Monday, April 29, 2013 @ 9:45pm
The Seahawks have a glut of pass rushers after adding Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency.
That's part of the reason why they're in no hurry to get Chris Clemons back on the field even though he's apparently progressing nicely in his recovery from a torn knee ligament.
The Seahawks are playing it safe with Chris Clemons as he recovers from a knee injury he sustained in January. (AP)
Clemons, the Seahawks' most productive pass rusher in each of the past three seasons, tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee during the team's playoff game against the Redskins in early January.
The timing and nature of that injury make his availability for the start of next season a question mark. The good news for Seattle, though, is that the recovery timetable for ACL injuries has become increasingly shorter. Seahawks guard James Carpenter, for example, was back by Week 1 of last season after suffering a torn ACL in mid-November. Clemons also has a reputation as a quick healer, having returned from previous injuries earlier than expected.
"He's way ahead of schedule. He's in great shape," Carroll said. "These guys are recovering so fast now from the ACL surgeries, and he's one of those guys. So we're thrilled about what's going on. He looks great right now, but we'll take our time."
It isn't entirely clear how the Seahawks plan to use Avril, a pass rusher they feel has the versatility to play strong-side linebacker as well. Ditto for Bruce Irvin, whose role is expected to expand after being used mostly in a situational pass-rushing role as a rookie last season.
Either way, those two make the Seahawks better equipped than other teams to survive the loss of their best pass rusher, even for an extended period of time. Avril has 29 sacks over the past three seasons. Irvin had eight last year to lead all rookies. Carroll expects him to make significant strides in his second season, noting how much he's improved physically over the offseason and that the team plans to move him around more in order to create favorable pass-rushing matchups.
"Cliff Avril and Bruce will take the load on the edge for us rushing until he gets back. Getting Cliff really did help us take the pressure off Clem wanting to come back and help this football team," Carroll said. "So we're going to be able to do this really well and take our time with it. It should work out great. We just don't want to rush it. We don't need to."
Sunday, April 28, 2013 @ 11:24am
I'll be honest, until 5:35 p.m. on Friday when the Seahawks picked him, I'd never heard of Christine Michael.
During our broadcast from the team's headquarters in Renton, I looked at producer Jessamyn McIntyre and asked: "Are we sure it's not Michael Christine?"
And then, of course, I assumed that he pronounced his name like my ex-wife pronounces Christine, as in KRIS-TEEN. But then we were told it's KRIS-TIN, not KRIS-TEEN. And after that, we got official word from the Seahawks that it's actually KRISH-TIN, like Christian.
I haven't even mentioned the most confusing part yet – Michael's a running back. For weeks – maybe even months – before the draft, we never talked about a Seahawks' need at running back.
Seattle used its first pick on a running back, Christine Michael from Texas A&M, despite greater needs elsewhere. (AP)
There were greater needs elsewhere. Seemingly, the Seahawks would target a weak-side linebacker to replace free agent Leroy Hill. That's the only starting spot that appears up for grabs. With all of their picks, you would have expected the Seahawks to draft one, maybe two, perhaps three linebackers, and naturally they didn't take any.
Apparently they're comfortable with having last year's backup, Malcolm Smith, starting at that spot or moving K.J. Wright over from strong-side linebacker and trying Cliff Avril in his place.
We thought that Avril was primarily signed to be a pass-rushing defensive end, but the Seahawks are into hybrids and versatility, and the former Detroit Lion might occasionally play off the line of scrimmage. Or not. Who knows what the Seahawks are thinking about pretty much everything?
As for Michael, general manager John Schneider said he was the best player on the Seahawks' board when it was time to make their selection at No. 62. And it turned out just like Kip Earlywine of SeahawksDraftBlog.com said it would – he actually predicted the Seahawks would take Michael.
I don't know how Michael will turn out as a pro, but I know this: I'm taking Earlywine with me the next time I go to Emerald Downs.
Personally, I consider it a good sign for the Seahawks if I've never heard of their draft picks or understand why they would take a certain player when they did.
Such as LSU running back Spencer Ware in the sixth round. As in: Why would they take another running back after taking Michael? What does it mean? In 2016, Michael, Turbin and Ware will be a three-headed monster in the Seahawks' backfield.
My favorite Seahawks' pick was cornerback Tharold Simon, Ware's teammate at LSU, in the fifth round. Remember, the Seahawks selected Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the fifth round and look at them now.
