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
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 20:
Life lessons. In this Thanksgiving Day week, coach Pete Carroll had someone who is thankful to still be alive share his story with the players after practice on Monday.
The individual was Chris Herren, a former high school, college and NBA star who threw away his career – and almost his life – because of his addiction to drugs. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Herren’s he-must-be-making-this-up saga has been featured on “60 Minutes” and in “Unguarded,” a documentary which was part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. He also has written an autobiography, “Basketball Junkie.” You can click here to hear Herren discuss the reaction to his story.
Herren began his powerful presentation to the Seahawks’ players by saying what some where thinking: Why are we sitting here listening to this guy? The players didn’t come right out and say that, of course. They didn’t have to. Their body language spoke volumes.
But has Herren moved from one sobering segment of his story to another – detailing his downward spiral from “just drinking and smoking,” to using cocaine, to addiction to painkillers, to almost ending his life with a heroin overdose – the few players who started the session slumped into the seats first sat up and by the end were leaning forward in their chairs.
Family. Fame. Wealth. One opportunity for redemption after another. Herren wasted them all.
“Truth is I should be dead,” he said. “And being sober? Never thought it was a reality. I’d done so much I couldn’t imagine coming back from it. My life? It was bad, but with a lot of help I was able to turn it around.”
And that’s why Herren, who has been clean and sober since August of 2008, was asked to speak to the Seahawks: To warn them of how easily it is to plummet from the top of your chosen profession to below rock bottom; and also to inform them that there is help – for them, family members, friends.
Herren, 37, has started the Herren Project, which provides assistance and funds to help get addicts into rehab.
Quarterback Russell Wilson had heard Herren speak before. But the repeat performance still delivered the intended impact.
“Just to hear his story – and how powerful it is and all the things he’s gone through in his life – for him to stay so strong and just trust in the Lord, and him getting down on his knees and praying and that being able to save him from all the things he went through, that was pretty cool,” Wilson said. “The stories just keep going on and on. The fact that he could stand all that stuff and still be alive, it’s just a remarkable story.”
The Dolphins. They practiced today, so the players can have Thanksgiving Day off. Coach Joe Philbin decided the shift from the normal schedule was doable because the Dolphins played last Thursday and are playing this week at home.
“Usually for a ‘normal’ game, you get three practices and a walkthrough,” Philbin said during his Monday news conference. “This one we’re going to get four practices and a walkthrough. Family is very important to me, it should be important to our players. I don’t think next year, if we’re on a seven-day schedule, we’d be able to afford this luxury. But I think when there’s a chance you can do something like this, I think you should do it.”
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks will play on a grass field only four times this season, and two of those will occur in their next two games – at Miami against the Dolphins on Sunday and at Chicago against the Bears next Sunday. They’ll also be looking to improve on their record while playing on a real-grass surface from their first two seasons under Carroll. Here’s a look at those grass-stained performances:
Location (date) Result
Carolina (Oct. 7) W, 16-12
San Francisco (Oct. 18) L, 13-6
Miami (Nov. 25) TBD
Chicago (Dec. 2) TBD
Location (date) Result
San Francisco (Sept. 11) L, 33-17
Pittsburgh (Sept. 18) L, 24-0
Cleveland (Oct. 23) L, 6-3
Chicago (Dec. 18) W, 38-14
Location (date) Result
Denver (Sept. 19) L, 31-14
Chicago (Oct. 17) W, 23-20
Oakland (Oct. 31) L, 33-3
San Francisco (Dec. 12) L, 40-21
Tampa (Dec. 26) L, 38-15
The players had their “off” day on Tuesday, but quite a few were at VMAC continuing their jump on the week after a “Bonus Monday” practice. They will return to practice on “Competition Wednesday.”
Also, next week’s game against the Bears will remain a 10 a.m. PT kickoff. It was possible that the game could have been flexed into the Sunday night slot, but the league announced today that the evening game will remain the Eagles and Cowboys.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s pretty good. I think statistically, numbers-wise, it’s excellent. They can pressure the quarterback well. I think they have 28 sacks. They have explosive guys off the edge. I’ve always felt their inside tackle, 92 (Brandon Mebane), was a good player. (Free safety Earl) Thomas is a dynamic player. It’s a very good, well-coached defense.” – Philbin on the Seahawks defense
The first round of fan balloting for the Pro Bowl has been announced, and the Seahawks need your help.
Running back Marshawn Lynch and punter Jon Ryan rank second at their positions, behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and Packers’ Tim Masthay. Peterson is fifth among all players and second to the Texans’ Arian Foster at running back with 298,323 votes.
Five of the Top 10 vote-getters are quarterbacks – No. 1 Peyton Manning, No. 2 Tom Brady, No. 4 Aaron Rodgers, No. 9 Matt Ryan and No. 10 Drew Brees.
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor is No. 3 at his position. Defensive end Chris Clemons and free safety Earl Thomas are fourth at their respective spots, while center Max Unger and kick returner Leon Washington are fifth.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman and special teams standout Heath Farwell aren’t even among the Top 5 at their positions.
Fan balloting runs through Monday, Dec. 17, and counts one-third toward the selection of the NFC and AFC squads the will play in the NFL all-star game on Jan. 27. The coaches and players in the league will cast their votes in December, and each will count one-third.
