NFL Nation: Kam Chancellor

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's not Eddie Lacy versus Marshawn Lynch in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, and the Green Bay Packers running back is thankful for that.

"He's a great back -- powerful, strong," Lacy said Wednesday of his counterpart with the Seattle Seahawks. "But that's not my concern. I don't have to tackle him."

Lacy has plenty to worry about with the Seahawks' defense, which held him to just 34 yards on 12 carries in their 36-16 rout of the Packers in the season opener at CenturyLink Field. Lacy's night ended early in the fourth quarter after a collision with safety Kam Chancellor.

Actually, two collisions.

Chancellor drilled him at the end of a screen pass and then again at the end of a run on the next play.

The Packers said Lacy left the game because of a concussion. He said it wasn't that severe.

"I remember it wasn't a concussion; it was, 'Got my bell rung,'" Lacy said. "The difference is when I get a concussion, I didn't remember what happened at all. In this one, I knew exactly what happened."

And what he discovered was that Chancellor hits hard.

"Definitely one of the hardest hitters I've ever ran into," Lacy said.

The Seahawks didn't have nearly the problems with Lacy that the Packers did with Lynch, who ProFootballFocus.com credited with breaking nine tackles in the game. Lynch rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns.

The back story on Lynch and the Packers is that they almost traded for him in 2010, when the Buffalo Bills were shopping him. But they did the deal with the Seahawks, who gave up a fourth-round pick and a conditional pick that ended up being a fifth-rounder. The Packers offered a fourth-round pick because they were in need of a running back after Ryan Grant was lost for the season to a broken ankle.

"I thought it was a possibility, for sure," said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who played with Lynch at the University of California for one season (2004). "He was on the market for what didn't seem like a whole lot getting out of Buffalo. I think they ended up taking that offer based on where the pick would lie in the draft because of the records. So it'd be interesting to see any of the what-ifs if he had come here."

Had they landed Lynch, perhaps they would not have drafted Lacy in 2013.

In Lacy, the Packers found the bruising back they sought in Lynch. Over the past two seasons, Lynch leads the NFL in yards after contact (1,281), while Lacy ranks second (1,111), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"Those guys are similar in the sense that you have to have multiple defenders trying to get those guys down," Packers linebacker Julius Peppers said.

Said Packers coach Mike McCarthy: "I don't know if there's a whole lot of people that want to tackle Eddie. He's playing at an extremely high level. I think he's playing the best football of his two-year career. ... He's breaking tackles, but we're going against an excellent tackling defense, so this will be a big challenge."

Demaryius Thomas reviews Chancellor hit

September, 18, 2014
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In the written record that is the play-by-play from Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s listed simply as; “P.Manning pass short middle to D. Thomas to DEN 40 for 2 yards (K. Chancellor)."

But for many, including Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Bobby Wagner, Chancellor’s hit on Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas just over five minutes into the title game set the tone for what was to come. Wagner went as far, in an offseason TV appearance, to say the Broncos wide receivers were intimidated after the hit.

[+] EnlargeDemaryius Thomas and Kam Chancellor
AP Photo/Bill KostrounDenver receiver Demaryius Thomas took a hard hit from Seattle's Kam Chancellor early in Super Bowl XLVIII.
At the time, Wagner said: “That first hit [Chancellor] came across the middle and smacked him … they were very timid."

With the rematch of the Broncos 43-8 loss in the title game set for Sunday in Seattle, Thomas offered some thoughts all these months later. Asked if the hit had the impact on him, as well as the other Broncos, that many have said it did, Thomas said:

“Nah, it’s just a hit. You play football, you’re gonna get hit. It didn’t bother me; I got up and kept playing."

Asked if it was the game’s turning point, Thomas added:

“I think about it, and now that the game is over, I laugh about getting hit. It doesn’t bother me. They came out that day and played better football than us and all I can say is give them their props and try to come back Sunday and try to do better."

Thomas suffered a shoulder injury on the play and, after a trip to the sideline, returned to finish with 13 receptions for 118 yards and the Broncos' only touchdown on a day that was largely a struggle for the Broncos' offense. In general, Thomas, who has had back-to-back 1,300-yard, 10-touchdown seasons to go with two Pro Bowl trips, had high praise for the Seahawks secondary. He called cornerback Richard Sherman “one of the best … I think he’s one of the smarter guys in the game."

And on the Seahawks safeties, Thomas said “Kam Chancellor, big hitter, Earl [Thomas] is all over the field, very good at what they do"

On the Seahawks defense, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase put Seattle’s group among some fast company.

“You’re talking about three teams in the history of football – the ’85 Bears, the 2000 Ravens and these guys, that’s where these guys rank in defensive football," Gase said following Thursday's practice. “These guys are one of the best teams to ever play and they are trying to show it again this year."
The Seattle Seahawks confirmed Tuesday that strong safety Kam Chancellor had hip surgery earlier this year, which was first reported by ESPN's John Clayton.

