Wide receiver Brett Swain was signed to a two-year contract by the Seahawks today after going through a tryout with the team.
Swain, 27, entered the league in 2008, when the Packers drafted the San Diego State wide-out in the seventh round. He caught six passes for the Packers in 2010. Swain also played with the 49ers in 2011, catching two passes, but he was released during last August’s roster cut to 53 players.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Swain joins a receiving corps with the Seahawks that already includes Sidney Rice, who led the team last year with 50 receptions; Percy Harvin, who was acquired last month in a trade with the Vikings; Golden Tate, who caught 45 passes last season while starting opposite Rice; and Doug Baldwin, the team’s leading receiver in 2011.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin comes at us with a family edition of “The Fresh Files” this week after his Easter holiday weekend travels back to his hometown of Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Baldwin pays a visit to S.L. Jones Christian Academy – a nonprofit school in nearby Pensacola, Florida that provides education to inner-city youth.
Some of the school’s funding failed to come through and as a result several of the school’s computer resources were taken away. Baldwin takes matters into his own hands and delivers six computers to the school himself, on what the school had dubbed, “Doug Baldwin Day.”
“God blessed me with an opportunity to play football,” Baldwin said to the students of S.L. Jones Christian Academy. “But that’s not what I’m here about. They asked me to wear my jersey – I’m not going to wear my jersey because it’s not about football, it’s about you all sitting in these chairs.
“Whatever you want to be in life – football, be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a policeman, anything. Whatever you want to be, you can’t do it without education.”
Russell Wilson was in a corporate meeting at Virginia Mason Athletic Center last week, but John Schneider felt compelled to interrupt the session. And who could blame him? The Seahawks had just completed a trade to acquire Percy Harvin and the team’s general manager figured the team’s quarterback should be among the first to know.
“John Schneider knocks on the window and pulls me aside,” Wilson recalled today during a promotional event for the Verizon Wireless “Save it Seattle: Pledge to Stop Texting & Driving” program. “He said, ‘Hey, come in. I need to talk to you real quick.’ He tells me we added Percy Harvin to the football team.”
That’s Percy Harvin the versatile and productive receiver/returner/runner from the Vikings who fills several needs for a Seahawks offense that only got better as last season progressed with Wilson as the rookie QB.
Wilson’s reaction? As understandable as it was predictable.
“He’s a guy that’s very, very competitive. A guy who’s been one of the top receivers in the National Football League. He’s very, very explosive. He’s a great kick returner. He’s going to help our football team,” Wilson said.
Wilson looks at Harvin as a complement to the receivers already on the roster who can enhance what Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin bring to the passing game.
“It’s so exciting to see what we have on the table,” Wilson said. “I know that feeling of losing last year (to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs), and it doesn’t feel good. So we have to do whatever it takes to win. And I definitely believe our football team is mentally and physically ready, and spiritually as well.
“It’s a battle and we can’t wait to get out there and add Percy and the rest of the guys that we have added as well.”
That would be Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, the defensive linemen who were signed in free agency last week – after Harvin was acquired in the trade.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin returns with yet another episode of “The Fresh Files“, this time from his hometown of Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Baldwin takes some time to answer a few questions from his fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter, talks about his faith, outlines his goals heading into the 2013 season, and in the spirit of NCAA March Madness, gets into some one-on-one hoops action with his little brother.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin is back with this week’s episode of “The Fresh Files“, this time coming at you from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Baldwin has teamed up to train with fellow Cardinal alum in wide receiver Griff Whalen, tight end Coby Fleener, and quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, defensive back Johnson Bademosi of the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Chris Owusu of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jonathan “Moose” Martin of the Miami Dolphins, as well as quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson of the Minnesota Vikings.
“They work hard, they work their butt off,” the Vikings’ Bethel-Thompson said of the wide receivers training with him out on “The Farm.” “We’re running here in the hot heat at 3 p.m. and they’re getting up to 100 routes per day. We’re putting in good work, and hard work pays off.”
Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson isn’t the only one who knows his way around a video camera.
Perhaps influenced by Robinson’s accomplishments on The Real Rob Report, wide receiver Doug Baldwin has also taken to the art of video production in his spare time this offseason, generating short video blogs he dubs The Fresh Files – a complement to his Twitter display name: Dbfresh.
Like The Real Rob Report, The Fresh Files is made by the player and for the fans, as Baldwin takes requests and comments from his newly-created Facebook page into account when creating his videos. In his most recent video (featured above) Baldwin took the time to answer fan-generated questions that users submitted to his Facebook page, including “How are you and the wide receiver core looking to improve in 2013?”, “Have you ever asked another player for an autograph?”, and “Do you take a break during the offseason, or do you continue to train?”