You can help the Seahawks’ players improve their current standing by voting here.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” the day after the Seahawks’ 28-7 home win over the New York Jets.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times highlights Marshawn Lynch’s 27-carry, 124-yard day, “Lynch, 26, is the attention-getter who makes Wilson’s play-fakes work. He is the big back who defenses have to honor. And he is a presence in the backfield, picking up blitzers, buying time for Wilson, keeping him upright. Lynch is the definition of a north-south runner. He is the 2-yard run that he turns into an 8-yard gain. He is the epicenter of the quake. The unseen force in the middle of the mob, somehow moving a pile of 300-pounders. He is the reason that in this pass-first league, the Seahawks run first. This was his fourth consecutive plus-100-yard rushing game and this is the second consecutive season he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. ‘With Marshawn, it starts with his attitude,’ backup running back and kick returner Leon Washington said. ‘When he comes to work, he comes to work. No one man can tackle him. He has this willingness to fight for the team. Even when he’s banged up he still goes out there and lays it on the line. I’m telling you, if he stays healthy and keeps rolling, he can be one of the best backs the league has ever seen.’ ”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times calls attention to Golden Tate’s memorable performance against the Jets, “Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who has taken special interest in Tate this season, called Tate’s hurdling first down ‘maybe the best play we’ve had this year.’ Even if you think Tate is too much of a showman, there’s no denying that he’ll sacrifice himself to make a play. He avoided disaster on a crazy flip into the end zone last week against Minnesota. He went airborne again Sunday. He’s nuts, but at least he’s channeling it properly. ‘I’m going to put my body on the line,’ Tate said. ‘I want to win that bad.’ ”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps yesterday’s contest, which moved the Seahawks to 5-0 at CenturyLink Field this season, “It was the third time this season Seattle did not allow an offensive touchdown. ‘A testament to the entire defense,’ Sherman said. It was impressive, from the front four, which included Brandon Mebane making six tackles — remarkable for a defensive tackle — to rookie Bruce Irvin recording two sacks to Mike Morgan stepping in for K.J. Wright at strongside linebacker. Wright was out because of a concussion, and Morgan did his best to make sure no one noticed Seattle was missing one of its best defenders. ‘Michael Morgan fit in,’ coach Pete Carroll said, ‘Playing without K.J. is a big deal for us. I think that was a big statement, and we did take a step forward this week.’ ”
O’Neil notes the Seahawks were able to overcome some early mistakes in yesterday’s victory, “As he [Wilson] attempted to evade the Jets’ pass rush in the first quarter, he had the ball stripped by Mike DeVito. The fumble was fielded on one hop by defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and returned 21 yards for the Jets’ only touchdown. ‘I was trying to get ready to go down,’ Wilson said, ‘and the guy just hit the ball out. It was a good play by them.’ And part of a ragged first half for Wilson, who was sacked three times and at times threatened to make a bad situation worse by trying to scramble away from the pressure. ‘He tried a little bit too hard,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He has to get down and protect the football first.’ There were no problems when Wilson threw the ball, though. He was 12-for-19 passing for 188 yards and threw a TD to Golden Tate in the first quarter and to Sidney Rice in the fourth.”
O’Neil also names cornerback Richard Sherman, wide receiver Golden Tate, and running back Marshawn Lynch his players of the game in his Two-Minute Drill.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has his take on the maturation of Tate, “Tate’s showy performance is no surprise to fullback Michael Robinson. ‘What Golden is doing now, we’ve been seeing the last two years in practice,’ Robinson said. ‘It just took him a while to make sure he really knows his offense and make sure he can make all the adjustments. I mean … he’s still a young guy.’ Yes, he’s young (24), but obviously maturing into the job. ‘Just get me the ball anyway you can … in the backfield, a reverse, a pass, whatever it is,’ Tate said. ‘My mindset is any time I get the ball, I can make something special happen; a touchdown, a big first down in a crucial moment, a big gain … I want to make the most of every single ball that comes my way.’ Golden Tate has earned their trust. He’s done it by never forgetting how bad it felt to be without it.”
John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune has a break down of Sherman’s sack and forced fumble of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez – Sherman’s first career sack, “Facing a first-and-10 on an infrequent foray into Seattle territory, the Jets had brought in 6-5, 308-pound offensive tackle Jason Smith as a third tight end. Sherman realized the big fella’s chance at being used as a pass target was about as slim as Jets coach Rex Ryan becoming the next director of the CIA. ‘So instead of covering,’ Sherman said, ‘I blitzed, and nobody was there to pick me up. We haven’t seen that look since maybe the first day of camp. It’s one of those looks you rarely get because there is rarely a time you’re going to have a tackle lined up as a tight end who you know for sure is going to stay in and block. It just happened to be the luck of the draw.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game story from yesterday, “Lynch now has 1,005 yards for the season. He also tied a franchise record by rushing for more than 100 yards for a fourth straight game. Shaun Alexander set the mark during the 2005 season. Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards six times this season. The Seahawks are 3-3 in those games. Lynch declined to talk with reporters after the game, letting his teammates gush over his performance instead. ‘It feels good, man,’ Seattle offensive tackle Breno Giacomini said. ‘It’s kind of cool, but we’re not done. We want more. We always want more, but at least he’s there right now, and we’ll keep getting better, and hopefully keep unleashing him.’ ”
Mike Salk of 710Sports.com credits Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for a well-called game, “The Seahawks offensive coordinator has a tough gig, even tougher if you are looking for creativity. His offense is built around a power running game. His best player is a running back. His offensive line is effective at run blocking but leaky in pass protection. And he coaches in a league that doesn’t exactly value those traits. But he has a few assets. His head coach is willing to give him some latitude and his quarterback is nimble, smart and calm. So, it’s on Bevell to create something to take advantage of those assets and mask some of his team’s deficiencies. By using the zone-read option, he has done that.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps the big days for the wide receiver duo of Tate and Rice, “Rice and Tate were all smiles after combining for three of the Seahawks’ four touchdowns during their 28-7 rout of the Jets on Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Each receiver had already caught a scoring pass from Russell Wilson before the Seahawks used a trick play in the fourth quarter that had Tate throwing to a wide open Rice in the back of the end zone – once he finally got a grip on the ball.”
Henderson also has a few quick notes following yesterday’s win, “The Seahawks will head into the bye week at 6-4 overall and 5-0 at home thanks to a dominant defensive performance and an offense that overcame some early mistakes from quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle’s defense gets a shutout — impressive even though it came against a lousy offense — and a reprieve from questions about some struggles in recent weeks. Their offense scored at least 28 points for the third consecutive week.”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press has his game story, “While the pass game provided many of Seattle’s highlights, it was a recommitment to the run at halftime that was behind the Seahawks dominant second half. Lynch had 85 yards on 13 carries in the second half after assistant head coach Tom Cable told his offensive line at halftime they were going to pound the ball with the Seahawks bruising back. ‘I don’t think we did anything special. We just fit our blocks better and focused on the basics,’ Seattle offensive lineman John Moffitt said.”