Chancellor
No timetable for his recovery was announced, but it isn't believed to be a long-term issue. Clayton was told in March that the surgery was "minor" in nature.

However, Chancellor has suffered with a labrum problem in his hip for a couple of years. Obviously, that's a scary thought for Seahawks fans because a labrum tear caused receiver Percy Harvin to miss most of the 2013 season.

But Chancellor said last summer, before the 2013 season, that his injury wasn't as severe as Harvin's labrum tear. Chancellor was visibly limping when he walked off the field after the Super Bowl.

Whether Chancellor will be ready for training camp is unknown. Harvin's original recovery estimate was four months. Even if that were true for Chancellor, he would be ready by the end of July, assuming the surgery took place in late March.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Gray spent the 2010 season as the defensive backs coach for a Seattle Seahawks team that made the playoffs with a dubious honor, becoming the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record after winning the NFC West at 7-9.

One of Gray's tasks that season was to develop the two safeties the Seahawks had taken in that year's draft -- Earl Thomas, whom the team drafted in the first round, and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks' fifth-round pick. Four years later, the Seahawks are the world champions, thanks in no small part to Thomas and Chancellor, who might form the best safety duo in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeHarrison Smith
AP Photo/Joe RobbinsThe Vikings are counting on Harrison Smith to be an integral part of their new defense.
And Gray is now in Minnesota, working with a player who could put his name in the same sentence as the Seahawks' duo by the end of this season.

"I think you'll see him as one of the top safeties in the league," Gray said. "Him and Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, they were all drafted around the same time, and now they're going to be in there about the same time. That's a sentence you want to be in, if you're Harrison."

If a turf toe injury slowed Harrison Smith's progress toward becoming one of the game's best safeties last season, his role in the Vikings' new defense could accelerate it this year. The Vikings have big plans for Smith in Mike Zimmer's new scheme, which should give the 25-year-old a more active role than he had in the Vikings' old Cover-2 defense.

"We're going to get him more involved," Gray said. "He'll be blitzing some. He'll be covering some. He'll be in the middle of the field. The thing that we're trying to do right now is, figure out what he's best at, and then put him in that position. Can he be one of the better safeties in the league, doing what we're teaching him here?"

As many Vikings players are doing during the team's voluntary minicamp this week, Smith is trying to digest a new scheme as quickly as he can. That process has been helped, Smith said, by doing film work with a focus on correcting small technique issues, which Zimmer has been drilling in the Vikings' first practices as a team.

"On film sometimes you can see my toe coming up, which means I'm on my heel," Smith said. "So that just means I need to put more weight on my toes. Small things like that that will give you a fraction of a second out of your break and maybe get an interception instead of a [pass defended] or make a play I wouldn't have made."

Smith has the speed and instincts to cover receivers, which could be a bigger part of his role than it ever was in a Cover-2 defense. If he's able to play man coverage on an inside receiver, the Vikings can spend more time in their base defense and keep an extra linebacker on the field for run situations, instead of shifting to their nickel package and giving up some size in the middle of the field.

"Now, people say, 'What am I going to do? I can't run it, because they've got their big guys in. I can't throw it, because their safety can cover my No. 2,'" Gray said. "That's really what Seattle does a lot. They keep their base out there, Earl Thomas goes down to cover No. 2, and then they put Kam in the middle. You don't want to run against Kam, you can't throw it against Earl, and now you make the best of both worlds. Hopefully we can get our guys to understand that concept."

The Vikings still need to see how well Smith can handle a broader role, but he's already shown flashes of becoming a star in his first two years in the league, returning two of his three interceptions for touchdowns as a rookie and picking off a pair of passes in just eight games last season.

Now, if a new scheme turns him loose, Smith could find himself on a short list of the league's elite.

"He's not afraid to go up in run support. He understands what leverage is. He understands all those things," Gray said. "With the second day [of minicamp], he's trying to figure out, 'Where do I fit in? What do I do here?' When you get past responsibility, and let talent take over, I think he'll be one of the best."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It would be hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to blow their first-round draft pick.

General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have so much talent from which to choose at No. 3 that it would be hard to find fault with whatever decision they made. Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, or any of the three quarterbacks are all good options.

The same applies for the second round as well, especially if the Jaguars are going offense because Caldwell said this is a deep draft for offensive talent.

It's on the third day of the draft, however, where it gets a lot tougher. How the Jaguars perform in Rounds 4-7 will be the key to the success of the draft, Bradley said.

"I think that's where we really have to do well," Bradley said. "The first round, obviously, and the second round you have to do some things there. But this draft will be determined by how well we do in those rounds.

"Example: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, guys like that can make a big difference there. We focus on all areas, but that's an area that we've got to concentrate on, too."

