Thursday cyber surfing: Seahawks hold keys to Seattle’s next sports superstar?

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 12.

At the Seattle Times, Jerry Brewer tells us Seattle is in dire need of a new sports superstar. Brewer points to years 1990-2010 as a time when Seattle experienced an unforgettable – and remarkable – run of sports superstars: Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Steve Emtman, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Walter Jones, Lou Piniella, George Karl and Mike Holmgren. As Seattle continues to search for it’s new sports identity, Brewer offered that the Seahawks have the potential to shape that mold, “With quality talent evaluators such as Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik and Seahawks GM John Schneider in town, you can already see the potential for a new generation of superstars. Seahawks safety Earl Thomas has a chance to be, at least, the best safety in the NFL. If [Marshawn] Lynch goes off, there’s a possibility he could be elite. [Felix] Hernandez is just 26, and with some help, it’s easy to see him taking that final step to becoming a superstar. Matt Flynn, who is expected to be the Seahawks’ starting quarterback this season, could become a star, but if rookie Russell Wilson eventually wins the job and performs at a star level, a small, 5-foot-11 quarterback would have a better chance of captivating a national audience.”

Also at the Seattle Times, Danny O’Neil continues to take a close look at the Seahawks wide receiver position, this time turning his attention to fourth-year pro Deon Butler. O’Neil admits that he has questioned whether or not Butler would land on the team’s 53-man rosters the past two seasons, as he notes Butler’s small stature in a system that favors bigger wide receivers, and points to a leg injury that landed Butler on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the 2011 season . In 2012, O’Neil still finds himself questioning Butler’s status among the wide receiver group, but if history is any indication for Butler, O’Neil gives him a good shot at making the squad, “Go ahead, crunch the numbers, but come Sept. 1, I think it would be very hard for Seattle to pick its 53 best players for the roster and not have Butler among that group. That’s not to say it’s impossible. He’s not a special-teams mainstay like veteran Ben Obomanu has been, and he hasn’t shown that uncanny knack as a slot receiver like [Doug] Baldwin did. He doesn’t have the height of [Sidney] Rice, [Kris] Durham or Mike Williams — all of whom stand 6-4 or taller. But Butler is in the conversation for the fastest receiver on the roster, and he has shown a professionalism and ability to bounce back from both adversity and injury. And the past two years have shown that for all the questions of whether he’ll be back, the guy listed as the smallest player on Seattle’s roster has some staying power”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth continues with his 2012 positional breakdown, as he takes a look at the Seahawks linebacking corps heading into the new season. Farnsworth speaks to the group’s healthy mix of youth and experience, “On a team that has been in a constant change since coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over 30 months ago, the linebacking crew has undergone one of the most major transformations under [Seahawks linebackers coach Ken] Norton. The last linebacker standing from the team’s glory days of winning the NFC Championship in 2005 is [Leroy] Hill, who continues to be the starter on the weakside. David Hawthorne took over in the middle for Lofa Tatupu in 2010, but with the team’s leading tackler the past three seasons now with the New Orleans Saints, Hawthorne will be replaced by either the youthful enthusiasm of [Bobby] Wagner or the productive experience of [Barrett] Ruud. On the strong side, [K.J.] Wright played so well as a rookie last season that the club traded former first-round draft choice Aaron Curry to the Oakland Raiders. … This seemingly mismatched collection of linebackers creates an interesting blend of skills and talents that should allow Carroll and coordinator Gus Bradley to play the way they want to, and need to – fast, physical, aggressive and smart – in matching the efforts of the Pro Bowl-laced secondary and line.”


Wednesday cyber surfing: Seahawks ‘building momentum’

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 9:

We’ve always liked Clark Judge – first as a fellow beat writer when he was covering the Chargers and 49ers; then as someone who shares the same birthday; and now as a friend. But we really like what he has to say about the Seahawks in his latest offering at CBSSports.com. Judge picks them as one of five teams that failed to make the playoffs last season that could advance to the postseason in 2012: “There are few teams building more momentum than Seattle, which quietly put together a defense that could rival San Francisco for intensity, ferocity and opportune play. OK, so the Seahawks lost linebacker David Hawthorne, their leading tackler the past three seasons. They acquired linebacker Barrett Ruud and defensive lineman Jason Jones, retained defensive lineman Red Bryant and added Bruce Irvin, a first-round pick who has a ton of issues but whom scouts describe as the best edge pass rusher in the draft. Seattle is chasing San Francisco in the NFC West, and the last time they met – late last season – they fell just short, losing by two points after quarterback Tarvaris Jackson fumbled with a little more than a minute left. Those Seahawks played great defense but didn’t have enough offense. These Seahawks think they fixed the problem with the acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn, and maybe they’re right. Flynn has only two NFL starts, but he was marvelous in both. I don’t know, but this looks like a carbon copy of the 49ers’ blueprint, a club that can hammer you with defense and put just enough points on the board – largely thanks to its running game. It worked for San Francisco. Why not here?”