And although he’s just 24-years-old and heading into his third season, Baldwin has life after football in mind with his latest endeavor.
“My intention is just to diversify my resume,” Baldwin said of The Fresh Files. “I wouldn’t mind doing some analysis after football, so I’m just setting it up that way.”
The Stanford alum and Seahawks’ 2011 leading receiver says he has hopes of running The Fresh Files on a weekly basis throughout the offseason, so be sure to stay socially connected to Baldwin and keep an eye on this blog for the latest from No. 89.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today – “Seahawks Blue Friday” – January 11.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks general manager John Schneider, “As much as coach Pete Carroll has molded this team on the field, Schneider is the one responsible for picking out the raw materials, whether it’s finding a top-shelf pass rusher like Chris Clemons on the nether regions of another team’s roster or picking a potential franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson in the third round. It’s Schneider who reports to owner Paul Allen when 2010 fourth-round pick E.J. Wilson doesn’t work out and Schneider and the scouts who have steered the Seahawks to starter after starter in the draft. ‘I owe so much to John Schneider and what he’s done,’ Carroll said last week. ‘He’s been extraordinary in supporting me, and allowing me to do the things that I want to do and how we want to do it with players that complement it in always a competitive, active approach to what everyone is doing.’ ”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has a look at Russell Wilson’s competitiveness as a lead blocker, “Sometimes Wilson blocking for the Seahawks has made good sense tactically, Carroll added. Coming off a read option, the quarterback is often in a “crucial spot” during the play to make a difference. Part of it, also, is Wilson’s competitiveness. ‘Every play for him, he plays it to the end,’ said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The key? Just use your head. ‘Which I don’t have to remind him,’ Carroll said. ‘He knows. He really does have a sense for it and he’s not going to bloody his nose laying somebody out. He’s going to try and make a block though and make a difference.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Seahawks will look to improve in the red zone this week against the Falcons, “During the regular season, the Seahawks were No. 2 in red-zone efficiency (second to only Houston), finishing 51 of 54 inside the 20-yard line (94.4), including 31 touchdowns and 20 field goals. The Seahawks were one of two NFL teams not to commit a turnover in that span. However, things changed in Seattle’s first playoff game at Washington. The Seahawks finished 1 of 6 inside Washington’s 20-yard line, settling for three Steven Hauschka field goals. Marshawn Lynch also lost a fumble near Washington’s goal line, and Wilson almost threw an interception on a pass intended for Doug Baldwin. ‘We believe it’s critical every week and we didn’t do a good enough job last week in the red zone,’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘We got down there a lot, but we weren’t able to convert them into touchdowns. That’s a focal point each and every week. We need to focus that we’re turning those into seven points, which really helps our defense. If we can get teams behind, obviously any team’s defense is going to be able to play better when they’re in the lead. So we need to keep working there.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald previews the matchup between Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, “Football, perhaps more than any sport, can come down to a chess match between coaches; to one team exploiting another team’s weakness; to neutralizing another team’s strength. But sometimes, football at its best is a one-on-one battle where the outcome of a play, or maybe even a game, comes down to which player does his job better at a given moment. And if ever there was potential for some exciting mano-a-mano matchups, it would be in Sunday’s playoff matchup between Atlanta and Seattle when two of the NFL’s biggest, most-physical corners line up across from two of the league’s most productive receivers, who aren’t exactly known for shying away from physical play. ‘What a matchup this week is, wow,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio. Those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch, and our guys are going to try and play really good football — just like we always do — and not change anything. They’re so good, so it’s going to be an interesting aspect of this game.’ ”
Boyle also passes along Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and Falcons, noting running back Marshawn Lynch sat out practice again with a foot injury, “For the second day in a row, the Seahawks practiced without running back Marshawn Lynch, who is listed with a foot injury. Pete Carroll did not mention Lynch when asked Wednesday about injuries from Sunday’s game, so there’s a good chance the injury is not serious, but we should know a lot more Friday.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing for 710Sports.com, asks which team would you rather be right now, the Seahawks or Falcons? “Which team would you rather be? The Falcons are 13-3 but lost twice in December and haven’t won a game since Dec. 22. They lost their last game of the year at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team they tried to beat by leaving their starters in for most of the game. Atlanta’s high-powered offense managed just 278 yards and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter that day. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have put together one of the most impressive runs not only in franchise history, but NFL history. They outscored opponents 193-60 in December and, unlike the Falcons, put up some impressive numbers during that stretch.”