Sherman (2011) and Chancellor (2010) were both fifth-round picks who developed into key members of the Seattle secondary. That's the kind of result for which the Jaguars are hoping for this year.

They've set themselves up with enough ammunition. Because of trades with Baltimore, Detroit and San Francisco, the Jaguars have eight picks in rounds 4-7, including three in fifth round. That should increase their odds of finding at least one player who could develop into a starter.

In reality, though, they're fighting against tradition. Looking back over the past 10 years of fifth-round picks by every NFL team doesn't exactly reveal a lot of success. There are some familiar names -- Sherman, Chancellor, Riley Cooper, Chris Clemons (the defensive back), Rob Ninkovich, and Brent Celek, for example -- but the majority of the picks turned into marginal players at best or were out of the league within a year or two.

The Jaguars haven't had much success with players selected in rounds 4-7 over the past decade, either. They hit on three in 2004 -- receiver Ernest Wilford (fourth), kicker Josh Scobee (fifth) and defensive end Bobby McCray (seventh) -- but since then only five players taken in those round became significant contributors: safety Gerald Sensabaugh (fifth round in 2005), guard Uche Nwaneri (fifth round in 2007), running back Rashad Jennings (seventh round in 2009), receiver Mike Thomas (fourth round in 2009) and receiver Cecil Shorts (fourth round in 2011).

It's too early to tell if any of the players taken in rounds 4-7 the past two seasons will become significant contributors, but it appears the team hit on receiver Ace Sanders (fourth round in 2013).

Bradley said the Jaguars will try to find players in those rounds that fit a specific role. Sanders, for example, was drafted to be the team's punt returner. It's the same approach they used in free agency with linebacker Dekoda Watson, a special teams standout who played situationally on defense with Tampa Bay. The Jaguars project him as a strongside linebacker on first and second downs and a leo on third down.

"For us he was intriguing. We have a spot for him," Bradley said. "We know exactly where we want to play him. That's what can happen [in] the fifth, sixth round. Hey, we really like this guy. We have a spot that he can come in and do some good things."

Find enough of those guys on the third day and Bradley will consider the draft a success.
Don't be too concerned about Kam Chancellor's upcoming hip surgery. This is not a Percy Harvin situation.

Chancellor
Harvin
The Seahawks strong safety plans to have minor hip surgery in the next few weeks, a source told ESPN's John Clayton Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando.

This is not a new problem. Chancellor talked early last season about how he sympathized with Harvin because Chancellor played through a similar hip issue in 2012.

But Chancellor said his injury was far less severe than Harvin's torn labrum, which required major surgery in early August and included a four-month recovery before the Seahawks receiver returned. And Harvin still had issues with his hip that kept him out until the playoffs after returning for only one game.

Chancellor's hip issues returned late in the 2013 season. He did not practice several times during the playoffs, but Chancellor started all 19 games last year.

It isn't known what the recovery time will be once Chancellor has the surgery, but it's unlikely to cause him to miss any time since training camp is still four months away.

Packers could learn from Seahawks

February, 20, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- You'll never see a picture of a shirtless Ted Thompson wearing a championship belt, but the Green Bay Packers' general manager might do well to emulate his counterpart with the Seattle Seahawks, John Schneider.

And we're not talking about questionable fashion decisions.

[+] EnlargeTed Thompson
AP Photo/Morry GashAt 61 years old, Ted Thompson said he's not ready to retire as Packers GM anytime soon. "I'm feeling good and ready to go," he said.
For five years in Green Bay, Thompson listened to Schneider's opinions about all things personnel -- free agency, the draft, trades, waiver claims ... you name it. Not that Thompson, conservative by nature, always acted on Schneider's suggestions, but it was the protege's job to offer opinions and suggestions from his office down the hall at Lambeau Field.

Now, they sit more than 1,900 miles apart, competitors, not colleagues. Yet as Thompson faces one of the most important offseasons since he took over the Packers' personnel department in 2005, there are things he could learn from the man who put together a Super Bowl-winning roster.

Not that Thompson doesn't know how to do that; he built much of the roster that won Super Bowl XVL. But since the Packers' last championship, they have won just one playoff game -- against the Minnesota Vikings, who were forced to start backup quarterback Joe Webb at the last minute.

If there's a common denominator in their playoff exits, it's that their defenses failed them.

With salary-cap space to use and holes to be filled, Thompson might want to examine how Schneider built the Seahawks' top-ranked defense.

Although Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said shortly after the Super Bowl that it would be unrealistic to expect the Packers -- or any other NFL team -- to play at the same level as the Seahawks did last season and in their 43-8 destruction of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, there are some things Thompson might be able to do to help bridge the gap between the Seahawks' dominating defense and the Packers' half-broken unit that slipped to 25th last season.

"If you're able to acquire players that can run fast and are big and are good-looking, then you've got a shot," Schneider said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.

