If you’re a fan of the NFL, and of course you are, then Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com is a must-read. He has been seemingly everywhere and seen seemingly everything since training camps opened in late July, and also has a ridiculously good handle on the things that have happened in the places he has yet to visit.
In today’s must-read edition, King gives the Seahawks some love – for present and past actions.
In his “The Award Section,” his coaches of the week are Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and QB coach Carl Smith. Why? As King writes, “For getting quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson ready to play in a new offense so quickly. Flynn and Wilson were a combined 23 of 29 Saturday night in the preseason-opening win over Tennessee.”
In his “Sunday: In summation …” section, there’s this on Wilson and first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin: “Read so much of people putting down Seattle’s draft as a monster reach, particularly pass rusher Bruce Irvin in the first round and quarterback Russell Wilson in the third. Funny, then, that we heard three or four GMs or personnel people on our trip say, ‘I loved Irvin,’’ or ‘I would have taken Wilson. Great pick.’ ”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times goes inside the mind of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and his unorthodox approach to the competition for the team’s quarterback position, “Yes, Carroll is being different. I’d call him weird, but let’s be honest: When he has gone outside the box with the Seahawks, the coach has been successful more times than not. The Great Roster Shuffle days before the first game of his first season, the major post-lockout changes, the surprise selections during the NFL draft and on and on — Carroll and sidekick John Schneider haven’t been perfect, but mostly, they have been right. And the Seahawks transformed into young and talented at an impressive pace because of it. For Carroll, different is often innovative.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times also comments on Carroll’s handling of the team’s competition at quarterback, “…while most coaches would attempt to turn down the temperature on the quarterback competition, to dilute the suspense and the scrutiny, Carroll is trying to make Seattle’s pocket boil. Pressure can bust pipes, but it can also produce diamonds, and by staging a three-man, musical-chairs competition at quarterback, Carroll is getting a chance to see which player can make the most of his limited reps against a defense that ranked among the league’s top 10 last year. ‘We are not going to cater at all and make it easy for quarterbacks,’ Carroll said this week. ‘We are going to stress them as much as possible.’ That is one way to pick a quarterback. More specifically, it’s Carroll’s way.”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune, writing for The Olympian, takes a look at tight end Zach Miller’s progression in his second season in Seattle, “Part of the reason for Miller’s drop in production was that Seattle relied on him to stay in and block more because of injuries and inexperience along the offensive line. Add to that the steep learning curve of picking up a new passing offense in a lockout-shortened offseason, and it’s understandable why Miller got off to a slow start with the Seahawks. But now that he has had a full season and this offseason in Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s version of the West Coast offense, Miller expects progress. ‘It’s night-and-day difference,’ Miller said. ‘A year ago, I was trying to learn a whole new passing system as quick as I could. And so just having the knowledge and working with Bevell for the whole year, and having an offseason with it has helped so much. It’s hard to put into words.’ “
John Boyle of the Everett Herald comments on the improvement along the Seahawks offensive line, “What was most impressive about Seattle’s improved line play last season, and what should be most encouraging heading into this year, is that the line was able to continue its growth even as injuries took their toll. When John Moffitt and James Carpenter both went down with season-ending knee injuries, Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini stepped in and the line didn’t miss a beat. When Russell Okung went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, McQuistan moved to left tackle, one of football’s most demanding positions, and held his own. McQuistan and Giacomini were both rewarded with contract extensions, and will open the season as starters, Giacomini at right tackle and McQuistan at left guard.”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press offers a look from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on the ‘Hawks three-way quarterback competition, ” ‘I think we’re kind of breaking new ground. It’s something I’ve never done before. For however many years I’ve been in the league it’s something I haven’t done before. We’re just trying to do the best we can divvying it up,” Bevell said. “We have a plan every day coming out here of exactly how we want it to go. Where it can change a little bit is during some of these, ‘move-the-ball’ periods. If you move your offense, if you go a 10-play drive you get 10 plays, if you go three-and-out you got three plays and we change groups. They can get off there a little bit. For the most part we have a plan when we come out here.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details Cortez Kennedy’s Hall of Fame induction speech.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth gives his take on Cortez Kennedy’s Hall of Fame induction speech, Tony Ventrella catches up with Seahawks fans and coaches at yesterday’s practice who offer their praise for Tez in this short video, Tez gives an interview after delivering his Hall of Fame speech, and former Seahawks Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent gives his take on Tez’s honor.
