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  • Hey the NFL version of the Cubs is being bragged


    Smashing success

    By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
    August 21, 2005

    More Robinson: Seahawks season preview

    CHENEY, Wash. – In many ways, the highlight reel has long been a dishonest advocate for the secondary of the Seattle Seahawks.

    For the last two years, the public has been tantalized by earth-shifting hits and exploding limbs. We watched safety Ken Hamlin blow up wide receivers in the middle of the field, and we gasped as safety Michael Boulware knocked the block (and helmet) off New England quarterback Tom Brady.

    Seattle's defensive backs became the stuff of cinema, as if action directors John Woo or Michael Bay were on the team's payroll. But like a Hollywood trailer that packs every highlight into a 30-second trailer, time revealed Seattle's secondary to be a boiled-down snippet of manufactured greatness.

    And when 2004 had come and gone, no unit was more emblematic of what the Seahawks became last season: long on expectations and short on greatness.


    "You want to be around the top of the league with what you do," Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "You never want to be on the tail end of things, and we knew that's where we were. … The hitting people and flying around – that's how we want to come out and play. But not just at the beginning. The goal now is to come out and play physical at the start, and then carry that over into the middle and end of the season."

    The funny thing about youth in the NFL is that it gets far more patience than it deserves. That is why the Seahawks' secondary still holds a healthy lease on potential and should once again be expected to develop into one of the league's best units.

    We heard that last season, when the Seattle defense started strong against the pass and then slowly receded to 23rd in the league (224.4 passing yards per game). But the Seahawks were victimized by other defensive problems in 2004, including injuries in the linebacking corps and an inconsistent pass rush.

    A deeper look into last season's statistics and the group's complexion reveals a handful of reasons why Seattle's defensive backs could be on the verge of fulfilling all of the highlight hype.

    Despite their low ranking against the pass, only Carolina and Buffalo had more interceptions than the Seahawks' 23 last year. And the bulk of Seattle's picks came from defensive backs, with only linebacker Anthony Simmons and defensive end Antonio Cochran contributing one interception each.

    While No. 2 cornerback Ken Lucas was lost via free agency, Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell may have actually strengthened the core by letting Lucas go. Rather than dole out the absurd money Lucas got in free agency, Ruskell used that cash to sign two starting-quality defensive backs – Andre Dyson from Tennessee and Kelly Herndon from Denver. With Trufant, the Seahawks now have three starting-quality cornerbacks, with the odd man out becoming a solid nickel back to provide superb depth.

    If Dyson earns the No. 2 spot across from Trufant, the age of the starters will be mind-boggling: 24 (Trufant), 26 (Dyson), 23 (Boulware) and 24 (Hamlin). What's more impressive, Trufant and Boulware have Pro Bowl talent and are still getting better after having made position changes. Trufant moved from wide receiver to defensive back late in college, while Boulware made the switch from linebacker to safety after entering the NFL.
    "[The defensive backfield] reminds me a lot of how things were the first few years I was in Tennessee," Dyson said, referring to when he and Pro Bowlers Samari Rolle and Lance Schulters formed one of the league's most stout secondaries.

    "There was a lot of talent, but we were young and it was taking time for everyone to get on the right page. The first year there were a lot of mistakes, a lot of missed assignments and miscommunication and stuff like that. But once we all got used to each other, by the middle of my second season, we really started to click. Then things got really good.

    "It's hard to tell when that will happen here, because we've got to get some things straight. I haven't even played with Hammer (Hamlin) yet, so there are still some things we have to accomplish to get used to each other."

    For now, the secondary is only a small sliver of the questions that have to be answered for Seattle. Not that that's anything new. As much as the defense was criticized last season, other issues always seemed to loom larger – and that may have been an odd benefit. Whether it was offensive tackle Walter Jones' annual holdout to begin the season or the trade for Jerry Rice or the unfortunate meltdown suffered by Koren Robinson, concerns with the secondary were typically an afterthought.

    Even in the worst times, when the unit was either partially or overwhelmingly responsible for the season's two biggest debacles – a 33-27 overtime loss to St. Louis and a 43-39 Monday night loss to Dallas – some other drama kept it from insufferable criticism. The secondary's struggles always seemed to rise to the surface at the worst times, particularly against the Rams, a division rival that beat Seattle three times last season. In those three wins, St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger averaged 300 passing yards and commonly preyed on the Seahawks' inexperience.