The Schneider formula for acquiring speed and size on defense goes like this:

  • Make your early-round draft picks count -- see outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (2012 first round), inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (2012 second round) and safety Earl Thomas (2010 first round).
  • Find gems in the middle and late rounds -- see cornerback Richard Sherman (2011 fifth round) and safety Kam Chancellor (2010 fifth round).
  • Retain key players before they hit free agency -- see defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, a third-round pick by the previous administration who in 2011 signed a five-year, $25 million contract extension.
  • Dip into the free-agent market but don't break the bank -- see defensive ends Michael Bennett, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract, and Cliff Avril, who signed a two-year, $13 million deal.
  • Work some trades -- see defensive end Chris Clemons, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thompson has tried to employ some of those strategies. He used his first six draft picks in 2012 on defensive players with only minimal success. He signed safety Morgan Burnett to a four-year, $24.75 million contract last offseason only to see Burnett fail to come up with a single interception last season. But he hasn't touched free agency in any significant way since 2006, when he signed Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett.

With the 21st pick in this year's draft, Thompson could be looking at defensive players again. Given the copycat nature of the NFL, it's worth wondering if another team, say the Packers, could duplicate what Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have done on that side of the ball.

"It wouldn't be very hard, I don't think," Schneider said. "Just [get] more speed. It's just about having guys that are willing to teach and play young players, and [the Packers] have that. They have a young team. They have good teachers."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week defensive coordinator Dom Capers' unit "is going to change some" and that he would "set the vision for the defense and Dom Capers and the defensive staff will carry it out."

To do so, Thompson might have to take more aggressive measures to rebuild a defense that in the Super Bowl season of 2010 ranked fifth in the NFL and ranked second in 2009.

Ryan Clark: Seahawks' success is unique

February, 4, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The Seattle Seahawks, fresh off their 43-8 demolition of the Denver Broncos, are now the model other franchises will look to as they try to achieve their Super Bowl aspirations.

To those organizations looking to copy what the Seahawks have done in winning a Super Bowl with a relatively young team Ryan Clark has two words: good luck.

"When you look at the pieces they were able to put together late in drafts, free agency, you can’t really model yourself after that because nobody gets that lucky," the Steelers free safety said Tuesday on ESPN’s "SportsCenter."

Not that Clark was casting aspersions on the newly minted world champions.

Far from it, Clark offered nothing but praise for the Seahawks. He also paid them the highest compliment for how they were able to dominate the Peyton Manning-led Broncos.

"I was jealous of the way these guys got to play on Super Bowl Sunday," Clark said. "The way Kam Chancellor was able to enforce in the game without being penalized, the way he was able to affect the game early. I think it changed the flow of what the Denver Broncos wanted to do."

Now that the Seahawks have reached the pinnacle the tougher challenge may be staying on top.

The past seven Super Bowl champions failed to win a playoff game the following season, including the Steelers in 2009.

The most recent Super Bowl champions from the AFC North, the Ravens in 2012 and the Steelers in 2008, did not even make the playoffs the following season.

Human nature, Clark said, is as much a factor as anything in why it is so hard for teams to repeat as Super Bowl champions, something that hasn’t been done since the New England Patriots in 2003-04.

"It’s tough to come back the next season and with the same intensity, the same sense of urgency you had," Clark said. "The good thing I think Seattle has going for them is they have young players. Young players just want to get out play, hit people, run around, dance and have a good time and I think they will be able to do that.

"With a coach like Pete Carroll he will keep the enthusiasm around the organization, but it’s hard to come back every week and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got something to prove. We’ve got to go out every week and show people we are as good as we talk and as good as we say we are.’"
NEW YORK -- The talk is over, and the day finally is here: Super Bowl Sunday.

Here are five things the Seattle Seahawks must do well to defeat the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium:

1. Pressure Peyton Manning: It’s a mammoth task against a quarterback who gets rid of the football so quickly, but it isn’t so much about getting sacks as it is putting enough pressure on Manning to take him out of his comfort zone.

Everyone knows Manning is a classic pocket passer. He likes to step up in the pocket to make his throws. That will make it difficult for a talented edge-rusher like Cliff Avril to get to Manning.

Bryant
So the Seahawks have to get pressure up the middle with their defensive tackles -- Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel. Big Red Bryant will also get a push in the middle sometimes, and they might use some stunts with end Michael Bennett rushing up the middle when he lines up outside. Also, look for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to blitz a couple of times.

"There’s no certain way to get to Manning," Bennett said. "It comes down to doing what we do and beating your man."

2. Let the quiet Beast loudly rumble: It’s been a strange and somewhat stressful week for Marshawn Lynch, having to do media sessions on three consecutive days. Not his cup of tea, and a distraction the Seahawks could have lived without, but that is all behind them now.

Lynch
Lynch was successful on runs up the middle in the first two playoff games this season, but the Seahawks should try more off-tackle runs and toss sweeps against Denver. The Broncos have Terrance Knighton at nose tackle, a mountain of a man at 340 pounds. He’s a run-stuffer.

