NFC West: Qwest Field

Some of the NFL's toughest venues carry not-so-tough-sounding corporate sponsor names.

Heinz Field, Gillette Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field made our top 10 anyway.

Qwest Field ranked third on the list before the Seattle Seahawks announced a change to CenturyLink Field. The switch had been anticipated since CenturyLink absorbed Qwest Communications in March, but "CenturyLink Field" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

"CenturyLink sounds like a industrial company that manufactures ugly fences separating old tires and crab grass from the sidewalk," wrote John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune.

There was nothing inherently tough-sounding about Qwest Field, either, but at least "Qwest" sounded like a word easily found in the dictionary.

The experience at CenturyLink Field will not change, of course. Fans will still make lots of noise. Seattle will remain tougher to defeat in its stadium when there's enough talent on the roster for the Seahawks to field a competitive product.

The newly renamed venue does beg for a nickname. "The Link" would sound better if the Philadelphia Eagles did not already play their games at "The Linc" (Lincoln Financial Field).

"The Clink" quickly gained traction with an assist from a Seahawks fan named Nick. Seattle players running afoul of the law might not appreciate the moniker, but "The Clink" does sound foreboding. Fans could dress as inmates or correctional officers. They could brag about sentencing opponents to four quarters of harassment without the possibility of early parole. The Hawks Nest could become the Chain Gang, not to be confused with the guys marking down and distance along the sideline.

Got a better suggestion? Please do share it. It's an upset if fans from other teams don't chime in with a few unflattering alternatives.

Perhaps there's no sense in getting too invested in stadium names that figure to change at some point, anyway.

As much as the San Francisco 49ers value their history at Candlestick Park, they're eager to play in a new stadium.

The St. Louis Rams played in the Dome at America's Center (twice) and the Trans World Dome before their stadium became the Edward Jones Dome in 2002. The Rams' naming-rights deal with Edward Jones was for 12 years.

Seahawks Stadium opened in 2002 and became Qwest Field in 2004. The naming-rights deal was extended through August 2019. In 2006, the Arizona Cardinals signed a 20-year naming-rights deal with University of Phoenix.
The San Francisco 49ers, with a new coaching staff and questions at quarterback, are already arguably the NFC West team most affected by the lockout on the field.

They are also the division's most-affected team off the field. That is because the NFL will not help finance a new 49ers stadium without a collective bargaining agreement in place.

The issue remains an impediment to the Minnesota Vikings as well. Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated Tuesday that the league would help the Vikings with their new stadium, leading one of my Facebook friends, Steve, to wonder what that meant for the 49ers. Have the Vikings been promised something extra? Not according to the league.

"It is the same assurance that any team has, which is that the clubs will consider requests by a team for a club-seat waiver in which a portion of club-seat revenue that goes to the visiting team sharing pool instead is used toward stadium construction financing for a period of time," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by a three-fourths vote of the clubs."

The Vikings, like the 49ers, aren't getting help from the league without a CBA. With the legislative session in Minnesota ending within days, Goodell's comments appeared aimed toward giving the Vikings a short-term political push as they seek public support. Goodell said he would reveal more specifics in the coming days, but without a CBA, it'll be tough to advance the discussion.

The chart breaks down financing for NFC West venues, including the 49ers' proposed stadium. Non-ownership funding includes public financing, plus money raised by stadium authorities through naming rights and other measures. For the 49ers, that breaks down as $117 million in public money and $330 million from the Santa Clara Stadium Authority.
Just about every NFL stadium has its price.

Back in 2004, the Seattle Seahawks sold naming rights for Seahawks Stadium to Qwest Communications, and Qwest Field was born. A corporate merger is putting an end to the Qwest brand, and Qwest Field could become CenturyLink Field in the very near future.

"Qwest" sounds so much crisper and cleaner than "CenturyLink" for a stadium name. If the change goes through, what is a Seahawks fan to do?

The best suggestion I've heard so far comes from Nick via Twitter: "If the name does change, we need to refer to it as 'The Clink'. Pass it on, Mike."

Consider it passed on.

"The Clink" has potential. Imagine the treatment an opposing player with legal troubles would encounter.