You can read Tez’s speech in it’s entirety here.
We also have a photo gallery from Tez’s big day in Canton.
Our Saturday in Hawkville piece features commentary from quarterbacks coach Carl Smith on the Seahawks’ three-man QB competition, ” ‘To have the three of them [Jackson, Flynn, and Wilson] involved in this competition just heightens their neurons every day,’ said Smith. ‘There’s a lot of electricity in the room and in meetings, on the field, and it’s just a little more than usual. They’re like that all the time, but it just adds something when you think you’re going to be the guy, or have a chance to be the guy.’ “
We also have a look at day seven of the quarterback competition – a day that saw Tarvaris Jackson earn most of the first-team reps, and featured several game-like situation drills. Quarterback Matt Flynn spoke with the media after practice, ” ‘It’s definitely a new stage that we’re moving into,’ said Flynn. ‘After today we’re past the install stage. We have our whole offense in, so now we start getting to where we get to go back over things. We get to move the field, kind of mock-game situations, and then we’re going to get into our game plan.’ ” The next of those ‘mock-game’ situations that Flynn refers to is scheduled to take place today, in an intra-squad scrimmage.
Lastly, we have Part III of our non-football related quarterback competition series, with Jackson, Flynn, and Wilson competing in Gatorade pong.
A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for Saturday, August 4.
The quarterbacks. That would be incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn, and 2012 third-round draft pick Russell Wilson.
But first, we take a look at a different ‘quarterback competition’ that took place between the coaching staff before the start of today’s practice. Quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, running backs coach Sherman Smith, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, tight end coach Pat McPherson, and offensive line coach Tom Cable each took an attempt throwing a football into a trash can stationed 30 yards away. The victor? Not who you might think, as coach Cable’s first toss was right on the money, nestling nicely into the trash bags plastic lining.
Now, back to the actual quarterbacks – Jackson, Flynn, Wilson, and quarterbacks coach Smith, who has perhaps been the closest one to this three-man competition through the team’s first seven days of camp.
“To have the three of them involved in this competition just heightens their neurons every day,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of electricity in the room and in meetings, on the field, and it’s just a little more than usual. They’re like that all the time, but it just adds something when you think you’re going to be the guy, or have a chance to be the guy.”
Jackson wants to be the guy. Flynn wants to be the guy. Wilson wants to be the guy. But the three quarterbacks are not letting the competition for the starting job affect the way they work with each other, and the way they work at making this team better.
“They’re teammates – they’re helping each other,” said Smith. “They’re never going to play against each other. They’re all there to help the Seahawks win. T-Jack has been great with Matt and Russ, telling them the stuff he already knows about the system. Matt has been generous with his knowledge of what he came with from Green Bay, so it’s great for all of us.”
Smith has never been part of a competition like this before, but there is one thing he’s certain of, and that’s that the team will go with the man that gives them the best chance to win.
“Every year, whether it’s stated or not, the best guy winds up playing,” Smith said. “If somebody’s doing better he moves up. They could move from three to two, or from two to one. If you’re doing poorly at one, you move to two. It’s inherent to the game. You’ve got to hold your position once you have it.”
Today we catch up with rookie defensive tackle Jaye Howard out of Florida, who was the second of the ‘Hawks two fourth-round draft choices in April.
Howard has seen snaps along the defensive line between the second and third units thus far in camp and his relationship with Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who coached the Seahawks defensive line in 2010, has helped with his transition to the NFL, and more specifically, his transition to Seattle’s defensive system.
“The speed of the game has changed a lot,” Howard said. “But I was able to go out with coach D-Q before I came back to training camp and work with him on my pass rush and my run stuffing. It’s definitely an advantage coming from a guy in college that had been in this system before.”