When asked what his biggest concern was regarding the Denver defense, Lynch didn’t hesitate. "Pot Roast," he said, which is Knighton’s nickname. "He’s a big boy."

The Seahawks might use a third tackle with Alvin Bailey, as they did against the 49ers, to line up with tight end Zach Miller and use a muscle push to run Lynch off the edge of the line and hope he goes Beast Mode.

3. Keep the Broncos guessing with Harvin: The Seahawks need to make the most of their X factor in receiver Percy Harvin. The Denver defense can’t know exactly how to account for a guy who played only six quarters this season, but they know he’s faster than a cheetah with its tail on fire.

Harvin
So make them worry about Harvin on almost every play by putting him in motion and lining him up in different spots. Get the ball to him early so Denver will know he’s part of the plan. Someone for Denver will have to spy him, meaning someone else on the Seattle offense -- receivers Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin -- will get free.

"We’re excited to have Percy back, because he brings more to the table," Tate said. "He's going to open it up for other guys more."

4. Punish the Broncos on crossing routes: The Seattle defense can’t allow Manning and his receivers to nickel-and-dime them to death with short passes over the middle and quick slants.

Chancellor
And if receiver Wes Welker wants to try a pick-play block, have strong safety Kam Chancellor waiting to greet him. Linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright also have to get physical on these plays and let the Broncos know there is a price to pay every time they catch a pass in the middle of the field.

"We are a physical bunch," Chancellor said. "We like to be physical. We like to be hands-on. We like to make you feel our presence. That’s how we operate."

5. Play with poise: This is the most important point. Seattle is the more talented team overall, but the Seahawks must play smart and not get over-amped in the biggest game of their lives. Careless personal fouls and false starts can be the difference in the game, and too much emotion can cause a player to make a mistake he wouldn’t normally make.

Sherman
The Seahawks did a great job of controlling their emotions in the NFC Championship Game against the hated 49ers. Well, until the end when cornerback Richard Sherman went on testosterone overload after the game-saving play. But the game was decided at that point, so have at it.

The same is true in the Super Bowl. Play your game and don’t give the Broncos a freebie. Do what you did to get here.

"Respect the journey," said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. "But at the same time, enjoy the moment. Take it all in. It is real. Just be poised and respect the process. I’m going to play with a smile on my face and just go for it."

Good advice. If the Seahawks follow it, that should be enough.

Kam Chancellor is the quiet enforcer

January, 27, 2014
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Kam ChancellorKyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsKam Chancellor is looking forward to the challenge of facing Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
NEW YORK -- Regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl, you won't see Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor go on national TV and angrily scream into the camera.

That's not the style of this quiet man who tends to avoid bringing attention to himself off the field.

On the field? That's a much different story. He will get your attention.

Many opponents have learned about Chancellor the hard way -- from flat on their back. There is no more intimidating hitter in the NFL.

In the past, some of those hits have cost his team a 15-yard penalty. But in this era of the NFL, where big hits by defensive backs can bring big punishments, Chancellor has found a way to stay true to his style of play within the rules.

“You know what, I just show my passion for the game,” Chancellor said. “All the hard hits show how much I love this game and how you're supposed to play the game. It's just a matter of proper tackling. Then you can get your feet set and explode through anybody.”

Chancellor (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) has exploded through a lot of players lately. He leads the team with 25 tackles in Seattle's two playoff games, including 14 against New Orleans and 11 in the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco. He also had a big fourth-quarter interception against the 49ers.

“Kam is on it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He is really on his game. His preparation is dialed in. He's getting everything out of every rep in practice and all the meeting times, and he's extremely confident right now. He's really peaking at a great time and we're thrilled to have that happen.”

Chancellor is playing at the highest level of his career, something few people would have expected given league emphasis on eliminating the type of hits that have made Chancellor such a physical defensive back.

“Kam has really, really complied,” Carroll said. “He's taken it to heart. The early fines got his attention, but he really just wanted to find a way to play the game really well. He wasn't hard-headed about it at all. He went about it with kind of a sense that he was going to adjust and do it right.

“He's done all of that, and the exciting part of it is he's maintained his physical style. He's a great hitter and he's always looking for big opportunities. He creates big hits and does it legally and properly. A number of guys are working hard at this, but he's one of the guys that's really at the cutting edge of understanding the new format. I'm really proud of him for figuring it out.”

It's a mistake to think of Chancellor as nothing more than a big hitter. He's also an outstanding cover safety who has four interceptions this season including the postseason.

Free safety Earl Thomas said he and Chancellor have made each other better in their four seasons together.

“I think we're the best tandem in the league right now, just because of our chemistry,” Thomas said. “It's the connection we have, which I think started when I put my pride to the side and said, 'This guy is just as good as me.' It's a respect factor.”