Your thoughts?
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have not been notified of any plans to rename Qwest Field following a merger between Qwest and CenturyLink. The current name is corporate, of course, but it has become ingrained enough to evoke strong feelings among fans. The stadium was called Seahawks Stadium when it opened for the 2002 season. O'Neil: "In 2008, Safeco was acquired by Liberty Mutual Group, but the name of the Mariners' stadium remained Safeco Field. However, CenturyLink does have a presence in Washington that predates the merger with an office located in Gig Harbor."

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune explains the Qwest phenomenon: "The stadium name with the silly spelling has grown on me. It’s got an identity so vivid, even the downtown Seattle cab drivers understand 'Qwest Field,' especially if you add: 'For the football game, where all the traffic is. Three blocks away is close enough.' CenturyLink sounds like a industrial company that manufactures ugly fences separating old tires and crab grass from the sidewalk. Then I see those words cramped together with the capital letter in the middle -- CenturyLink -- and I need some space."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates the Cardinals' efforts to renew and sell season-ticket packages. The team, like the league, is proceeding as though the regular season will begin on time. I'd be curious to know the retention rate for the Cardinals in a tough economy and following a 5-11 season. Somers: "The Cardinals don't disclose the number of people on their season-ticket waiting list but say it's in the thousands."

Also from Somers: a look at Pro Football Focus analysis showing a lack of elusiveness from Cardinals running back Beanie Wells. Said analyst Sam Monson: "As I'm sure you know, the Cardinals' run blocking is pretty poor. When a halfback starts to lose confidence in the blocking, he'll start to hesitate behind the line, look to bounce runs outside and away from designed holes, and generally makes everybody look worse. Also, as you pointed out, the Cardinals poor QB play will have been a factor. Teams didn't respect the passing game at all, and they were able to key in on the running back. It's not all Wells, and this probably isn't a fair comparison, (but) Adrian Peterson has graded out much better in the past with similar problems." Peterson is better, obviously, but he also hasn't played a full season with Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton as his quarterbacks, or for a team that has struggled so badly on defense.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during a chat that he gets no sense new Rams owner Stan Kroenke is preparing a big shakeup that would affect general manager Billy Devaney or top executive Kevin Demoff. Thomas suggests both would likely remain even if Kroenke hired a team president. Thomas: "My strong sense is that neither Devaney nor Demoff is in any kind of job jeopardy. If Kroenke brings in HIS guy, I think it will be as someone to oversee the day-to-day operations. Keep in mind, Demoff essentially has replaced three people (John Shaw, Jay Zygmunt and Bob Wallace) so you could make a case that the Rams are a little light on upper management."

Also from Thomas: Devaney explains what he said to James Carville after the political commentator said he thought the 2012 Republican presidential field looked as bad as the NFC West. Devaney: "If I wasn't working in the NFC West, it's a great line. ... Here we're sitting in this big hall, you got owners, head coaches, general managers, and they're laughing their (rear ends) off. So you know, it burns you a little bit. And I care about my team. ... I said, 'Carville.' He came over and said, 'Hey, how are you?' I said, 'I'm Billy Devaney. I work for the Rams in the NFC West. And that comment about the NFC West, you can take it and shove it up your (rear end).'"

Matt Maiocco of has the 49ers selecting LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson in his updated mock draft. Maiocco: "Nice size, great speed ... huge need."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Von Miller's visit with the 49ers is scheduled for April 13-14. Barrows: "The 49ers also have a visit scheduled with North Carolina's Ryan Taylor on April 6 and 7. Taylor is a 6-4, 250-pound fullback/H-back, who is intriguing as a receiver out of the backfield. Last season, Taylor caught 36 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers are interested in fullbacks, which were a big part of Jim Harbaugh's Stanford offense. Running backs coach Tom Rathman spent a long time with Stanford fullback Owen Marecic at that school's pro day last week."

