Updated Sep 23, 2013 - 4:13 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 2:54pm
By Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned and three things we're still trying to figure out after the Seahawks improved to 9-1 with a 33-10 win over the Falcons in Atlanta:
1. No team is in stronger position to finish the season than the Seahawks.
Not the undefeated Chiefs, who will face the Broncos twice in three weeks. Not the Broncos, who watched quarterback Peyton Manning limp out of Sunday's game against San Diego. Not the 49ers, whose five-game winning streak was halted by a 10-9 loss to Carolina. Not even the Saints.
Seattle is 9-1 despite the absences of Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung (eight games), starting right tackle Breno Giacomini (seven games) and All-Pro center Max Unger (three games). All three could be back this week, as could receiver Percy Harvin, and don't forget this team plays four of its final six games at home, where it has won 12 consecutive games. No one is positioned better than Seattle going forward.
After beating the Falcons in Atlanta, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are now 8-2 in their last 10 road games. (AP)
Seattle has already matched the franchise record with five road victories in a season. The Seahawks have won eight of their past 10 road games if you include their playoff win over Washington last January, the team's first postseason road victory in 29 years.
While Seattle's win in Atlanta didn't erase the sting of losing in the final minute of the divisional round last season, the fact that the Seahawks staked out a 23-3 lead at halftime showed that this team is more than ready to move past the old storylines that include questions about struggling on the road.
"Any time we play out here on this East Coast, we want to make sure we don't fall behind like kind of has been the history," said tight end Zach Miller. "But I feel like we've conquered that demon, so I think we can play anywhere."
3. No more doubting Seattle's wide receivers.
Not this week, at least. Golden Tate was a one-man highlight reel, kickstarting the Seahawks' final drive of the first half with a 32-yard punt return and then finishing it with a one-handed catch that officials had to see twice to believe. He caught six passes for 106 yards, and it wasn't just him. Doug Baldwin caught five passes for 75 yards and Jermaine Kearse caught three passes for 76 yards, including a touchdown.
Every one of those three had a reception of 30 or more yards in Atlanta, and this is a group that's about to add Percy Harvin. Firepower isn't currently a question for this offense.
1. Why did we have to wonder whether Marshawn Lynch would get the ball, third-and-goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter?
Because whether he'd get the ball was very much an uncertainty after the past three games in which Seattle opted to go with three passes and two quarterback keepers when it had the ball inside the opponent's 5-yard line. The results of those five plays were two touchdowns, one interception and a running back whose body language was not, shall we say, the most enthusiastic.
Well, Lynch got the ball in the fourth quarter Sunday, Seattle got a touchdown, and no one had to get tackled in the process thanks to fullback Michael Robinson sealing off his block.
See, was that so hard?
|• Recap | Stats | Game photos | Player interviews||• O'Neil: Dominant Seahawks save the drama||• Huard: Breaking down Kearse's trick-play TD||• Grey: Seahawks answered their critics||• Henderson: TD catch highlights Tate's big day||• 'The Pete Carroll Show': Browner out a while|
Seattle is about to get three starters back with center Max Unger and offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini all potentially back for this week's game against Minnesota.
What about the rest of the lineup, though? There's a question of Paul McQuistan or James Carpenter at left guard while Alvin Bailey stepped in for J.R. Sweezy for a handful of plays at right guard. It will be good to have some options inside, as Seattle must shore up its pass protection.
3. Why did it take the Seahawks so long to put together a complete game?
Seems strange to ask that about a team that's 9-1, doesn't it? But it's true. We've seen this team win ugly at St. Louis. We've seen it win dramatically, coming back from a 17-point deficit at Houston and from 21 points down against Tampa Bay. But we haven't seen this team look as dominant for 60 consecutive minutes as it was in Atlanta on Sunday.
When this team turned the corner last season at Chicago, it never looked back. Will this be a similar moment?
Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 10:35am
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says cornerback Brandon Browner could miss extensive time due to a groin injury that forced him to leave Sunday's game against Atlanta.
Carroll gave a prognosis that was neither definitive nor optimistic when he joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Monday.
"Browner's hurt. He's going to be down for a bit," Carroll said. "We don't know how extensive it is, but it could be quite a while."
Browner felt what Carroll said was "a significant pop" in his groin during the first half of Seattle's win over Atlanta and didn't return. Carroll said Monday that the team was still awaiting MRI results.