John Clayton at ESPN.com has a photo gallery of his picks for the 10 draft choices that will have the biggest impact during their rookie season, and Irvin makes the cut at No. 6: “Maybe Irvin isn’t a starter and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll eventually will be criticized for drafting a backup at No. 15. But Irvin is probably the draft’s best pass-rusher and should put up double-digit sack numbers early in his career.”

Also at ESPN.com, Mike Sando offers his comments on Clayton’s Top-10 selections: “Irvin should benefit from the Seahawks’ very specific plans for him. The team got nine sacks in zero starts from Raheem Brock in 2010. Irvin will play a similar role and a similar percentage of the snaps, giving him a very good chance to eclipse Brock’s total – if he’s talented enough to produce those numbers. Brock played about 50 percent of the snaps for Seattle in each of the last two seasons.”

Marc Sessler at NFL.com also has an assessment of Irvin, and his selection in the first round: “The immediate prognosis was uncharitable: Pete Carroll and Co. officially reached on the pick. Sure, Irvin turned heads at West Virginia, but off-the-field issues soiled his allure as a rare pass-rushing talent. Ignored amid a flurry of melting tweeters and talking heads was the obvious: The Seahawks weren’t caught off-guard here. This wasn’t a case of general manager John Schneider lounging in the war room, picking a random name out of a hat, with cheerful piñatas dangling from the ceiling. The organization mined Irvin’s past and felt a connection to his story. Where draftniks pick him apart, Seattle saw a unique, moldable talent. ‘Look, he has had a rough background,’ Schneider told the National Football Post. ‘He was so desperate. He dropped out of school. He basically was living on the street. But he was able to pick himself up, get his GED, get into a junior college (Mount San Antonio College), then get a scholarship (with the Mountaineers).’ “

Don Banks at SI.com offers some positional battles to keep an eye on the offseason programs and minicamps continue. The Seahawks’ QB situation is included, of course, but with a twist – Tarvaris Jackson vs. Russell Wilson to be Matt Flynn’s backup: “My way of thinking, if the Seahawks were happy with what they got out Jackson as their starter for 14 games last season, they wouldn’t have signed Matt Flynn in free agency or drafted Wilson in the third round. So I’m not buying it’s a three-man quarterback competition in Seattle. It’s last year’s starter against this year’s rookie to see who earns the No. 2 job, behind Flynn. Jackson has seen this movie before, in Minnesota, and he knows the advantage always goes with the new option, because there’s no taint or stain of defeat on the quarterback who just walked through the door. The sense is that Pete Carroll and Co. are intrigued with Wilson’s skill set and will find ways to get him on the field, perhaps even using him in a Wildcat role. Jackson clearly enters with the edge in experience, and his knowledge of the offense should give him a healthy advantage. But if Wilson proves himself a quick study, don’t be surprised if he’s only relegated to the team’s No. 3 quarterback role for a little while this season.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune provides a roster analysis, including this assessment of the most-talked about spot – quarterback: “This position experienced an extreme makeover from last season, with Seattle adding what it hopes are significant upgrades in (Matt) Flynn and (Russell) Wilson to increase the overall performance from this position. My opinion is even though (Tarvaris) Jackson is in the final year of his contract, if he does not win the starting job the Seahawks likely will keep him. Seattle believes this team is on the cusp of a deep playoff run, and you can’t do that without having two veteran quarterbacks that can step in and win games for you. I think this will be mostly a learning year for Wilson. And don’t count out (Josh) Portis; the organization still likes him as a player and he’ll be given a chance to prove he can be a part of the equation moving forward.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a closer look at sixth-round pick Winston Guy, who could become the third safety in the big nickel defense: “With (Lawyer) Milloy finally retired after 15 NFL seasons and (Atari) Bigby joining the San Diego Chargers in free agency, someone had to fill the third safety spot. And the coaches think they’ve found just the safety. ‘All those things where we used Atari, this kid fills those roles very well,’ Carroll said just after the draft had been completed. ‘He’s a versatile player. They moved him around in the kind of fashion that we like moving our guys around. We’re very excited about him. He’s a very aggressive kid. He plays a lot like Atari.’ ”

We’ve got a look at the wide receivers from Tuesday’s offseason program workout: “But today, after another offseason program workout that was held in warm, sunny conditions and on the manicured outside practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, (Tarvaris) Jackson said he liked the team’s current group of wide receivers. It’s an eclectic mix that includes (Sidney) Rice and Mike Williams, the on-the-mend incumbent starters; Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie last season and has switched to his college number (89) so (Matt) Flynn could have No. 15; veteran Ben Obomanu, who GM John Schneider recently called “one of the more underrated receivers in the league”; and the promising quartet of Golden Tate, Deon Butler, Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham. ‘That’s what makes those guys work harder, because they know they’re unproven and they’re trying to prove themselves,’ Jackson said. ‘When you’ve got guys that are hungry like that, and willing to work, that makes things a lot better.’ ”


Jackson, Flynn throwing to ‘hungry, hard-working’ receivers

Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn, who are competing to be the Seahawks’ starting quarterback, have played with Pro Bowl wide receivers.