Andrew S. Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle says Santa Clara is acting in the interests of a new 49ers stadium in defiance of California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to strike down publicly funded redevelopment groups. Ross: "In an ad hoc meeting Monday night, the Santa Clara City Council voted to transfer $4 million in redevelopment agency funds to a San Francisco 49er entity, Forty Niners Stadium LLC, for 'make ready' work on a new 49er stadium that may never get built."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider looks at the 49ers' tight ends. Lynch: "Now (new coach Jim) Harbaugh has possibly the most talented tight end in the league in Vernon Davis and a brilliant understudy in Delanie Walker. Harbaugh is catching Davis just when the four-year starter is starting to blossom. Davis could always pull off the spectacular, but he struggled at the mundane, like running the proper route, catching the pass, and remembering the snap count. But last season, Davis cut down on all of those mistakes."

Michael Lombardi of says the 49ers, not just the Cardinals, could have interest in Marc Bulger this offseason. Lombardi: "The 49ers are thinking about bringing Alex Smith back as a backup, allowing new coach Jim Harbaugh to determine if he can become the player they hoped he would become when they drafted him. The 49ers must be divergent in their thinking. They are in a bad spot in the first round and must hope for a mistake from the teams in front of them needing a quarterback. The 49ers need to address the short- and long-term issues, and might even think about trying to move up in the draft to put themselves in position to acquire either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. However, without a mistake, the 49ers will have to rely on their evaluation skills deciding which 'other' quarterback can fit their scheme. Is it Jake Locker? Colin Kaepernick? Christian Ponder? Don't rule the 49ers out of the Carson Palmer sweeps if the Bengals decide to draft one. And I would fully expect them to make a play for Bulger once the free-agent market opens."

Mailbag: Hightower, Wells and the future

September, 19, 2009
US Presswire/Mark J. Rebilas
Beanie Wells had a 15-yard run among his seven carries against the 49ers in Week 1.
Posted by's Mike Sando

Robb from Marin County writes: Bay Area postgame radio suggested that Beanie Wells could be the full-time starter for the Cardinals by Week 3 or 4. How likely of a scenario is this? Could we see a running back by committee for a bit? I'm thinking partially along the lines of fantasy implications, but I am also interested in how quickly the Cardinals would switch to a new back after upgrading Tim Hightower over Edgerring James last year.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals went back to James last season, so the commitment to Hightower is not strong. If it were, the team probably could have found another use for the first-round choice it used for Wells. I see Wells' role only increasing. Hightower seems to challenge the perimeter only when the Cardinals throw him the ball there.

Wells looks like he's close to breaking long runs. I never get that feeling with Hightower. Hightower's longest run in 151 regular-season carries covered 30 yards. James had a 35-yarder last season. Wells already has a 15-yard run despite having only seven career carries.

I also think Hightower appears better suited for a two-back offense. The Kurt Warner-led Cardinals are at their best running a one-back offense with three wide receivers and a tight end or four wide receivers with no tight end. That is my opinion, anyway. The Cardinals might not have made that determination yet, but I suspect that is where things could head once Wells shows he can handle the basics of the offense, such as not stranding Warner in the backfield while overrunning the handoff.

There still could be a role for Hightower in the longer term, even with Warner at quarterback. Arizona was effective at times with two backs and only one wide receiver on the field. It's simply not something the team will do extensively as long as wide receiver remains a strength.

Casey from Medford, Ore., writes: I, as well as many other 49er die-hards, am pretty thown by the Michael Crabtree situation. With all the coverage of Jed York's invite the other day, has there been any response from anyone in Crabtree's camp and, if not, do you feel that there will be anytime soon?

Mike Sando: There's almost no chance a player's agent would submit to that type of arrangement. One of the agent's jobs is to insulate his client from caving to emotions. If Crabtree went along with such a meeting, I would consider it a victory for the 49ers and evidence that Crabtree was starting to break. I'd be surprised if Crabtree's camp responded in a meaningful way.

Richard from Dayton, Ohio writes: Can you tell us when the Crabtree spot on Dr. Lou was recorded? Your analysis related thereto would also be appreciated. It has significantly different implications if recorded, say, two months ago, rather than last week (assuming it was taken seriously by Crabtree at all).