But that's not why I like the Simon pick. I like it because it's controversial. Simon was arrested last Thursday in his hometown of Eunice, La., after being asked to move his car and getting into a verbal sparring match with a police officer.
There are two sides of the story – maybe Simon encountered a power-trippin' cop who went too far with the arrest; or maybe Simon deserved to be arrested. I have no idea how that will play out, but the Seahawks were comfortable enough with the situation to draft him, so I guess that says something.
It speaks to my sickness as a human being when I say that I was amused by the following news: They had planned a "Tharold Simon Day" the very next day in Eunice and had to cancel all of the ceremonies after the arrest. I don't know, I just find that little coincidence comical when other more well-adjusted human beings would find it troubling.
All will be forgotten if Simon becomes a cheaper replacement for Brandon Browner next year.
The worst Seahawks' pick was Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams in the fifth round. I say this because I've actually heard of him, which means he's destined to be a bust. He's the Aussie who has the YOLO (You Only Live Once) tattoo on his face.
I can't wait to talk to this kid, but if he was projected to go in the first or second round and fell to the fifth, how good can he be?
Friday, April 19, 2013 @ 10:13am
I took some justifiable criticism on the text toy Thursday from a listener who's sick of me and my outrageous predictions.
Such as thinking the Seahawks have a shot at going 19-0 when they have five 10 a.m. games and a stretch in which they play four games out of five on the road.
Such as thinking the Mariners will hit 200 home runs this year. After going homerless during the Tigers series, they're on a pace for 153 for the season.
I'm sure there are other examples, but let's just stop there and get to the point if I have one.
I went to Thursday's Mariners-Tigers game with my 8-year-olds. Yanked them out of their third-grade class at 11:30 to take them to Safeco Field. They were excited until the game started.
"Hey, dad, this looks like a crowd at a Cougar basketball game," Stevie said.
The Mariners are 5-10 in their last 15 games after losing two of three to the Tigers. (AP)
For me, it was a great game. The Mariners beat Justin Verlander, the Cy Young Award winner, 2-0. That's fantastic stuff. He struck out 12, but the Mariners still scratched out nine hits and cobbled three in a row in the seventh inning with two outs to score their two runs.
My kids were on their feet, clapping and cheering when Robert Andino, Kyle Seager and Endy Chavez went back-to-back-to-back with hits. But for the most part of the nearly three-hour game, they were bored. My kids – maybe other kids, too – need more action to keep their short attention spans engaged.
I don't know if attracting new fans will be a problem for baseball in the future, but it was pretty telling when my kids told me that night that they'd rather go to a lingerie football game than a Mariners game.
Regrettably, I get it. After opening the season with two wins over the A's, the Mariners have gone 5-10 since, going 4-6 on the just-completed homestand.
Injuries to Michael Saunders, Michael Morse and Steven Pryor haven't helped. But the Mariners still look like a feeble outfit in the batter's box. We were led to believe that they would be dramatically improved with the additions of Morse and Kendrys Morales.
The thinking went something like this: Not only would Morse and Morales deliver – and they have – but their presence in the lineup would help the Mariners' younger hitters – and it hasn't.
Just like last year when it was John Jaso, another backup catcher, Kelly Shoppach, is the Mariners' best hitter thus far with a .381 average.
Dustin Ackley looks like he might be snapping out of it with three hits in the past two games, raising his average to .154. But Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero are still sputtering around the Mendoza line.
Even the older newcomers – Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay – are struggling, hitting .195 and .194. ESPN's Keith Law might have been right after all when he told us that "Jason Bay stinks." If Casper Wells turns into a star in Toronto, you know this team is truly snakebit.
Manager Eric Wedge continues to tell us that he's confident his team will hit. But does anyone believe him? I want to believe him, but it's hard to forget three years of futility and expect it to magically happen this year.
Actually, let me take that back, I did expect it to magically happen with the prediction of 200 home runs and thinking the Mariners would go 85-77. Maybe both things will happen, but right now, skepticism has a healthy lead over optimism.
I want to believe that the Mariners are good enough to take two of three this weekend in Texas and sweep the three-gamer from Houston next week. They could go 5-1 on the trip, but 2-4 is more likely.
I don't want to think they're the same old Mariners. But ask my kids – so far, it's hard not to think that they are.
