Updated Sep 23, 2013 - 4:13 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
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."
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 5:11pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Ten months have passed since Seattle played in Atlanta last season.
But 300 days isn't enough time to erase the memories of those final 25 seconds in which the Falcons completed two passes and kicked a game-winning field goal.
Then again, it's a memory coach Pete Carroll doesn't exactly want to let go.
Seattle's 2012 playoff run ended with a 30-28 loss to Atlanta in the divisional round. (AP)
List it right alongside that game against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl when Vince Young needed less than a minute to foil another national championship for USC.
"Nineteen seconds, by the way," Carroll said, "instead of 25 seconds."
And while Sunday's game in Atlanta won't erase what happened last January, there's no denying that the setting offers some motivation for this Seahawks team.
"I hope they put me in my same locker," safety Earl Thomas said. "I want to feel that same feeling. But after the game, I want that victorious feeling.
"I think this is great for us right now, just where we are right now. We need something with an extra edge to it to get everybody back to their most dominant ways, especially on defense."
Percy not practicing
Receiver Percy Harvin is getting closer to returning, according to Carroll, but not ready just yet to practice full speed after recovering from hip surgery. He was held out of practice Wednesday, though he did work out before the team's walk-through.
"His hip, he doesn't have discomfort at all," Carroll said. "He ran today and ran well, felt really good about it and would love to practice today. We're just going to the next day. We're just going to make sure that we're doing it right. We want to see how this day impacted how he feels tomorrow. So we're just trying to work together to get that done."
Seattle has until next week to activate Harvin to the 53-man roster, but when the Seahawks expect him to make his debut remains uncertain.
"When we really feel secure and solid and he feels great, then we'll bust him out," Carroll said.
• C Max Unger and DE Red Bryant were held out of practice Wednesday, the Seahawks adhering to the protocol for players recovering from concussion. Whether those two are available Sunday will depend on whether they are able to practice later this week without experiencing a recurrence of concussion symptoms.
"We'll see if they can make it back," Carroll said. "Both of them are really determined to do it if possible, but we've got to do it right. We've got a real good system just intact to make sure we do the right thing there."
• RT Breno Giacomini and LT Russell Okung returned to the practice field Wednesday, Giacomini listed as limited on the injury report. He is not a candidate to play this week. Okung is not on the active roster, and not eligible to play until the Nov. 17 game against Minnesota at the soonest.
• FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring), DT Jordan Hill (biceps) and DE Chris Clemons did not practice. Clemons' absence was not injury related.
• S Jeron Johnson returned to practice after recovering from a hamstring injury, but he is not projected to be available for Sunday's game.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 3:24pm
By Brady Henderson
Doug Baldwin was targeted a season-high 10 times while leading the Seahawks with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
It wasn't just the volume of receptions but where Baldwin made them that was significant as Seattle re-evaluates the roles in its receiver corps now that Sidney Rice is out for the season and Percy Harvin is nearing his return.
That was among the topics discussed in the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil. The transcript can be found here. Highlights are below, beginning with a question about Baldwin's role.
Normally a slot receiver, Doug Baldwin could see more time in the flanker role previously filled by Sidney Rice. (AP)
Danny O'Neil: The most noteworthy thing from the offense last week as both that Doug Baldwin got a high number of plays on the outside, and he was productive in those. I think the coaches have generally put Doug Baldwin in the box that he's a slot guy, but this is a chance for him to show that he can play outside.
Joshua asked why Luke Willson isn't being used more. The rookie tight end has 10 catches in nine games.
Danny O'Neil: Well, his playing time has been cut into by the return of Zach Miller. Also, when you're having the blocking issues that Seattle is in pass protection, there's fewer opportunities to release out into the pattern.
Brandon in Pullman said that if coach Pete Carroll truly believes in competition then rookie left tackle Alvin Bailey and linebacker Malcolm Smith should be playing more.
Danny O'Neil: I ask this honestly: Do you think he is consciously not playing guys that he thinks could be better? Or is it the fact that he has seen enough of those players in practice to have an accurate assessment of what that player would do on the field?
Beast noted a ProFootballTalk.com headline stating that former Seahawks guard John Moffitt had decided to quit football.
Danny O'Neil: A player has to endure quite a bit to play football professionally from the wear and tear on the body to the focus it takes mentally. And if a guy doesn't want to do it, he is by far better off just saying so. That said, most guys I know – as soon as they leave – miss it immeasurably.
tom page asked whether linebacker Bruce Irvin has been a liability against the run.