If recent, it could indicate a signing forthcoming, and a way for Crabtree to gain back the favor of 49ers fans, though likely still orchestrated by Parker. Thanks!

Mike Sando: That video of Crabtree was not recent. It showed tape of Crabtree asking Lou Holtz, "Dr. Lou, what advice do you give players when dealing with an agent?" The question was posted generically -- not in relation to the current contract dispute -- and appeared to be from months ago.

Joe from Pittsburgh writes: Do you ever go home at night embarrassed that you cover the St. Louis Rams? Honestly, what needs to be done to get this team a red-zone visit now and then?!

Mike Sando: The Rams need more from the passing game. Everyone knows Steven Jackson is the focal point of the offense. Donnie Avery needs to make a big play. His long reception at Washington last season helped the Rams upset the Redskins. It's also reasonable to expect the Rams to cut down on the penalties. Penalties killed drives against Seattle and put the Rams in less favorable down-distance situations. The Rams will improve. They have to.

SeahawksOwnTheWest from Seattle writes: Do you believe that there is more pressure on the 49ers to win against Seattle at home? I think all the pressure has to be on San Francisco to win at home. If Seattle comes into San Francisco and leaves with a win, that will be HUGE for the Seahawks, but if the Seahawks were to lose they would more than likely split the two games with a win at Qwest Field.

If San Francisco loses at home, you couldn't expect them to win in Seattle. This early in the season, I don't think the one-game lead in the division is as important as being able to hold down home-field advantage and steal a game or two on the road within the division, not including the Rams. What are your thoughts?

Mike Sando: There's not a lot of pressure on anyone in Week 2. However, I think the 49ers have more to gain from a victory because they are less established in recent seasons and they would have beaten their two primary challengers for the NFC West title in Mike Singletary's first full season as head coach.

Tanner from Southern California writes: Sando! Quick fantasy question: After Seattle shut down Steven Jackson last week, would you start Frank Gore against the Seahawks or would you rather start Larry Johnson against Oakland?

Mike Sando: You've come to the right place for fantasy advice. I'm ranking among the top 1,300 in the NFC West Gridiron Challenge. You know the 49ers will commit to Gore. You know the Seahawks have some injury concerns at linebacker and defensive tackle. Those would be good reasons to consider Gore. Larry Johnson's projected fate hinges on what you think of the Raiders' run defense, which was considered suspect heading into the season. I could justify starting either one.

Cheddar from "Sasquatch Country" writes: I'm a little surprised at Qwest Field only getting a "4 wow" factor? I dont think there is another stadium like it in the NFL (city views, water, 12th Man). How is the Texans' and Patriots' above Qwest? A retractable roof? Outdoor mall? These reasons are not valid to be over Qwest.

Mike Sando: I agree with you wholeheartedly. Qwest Field is better than either of those stadiums. I rated the NFC West stadiums. Bloggers covering other divisions rated the other stadiums. We used our own judgment independent of how the other bloggers rated stadiums. I never saw ratings for other stadiums when I rated the stadiums in the NFC West. Perhaps we will coordinate the ratings in the future. What seems like "4 wows" to me might seem like five to someone else.

Jimmy from Las Vegas writes: I don't know if you have touched on this before, but I recently discovered the Joe Show on the 49ers' Web site and now have a new appreciation for Shaun Hill. He is very funny and has great chemistry with Joe Staley, but most importantly, you can tell he gets along with everyone and that everyone likes him in that locker room. This probably played a factor in the QB decision this past offseason because I'm sure more teammates pushed for him than Alex Smith.

Mike Sando: I have seen the Joe Show featuring Joe Staley and I linked to it some time ago. The way the quarterback interacts with teammates and how teammates respond to the quarterback is indeed part of the evaluation process. Mike Singletary said from the beginning that players would know which quarterback should lead the team. Singletary said he would merely affirm that decision, which he did.

Justin from Orangevale, Calif., writes: As a 49ers fan, the whole Michael Crabtree situation has got me thinking harder about the allegations of him supposedly not wanting to play for the 49ers. I think he does not care if he plays for the 49ers, but have you or any of your fellow colleagues ever thought that maybe he just does not want to play for Mike Singletary? The coach did make him cry during the summer when he caught 'Crabs' working out when he was not cleared to. Plus, with the grueling practices that go on each week maybe Crabs is looking for a little less hostile atmosphere.