Friday, April 12, 2013 @ 9:59am
Remember when the Mariners started out 2-0 and Michael Morse hit two home runs in a 7-1 victory over the A's? Remember when the A's were 0-2 and looked pedestrian at best?
A week and a half later, the M's have lost seven of their last nine games, including two to the Astros. The A's haven't lost since Morse drilled those home runs – Oakland has won eight in a row and sits atop the AL West at 8-2.
I think we were OK with the Mariners coming back for their 10-game homestand at 3-4 after a season-opening road trip. We figured they'd be 6-4 after sweeping the Astros. But they not only lost two of three to the Astros, they were embarrassed. Houston out-hit the Mariners 46-21 in the series, and I forget how many home runs they belted, but it was a lot.
Michael Morse, the American League home run leader, could miss up to a week after he was hit in the hand by a pitch. (AP)
Brandon Maurer was terrible, lasting 2/3 of an inning, giving up six runs on seven hits. That's acceptable. He's a rookie. He had a 0.90 ERA in spring training. We expect him to bounce back, hopefully on Sunday against the Rangers.
Blake Beavan was terrible, too, and that's not acceptable. I understand that he's the fifth pitcher in the rotation, but I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I'd like to see a guy get batters out more than he does.
And while he's at it, maybe he could pick up the pace a little bit. Beavan was painful to watch in that 8-3 Mariners' loss Wednesday night.
Then, as you know, the Mariners lost two of their best players to injury. Michael Saunders sprained his right shoulder Wednesday night and is out at least two weeks, and Morse will be out for three days to a week with a broken pinky.
I thought the Mariners would be more fun and exciting this year, and they still figure to be, but not so much in the first four games at Safeco Field.
At least Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero showed signs of life in the 4-3 loss to the Rangers last night with two hits apiece. But Kyle Seager went 1-for-5 and is batting .154.
Dustin Ackley got the night off, which was surprising because Texas starter Justin Grimm's a right-hander. Ackley's replacement, Robert Andino, is a right-handed batter.
Made no sense until you consider that Ackley's batting .100 and needed the night off for whatever reason – maybe to spare us from watching him ground out to second base again.
As bad as it was against the Astros, you expected the Mariners to rebound last night against Texas with Felix Hernandez pitching, supported by all kinds of fans wearing yellow T-shirts and flashing K-cards. But Felix was un-Felix-like, allowing 10 hits and three runs, throwing 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings.
The Mariners could have tied the game at 4-4 but couldn't score on a suicide squeeze in the eighth inning. I'm trying to remember the last time I've seen a team fail to score on a suicide squeeze when the bunt was laid down successfully, as it was by Brendan Ryan. I don't think I've ever seen it happen.
I've heard fans blaming Ryan for not laying down a better bunt, but I'm blaming Endy Chavez for not getting a better jump or simply crediting Texas pitcher Robbie Ross for making a terrific play.
Along with wondering about Ackley and suicide squeezes, I've got other questions about the Mariners, such as: "What's the deal with Dave Valle's hair?"
It's brutal when the highlight of the homestand so far is the fan who caught a foul ball in his beer and chugged it.
We thought the Mariners would have a more potent lineup, and in terms of home runs, we've seen it – they have 15 homers in 11 games, putting them on a pace for 220 for the season.
But they need to bounce back this weekend in the last three games against the Rangers and the last three games of the homestand against Detroit next week.
All they have to do to start the turnaround tonight is beat Yu Darvish, the same pitcher who came within one out of throwing a perfect game last week against the Astros, the same team that scorched the Mariners this week.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 @ 2:18pm
Special to 710Sports.com
The Seahawks clearly have a flare for the dramatics. Trading for Percy Harvin, signing Cliff Avril and dropping Matt Flynn are evidence enough.
But despite all the offseason activity, the brain trust that is Pete Carroll and John Schneider still look to have a few tricks up their sleeves -- one being the possible acquisition of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield.
CB Antoine Winfield, 35, has remained productive despite his age. (AP)
Despite being three years older than Trufant, Winfield, 35, has lost little in the realm of on-the field-production after recording 100 tackles, 12 pass deflections and three interceptions last year.
John Clayton, while on "Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy" on Monday, discussed the possibility of Winfield joining Seattle in a role similar to what Trufant's was last season.
"He understands (his) speed has gone away from him," Clayton said of the aging cornerback's current skill set. "He's going to rely more on his head, his experience and more on how he reads the quarterback."