Brock Huard of 710Sports.com passes along his latest “Chalk Talk“, breaking down Marshawn Lynch’s 27-yard touchdown run in last Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights the matchup between the Seahawks corners and Falcons wideouts, “Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game between Seattle and Atlanta will feature a fascinating matchup between Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and the Falcons’ receiving duo of White and Jones. It’s the big, physical cornerbacks of the Seahawks, who because of their skills allow Seattle’s defense to be unique, against the big, physical and fast star receivers of the Falcons who make the offense go. ‘I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don’t need to change anything because we’re not doing anything different, we’re going to try and hang with them, and we’ll find out what happens,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it’s going to be really exciting to see.’ ”
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” to talk about the divisional round game between the Seahawks and Falcons, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday, “WR Julio Jones, WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez present some potential match-up problems for Seattle. Only the group of WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten seem to rival the group threat presented by the Falcons. But don’t expect the Seahawks to change how they do things defensively. Seattle has made their way by playing physical press coverage on the outsides with a speedy S Earl Thomas to cover the deep middle of the field. They intend to run their defense the same way they have all season. ‘We have to stay to our principles,’ CB Richard Sherman said. ‘They have a really intricate offense and they use their players well. They know exactly how to use everyone and get the most our of them but going away from yourself in the playoffs, you’re shooting yourself in the head. This is what got us here. We have to play our style. That’s what got us here and you live by your style, you die by your style. That’s what we’re going to do.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his predictions for the playoff games this weekend, “Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Atlanta was going to be my pick here once the Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a season-ending knee injury. Seattle is traveling across the country in consecutive weeks. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks also drew the dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The Seahawks are the more well-rounded team, however. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are a tough combination to beat right now. Count me in for an all-NFC West championship game, but hedge your bets. It could be wishful thinking unless Wilson and the passing game are sharper this week. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20.”
Sando also questions the strength of the Seahawks defense if the game is close late in the fourth quarter, “Those following Seattle all season know the details. Others should consider the following while analyzing a defense that nonetheless led the NFL in points allowed for 2012:
- The Detroit Lions converted three times on third down against Seattle during their drive to the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in Week 8.
- The St. Louis Rams converted on third-and-10 and third-and-13 against Seattle while driving to a fourth-quarter field goal during a 19-13 victory in Week 4.
- The Miami Dolphins completed an 18-yard pass on third-and-7 during their drive to the tying fourth-quarter touchdown against Seattle before prevailing on a last-second field goal in Week 12.
I’ve singled out late-game collapses on third-down in these road games. Seattle was arguably a defensive stop away from winning at least two of those games.”
Peter King of SI.com has his playoff picks in, and he picks the Seahawks to top the Falcons, 17-13, “Most significant NFL Wednesday injury report line: ‘ATL – DE John Abraham (ankle), limited.’ He’d better not be limited Sunday, two weeks after what looked to be worse than the apparently nasty ankle sprain Abraham suffered in the last game of the season. Not quite sure why, with Seattle missing its best pass rusher (Chris Clemons, torn ACL on the FedEx cow pasture last week) and Abraham likely not at full health, I pick only 30 points to be scored here. I think both secondaries will play stout and smart, and the physicality of the Seattle back four (or five, or six) will have a big impact on the game.”
And in the spirit of “Seahawks Blue Friday”, we leave you with a Seahawks rally that took place yesterday at King St. Bar & Oven in downtown Seattle:
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 10.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times rehashes defensive end Bruce Irvin’s path to the NFL – a path that has led him into the starting lineup this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, “Irvin didn’t start this season, but was more than a backup. He was a situational pass-rusher on the field for about half of Seattle’s defensive snaps. He had eight sacks this season, more than any other rookie in the NFL. Sunday in Washington, after Clemons was injured, Irvin had a sack of quarterback Robert Griffin III that demonstrated just how fast Irvin is. ‘It’s his great asset,’ Carroll said. That quickness has carried him all the way to the NFL. And now, 10 years after he was headed toward a dead end in Georgia, Irvin is returning to the town where he grew up — for the first starting assignment in a career that is just beginning. ‘He can be a double-digit sack guy for a long time once he gets going,’ Carroll said.”
