The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Friday, June 14, 2013 @ 4:17pm
The Seahawks were worried about losing Tom Cable to a head-coaching job after their 2011 season ended, so much so that coach Pete Carroll joked about cutting the wires on Cable's phone to thwart any interested team's attempt to reach out.
Cable, Seattle's offensive-line coach and assistant head coach, was considered the driving force behind what progressed into a formidable running game despite losing three starting offensive linemen to season-ending injuries.
The Seahawks lost one coordinator, Gus Bradley, to a head-coaching job earlier this offseason and nearly lost another as Darrell Bevell interviewed with a pair of teams before receiving a new contract to stay in Seattle. There were no reports of Cable, who had head-coaching experience, interviewing for any vacancies despite Seattle finishing the 2012 season with the league's No. 3 rushing offense.
But as Carroll said, it's only a matter of time.
Cable's coaching future was among the topics during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil. The full transcript of the chat can be found here. Highlights are below.
K Falls asked whether Cable would want to become a head coach again or if he'd rather remain an assistant.
Danny O'Neil: Yes, I think Tom Cable wants to become a head coach again, and I think he certainly has a resume worthy of another head-coaching job. His 8-8 season in Oakland was the one beacon of hope in that franchise's dark decade. Unfortunately for him, that year in Oakland brought out a great deal of baggage. I'm torn on the discussion of the spousal-abuse allegations from his past because he was never charged with a crime, which is usually the barometer for reporting on those. He was never charged, but those allegations were widely reported to the point he had to comment on them. But football-wise, he absolutely deserves another head-coaching opportunity.
Isaac asked whether the Seahawks' defensive backs coach, Kris Richard, could become a defensive coordinator or even a head coach in the near future.
Danny O'Neil: Very much so. He seems like he would wear that very well, and certainly, Seattle's success in the secondary and developing players (not just Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, but right now, Jeremy Lane).
Isaac later asked which Seahawks have reached their ceilings.
Danny O'Neil: Ceilings? Well, Marshawn Lynch isn't going to get better. The question is how long he can stay this effective. Ditto for fullback Michael Robinson. And for offensive linemen, I would say Paul McQuistan is in the same boat, and I wonder how much room for improvement there is with Breno Giacomini.
Slim Shady asked how rookie wide receiver Chris Harper has looked during offseason workouts before Craig asked for a comparison between Harper's minicamp performance and that of Golden Tate when he was a rookie in 2010.
Danny O'Neil: Chris Harper has not stood out following the three-day minicamp. Golden Tate stood out MUCH more. But that just goes to show you how much (or in Tate's case) how little minicamps and offseason training translates to regular-season success.
Friday, June 14, 2013 @ 8:11am
By Danny O'Neil
June is no time for conclusions.
Not in the NFL, where players spend two months getting themselves ready for training camp, which is where they'll get ready for the actual season. Yup, these past couple months have been about preparing to prepare for this season of unprecedented expectation in Seattle.
But with the Seahawks' offseason conditioning program for veterans concluding on Thursday, now is as good a time as any to summarize the lessons drawn from the June workouts.
Three things we learned:
I. Right guard will be Seattle's Thunderdome in August.
Two men enter the competition, one will exit the starter.
Right guard John Moffitt is in the best shape he's been in going all the way back to when Seattle chose him in the third round in 2011 while J.R. Sweezy has continued what is nothing short of a remarkable transition from playing defensive tackle at North Carolina State to being an NFL offensive lineman. The Seahawks loved the nasty edge Sweezy showed in the running game, but Moffitt demonstrated a better understanding of protection schemes last season.
They took turns playing with the first-unit offense at this week's minicamp, Moffitt getting repetitions there on Tuesday and Sweezy taking his turn Wednesday. That spot is going to be one of the only starting jobs truly up for grabs in Seattle this August.
II. Tight end Luke Willson looks great in shorts.
That's not a commentary on his legs, but rather how quickly he can move them. As advertised, Willson is the fastest of Seattle's tight ends, and the fifth-round pick out of Rice showed he just might be capable of making an immediate impact as a rookie. Not only that, but the injury to tight end Anthony McCoy opened up the backup position behind starter Zach Miller.