Mike Sando: The crying incident seemed overrated and misunderstood. Crabtree wanted to be out there practicing. Singletary wasn't bullying him off the field. I could buy potential dissatisfaction with the 49ers' offensive philosophy than any issues with Singletary personally. This is probably an issue between the agent and the team. Sometimes these things get done when the player finally has had enough. If that never happens, then it's pretty clear the player and agent are on the same page.

Adam from Spokane writes: I wanted your feelings on whether you think the Seahawks will finally turn into a team that finishes games with Jim Mora as coach. I don't want to disrespect Mike Holmgren, but it was infuriating watching Seattle constantly let teams back into games with ultra-conservative play after they would build a lead. I think Holmgren held back the raw talent the Hawks have/had by not letting them be aggressive.

Mike Sando: It's too early to know how the Seahawks will call plays in those situations. They put away the Rams with a 62-yard run and a few passes to the tight end. Those plays did not result from putting the hammer down as a play caller.

I do think you are onto something, however. In the past, the defensive coordinator had to worry about incurring Holmgren's wrath when opponents exploited blitzes. There's no fear of incurring the wrath when the head coach is the one ordering the blitzes. That's where having a defensive-minded head coach could result in more aggressive play defensively. Having a defensive-minded head coach has also vastly changed the way Seattle approaches practices. The team now has separate blitz periods, for example. I think the Seahawks will naturally become better coached on defense -- from the top down -- which could let them be more aggressive.

Tony from Tacoma writes: Why does ESPN not have any coverage of the Seattle Seahawks? I watched all of Sunday's football coverage and Monday Night football and there was no mention of them or how well they did in their opener. 28-0. Anybody have that big a win in their first game this year? All I heard was over and over about Farve. Feel like we get snubbed in the Pacific Northwest.

Mike Sando: I'd love to stick around to answer your question, but ESPN is sending me to San Francisco to cover the Seahawks-49ers game. Gotta catch a plane.
(5542) cheddar (sasquatch country) | 2009-09-17 20:27:00.0
sando- im a little surprised of qwest field only getting a 4 wow factor? i dont think there is another stadium like it in the nfl(city views, water, 12th man). how is the texans and patriots above qwest? a retractable roof? outdoor mall? these reasons are not valid to be over qwest.


NFC West: Rating the stadiums

September, 17, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Complete stadium ratings: Team-by-team glance

Arizona Cardinals (University of Phoenix Stadium, capacity 63,400)
AP Photo/Paul Connors
University of Phoenix Stadium can boast having the country's first retractable grass field.

The Cardinals got it right when they finally put the scorching hot metal bleachers of Sun Devil Stadium behind them. They found a way to build a domed stadium -- essential given the desert heat -- without giving up natural grass or natural light.

America's first retractable grass field sets apart University of Phoenix Stadium. While the roof also opens, natural light shines through even when it's closed. The stadium arguably looks a bit like a giant spaceship from the outside, but Business Week magazine ranked it one of the world's 10 most impressive sports facilities.

Wow factor: 4 wows (out of 5)

St. Louis Rams (Edward Jones Dome, capacity 66,965)

The $30 million in offseason upgrades to the nearly 15-year-old facility do not change the bottom line. The place lacks distinct flavor. It's a big building with seats. Nothing about it screams St. Louis.

The Rams' lease agreement compels the stadium to remain a "top-tier" facility by 2015, meaning it must rank among the eight best in the league. Not going to happen. Two-thirds of the league has built new stadiums since the Rams' facility opened in 1995. Sorry, Ed, but this dome simply cannot measure up by NFL standards.

Wow factor: 0 wows

San Francisco 49ers (Candlestick Park, capacity 70,207)

The place is a dump by rising NFL standards, right down to the faded puke-orange seats. But the 'Stick has history on its side and there's a charm to the place, even while navigating the cramped concourses and craning to see the field from Section 19.

