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 @ 4:15pm
RENTON – Two things have been made abundantly clear over the three-plus years Pete Carroll and John Schneider have been at the helm of the Seahawks.
One, they don't shy away from players with past legal troubles. Bruce Irvin and Marshawn Lynch are prime examples that a less-than-impeccable record isn't necessarily a deal breaker in Seattle's eyes.
Two, they seek out players with builds that are unique to a given position. Seattle's defense has physical oddities at every level.
In that way, Tharold Simon is the quintessential Seahawks pick. When they chose the LSU product in the fifth round on Saturday, it was another sign of their affinity for oversized cornerbacks as well as their willingness to take on a player who at one point or another had been in trouble with the law or his college team – or in this case, both.
"I know they like tall, physical corners and I'm a tall, physical corner," Tharold Simon said after the Seahawks drafted him. (AP)
So they didn't rush to judgment when Simon was arrested in his hometown of Eunice, La. Thursday – the first night of the draft – and charged with public intimidation, resisting arrest and unnecessary noise after a dispute with an off-duty police officer who had told him to move his car.
"We were able to speak with his attorneys and feel comfortable with the situation," Schneider said. "That's really all I can say about it."
According to the Associated Press, a police report stated that Simon told the officer he could have him fired and then resisted as he was being arrested for making that threat.
"I had 30 witnesses right there that know I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't say nothing wrong. I'm a humble guy," Simon said during a conference call after he was drafted. "I'm embarrassed about what happened because it shouldn't have happened."
Simon already had one blemish on his resume – a failed drug test in 2011 that led to a one-game suspension – so there's no doubt he was relieved to be drafted following an arrest that could not have come at a worse time. He wasn't entirely surprised it was Seattle that chose him, though. And he wasn't disappointed, either.
"I was just watching the draft, hoping they would take me," he said. "I knew they liked me a lot."
Simon, listed as tall as 6-feet-3 and anywhere from 193 to 202 pounds, has the size and physicality that are distinguishing traits of Seattle's cornerbacks. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are both over 6-feet-3 and weigh at least 195 pounds, physical anomalies at a position that traditionally has required the quickness, agility and top-end speed not often found in players that big.
The fact that Sherman and Browner have become arguably the NFL's best cornerback duo speaks to how the Seahawks differ from the rest of the league in the way they evaluate players – focusing more on what they can do as opposed to what they can't.
|Height/Weight:||6-3, 193 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 5, 138 overall|
|College stats:||Made 15 starts and played in 34 games over three seasons, finishing career with 7 interceptions, 22 pass breakups, 99 tackles and 1 forced fumble.|
Dodds saw that ability in Simon, a player he had scouted for the past two seasons. Simon isn't the fastest cornerback in this year's class – the Seahawks clocked him at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day – but he can recover when it appears he's been beat.
Dodds remembered a play from last season in which Simon was trailing a receiver who had gained separation before he closed and made the interception.
"I'm going, 'There's no way he catches this ball,' and he caught it," Dodds said.
The Seahawks see Simon as an outside corner as opposed to one who will cover the slot, so any playing time he gets as a rookie will most likely come on special teams or if Sherman or Browner become injured. Seattle doesn't need Simon to be a major contributor this season, which could be said about every one of their 11 draft picks.
Seattle drafted Simon more with an eye toward 2014 and beyond. Browner will be a restricted free agent at the end of this coming season, the same time Sherman will become eligible for an extension. Will the Seahawks be able to afford both having already spent money to retain some core players and knowing the bill will soon come due for quarterback Russell Wilson? Simon is a contingency plan in that regard.
"He looks like a guy that is right in the same format as the guys that we have – very long, very aggressive," Carroll said. "He should fit in very well."
Saturday, April 27, 2013 @ 7:52pm
RENTON – Consider it a good problem to have.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll had a hard time convincing rookie free agents to sign with the Seahawks, a reflection of the strength of Seattle's roster and the difficulty those players will have to even make the team, let alone make an impact.
"This was the hardest rookie free agent period we've ever had," Schneider said before the team announced the addition of nine undrafted rookies. "Pete was recruiting like crazy just now, and we were negotiating with a bunch of guys. Once you know that guys are making very hard decisions to come with you, that's when you know you're improving."
Seattle's nine undrafted rookies include wide receiver Matt Austin (Utah State); tackle Alvin Bailey (Arkansas); defensive end Kenneth Boatright (Southern Illinois); linebackers Ramon Buchanan (Miami), John Lotulelei (UNLV) and Craig Wilkins (Old Dominion); strong safety Ray Polk (Colorado); guard Jordon Roussos (Bowling Green) and running back Dominique Whaley (Oklahoma).
