The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
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.
Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 3:23pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – The Seahawks are getting better.
That's not just a commentary on their performance Sunday in Atlanta but a reflection of the improving health, specifically of this offense.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is one step closer to making his Seahawks debut after the team activated him from the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday. (AP)
"There's a chance all three of those guys could play this week for us," coach Pete Carroll said of the three offensive linemen. "The potential of Percy coming back just adds to that. It's a time when the push is really on right now."
Translation: This Seahawks team – which is 9-1 and has won 12 consecutive home games – is about to get stronger, if not this week then very soon.
"We'll just see how that goes," Carroll said. "To us it's not a pressured decision. We're going to try it again to really consider all the factors and make sure we're doing this right."
Seattle has its bye following Sunday's game against Minnesota, which could factor into the decision-making process as keeping any of those players out this week would result in two weeks of time to be even more ready.
"It's really two weeks that you could buy," Carroll said. "So we have that in mind, and we haven't rushed in any of these decisions. We're not going to start rushing them now."
Unger, Bryant on track to return
Unger and defensive end Red Bryant both missed this week's game in Atlanta after suffering concussions in Week 9.
Bryant will continue his rehab work on Tuesday, according to Carroll, and if Bryant responds well, he should be ready to practice Wednesday.
"He and Max are still day-to-day," Carroll said, "but they both look like they're going to make it back."
Browner's injury is significant
Cornerback Brandon Browner left Sunday's game with a strained groin, which Carroll said is significant.
"It looks pretty serious," Carroll said. "We'll know more later in the week here. He's got a substantial groin issue here. We've got to figure out."
Carroll didn't dismiss the possibility that it could be season-ending, saying the team needed a couple of days to figure it out.
Browner is in his third year as Seattle's starting right cornerback, a job he earned in training camp in 2011. He made the Pro Bowl that season.
Walter Thurmond replaced Browner on Sunday just as he did the first two weeks of the season. In passing situations where Seattle uses five defensive backs, Byron Maxwell came in to play right cornerback with Thurmond shifting inside to defend the slot receiver.
"If we're going to miss Brandon, it's going to be significant," Carroll said. "He's a terrific football player for us, but we do have really capable guys to step in."
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.
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