An animated and intense Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, dressed in game-day coaching garb, addressed reporters this morning.
And Mora expressed some interesting things, to say the least.
As far as the changes along the offensive line, as expected, rookie Max Unger will move to center and Chris Spencer will move over to right guard, where he will split time with free agent pickup and Cal product Mike Gibson.
Mora said it was time to make a move and see how Unger handles himself the last three games of the season. Mora said Unger was excited about the move, while Spencer obviously was disappointed by said he wants to do what is best for the team.
“Rather than waiting to the offseason to make that move, we’re going to do it right now,” Mora said.
Unger played some center during the preseason, and Mora said the University of Oregon product starting 13 games at right guard has helped in his progression.
Mora also said wide receiver Nate Burleson has a high-ankle sprain and will not play this week. Deion Branch will start at X in place of Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh will stay at Z and Deon Butler becomes the third receiver, while Ben Obomanu moves to the fourth receiver.
Branch was put in at X because he’s already been playing both positions and Mora did not want to make two position changes by switching Housh to X.
Linebacker Aaron Curry (hip pointer) will practice today in a limited capacity.
But the real fireworks came when Mora was asked about the toughness of his team, saying he needed more guys up front with a dirtbag mentality.
“If you’re going to be a good offensive lineman, I think you’ve got to be — can I say it? – you’ve got to be a little bit of a dirtbag,” Mora said. “Not as a person, but on the football field.
“In the pit, where all that stuff goes down, if you don’t have some freakin’ toughness, you’re going to fail.”
Mora later qualified his dirtbag comment, reiterating that it only pertains to play on the field.
“I don’t mean a guy that goes out and drinks and drives and speeds, or is bad to women or treats people poorly – you understand what I’m saying?” he said. “I’m talking about within the confines of those six seconds between the snap and the whistle, is a dirtbag.”
Mora said Mike Wahle game the offensive line that kind of mentality, and is what something that was infectious and spread to the rest of the offensive line, and he waiting for someone to take on that role with this group.
The answer was in response to a comment about left tackle Sean Locklear, who Mora said he would like to see play with more nastiness up front.
Mora said the Locklear will remain the starter at left tackle, but that he’s challenging him to play better this week, and will be pushed by veteran Damion McIntosh.
“I want to see him take a right end and keep him way from our quarterback for the entire game,” Mora said. “That’s what I want to see. I want to see him when we run the football, knock someone on his ass. When we run the football away, I want to see him cut someone down. That’s what I want to see. I want to see some nastiness.”
Mora also addressed the league-wide perception that the Seahawks are a soft team. It’s something that developed and took hold during Mike Holmgren’s tenure in Seattle because of the team’s pass-first, offensive-oriented philosophy, which is much different than a team like Baltimore, which has been known as a defensive, ground-oriented team exemplified by linebacker Ray Lewis.
“I don’t think anyone of us would venture to say, or would be brave enough to say that Mike Holmgren wasn’t about toughness, because he is, he was and he will be for always,” Mora said. “So you have to be very careful when you sit in my shoes and say, ‘Well, they weren’t tough.’
“I know this though: there are teams out there that say, ‘If you walk into Seattle and punch them in the face, they won’t react.’ I know that’s what I always said. I know that’s what Mike Singletary said on Saturday night before we played them two weeks ago. I don’t think that’s true, and we’re going to work hard to make sure that it isn’t true.
Mora said part of the reason he was more animated than normal is because of his desire for the Seahawks to be successful as a Seattle native.
“This isn’t just another team for me,” Mora said. “This was my team growing up. I watched Steve Raible (pointing to Steve), this was my team growing up, so I maybe a little more passionate about it than it’s just a job. It’s not a job. This is my city. I want this city to be proud of its foot ball team. So that’s my determination, along with I like to win and I hate to lose.”