The Seahawks' 11-member draft class didn't include a linebacker, a mild surprise given their overall lack of depth at the position and the fact that one starting spot remains unsettled. That helps explain why three of their rookie free agents are linebackers.
"We got a couple [linebackers] that we will sign in free agency ... that were guys we were hoping to draft at one point in the draft in a couple different spots," Carroll said. "So we were very fortunate to get a couple guys to come on board here after the seventh round was done."
Saturday, April 27, 2013 @ 1:15am
RENTON – The Seahawks emerged from Day 2 of the NFL Draft with a new running back, a new defensive tackle, and the same number of picks with which they began the day.
Seattle acquired additional fifth- and sixth-round picks from Baltimore after moving down six spots in the second round. The result is that the Seahawks will enter the final day of the draft with 10 selections and just as many chances to make hay in the later rounds, where in past years they've found gems like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright.
"We're looking forward to this. This has been a great area of the draft for us," coach Pete Carroll said from the team's headquarters. "To have this many picks, with the trade that we made, we go in very optimistically that we're going come up with some good stuff. There's some terrific kids there in the draft at this point.
"We've worked very hard at this aspect of the draft. [General manager John Schneider's] guys have done a great job to prepare us for this, so this is a big time for us."
Seattle's 10 picks include one in the fourth round (No. 123 overall), three in the fifth (138, 158 and 165), two in the sixth (194 and 199) and four in the seventh (220, 231, 241 and 242).
Ten picks over the final four rounds is a luxury for a team that doesn't have many remaining holes. The Seahawks drafted defensive tackle Jordan Hill in the third round, a move they felt they had to make after letting starter Alan Branch leave in free agency.
Now, outside linebacker might be the closest thing Seattle has to a pressing need. Leroy Hill is an unrestricted free agent and isn't expected to be re-signed, which would create a vacancy on the weak side. The Seahawks have some in-house options, though. Malcolm Smith saw some action there late in the season in place of Hill, and free-agent addition Cliff Avril can play linebacker even though he's primarily a pass rusher.
A pass-catching tight end to pair with Zach Miller might also be on the Seahawks' wishlist. So could a backup quarterback with enough mobility to run the read-option and a kicker with a stronger leg than that of Steven Hauschka.
Other positions could be addressed with an eye toward 2014 and beyond.
Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Antoine Winfield form what might be the best cornerback trio in the NFL, but Seattle could find itself at a crossroads with those three after this season. Winfield will be 36 and an unrestricted free agent. Browner is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, and it's fair to wonder if the Seahawks will be able to pay him him if they have to break the bank for Sherman, who will be eligible for an extension.
Seattle is similarly stacked at wide receiver after adding Percy Harvin to a group that already included Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. The significant amount of money the Seahawks are committing to Harvin and Rice could make it difficult to keep all four once Tate (unrestricted) and Baldwin (restricted) become free agents after 2013. Drafting a receiver would give the Seahawks a cost-effective contingency plan.
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 5:49pm
ESPN's John Clayton and Mike Sando joined "Brock and Danny" on Monday for a roundtable discussion on how the Seahawks are approaching this week's draft, their fourth under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Below are some of the highlights.
How Harvin trade could change approach. The Seahawks don't have a first-round pick after sending it to Minnesota in the Percy Harvin trade, a deal that also cost Seattle a seventh-round pick and next year's third. Clayton and Sando agreed that while the Seahawks still have 10 picks at their disposal this year and only a few holes to fill, not having those earlier selections reduces the margin for error that would otherwise exist.
While the Seahawks have found gems in the fourth and fifth rounds, they've also whiffed on players like Kris Durham. (AP)
The Seahawks have also gotten little or nothing from other players they've drafted in those two rounds. E.J. Wilson was released during his rookie season while fellow fourth-round pick Kris Durham was let go after a year. Fifth-round picks Mark LeGree and Korey Toomer didn't make the team as rookies.
"Those misses really hurt him (Schneider) personally even though they've had great success in the draft," Sando said, "so I think they really will try to avoid some of the higher-risk moves they've made at times in the middle rounds."
The Seahawks have two picks in the fifth round and four in the seventh.
Take your pick. Tavon Austin, a wide receiver from West Virginia, was Clayton's choice when posed a hypothetical question asking which player he'd pick regardless of position, need or draft order. Clayton thinks the Seahawks viewed Austin as a game-changing playmaker worthy of taking with the 25th overall pick, and he theorized that Seattle traded for Harvin after determining that Austin wouldn't last that long. Trading up, say, five spots might have cost the Seahawks a third-round pick, which is what they included in the trade for Harvin.