Whether Willson is capable of filling that will depend on his blocking, though, and if he's not stout enough at the point of attack, he might wind up being strictly a big-play option as a rookie. Sean McGrath is bigger this season and might turn out to be a more well-rounded tight end, but it's still very possible Seattle could wind up adding another veteran to provide depth at the position.
III. Cornerback is the single deepest position on this team.
It's not just starters Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, who've created a new prototype at the position with their size and physical style of play. It's also more than veteran Antoine Winfield, the three-time Pro Bowler signed to serve as the team's nickelback.
Walter Thurmond is completely healthy for the first time in two years and looks like someone ready to make an impact. Jeremy Lane – a sixth-round pick in 2012 – also played well, and given his status as a special-teams mainstay, he is someone who will be impossible to leave off the 53-man roster. Then there's Byron Maxwell, Will Blackmon, Ron Parker and rookie Tharold Simon, who has been unable to practice as he rests an ailing foot.
There is no position that has changed more since coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over, and no position on the roster that is better stocked at this point.
Three things we're still trying to figure out:
I. Is Red Bryant back?
That's not a literal question as Bryant was present from the start of the team's offseason training program to the finish. The uncertainty is whether Bryant is back to being the end-line pillar of Seattle's rush defense.
One of the most perplexing facts about last season was that Seattle went from having one of the NFL's very best rush defenses for the first six and a half games to being mediocre, maybe even below average, for the second half of the season. That decline culminated in the playoff loss in Atlanta where the Falcons – who ranked No. 29 in rushing yards during the regular season – ran for 167 yards.
Some of that regression was attributed to the foot injury Bryant played through, and if that's the case, the Seahawks should be able to return to their run-stopping ways since Bryant said the foot feels better. This is a critical question, though, because all the resources Seattle spent to improve its pass rush won't mean nearly as much if the Seahawks can't stop the run.
II. Can James Carpenter can stay healthy?
The fact Carpenter sat out much of the team's offseason conditioning after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery isn't nearly so concerning as the reality that for the third straight year, his preparation in training camp might be limited.
In 2011, he turned up out of shape after the lockout. Last year, he didn't practice at all in training camp as he was rehabilitating from the season-ending knee injury suffered in November. This year, there's no guarantee he will be ready to go.
Seattle thinks he can be a mauler at left guard, providing a uniquely punishing presence, but his two years as a Seahawk point to the difficulty in counting on the former first-round pick to stay on the field.
III. Where will Bruce Irvin fit into the final picture?
Seattle is trying him at strongside linebacker, a move that is going to be complicated in August because while he'll be practicing with the team, there's also the underlying reality that he will miss the first four games of the season because of a league suspension for a performance-enhancing drug violation.
That puts the Seahawks in a pickle because while Irvin could probably use every rep he could get at a new position that will see him dropping into coverage more, Seattle must also keep K.J. Wright plugged into that spot since he'll be playing there for all of the first four games.
Carroll has praised Irvin's adjustment to the position, pointing out that he'll still largely be a speed rusher off the edge, but this is a new role for Irvin and his preparation for that switch is going to be impacted by the reality of his looming suspension.
Thursday, June 13, 2013 @ 11:09pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson may not have been on the field for the Seahawks' final offseason workout, but he is in the team's plans after signing a one-year contract with Seattle Thursday afternoon.
"I think it's a great boost for us in a competitive sense," coach Pete Carroll said after Thursday's workout. "We thought of Tarvaris as a tremendously tough football player and competitive kid that battled for us."
Jackson was Seattle's starting quarterback in 2011, signed to replace Matt Hasselbeck coming out of the lockout. Seattle went 7-7 in games Jackson started despite the fact he played much of the season through a torn pectoral muscle, which he suffered in Week 5.
Jackson was part of Seattle's three-way quarterback competition last year, but was traded to Buffalo on the same day rookie Russell Wilson was named the Seahawks' starter.