During individual defensive line drills today Howard’s speed was evident. He has quick feet and moves well for someone who is 6-3 and carries 301 pounds.
“I feel like I’m a great penetrator,” Howard said. “I can get up and get to the quarterback. I’m quicker than most of the guards that I face, so I just try to use that speed to my advantage.”
Howard tallied 11.0 sacks in college through 45 games and now it’s about upping his game to get to the quarterback at the NFL level, an area that defensive line coach Todd Wash and defensive line coaching intern Kenechi Udeze could be seen emphasizing in practice today with Howard.
“They brought me in to get to the quarterback and they’re going to keep working me in until I get there,” said Howard. “It’s just baby steps – they were teaching me how to open my hips better, the small fundamental things that I didn’t have in college they’re trying to tweak now.”
PLAYS DU JOUR
Offense: Wide receivers Golden Tate and Kris Durham stood out with a few nice grabs, but Tate’s catch up the right sideline on a deep ball from Wilson takes the cake as our play of the day. Tate elevated over safety Jeron Johnson and cornerback Byron Maxwell to make the grab in the end zone for the score. Jackson made a nice left-handed (he’s right-handed) flip toss to Tate in the end zone while scrambling away from pressure. Tate shined again on a jump ball from Flynn in the team’s red zone drill from five yards out, hauling it in and drawing a defensive pass interference flag from the referee. Running back Marshawn Lynch made a nice grab at the beginning of practice when the team focused on coming out of their own goal line. Lynch hauled in an off-target ball from Jackson in the flat, getting one hand on the football and twisting his body toward the sideline to secure it with both hands before falling to the ground and lunging forward to pick up the first down.
Defense: Safety Chris Maragos came untouched off the right side of the line for a sack of quarterback Matt Flynn in the end zone that resulted in a safety during one of the team’s goal line drills at the start of practice. Flynn had very little time to react on the play before he was met by the speedy Maragos. During the team’s red zone offense drill, cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a ball from Tarvaris Jackson that fell into the hands of Kam Chancellor for an interception in the end zone. Safety Earl Thomas picked off a Jackson pass on a deep ball over the middle end zone intended for wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei. Linebacker Heath Farwell intercepted a ball from Flynn over the middle of the field toward the end of practice.
IN ‘N OUT
Eleven players did not practice today, as wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, linebacker Allen Bradford, and tight end Kellen Winslow joined the eight players who did not practice yesterday – wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Antonio Bryant, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebackers Bobby Wagner, Matt McCoy, and Jameson Konz, offensive lineman James Carpenter, and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Carpenter and Thurmond remain on the physically unable to perform list.
The players have a walkthrough and meetings this afternoon and will practice tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. – a session that is slated to feature a “mock game” between the squads. Tomorrow’s practice is the last weekend practice scheduled for the entire camp.
After Sunday’s “mock game” the players will have a day off on Monday before beginning game-week preparations on Tuesday for their first preseason matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, August 11.
JOIN THE CROWD
Today’s practice attracted more than 2,500 fans – the most to date this camp. Head Coach Pete Carroll gestured up at the 2,500 faithful that blanketed the berm at VMAC to make some noise before the team’s agility bag drills at the start of practice, and the 12th Man responded with an overwhelming applause.
Six practices remain open to the public. You can register to attend a practice session here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Hard to block. That’s all I’ve got.” – Quarterbacks coach Carl Smith on playing against former Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today in Canton, Ohio.
A recap of the activities in the Seahawks’ OTA practice for May 24:
The quarterbacks. Pete Carroll wasn’t kidding when he said that incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent addition Matt Flynn and third-round draft choice Russell Wilson would compete for the starting job.
And the actions of the team’s third-year coach during the first week of the team’s OTA practices have spoken even louder than his word. Today, Wilson was first in the rotation. Wednesday, it was Flynn. Tuesday, it was Jackson.
“We’re rotating all the guys,” Carroll said. “To present really the competition as balanced as we can we need to see them with all the guys.”
Today marked Wilson’s most extensive stint with the No. 1 unit, and Carroll commended offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and QB coach Carl Smith for making sure the reps have been split equally and with a variety of units.