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that for everything Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has accomplished in four seasons in the NFL, he has still yet to win a game in the playoffs, “This year, Ryan has received MVP chatter for leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC. His coach, Mike Smith, said Wednesday that ‘individually, it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look for in a quarterback.’ Except one, and therein lies the paradox. In three playoff games over the previous four seasons, Ryan has yet to produce a victory. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in all three of those games, and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). His playoff QB rating of 71.2 pales in comparison to his regular-season mark of 90.9. It’s getting dangerously close to being a legacy-killer for the quarterback selected third overall out of Boston College in the 2008 draft (15 spots ahead of Joe Flacco, who already has six playoff wins with the Ravens). But rectify that omission to his resume, and Ryan will be celebrated both as the man who led the Falcons out of the wilderness of a 4-12 record the season before he arrived, and the one who can take them to the next level.”
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says head coach Pete Carroll’s decision making as a head coach has improved, “It’s not that the coach is arrogant. He often gambles within games because he’s too hopeful. Carroll is the ultimate optimist. And during his USC tenure, that optimism often resulted in dramatic success. ‘I got going for nine years straight of going for it every single chance you get — forever,’ Carroll said. But he is learning that, in the NFL, being conservative is both a virtue and a life-saver. ‘I think we’ve cleaned things up,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a good formula for doing it. It’s interesting: It hasn’t come up as much. We haven’t had that many dramatic opportunities to go for it or not.” You get the feeling that, if the Seahawks advance far enough in the playoffs, Carroll will have to make some tough choices under great scrutiny. Will he continue to play it safe? Or will the riverboat gambler in him sneak out?”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times checks in with newly-signed kicker Ryan Longwell, “Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Atlanta. ‘It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching,’ he said. Changing kickers at this point of the season is “a big deal to us,” coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell’s experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday’s workout. ‘When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,’ Carroll said.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the signing of defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, “The 33-year-old Chukwurah, who most recently played two seasons in the UFL before that league folded, hasn’t played organized football of any sorts for more than a year. Yet he was impressive enough in a tryout Tuesday that the Seahawks signed him over other better-known defensive ends, a result that even he had a hard time believing. ‘Honestly, no,’ Chukwurah said when asked if he still thought an NFL comeback was realistic. ‘I was really set on moving on and starting the next chapter, so it’s definitely a blessing.’ ”
Boyle also writes that the Seahawks are not letting the playoff pressure get to them, “Any player you ask will tell you a Super Bowl title is the team’s goal. But it has been clear the last two weeks that this young team, which has gotten better faster than most expected, isn’t tensing up now as the stakes become higher. ‘This team is in a real good place,’ said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant. ‘It’s good for us that we can focus and just kind of take the challenges as they come, and not get too high or too low. We’re just trying to stay the course, and that’s been good for us.’ Seattle’s levelheadedness has led to pretty consistent play all season — the Seahawks have not lost a game by more than seven points all year — and keeping things the same in the postseason has helped a young team from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs. ‘It’s very important to just maintain the same routine,’ said fullback Michael Robinson. ‘(Head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job of keeping practice the same.’ ”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press says defensive end Bruce Irvin is ready to step in for the injured Chris Clemons, “For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record. Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game. ‘I’m still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He’s like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,’ Irvin said. ‘Next year, I’ll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I’m not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons’) spot. I’m not looking for that. My time will come and when it’s that time it will all handle itself.’ ”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice – a practice running back Marshawn Lynch sat out with a foot injury, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not participate in practice. Unlike most weeks when he is given a rest day for his balky back, Lynch was listed on Wednesday’ practice report with a foot injury.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a conversation with NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, who believes that if the Seahawks can secure an early lead over the Falcons on Sunday, “it’s over”, “The Falcons, Seattle’s divisional-round opponent, have one of the league’s better passing attacks, ranking sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes during the regular season. Despite that, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes doubts their ability to come back if they were to fall behind to the Seahawks. ‘If they get up early, it’s over. Have a nice day, Atlanta Falcons,’ Dukes told “Bob and Groz” on Wednesday. ‘The Falcons’ line is not built to handle that pressure.’ ” Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” share their thoughts in this short video.
The staff at SportsPressNW.com passes along several notes from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s Wednesday press conference.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along QBR ranks from Wild Card weekend, “Wilson made positive contributions, impressing those who have watched mostly from afar to this point. The visuals were all there: Wilson flipping a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson, Wilson running interference downfield so his running back could gain additional yardage, Wilson firing downfield strikes to Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. If tight end Anthony McCoy hadn’t dropped a pass deep in Redskins territory, Seattle might have fared better than its 1-of-6 showing in the red zone. On the whole, however, this performance from Wilson was hardly consistent with the ones that separated him from Robert Griffin III and made him second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 8 through regular season’s end.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson joined ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike”, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.