Walter Thurmond, normally Seattle's nickel cornerback, moved outside once Browner left and finished the game with seven tackles – including two for loss – and forced a fumble that he recovered himself. Byron Maxwell also saw time at cornerback and broke up a pair of passes, one of them in the end zone.
"Those guys can play," Carroll said of Thurmond and Maxwell. "They're indoctrinated into the system. Technique-wise, they're absolutely sound. We've seen them play in other games. We have total confidence in those guys going. So we feel fine about going to the next guy and the next guy."
Offensive linemen returning
Carroll said tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini will return to practice this week and have a good chance to play Sunday against Minnesota. Add in the likely return of center Max Unger and Seattle could have its ideal starting offensive line intact for the first time since Week 2.
Okung is eligible to play Sunday for the first time since he was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return after sustaining a torn toe ligament in Week 2. Giacomini hasn't played since Week 3 because of a knee injury.
"They have to make it through the week of practice and make sure that they're healthy and fit and can do that, but that's a major boost," Carroll said. "It seems like we've been waiting a long time. We've endured it and we're fortunate by it and we're stronger for it, but it's also really exciting to have those guys back out there in the huddle."
Unger missed Seattle's win over Atlanta due to a concussion, as did defensive end Red Bryant.
"Max is fine. He really bounced back really well late in the week but too late after the process," Carroll said. "Red was not quite as far along so we'll have to wait and see on that one."
Harvin deadline arrives
Monday is the deadline for Seattle to activate wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Physically Unable to Perform list to the 53-man roster. Doing so wouldn't guarantee that Harvin makes his Seahawks debut next week against Minnesota, but it's a requirement if he is to play this season.
Carroll have no indication that Harvin won't be activated.
"He has made great progress," Carroll said. "He's really excited about getting back on the practice field. We're quite a margin closer than we've been."
• DT Tony McDaniel also left Sunday's game – a hamstring injury forcing him to leave in the second quarter for good – but Carroll said he may have been able to return to the game had Seattle needed him to.
Sunday, November 10, 2013 @ 7:11pm
By Danny O'Neil
ATLANTA – The ball wobbled.
That didn't make Marshawn Lynch's throw any less effective. But if we're being honest, he didn't manage anything resembling a spiral on the trick play that turned out to be the most spectacularly unexpected moment in the most straightforward victory of this Seahawks season.
Lynch took the pitch, ran to his right only to stop and throw the ball back to Russell Wilson. Seattle's quarterback caught the backward pass, pivoted like any great second baseman and threw downfield to Jermaine Kearse, who outjumped the man defending him for a 43-yard touchdown.
But about that throw from Lynch?
"He threw a strike, I will say that," Wilson said. "I wouldn't call it a ball. It was a strike, but a little wobbly."
And that was as close as you could come to criticizing Lynch, the trick play that produced Seattle's first touchdown against the Falcons or anything else Seattle did in this 33-10 victory over Atlanta.
"Our most complete game of the year," coach Pete Carroll said. "One that we have been waiting for."
No questions about this one. No caveats. No last-minute escape like in St. Louis when the Seahawks held the Rams off at the 1-yard line. No 21-point deficit like Seattle had to overcome last week at home against the winless Bucs.
After struggling to stop the run the past two weeks, Seattle held Steven Jackson and the Falcons to 64 yards rushing. (AP)
After two weeks of nailbiting, the Seahawks traveled across the country and just hammered an Atlanta team that had bounced Seattle out of the playoffs 10 months earlier.
That trick play may have been a headline from the game, but it wasn't the story. Not even close. This was about a team rediscovering its steel-toed toughness up front on both sides of the ball as the Seahawks rushed for 211 yards and allowed only one sack while holding the Falcons to 64 yards rushing.
"The most important thing is what's happening at the line of scrimmage," Carroll said.
Lynch has rushed for 270 yards over the past two games, the highest two-week total in his career. Yep, that's right. Seattle has never ran the ball better with Lynch than it has these past two games, which serves as a fairly convincing answer to any questions about this team's identity on offense.
"Marshawn always sets the tempo for us," Carroll said. "He has been playing so consistently, so aggressively."
Seattle rushed for 211 yards in Atlanta even while playing without three starting offensive linemen, all of whom may be back as soon as this week.