For Jackson, who was signed in free agency last year, it was while with the Vikings and he was throwing to Percy Harvin and also current teammate Sidney Rice. For Flynn, who was signed in free agency this year, it was while with the Packers and he was throwing to Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, have not had a Pro Bowl wide receiver since Brian Blades in 1989 – and Blades was only the second wide-out in franchise history to make it to Hawaii, joining seven-time selection Steve Largent.

A SHOW OF HANDS
The Seahawks have three wide receivers on their roster who have more than 80 career receptions and 1,000 career receiving yards in the NFL, but two were sideline spectators during Tuesday’s offseason program workout – Sidney Rice and Mike Williams, the incumbent starters. Here’s a look at each receiver’s career numbers:

Player Games No. Yards Avg. TD
Sidney Rice 57 178 2,613 14.7 20
Mike Williams 56 127 1,526 12.0 5
Ben Obomanu 58 83 1,151 13.9 7
Deon Butler 34 57 611 10.7 4
Golden Tate 27 56 609 10.9 3
Doug Baldwin 16 51 788 15.5 4
Kris Durham 3 3 30 10.0 0
Ricardo Lockette 2 2 105 52.5 1
Charly Martin 8 1 6 6.0 0
Raymond Webber 0 0 0 0.0 0

Rookies: Phil Bates, Jermaine Kearse, Lavasier Tuinei

But today, after another offseason program workout that was held in warm, sunny conditions and on the manicured outside practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Jackson said he liked the team’s current group of wide receivers. It’s an eclectic mix that includes Rice and Mike Williams, the on-the-mend incumbent starters; Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie last season and has switched to his college number (89) so Flynn could have No. 15; veteran Ben Obomanu, who GM John Schneider recently called “one of the more underrated receivers in the league”; and the promising quartet of Golden Tate, Deon Butler, Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham.

“That’s what makes those guys work harder, because they know they’re unproven and they’re trying to prove themselves,” Jackson said. “When you’ve got guys that are hungry like that, and willing to work, that makes things a lot better.”

In fact, Obomanu, Baldwin and Lockette were so hungry during the players’ extended break following the season that they traveled to Alabama to workout with Jackson.

“It’s like a friendly competition – every guy in the receiving corps wants the ball,” Jackson said. “So they see one guy working hard, and they don’t want to get outworked because they know it pays off in the end because quarterbacks really like that.

“As you get more familiar with the quarterback, you become a guy a quarterback can trust and that gets more balls thrown your way.”

Jackson already had that trust with Rice, who also was signed in free agency last year and caught 32 passes before shoulder injuries that required surgery and lingering concussion symptoms forced him to go on injured reserve after playing in only nine games. Jackson developed that trust with Baldwin, who led the team in receptions (51), receiving yards (788) and TD catches (four) after being signed as an undrafted free agent.

Flynn is in the process of building that trust factor after joining the team 7½ weeks ago.

But Jackson isn’t the only one who’s high on the Seahawks’ wide-outs that are either rehabbing or mostly unproven. The club passed on selecting a wide receiver in the draft, because the group was “pretty average,” as Schneider put it. Instead, the passing game will move forward with what Schneider calls “some really cool, young guys that are exciting and with different attributes.”

Added Schneider, “I like it because it’s a really unique group. You’ve got size. You’ve got instant separation. And you’ve got guys that can get down the field a little bit.”


Wednesday cyber surfing: Still talking about Irvin

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 2:

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has some additional thoughts on Bruce Irvin in the wake of the Seahawks selecting the pass rusher from West Virginia with the 15th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft: “The Seahawks envision Irvin as a situational pass-rusher for now and the eventual successor to Chris Clemons in the “Leo” role. Clemons was a 236-pound linebacker coming out of college. He had a 4.7-second time in the 40-yard dash, went undrafted as a junior and floundered in Philadelphia. The Seahawks acquired him with a specific role in mind. Clemons ranks eighth in the NFL with 22 sacks over the last two seasons, more than Julius Peppers, James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney, Trent Cole, Jason Pierre-Paul and others. Clemons now weighs 255 pounds and has become much stronger against the run. Irvin is Clemons’ height (6-foot-3) and weighs 245 pounds, but he is much faster, having run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. The plan would be for Irvin to grow into a bigger role, not to remain a situational player forever.”

Art Thiel at sportspress northwest recalls the scene in the media draft room when Irvin was selected, and also offers: “What is amusing is that most of the post-draft media analysis downgraded the Seahawks draft because Irvin was taken so high relative to the conventional wisdom. Yet it’s not as if there was documentary evidence that proves Irvin was not worth the purported value assigned the 15th pick. … (coach Pete) Carroll, who knows more about Irvin’s past anyone speculating on the draft, is betting a considerable portion of the Seahawks house that he can design a defensive role that maximizes Irvin’s biggest asset, speed, and minimizes his biggest liability, size. As to whether Irvin’s off-field actions turn him into the next Koren Robinson/Jerramy Stevens or the next Cortez Kennedy/Dave Brown, your guess is as good as anyone’s. And no one’s.”