ESPN The Magazine has a look into Wilson’s past as a professional baseball player, sharing conversations with the scouting supervisor of the Colorado Rockies, Wilson’s baseball coach at North Carolina State, the editor of Baseball America, and more.
Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com says Russell Wilson may be the best young quarterback in the League, “If Russell Wilson is too short, give me short! Facing Baltimore, first overall selection Andrew Luck wilted under a steady blitz. Experienced quarterbacks want to be blitzed — if Baltimore tries the same at Denver, Peyton Manning will eat the Ravens’ lunch. But Luck is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Facing Seattle, second overall selection Robert Griffin twisted his knee late in the first quarter, lost his amazing quickness, then lost the game. RG III throws himself at a defense, taking big hits. Experienced quarterbacks avoid big hits. But Griffin is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Then there was Wilson. Washington blitzed him hard, and by the fourth quarter, he wanted to be blitzed, because he was beating this tactic like a veteran — see more below. Wilson ran for 67 yards, including the game’s longest rush, but whenever a defender had him in his sights, he stepped out of bounds, slid or threw the ball away. Wilson played like a seasoned veteran. One reason is that he had the most college starts of the young-gun quarterbacks. Wilson started 50 games in college, versus 40 for Griffin and 38 for Luck. Add another dozen starts to RG III and he will avoid big hits. Add another dozen starts to Luck and he’ll be looking forward to the blitz. Wilson already has these skills.”
And Chris Burke of SI.com offers an X’s and O’s break down Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Will Seattle continue to use Irvin off the left edge this coming Sunday? Carroll said only that Irvin will start at the “Leo” spot — a position in Carroll’s defense reserved for a fast rusher, almost like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Irvin, as mentioned, has done a lot of his work from left end, but will the Seahawks try to play the matchups? Playing Irvin on the left means he’ll deal with Clabo; on the right is Baker. Neither is a slouch, but Clabo, a 2010 Pro Bowler, may be the stiffer test of the two.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 26.
The NFL notes that 2013 Pro Bowl rosters will be announced today at 7 p.m. ET on a special edition of “NFL Total Access.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the improvement of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, “Wilson’s yards per attempt — a metric that helps gauge how aggressively a team looks downfield — is up nearly 2 yards over the past three games, a significant bump. What has really exploded is Wilson’s rushing numbers, the game plan becoming focused upon accentuating Wilson’s talents. It’s not just running beyond the line of scrimmage, but moving in the pocket. He’s got license to scramble, evading defenders with maneuvers that are at times almost comical. Earlier in the season, Seattle was trying to grind out victories while grooming a rookie quarterback. Now, the Seahawks are trusting that same rookie to see how far he will take them. ‘We have a front-line, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you’re seeing it,’ Carroll said. ‘He’s balling. We trust him in his decision-making because he’s proven worthy of that.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune rehashes the race for offensive rookie of the year, making a case for Wilson, “Since Week 5, Wilson has thrown for 2,274 yards, completing 65 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. During that same stretch Wilson has a 106.9 passer rating, the second best in the league over that span behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (110.8). In the red zone, Wilson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating, which is fourth-best in the league.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes about how Carroll and the Seahawks are handling their recent success, “No longer are the Seahawks, the team playing in the NFL’s most remote outpost, the plucky little team that could. They’re quickly turning into bullies. Apparently, three wins by a combined margin of 150-30 tends to make people take notice. So is there any concern the Seahawks could lose their edge now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth and are being called the NFL’s hottest team? ‘Yeah, sure, there is always concern for that,’ Carroll said. ‘That’s what my job is, to not let that happen, so I better be concerned about that. I’m very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the language that we use and the way we talk, the way they’re talking. I love to hear their comments at this point and how they’ve dealt with the last few weeks. They’re right on point.’ ”
