Updated Sep 23, 2013 - 4:13 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 3:39pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – The Seahawks are taking a franchise-best record of 10-1 into their bye, assured of back-to-back seasons with 10 or more victories for the first time since Seattle entered the league in 1976.
But as many players headed on vacation for their week off, don't go thinking the Seahawks believe they've arrived at their final destination.
"We feel like we've accomplished a lot to get to this point in some regards," coach Pete Carroll said. "In other regards, we haven't done anything yet."
Receiver Jermaine Kearse is one of only two Seahawks who are injured, but coach Pete Carroll said the receiver is "not in bad shape at all" after leaving Sunday's game with a concussion. (AP)
But there we go getting ahead of ourselves. Monday was a chance to take stock of where Seattle is in this season and on its roster, and in both respects the answer is better than anyone had a right to hope for.
Seattle has won 10 of 11 games despite playing eight games without Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, seven games without the bookend on the other side of the line in Breno Giacomini and three games without Pro Bowl center Max Unger. Throw in the fact that receiver Percy Harvin – the team's most important offseason addition – just made his Seahawks debut, and it seems remarkable that Seattle was able to win as often as it did during a season in which six of its first 10 regular-season games were played on the road.
Then there's the matter of the roster. Since the regular season, the Seahawks have placed only two players from the active roster onto injured reserve: receiver Sidney Rice and running back Spencer Ware.
And of the 53 players on the roster, only two are currently injured. Receiver Jermaine Kearse left Sunday's game with a concussion while cornerback Brandon Browner has a severe groin strain that will have him out four to six weeks in a best-case scenario and potentially could keep him sidelined for longer than that.
"Hopefully by the end of this week, we'll know more," Carroll said. "He had a pretty good exam today, I know that. But he has a serious groin pull. It's legit. It's not just a pulled muscle. He had some tissue damage and stuff."
The fact that's the extent of the injuries Seattle is facing is nothing short of remarkable. In fact, Carroll was asked if he has ever had a team this healthy this late in the year.
"This is about as good as I can remember," Carroll said.
Harvin OK after debut
Harvin was sore after his debut for the Seahawks.
That's a good thing. It means he played a football game for the first time since Nov. 4 of last year, returning after undergoing hip surgery the first week of training camp. Harvin was on the field for 16 offensive plays from scrimmage and also returned one kickoff.
"He is a little sore," Carroll said. "Just normal. First time you get hit in a year and a half, he's going to feel it. But he'll benefit from the break as well. If we come back – if everything goes as we hope – then he'll be right back in the mix and be in the normal rotation, and returning kicks and the whole thing."
• Seattle is 1-2 coming off its bye under Carroll, having lost after its week off the past two seasons.
• Carroll said that Sunday's game was the best pass protection Seattle has had all season.
• Carroll said Kearse felt better Monday after a concussion forced him to leave Sunday's game. Kearse will benefit from having a week before the team practices again. "He's not in bad shape at all," Carroll said.
Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 11:56am
By Danny O'Neil
Examining the takeaways and unanswered questions from the Seahawks' 41-20 win over Minnesota at CenturyLink Field.
Three things we learned:
1. Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin could be quite a pair.
There was plenty of speculation that Harvin's addition would cost Baldwin opportunities. Well, Harvin's debut showed just how much he may help Baldwin.
That was certainly the case on both of Baldwin's receptions as he lined up outside with Harvin in the slot. In each case, Baldwin had a go route. In each case, Harvin's presence in the slot demanded attention from the safety. The result? First, a 44-yard completion that was the longest play from scrimmage for either team in Sunday's game. The second was even better for Seattle, though: a 19-yard touchdown catch in which Baldwin outleapt defenders.
With Sidney Rice out for the season, Baldwin is making a case that he is much more than just a slot specialist.
2. That's why Cliff Avril was such a get in free agency.
Avril and Paul Kruger were considered the top pass-rushers available in free agency, and it was considered a coup when Seattle signed Avril to a two-year deal. But through 10 games, Michael Bennett had made the biggest impact along Seattle's defensive line.
Sunday was a showcase for Avril. He came roaring off the edge on Minnesota's third play from scrimmage, chopping the ball away from Christian Ponder to force a fumble that Seattle's Clinton McDonald recovered. While it was his only sack, Avril was flying off the edge all game as he was simply too fast for offensive tackle Phil Loadholt. It was promising sign for Seattle's pass rush.
3. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson make a great double-play combination.
Last week in Atlanta, it was Lynch throwing back to Wilson, who pivoted like a great second baseman and threw downfield to Jermaine Kearse for a 43-yard touchdown.
This time, it was Wilson on the move making like a shortstop and flipping the ball to Lynch for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
It's the fourth time Lynch has scored three touchdowns in a game since he was acquired by the Seahawks.
Three things we're still trying to figure out:
1. Will Russell Wilson become a viable MVP candidate?
Because he should. Peyton Manning is certainly the favorite, and Drew Brees will get consideration, but Wilson is emerging as a third candidate. He's not going to be put the next-generation passing numbers like Manning, Brees or a stat monster like Matthew Stafford.
He does exactly what his team needs, extending plays with his scrambling ability, being careful with the ball and excelling on third down and in the red zone.
Wilson completed better than two-thirds of his pass attempts against Minnesota, passed for two touchdowns and a had a passer rating of 151.4, the second-best single-game rating in franchise history. He is truly remarkable.
2. How did Mike James rush for 158 yards against this defense?
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O'Neil: Less is more for Wilson, Seahawks||• Henderson: Harvin shines in Seahawks debut||• Wyman: The Percy Harvin Effect||• Pete Carroll: 10-1 Seahawks only getting better|
It was the second consecutive game in which Seattle showed a sturdy run defense. Last week, that came with the caveat that it was against Atlanta, which had the league's worst rushing offense. This time, Seattle held Peterson to just over one-third the rushing total he had against the Seahawks last season. That's something to boast about.
3. Will Seattle be held to fewer than 30 points in December?
Sure looks like this offense has turned the corner, an improvement that began to take root in the second half of Seattle's comeback against Tampa Bay. The Seahawks may not reach 50 points in back-to-back games like they did last December, but with Seattle's starting offensive tackles back and Harvin now playing, this offense appears to have turned the corner.
Sunday, November 17, 2013 @ 6:42pm
By Danny O'Neil
Russell Wilson completed passes to eight different Seahawks on Sunday, threw for a pair of touchdowns and didn't have a single rushing yard in the first half.
Hard to tell which of those facts was most important in Seattle's 41-20 victory over Minnesota, which was a lesson that less can be more. At least that's true for the Seahawks and their quarterback. Specifically: the less the team relies upon Wilson to do everything in this offense, the more he can do for this offense.
That fact shouldn't be lost amid all the attention and praise sure to be heaped upon Percy Harvin's debut. Yes, Harvin is as fast as advertised. He showed that on the 58-yard kickoff return. He's physical, too, a very gifted athlete whose one-handed juggling act led to a 17-yard reception. And if there was any doubt about the attention he'd demand from a defense, look back at those two passes Doug Baldwin caught behind the Minnesota defense. Those catches came when Harvin was lined up in the slot, just inside of Baldwin.
But can we pause the applause over Harvin's unveiling? Because it's worth taking a good hard look at what is happening with the guy who will be getting him the ball.
Wilson's ability to distribute the ball efficiently, almost evenly, was the single most important achievement for this offense. Well, that and the fact that Wilson didn't have to spend the first 4 seconds of every play using evasive maneuvers to escape the opposing pass rush.
The Seahawks had 24 points at halftime – matching their season-high for points in the first half – scored a touchdown on each of their first four red-zone possessions, and they did all that without any single player gaining so much as 70 yards from scrimmage. That was a testament to Wilson's ability to distribute.
Eight different players caught a pass from Russell Wilson on Sunday, including Percy Harvin in his Seahawks debut. (AP)
But for the first eight games of this season, Wilson was also getting hit entirely too often and after that Week 8 comeback against Tampa Bay, it showed. Simply taking off his shirt was obviously painful, and his postgame interview was delayed.
Well, he has been sacked once in each of the past two games, and darned if that hasn't coincided with two of Seattle's more complete offensive performances.
The Seahawks scored 17 points in the final 6:30 of the first half at Atlanta and 14 in the final 6:26 against Minnesota, and Wilson is getting a chance to play quarterback like a point guard, setting up his playmakers.