Nick Eaton at PI.com passes along GM John Schneider’s comments on the Irvin selection from an interview with Dave Mahler on KJR: “In the NFL Draft last week, the Seahawks were clearly in the hunt for a quick and explosive defender. Their top three choices, according to General Manager John Schneider, were linebacker Luke Kuechly, safety Mark Barron and pass-rusher Bruce Irvin. Keuchly and Barron were on many draft analysts’ lists as top defensive picks. Irvin? Not so much. ‘They were, a little bit, standalone guys — not by a huge margin, but the three of them basically were up there all by themselves,’ Schneider said. “Obviously we felt strongly about Barron, we felt strongly about Kuechly as well, but we really wanted to address our pass rush. And it just fell to a spot where we said, maybe if we could move back a little bit, we could still acquire (Irvin). The only problem is, he was so quiet — people weren’t talking about him. And quite honestly that made me uncomfortable.’ ”

Also at ESPN.com, Sando provides a nice rundown on the Seahawks’ wide receiver situation while responding to the question about signing a veteran wide-out in his mailbag: “I’d stick with the current group. Drafting a receiver would have made sense if that receiver were a special player. There was no sense in drafting another receiver indistinguishable from the group. There would likewise be no advantage to signing a veteran stopgap in free agency. We might revisit that stance if Sidney Rice doesn’t rebound from the two shoulder surgeries he underwent this offseason. But with Rice back and the team also expecting more in the receiving game from tight end Zach Miller, I’d be inclined to give the younger players a shot. Golden Tate finished strong last season. He had no dropped passes. He has a chance to take a big step forward now that he’s been in the offense for a year. Doug Baldwin is already a good slot receiver and top option on third down. Ricardo Lockette flashed ability late last season and has a chance to become a dynamic threat down the field (two catches for 105 yards in the final two games last season). Kris Durham is back from injury and projects as a potential replacement for Mike Williams. He’s a big receiver. Ben Obomanu is still an option. Deon Butler will get another chance. I’d rather give snaps to some of the younger prospects than lean on a stopgap veteran unnecessarily.”

Peter King at SI.com lists Russell Wilson at No. 6 on his list of rookie quarterbacks who could have an impact this season: “How about GM John Schneider telling me Wilson was one of the three best players he scouted in 2011? That, plus the fact that neither Matt Flynn nor Tarvaris Jackson have a stranglehold on the starting job, tells me Wilson will have a fair chance to win the job at some point this season.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Brandon Browner, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season in his first NFL season: “A year ago, Brandon Browner’s NFL career included zero regular-season games played and two training-camp stints with the Denver Broncos. And that was in 2005 and 2006. After one season with the Seahawks, check this resume for the extra-large cornerback who had spent the previous four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL: Sixteen starts, with Browner and Marcus Trufant the only cornerbacks in the past five seasons to do that for the Seahawks; One Pro Bowl berth, making him the fourth corner in franchise history to play in the NFL all-star game – along with the late Dave Brown (1984), Shawn Springs (1998) and Trufant (2007); Five of his team-high six interceptions coming in the final six games, making him only the fifth player in franchise history to lead the team in his first season – along with Brown (1976), Autry Beamon (1977), Darryl Williams (1996) and Earl Thomas (2010); Two franchise records – one for the longest interception return, 94 yards for a touchdown that iced the Week 5 upset of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and broke a 33-year-old record; the other for most interception return yards in a season, 220 to break the record set by Brown in ‘84 (179); Two franchise records tied – one for returning two picks for scores, the other for intercepting a pass in four consecutive games. All this after signing a future contract last January and then winning the starting spot on the right side in training camp while Walter Thurmond was sidelined with a high ankle sprain. ‘It is absolutely remarkable what Brandon was able to accomplish last year,’ Kris Richard, a former cornerback for the Seahawks who now coaches the position, said while shaking his head. ‘From where he came, to where he was able to go in one season, it’s very good stuff.’ ”

Yesterday, it was the Top 30 players in NEXT year’s NFL Draft at NFL.com. Today, it’s a mock draft for 2013, complements of Andrew Perloff at SI.com. Here’s who he has the Seahawks selecting: “Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Barkley has been compared to Andrew Luck for staying at USC even though he could have been a high selection in 2012, but he may get picked apart in a way Luck did not. Some people wonder if Barkley is big enough, and how much his outstanding receivers and the system at USC help him look good. Trojans QBs have not done well in the NFL lately, but if anyone can overlook that it’s Pete Carroll.”

And just when you thought it was safe to resume surfing, there’s also a 2013 mock draft at FoxSports.com. But Peter Schrager has Barkley going No. 1 overall to the Raiders. So that leaves the Seahawks with … “Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas. Jackson’s father Jim Jeffcoat was a longtime NFL defensive lineman. Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet, but should have a big season in 2012. Matt Flynn plays well in his first full year as a starter, but the Seahawks fall short of the playoffs.”


Seahawks remember Joe

Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson and wide receiver Deon Butler are in Happy Valley, where former Penn State coach Joe Paterno is being remembered following his death on Sunday.

Robinson and Butler played for Paterno, and the Nittany Lions, and have said repeatedly what an impact their time at Penn State and with Paterno meant to their careers and lives. Former Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram also played for Paterno at Penn State.

And Robinson and Engram were included in the memories shared Tuesday by Paterno’s son, Jay.