Thomas said he and Chancellor had a plan that started during their rookie season in 2010.

“We always talked about changing Seattle,” Thomas said. “We came in as competitors, young and probably dumb, but at the same time, we understood that we could make a change and it's definitely panned out for us.”

Chancellor says he can't wait for Thomas and him to test their skills against one of the all-time greats in Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

“He's a true competitor,” Chancellor said of Manning. “He's a guy who is going to give you his all on every play. He's very smart and knows what he sees on defense to throw what he wants to throw.”

So what's the plan?

“It's just about manning up,” said Chancellor, no pun intended. “We have to stay true to who we are and play physical. I like it that way.”

 

Manning's Omaha? Seahawks don't care

January, 24, 2014
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RENTON, Wash. -- Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning can bark out "Omaha" or any other middle America city he wants to use in his signal calling.

The Seattle Seahawks don't care. They won't be listening in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Seattle defense knows Manning says a lot of things while he's making his play-calling decisions before each snap, but the Seahawks won't try to translate it like some on-the-field United Nations interpreter.

"You can't be a genie and think what he's thinking," Seattle free safety Earl Thomas said. "Obviously, you don't know what's coming. That's why you just have to be ready for anything. You just have to think principled ball. Why are you out there? It's best to just line up and do what you do."

What they do, in becoming the No. 1 defense in the NFL, is play aggressively and be physical at the point of attack with press coverage. The Seahawks aren't going to change things to try to second-guess Manning's constant audibles.

"Certainly for us, we have a real style about how we play," Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "We have to focus on our style and our football. We know that part of those checks [Manning's signals] are dummy calls at the line of scrimmage.

"So for us, it's more about how we play than the checks and the information that they're doing on the other side."

Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor said it comes down to the communications between the guys on defense more than deciphering Manning's codes.

"It's not worth it trying to figure out what he's saying," Chancellor said. "Just play your defense, play your coverage, know what you have to do on your side of the ball and just be sound at it."

And, for the record, what's does Chancellor think "Omaha" means?

"I have no clue," he said.
The quote that catches the eye, naturally, is about Sean Taylor. That's the emotional one, the one that reminds anyone of his lasting impact, more than six years after his death. Safeties grew up idolizing him, both from his days at the University of Miami, and his too-short tenure with the Washington Redskins.

Taylor's memory will be at the Super Bowl with Seattle's Kam Chancellor. He's a Virginia native who played for Virginia Tech. (He was in college at the time of Taylor's death; in case you missed it, there was news regarding his killer Thursday.)

Here's what Chancellor told the Seattle Times earlier this month about Taylor:

[+] EnlargeKam Chancellor
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsSeattle's Kam Chancellor patterned his game after that of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was killed in 2007.
“Before every game I always watch his highlights, just the way that he approaches the game. The physicality that he brings to the game. He's a big safety, he can run, cover, unfortunately we don't have him now may he rest in peace, but that's a guy that I always try to simulate my game after, and I also watch Earl Thomas. Believe it or not that's a guy beside me that goes hard all of the time, so little things from his game that I try to put into my game are making me a better player.”

Chancellor has patterned his game after Taylor's for a long time. Like Taylor, Chancellor is a big safety. When Taylor was in the secondary group, he looked like a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds. He was an intimidating force in the secondary, though he was best as a playmaking free safety. Chancellor is a strong safety capable of damage in the box. At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, his size and instincts allow him to be highly effective in this area.

“He was a big safety, the prototype guy for the position,” Chancellor once told the Roanoke Times about Taylor. “I'm a big safety, too, and I've just always wanted to be just like him. I don't necessarily say I can be Sean Taylor before it's over, but I think I can be just as good.”

“When I first took the job, I hadn't seen anybody that big, that fast, that athletic since Sean Taylor,” Seahawks defensive assistant Marquand Manuel, a former NFL free safety, told Seahawks.com.

Amazing to think that Chancellor was a fifth-round pick. Again: draft and develop. Chancellor has a skill that Seattle has allowed him to unleash. And often times that skill results in violent collisions against players such as San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis.

Obviously the Redskins could use such an enforcer in the back end. But there's another quote from Chancellor that caught my eye. This, too, is something the Redskins need. And it's something they haven't had enough of because of injuries and bad personnel decisions.

Here's Chancellor's quote on the Seattle secondary:

“I think it started clicking a lot more this year. I think it was starting to happen towards the end of last year, but this year sometimes man it's like we don't even say anything, but the movements are just right. It's like you can feel one another out there on the field, or out here at practice, especially with me and Earl with the way that we funnel the ball to each other. We always talk about that. We always talk about both of us running to the ball. If you miss it, I'm going to make it. If I miss it you're going to make it. That's just the mentality we have.”