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com names Seahawks general manager John Schneider one of his Week 10 MVPs, “When Schneider put together his 2012 draft, there were some pretty serious questions about what the heck he was thinking. Schneider is the engine behind Pete Carroll’s high-velocity style, and he gave his coach some unexpected gifts. Nobody expected the Seahawks to take West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick in this draft, but Irvin currently leads all rookie defenders with seven sacks. That’s one more than New England’s Chandler Jones has, and four more than any other first-year sack artist. In the third round, Schneider took advantage of his Wisconsin connections and selected a short quarterback named Russell Wilson, who went into Seattle’s preseason as a possible third QB and won the job outright by the end of the preseason. In an NFL with five-first-year starters, Wilson now leads all rookie quarterbacks with 15 passing touchdowns, and he’s second to Robert Griffin III in rookie passer rating. Schneider has put together three very impressive drafts since Carroll asked him to ride shotgun, and those in the know understand that he’s become one of the league’s most astute personnel evaluators.”
Farrar also recaps the Seahawks’ 28-7 win over the Jets, “How does Pete Carroll feel? Eminently satisfied. The 6-4 Seahawks go into their bye week with all the momentum he would want, and with a lot of confirmation for their coach. ‘This was a big day for us,’ he said. ‘We came to this break, two games into the second half, and we wanted to get these two wins and get on this break and make sure we rest our football team and get ready for the final push. We get to do it with the right feeling, and we’re going to try to maximize this time to get well, get our guys all healthy, come back and get on the road again for a couple of weeks and see what we can do with it. I’m real pleased. It was a great stadium, we had some rain to make it typical and classy for us. Everything about it was a good day today, so I liked it.’ What’s not to like?”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has his gamer from yesterday, “Aside from a spectacular run last week by Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, the Seahawks the last two games have returned to early season form. The Jets had 185 yards total offense and went scoreless, the only New York points coming on a first-quarter strip sack of Wilson that 315-pound defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson turned into a 21-yard fumble return TD.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his wrap-up following the Seahawks’ Week 10 win, “What it means: The Seahawks improved to 6-4, keeping themselves in good position to push for a playoff spot. The San Francisco 49ers’ struggles against St. Louis down the West Coast opened the door for questions about the Seahawks pushing not just for a wild-card berth, but possibly for a division title. The Seahawks take a two-game winning streak into their bye week and need just one more victory to match their season totals for 2010 and 2011.”
Tony Ventrella has his video recap of yesterday’s win, with postgame reaction from Tate, Wilson, Sherman and coach Carroll.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, November 8.
Late Wednesday the Seahawks filled the empty spots on the 53-man roster and practice squad, announcing the activation of cornerback Walter Thurmond from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster and the signing of wide receiver Charly Martin to the practice squad, who had been released just a day earlier from the 53-man roster and had cleared waivers.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune highlights the play of Seahawks center Max Unger, “In his fourth season out of Oregon, Unger has performed so well that he was the lone Seahawks player listed on Peter King’s mid-season All-Pro team for sportsillustrated.com. Unger didn’t seem to know about that recognition, either, and responded with laughter. “No way … really?” None of this, however, is a surprise to the Seahawks staff and front office. General manager John Schneider arranged a four-year, $25 million contract extension for Unger this summer, which made him among the highest-paid centers in the league. Since then, Unger seems to have brought even more passion to his leadership role. It’s to the point that coach Pete Carroll often calls the offensive line ‘Max’s Guys.’ ‘He’s a really bright football player, he’s got a great competitiveness to him that makes him want to know everything that’s going on for everybody,’ Carroll said Wednesday. ‘He’s really the captain of that line. (With) all the calls and the complexities that are there, you’re looking for a guy who will take care of that accountability, and he’s done a great job of that.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with running back and return specialist Leon Washington, who is itching for a return trip to the end zone on his kickoff and punt returns, “The 30-year-old Washington is sixth in the league in kickoff returns, averaging 29.1 yards a return, and is tied for 13th in the league in punt returns, averaging 8.5 yards a return. However, the season is more than half over and Washington has had only 35 chances to make something happen. Last season, Washington finished with 84 returns combined in 16 games. Washington has kick returns for 83 and 69 yards this season, and a punt return for 52 yards, and those explosive plays have helped set up scoring chances for Seattle’s offense. But Washington hasn’t returned a kick or punt for a touchdown since Dec. 12, 2010, a 92-yard kickoff return in a 40-21 loss to San Francisco. Washington said he’s looking forward to playing against his former team, the New York Jets, on Sunday.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times touches on the Pete Carroll-Mark Sanchez connection heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, “Sanchez had spent one full season as USC’s starting quarterback and had a year of eligibility remaining when he decided to enter the draft. Carroll was very direct in his advice to Sanchez before the decision was made. ‘I just told him what I knew was the truth,’ Carroll said. ‘He could have been better prepared if we’d have had him for another year. And I think it would have served him even better.’ Sanchez was chosen No. 5 overall by the Jets, who traded up to acquire the pick from the Browns. Sanchez became the starter immediately, reaching the AFC Championship Game in Sanchez’s first season, and Carroll did nothing but applaud. ‘There was nobody in the world that was more thrilled than me when he did well, in his first year,’ Carroll said. ‘I thought they did a great job. … Mark and I get along great. I love what he’s doing, and follow him every week, and it will be really fun playing against him this week.’ ”
O’Neil also recaps a live chat with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, and has his practice report from Wednesday, noting that three defensive starters (defensive end Red Bryant, strong safety Kam Chancellor, and linebacker K.J. Wright) sat out with injuries.
Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com says option-style quarterbacks are here to stay in the NFL, and that the Seahawks’ Wilson displays some ability to run it effectively, “Last Sunday against Minnesota, the Seahawks used Russell Wilson’s unique talents with read-option plays to pick up relatively easy running yards. Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell saw the effectiveness of the option package in the Redskins offense with Griffin at the controls. ‘We borrowed some of the Redskins’ ideas with RG3. While you’re studying defenses you get to watch the opponents who played them,’ Bevell said earlier this season. ‘Some ideas are great, some you can’t use because of your personnel.’ According to Bevell, it takes the right quarterback’s skill set to mesh with a team’s offensive philosophy. ‘RG3 and Russell are two different style quarterbacks. There are some things he can do we wouldn’t ask Russell to do,” he said. “We have to determine, is that a viable play, is it good for Russell and does it fit in with the scheme for us?’ ”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her practice report from Wednesday.
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com notes that Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor and offensive guard John Moffitt will be guests tonight on “Seahawks Weekly” from Munchbar Bellevue. 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk will host the show along with former Seahawks Dave Wyman and Mack Strong. Chancellor is scheduled to appear live in person and Moffitt will be a guest over the phone.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com compares and contrasts Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with the Jets’ Sanchez.
Sando has an NFC West injury update with several notes on the Seahawks, “Guard James Carpenter (concussion), receiver Braylon Edwards (knee), running back Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist), defensive end Red Bryant (foot), linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion), defensive lineman Clinton McDonald (groin) and safety Kam Chancellor (quadriceps) did not practice Wednesday. Defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) was limited. Receiver Doug Baldwin (ankle), guard John Moffitt (knee) and center Max Unger (finger) were full participants. Seattle is a little more beat-up than it has been to this point in the season. Having a bye in Week 11 should help the team recharge for a stretch run. Jones hasn’t played since Week 7. Seattle’s nickel pass rush has missed him. The fact that he is practicing, even on a limited basis, should be encouraging for the Seahawks. Having Baldwin back allowed Seattle to release receiver Charly Martin and re-sign him to its practice squad. The Seahawks have activated cornerback Walter Thurmond from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He helps with depth and gives the team another option in the nickel role, possibly affecting Marcus Trufant.
Sando also has his updated MVP Watch, and Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch cracks his Top 10, “Lynch leads the NFL with five 100-yard rushing games this season. He now faces a New York Jets defense that has allowed 485 yards rushing after contact, the second-highest figure in the NFL. Lynch has 359 yards after contact this season, the second-highest figure in the NFL behind Peterson’s amazing 515. The Jets have also allowed nine rushing TDs, tied for fourth in the league. Lynch is on pace for a career-high 1,566 yards. Shaun Alexander and Chris Warren are the only players to reach 1,500 yards in a season while playing for the Seahawks.”
John Clayton of ESPN.com has his Midseason All-Pro team and shows the Seahawks defensive backfield some love, naming cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas to his list.
Jason Cole of YahooSports.com has his All-Midseason Team and Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane gets a mention, “On a very active, explosive defense, Mebane stirs the drinks. Mebane has surpassed Vince Wilfork as the toughest defensive tackle in the league to move. The 6-foot-1, 311-pound Mebane simply creates havoc inside with his low-to-the-ground ability to play with great leverage and power. Mebane has pretty good pass-rush skills (three sacks) for an inside player, but his real strength is being able to clear the way for his teammates.”
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has his Midseason NFL All-Pro list and cornerback Richard Sherman makes the cut, “He backs up his brash talk with a great ability to cover people.”
Don Banks of SI.com has NFL power rankings following Week 9, and ranks the Seahawks at No. 12, a bump up of two spots since a week ago, “If the Seahawks can run the table at home this season, where they’re 4-0 so far, they’ll make the playoffs as a wild card. I like their chances, with only one home game remaining against a team that currently has a winning record (Week 16 versus San Francisco). And that late-season showdown with the 49ers might wind up being more important to Seattle in the standings than it is to San Francisco.”
NFL Films’ “NFL Turning Point” has an in-depth video feature on the relationship between running back Marshawn Lynch and fullback Michael Robinson and the Seahawks’ power run game.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth profiles rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane’s punt-downing prowess, and the effect it has on punter Jon Ryan and the battle for field position. Farnsworth also recaps “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on return specialist Leon Washington.
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with a look at several Seahawks’ connections to “The Big Apple.”
Our team photographer Rod Mar has a look at “Competition Wednesday” in photos.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 7:
Leon Washington. Yes, it was the Jets who traded the returner/running back to the Seahawks in a draft day deal in 2010. Yes, it’s the Jets who are coming to CenturyLink Field on Sunday. And yes, Washington would like to do you-know-what against his former team.
“Would I like to return a touchdown against the Jets? Yes,” Washington said today, punctuating the obvious statement with a huge smile before adding, “Would I like to return a touchdown against the Rams? Yes. Would I like to return a touchdown against the 49ers? Yes.”
Washington has returned seven kickoffs for touchdowns in his NFL career that began in 2006, when the Jets selected him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Only one player in the 92½-year history of the league has returned more – the Browns’ Josh Cribbs with eight.
But it’s been a while since Washington has found the end zone with a kickoff or punt return – Week 14 of his first season with the Seahawks, and against the 49ers. That’s too long, as he views the situation. So why not end the drought against the team he used to play for, and represented in the Pro Bowl as the AFC returner after the 2007 season.
“We’re right on target,” Washington said. “We feel like we execute very well in practice. We just have to take advantage of opportunities during the game. Second half of the season, I remember last year we got really good. So I feel like we’re going to do the same thing this year.”
During the Seahawks’ 5-4 start, Washington has averaged 29.1 yards on 15 kickoff returns, which ranks sixth in the league. His punt return average, once as high as 14.5 yards, has dipped to 8.5, which ties him for 13th in the league.
And yes, playing in Seattle is different than playing in New York.
“Our fans here are passionate about their team, but it seems like the fans there, they feel like they own the team,” Washington said with a chuckle.
Marshawn Lynch. But this time, it’s through the eyes of Jets coach Rex Ryan, who also faced Lynch when he was running for the Bills and even sat in on a pre-draft visit with Lynch in 2007 when he was coming out of Cal and Ryan was defensive coordinator for the Ravens.