The Seahawks punted only twice while their defense didn't allow Atlanta to get inside Seattle's 20 until the second half of the third quarter, and that happened only after a series of suspect penalties. Even the special teams chipped in with four field goals – including a season-long kick of 53 yards – and a 32-yard punt return by Golden Tate.
The Falcons gained more yards off Seahawks penalties (80) than their from own running game (64). They completed just two passes of more than 15 yards and trailed by more than 20 points by the time receiver Roddy White caught his first pass.
For two weeks, the Seahawks made everyone hold their breath. This was a chance to not only exhale but shout about a team that is 9-1, atop the NFC and playing four of its final six regular-season games at home.
"They really – across the board – made a statement today," Carroll said, "about how hard they can play from the first minute to the last minute."
And in doing so, Seattle showed just how tough it will be to face this team going forward.
Friday, November 8, 2013 @ 7:14am
By Danny O'Neil
The Seahawks are going back to the site where their last season ended.
It's the Seahawks' ability to get back to the fundamentals of their defense that will determine how far this season goes.
That's the reality the Seahawks are trying to stare down after allowing 200 yards rushing in each of the past two games, and now they head to Atlanta to face the Falcons team that ousted Seattle from the playoffs a year ago. It's enough to inspire some pretty serious soul searching for the defense this week.
"We went all the way back through and put in our mindset of how we really play," said Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator. "The way we attack the line of scrimmage, the way we get off blocks, the way we finish.
|• at Carolina: 96 yards (4.6 average)||• vs. San Francisco: 13 yards (1.2 average)||• vs. Jacksonville: 46 yards (2.1 average)||• at Houston: 146 yards (4.3 average)||• at Indianapolis: 100 yards (4 average)||• vs. Tennessee: 33 yards (2.4 average)||• at Arizona: 25 yards (1.6 average)||• at St. Louis: 189 yards (5.4 average)||• vs. Tampa Bay: 192 yards (5.7 average)||Note: Stats above exclude quarterback runs.|
That's a very eloquent way of saying that Seattle's defense needs to get back to making the line of scrimmage more of a goal for opposing ball carriers as opposed to the starting point.
And Atlanta comes in with a running game that has been more of an oxymoron so far, the Falcons averaging a league-low 64.4 yards rushing. Then again, the Rams ranked No. 29 in rushing yardage entering Week 8 and then went and rang up 200 yards rushing against Seattle, the most the franchise had gained on the ground in any game since 2009.
The Seahawks yielded 205 yards to the Bucs last week, and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano went so far as referring to Seattle's defensive front as "stationary" in his press conference Thursday.
This is a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league last year, one that hadn't given up a point in the first quarter in the first four games of this year, and now the defense that was the strength of this team during the first month of the season is a little more of a question mark.
"There has been a lot of questions about our run game and us on the back end," said safety Earl Thomas, "but I think it just goes back to the mentality that we need to have, a mentality that we need to recapture from earlier as far as that want-to."
|• Dave Wyman: They run for more than 100 yards and allow fewer than 100 yards rushing.||• Jim Moore: They hold Matt Ryan to fewer than 250 yards passing and Steven Jackson to fewer than 50 yards rushing.||• Dave Grosby: They hold Atlanta to fewer than 60 yards rushing.||• Michael Grey: Marshawn Lynch rushes for more than 110 yards.||• Brock Huard: They force two turnovers.||• Danny O'Neil: They hold Atlanta to fewer than 100 yards rushing and force more turnovers than they commit.|
The fact that the Falcons have been the NFL's worst at running the ball this season offers no assurances. Not only does Atlanta have Steven Jackson back from the injury that sidelined him for four games, but a year ago, Atlanta ranked No. 29 in rushing yards during the regular season before gaining 167 yards against Seattle in that playoff game that ended the Seahawks' season.
Desire and discipline are two things that Seattle will rely upon to make a difference for this defense that isn't going to get a personnel boost. That's a difference from the offense, which will be getting receiver Percy Harvin and offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini at some point in the next month.
Red Bryant is the only defensive starter Seattle will be without, which means it's the performance that needs to improve by getting back to the swarming defense that was played earlier in the season.
"There were like four hats on the ball," Thomas said. "We looked like piranhas out there. So we need to get back to that same mindset."