Chance Warmack from Alabama was the name Sando mentioned while making the case for a stud guard who could solidify Seattle's offensive line. Clayton agreed with the idea, noting that using such a high pick on a non-premium position is easier to justify now that the rookie wage scale has made first-round salaries more affordable.
O'Neil pointed to right tackle Breno Giacomini as an example of the Seahawks' ability to find starting offensive linemen who weren't high draft picks. Guards Paul McQuistan and J.R. Sweezy are other players who have developed under offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Trading up? Because the Seahawks have a strong roster and few openings, Carroll has said some of their 10 draft picks might not make the team. With that in mind, O'Neil asked whether it would make sense to trade some of those picks to move up in the second round.
Sando doesn't think they'll need to, the reason being that because they tend to evaluate players differently than other teams, someone they're targeting could be available when it's their turn to make the 56th overall pick.
"I really couldn't justify giving up even more of your number of picks because they've hit on enough of those middle-round picks," Sando said.
Thursday, April 18, 2013 @ 4:11pm
A trip to the divisional round of the playoffs and some high-profile offseason additions have put the Seahawks in the discussion of the NFL's best teams.
The league's schedule makers apparently agree.
The Seahawks will see their share of the spotlight in 2013 with four prime-time games highlighting their regular-season schedule, which was announced Thursday. That includes two Monday night appearances and one apiece on Thursday night and Sunday night.
Below is the Seahawks schedule, with home games in bold:
Week 1. Sunday, Sept. 8: at Panthers, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 2. Sunday, Sept. 15: 49ers, 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Week 3. Sunday, Sept. 22: Jaguars, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Week 4. Sunday, Sept. 29: at Texans. 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 5. Sunday, Oct. 6: at Colts, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 6. Sunday, Oct. 13: Titans, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Week 7. Thursday, Oct. 17: at Cardinals, 5:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
Week 8. Monday, Oct. 28: at Rams, 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)
Week 9. Sunday, Nov. 3: Buccaneers, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Week 10. Sunday, Nov. 10: at Falcons, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 11. Sunday, Nov, 17: Vikings, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 12: BYE
Week 13. Monday, Dec. 2: Saints, 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)
Week 14. Sunday, Dec. 8: at 49ers, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 15. Sunday, Dec. 15: at Giants, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 16. Sunday, Dec. 22: Cardinals, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Week 17. Sunday, Dec. 29: Rams, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
A few thoughts on the schedule:
Prime-time. The Seahawks didn't have a prime-time game in 2010, when coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider inherited a team that had gone 9-23 over its previous two seasons. Their four prime-time games in 2013 -- their most since having five in 2006 -- is another testament to how far they've come in three years.
TGIM. Games against the Rams in St. Louis and the Saints in Seattle will give the Seahawks a chance to improve their league-best .692 winning percentage on Monday Night Football. Seattle has won its last six Monday night games.
Rise and shine. Seattle's schedule includes five road games with the dreaded 10 a.m. PST start time, including the season opener against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. Teams coming from the West Coast have long lamented the early kickoffs because of the difficult adjustment players' bodies face after traveling across the country. The Seahawks went 1-4 in 10 a.m. starts last year, including their playoff loss to Atlanta.
Toughest stretch. A home game against the 49ers in Week 2 kicks off what looks like the most difficult four-game stretch. Seattle hosts the lowly Jaguars a week later before hitting the road for consecutive 10 a.m. games against the Texans and Colts, both playoff teams in 2012.
Easiest stretch. Nothing jumps out as a cakewalk on this schedule, but Weeks 6-9 seems like the easiest four-game stretch in the absence of a more obvious choice. The Titans, Cardinals, Rams and Buccaneers all missed the playoffs and finished below .500 in 2012. That stretch includes road games against Arizona and St. Louis, which the Seahawks lost in 2012. But they'll benefit from a 10-day break between the Thursday night game against Arizona and the Monday night game against St. Louis.
Home sweet home. The Seahawks will play five of their final eight games at home for the second year in a row. Their second-half schedule also includes a Week 12 bye. Two of their eight home opponents made the playoffs last season. Seattle went 8-0 at CenturyLink Field last year.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 1:32pm
Brock Huard has asked a handful of former NFL quarterbacks this offseason for their take on how the Seahawks' Russell Wilson can take the next step in his second NFL season.
For Jim Zorn, another former Seahawk who's now the Chiefs' quarterbacks coach, it's being prepared for the new looks Wilson will see from defenses who will have had a year's worth of his tape to study.
On Wednesday, Huard got a chance to ask Wilson himself the same question.