It helps knowing Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice called Candlestick home, but there's a reason the 49ers are pushing hard to build a new stadium in Santa Clara. It's time to move on.

Wow factor: 2 wows

Seattle Seahawks (Qwest Field, capacity 67,000)

This architecturally spectacular stadium fits nicely into downtown Seattle while providing skyline views, massive concourses and no real shortcomings.

Designers achieved an outdoor feel while still protecting 70 percent of seats from rain. The NFL's first field-level luxury suites give the end zones a distinct feel and there isn't a louder stadium in the NFL (most false starts since 2005).

Wow factor: 4 wows

Posted by's Mike Sando

The mailbag overfloweth. I'm plowing through them and will post responses periodically. Some of my favorites have to do with the mistaken idea that the NFL did review the Cardinals' final offensive play in Super Bowl XLIII.

Wlf359 from Harrisburg, Pa., writes: So, when are you going to revise/update your blog that the Warner fumble was not reviewed by the booth? Either call NFL head of officiating Perreira a liar or make the change. I presume you are interested in being accurate.

Mike Sando: There will be no revision because I was accurate. Let me explain. The replay official looked at it and decided not to challenge, so there was no challenge and no official review of the play. A challenge takes place when the replay official directs the referee to review the play. The referee never reviewed the play. I wrote that the league should have let the referee look at the play. The referee was unable to do so. We can confirm this by consulting the official gamebook, which shows no challenge and no review.

If the league wants to have Bob McGrath and other replay officials making those decisions with Super Bowls potentially on the line, the rest of us can question the wisdom. It's a stretch to me when these replay officials challenge ridiculously subjective things such as the spot of the ball -- ask the Colts and Seahawks about such plays in recent seasons -- only to take a hands-off approach on a fumble that might have been an attempted pass.

And then we have some of these replay officials challenging a dozen calls in a season while some others challenge one or two. A little more consistency would go a long way toward promoting confidence and credibility in NFL officiating.

Jcapozzoli from Pittsburgh writes: For an informed "blogger", you're not that bright. The play was reviewed in the booth and determined not to be a fumble by the head of officiating, thus, they felt there was no need to buzz down to the officials for a review. I thought only Seahawks fans, such as yourself, were whiney, wimpy sore losers. Apparently it's the whole NFC West that wears women's underwear.

Mike Sando: I've already addressed this one, but I liked your mailbag note so much, I could not resist running it. Thanks for the feedback.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- The field at University of Phoenix Stadium finished first among grass fields in the NFL Players Association's annual survey.

The 49ers' field ranked 12th out of 18 grass fields. The top five: Arizona, Tampa Bay, San Diego, Carolina and Jacksonville. The five worst: Pittsburgh, Oakland, Miami, Chicago and Green Bay.

The FieldTurf surface at Qwest Field in Seattle ranked second among artificial infilled surfaces, behind the new field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Rams' FieldTurf surface ranked eighth out of 13 artificial infilled surfaces. The five best: Indianapolis, Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta and Detroit. The five worst: Dallas, Minnesota, Giants/Jets, St. Louis and Buffalo.

Players voted for the best and worst surfaces separately. That explains how the Rams' surface ranked eighth-best and fourth-worst out of 13 surfaces.

What's your best stadium experience?

October, 15, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Steelers fans emerged as best in the league during the fan rankings we ran in late August. The stadium-experience survey Peter King unveiled Wednesday ranked Qwest Field seventh, University of Phoenix Stadium 21st, Candlestick Park 26th and the Edward Jones Dome 32nd.

The situation in Arizona has the most potential for improvement if the team continues to win at home. The stadium is terrific. There's plenty of room for tailgating in parking lots and grass fields adjacent to the stadium. I checked it out Sunday.

Candlestick Park is as outdated as any stadium in the league. Assistant coaches have to walk through the stands on their way from the pressbox to the locker rooms. Some seats go unused because they lack views to the field (reflecting the stadium's use for baseball).

The Edward Jones Dome can be plenty loud. I have a feeling the No. 32 ranking there strongly reflected fans' overall feelings about the organization, too.