Atlanta is an opportunity for redemption, not just from last year's playoff loss but the Seahawks' recent difficulties against the run.
Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 4:05pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – The coach had to ask.
In light of everything that has occurred with the Dolphins, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll needed to know if one of his rookies had been, well, badgered into doing something he didn't necessarily want to.
"I did ask about one of our guy's haircuts," Carroll said. "I did. Because it was a really bad haircut."
It's business up front and a party in the back with Seahawks rookie offensive lineman Ryan Seymour. (Photo by Danny O'Neil)
He's got a mullet. It's not ironic, it's not chic and it's not even remotely fashionable. It is a bona fide STLB (Short Top, Long Back) with stripes shaved into the side for good measure.
"It's fitting," said receiver Golden Tate. "It looks like Kenny F'ing P from 'Eastbound and Down.' "
But is it fair that he has to wear that haircut?
"That's by choice," said rookie tight end Luke Willson, who's one of Seymour's closer friends on the team. "You can ask him."
OK. How about it, Ryan?
"This is all free will, believe it or not," he said. "Growing up in South Georgia, this is acceptable."
And not exactly discouraged in the Seahawks' locker room.
"There was no bullying involved," said offensive tackle Breno Giacomini. "The agreement was if he made the team, the 53-man roster or the practice squad, he would have to cut a mullet. He's just living that lifestyle. I basically changed his life, and he's just living an awesome lifestyle."
So what exactly is that lifestyle?
"It definitely turns some heads when I'm out in public," Seymour said. "I try to embrace it. I guess I like the attention. Like Breno said, it's a lifestyle. I'm just going to keep rocking it."
By choice, of course. By choice.
Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 1:28pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Is Richard Sherman still mad at Roddy White?
"Not really," Sherman said. "It will be a fun game for us, I guarantee you that."
Hmmm, that's not very fun.
Not like this offseason when the two were trading barbs on the NFL Network. Sherman said that White's strengths were a product of Atlanta's system while White responded that Sherman talked his way to being an All-Pro.
Well, White hasn't played the past three games, but said he is hoping to be available on Sunday, and Sherman was asked about the challenge of facing White.
"What challenge?" Sherman asked.
That's more like it. Sherman was also asked whether there's extra motivation drawn from what happened in last year's playoff loss.
"No," Sherman said, "We're an 8-1 ballclub, they're a 2-6 ballclub. Facts."
• DE Red Bryant and C Max Unger did not practice Thursday, each recovering from a concussion. If Bryant isn't able to play, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Michael Bennett or perhaps Tony McDaniel – a starting tackle – would move to that position.
"It's another one of those times you're glad you have some guys with versatility," Quinn said.
• Rookie DT Jordan Hill has not practiced yet this week because of an injured biceps, the same injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season.
• RB Marshawn Lynch practiced without limitation Thursday after he was limited Wednesday, part of his weekly maintenance. DE Chris Clemons also returned to practice after watching Wednesday's workout, a decision that was not injury related, according to the team.
• FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring) sat out practice and is not expected to play this week.
Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 11:22am
By Shannon Drayer
Lloyd McClendon no doubt heard the word that he had an excellent chance to take over for Jim Leyland in Detroit. He coached there for eight years, and was seen as an extension of Leyland and someone who could provide a seamless transition. The odds appeared to be in his favor. Still, he threw his hat into the ring for the Mariners' managerial vacancy while awaiting word from the Tigers. He had interviewed in Seattle once before and told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" Thursday morning that he had his eye on the managerial position here all along.
"When this opportunity came around again, obviously I considered it a golden opportunity, and I am extremely happy," he said. "I told [general manager Jack Zduriencik] before any decisions were made, for me this was the most attractive job, and if I had the opportunity, this is where I wanted to be."
Why was that?
"No. 1, you have got a guy by the name of King Felix that makes anything attractive. Then you have got another guy by the name of Iwakuma that makes it just as attractive. Then you have got a couple of power arms that mix into that rotation that are going to make it real real attractive," he answered.
"Pitching is the name of the game. And I think the plan here has certainly started to come to fruition. You have some power arms that are going to be real good with this organization for a long time, and I am excited to be a part of it."
McClendon has seen big arms turn a franchise around once before.
"I remember coming to Detroit in 2006," he said. "That team was coming off 119 losses the year before and things seemed very abysmal, and there was a lot of negativity in the city of Detroit.