The three-time Pro Bowl selection has been a constant on the field throughout his career, playing in 13 or more games in 10 of his 14 NFL season. He also has a reputation as a solid-tackling cornerback, recording 85 or more tackles in seven seasons.
In typical Carroll-Schneider fashion, the Seahawks seem more than willing to at least entertain bringing in an outside source to compete for the nickelback position, but Seattle does have options from within. Third-year Oregon product Walter Thurmond, 25, is presumably the clubhouse favorite.
"He's going to have every chance. If you look at the resume he has, and the fact that he has been on the team, he would have the best candidacy to be the slot guy," Clayton said. "... But the injuries have plagued him."
To call Thurmond injury prone is obvious; in three years as a Seahawk, Thurmond has missed 29 of 51 games. The injuries have varied from ligament tears is his knee while in college to a broken leg, and most recently hamstring woes that landed him on the season-ending injured reserve for the second consecutive season.
"In the back of your mind, you have to worry," Clayton said of Thurmond's injury-prone history. "It's like, how many years can you have injuries and not be able to shred them?"
If he does have a chance at competing for the nickelback position, it would likely be because he returns to his 2010 self when he record career-highs in games played (14), tackles (37) and pass deflections (7).
But the worry persists of his ability to make it through a full 16-game season.
If Carroll stays true to his competition-on-all-fronts mentality, then Byron Maxwell, 25, and Jeremy Lane, 22, should have opportunities in the preseason to win the nickelback position.
Clayton believes Seattle may take the stance of waiting until after the draft to make a decision on bringing someone like Winfield in to compete for the nickelback position assuming the dynamic duo isn't sold on anyone in the draft or on their current roster.
Sunday, April 7, 2013 @ 6:38pm
If you're like me, you stop everything that you're doing when Michael Morse is in the batter's box.
I was on my way upstairs to talk to one of my bosses last Friday but had to stop to watch Morse on the flat screen in the lobby. He struck out in a 10-pitch at-bat, which made me a few minutes late to see my boss, but I think he understood.
It's been awhile since the Mariners have had a hitter like Morse, who arrives for Monday night's home opener against Houston with five home runs during the seven-game season-opening road trip.
Through seven games, Michael Morse leads the American League in home runs with five. (AP)
His latest homer was a screamer to left that left U.S. Cellular Field in a hurry, giving the M's a 2-0 lead in the top of the first Sunday in Chicago.
Seattle's marine layer would not have bothered Morse last year. And this year, even when the layer is at its thickest, Morse will drive balls through it and over the moved-in fences at Safeco Field. He didn't need help from construction workers. As he said when the Mariners traded for him in the offseason, Morse feels like he can hit balls out of the Grand Canyon.
This is what we were hoping for when the Mariners traded John Jaso to Oakland in a three-team deal that brought Morse to Seattle from the Nationals.
M's fans would love to see Morse hit 30 homers this year, and now it appears he will if he stays healthy.
Morse also figures to hit for average, which isn't typical for sluggers. In 2011, an injury-free season, Morse averaged .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs. Even last year when an injury caused him to miss 64 games, Morse still hit .289 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.
In addition, he's a better defensive player than I was led to believe. I thought every fly ball would be an adventure for him, but only a few have been so far. He has yet to commit an error. He doesn't look like Milton Bradley out there. He looks like he knows what he's doing, whether in right or left field.
When Danny O'Neill, Dave Wyman and I talked to him a week and a half ago, Morse said he doesn't know where this talk of him being a defensive liability comes from. He thinks on a scale of 1 to 10, he's a 9.5 as an outfielder.
I love that he loves being here. Morse could have been upset, going from a World Series contender in Washington to a team that might contend but probably won't this year. But he's excited to be back as a Mariner.
As good as he was in the first inning with the two-run homer Sunday, Morse struck out in his next four at-bats. On two occasions, he whiffed with two runners on base, once after the White Sox intentionally walked Kendrys Morales to get to him.
I thought sure he'd make them pay for that, but he fanned on an outside fastball in the 10th inning. Give him a golden sombrero if you want; he gets a full season of slack from me for finally turning on the power in Seattle.
Morse will come through more often than not. In Washington, he was known as "The Beast." His Twitter handle is @SEA_Beast38. Marshawn Lynch is the beast around here. But the way that Morse has been swinging the bat, there's room in town for another.