“He’s a tough dude, let’s just put it that way,” Ryan said today during a conference-call interview. “He’s one tough, tough rascal.
“Having to go against him – I’ve gone against him several times – he’s a guy that really is a physical back. … He’s a very powerful, physical runner and you never assume that this kid’s down.”
As for Lynch’s visit with the Ravens, Ryan said, “As he left, we were going back and forth. I said, ‘You come here, you’re going to get your butt kicked in practice.’ He’s like, ‘Man, I’ll show you.’ But I really liked him. As soon as he left, I’m like, ‘Oh, I hope we get that kid.’ ”
MARTIN RETURNS; THURMOND ACTIVATED
Wide receiver Charly Martin rejoined the team midway through practice, and cornerback Walter Thurmond was activated to the 53-man roster.
Martin was released from the 53-man roster on Tuesday and re-signed to the practice squad today after he had cleared waivers. Thurmond, who began the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, takes the roster spot that opened when Martin was released. The club had until Monday to add Thurmond to the roster.
Martin fills the practice squad spot that opened Tuesday when rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was released.
MORE MIDSEASON HONORS
Eight Seahawks landed on the All-NFC West midseason team selected by NFC blogger Mike Sando at ESPN.com: defensive end Chris Clemons, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas on defense; center Max Unger and Lynch on offense; and returner Leon Washington and coverage man Heath Farwell on special teams.
In what Sando labeled his “tough call,” the 49ers’ Alex Smith was the choice over the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson at quarterback: “Alex Smith edges Russell Wilson at quarterback based on a stronger start to the season and his nearly perfect game against Arizona in Week 8. Wilson is gaining ground and looks like he could become the best quarterback in the NFC West quickly. He already has a better feel for the pocket. I’ll be surprised, at this rate, if Wilson isn’t the choice for the season-ending all-division team. There is still time for Sam Bradford to factor in as well.”
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OG James Carpenter (concussion)
SS Kam Chancellor (quadriceps)
WR Braylon Edwards (knee)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist)
DT Clinton McDonald (groin)
LB K.J. Wright (concussion)
Limited in practice
DT Jason Jones (ankle)
WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)
OG John Moffitt (knee)
C Max Unger (finger)
Wright and Carpenter were scheduled for more tests today, which they must pass before being cleared to return to practice. Mike Morgan and John Moffitt continued to replace them at strongside linebacker and left guard, as they did in Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Robert Turbin worked for Lynch, Greg Scruggs took over for Bryant and Jeron Johnson stepped in for Chancellor in practice.
Jones returned to practice after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.
For the Jets:
Did not practice
DT Kenrick Ellis (knee)
RB Joe McKnight (ankle)
Limited in practice
TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist)
C Nick Mangold (ankle)
OG Brandon Moore (hip)
DT Sione Pouha (back)
RB Bilal Powell (shoulder)
LB Bart Scott (toe)
S Eric Smith (knee)
DT Mike DeVito (finger)
WR Clyde Gates (shoulder)
S LaRon Landry (heel)
LB Calvin Pace (shin)
QB Mark Sanchez (back)
OG Matt Slauson (knee)
STAT DU JOUR
No back in the NFL has more 100-yard rushing games than Lynch, who is second in the NFL in rushing (881 yards) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (957). Here’s a look at Lynch’s five triple-digit efforts, when he also has scored his four rushing touchdowns:
Opponent (week) No. Yards Avg. TD
Vikings (Week 9) 26 124 4.8 1
Cowboys (Week 2) 26 122 4.7 1
Rams (Week 4) 20 118 5.9 1
Lions (Week 8) 12 105 8.8 1
49ers (Week 7) 19 103 5.4 0
Who’s chasing Lynch? Peterson, the Texans’ Arian Foster and Patriots’ Stefan Ridley each have four 100-yard games.
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks are even in turnover differential, with 13 takeaways and 13 giveaways; while the Jets are minus-1. Only 11 teams have turned the ball over more than the Jets (14).
YOU DON’T SAY
“We have to fix ourselves before we really worry about who we’re playing. Now with that being said, this week is probably about as difficult of a challenge as a team can face. Here’s a team that’s 4-0 at home, with wins over Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay and New England. It starts with the running game, of course. But, oh by the way, the quarterback has a 120 rating at home, which would be the best in the National Football League. So that’s certainly going to be a challenge. And on defense, they’re the fourth-rated defense in the National Football League. They’re a big, physical group with some guys that can really rush the passer. So it’s definitely a huge challenge for us.” – Ryan
YOU DON’T SAY, PART II
“Oh he definitely likes it. I like them, too. Every pass he’s thrown I’ve called.” – offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on wide receiver Sidney Rice throwing the ball, which he did for a 25-yard completion – and a 118.8 passer rating – to tight end Zach Miller against the Vikings
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, November 7.