It's not one Washington has had in recent years. It's a subtle, but huge difference. If a corner knows how a safety likes to play a certain look, he can adjust his coverage accordingly. If the free safety knows what to expect from the strong safety, he can compensate. It's not always about scheme. Could Phillip Thomas develop into such a player? No idea; we barely saw him last summer. Could Bacarri Rambo? I'd be shocked if that happens based on what we saw this season, especially late in the year.

This isn't about finding the next Sean Taylor. He wasn't hard to identify when he first came out; anyone could see his talent. Chancellor is not Sean Taylor, and was not expected to be coming out of college considering where he was drafted. But he developed into a Pro Bowl player. But Seattle also had a clear vision in what it wanted from its defensive backs: big, physical corners and punishing safeties. Earl Thomas is more a ball-hawking safety, but he's the best at his position right now.

The Seahawks have a secondary that everyone would want now. They also have a defensive front that complements this group. The Redskins had it in 2007 with Taylor, corners Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot and rookie strong safety LaRon Landry. They need to find a way to get that back. It's great that they have money to spend, but there are other ways to accomplish this goal. And doing so would help the Redskins not only return to respectability but, perhaps, finally stick around.

Does the preseason matchup matter?

January, 24, 2014
1/24/14
8:00
AM ET

RENTON, Wash. -- For those who might have forgotten, the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos have faced each other this season.

It didn’t count because it was a preseason game at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 17, but it’s interesting to look back on it now. Seattle won that night 40-10.

It meant nothing, of course, but Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and safety Kam Chancellor see value in that matchup five months ago.

"Anytime you play a team, there’s definitely value in it, just to see their players against our guys," Wilson said. "Even though it was a preseason game, it was a great battle."

That might seem like an odd statement considering the Seahawks won by 30 points, but the score is a bit misleading.

Peyton Manning was done for the night midway through the second quarter, but not before he completed 11 of 16 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos had 209 yards of offense in the first half.

Chancellor has taken time to study that film this week.

"I look at all the things that affected us in that game," he said. "The plays they made out there and some of the looks that Peyton saw from us. I want to see some of the things we left open during the game so we can correct them if they run those plays in this game."

The Seahawks forced three Denver fumbles in the game, including one that became a 106-yard touchdown for cornerback Brandon Browner, who also had a forced fumble. Browner is now serving a one-year suspension for a substance-abuse violation.

Seattle was leading 17-7 when Denver was about to score, but Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman fumbled as he tried to dive into the end zone. Browner recovered in the end zone and ran it back all the way to make it 24-7 when it could have been 17-14.

The Seahawks also had a 107-yard kickoff return for a TD by Jermaine Kearse. Seattle led 33-7 at half before backups played in the second half.

Wilson completed eight of 12 passes that night for 127 yards and two touchdowns while playing the first two quarters. Running back Marshawn Lynch had only two carries for 1 yard in the game.

Denver tight end Julius Thomas had four receptions for 70 yards, but he also fumbled on a 20-yard catch in the first quarter.

Ten players caught at least one pass for Seattle that night, including Doug Baldwin, who had one reception for 16 yards.

"It’s nice to look at on tape to have a baseline," Baldwin said. "But so much goes on in the 17 weeks during the season that it’s kind of hard to look at that film and digest it. The games I’ll be looking at the most are their more recent games, because those will mean more than the preseason."
Seattle Seahawks Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesThe Seahawks made five interceptions, including two apiece by Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If the Seattle Seahawks return to this stellar, and likely frigid, facility in a few weeks for the game of games, it will be because of a defense with depth, talent and skills like no other.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is the glamour boy of this team, and deservedly so, as he showed once again in a 23-0 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife stadium.

But posting a shutout for the first time this season, along with picking off five Eli Manning passes, at the venue where the Super Bowl takes place in seven weeks is something to remember.

This defense is the other thing that sets the Seahawks apart.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind,” middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said of playing at the Super Bowl site. “Of course it did. And it feels good to play like this here. If the time comes and we take care of business to get back here, it will matter. No doubt about it.”

Seattle, with the NFL’s best record at 12-2, entered the game with the No. 1 defense in the league in yards allowed. It won’t change after this one. The Seahawks gave up only 181 yards, including just 25 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Look at it like this: The Seahawks gave up 26 fewer yards rushing Sunday than they did on one big play to Frank Gore in the 19-17 loss at San Francisco last week, a day on which Seattle allowed 163 yards rushing to the 49ers.

“We had a chip on our shoulders about that,” said Wagner, who led the team Sunday with 10 tackles and 1 sacks. “We wanted to show that’s not who we are.”

Who they are is a defense with such extraordinary depth that a third-string cornerback can intercept two passes against Manning. Byron Maxwell now has three interceptions in the past two games starting at right cornerback. Manning found out the hard way that Maxwell isn’t your typical backup.

“Yeah, he tested me on the very first play,” Maxwell said, referring to an incomplete pass intended for Victor Cruz. “But I feel like I’m just as good as our starters and I want people to know it.”