"The thing that I'm always trying to harp on is just my footwork," Wilson said. "Being at the Pro Bowl with guys like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning and talking to other players as well and asking them questions, the biggest thing that they said took their game to another level was just their footwork, how they worked on it every single morning, every single day."
It makes perfect sense that Wilson would solicit advise on footwork from Brees, who's slightly taller than Wilson but still short by NFL quarterback standards. For shorter quarterbacks, the ability to efficiently move around the pocket to find passing lanes is essential. For Brees in particular, sound footwork is commonly cited by experts on the subject as a reason he plays at an MVP level despite lacking prototypical height.
"This game's all about timing, this game's all about being able to maneuver," Wilson said.
That will be a focus for Wilson as he continues his on-field work over the offseason.
"It's about when you're taking those extra reps in seven-on-seven, it's not just doing the same five- or seven-step drop, you've got to be able to move and make the throws, even if nobody's there," he said. "You've got to have an imagination to the game. I think being able to visualize that and work on that it's really going to allow my game to continue to elevate."
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 12:11am
Those paying close attention to the moves made this offseason by the Seahawks and 49ers might have noticed a pattern.
Each team opened the new league year by trading for a high-profile wide receiver, with Percy Harvin coming to Seattle and Anquan Boldin joining San Francisco.
The Seahawks and 49ers both traded away a backup quarterback they considered good enough to start, moves that necessitated a replacement and reflected how highly each team regards its starter.
Reports of the Seahawks' addition of Antoine Winfield came a week and a half after the 49ers added Nnamdi Asomugha, another veteran cornerback with Pro Bowls on his resume.
The similarities in those moves might be purely coincidental, but it's all made good fodder for debate over which NFC West rival has assembled the best roster. If you ask Matt Williamson, a former NFL scout who now works for ESPN's Scouts Inc., the Seahawks have a slight edge.
"I think it's going to be the best rivalry in the league and the most physical game of the year," ESPN's Matt Williamson said of the Seahawks and 49ers. (AP)
Unlike their 49ers counterparts, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider had to overhaul their roster en route assembling a Super Bowl contender. What's sped up the process, as Williamson noted, has been their ability to find cheap talent through the draft. Russell Wilson, for example, is making well under $1 million per season, whereas some teams are paying their franchise quarterbacks more than $15 million a year.
"They're getting great quarterback play, but it's not abusing their salary cap," Williamson said.
The Seahawks and 49ers finished first and second, respectively, in scoring defense last season. Williamson thinks Seattle surpassed San Francisco on defense but said the draft will provide the 49ers with a chance to regain their edge. San Francisco owns three picks in the first two rounds, while Seattle has one.
"I think that the Niners will get better on draft day than the Seahawks do, but it's going to be a great power race just watching these two," he said, "and I think we're splitting hairs to say who the better team is."
A few more of Williamson's thoughts:
The read-option's future. Williamson doesn't think the read-option will be a passing fad like the Wildcat, but he questions how effective it will be now that it will no longer catch defenses by surprise.
"Think back just 365 days ago. The only teams that were running the read-option were Cam Newton and the Panthers and [Tim] Tebow and the Broncos, and at this point [last year] he was a Jet and Peyton Manning was in place. So defensive coordinators weren't preparing for it all offseason," Williamson said. "This year, I'm sure every defensive coordinator is grinding that tape like crazy on how do we stop the read-option, they're calling their buddies in college, 'give us some tips.'"
Williamson doesn't think the read-option can be a staple of a team's offense because of the risk it poses to quarterbacks who are exposed to extra hits. The read-option was much more of a wrinkle than a staple for the Seahawks last season, which is an important distinction to make when discussing its sustainability.
'Not a fan' of Brady Quinn. Williamson thinks backup quarterback is one of the Seahawks' biggest needs. In his mind, that's as much of a testament to the overall strength of the roster as it is an indictment of Brady Quinn, who's currently Seattle's presumed No. 2 quarterback after signing with the team last week. One of Quinn's biggest problems, according to Williamson, is that he's "way too hesitant to pull the trigger."
The good news for the Seahawks, according to Williamson, is that their defense and running game would be good enough to win games without great play from their backup quarterback.
Winfield's skillset. It's safe to say Williamson likes the addition of cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Seattle. He cited Winfield's physicality and ability to defend against the run as reasons why he's ideally suited to play inside as a slot corner.
"He has good short-area quickness but not elite speed anymore, so you don't want him running down the sidelines with A.J. Green so much as you'd rather him do battle with the Wes Welkers and the slot receivers and blitz ..., have him attack the running game," he said.