Danny O'Neil: At times, there's no doubt. He has been out of position. But it's Bobby Wagner that has been spotlighted as a potential problem moreso by people who know way better than I do.
Brandon in Pullman asked about offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's play-calling, specifically the decision to go with a play-action pass (that was intercepted) on first-and goal from the 3 against Tampa Bay.
Danny O'Neil: Truthfully, It obviously wasn't the right play. It didn't work. But in terms of the scale of how egregious it was, I categorize it as a logical football decision that didn't pay out. I don't think it was proof that Bevell has no business coaching. In fact, I think Bevell called a pretty good game on Sunday.
IAmTheWalRuskell asked for reasons to be confident that the Seahawks will beat the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday.
Danny O'Neil: How about that fact that Matt Ryan is in the midst of a horrific slump. Or that there is zero chance the Seahawks don't enter that game bubbling with vim and vigor, determined to rectify last year's playoff loss. Or that the Falcons are such a mess that Atlanta's mascot – Freddie Falcon – had to apologize for joking about suicide on Twitter. Yes. That actually happened.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 @ 9:24am
By Danny O'Neil
The Seahawks have been running into a defensive problem for a couple of weeks now.
Wait. That's not quite right. Running hasn't exactly been the Seahawks' problem so much as their inability to prevent opponents from doing that.
It started in St. Louis at the end of October when the Rams gained 200 yards on the ground against Seattle, the most St. Louis had run for in any game since 2009. Then it was Tampa Bay, another opponent with a losing record, another team that sought to minimize the burden placed on its quarterback and another offense that reached 200 yards rushing against Seattle. Bucs rookie Mike James rushed for more yards last Sunday than any game he had in college.
If the inability to protect Russell Wilson is the top concern for the 8-1 Seahawks then rushing defense is running a close second. Oops. There's that word again. Running, and the ability to prevent opponents from doing that is Step One for any defense.
"We got to get right," coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday's game. " This isn't the way we want to go."
But it is the way things have gone the past two weeks, echoing similar trends in previous seasons. Last year, Seattle's run defense declined precipitously beginning with the second half of a Week 7 game at San Francisco. In 2010, there was a similar drop-off after Carroll's first six games as coach.
Those declines were clearly tied to health, though. Three starting defensive linemen suffered injuries in 2010. Red Bryant was lost for the year while Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole missed multiple games. Last year, Bryant's effectiveness was compromised by a foot injury.
So what's the problem this time around?
|• 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.|
This is what coaches say when a team struggles to stop an opponent's ground game, something that is undoubtedly correct yet not terribly informative.
A run fit refers to the defenders filling a specific assigned gap, leaving the running back with no hole to get through. There are two things that generally tend to prevent a defender from getting to his assigned gap.
The first is the opponent's blockers, something that shouldn't be underestimated given the fact there are at least five of them who weigh in the neighborhood of 300 pounds on any given play. The second is that pesky little thing called free will. Defenders aren't computers. They don't have a program burned into their hard drive. They can make mistakes on the assignment or just as commonly veer from the plan because they see a shorter path to the ball.
If Seattle is failing in its run fits, the next logical question is to ask who is failing to make those fits. The scrutiny has focused on the linebackers, a group that has been somewhat in flux with Bobby Wagner returning to the starting lineup for the past two games after returning from an ankle injury.
And while Carroll has a finger on Seattle's problem, he's not pointing a finger at the problem in anything more than general, team-wide terms when asked if it's an issue regarding the linebackers.
"It becomes everybody's issue," Carroll said. "The linebackers are tied together strictly with what goes on up front ... It fits all together, everybody has got their plays. So it's just not as clean as it needs to be."
And tidying it up is the first priority, the thing Carroll spent the first two hours of his week studying as he looked back at Sunday's game against Tampa Bay with an eye toward the rest of this season.
"We're going to work really hard at this," Carroll said. "Three weeks ago, we gave up 30 yards rushing and then we jumped off the cliff here in the 200s. So I think that we'll get decidedly better."
They need to. Seattle's season may very well depend upon it.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 9:36pm
By Brady Henderson
Russell Wilson's goal-line interception was one of the lowlights of Seattle's win over Tampa Bay, and it has intensified the complaints among some Seahawks fans regarding Darrell Bevell's play-calling.
But the man whose opinion on the subject matters most – head coach Pete Carroll – defended his offensive coordinator when he joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Monday.