Boyle also notes a roster move from Monday, December 24, as the club released wide receiver Deon Butler from the 53-man roster to make room for the addition of rookie strong safety Winston Guy, who had been serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Jim Litke of the Associated Press tries to make sense of the sound level exhibited by the 12th Man at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, “[Sunday Night Football producer Fred] Gaudelli and his crew hatched a plan to demonstrate that by having sideline reporter Michele Tafoya speak into a microphone as the sound reverberated, then take a step back and try again. When they ran through it before the game, he had a stadium staffer simulate the crowd noise over the PA system. At the point Tafoya’s words were drowned out the system was cranked to 50 percent of volume. ‘So I asked the guy, is it really going to be that loud? He looked at me,’ Gaudelli chuckled into the phone, ‘and said, ‘Double it.’ The guy was right. That much was apparent at the start of the broadcast, when Tafoya interviewed Carroll – remember, the game hadn’t even begun – and didn’t dare stand anywhere but uncomfortably close. Uncomfortable might be the right word to describe the 49ers as well, at least in the early going, when they had to burn timeouts as relatively inexperienced quarterback Colin Kaepernick was having trouble getting the play calls from his sideline. Right about then, he probably wished the 49ers had devoted more time to mastering their silent snap counts. ‘The crowd’s explosive, it really is,’ Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ‘They love us so much, and it brings so much energy to our football team. They keep us in the game, obviously, and they keep us alert.’ ”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press has reaction from Carroll on the club’s hope to continue to play with an edge, “The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted. ‘The chip on the shoulder? That’s not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don’t even have to pass it around,’ Carroll said. ‘We all have one. That’s just kind of how it’s been. Just look, we’re up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that’s OK. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we’ll stay with it.’ ”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says last Sunday’s victory over the 49ers was “extra special” for wide receiver Doug Baldwin, “As if beating his college coach in lopsided fashion wasn’t sweet enough, Baldwin had his finest game of the season in the win. He had receiving touchdowns of 4 and 6 yards, making difficult catches on each. He made a bobbling catch on a 46-yard gain that set up the Seahawks’ second touchdown. Baldwin finished with four catches for 53 yards. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Then again, big games against the 49ers are nothing new for Baldwin. Four of his seven career touchdowns have come against San Francisco.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has updates from Carroll’s Monday presser, “Carroll said they emerged from the game fairly healthy with only a few issues. He said LB Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury that needs to be looked at. He also said Hill’s backup, LB Malcolm Smith, might have a groin issue as well. It’s something they need to check out. If neither would be available to play, LB Mike Morgan would be the backup at the weakside linebacker spot. Carroll said WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant came out of the game feeling better. Rice had been dealing with a foot bruise and a knee injury heading into last week’s game. Bryant has been dealing with a plantar fascia injury in his foot. CB Marcus Trufant is expected to return to practice on Wednesday from a hamstring strain that has kept him out the last four games. Carroll said they still weren’t sure if CB Walter Thurmond would be able to practice Wednesday. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain as well.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” where Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch show up on his list, “Wilson now ranks seventh in NFL passer rating (98.0) and eighth in Total QBR (70.0) for the season. He ranks third in both categories — 101.5 rating, 75.6 QBR — from Week 2 to present. Much gets made of Wilson’s success at home. He ranks among the NFL’s top five in road QBR after Week 1 (78.8). Only Ryan (85.4), Brady (81.5) and Manning (80.2) rank higher among quarterbacks with more than four road starts during that time. Ben Roethlisberger (72.8), Drew Brees (69.9), Rodgers (69.8) and Robert Griffin III (69.6) are next. Wilson needs one touchdown pass against St. Louis in Week 17 to tie Manning’s rookie record of 26, set in 1998. Manning also had 28 interceptions that season. Wilson has 10, including one on a dropped pass.”
Sando has his most recent “Stock Watch” item as well, and the Seahawks’ coach and GM – Carroll and John Schneider – along with the Seahawks’ receiver and strong safety Kam Chancellor represent three of his four units that are on the rise, “Seahawks’ receivers. Dropped passes doomed Seattle’s offense during a 13-6 defeat at San Francisco in Week 7. Outstanding catches played an important role in Seattle sprinting to a big lead against the 49ers in the rematch Sunday night. Baldwin’s juggling catch in the rain for a 43-yard gain was the longest play for either team. Baldwin added two scoring receptions. Rice made a leaping grab along the sideline. Seattle converted 11 of 12 times on third down while Wilson was in the game.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth catches up with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Richard Sherman, and special teams co-captain Heath Farwell on some of their favorite Christmas memories growing up.
We also have coach Carroll’s full video press conference from Monday available here.
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 20.