What's the best stadium experience you have enjoyed as a fan? Would you feel comfortable taking small children? I recall sitting at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a Chiefs-Raiders game as marijuana smoke wafted by.

Around the NFC West: Complacent Hawks?

September, 15, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune blames the Seahawks' problems on complacency, a word Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu used to describe how the team played.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks have more problems than injuries to wide receivers. Boling: "The Hawks scored enough points to win this one regardless of the injury problems. But their veteran defense, which has come up with so many fourth-quarter stops and key turnovers in recent seasons, forced just three punts in the final 10 49ers drives."

Also from Boling: Isaac Bruce was a great receiver, but he shouldn't be catching four passes for 153 yards against anyone at this stage of his career.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders what's up with the Seattle defense. Tatupu: "There are still 14 games to be played. I'm not calling us the New York Giants, but they did start 0-2, didn't they?"

Williams and Frank Hughes saw rookie tight end John Carlson becoming a security blanket for Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Not that Hasselbeck had many other options.

Also from Hughes: So much for that Seahawks swagger.

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says the 49ers supported Joe Nedney following his missed field goal, and Nedney rewarded them in overtime. Nedney: "I tell you what, that crowd is loud. The acoustics in the stadium and the way the crowd gets up for plays, it's a spectacle to behold. But there was nothing louder than 67,000 people dead silent."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks played it safe late in regulation because Mike Holmgren feared a mistake might cost his team the game. Problem was, Seattle never got the ball back.

More from O'Neil: A 2-minute drill with players of the game, a play of the game, a turning point and more.

O'Neil and Jose Romero take a look at Michael Bumpus' debut game as an NFL receiver. Also, Julian Peterson says the NFL doesn't want players to have a good time during games.

Also from Romero: The 49ers picked a good time to pull an upset at Qwest Field.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks gained more yards rushing against the 49ers than they gained against any opponent in 2007. Julius Jones, Mike Wahle and Walter Jones were three reasons for the improvement.

Brian McIntyre of breaks down the Seahawks in 1,743 words. He wonders if the team will bring in another punter.

Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer uses a mascot malfunction as a metaphor for the Seahawks' struggles. I had similar thoughts upon seeing a fan in a Seahawks No. 12 jersey changing a tire along the side of I-5 on the way to Qwest Field.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with stopgap receiver Billy McMullen, who made three catches for 48 yards but also had a hand in two turnovers.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks are "stunned" and "surprised" by their early struggles. Also, Seattle has lost seven of its last eight overtime games under Mike Holmgren. Hmmmm.

Also from Farnsworth: A look at how the Seattle defense unraveled against the 49ers.

Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Jones, the ex-Dallas runner, whose big game nearly helped the Seahawks beat the 49ers.

Also from Moore: Don't expect the Seahawks to pull the type of reversal the Giants managed during their run to the Super Bowl last season.

Around the NFC West: Rams seek redemption

September, 14, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Rams are really as bad as they looked in the opener. Fan reaction has been resoundingly negative.

Also from Thomas: a look at Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon's matchup with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.

More from Thomas: breaking down the game. He gives the Giants the edge in three of four categories. He offers an "even" verdict when the Rams' pass offense is working against the Giants' pass defense.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains why the 49ers go with veterans in their secondary. It's a Mike Nolan thing.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers have struggled against the noise at Qwest Field. Officials have flagged the 49ers for six false starts in the team's last two games at the stadium.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the Seahawks' opponents have averaged a league-high 2.83 false-start penalties per game at Qwest Field since 2005.

Also from Maiocco: Seattle wins this game if the Seahawks can force two turnovers.

Chrissy Mauck of quotes offensive coordinator Mike Martz on what Rocky Bernard means to the Seahawks' defense. Martz: "He does change them dramatically up front with his presence."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are looking for a "milestone" victory -- in Week 2. Oddsmakers favor Arizona by nearly a touchdown over the Dolphins, even though the Cardinals haven't been 2-0 since 1991.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune checks in with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has 333 receptions, more than twice what Jerry Rice had at the same age.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer breaks down keys to the 49ers-Seahawks game. He's wondering whether the Seahawks' pass catchers can improve upon their six-drop performance last week.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times provides a couple of thoughts on the Seahawks' decision to release receiver Samie Parker instead of a kicker. He suggests Parker might not have been able to absorb the offensive system well enough to make a difference before Deion Branch and/or Bobby Engram return.

