Updated Feb 1, 2014 - 1:52 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 3:56pm
INDIANAPOLIS – Less will be more.
That's what Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins believes anyway, and it is the reason he weighed in at 262 pounds at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday, a full 20 pounds lighter than he played at last season for the Huskies when he bulked up to assume a larger blocking role.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has dropped 20 pounds from the weight he played at last season at Washington. (AP)
We'll see. There might not be a player at this scouting combine with more to gain. If the sleeker Seferian-Jenkins runs well, he can shed the worries that he's a bit too lumbering to be chosen in the first two rounds.
That seemed like a slam dunk after his sophomore season as he had caught 110 passes in his first two years on campus. Not only that, he was athletic enough to not only play basketball as a freshman, but to see snaps as a defensive lineman as a sophomore.
Then came a junior year in which Washington changed offenses, going from a pro-style system to a hurry-up format. Seferian-Jenkins was suspended the first game after being charged with DUI, and he finished 2013 with 36 catches, fewest in any of his three seasons as a Husky.
"We changed our offense a little," Seferian-Jenkins said. "I was asked to block more. So I decided to gain weight. And it helped me out blocking."
Seferian-Jenkins is sure to be asked about his DUI, too, after a single-car crash resulted in his arrest. It was a mistake, a crime, that Seferian-Jenkins said was something that will never happen again.
"It's a learning lesson," he said. "I learned it, but it's one incident and that doesn't change who I am and I think people in Seattle and Tacoma know who I am as a person and character, and I don't think I am a character risk or a character issue at all."
Citizenship isn't going to determine whether Seferian-Jenkins is a first-round pick, though. That's going to come down to his performance as the NFL looks to see if less weight will translate to more athleticism.
Seferian-Jenkins seems pretty sure of that, saying he hopes to run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.7 seconds.
"Somewhere in the 4.6s," he said.
That kind of speed would improve his draft stock in a hurry.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 1:38pm
By Brady Henderson
Neither Golden Tate nor Doug Baldwin are under contract for next season, but the Seahawks receivers are in completely different positions as free agency approaches. Tate is unrestricted while Baldwin is restricted, a distinction that Danny O'Neil noted and explained during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk". The entire transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
Paco-POA asked whether it would be cheaper to re-sign Baldwin over Tate and wondered if that should be the bigger priority.
O'Neil: I don't disagree with that sentiment. I think that there are logistical difficulties there. Here's what I mean by that: Golden Tate is an unrestricted free agent, which means he's going to get an open-market offer. It means that he'll be able to see whether Seattle values him as much as other teams in the league and measure the difference. There's a greater chance that Tate would leave. There's also a chance that he will see that Seattle's offer is equal to what other teams are offering. For Baldwin, there's less chance he leaves. But if he and the Seahawks can't agree on contract terms, the open market won't necessarily be able to bridge that gap. Baldwin won't be unrestricted, and any offer he receives from another team will be tempered because there's additional compensation that will go to Seattle. Baldwin would feel (rightly) that the other team's offer isn't a true reflection of what his open-market value would be.
odel asked if the Seahawks would consider drafting Odell Beckham Jr., a receiver from LSU, if they don't retain Tate.
O'Neil: Odell Beckham Jr. getting some love. Here are a couple of things I know: Seattle was very interested in Jahvid Best when he came out. Ditto for Tavon Austin before he blew up the combine last year. What that says to me is that Seattle's preference for size at wide receiver/running back can be trumped when it perceives exceptional speed.
Nate asked whether the Seahawks might cut or restructure the contracts of defensive ends Chris Clemons or Red Bryant for salary-cap relief.
O'Neil: Two different players, two different questions. If I had to project – and that's certainly what it would be at this point, projecting – I would guess that there's a much higher likelihood that Clemons' contract would be changed this offseason. And don't use "restructured" as a term there. Restructuring is what someone like Larry Fitzgerald does, and it refers to a situation where the players' monetary compensation doesn't change so much as the timeline for how it's paid out. Clemons' deal wouldn't be restructured if Seattle revisits it. It would be changed.
shmitty asked if it would be cheaper to sign kicker Steven Hauschka to a multi-year deal rather than use the franchise tag on him.