“There’s Slot Left 62Z Post, Bobby Engram’s touchdown against Michigan, we won the game in ’94 out there,” Jay Paterno said.

“There’s a touchdown, Mike Robinson to Derrick Williams, Northwestern in ’05,” he added.

Ivan Maisel at ESPN.com was at the ceremony in University Park, Pa., and provides additional details here.


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Cyber surfing: Saturday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 31:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the improvement of the Seahawks defense in stopping big plays this season: “A year ago, the Seahawks allowed 76 plays of 20 yards or more, tied for second most in the NFL according to The Associated Press. This season, Seattle has given up just 45 such plays, tied for second fewest. That explains why the Seahawks have one of the most improved defenses in the league. But it will face a stiff test Sunday in Arizona. ‘They’ve had a lot of explosive plays,’ defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the Cardinals.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at Deon Butler, who is looking to make the most of his opportunities in the Seahawks’ season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday: “Because receivers Sidney Rice, Kris Durham and Mike Williams all landed on the season-ending injured reserve list, Butler has been one of five active receivers the past four games. And although he has only five catches for 40 yards, Butler has started the process of earning the trust of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson – something he hopes to build on through more offseason work. ‘Every game I feel like I’m just getting back to being myself,’ he said. ‘It was good for me to actually get a good hit in last week like that, so that was the next step. And just knowing that I feel like I’m fully back right now, and I feel comfortable out there.’ ”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald not only asks who made the better quarterback move this season – the Seahawks by signing Tarvaris Jackson or the Cardinals by trading for Kevin Kolb – he lets you vote: “If this were a game of high-stakes poker – and really, what is a bigger gamble than trying to identify that always elusive Quarterback Of The Future? – the Seahawks would be the player who bet the bare minimum. If they decide they don’t like their hand, they can fold. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are all in with Kolb.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Marshawn Lynch, whose images are threatening his identity, or so it seems: “Beast Mode. Skittles-back. Just who is this guy? Lynch paused from what he was doing the other day in the locker room, looked the questioner directly in the eyes and offered, ‘I know who I am. I’m very clear with that.’ After what Lynch has done in the team’s second-half surge, so does everyone else: The most productive running back the Seahawks have had since Shaun Alexander in 2005.”

We’ve also got a look at the final practice of the season in “Friday in Hawkville,” as well as a closer look at Sunday’s game in our “Matchup box.” There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap.

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his “Final Word” on the NFC West for the final weekend of the regular season, including this: “Battle of the backs. Frank Gore leads NFC West running backs with 1,202 yards even though his production has trailed off late in the season. Marshawn Lynch would have to outgain Gore by 85 yards to overtake him for most rushing yards in the division. That is unlikely, but Lynch has set a furious pace lately. He leads the NFL in rushing since Week 9, gaining 855 yards over that eight-game period. The Rams’ Steve Jackson ranks eighth in the league with 620 yards during that time. Arizona’s Beanie Wells is 15th (541 yards), one spot ahead of Gore (527). All four primary backs in the division have topped 1,000 yards.”

As for the rest of the league, there’s Peter King’s “Game Plan” at SI.com; and Clark Judge’s “Peek at the Week” at CBSSports.com, in which he makes the Seahawks his “upset pick of the week”: “This one not only is for second place in the NFC West; it’s for a .500 season, and given what these clubs endured this season, yes, that’s a big deal. It looks as if the Cards start John Skelton again, and the Seahawks try to ride Marshawn Lynch to the upset. I say they do it, not just because of Lynch but because their defense is playing superb football. The Cards’ defense is improved, too, but Seattle has too much for Skelton to pull another fourth-quarter comeback. Unlike Cincinnati’s Cedric Benson, Lynch won’t try to fumble away the game this time. Moreover, the Seahawks are vastly improved on the road, where they had trouble winning much of anything a year ago. They have won three there, including upsets of the Giants and Bears. No, they’re still not a great road team, but they’re better … and better than Arizona here.”


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Cyber surfing: Thursday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 22:

Duff McKagan offers his season’s greetings at ESPN.com and they include a playoff berth for the Seahawks: “Santa Claus, all I want for Christmas is for my Seahawks to win out, and everyone else to lose. Santa, our defense has been very, very good this year – and that has been enough for them to go 5-1 in their past six games. Santa, the big, bad NBA stole our basketball team from Seattle, and our MLB team is horrendous these days. All we want for Christmas is something positive sports-wise for our city. Can you put that somewhere under just one of our abundant supply of fir trees up here in the Northwest?”

Speaking of playoffs, Mike Sando at ESPN.com provides the “Dream scenario” this weekend for the still-playoff hopeful Seahawks: It all starts with the Seahawks beating the 49ers, of course, but they also need wins by the Bengals (over the Cardinals), Jets (over the Giants), Chargers (over the Lions), Cowboys (over the Eagles) and Bears (over the Packers).