    "Obviously, we know we have some more to do to get to being one of the best groups," Hamlin said. "There were times last season when we could all see that. … But I think we're right around the corner from what we can be."

    Hamlin may ultimately be the glue that brings the group together. Universally regarded as the group's most vocal leader, he's still recovering from shoulder surgery and may not see his first action of the preseason until next week against Kansas City.

    While Trufant and Boulware have received more praise for their talent, it's Hamlin who has been an emotional barometer. As a rookie in 2003, he established himself as a highlight-reel regular – the kind of player who, as Dyson put it, "was always on the TV knocking somebody out."

    Hamlin is sometimes criticized in league circles for taking risks and being a headhunter who goes for big hits rather than safe tackles. But he's also praised by his teammates for having the kind of explosive "flying around" persona that could eventually make Seattle's secondary special.

    "It's like a domino effect," Hamlin said. "I go in there and I show I'm not afraid to put my life on the line to make a play. Other guys see that, and even if they're not known for that kind of stuff, they get excited and they want to show that they aren't afraid to hit somebody hard, either. Pretty soon everyone is doing it."

    "When we get physical like that, we know we can change the tempo of the game," Trufant said. "That's the identity we want to have – that we can change the game.

    "It's not just about highlights."

    Charles Robinson is the national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
    Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

    Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
    God is stronger and the problem knows it.

    2017 BOTB bracket

  • #2
    Hey the Seahawks were the team to beat to get to the Super Bowl until the Rams came from way back in their first meeting - then demolished them in the second - and then the Seahawks fumbled away the third.

    I'll be afraid of them when - they - like the Cubs - actually win something.
    Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

    Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
    God is stronger and the problem knows it.

    2017 BOTB bracket


    • #3
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.


      • #4
        Originally posted by GreatestShow99@Aug 22 2005, 12:44 PM
        The more things change, the more they stay the same.
        Yes exactly!

        Like the Astros winning the division.

        We need to be afraid.


        • #5
          Observations from Seahawks camp

          CHENEY, Wash. -- Here are five observations on the Seattle Seahawks, based on their Aug. 18 practice:

          1. Lofa Tatupu was an interesting choice at middle linebacker for the Seahawks. Clearly, it was a need pick and it required a gamble by new general manager Tim Ruskell. Most teams had Tatupu rated in the second day of the draft. Despite his productivity at USC, Tatupu is 5 feet 11, 226 pounds and runs a 4.7, which is considered a little slow for a linebacker. Ruskell traded two fourth-round choices to move to the 13th spot in the second round to take him. His thinking was that the Seahawks needed a smart linebacker who can make the calls and make plays. He's a big believer in Tatupu. Though he hasn't beaten out Niko Koutouvides for the starting job yet, it seems inevitable that he will.
          Tatupu's game is instincts and smarts. "It's all about awareness," he said. "You've got some 'backers who run 4.4 weighing 250, but if you take a 4.4 in the wrong direction two steps, you are out of the play. If you take a 4.7 in the right direction two steps, you are a little quicker than 4.7. Once you see the ball, you've got to go."

          Tatupu isn't shy about making the defensive calls from the middle linebacker position. His job could be made easier if Marcus Tubbs comes on at defensive tackle and takes some of the blocking pressure away from him.

          2. A year ago, quarterback Seneca Wallace was the most improved player in training camp. This summer, he's starting to look like an NFL backup quarterback. Of course, he'd better be. After Seattle traded Trent Dilfer to Cleveland, Wallace is the backup, and he'd better be able to win if anything happens to starter Matt Hasselbeck.
          The Seahawks considered several veteran backup quarterbacks but didn't find anyone they were convinced was better than Wallace. In practices and in games, Wallace has improved his throwing. His deep balls have been pretty. He has been moving the chains with his decision making in the passing offense.

          At 5-11, 196 pounds, Wallace is one of the shortest quarterbacks in the league. He has to stay on the move to throw because his vision is partially blocked by the linemen ahead of him. Some consider Wallace one of the best athletes on the team. Coach Mike Holmgren gave some consideration to using him as a returner on special teams, but Wallace's value is at quarterback. He'll need a couple of tests against the blitz to see how well he can hold up, but the team seems to have faith that he will succeed.