O'Neil: Depends on what Hauschka wants long-term. If it was cheaper to sign him to a deal than franchise him, they would do that. Challenge is the longer-term commitment to a kicker when every bit of statistical evidence shows that the performance of kickers is so variable as to make multi-year commitments at higher dollar figures problematic. See: Mare, Olindo.
Greg asked when the Seahawks and free safety Earl Thomas will reach a new deal.
O'Neil: Well, I wouldn't expect any contract extensions to come before June. There's no timetable for them to get done earlier. No urgency. For the player, he wants to eliminate the risk of injury during the season. For the team, it wants to get the salaries in line.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 8:32am
By Danny O'Neil
The Mariners came out swinging in spring training.
At least their manager did.
Lloyd McClendon took exception to the fact that Robinson Cano's former hitting coach with the Yankees took exception to the fact that Cano didn't always sprint his very fastest to first base when he grounds out.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon took exception to critical comments made about Robinson Cano by the second baseman's former hitting coach with the Yankees. (AP)
And for all the attention that will be rightfully heaped on the message McClendon sent by barking back at the pin-striped criticism, a tip of the cap is in order for the ruthless efficiency he exhibited in the verbal defenestration that had Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long bowing out.
"I'm not going to get in a media war with Lloyd McClendon," Long said, according to the New York Daily News. "He'd probably win that anyway."
Yes he would. At least if we're judging by Tuesday's comments in which it appeared that Long started a gun fight only to find out he was packing a wooden spoon, which McClendon snatched away and used to paddle Long. It was a verbal TKO as impressive as it was important.
But we're getting ahead of things. Let's rewind to where things started, which was Monday's edition of the New York Daily News. Long was quoted saying that of all the things that Cano addressed and improved over his time with the Yankees, the one thing that never really changed was his propensity for not running out ground balls.
"If somebody told me I was a dog, I'd have to fix that," Long said, according to the newspaper. "When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that's your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to."
Long even invoked the hallowed name of Saint Derek Jeter to point out that the current embodiment of all things Yankee had said something to Cano about hustling.
Now, McClendon had a variety of options at this point. He could profess ignorance as to what Long had said or that he had no idea what Long was talking about or even that he had no idea who Long was. Instead, McClendon treated Long's criticism like a belt-high fastball, turning on it with sufficient power to warrant a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown.
What McClendon said: "Last time I checked, I didn't know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees. That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I'm sure Joe feels the same way. He's concerned with his team and what they're doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing."
Why it worked: McClendon makes it clear that Long was speaking out of turn, something that was both surprising and aggravating. Bonus points for McClendon's mention of Joe, which is Yankees manager Joe Girardi. That would be Long's boss, and by referring to him by first name McClendon makes it clear that they are peers, Long an underling.
"I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting," McClendon said about Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. (AP)
Why it worked: The snide reference to Long's book "Cage Rat" is nothing short of phenomenal, implying that Long is now biting the hand that in some way helped feed him because Cano's success was part of Long's credentials. Recycling the spokesman line was the only flaw.
What McClendon said: "I understand. I get it. I was a major-league player. There are times when you hit balls and you're frustrated as hell and you don't give it 100 percent. As long as you don't dog it down the line, what's the difference between 65 and 85 percent? Just run down the line. Sometimes that stuff is blown out of proportion."
Why it worked: It's not just what McClendon says here, pointing out that his history as a player makes him capable of understanding Cano's motivation. It's also what McClendon doesn't say because while he as a major-league player, Long was not. A 31st-round draft pick, Long played eight seasons in the minor leagues. McClendon caps it off by stating the whole issue is pretty insignificant.
What McClendon said: "To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25 to 30 home runs. I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don't dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I'm expecting you to give me a good effort."
Why it worked: It puts the focus on his player's strengths, pointing to his history and his accomplishments and minimizing any concern he might have over perceived flaws. It also sets a standard for what McClendon will expect.
But more than anything, it showed the Mariners what they can expect from their manager. He's someone not only willing to come to their defense, but capable. Very capable as everyone found out Tuesday, even Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long.
No wait, especially Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long.
Monday, February 17, 2014 @ 7:32am
By Danny O'Neil
The Mariners might have the strongest pair in baseball in Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano.
It's the rest of the roster that is puzzlingly uncertain, whether you're talking about the starting outfield or just who is going to fill the No. 3 spot in the rotation.