“If you had your starter going, he’d probably be taking two-to-one snaps over everybody else,” Carroll said. “So it’s not like that. It’s going to hold us back a bit, but we’re not worried about it at this time. We’ve got plenty of time.”
Carroll was asked again if his had a timetable for making a decision on a starter. Again he offered, “There really isn’t. I can’t do that. I wouldn’t know how to set a table right now. We’ve just got to keep going and just keep taking the information. I’m good about that. Like I said, I’m going to be more patient than you guys (reporters) and we’ll figure this thing out in time.”
That would make Carroll not a waiter, but a wait-or.
Bobby Wagner. The team’s second-round draft choice continues to work at middle linebacker with the No. 1 defense, and also is seeing time in the No. 1 nickel.
Today, he showed why by making an impressive read and an even more athletic move to intercept a Jackson pass over the middle.
Wagner’s play came in the same 7-on-7 drill where Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor jumped a Wilson pass to make an interception along the sideline.
Which play was better? “Wagner,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. “No, Kam. No, Wagner. You know what? They were both great plays.”
Marcus Trufant. The starting cornerback on the left side for most of his nine-season career with the Seahawks, Trufant continues to work as the nickel cornerback and today made a play to deflect a pass that showed he’s growing into his new role.
“He’s picking it up,” Carroll said. “He’s really working at it. There are a lot of nuances about this thing that he never had to pay attention to before, so he’s learning kind of like a first-timer. But he has so much savvy and ability we think that it could be a great spot for him.”
A back situation forced Trufant to go on injured reserve after four games last season, when rookie cornerback Richard Sherman stepped in and played well enough that he continues to be the starter on the left side.
WE’VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO
It was an OTA practice, and in May at that. But the intensity level was, well, intense throughout the one-hour, 45-minute session. When a defensive player made a play, all his teammates celebrated – those on the sideline as well as on the field. It was the same scenario when an offensive player made a big play.
“It was guys competing and battling and it gets heated,” Carroll said. “We’re asking these guys to work really hard and it really matters to them. They really care. They want to make their plays and their statements and I don’t blame them one bit.
“But there is a line that you can’t cross and that’s what we talked about afterward. We want to be able to take it as far as you can and then demonstrate the poise when you need to most and that’s going to happen in games throughout the season. It was a good message for us, a good opportunity for us that we’ll move forward from that. But it’s really exciting that the guys are working so hard at it and they care so much. This is a very high-spirited group and if you’re around them at all you’ll see it. There’s a youth that’s exciting, there’s a leadership that’s exciting and there’s something that we’re after here that they can all sense and it’s going to call for us to reach deep.”
As with everything that happens on the practice field, Carroll turned it into a teaching opportunity.
“So when emotions are high I understand that,” he said. “We just need to keep them in check at the right times and we need to learn how to deal with situations like that because our games are going to easily be as heated and hot and all of that. It’s good stuff for us.”
THIS ’N THAT
First-round draft choice Bruce Irvin has returned to West Virginia for a funeral and ceremony to honor former West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart. … Wide receiver Golden Tate also was missing because he injured his hand in Wednesday’s practice. … James Carpenter, last year’s first-round draft choice, did some jogging today – the next big step in his rehabilitation from the knee surgery that ended his rookie season. “Everybody was fired up for him,” Carroll said. “It was great to see him. He’s made a couple of big steps just recently, so that’s really encouraging.” … Among the impressive offensive plays was Flynn’s deep completion to wide receiver Deon Butler, who beat tight coverage from Sherman to make the catch. … Justin Helwege, a wide receiver from Central Washington University who had a tryout at the rookie minicamp, was signed today. To clear a spot on the 90-man roster, tackle Andrew Mitchell was released. … The players are off until Tuesday, and the next OTA practice is scheduled for Wednesday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It worked out for both sides. I’m going to miss my teammates out there – my boys. I’ve grown together a lot with those guys. But it’s the NFL. It’s hard. It’s good to have a job, you know. It’s good to have a job. So I’ll be OK.” – tight end Kellen Winslow on his trade from the Buccaneers to the Seahawks