"He is right where we want him," coach Pete Carroll said.
Which is to say that he's getting everyone involved. For all the hoopla over Harvin's debut, it was tight end Zach Miller that led Seattle with four catches for 69 yards. Baldwin's 44-yard reception in the first quarter was Seattle's longest completion of the game and his 19-yard touchdown catch may have been the most difficult.
That brings us back to Harvin, whose enthusiasm for his quarterback was equal to the anticipation being felt around town for what that combination can do.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• Henderson: Harvin shines in Seahawks debut||• Wyman: The Percy Harvin Effect||• Pete Carroll: 10-1 Seahawks only getting better|
This is coming from a player who a year ago felt stymied in Minnesota, that the Vikings' lack of a vertical passing game was holding the team back. Harvin was asked after the game how the offense he's in compared to the one he left.
"This offense does the exact opposite," Harvin said. "It allows you to stretch the field."
That's more than just the scheme, but the quarterback who's running it – a guy who spent the first eight weeks taking hit after hit and still spinning gold as he ran out of the pocket.
The protection was hardly perfect on Sunday. In fact, there were several times it wasn't all that good, but it's much better than it was even three weeks ago.
That's translated to less of a burden on Wilson and a chance to show how much he can do with this offense.
Friday, November 15, 2013 @ 8:30am
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – The wait to see Seattle's offense at full stride is over, patience finally paying off.
When the Seahawks play Minnesota on Sunday, Seattle will see the offense that coach Pete Carroll has been hoping for all year.
Oh yeah, Percy Harvin is going to make his Seahawks' debut, too, but his return from hip surgery is a side story compared to the rebirth of the running game that is the heartbeat of this offense.
Marshawn Lynch has averaged 6 yards per carry while gaining 270 yards over Seattle's last two games, the highest two-week total of his career. (AP)
You could say the Seahawks have run away from one of their biggest problems the past two weeks except this is Marshawn Lynch we're talking about. And he doesn't run away from anything so much as he runs around, over and often times through it, and ever since he had a season-low eight carries on that that Monday night game in St. Louis, the running game has once again become the focal point for Seattle's offense.
"We took a step back to take a couple of steps forward," Carroll said. "We're going now."
Call it a closing kick, and the fact that Seattle has reasserted its running game is the single biggest reason to think the Seahawks are going to roll through not only this week's game against Minnesota, but the final month and a half of the season.
Yes, the schedule will help as Seattle plays four of the final six games at home. So will the debut of Harvin, who gives the Seahawks a home-run threat capable of taking advantage of any opponent that takes a look at Seattle's recent success running the ball and starts stacking up more defenders behind the line of scrimmage.
And that's going to be tempting given what has happened recently.
Lynch rushed for 145 yards in Atlanta last week, a season-high. He has 270 yards over the past two games, the highest two-week total in his NFL career, so while Minnesota's Adrian Peterson may have an edge in terms of breakaway speed, it's Seattle's rushing offense that appears to have turned the corner heading into Sunday's game between the Seahawks and the Vikings.
Not that it should really be a surprise after the past two seasons. Ever since Tom Cable arrived on the coaching staff, the Seahawks have shown a heck of a closing kick in the second half of the season.
|• Michael Grey: They have 40 or more rushing attempts.||• Dave Wyman: Seattle's running backs outrush Adrian Peterson.||• Jim Moore: Russell Wilson throws two touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch rushes for more than 100 yards.||• Dave Grosby: They show up.||• Bob Stelton: They don't play down to the Vikings' level, they contain Adrian Peterson and they build a lead, forcing Minnesota to throw the ball.||• Brock Huard: They outrush Minnesota.||• Danny O'Neil: Russell Wilson isn't knocked out of the game by an injury.|
"Our football team got a lot better through this tough time, if you will," Cable said.
The running game is the most noticeable improvement for the team over the past two weeks, and it is the most important because three weeks ago in St. Louis, the fear was that Seattle had lost touch with its offensive identity.
This is a team that wants to run the ball first. Carroll made that clear as soon as he arrived. It's the reason Lynch was acquired four games into Carroll's first season and the reason Cable's hiring in 2011 turned out to be so important.