This is not entirely a bad thing. Well, at least not among the position players. The uncertainty in the back end of the starting rotation is a potentially fatal flaw, but on the diamond, the unknown reflects something the Mariners haven't had too much of recently: options.
Seattle has some this year, and that more than anything is what differentiates this year's spring-training storylines from last season.
There were no choices last year. Not with a trio of players whose jobs were bestowed more than they were earned, the Mariners hoping – just hoping – that players like Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak would be ready to fulfill the promise that had greeted each of their acquisitions.
We all know how that turned out. Ackley and Montero played their way into position changes, and while Smoak hit 20 home runs, he actually begins this season with less job security than a year ago.
That's a good thing, signifying competition, whether it's Nick Franklin and Brad Miller vying to be the starting shortstop or the game of musical chairs that Smoak, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison may wind up playing.
In fact, there are exactly three of eight positions on the diamond that could be considered settled for Seattle at this point. Cano is at second base for what the Mariners hope will be the first of 10 seasons. Kyle Seager is at third base, and Mike Zunino is going to be the catcher.
The rest is up for grabs, which means there's no time for patience. Not like last year when the Mariners entered the season believing that the hard lessons of 2012 would toughen up some of their younger players, yielding dividends in 2013.
This season, instead of preaching patience, the Mariners are in position to wait and watch who emerges this spring, whether it's someone like Michael Saunders showing a consistency that has eluded him or a prospect like Abraham Almonte landing a role with a strong spring.
There's no doubt about the front end of Seattle's roster. Hernandez and Cano are as good as it gets in Major League Baseball. Whether the Mariners can round out a winning team will depend on finding answers elsewhere. And while there's a great deal of uncertainty in that regard, the Mariners do have options, something they didn't a year ago.
Friday, February 14, 2014 @ 12:42pm
Special to 710Sports.com
MLB analyst Keith Law of ESPN.com joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Friday to share his thoughts on the Mariners as they prepare to begin spring training. Here are some notes from the discussion:
ESPN's Keith Law thinks the roster assembled by general manager Jack Zduriencik and skipper Lloyd McClendon is the third-best in the American League West. (AP)
"This feels like we've got a business plan for the offseason," Law said, "and they got to about page three or five and there's still something left."
• Zunino could be a franchise player. Law singled out catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Logan Morrison as potential breakout candidates this season. "Zunino's the easy one," he said. "Incredibly talented, great makeup, I like his feel to hit, I think that he's got more power than people have seen so far in pro ball." Law added: "That's a franchise player. I think he's a guy that you build your lineup around offensively and defensively for the next five years." Law said the key for Morrison is simply staying healthy: "I think he can hit, he's disciplined, he's got at least 20-homer power. It's just that he's never shown that ability to stay on the field for a full season."
• Walker's delivery is a concern. Of the Mariners' early spring injuries, Law is most concerned with starting pitcher Taijuan Walker's sore shoulder. "Walker's delivery is very stiff, he finishes very upright, facing the plate as opposed to getting loose and extended over his front side," he said. Law cited studies done by the American Sports Medicine Institute, which have found that pitchers with similarly stiff deliveries are more likely to develop shoulder problems.
• Franklin has trade value. Law thinks that infielder Nick Franklin can be a very good everyday player but will struggle to see playing time behind second baseman Robinson Cano and shortstop Brad Miller. However, Law thinks Franklin can be a valuable trade chip. "They need to convert him into something they can use," he said. "You can't play Franklin, Miller and Cano and I'm pretty sure Cano is going to play out of those three. That probably leaves Franklin as the odd-man out. They've got to flip him for something else that they need ... carrying Franklin or sending him back to Triple-A, it's the sense of incompleteness." Law added that he would trade Walker and Franklin for Rays pitcher David Price.
Thursday, February 13, 2014 @ 8:54am
By Danny O'Neil
Michael Sam's decision to be open about his sexual orientation is not an "issue."
It is not a "distraction" nor is it a "concern."
Sam's sexuality is a fact that should be accepted immediately and without reservation for a player who is both eligible and eminently qualified for NFL employment.
That reality can get lost after a week in which so many have wondered if teams will be discouraged from choosing Sam based on the fear of impacting the delicate pH balance of their locker rooms either because of the presence of a gay man or the public furor and media scrutiny caused by the presence of that gay man.