The rationale for bringing Jackson back is easy. Here is a player who has six years of experience playing for Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, first in Minnesota and then here in Seattle. He also has the respect of Seattle's locker room for the way he played through that injury in 2011 and the fact he was teammates with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin in Minnesota.
What it means for Seattle's future – and the employment status for Brady Quinn – remains to be seen. Carroll said Jackson will compete with Quinn to be Wilson's backup.
"A really good battle for us to see what happens at that spot," Carroll said.
It's unlikely that Seattle would keep more than two quarterbacks on the roster once the regular season begins. Carroll was careful to point out that Jackson's pending acquisition is no reflection upon Quinn's performance in the two months since he was signed after spending last season in Kansas City.
"In the situation he is in, he has been next to perfect," Carroll said of Quinn. "He has worked like crazy. He knows exactly what we're asking of him. He's a tremendous guy in the meetings room, on the practice field, supporting Russell's efforts to figure out and he's competed really well."
Quinn is a former first-round pick who has played for three teams in his four seasons and has a career record of 4-16 as a starting quarterback. Seattle signed him after working him out along with veterans Seneca Wallace, Tyler Thigpen and Matt Leinart.
Whether Quinn sticks will depend on the head-to-head comparison with Jackson.
"It will be hard," Carroll said. "It will be tough. That's what competition is all about. T-Jack is not going to come in here and just take a back seat. He's going to come in here and go for it. That's exactly how we expect it across the board. It's not different at quarterback."
Jackson has played for three teams in his seven seasons and has a career record of 17-17. He was re-signed earlier this offseason by the Bills, who went so far as to offer a $500,000 signing bonus, but was released last week as Buffalo elected to pair Kevin Kolb with rookie E.J. Manuel heading into the season.
Now, Jackson's former team in Seattle looks like it will be his future opportunity.
"We're seizing the opportunity that one of our guys is out there," Carroll said, "and we can bring him back in and he'll be able to help us. T-Jack's got a strong arm, he understands the system and he's tough as nails. That's a lot of good stuff."
Loosening up at tight end
Tight end Zach Miller again sat out the team's minicamp practice because of a sore foot, but he was out of the plastic protective boot he wore the past two days. Carroll said the injury was not considered serious, and while it was to the same foot that was hurt during the playoff loss at Atlanta, it is a different type of injury.
Tight end is one of the more precarious spots on the roster after the injury to Anthony McCoy, the backup who suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is on injured reserve. That leaves Sean McGrath, who was undrafted last year, and fifth-round pick Luke Willson as the top two backups.
Does Seattle need to add another tight end?
"We're always looking at all spots," Carroll said.
That doesn't mean Seattle will find something better than what it has on hand, though.
"We like what we've seen," Carroll said. "McGrath has made a really obvious elevation. His offseason work has really shown up. He's really stronger and quicker.
"Luke has done a really good job. We're really excited about Luke's addition. We don't see anything that Luke can't do. We haven't seen him in pads yet to really understand the dynamics of his blocking. We know that he's willing and he's got a tough attitude and he looked great in college.
"We're always looking, though."
Defensive end Cliff Avril took part in his first full-team drills on Thursday after being limited to individual position activities on Tuesday and Wednesday. Avril has been slowed by plantar fasciitis this offseason, something that had not bothered him previously.
"I've had issues with the foot," Avril said. "But I've never really had what I had this offseason. But I'm bouncing back from it. It's feeling good."
Running back Robert Turbin sat out the last two days of the minicamp with a sore foot, something Carroll characterized as more precautionary. He said Turbin wanted to practice, but the team held him out.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond was absent from Thursday's workout, excused to attend a ceremony.
Thursday, June 13, 2013 @ 9:31am
RENTON – Brandon Browner was getting dangerously close to being broke when he arrived in Seattle after four years in the Canadian Football League and four months at home during the 2011 NFL lockout.