There was a couple of roster moves that came late Tuesday afternoon, when the team announced the release of wide receiver Charly Martin from the active roster, and the release of wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei from the practice squad. As of this morning, no move had been made to fill either spot.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at how much better Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has become since the start of the season, “No one is calling for Matt Flynn to start for Seattle anymore. At least not loud enough to hear, and certainly not like it was in September when the Seahawks’ offense was about as potent as the Mariners’. But over the first nine games, the most important trend for Wilson has been the way he eliminates flaws in his performance. Halfway through his first season, the most important thing is to judge not how good he is, but how much better he has become. And only by looking at that process step by step, following three critical improvements, can you see how he’s reached this point of leading Seattle’s offense to 54 points in the past two games and holding the league’s 11th-best quarterback rating.”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with the Trufant family, as brothers Marcus and Isaiah are set to square off against each other when the New York Jets comes to town on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, and younger brother Desmond – a senior cornerback at the University of Washington – will play against Utah on Saturday night, also at CenturyLink Field, “Lloyd Trufant said he had a jersey specifically made for the game, with a Marcus Trufant Seahawks jersey on the front and an Isaiah Trufant Jets jersey on the back. ‘We’re pretty pumped up about it,’ Lloyd Trufant said. ‘It should be pretty cool to see both of them on opposing teams. … I have all three of my boys at the same stadium on the same weekend, so that should be cool.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald notes where the Seahawks’ recent run defense struggles may be coming from, “More than anything, Carroll thinks the team’s struggles are the result of young players trying to do too much. In addition to a stout defensive line, one of the most important elements of run defense is the ability of linebackers and safeties to stay disciplined and focus on their responsibilities, not everyone else’s. With a rookie starting at middle linebacker (Bobby Wagner), a second-year strongside linebacker (K.J. Wright) and safeties who are in their third year (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor), youthful mistakes can happen. It also didn’t help the Seahawks that Wright missed all but three plays of Sunday’s win over the Vikings because of a concussion. ‘I do think we’re over-trying a little bit,’ Carroll said. ‘I think in general guys are trying to live up to the expectations and we’re trying really hard, and at times that takes you out of your game. That’s something we’re really concerned about. We just want to play the way that we’re capable of playing. Sometimes, guys try to go beyond their responsibility to make a play and they get in a bad situation. That’s just because they want to do really well and they’re trying really hard and all of that. It’s a young bunch of guys getting together, so you can fluctuate a little bit there.’ ”
Dave Grosby and Dave Wyman of 710Sports.com say the Seahawks defense is going to be OK, and they attempt to ease the fears of fans in this short video.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com brings us his Midseason All-Underrated offensive team, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tops the list, “San Francisco’s Alex Smith almost made this spot, but after looking at a few key numbers for both quarterbacks — efficiency in third-down, red-zone, and fourth-quarter situations — the third-round rookie from Wisconsin gets the nod. Wilson, who wasn’t expected to start this season and got all kinds of pre-draft scouting dings as a result of his 5-foot-10 5/8 stature, has become the epicenter of the Seahawks’ offense in the last few weeks. It’s an impressive feat for a team that’s been run-based and centered around Marshawn Lynch. But as head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have taken the training wheels off of late, Wilson has responded with great production. His three-touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday was the sixth-best of the week among quarterbacks per Football Outsiders’ efficiency rankings, and we have a feeling that the best is yet to come. Wilson has more passing touchdowns than any other rookie quarterback (yes, more than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III), and only Griffin has a higher passer rating. Near-Misses: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers/Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his All-NFC West midseason team and defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman, and free safety Earl Thomas make the cut for the defense, while center Max Unger and running back Marshawn Lynch represent the offense. Linebacker Heath Farwell tops all division specialists and running back Leon Washington is named the top return man.
Sam Farmer of the LA Times highlights Seahawks team statistician Todd Nielson, “Nielson gathers and crunches numbers, studies probabilities, looks for any sliver of data concerning the Seahawks or opposing teams that could give Seattle an edge. That includes drawing up statistical reports for Coach Pete Carrolland his assistants, documenting plays and coverages during games, and even analyzing officiating crews for their specific tendencies. ‘You look at it, and eventually it’s going to pop off the paper at you,’ said Nielson, who spends much of his day at his modest cubicle, sleuthing tendencies. ‘My interaction with Coach Carroll is very limited,’ he said. ‘I go in his office when he’s not there, and I drop a piece of paper on his desk with what he calls ‘the orange stuff’ on it, which is the highlighted stuff.’ Throughout the week, Nielson fields requests from coaches — for instance, compile all the New York Jets’ runs in goal-to-go situations — then creates a written report, complete with corresponding video. ‘The stats tell you the when and the where,’ he said. ‘The video tells you the how and the why.’ ”
Farmer also offers a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Carroll and his coaching staff at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, “In a sense, the 5-4 Seahawks mirror their coach. They are energetic, competitive, and have concentration issues resulting in a string of close losses on the road. The team that is 4-0 at CenturyLink Field is 1-4 away from home. Seattle has the NFL’s third-youngest roster — including rookie Russell Wilson starting at quarterback — and the second-oldest head coach, which seems like a mismatch. But few coaches are as youthful as the 61-year-old Carroll, who seldom stops moving around the sprawling facility and always looks as if he’s about to break into a jog. There’s no hint in his stride of his recent knee replacement. ‘It’s constantly surprising to see somebody who’s older than my dad have that kind of energy,’ said Carroll’s right-hand man, Ben Malcolmson, 27, who won acclaim at USC when he went from student journalist to walk-on receiver. ‘Everyone has their ups and downs, times they just want to chill and relax. With him, it’s never, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a nap for 15 minutes.’ It’s nonstop.’ ”
The AP Pro32 has some comments about the Seahawks, who they rank from No. 11 to 12. You can view several of their comments here.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth touches base with the Trufant family, who as we mentioned above will have a busy weekend at CenturyLink Field.
Farnsworth has his “Tuesday in Hawkville“, with a focus on Pro Football Weekly’s Midseason All-Pro list, which features free safety Earl Thomas, running back Marshawn Lynch, and cornerback Richard Sherman.
Lastly, Farnsworth has his first look at the New York Jets, who are up next on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, October 31.
The Seahawks made a few roster moves yesterday, placing wide receiver Ben Obomanu on injured reserve, releasing cornerback Danny Gorrer, promoting wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and tackle Mike Person from the practice squad to the active roster, and signing wide receiver Phil Bates to the practice squad.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his story on the former University of Washington standout Kearse being called up to the active roster, “Kearse might not only be active on Sunday when Seattle faces Minnesota, but he could see playing time. Doug Baldwin is a longshot to play, according to coach Pete Carroll, as Baldwin recovers from a high ankle sprain. Braylon Edwards’ status is a question mark after his knee swelled unexpectedly on Sunday morning, preventing him from playing against the Lions.”
O’Neil also has a brief look at the Seahawks’ second half of the season.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his story on the promotion of Kearse, “Kearse had been playing well against Seattle’s No. 1 defense during practices. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound Kearse has the versatility to play both inside as a slot receiver and on the perimeter.”