But three weeks ago in St. Louis, the run game that was supposed to be Seattle's identity was more of an afterthought as Lynch carried just eight times and the Seahawks finished with 135 yards of total offense – 80 coming on a single pass play to Golden Tate.
That makes what has happened these past two weeks so very significant as Seattle has gotten back in touch with the ground game that is the foundation of the offense.
"It was a process of the growth as well," Carroll said. "We kind of had to be kicked in the tail a little bit before we took this next step."
And now, Seattle is off and running.
Thursday, November 14, 2013 @ 8:49am
By Danny O'Neil
"Person of Interest" is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks' upcoming opponent. This week, it's Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.
• Position: Running man, reigning MVP
• Height: 6-1
• Weight: 218
• Age: 28
• Experience: Seventh season
Adrian Peterson, the league's reigning MVP, rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle last year. (AP)
Only one NFL player has ever rushed for more than the 2,097 yards Peterson gained on the ground a year ago, and no one has rushed for more yards over the past six seasons than Peterson.
"Adrian has that top-end, breakaway speed, but he can still make people miss," said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Peterson for four seasons in Minnesota.
"He's a competitor as well as a runner. He runs really hard, and when he comes out the back end, he can be gone."
And while Peterson currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, he leads the league with nine rushing touchdowns. He gained 182 yards against Seattle last November, the most the Seahawks had allowed since Frank Gore gained 207 yards in September 2009.
Peterson is the only player in the past three years to rush for two touchdowns against Seattle in a single game.
Is Seattle's run defense repaired? It certainly looked that way in Atlanta when the Seahawks held the Falcons to 64 yards on the ground. That was a marked improvement from the previous two weeks when Seattle gave up 200 yards rushing to the Rams and then the Bucs. Then again, the Falcons had the league's worst rushing offense entering the game.
Now comes Peterson.
What's the recipe to stopping him?
"Gang tackle," free safety Earl Thomas said. "That's the best advice I can give you. We've gotta' be piranhas like we were last week and we were at the beginning of the season. When you've got a back that's so explosive that puts so much pressure on everybody and their gap responsibilities, you've got to be on your stuff.
"We've got to have a tackling plan. This is one of the best backs we're going to face all year, and as a competitor, you always want to face the best."
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 @ 2:29pm
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks reached into their bag of tricks last week and pulled out a 43-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. It was one of the defining plays of Seattle's 33-10 win over Atlanta, and it's the subject of this week's edition of "Chalk Talk" with Brock Huard.
The situation: Atlanta had just kicked a field goal for its first points of the game when Marshawn Lynch began Seattle's ensuing possession with a 37-yard run that gave the Seahawks a first-and-10 from the Falcons' 43. Seattle led 6-3 with 5:44 remaining in the second quarter when they lined up for the play that resulted in their first touchdown of the game.
The play: Seattle sent backup tight end Kellen Davis in motion to the right, setting up an extra blocker on that side for what started as a Marshawn Lynch run. After pitching to Lynch, Wilson continued to retreat, ensuring that that the throw from Lynch would be a backward pass and not a lateral. It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but Lynch's pass to Wilson was plenty accurate. Wilson caught it, picked up a block from center Lemuel Jeanpierre and fired a throw about 55 yards downfield to Kearse. Fighting off contact from safety Thomas DeCoud, Kearse hauled in the pass in the end zone for the touchdown.
The statement: "That was not only a great throw, it was a phenomenal catch because the guy was all over him," coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Monday. "He continues to make spectacular plays and that was a great one. It was a great conclusion to the play. It was well called, well designed. We've been running it for a long time in practice, waiting for the opportunity.
"If you remember, it was right after Marshawn's long run and we had to keep him in there because he was the guy who was practicing it, to go ahead and throw that thing. (Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell) orchestrated it just right, so it was a great play in the game."
How would Carroll grade that throw from Lynch?
"It was about a C-minus," he said. "The result was good. The style points were poor."
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 @ 11:41am
By Brady Henderson
The timing of receiver Percy Harvin's activation off the Physically Unable to Perform list added another element to what was already one of the biggest Seahawks storylines this season.
Harvin is now on Seattle's 53-man roster and is eligible to make his long-awaited Seahawks debut Sunday against Minnesota, the same team that drafted him in 2009, employed him for what by most accounts were four drama-filled years and traded him to Seattle in March.
