Tuesday cyber surfing: NFC West rivalries; Post-Draft Grades

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Jan. 17, and was “out there” while we combined a few vacation days with the long weekend:

Dave Boling at the News Tribune looks at the budding rivalries in the NFC West, as the 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship Game: “Before the Seahawks were shifted from the AFC West to the NFC West in 2002, rivalries with Denver and the Oakland Raiders were historic – but had fallen from currency because Seattle had so rarely contended. The NFC West looked even less welcoming at the time, with St. Louis coming off two Super Bowl appearances in the previous three seasons, while San Francisco had a 12-4 record in 2001. But in the subsequent 10 seasons, the Seahawks dominated with five division titles and five seasons above .500. Remarkably, the other three divisional teams combined for just five plus-.500 seasons in that span. No wonder it’s taken time for rivalries to ripen. There was more guilt by association than bragging rights involved.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at how the 49ers’ defense has put a hurt on opposing running backs this season, and the accompanying chart shows just how impressive Marshawn Lynch’s 107-yard, one-TD effort against San Francisco in Week 16 really was: “(The Saints’ Pierre) Thomas became the seventh starting running back to leave a game against the 49ers after suffering an injury.”

Mel Kiper at ESPN.com has revisited his post-draft grades, and the Seahawks improved from a D-plus to a B-minus. There’s no link because it’s an “Insider” feature, but here’s what he had to say about the Seahawks: “In the grades file, I wrote: “By passing on Andy Dalton, the clear impression is that Seattle has other plans at quarterback. … I hope the Seahawks have better plans at quarterback than they did in terms of adding value here.” Look, Tarvaris Jackson could be the answer, but I don’t think anybody is ready to say he or she is 100 percent sold on that idea after a 7-9 season. And while James Carpenter became the starter on the right side, I just wasn’t in love with the value. He got injured after Week 9. John Moffitt also started but also was injured. So early on, I still see questions. However, the draft actually gains momentum from there. The emergence of No. 99 overall pick K.J. Wright was big, and allowed the Seahawks to move Aaron Curry to Oakland and recoup at least an ounce of value. In a loaded fifth round, Richard Sherman has emerged as a total steal and, along with former CFL star Brandon Browner and a pair of fantastic safeties, has made the Seattle secondary one of the best in the NFL in a really short period. It gets pretty quiet after that, mostly because I’m not allowed to factor in fabulous UFA signing Doug Baldwin. Regardless, a D-plus draft in terms of value got a lot better, although if Carpenter and Moffitt don’t become a solid right side, the Hawks have nothing to show for the early rounds. And the quarterback question is perhaps even bigger now, because there’s enough talent elsewhere to compete.”

 At Seahawks.com, we concluded our three-part series with the coordinators by taking looks at the special teams with Brian Schneider and the defense with Gus Bradley.

On the special teams: “The board does not lie. Just outside the main entrance to the Seahawks’ locker room hangs Brian Schneider’s impossible-to-miss performance board for his special teams units. Each week, the special teams coordinator grades his group in 12 categories, with a Seahawks logo being placed in the box if the goal has been achieved. For the just-completed 2011 season, the logos run from a high of 11 (three times) to a low of three. Is there a better indication of just how inconsistent Schneider’s units were? When they were good, as against the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and St. Louis Rams with those 11-logo performances, they were very good. But when they weren’t so good, as in the three-logo outing in the season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco and a four-logo game against the Cincinnati Bengals, well, the special teams’ efforts were not special enough to help the Seahawks win. ‘We really started off shaky,’ Schneider said. ‘We were young and then we had a bunch of injuries in those first couple games, so it just took us three or four games to find our rhythm. But we kept doing what we believe in and we kept talking about playing with 100 percent effort. So I was pleased with how we just kept fighting throughout the season.”

On the defense: “Where to begin with just how good the Seahawks defense was during the 2011 season? Where all the roads to improvement converged: At the unit’s No. 9 ranking in average yards allowed. The Seahawks last ranked among the Top 10 in the NFL in 1997, and had done it only five other times in franchise history (1984, 1990-92 and ’97). And, they did it with first-year starters at strong safety (Kam Chancellor), cornerback (Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman), strongside linebacker (K.J. Wright) and defensive tackle (Alan Branch); and second-year starters at free safety (Earl Thomas) and the ends (Chris Clemons and Red Bryant). That in itself is reason enough to believe the defense will only be better in 2012. ‘There are so many positive things to look toward when you think of how young this team was and how much natural jump occurred between Year One and Year Two for the first-year guys,’ coach Pete Carroll said.

There’s also a video report on Marcus Trufant’s visit to present an area elementary school with a check for $7,000.

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