          3. Despite missing some time with leg injuries, Andre Dyson might have been the most solid signing of the offseason. Losing Ken Lucas to the Panthers was a blow. Lucas has the long arms and man-to-man cover skills perfect for Ray Rhodes' defense. But the Seahawks weren't going to pay him more than $6 million a year as the team's second-best corner. Marcus Trufant is considered the Seahawks' shutdown guy.
          At first, it appeared Kelly Herndon was going to be the other starter, but the longer Dyson's name stayed available in free agency, the more the Seahawks were intrigued. Eventually, they signed Dyson after having already acquired Herndon.

          Dyson comes to Seattle with 60 NFL starts and 16 interceptions. He's still smooth in his man-to-man skills. "I always felt I can cover," he said. "A lot of people get on me because of my size (5-10, 183 pounds). But what they don't say is that I can play." Though Lucas and Trufant formed perhaps the best one-two cornerback combo in the division, the Seahawks might be deeper having added Dyson and Herndon. Bobby Taylor was a bad signing last year because of his knees. He was released, and the Seahawks didn't have a legitimate third corner. Now they have Trufant, Dyson and Herndon.

          4. Shaun Alexander believes the Seahawks will give him a long-term contract extension. That might not happen until after the season, but Alexander wants to stay with the Seahawks. He rushed for 1,696 yards, 1 yard short of the rushing title won by Curtis Martin of the Jets. After the season finale, Alexander was quoted as saying Holmgren stabbed him in the back by not getting him the ball in the final minutes, but that issue is dead. "I'm passionate, and it wasn't anything malicious at all," Alexander said. "I went up to Mike, and it was no big deal." Holmgren felt the comment was made in the heat of battle and was blown out of proportion.

          Alexander has participated in the entire training camp after signing his franchise tender when the team agreed not to franchise him next year. It's not a given the Seahawks will give him a long-term deal. He has to show better blocking skills. In the preseason opener against the Saints, Alexander whiffed on a block that allowed Hasselbeck to be hit. He also has to develop his pass-catching skills. The better Alexander does this season, the more he enhances his chances of getting a long-term deal.

          5. Rhodes is a big fan of what Ruskell has done as general manager. He keeps looking for additions on defense, and Rhodes likes what he has gotten so far. "When you start talking about guys that arrived to the football team, right away you say, [Chartric] Darby, [Bryce] Fisher, the new guys up front," Rhodes said. "At linebacker, we have [Kevin] Bentley, who is a new guy, a veteran guy. On the back end, you have Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon. I hope I haven't left anybody out, but those are new faces that are competing for jobs. They are coming from organizations that have been up and down, too. Again, they have come in with a positive attitude about work, and that is important."
          Seattle, which ranked 26th defensively last season, also signed veteran linebacker Jamie Sharper. Past Seahawks defenses have underachieved. The team was tired of the injuries that kept former first-round choice Anthony Simmons out of games. Seattle cut him as well as Chad Brown, perhaps the team's best signing in free agency ever. The Seahawks are looking for a pass-rusher to help Fisher. They didn't gamble on Peter Boulware, who interested them as a pass-rushing end but posed some questions because of his knees.

          John Clayton is a senior writer for
          Official Sponsor of the National League Three-Peat.


          • #6
            I wonder if the Bern-dog will demand we respect the Seahags like he did concerning the Cubs last year?
            RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
            You'll never be forgotten.


            • #7
              I thought all the pro scouts had Wallace never seeing any playing time at QB?

              I'd like to see him make it - but I don't know if he can win should H-back go down.
              Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

              Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
              God is stronger and the problem knows it.

              2017 BOTB bracket


              • #8
                Originally posted by Schwahalala@Aug 22 2005, 02:20 PM
                I thought all the pro scouts had Wallace never seeing any playing time at QB?

                I'd like to see him make it - but I don't know if he can win should H-back go down.

                I watched him last week and he looked great.
                Official Sponsor of the National League Three-Peat.


                • #9
                  I think Tatupu is going to end up being a very good player, even if he was drafted a little high. I was hoping he'd be around for the Patriots in the 3rd round.
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