Williams also grades out the Seahawks position-by-position at the season’s midway point, “Lynch is on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign. He’s second in the league in rushing with 757 yards on 159 carries for a robust 4.8 yard-per-carry average. Lynch has three rushing touchdowns, including a career-long 77-yard rumble for a score Sunday against Detroit. Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards four times this season. Fourth-round pick Robert Turbin has been a nice addition as a complementary back to Lynch, rushing for 129 yards on 30 carries. And fullback Michael Robinson continues to block like a Pro Bowl player as a lead blocker for Lynch. Robinson also is among the league leaders in third-and-1 rushes for first downs. He’s 4-for-4 on the year. Grade: B-plus”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald rehashes the Seahawks’ first half of the season and has a look at what’s in store in the second half, “Offense – What’s worked so far: The running game picked up where it left off last year, and Marshawn Lynch is on pace for a 1,500-yard season. The pass protection, which was an issue early in the year, is getting better. The offense has been getting off to good starts in games, particularly of late, scoring on its first possession in four straight games. What has to improve: The passing game has made some big strides under Wilson as the season has gone on, culminating in Sunday’s loss with what Carroll said ‘was probably his best game. It was his most solid performance.’ But that progress needs to continue for this offense to be good enough for a playoff push. For starters, the Seahawks need to figure out how to build off of those aforementioned strong starts, rather than go quiet for long stretches of the game. After scoring on their first three possessions against Detroit, the Seahawks came up empty on five straight possessions until their fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The two biggest problems for Seattle’s offense have been third-down and red-zone conversions, and while there have been signs of improvement in both areas, there is still room for growth.”
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” believe the Seahawks still need to explore more options at wide receiver, even with the promotion of Kearse to the active roster. They discuss possible options in this short video.
Brock Huard of 710Sports.com has his latest “Chalk Talk“, as he breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 3rd-and-10 play from the 12-yard-line heading toward the end zone late in the fourth quarter that helped set up the Lions’ game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass.
Pro Football Focus has their Mid-Season All NFC West team and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receiver Sidney Rice, defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman, and return man Leon Washington make their cut.
NFL.com’s “The NFL Season” has a look at Wilson’s rookie year and his relationship with Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon in this video.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a look at Wilson’s first half in “Tuesday in Hawkville,” hands out his Seahawks “Midseason honor roll,” details Lynch’s fiery leadership, and has his first look at the Minnesota Vikings – the Seahawks’ Week 9 opponent.
With the Seahawks reaching the midway point of their season, here’s a look at the best from their 4-4 start:
MVP: Marshawn Lynch. Four 100-yard rushing games. At least 85 rushing yards in seven of the eight games. A career-best 4.8-yard average. No. 2 in the league is rushing, 18 yards behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. A combined 170 touches with only 12 minus-yardage plays, offset by 14 runs of 10-plus yards. As lead-blocking fullback Michael Robinson put it, “If we know anything, we know the dude can run the ball.” And just when you thought you’d seen the entire Lynch portfolio, he breaks a career-long 77-yard touchdown run in Sunday’s game against the Lions. “He doesn’t generally run straight that long,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s usually moving everywhere. So it was fun to kind of watch him run in a straight line for once. And he looked pretty darn good.”
Best defensive player: Brandon Mebane. Chris Clemons and his seven sacks deserve mention, but the team’s nose tackle has been the best and most consistent player on the Seahawks’ No. 5-ranked defense. Mebane had the glitch game of his season in San Francisco, when the 49ers ran for 175 yards – 88 more than the next-highest total the Seahawks have allowed. But he also bounced back in a big way on Sunday against the Lions with his third sack of the season and six tackles. Mebane also had tipped three passes and recovered a fumble.
Best offensive player not named Marshawn Lynch: Max Unger. As hard as Lynch runs, and as difficult as he is to bring down, he’s also the first to point out that he couldn’t do all the things he does without the help of his blockers – and Unger is in the middle of everything at the center spot; flanked on the left side by tackle Russell Okung and guard James Carpenter and on the right side by tackle Breno Giacomini and guard Paul McQuistan. Unger has been solid from his first snap of the season, and also earns bonus points with the job he has done in helping rookie QB Russell Wilson go over and understand the pass protection each week.
Best special teams player: Heath Farwell. Punter Jon Ryan and Chris Maragos deserve honorable mention. But the most consistent member of the Seahawks’ consistently good special teams has been Farwell, who leads the units with eight coverage tackles. But with the special teams co-captain, it’s not just what he does; it’s also what he sees. Prime example numero uno: The play he read and then made on kickoff coverage in the Week 4 game at St. Louis. “On the field, Heath alerted everybody, ‘Hey watch the reverse,’ ” special teams coordinator Brian Schneider said. “Sure enough, they did a reverse and Heath made the tackle on the 5-yard line.” Farwell was the NFC Pro Bowl special teams player in 2009 while with the Vikings. He’s playing well enough to deserve another Pro Bowl berth this season.
Best rookie: Bobby Wagner. No one was sure just how quickly the second-round draft choice would be able to handle all the duties of three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne, who was allowed to leave in free agency. Well, first Wagner won the starting job in training camp. Then, he took over calling the plays in the huddle. Last month, he moved into the sub packages used on passing down. Now, he’s second on the team with 62 tackles – one behind strongside ’backer K.J. Wright.
Most improved offensive rookie: Russell Wilson. And not just because the rookie QB is coming off his best game in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. In addition to completing 71 percent of his passes (25 of 35) for 236 yards and two touchdowns, it was the poise and command Wilson displayed in doing it. But his numbers from the first four games to the next four games jumped in every positive category – completions (69, from 60); passing yards (872, from 594); TD passes (six, from four); and especially passer rating (90.4, from 73.5).
Most improved defensive rookie: Wagner. A bit redundant perhaps, but what he’s done is worth repeating. In the past three games, Wagner has 12, eight and 14 tackles. Like Wilson, he seems to be getting better with each start.