Friday, April 5, 2013 @ 4:31pm
The Seahawks have made a habit out of surprising the NFL with their moves this offseason. So with defensive end Dwight Freeney and defensive back Charles Woodson still available as free agents, could there be more surprises up the sleeves of Seattle general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll?
ESPN football analyst John Clayton said on "Cold Hard Facts" on "Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy" Friday that adding either or both players is still a possibility for the Seahawks -- as long as the price is right.
Charles Woodson's age (36) has kept him from being signed by a team. (AP)
The Denver Broncos have been linked to the 33-year-old Freeney throughout the offseason, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks can be ruled out.
"If Freeney wants to come (to Seattle) and add one more pass rusher, you can always take another pass rusher on as long as the cost is right," Clayton said. "But I can't imagine that there's going to be an offer from Seattle that's going to be better from Denver."
Freeney is coming off a five-sack season (his lowest since 2007), and the Broncos appear to be waiting for him to lower his asking price -- which could help the Seahawks.
"Denver's waiting it out trying to get him to at least come off the clouds and think he's going to get a big contract. Denver has more urgency than Seattle, but it wouldn't be out of the question if the right price is there, Seattle could sign him."
Woodson is regarded as one of the best secondary players in NFL players, but at 36, the former Heisman Trophy winner isn't receiving contract offers anywhere near his previous $11 million salary. He admitted as much on the NFL Network this week.
"I'm 36, so of course I'm considered ancient in the game right now, and teams are looking for younger players and trying to make their rosters younger," Woodson said. "If you're an older guy, they kind of push you to the side, and they'll maybe look at you much later on down the road, when I guess they figure they can get you much cheaper."
There is still interest around Woodson, who had 38 tackles in 2012 for Green Bay, but he's in a situation similar to Jerry Rice's final years, when the Hall of Fame wide receiver took a pay cut to be a role player for the Raiders and Seahawks.
"You're a veteran, you're 36 years old ... everybody kind of waits you out," Clayton said. "Are you ready to come into the locker and play close to the minimum salary? That's a big problem for a player that's been as proud of him and as good as him, and not a lot of players want to do it. It's just a waiting game. He's already had interest from Seattle, San Francisco's brought him in for at least a visit, and now it's a matter of trying to see if he can fit in somebody's team."
Friday, April 5, 2013 @ 8:29am
When we talk about the Seahawks' backup quarterback situation on 710 ESPN Seattle, we're usually mentioning Tyler Thigpen as the primary candidate or maybe even Matt Leinart.
But officially or unofficially at this point, Josh Portis is the second-string quarterback after signing a two-year contract to return to the team last week.
ESPN's John Clayton said he'd be OK with Portis as the backup entering the season, but it didn't sound like a huge endorsement based on the tone of The Professor's voice.
The Seahawks don't need the distractions that would come with Tim Tebow. (AP)
The Seahawks might have all kinds of faith in him, very little faith or something in between. I'm guessing it's somewhere in between, which leads you to believe that they will sign Thigpen or another veteran and take a rookie in the NFL draft, which is now less than three weeks away.
If you're not going to have a competition for the starting spot, might as well have a spirited one for the backup among Portis, another veteran and a rookie.
Or there could be yet another option. A controversial option. Danny O'Neil mentioned it on the show yesterday. He likes the thought of bringing in Tim Tebow.
The Professor, as you know, likes Tebow as a person but can't stand him as a player. When Danny presented the thought to Clayton, I wish I could've seen John's face.
"I don't hate the idea of him coming here," O'Neil said.
"He can't play quarterback," Clayton argued. "He can't throw the football."
O'Neil countered by saying that you'd run a college-style offense if Tebow were forced to play in Russell Wilson's absence. You could keep the read-option stuff and streamline the offense to use shorter throws to take advantage of Tebow's strengths.
There are rumors that the Seahawks might actually be interested in taking a look at Tebow if the Jets cut him, which Clayton thinks will happen soon.
For sports-talk radio purposes, it would be a terrific move. The guy's a bona fide lightning rod.
But I'm with Clayton on this one.
"Tebow-mania isn't worth it," The Professor said, and he's right. Tebow could be a decent backup quarterback, but the circus that comes with him causes too much racket and not enough upside.
If the Seahawks were a so-so team, I'd entertain the thought of Tebow on the roster. But they're not; they're Super Bowl contenders. Do you need the possible distraction of constant Tebow hoopla?