Two years later, he has two seasons as a starting cornerback, a Pro Bowl on his resume and just one season remaining on his contract. And while plenty of players will tell you that football is a business, free agency is not the bottom line Browner is focusing upon.
"That's something I don't want to think about right now," Browner said after Wednesday's minicamp practice. "Football is my focus, you know what I'm saying. So that's what I'm going to stick with, let my agent deal with the economic part of the game. I'm here to make plays, man. That's it."
"He's probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL," Richard Sherman said of fellow cornerback Brandon Browner, who's entering the final year of his contract. (AP)
Other items were tabled. Receiver Golden Tate is entering the final year of his contract, Doug Baldwin is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in 2014 and then there's Browner, one of the twin towers in Seattle's secondary.
He is 6 feet 4 and will play at just under 220 pounds, but it's more than just his size that stands out. His steel-toed toughness has helped shape this team's identity as he's the kind of guy capable of putting an opponent flat on his back, sitting on top of the receiver's chest and then standing up to flex his biceps in a bodybuilder's pose.
In fact, Browner did exactly that to Packers receiver Greg Jennings last year in a Week 3 game against Green Bay on Monday night. He also flipped Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson head over heels after a play in 2011 and knocked over three different Arizona players on the same punt return in the final game of that season.
"He's probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL," said Richard Sherman, the cornerback who starts on the other side of Browner. "He's a rugged, hard-working, hard-nosed football player. If he gets out on the market, I would expect a bidding war to start. I really hope he stays in Seattle. I hope we can find a way to re-sign him."
That's something that everyone will be watching. Browner, who will turn 29 in August, spent his first NFL season on injured reserve in Denver. He then played four seasons in the Canadian Football League before getting another chance in the NFL, and he white-knuckled his way through the league's four-month lockout, tapping almost every bit of his savings.
He claimed a starting spot during Seattle's training camp, playing so well that the Seahawks decided to trade Kelly Jennings only weeks after re-signing him. Two seasons, 28 regular-season starts and nine interceptions later, Browner has become a cornerstone in one of the very best secondaries in the NFL.
"It's not the Legion of Boom if you lose a member," Sherman said.
Assembling that group might be as difficult as preserving it, though, and holding everyone together will certainly be more expensive. Both Sherman and safety Earl Thomas have two years remaining on their contracts, but could seek extensions next offseason.
For now, the group is intact for at least one more season that is loaded with expectations.
"I expect a lot out of us," Browner said. "We've got another year together as a group. I'm looking forward to a great season with this organization."
Thursday, June 13, 2013 @ 9:30am
Danny O'Neil will host the next edition of "Hawk Talk" live from Seahawks headquarters Thursday at noon while the team wraps up its three-day minicamp.
Feel free to suggest topics in the comments section below.
Thursday, June 13, 2013 @ 1:06am
Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable joined "Brock and Danny" before Wednesday's minicamp practice for a 13-minute discussion that included some interesting insight on Seattle's running game, its read-option attack and two of the players that make them go.
"There's no reason why he can't be better this year," offensive line coach Tom Cable said of running back Marshawn Lynch, who ran for a career-high 1,590 yards in 2012. (AP)
'Marshawn is really brilliant'. It might not be the first word that comes to mind with enigmatic running back Marshawn Lynch, who has a violent running style and an eccentric personality. But Cable twice called Lynch "brilliant" while explaining how Seattle's running game took off following a slow start in 2011 once he got Lynch to embrace the principles of his scheme.
"I think first it was to find out what is important to him, how does he see it. From there, once that connection was made, it was like, he has no idea but he was made for this system," Cable said. "So once I was able to show him how this will help him because of who he is and how he does things, he just grabs onto it.
"He's such a brilliant guy. People don't probably understand that or appreciate that about him. He's, in a lot of ways, an expert at football. He understands how to run it, why, what do I need to do, how do I set up combinations, he understands all the protection, doesn't miss a route, all those things. What people didn't know is that Marshawn is really brilliant.