So if Harvin does indeed play Sunday, will he have extra motivation given his acrimonious relationship with – and departure from – the Vikings? That was among the topics discussed during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil. You can read the full transcript here. Highlights are below.
Jeff asked whether Harvin will want "revenge" against the Vikings for not wanting to pay him.
Danny: It's simpler than that. If you see an ex, don't you want to look your best? No matter what. Regardless of whether you were the dumper or the dumpee.
CanadaHawk chimed in with this: "Don't ever want to see my ex."
Danny: No? Not even to show how happily successful and thriving you are? Playing on a team with one loss and entertaining Super Bowl ambitions. Meanwhile, your ex is trying to decide which pair of jeans hides the 50 pounds she has gained best, the Freemans or the Cassels or the Ponders.
Brandon asked whether it's possible that Harvin has less "fire" now that he received a huge contract from Seattle.
Danny: I truly don't think that's possible. I think there are points – when a season goes south or wavers – that players get distracted or start thinking about self preservation. But when your team is 9-1, and you've got an opportunity to showcase yourself on this kind of stage, how would an athlete like Percy Harvin not want to showcase himself?
Hawkguy suggested Seattle signs Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin, noting his pedigree as a former second-round pick and the team's "good environment".
Danny: I heartily endorse that sentiment. You could get a heck of value because if he was a second-round pick, what is he worth now? Then again, he will have to go through waivers.
ejohnson asked whether Michael Bennett or fellow pass rusher Cliff Avril has been more effective this season and whether the Seahawks will be able to re-sign Bennett, who is playing on a one-year deal.
Danny: I think Michael Bennett has had the better, more versatile and more consistent season. Can they keep him? I don't know. I can bet they're going to want to, and remember, the free-agent market isn't expected to be that much more lucrative this offseason.
Johnny asked whether Danny thinks quarterback Russell Wilson is an MVP candidate.
Danny: Yes, I do. Three weeks ago, I couldn't have said that. A couple of qualifiers: Seattle has to not only finish 15-1, but Russell Wilson has to clearly outplay Drew Brees in that Monday Night game. The second thing is that Peyton Manning's performance must worsen.
Beast asked how Danny could consider Indianapolis Andrew Luck a better quarterback than Wilson yet consider Wilson – and not Luck – an MVP candidate this season.
Danny: Depends on how you phrase the question, right? Is Russell Wilson having a better season than Andrew Luck? Right now, I say yes. Is he a more viable MVP candidate? Right now. I think I can say fairly definitively that the NFL MVP is going to be one of three players: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Russell Wilson. Jamaal Charles will get mentioned and merits consideration, but he's not winning this award. Andy Reid gets Coach of the Year and will thereby siphon off some support.
PacoPOA asked whether Seattle, Carolina or Kansas City has the NFL's best defense.
Danny: Man. Tough. Right now? I'd vote KC's. Better pass pressure, and while the Chiefs allowed 200 yards rushing to Buffalo, Seattle allowed 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games.
Max From Sydney AU asked about the likelihood that Seattle will re-sign Breno Giacomini – whose contract expires after this season – and noted that the right tackle has "come into his own since he's been in Seattle."
Danny: I think this answer will depend on the market. Yes. He has come into his own. He is an important cog who brings some toughness to this line. Having said that, Michael Bowie is promising, and we're also about to reach the point where Seattle faces tough choices. It won't be able to retain everyone it wants.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 @ 1:24pm
By Brady Henderson
Cornerback Brandon Browner's future in Seattle was already uncertain before he suffered a groin injury that coach Pete Carroll characterized as serious.
"Browner's hurt. He's going to be down for a bit," Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Monday. "We don't know how extensive it is, but it could be quite a while."
This is a contract season for Browner, and the fact that it could end early because of an injury creates even more uncertainty about whether he'll be re-signed.
There are other factors at play, not the least of which are Browner's age (29) and the younger alternatives Seattle has at cornerback. Walter Thurmond (26) and Byron Maxwell (25) have played well in Browner's absence, though Thurmond is also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil discussed Browner's injury and his future in Tuesday's edition of "Blue 42". They continue their conversation in the video above.
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