"I would challenge anybody that thinks they know better," coach Pete Carroll said in defense of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, whose play-calling has been criticized. (AP)
"Somebody doesn't like the one call down in the red zone, it's kind of like, too bad."
The Seahawks trailed 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter when a long completion from Wilson to Jermaine Kearse gave them a first down at Tampa Bay's 3-yard line. When Bevell opted for a play-action pass that was intercepted before it could reach Doug Baldwin in the end zone, it didn't sit well with those who thought a run-first offense would be better suited giving the ball to one of the NFL's most physical running backs instead.
That play-call continued a trend for the Seahawks and their offensive coordinator, who at various times over the previous two games chose not to hand off to Marshawn Lynch from inside the opponent's 2-yard line.
Last week against St. Louis, Seattle threw to Golden Tate after a pair of read-option runs by Wilson. Against Arizona a week earlier, it was a throw to Kellen Davis after an overturned touchdown run by Lynch, who signaled his apparent displeasure over the ensuing passing play with a one-finger salute in the direction of Seattle's sideline.
Even though both of those plays resulted in touchdowns, the repeated decisions to not call Lynch's number near the goal line seems to be at the heart of the growing displeasure over Bevell's play-calling.
"I would challenge anybody that thinks they know better," Carroll said before noting that second-guessing from fans comes with the territory of being an offensive coordinator. "Anytime there is a bad play you can critique it, and that can happen any snap of the game."
Sunday's game was statistically one of the Seahawks' better offensive performances of the season. Seattle scored 27 points, went 8 of 12 on third down and totaled 415 yards, 198 of which came on the ground against the league's seventh-ranked run defense.
While the Seahawks' offensive rankings through nine games aren't spectacular – they're fifth in rushing, 27th in passing and 13th overall – Carroll gave no indication that he feels Bevell's play-calling is an issue.
"I think he's doing a really good job at it," Carroll said.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 8:58am
By Brady Henderson
The 16-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse kick-started the Seahawks' comeback win over Tampa Bay, and it's the focus of this week's edition of "Chalk Talk" with Brock Huard.
The situation: Trailing 21-0 late in the second quarter, the Seahawks started at their own 20-yard line and drove deep into Tampa Bay territory, putting them in position to head into halftime down two scores instead of three. They faced a first-and-10 from the Buccaneers' 16.
The play: Seattle lined up with one receiver on the left side and three on the right, with Jermaine Kearse in between Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate. Wilson faked a bubble screen to Baldwin, the inside receiver, before hitting a wide-open Kearse for the touchdown.
The statement: "We knew if we could get them to bite on the bubble we had some areas where we could attack them," Kearse said. "Russ made a tremendous throw and I just tried to make the play."
Monday, November 4, 2013 @ 3:22pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – The Seahawks' offense has help on the way with two starting tackles and one game-breaking receiver working their way back toward the field.
Coach Pete Carroll said he isn't counting on receiver Percy Harvin making his Seahawks debut against Atlanta. (AP)
"I don't know that," coach Pete Carroll said Monday when asked if Harvin could play this week. "I'm not counting on that."
Harvin began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Players on the PUP list are required to sit out the first six games before they can even begin practicing. Once a player starts practicing, the team has a three-week window to promote that player to the active roster or lose his availability for the season.
Harvin caught passes from quarterback Russell Wilson on Oct. 21, according to a report that day from the team's website. The Seahawks have three weeks in which to activate Harvin, which gives them until next Monday.
It remains possible he'll be ready this week.
"We'll see," Carroll said. "We're still working to bring him on back. I know he had a good rehab today. So we'll see how he does tomorrow."
The prognosis is a little clearer for Okung, who suffered a toe injury and was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 20 with the designation to return. The rules state Okung must sit out six games before he is eligible to begin practicing and must miss eight games before he is eligible to return.
Okung is now eligible to practice with the team, but he can't play until Seattle's Nov. 17 game against Minnesota at the earliest.
Giacomini is coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery, and Carroll indicated it will take more than a week of practice before he's ready to return to the field.
"It's not likely that he'll be ready to get back," Carroll said of Giacomini, who has not been on the field since Week 3. "It's a lot to ask in one week's time on the practice field. We'd like to take a couple of weeks, get him back, really get him solid, his legs under him."
Paul McQuistan has played left tackle since Okung went out and rookie Michael Bowie has been playing right tackle.
• C Max Unger had the symptoms of a concussion, coming out of Sunday's game with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. DE Red Bryant is also being treated for a concussion, according to Carroll. The team won't know about their availability for this week's game until later in the week.
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