"And I think once you connect it to that, don't just make him a running back, make it a little more human, and he saw that and he said, 'OK, what do you want me to do?' And when that happened, you've seen the last two years. And there's no reason why he can't be better this year."
Assurance for Wilson's well-being. Earlier this offseason, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin publicly dismissed the read-option as a passing fad because of the risk it poses to quarterbacks who are exposed to extra contact.
Seattle's Russell Wilson showed discretion while running in the open field last season and for the most part was able to avoid big hits because of it. Cable said the Seahawks are determined to keep it that way and suggested they're different in that regard from Carolina and Washington, whose offenses also include read-option plays.
"I think there's a couple styles with this whole thing. If you look at, say, what Washington's doing or Carolina, the quarterback is part of it. He's gonna go in there and he's gona keep it and run down there in the – we call it the briar patch – and he's gonna get whacked," Cable said. "We said we're not doing that, we're not gonna do that. If we're gonna continue to [run the read-option], our guy's gonna be like an old option quarterback – hash number, sideline, slide. You see danger, get down.
"But we weren't gonna run him up in there because in my opinion – you may not like to hear this, some people – but I think that's foolish. ...There's 32 of them [starting quarterbacks] and then we're fortunate enough to have a franchise guy. Those are special dudes, so take care of him. And that's what we'll do."
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 @ 3:51pm
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 @ 9:13am
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Doug Baldwin's second season was only half bad.
That wasn't nearly good enough, though. Not for the wide receiver who came to Seattle in 2011 as an undrafted rookie and wound up leading the team in catches.
So when Baldwin had 11 catches halfway through an injury-riddled sophomore season, he wasn't simmering on the backburner so much as stewing. When you raise the bar as high as Baldwin did coming out of Stanford, it can end up leaving you feeling low.
"A lot of it was I had so much pressure built on myself and high expectations on myself that I really didn't know if I could achieve," Baldwin said. "I kind of lost a little bit of confidence."
Think about that the next time someone asks if these Seahawks might get complacent amid the Super Bowl forecasts for this season. While Seattle may have won 11 games last year and stood half a minute from playing for the conference championship, this is a roster full of young players still looking to validate themselves in one way or another.
Receiver Golden Tate and cornerback Brandon Browner enter the final year of their respective contracts. Safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman both could be in position to seek extensions next offseason.
And then there's Baldwin, who is trying to show that last season was his aberration, not the rookie year when he caught 51 passes and became the first undrafted rookie to lead his team in receptions since the AFL-NFL merger.
He was the feel-good story of that 2011 season, the rookie from Stanford whose own college coach didn't think he had much of an NFL future, who arrived for training camp with one change of clothes and proceeded to play his way not only onto the team, but into a prominent role.
It was the sequel that proved a little troublesome for Baldwin.
"At this time last year, Doug was pressing a little bit," coach Pete Carroll said. "He was coming off a great first season. I think he came in just wanting to do so much."
"You can see how relaxed he is," Carroll said. "He's playing like a vet."
On this team, he is a vet. Tate is the only receiver on the roster with a longer Seahawks tenure than Baldwin, whose ability to find the soft spot in zone coverages can make him a quarterback's security blanket.
"A very smart football player," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "He has the mind of a quarterback. He thinks all the time, thinking about what's going on, what the coverage looks like and how he's matched up with certain guys."
The addition of Percy Harvin this offseason jumbled the pecking order, but any possibility that Baldwin's role as a slot receiver would be eclipsed with Harvin's addition has been answered over the past two months.
"(Doug) has shown his best," Carroll said. "He's making every claim why he has been a good football player and why we're going to play him when it comes to this fall."
That is the culmination of a comeback that began over the final eight regular-season games last year as Baldwin shook off an injury-riddled start in which he missed much of training camp with a hamstring injury, suffered two broken front teeth in the fourth quarter of Seattle's Week 1 loss at Arizona and missed another game with a high ankle sprain.
"I had to overcome that," Baldwin said, "and had to rebuild my confidence through the end of last year up to this year. Now, I'm healthy, I'm feeling good, my mental state is back to where it was."
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