Best free-agent addition: Jason Jones. His value was never more apparent than when he wasn’t able to play against the Lions because of an ankle injury. Without Jones in the middle of the nickel defense line, Matthew Stafford had way too much time while completing 34 of 49 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Jones has 2.5 sacks but, as Carroll says, his real value is in the things he does that helps others make plays. And that’s why he was signed.
Joe Nash Award (or, what would they do without him): Leroy Hill. This went to McQuistan at the quarter pole, and could again as he has moved from left guard to right guard without missing a beat – or many blocks. But Hill continues to produce as the elder starter on the defense. He picked up his first sack of the season against the Lions, and his tackle total (29) isn’t a true indication of his impact.
Best trend: A 3-0 record at home. The Seahawks found ways to upset the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots in the first half of the season. It needs to continue, as they will play five of their final eight games at CenturyLink Field – including rematches with the other three teams in the NFC West, who already have beaten the Seahawks in the away portion of their home-and-home series.
Worst trend: Third downs. It’s tempting to opt for the 1-4 record on the road, but the Seahawks’ inability to get off the field on third downs and prolong possessions by converting third downs plays directly into the road woes. A defense that is capable of doing so many other things well, is allowing opponents to convert 43.9 percent on third downs – 46.0 percent in the four road losses. An offense that is looking to gain more consistency is converting 32.7 percent on the pivotal down.
Best offensive play: Wilson’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 78 seconds remaining against the Patriots in Week 6. As good as Lynch’s 77-yard TD run was against the Lions; Wilson’s timely toss to Rice won that game.
Best defensive plays: This is plural, because it was Clemons collecting four sacks in the second quarter of the Week 3 upset of the Packers.
Best special teams plays: Again, it’s plural because of Ryan’s quartet of punts against the Patriots, as he became the third player in NFL history – and the first since 1946 – to average 60-plus yards on four kicks. Ryan hit it right at 60.0, with four punts for 240 yards, with a long of 66.
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 23:
Pro Bowl voting. The polls are open, so let the debates begin.
Fan voting for the NFC and AFC squads has begun at NFL.com, and you can cast your votes here. But who deserves your vote among the Seahawks?
Earl Thomas was voted the starting free safety on the NFC team last season, while strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner were first alternates and added as injury replacements. Each is playing a big role on the Seahawks’ No. 5-ranked defense.
Marshawn Lynch also was a first alternate last year who was added to the team as an injury replacement. This season, he is second in the NFC and tied for third in the league with 652 rushing yards and second in the NFC in total yards with 735.
Chris Clemons already has seven sacks, which ties the Seahawks’ “Leo” end for second in the NFC and third in the league.
Richard Sherman, the fourth member of the Seahawks’ secondary, has three interceptions, which ties the second-year cornerback for fourth in the NFL, and he also leads the team with 11 passes defensed.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane is in the middle of everything the defense does, and has 26 tackles to pace the linemen. He also has a pair of sacks and has deflected three passes.
Fullback Michael Robinson was another first alternate last season who was added to the squad as an injury replacement, and he continues to provide Lynch with lead blocks against some of the best middle linebackers in the game.
Center Max Unger also draws high marks – and praise – for his efforts in anchoring the line and opening holes for Lynch.
Heath Farwell, who led the league with 21 coverage tackles in only 11 games last season, has eight in seven games.
Punter Jon Ryan is second in the NFC in average (50.4) and fifth in net average (41.4) – putting him on pace to break the club records that he already holds in each category.
Fan balloting, which concludes Dec. 17, counts one-third toward selecting the Pro Bowl squads. The other two thirds will be provided when the players and coaches vote in December. The NFC and AFC teams will be announced De. 26.
Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ QB has become the first rookie since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 to throw two game-winning touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
The first was a 24-yarder to Golden Tate on the final play of the Monday night win over the Packers. The second was a 46-yarder to Sidney Rice with 78 seconds left in the win over the Patriots. Both came at CenturyLink Field.
“I think he’s done some pretty extraordinary things,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think he’s played within the format that we have setup for him well. … He’s grown. He’s corrected things. And he’s totally in control, poise-wise, in the game and in the situation.
“I think he can do special things. There are just not very many kids that are as well prepared to take on the workload, and the stress of it, and the pressure and all of that, as he is.”
STATS ’N STUFF
In addition to the Seahawks’ No. 5 ranking in average yards allowed, the defense also is No. 6 against the run and No. 8 against the pass. The offense ranks No. 30 overall, No. 8 rushing and No. 31 passing.
The Seahawks also rank second (12.9) in the league to the Bears (10.7) in average points allowed by the defensive unit.
Strongside linebacker K.J. Wright has regained sole possession of the team lead in tackles with 52 – two more than rookie middle linebackers Bobby Wagner, who has 43 of his 50 tackles in the past five games.
Leon Washington is fourth in the league in kickoff return average (31.7).
Lynch also is tied for 10th in the league in first downs produced with 33 (28 rushing, five receiving).
STAT DU JOUR
Rice leads the Seahawks with 22 receptions and, not surprisingly, also is the leader in targets. Here’s a look at the targets and catches by the Seahawks’ top nine receivers, ranked by number of times the ball has been thrown their way:
Player Targets Catches
Sidney Rice 38 22
Golden Tate 27 13
Doug Baldwin 19 11
Zach Miller 18 14
Braylon Edwards 15 8
Anthony McCoy 15 8
Marshawn Lynch 12 10
Robert Turbin 10 9
Ben Obomanu 9 4
The players return from their off day to continue practicing for Sunday’s game against the Lions in Detroit. This game marks the conclusion of a five-week stretch where the Seahawks played on the road four times.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The biggest issue I have with our team right now is we’ve got to get the football away from our opponents. They’ve gone quiet a little bit on the turnover thing. I know that we’ll do better at home, we have historically. But here we go on the road again. We’ve got to get the football away from our opponent, which gives us field advantages, shorter opportunities to get into scoring zones and all that kind of stuff.” – Carroll on the Seahawks forcing four turnovers in their three homes games compared to six in their four road games; but turning the ball over nine times in their four road games compared to twice in their three home games