunday?”
His actual reaction is rooted in the same philosophy he discussed above. “What does that mean?” he said. “We’ll just stay in the hotel a little bit longer and then go play.”
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks are going international for the third time in franchise history with Sunday’s game in Toronto, but the first time during the regular season. The other two were American Bowl preseason games. Here’s a look at how those games went:
Year Site Outcome
1990 Tokyo L, Broncos, 10-7
1998 Vancouver, B.C. L, 49ers, 24-21
Carroll gave the players today off as a “Victory Monday,” and they’ll have their usual “off” day on Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the Bills.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop. Click here for a look at what Mebane has been up to this season.
YOU DON’T SAY
“For Defensive Rookie (of the Year), three linebackers stepped in from day one and became tackling machines – Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, Seattle’s Bobby Wagner and Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David. Cornerback Casey Hayward of the Packers has been a star from about Week 4. Linemen Chandler Jones of New England (outside) and Derek Wolfe of Denver (inside) have provided consistent pressure since Week 1. Safety Harrison Smith of Minnesota is already one of the most instinctive safeties in the league. For now, for the wins and the leadership and filling a gaping hole, I’ll take Wagner of the Seahawks.” – Peter King in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com
With the players off and the coaches compiling the game plan for Sunday’s rematch with the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field, we’ll use this space today to pass out some honors as the Seahawks have reached the three-quarter point of the season at 7-5:
Marshawn Lynch. If this was for the third quarter of the season, it would be rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who led the Seahawks to a 3-1 record with efficient, productive and constantly improving play. But this is for all 12 games, so Lynch remains the man. He is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,138 yards – 308 behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson – and fourth in total yards with 1,287. Again, it’s not just the yards that Lynch gains, it’s how he gains them. He almost never goes down at first contact and almost always gains yards even when they don’t appear to be there. One of the big reasons why the zone-read plays have been working so well for Wilson is that faking the ball to Lynch caused the defense to shift in that direction, leaving the gaps that Wilson is exploiting.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Russell Wilson. Here’s where we can point out just what Wilson has done in the past four games. In victories over the Vikings, Jets and Bears and a loss to the Dolphins, the rookie QB has fashioned a 120.4 passer rating by completing 67 percent of this passes (72 of 107) for 878 yards, with nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Andrew who? RGIII what? During this stretch, Wilson also became the first rookie to compile a passer rating of 125-plus in three consecutive games and also complete 16 consecutive passes; and Sunday against the Bears he rushed for more yards in a single game (71) than any QB in franchise history.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Brandon Mebane. The defense had its ups and downs in the third quarter of the season. Not Mebane. The team’s nose tackle remained the most consistent player on the Seahawks’ No. 4-ranked defense. He is fourth on the team with 48 tackles, tops among the D-linemen, and also tied for third with three sacks. But what really stands out are the things that Mebane does to help others make plays. As fellow D-tackle Alan Branch said, “On the field, I’ve never seen a player like him. If he doesn’t go to the Pro Bowl, I’ll be surprised.” The last Seahawks’ defensive tackle to go to the Pro Bowl? It was Hall of Famer John Randle in 2001.
BEST SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER
Jon Ryan. Yes, the ball is back on Ryan’s court – and likely will be downed near the goal line. He was the pick after the first four games, only to give way to Heath Farwell at midseason. But it’s back to Ryan, because of his consistency – which continues to be at a consistently high level. Ryan is 12th in the league in punting average (46.9), but fifth in net average (41.9) and punts inside the 20-yard line (25). In the past two games, nine of his 12 punts have been downed inside the 20.
Defense: Bobby Wagner. He had 11 tackles against the Bears, giving him triple digits for the season (101). Wagner has had double-digit tackles four times, with a high of 14; and been the team’s leading tackler in the past five games and seven of the past nine. Oh, and he also has three sacks and an interception. When they start talking about NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, it’s time to start including Wagner in the conversation.
Offense: Wilson. It’s not just that he’s won seven games, it’s the other quarterbacks he has beaten in doing it: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Cam Newton. It’s also that he has thrown 19 touchdown passes, to lead all NFL rookies; and not thrown an interception in the past four games. But it’s also the command he has taken of the offense and the ability he has shown to win games in tight situations.
TREND THAT NEEDS TO CONTINUE
Long scoring drives. Against the Bears, it was 97-, 94- and 80-yarders for touchdowns. Against the Dolphins, it was a pair of 80-yarders for touchdowns. Against the Jets, they had an 84-yarder for a touchdown. Against the Vikings, it was 80-, 78- and 72-yarders for touchdowns. This after the Seahawks produced nine TD drives of 70-plus yards in their first eight games.
TREND THAT NEEDS TO STOP
Third-and-long conversions by the opposition. The Bears converted on third-and-12 and third-and-10, while penalties allowed them to convert on third-and-10 and third-and-7. The Dolphins converted on third-and-8 and third-and-7. It continues to be confounding that a defense that plays so well on first and second downs can give up so many drive-sustaining plays on third downs.
TREND THAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE
The pass rush. In the past two games, the Seahawks have two sacks – despite the Bears and Dolphins dealing with offensive line issues. Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin, who lead the team with eight and seven sacks, have 3.5 in the past six games. With the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams coming to CenturyLink Field and the Seahawks going to Toronto to play the Bills in the next four weeks, the Seahawks must find a way to generate more pressure on the opposing passer.
“He is amazing. He keeps believing. He believes in himself. He believes in this team. He believes in his preparation. And he prepares like no other. The kid gives us a chance every week.” – fullback Michael Robinson on Wilson after Sunday’s upset of the Bears in Chicago