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times takes a look at how the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have changed since their first meeting of the season back on October 18, “In their past two games, the Seahawks have scored 108 points in wins over Arizona and Buffalo. The Seahawks haven’t changed quarterbacks like San Francisco, but they’re hoping it’s a different Russell Wilson on Sunday. In the first 49ers game, Wilson had his worst statistical performance, completing just 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards, with a key interception late in the game on a long pass intended for Braylon Edwards. But that’s another distant memory. ‘It all begins with the quarterback, obviously,’ said wide receiver Doug Baldwin. ‘Russell is playing at an extremely high level right now. It’s just the maturity and growth, and we’ve all come to grow with him. This offense as a whole has been able to rally behind the things he does well. At the beginning of the season, we were kind of searching for that.’ After the 49ers game, Wilson’s quarterback rating sat at a pedestrian 79.4. Since then, he’s completed 118 of 178 passes (66 percent) for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions for a 111.3 quarterback rating. The Seahawks are 5-2 in those games.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has Wednesday’s injury report from both clubs, noting several Seahawks players who sat out practice.
O’Neil also previews Sunday’s matchup with the Niners in this short video, hinting that in a game matching the NFL’s top two scoring defenses, the club’s improved offenses under the Seahawks’ Wilson and 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick might be the ones that ultimately decide the outcome.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks run defense will be critical in Sunday’s game against the Niners, and catches up with linebacker Bobby Wagner on Sunday’s matchup, “Wagner, a rookie who played at Utah State, said he thinks he has an advantage because he played against Kaepernick, a second-year player from Nevada. The linebacker had one of his best games of the season at Carolina against perhaps the best running quarterback in the league, Cam Newton. Wagner had six tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a tackle for a loss. ‘I definitely feel like that helps because I’ve seen him a lot in college,’ Wagner said. ‘He’s not the same, obviously, (as) he was in college because he’s a lot more mature. He understands the game a little better. But at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he does. He runs, and he can sling the ball.’ ”
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is taking in the benefits of sticking with Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, “In his first start in place of Smith, Kaepernick threw two touchdowns and had a rating of 133.1 against the Chicago Bears. And when Smith was deemed healthy enough for a return, Harbaugh decided to stick with Kaepernick. In five starts, Kaepernick has completed 66 percent of his passes for a 101.4 rating, and also rushed for five touchdowns at 7.2 yards per carry. Not only have the 49ers won four of those five, but they also beat New England on Sunday to snap the Patriots’ 20-game home winning streak. ‘He came in playing pretty well right at the start,’ Harbaugh said when asked of Kaepernick’s improvement since he’s been a starter. ‘There’s been some improvement in all the situations that he’s experienced … in five starts he’s experienced a lot.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the youth movement at quarterback around the NFL, starting with Harbaugh and Carroll’s decisions to roll with Kaepernick and Wilson, “Both coaches chose to go young at quarterback, taking the riskier path, and both by all indications made the right choice. As Harbaugh put it, it was the best thing at that time. Not the best thing for the 49ers’ future; the best move now. When Wilson and Kaepernick face off for the first of what should be many, many meetings, they won’t be young quarterbacks developing along with a rebuilding teams, they will be key players on two of the best teams in the NFC. Welcome to the new normal in the NFL”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press eyes the Seahawks recent success as they push toward the playoffs, “If Seattle (9-5) can get a victory over the 49ers on Sunday or in the season finale against St. Louis, it would be its second playoff appearance in Carroll’s three seasons. Yet this one would be far more deserved. When the Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010, they became the first division champion with a losing record at 7-9. It took a victory over St. Louis in the finale that season for the Seahawks to win the division on a tiebreaker, but Seattle at least justified its spot in the playoffs by upsetting then-Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the wild-card round. But that playoff trips was at the infancy of Seattle’s roster remodel that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have been constructing. It was a mix of new faces and what the duo inherited that won the division in 2010. This group that’s pushing for a playoff spot has all been molded under the watch of Seattle’s decision-making duo. ‘I think we’re playing so much better in so many areas. We’re taking care of the ball the way we want to, and we’re getting after the football well now that we’re in the latter part of the season,’ Carroll said. ‘We’re running the football with consistency and we’re keeping the scores down defensively, and the kicking game is solid. These are all of the elements that make us team with not many holes right now.’ ”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps a conversation with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, who joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” yesterday, “Cowherd thinks the Seahawks are the NFL’s second-best team, and he had them ranked that high before they scored at least 50 points for the second consecutive week. A panel of five ESPN colleagues unanimously had the Seahawks at No. 7 in their latest power rankings. The Seahawks’ relative lack of success as a franchise hurts their credibility, Cowherd thinks. ‘If they were called the Steelers and they did as many things well as they did we’d love them. But they’re called the Seahawks, so nobody wants them to give them any credit. This team has been fantastic,’ he said.” … You can listen to Brock and Salk’s entire conversation with Cowherd here.