Yep, that's right. There's a question of how this league – whose teams have employed drunk drivers, accused rapists and men convicted of manslaughter – will handle the "distraction" of an openly gay player.
Now, that is not to compare being gay to criminal activity. It's to point out that there are players who have been convicted of crimes whose NFL employment has inspired less introspection and fewer questions than someone who is gay, which is a decidedly non-criminal and legally protected right.
It's a right that no one has exercised. Not while in the NFL. Or in MLB. Or while playing in the NBA.
That makes Sam a pioneer of sorts, which has produced comparisons to Jackie Robinson. That's intended to be a compliment, but it's a poor parallel for about a thousand reasons, the principal one being that baseball was integrated at a time when American society was still segregated. Pro sports were ahead of society when Robinson broke the color barrier whereas men's professional team sports today are among the last industries where sexual orientation could be considered a factor in employment.
It's up to this league full of NFL players to act like grown-ups now and behave like the professionals they are. This is a league chock full of diversity in terms of class, race and creed. Adding someone as accomplished and proud as Sam is only going to further enrich this league while inevitably breaking down the stereotypes and misconceptions.
How will NFL players handle showering with an openly gay teammate? Probably the same way the Missouri Tigers did last season after Sam told his teammates he was gay in August and went on to be a leader on a team that only lost one game. His sexuality caused so little tension that it was not reported until Sam announced it himself nearly half a year after telling his college teammates.
Acceptance is a personal issue that every member of the locker room must answer for himself. Tolerance, however, is not. And a player doesn't have to endorse a teammate's lifestyle any more than he endorses his religious beliefs, but he does have to be willing to co-exist. Live and let live and all that.
The locker room is a workplace after all. An odd workplace to be certain, often profane and always competitive, but a workplace without room for discrimination.
I hope there is room Sam. I know there should be.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 @ 4:40pm
By Brady Henderson
The initial salary-cap report from ESPN Stats & Information estimates that the Seahawks are more than $3 million over the projected 2014 threshold, which is a reminder of the tough decisions they'll have to make this offseason in order to maintain and add to their championship roster.
Potential subtraction, retention and addition were among the topics covered in the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
BlatantChipmunk asked if defensive end Red Bryant is a candidate to have his deal restructured.
Red Bryant (79) is scheduled to count $8.5 million against the Seahawks' salary cap in 2014, but who would fill his role as the team's run-stuffing defense end in his absence? (AP)
Beast asked about the possibility of Seattle trading Bryant and re-signing Michael Bennett with the intention of having him replace Bryant as the strong-side defensive end.
O'Neil: You're not going to trade Red Bryant because you would take the same significant cap hit you would as releasing him. And Michael Bennett is fully 50 pounds lighter. He's not going to be able to be that every-down five-technique.
Beast asked whether the speculation about the Seahawks cutting Zach Miller for financial reasons in premature based on how valuable the tight end's blocking is to Seattle's offense.
O'Neil: Yes, I think the discussion of letting Miller go is horribly premature and overblown. Hard for me to imagine him not on the team next year. He played 58 of 60 snaps in the Super Bowl.
MikeH asked if backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will be back next season or if he'll get a chance to start elsewhere.
O'Neil: Great question, and I don't know if anyone knows the answer to that. I don't think he'll get a starting spot, but could he be a veteran bridge for a team looking to break in a younger quarterback? And I look at a team like Jacksonville with Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert and I can't help but think that he would be better.
MikeH asked if fullback Michael Robinson is planning to play again next year.
O'Neil: Knowing Mike Rob, I would expect he's a competitor who is hoping to play next season. Knowing Mike Rob, I also know he's a realist who's not counting on that as a certainty.
Whidbey Mike marveled over Marshawn Lynch's running ability and wondered whether Christine Michael will ever be able to replicate it.
O'Neil: Do I think it's likely that Christine Michael will be as good as Marshawn Lynch? No. I don't think that's likely. I also think Marshawn Lynch is the best running back this franchise has had, and that's really saying something. I think that Michael can be an effective runner in the league, maybe even exceptional, but expecting him to be like Lynch is unrealistic.
kobe berg expressed confidence in Bruce Irvin's ability to be a good outside linebacker with more experience.