"But they had a couple of power arms. A guy named Verlander, Zumaya, Rodney, and we went out and made some key acquisitions that seemed to be off the radar somewhat but they fit in and they complemented very well. Jim had that charisma and that understanding with his players to get them to play for him, and I certainly think I bring those same qualities."
McClendon likes what he sees in the Mariners' arms and admitted that as the Tigers' hitting coach he was happy to see Taijuan Walker shut down before Seattle faced Detroit in late September, but not so thrilled that they had to face James Paxton.
"I saw some tremendous arms, power arms in the bullpen," McClendon said. "I remember making a comment to Jim that these guys have got a chance to be really good really quick. I think the learning curve is going to be shortened quite a bit, from what I see."
While he clearly appreciates the arms, McClendon knows that pitching alone will not turn things around for the Mariners. His Tigers teams made some big additions to the offense and he is hoping Seattle can do the same.
Felix Hernandez and the Mariners' other talented pitchers were a big draw for Lloyd McClendon, but he knows the club will need to bolster its offense. (AP)
"If the timing is right and situation is right, hopefully we can get those guys. I don't know who they are at this point but we will sit down and talk about those things."
While it more often than not comes down to talent in winning or losing baseball games, co-host Danny O'Neil wanted to know what role McClendon as a manager could play in that.
"When it comes to X's and O's, I'm no smarter or dumber than anybody else," he said. "I know when to hit and run, when to bunt, when to change pitchers and I think most guys do. When you talk about leadership in the clubhouse, I think that is the responsibility of the manager to make sure his clubhouse is running in the proper order. I would never put that on anyone else. My biggest challenge is to make sure I am communicating and getting my players to relax and perform on the field.
"Give me the criticism and give them all the credit. I have got broad shoulders and I can certainly handle it, but I've got to get my players to a state where they are relaxed and they are performing on the field."
There is a lot to be learned about his new team, and the team that he sees in Peoria, Ariz. in February could be very different from the team he saw from across the field in Detroit last September. Moves will be made, the roster will be changed. This has no impact on his expectations for his first season as the Mariners' manager.
"My expectations are always the same," McClendon said. "I don't ever ask a team to go out and win on any particular night, but I do expect my players to be prepared from a mental and physical standpoint to go out and give their best on that night. One thing I can promise the fans of Seattle, I am going to give you everything I have got to prepare my team and get them ready to win ballgames, and I will ask the same from my players. Give me everything you've got, every night, and at the end of the day, we will take our chances."
"The one thing I know is if we can get our team believing in each other and believing in the word teamwork and teammate," he concluded, "we have got a chance to be real good real quick."
Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 9:03am
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 Atlanta's Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions over the Falcons' last two games. (AP)
• Position: Franchise quarterback, the Falcons' only hope
• Height: 6-4
• Weight: 217
• Age: 28
• Experience: Sixth season
The quarterback with two first names has only one career playoff victory, but he's never had a losing season since entering the league in 2008. At least not until this year as the Falcons are 2-6 and will need a downright historic turnaround to save their season.
Ryan, however, had one of the best starts to any season in his career. At least he did until he was picked off seven times over the past two games in road losses to Arizona and then Carolina. He is on five quarterbacks in the league to have been picked off 10 or more times so far this season.
Ryan's recent struggles may be due to the lack of options in the passing game, though. Julio Jones is done for the season, a foot injury ending what was looking like a career year after just five games. Roddy White has been inactive the past three weeks, and when he was playing earlier this year, he wasn't nearly as effective as he has been.
The Falcons are averaging a league-low 64.4 yards rushing, which means that Atlanta's best bet on offense is throwing straight into the teeth of Seattle's defense: its secondary.
The Seahawks failed to sack Ryan in last year's divisional playoff loss, but they did have two interceptions against him, including one by free safety Earl Thomas. The Falcons may be 2-6, but don't think the Seahawks are underestimating the challenge Ryan presents.
"He's very smart," Thomas said of Ryan. "You could tell he prepares well, so my whole mindset is how well I can prepare. Better than him? It's not a cat-and-mouse game, but the quarterback's always trying to take advantage of what I do because they always study me. I know they do. Because I'm the free safety and I can kind of give away what we're doing.
"So I'm just excited [for] the challenge. I'm still going to prepare better this time. That's how I'm taking it."
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