Bulger: 'We haven't been good anywhere'

September, 10, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Quarterback Marc Bulger was honest when a reporter asked him about the Rams being much better at home than on the road.

Bulger: "The last couple of years, we haven't been good anywhere. But certainly we are not as bad as we were last week."

The Rams can make the Giants work this week if their pass rush can bother Eli Manning. Manning was very effective against the Redskins when Washington did not force him to make difficult decisions. He threw an interception when the Redskins hurried him, forced him out of the pocket and gave him more to think about downfield.

The Rams' secondary showed no ability to stop the Eagles' receivers last week, however, and Plaxico Burress presents a brutal matchup. Another loss by the Rams would drop them to 0-2 heading into a Week 3 matchup at Seattle. The Rams have played the Seahawks tough most of the time, but winning at Qwest Field has been difficult for them.

Seahawks fans, you're No. 20

August, 29, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks fared no better than 20th in's fan rankings largely because the deck was stacked against them. Local ordinances prohibit tailgating at Qwest Field, resulting in the lowest possible rating for Seattle fans in this core category. Seattle did receive the highest possible ranking for stadium atmosphere. There isn't a louder venue in the league.

The day ahead

August, 29, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The day is only beginning. I'm off to participate in an ESPN Insiders segment before hunkering down to process and analyze roster moves as they trickle out this afternoon.

I'll also be at Qwest Field tonight for the Raiders-Seahawks exhibition finale. We'll see what kind of impression Justin Forsett leaves as the seventh-round rookie running back tries to earn a roster spot with Seattle.

The Seahawks face difficult issues as they prepare to trim their roster to the 53-man limit Saturday. They will probably enter the season light at linebacker, which means they'll need to find similar types of players to fill the void on special teams. Rookie fullback Owen Schmitt is one such player. Keeping him swells the numbers at running back, where T.J. Duckett has $4 million in guarantees and Forsett has looked at times like a capable change-of-pace back and return specialist.

Setting the scene at Qwest Field

August, 16, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

SEATTLE -- The Seahawks and Bears have left the field for the locker rooms one last time before their exhibition game tonight at Qwest Field. The temperature in Seattle is 86 degrees with 34 percent humidity, warm for these parts. Winds are from the northwest at 10 miles per hour. Skies are clear but a little hazier than usual. Sideline mist machines are blowing moisture onto the bench areas, but both sidelines are in the shade.

Scouts representing the 49ers, Chargers, Steelers, Raiders, Saints, Jets, Eagles, Jaguars, Cowboys, Browns and Bills have secured credentials to watch this game from the pressbox. They'll be watching for bubble players who might become available when teams reduce roster sizes.

Seattle has some difficult decisions to make because the Seahawks are deep at a few positions. A dozen members of Seattle's 80-man roster will not play tonight. They are: punter Ryan Plackemeier, receiver Joel Filani, defensive back Jordan Babineaux, snapper Tyler Schmitt, linebacker Will Herring, center Chris Spencer, defensive tackle Red Bryant, receiver Deion Branch, receiver Bobby Engram, defensive lineman Chris Cooper, defensive tackle Larry Tripplett and defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Charlie Frye will start at quarterback for the Seahawks. The team wants to get a long look at him tonight, the hope being that Frye will play well enough for coach Mike Holmgren to feel better about using No. 2 quarterback Seneca Wallace as a receiver and/or punt returner.

Nate Burleson and Courtney Taylor are starting at receiver for Seattle. Julius Jones starts at running back. He'll be looking to answer Maurice Morris' strong showing in the first exhibition game. Morris and Jones are fighting for a starting spot. Both are expeted to play extensively this season. Rookie first-round choice Lawrence Jackson is starting at right defensive end, with Darryl Tapp starting in Kerney's usual spot on the left side. Jackson has a shot at beating out Tapp for the starting job on the right side.