Brock Huard of 710Sports.com has his latest “Chalk Talk” breaking down the Seahawks’ use of the trick play toss from Wilson to running back Marshawn Lynch, who threw back to Wilson, who spiraled it 44 yards downfield to wide receiver Golden Tate in Week 15’s win over the Buffalo Bills.
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice session, “Wide receiver Sidney Rice, listed last week on the practice report with a bruised foot, sat out Wednesday with a knee injury. Running back Leon Washington was excused early due to an undisclosed illness.”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com looks ahead to Sunday’s matchup with the Niners, “Getting by San Francisco is Carroll’s biggest challenge. After the last meeting, he admitted that he couldn’t get his defense adjusted in time to stop the 49ers offense from trap-blocking the Seahawks’ defense into futility. In essence, he was outcoached, and he said Wednesday that the 49ers continue to do things that are hard to comprehend. ‘They were really good last year, and continue to grow and do more things,’ Carroll said. ‘The offensive line does really complicated stuff. They do a ton of things — pulling and trapping, kick-outs, getting guys on the edge — and are very consistent with it. We wonder sometimes how they can get it all done. Obviously, it’s great coaching.’ Having played for Harbaugh at Stanford, [cornerback Richard] Sherman knows well the style. ‘He’s always been kinda crazy with their formations and shifts,’ he said. ‘They’ve been that way since I’ve known their offense — switch-on, switch-off, this tight end pulls here, this fullback goes there . . . all kind of crazy. I recognize a lot of stuff, but stopping it is another thing. You know what’s coming, but can you stop it?’ ”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his notes from Wednesday’s session, “Head coach Pete Carroll said that with all the formations, shifts and varying personnel groups used by the 49ers, they are perhaps the most challenging team the Seahawks have had to prepare for all season. ‘Yeah, that’s kind of the topic for the day,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s a very challenging team and it’s the running element, but then there’s Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and then there’s the big fella Randy Moss out there running. This is a very talented football team and all of those guys’ present problems.’ ”
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com writes that the Seahawks and Niners see mirror images in each other, “…when it comes to styles and schemes — and styles make fights in football, just as they do in boxing — the teams built by these two coaches are as similar as any you’ll see in the NFL today. Both the 9-5 Seahawks and 10-3-1 49ers, who will tussle this Sunday night for control of the division, feature hallmarks that could be easily switched from franchise to franchise without too much trouble. Each team is currently sparked by a young quarterback making unexpected gains, each team is buttressed by a violent and consistent running game, and each team is truly defined by a defense that that stops opposing offenses from front to back. The two teams are tied for the NFL lead in scoring defense, allowing just 15.6 points per game each. ‘I think we are similar,’ Carroll said on Wednesday. ‘I can’t help but see that because they believe in playing big time defense as well as us, they believe in the running game, which we do, and they have a very strong emphasis on special teams, which we do. I think that’s really the three pillars of what we’re trying to put together here, that’s what I know we’re dealing with. I don’t know how they speak it or how they talk about it, but it’s certainly what’s obvious about their team and what you have to line up against. This a real matchup for us with a like approach as well.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com breaks down the play of Kaepernick and Wilson against the same four opponents, “It’s looking like these quarterbacks will be matching up in the division for years to come. Wilson has more NFL playing experience. Kaepernick has an additional full season in the league. A look at how they’ve fared as starters against the same teams seems like a pretty good way to compare them so far.”
Sando shares a conversation with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. as the pair breaks down Sunday’s matchup, “Sando: Matt, let’s start off with the quarterbacks. Both already rank among the league leaders in the meaningful categories. Russell Wilson leads the NFL and Colin Kaepernick ranks third in Total QBR since Week 11, when Kaepernick became a starter. Both are top eight for the season. Who has the better QB? Williamson: Seattle. I’m really high on both. I think both are going to be legitimate starters and stars. San Francisco is a year ahead of Seattle in just about every aspect, but I feel like the opposite is true at quarterback. Wilson looks like he has started more games and is mentally further along. Fewer bad throws. So consistent. Never turns the ball over. He is way ahead of the curve. I think he is the better player, but I like both very much.”
Sando also rehashes injury situations around the NFC West, with several notes on both the Niners and Seahawks.
The analysis team over at ProFootballFocus.com has released their selections for the 2012 Pro Bowl Roster, and running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman, and return specialist Leon Washington make their list.
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with a look at the similarities between the Seahawks and Niners.
And lastly, we have photos from Wednesday’s practice by team photographer Rod Mar.