Sando also has his weekly “Injury situations that matter” in the NFC West: “An ankle injury limited receiver Doug Baldwin in practice Wednesday. Having Baldwin ready is crucial now that Mike Williams has joined Sidney Rice on the Seahawks’ injured reserve list. Baldwin is the team’s best option on third down. The Seahawks figure to need their tight ends in protection against the 49ers’ formidable defensive front seven. Linebacker David Hawthorne’s full participation in practice despite a knee injury comes as a positive sign. The team has been resting Hawthorne during the week recently. Getting Hawthorne healthier is important because the team’s depth at linebacker has run low in recent weeks. The 49ers favor heavier personnel groupings, so a full contingent of linebackers would have greater value this week than in some others.”

And speaking of injuries, Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the offensive line that has continued to get it done despite playing without three injured starters: “The injuries have been so widespread that it’s been tough to keep track — even for the guys on the field. During Seattle’s Monday victory over St. Louis, left guard Robert Gallery left with a hip injury in the fourth quarter. It was only when Lynch got a second look at his 16-yard touchdown run late in the game that he realized Gallery had been replaced by rookie Jarriel King. ‘I didn’t know until I looked up at the replay,’ Lynch said. The Seahawks have been so successful plugging in players like Breno Giacomini at right tackle and Paul McQuistan at both guard spots and now at left tackle that some wonder if the starters were overrated.”

And speaking of Lynch, Eric Williams at the News Tribune says that the “Beast Mode” back has become the face of the franchise: “Someone had to fill the void left by the departure of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. And although he has been with the Seattle Seahawks a mere 14 months, in that relatively short time Marshawn Lynch’s pile-driving, relentlessly churning legs have helped personify this franchise’s identity. Just ask his coach. ‘He’s been the face of the program here,’ Pete Carroll said. ‘In terms of setting the tempo and the attitude, the philosophy that he brings, the competitiveness that he stands for in his play that you can’t help but see by the way he brings it, are all exemplary and emblematic of what we’d like to be. So, he’s had a big play in this.’ ”

Len Pasquarelli at CBSSports.com looks at head-coaching candidates from the league’s assistant coaches, and includes Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: “Former college quarterback (Wisconsin) worked closely with Brett Favre in Green Bay (2000-2005), and has drawn praise from the future Hall of Fame passer. Was coordinator in Minnesota for five seasons under Brad Childress before moving to the Seahawks this season. Seattle ranks only 28th offensively, but Bevell has done a nice job with modest talent, and with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. At 41, he is in his 12th NFL season.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at Tarvaris Jackson’s impressive numbers from the second halves of the three-game winning streak: “Jackson’s passer rating in those games is 104.5, as he has completed 67 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second half, however, that rating balloons to 130.6, because he has completed 76 percent of his passes and had those three TD passes. ‘There are so many things that go into the position, other than how many yards you throw for or how many touchdown passes you have or touchdowns-to-interceptions – people usually go to that statistic line,’ 49ers coach and former NFL QB Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. ‘But he’s a threat to run. He buys time. Makes throws; strong, accurate thrower. Plays with a lot of poise. You don’t win that many football games without the quarterback playing well, and doing things that don’t always show up on the statistical sheet.’ ”

We also take a look at Paul McQuistan and how valuable his versatility has turned out to be in “Wednesday in Hawkville.” Tony Ventrella has his video recap, as well as his “Seahawks Insider” that this week features Deon Butler.

John Boyle at the Everett Herald also looks at Jackson’s impact over the past three games: “The Seahawks hope to beat the 49ers this weekend by running the ball down their throats. In reality, however, beating San Francisco will likely require a strong performance from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. The 49ers lead the league in run defense both in terms of yards allowed per game and per carry. To move the ball, the Seahawks will either have to do something almost no other team has done this season, or turn to Jackson to provide an offense spark. The good news for the Seahawks is that calling on Jackson to make plays may not be such a bad idea. Not the way he has played of late.”

Lisa Altobelli at NFL.com takes a look at Marcus Trufant’s annual bowling tournament to raise funds for his foundation: “Seattle has been known for many things over the years. There’s great coffee, great fish throwing, a great grunge scene back in the day… but great bowling? ‘People are into it here,’ said Marcus Trufant, who holds an annual Bowling Classic fundraiser. ’Anyone can do it, everyone likes it, and the weather isn’t a factor. It’s a big deal to me.’ We’ll have to take Trufant’s word for it, but he would know. Currently in his ninth season with the Seahawks, Trufant is also an area native, having grown up just south of Seattle in Tacoma.”


Cyber surfing: Wednesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 21:

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at the Cable effect on the Seahawks’ improved running game in the second half of the season: “(Tom) Cable also played a major role in increasing Marshawn Lynch’s effectiveness. The former California running back was well aware of the success Cable-led offenses have had running the ball. During Cable’s five years working with offensive lines in Atlanta and Oakland, his offenses finished out of the top 10 in rushing only once. ‘Their whole life they’ve just been given the ball and then go do their thing,’ Cable said about his conversation with Lynch. ‘And we all joke about it – they’re extreme that way. But he was more than willing to say, ‘Teach me. I’ll do it the way you need it, and just don’t let me off the hook if I don’t do it right.’ So big props if you will to him, to have that kind of integrity, discipline and desire to want to be great at it.’ ”

