Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Getting to know the Seahawks
By Field Yates
Tom Brady isn't at the point of his career where he's encountering very many firsts, but that will change this weekend, as for the first time in his career he'll play at Seattle. It's one of two franchises, including his hometown 49ers, that Brady has not previously started against on the road during his illustrious NFL career. (The Pats visited Seattle in 2008, but with Matt Cassel under center.) Here is a brief introduction to the Seahawks, including some names and faces of note.
Record: (3-2, fourth in NFC West)
Head Coach: Pete Carroll (third season, 17-20)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell
Defensive Coordinator: Casey Bradley
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW, OFFENSE 1. RB Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is no stranger to the Patriots, having started his career with the Buffalo Bills and playing against New England four times previously. A major talent, Lynch has hit his professional stride with the Seahawks and has become one of the most difficult backs to bring down in all of football. Tackling will be key on Sunday, as Lynch usually does not go down on first contact. He's currently the NFL's second-leading rusher.
Russell Wilson impressed early but has five interceptions in his last two games.
2. QB Russell Wilson. The third-round pick from Wisconsin impressed enough during training camp to surpass free-agent signee Matt Flynn on the depth chart and has been OK as the starter, helping guide Seattle to three wins. Turnovers have been a problem of late -- he's thrown five picks in his last two games -- and there has been chatter from some that Flynn should be inserted as the starter. For now, it looks likely that the Patriots will see Wilson on Sunday.
3. C Max Unger. There's a reason why the Seahawks extended the contract of Unger just days before the start of training camp: He's a dependable road-grader who anchors the middle of their line. He's helped pave the way for Lynch and also in orchestrating protection calls. He's tall for a center at 6-foot-5, but can still bend and play with a low center of gravity.
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW, DEFENSE
1. DE Bruce Irvin. The player widely considered by experts to have been the biggest reach in the first round of this year's draft is quickly silencing doubters, as he has 4.5 sacks in four games and is a menace off the edge. There's little doubt that Irvin can beat an opposing tackle with his speed. He presents yet another tough challenge for the Patriots' offensive line on Sunday.
2. DE Chris Clemons. Irvin benefits from playing opposite the underrated Clemons, who made quite a splash during the team's Week 3 Monday night victory, totaling 4.0 sacks of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- in the first half. Clemons flies under the radar, but has steadily produced 11.0 sacks in each of his two full seasons with the Seahawks and is on pace to easily surpass that total this season.
3. S Kam Chancellor. Built like a linebacker, the hulking Chancellor is one of the most imposing secondary players in football. He already has 32 tackles this season and can roam in space and defend the pass as well. It's not hard to spot him on the field with his 6-foot-3 frame, but it's not easy to block him either.
2012 RECAP THROUGH FIVE GAMES Here are the five quarterbacks Seattle has faced thus far in 2012: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford. Perhaps surprisingly, the only two who have earned victories against the Seahawks are Kolb and Bradford. Inconsistency on offense has been an issue, and Wilson's lack of weapons appears to have forced him into questionable decisions. The Seahawks are uber-aggressive on defense, however, and can cause havoc in the backfield. Their most recent effort featured sacking Newton four times and holding Carolina to just 12 points. They trail only Miami and Chicago in terms of rushing yards allowed per game, which means it will be a battle of strength versus strength when they host the Patriots on Sunday.