Manning had been playing much better in recent weeks after a horrible start to the season, but he was no match for the Seattle secondary. He made the senseless decision to challenge cornerback Richard Sherman on a sideline go-route, which Sherman picked off so easily he might as well have called a fair catch.

Sherman had two picks and assisted on another when he tipped a pass into the end zone in the fourth quarter that free safety Earl Thomas caught to preserve the shutout.

“He owed me one after I let him have that pick on the [Hail Mary] pass at the end of the half,” Thomas said. “We came prepared [Sunday]. We had a bad outing last week, but that doesn’t define us.

“You saw what happened [Sunday]. We need to keep this same mentality, because when we’re [angry] like this, we’re hard to beat. We did a lot of things right today and really disguised our coverage.”

Thomas said the Seahawks changed things up a little against the Giants by starting most plays with two safeties deep, but then one of them would close in near the line of scrimmage right before the snap. The Giants didn’t know who it would be -- Thomas or strong safety Kam Chancellor.

“Did you see some of those hits Kam made today?” Maxwell asked. “Wow. One guy for [the Giants], I won’t say who, came up to me and said, ‘That’s a man right there,’ talking about Kam.”

Almost everyone on the Seattle defense looked like men among boys Sunday. The Giants didn’t even cross midfield until midway through the fourth quarter, long after the outcome was decided.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called New York’s offensive performance “pathetic.” The Seahawks have made a lot of offenses look that way this season, but this game stood out.

“That’s as good a defensive coverage day for us as I can remember,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Guys really stepped up. It’s as complete a game as we’ve had.”

That includes receiver Doug Baldwin, who caught six passes for 71 yards and 12-yard touchdown on which he fought he way to the goal line. It includes running back Marshawn Lynch, who had six receptions for 73 yards, along with a 2-yard TD run that saw him break four tackles and will his way into the end zone.

And, of course, it includes Wilson, who was 18-of-27 passing for 206 yards and one touchdown, along with 50 yards rushing.

Let’s give Wilson his due. He became the only quarterback in NFL history to win 23 games in his first two seasons. He also is one of only three quarterbacks in league history -- joining Dan Marino and Peyton Manning -- to throw 50 TDs in his first two seasons.

The Seahawks would not be where they are without Wilson. But the new golden boy of the NFL would not be where he is without this remarkable defense that just played lights-out on the field where they hope to return soon.

W2W4: Giants vs. Seahawks

December, 14, 2013
12/14/13
2:00
PM ET
The 5-8 New York Giants host the 11-2 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in a 1 p.m. ET game. Here are four things to watch for in the game between a Giants team that has no playoff hopes and a Seahawks team that looks like a favorite to be back at MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl in early February.

Rough week for Eli? The Seahawks have the No. 1 pass defense in the league, allowing just 175.6 passing yards per game. Eli Manning and the Giants' passing game have struggled through a rough season, averaging just 234 pass yards per game. Led by 6-foot-3 cornerback Richard Sherman and 6-3 safety Kam Chancellor, the Seattle secondary is big and physical and should beat up the Giants' receivers all game. The ability of Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz to withstand that beating will determine whether Manning can find success downfield. It would qualify as one of the week's larger upsets.

Look out for Lynch: Seattle has the No. 3 rushing offense in the league, mainly because of monster running back Marshawn Lynch. Giants defensive linemen spoke in relative awe this week of Lynch as a running back it takes a whole team to tackle. "It takes more than one person to bring him down," Cullen Jenkins said. "You've got to get 11 guys to the ball. You can't just leave one person hanging out to dry to try to bring him down himself, because he's a tough back, strong, fast, quick. He'll make you miss." After allowing 144 yards on 40 carries to the Chargers last week, the Giants have been paying extra attention to the run fits for their linebackers and safeties this week. It'll be more important than ever. One thing to note: Of the top 12 rushers in the league so far this year, Lynch will be the 10th the Giants have faced. (And next week, Reggie Bush will be the 11th. The only one they won't face this year is San Francisco's Frank Gore.) The Giants are 11th in the league in run defense, allowing 105.4 rush yards per game.

Road worriers: If you've seen the Seahawks on TV this year, chances are it's been a prime-time home game, and they've looked fantastic. The Seahawks' average scoring margin in their home games, of which they have won all six, is 18.7. But in their seven road games (in which they are 5-2), it's just 5.7. So they don't always look unbeatable on the road, where they've lost in Indianapolis and San Francisco and won by less than a touchdown in Carolina, Houston and St. Louis.

Wide receiver matchups: Seattle's Percy Harvin is still injured and will miss this game, so the big wide receiver weapons with whom the Giants' defensive backs will have to contend are Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate. Keep an eye on Tate, the fourth-year wide receiver out of Notre Dame. He's eligible for free agency after this season, and the Giants could be looking for help at that position, especially if Nicks leaves as expected.

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