Also at the News Tribune, Dave Boling looks at Saturday’s game against the 49ers and how it could be a prelude to many more pivotal matchups between young and improving teams: “Don’t let anybody kid you, this has turned into a rivalry between two young teams on the rise, coached by a pair of very competitive men. This is not just another game. ‘They have clinched (the division) this year, and there’s nothing we can do about that now because we dug ourselves a big hole at the beginning,’ said Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill. ‘Our playoff hopes are still alive, so we’ve still got a lot to play for. (And) beating these guys would let them know we’re definitely still here. That would be a big statement.’ ”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times also looks at the heightened rivalry between the Seahawks and 49ers: “Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field is a chance for the 7-7 Seahawks to not only show how far they’ve come since that game, but how far they can go. ‘For us to continue to take the steps we want to as an organization and as a team,’ fullback Michael Robinson said, ‘we’ve got to start winning games like this. We’ve come from hoping to win to now expecting to win. And if we expect to be the team that we all want to grow into, we have to win games like this game.’ “

John Boyle at the Everett Herald looks at the Seahawks’ receivers now that Mike Williams has joined Sidney Rice on injured reserve: “Ben Obomanu, who will step into the starting lineup along with Golden Tate, has started five games this year and was a starter for six games last season. Tate, who struggled to get on the field as a rookie, has shown considerable potential this season and has started three games since Rice’s season ended. Deon Butler, who is coming back from a broken leg that kept him out of the first nine games this season, started eight games last year. Throw rookie Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s surprise leading receiver, into the mix and the Seahawks still feel good about their receiver group.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown scoring streak as the Seahawks’ Skittles-back prepares to test the 49ers’ streak of not allowing a rushing touchdown this season: “Lynch owns the NFL’s highest touchdown percentage on 2011 rushing attempts inside opponents’ 3-yard lines (minimum five attempts), according to ESPN Stats & Information. 49ers fans know where this one is headed. Their team’s defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown in its last 15 games, matching the 1985-86 Bears for the longest streak since at least 1970.”

Sando also has his weekly NFC West “Stock Watch,” and among his “risers” is Tarvaris Jackson: “Jackson completed 15 of 19 passes after halftime to help the Seahawks turn a 14-7 deficit into a 38-14 victory at Soldier Field. Jackson has three touchdowns with no interceptions over Seattle’s past three games. The Seahawks are 3-0 in those games and have reached 7-7 thanks largely to Jackson’s improved play. Seattle now has every reason to bring back Jackson as its starter heading into next season. The plan would still remain for the Seahawks to draft or otherwise acquire a younger quarterback to begin developing in 2012. On a side note, lots of other Seahawks deserved consideration in this spot, from Red Bryant, to K.J. Wright to Brandon Browner and others.”

Here at Seahawks.com, well, you might want to get another cup of coffee, because we’ve got the definitive behind-the-scenes look at Sunday’s big win over the Bears with Rod Mar’s photo blog and Ben Malcolmson’s “From the Sidelines”: “Considering all the Seahawks have gone through this season, could there have been a more appropriate way for Sunday’s game to unfold? Down 14-7 and downtrodden mentally, the Seahawks entered the locker room at halftime only to come out flying, outscoring the Bears 31-0 en route to a 38-14 obliteration at Soldier Field. Satisfying? Very much so. Symbolic? Even more so. Like Sunday’s game, the Seahawks entered the halfway point of the 2011 season at a low, crawling to a 2-6 record before the results turned. And like Sunday’s game, Seattle has emerged on fire in the second half, winning five of their last six and remaining in the playoff conversation into Week 16. It’s highly unlikely anyone outside of the head coach’s corner office at Virginia Mason Athletic Center thought that could’ve even been a possibility. But here they are at 7-7 and one of the hottest teams in the NFL, culling wins and momentum that could potentially result in great things this season but will undoubtedly equate to great things in the future.”

There’s also a look at “Thunder and Lightning,” the big-play safety tandem of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas: “The hope when the Seahawks selected Thomas with the 14th pick in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft and then grabbed Chancellor with the second pick in the fifth round was that they would mesh their explosive talents just as they did on those two bang-bang plays. Asked about it, Chancellor broke into a large smile and offered, ‘ ‘Thunder and Lightning.’ We’re a tag team back there.’ The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Chancellor is obviously ‘Thunder.’ Thomas, who has run 40 yards in 4.37 seconds, is just as obviously ‘Lightning.’ Together, they form a formidable storm front in the Seahawks’ secondary.”

And there’s still more: a look at Ben Obomanu as the “Focus on” in “Tuesday in Hawkville”; a look at this week’s opponent, the 49ers, in “Up next”; and Tony Ventrella’s video recap.


On this date

A look at the memorable – and not-so-memorable – moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 12:

1976: The Seahawks close their inaugural season with a 27-10 loss to the Eagles at the Kingdome that leaves them 2-12, which will be the worst record in franchise history until the 1992 team goes 2-14. Steve Largent catches seven passes for 98 yards and the Seahawks’ only touchdown.

1982: Jim Zorn runs for one touchdown and passes for another, while Steve Largent catches eight passes for 111 yards, in a 20-14 victory over the Bears at the Kingdome.