O'Neil: The problem is that Bruce Irvin's dominant skill is his pass rush, and he was in a role where that wasn't used – pretty much at all – the second half of the season. I would expect the Seahawks to try and get him back to some pass-rushing opportunities. I would agree with you, though, that he's a competent starting linebacker in this league. I just think that he's more talented than that.
Hozzzy said the Seahawks would be a great fit for Missouri's Michael Sam – who recently announced he's gay – even though they don't need much help at linebacker.
O'Neil: I don't think Seattle is the only place that would be great for the player, but I totally agree that Seattle would be a great environment. Everything about Pete Carroll's approach to coaching is not to "let" players be who they are, but to celebrate who they are. But I honestly have no idea how Seattle evaluates him. He seems stockier than they've typically liked their LEOs.
Mr. Triangle asked about Austin Seferian-Jenkins' blocking ability and whether the former Washington tight end would fit in Seattle's offense.
O'Neil: I don't think ASJ is a good blocker let alone a great one. His height actually poses kind of a problem in that department. The presence of Luke Willson makes it even more unlikely Seattle would choose a more receiving oriented tight end in that spot.
Monday, February 10, 2014 @ 11:54am
"I think the problem is going to be the media that want to break the story," former Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck told the Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday. "Now this is a political issue, so all the political groups out there are going to be wanting some fuel for their fire and fundraising."
Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri, publicly revealed he's gay on Sunday.
"I understand how big this is," Sam said in the ESPN interview. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
His disclosure was welcomed by a number of players, including Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith. The Super Bowl MVP praised Sam's courage in a Twitter post.
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
Tobeck says if Sam is sincere and acts like a professional football player in the locker room, he should be welcomed by most players. The 14-year veteran says he played with a closeted teammate he and his teammates knew about, and it posed no problem.
"If that's the case, and that's the attitude he takes into the locker room and says 'hey I want to be one of the guys, you know I just like guys,' I think it'll be just fine."
Sam said in interviews Sunday he told his Missouri teammates last August he was gay and had no problems or repercussions. It certainly didn't hurt him on the field, where along with being first team All-American, he was also named his team's most valuable player and the top defensive player in the Southeastern Conference, considered the nation's best.
"I hope he gets a fair football evaluation, but I worry for him a number of teams will consider it a distraction and not give him a shot," says 710 ESPN's Danny O'Neil.
That seems to be the consensus of a number of insiders, including Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated. Thamel tells Brock and Danny after speaking with eight different NFL insiders "the blunt expectation from NFL people is it will negatively effect his draft stock."
"People are going to be worried about a locker room element that's never been introduced. Obviously, the NFL is a risk averse place with risk averse people running it."
Thamel also says Sam isn't a "slam-dunk" like other top-rated players because of his size and specific skill set, which could also hurt his draft standing with teams that have any hesitation.
Former Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard says he thinks most players wouldn't make a big issue out of Sam's sexuality, if he could find some way to stay out of the spotlight.
"I would say behind closed doors the biggest thing is selfishness. When you've got somebody that wants to put himself ahead of the rest, when he wants his accolades and he wants his awards, when the pronouns become 'my' not 'we.'"
But now that Sam has come out, it's going to be virtually impossible to avoid the conversation. The story has been non-stop on outlets from ESPN to the Today Show. And Thamel says it's not likely to go away any time soon, continuing into the upcoming season if he does join a team.
"This is one of those really unique stories that transcends sports into pop culture. It's kind of like what the Manti Te'o story did. It brings in the Oprah crowd," he says. "It's going to be hard for the media to resist not talking about it."
Huard agrees many teams won't want the headache. "The NFL wants to talk football, not this," he says.
"I'm conflicted about the role of the media here," says O'Neil, a veteran NFL beat reporter who has spent plenty of time in the locker room.
"There's the element of watchdog and making sure he's not discriminated against, and people are going to be looking for things that are salacious," he says.
As for Tobeck, he remains confident Sam will ultimately be accepted if he can help them achieve their ultimate goal and not divide the team. And while there will always be conflicts and factions anytime you put 53 guys in a locker room, he doesn't think Sam's sexuality needs to be that wedge.
"You know the teams that are successful find a way to put those things aside and just concentrate on the task at hand. And the task at hand for any football team in the NFL is to try to win the Super Bowl."
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.