1993: The Raiders take a 27-9 lead in Los Angeles and then hold on for a four-point victory as Rick Mirer runs for one touchdown and passes for another in the final 6½ minutes.

1999: The Seahawks take their first lead of the game on a Jon Kinta to Derrick Mayes touchdown pass in the third quarter, but John Carney kicks two fourth-quarter field goals to give the Chargers a 19-16 victory at the Kingdome. The loss is the third in a four-game losing streak that follows the Seahawks’ 8-2 start in their first season under Mike Holmgren.

2004: Josh Brown kicks field goals in the third and fourth quarters to give the Seahawks a 27-23 victory over the Vikings in Minnesota. Rashad Moore recovered a fumble at the Vikings’ 26-yard line to set up Brown’s fourth quarter field goal and Michael Boulware then intercepts a Randy Moss pass in the end zone to ice the win. Before the late heroics by the defense, Matt Hasselbeck passes for three touchdowns, Darrell Jackson catches 10 passes for 135 yards and Shaun Alexander runs for 112 yards.

2010: Deon Butler catches a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, but also has his leg broken so severely on the play that he needs surgery, in a 40-21 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco. Matt Hasselbeck passes for two touchdowns, but also throws four interceptions.


Cyber surfing: Thursday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Nov. 10:

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. has his Midseason Top 50 at ESPN.com, and look who checks in at No. 37: Chris Clemons. Perhaps all our shouting about just how well Clemons is playing has worked; someone has noticed what the Seahawks’ “Leo” defensive end is doing. Says Williamson: “Some of you might not know about Clemons, but he is a terrific player. He has had a huge impact since joining the Seahawks, but few get to see it on a regular basis across the country.”

The Seahawks safety tandem of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas and center Max Unger did not make Williamson’s list of Top Rising Stars, but they did warrant mention in “others of note.”

Also at ESPN.com, Mike Sando examines the Seahawks quarterback situation in his weekly LuckWatch, starting with the offseason signing of Tarvaris Jackson: “The move told us the Seahawks were serious about drafting a quarterback in 2012, whether it’s Andrew Luck or another prospect likely to be chosen early. Saying so outright would have sent the wrong message to fans and the current team, of course, but a $4 million bet on Jackson wasn’t much of a bet at all.”

Sando also has his Midseason MVPs for each of the teams in the NFC West, and a certain defensive end is the selection for the Seahawks: “This was a tough call because free safety Earl Thomas carries quite a bit of value, too. Clemons stands as the best pass-rusher on a team that needs more of them. His toughness in playing well through injuries has commanded respect from teammates. Clemons remains on pace for his second consecutive season with double-digit sacks. Michael Sinclair was the last Seahawks player with at least 10 sacks in consecutive seasons. He accomplished the feat back in 1997-98. Jacob Green did it twice in the 1980s.”   

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks’ slow-starting offense as the team heads into the second half of its season: “The Seahawks have scored fewer than 20 points six times, have yet to hold a halftime lead, and in the past three games Seattle has more penalties (29) than points (28). Looking for a bright side? Well, you’re going to have to wait for it. ‘We’re coming around,’ coach Pete Carroll said, ‘and we can see it. The change is happening right before our eyes. So we just have to demonstrate a patience in the sense, in an impatient world, that allows us to make the right decisions and stick with the stuff that we’re doing.’ “

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at left guard Robert Gallery, one member of that slow-starting offense: “I’m definitely not where I want to be,” Gallery said. “But that’s football. Every week you’re going to have something that you need to get better at. Obviously, I’d like to be winning more games, as everybody would. And there’s a ton of areas to improve. I’ve got a couple games under my belt after the injury. And obviously you can always play better. You’re never going to be playing great. You can’t have penalties and those sorts of things. I’m not where I want to be. But that’s the NFL, and you have to come back the next week and do the things you know you can do.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald looks tight end Zach Miller, another member of that slow-starting offense: “Miller is the Seahawks best pass-catching tight end, but he also happens to be their best blocking tight end. That often has meant a more active role in the passing game for backup Anthony McCoy than for Miller, but despite having no catches in two of his past three games, Miller won’t complain about his lack of catches.”

Dave Boling at the New Tribune looks at the other side of the ball, and two players who are difficult to miss because of their size at a position where it’s valued, cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman: “Sherman is a rookie, and Browner is essentially an NFL rookie, so mistakes and miscues can be expected. But Sherman has been responsible for three opponent turnovers in the past two games, and Browner set a franchise record with a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win over the New York Giants.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at Marshawn Lynch, and someone else who also has noticed his “violent” running style: “Marshawn Lynch has a big fan in Baltimore. Turns out, it’s John Harbaugh. The Ravens’ coach was asked Wednesday about this week’s game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field and his effusive praise for Lynch went beyond the usual platitudes served up by opposing coaches.”

We’ve also got a look at Wednesday’s practice, including the return of wide receiver Deon Butler to the 53-man roster, in words, pictures and video.

It’s worth another trip to ESPN.com to get John Clayton’s midseason grades for all 32 teams. The “Professor” is not too kind to the Seahawks, but they did get the second-best grade in the NFC West.