Happy NFL Opening Eve.
The Seahawks are finishing a light walk-through practice this morning here in Renton. Green Bay’s practice will presumably be more extensive, given the Packers did not practice at all yesterday as part of coach Mike McCarthy’s new practice plan this season of keeping his players off the field two days before every game.
I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday — and got a couple angry retorts from Packers fans: The Seahawks under coach Pete Carroll are 7-0 in home, primetime games with an average margin of victory of 18 points. Cornerback Richard Sherman barely had his tongue in his his cheek Monday when he mentioned how Thursday night is Seattle’s only prime-time home game this season “for various reasons,” a fact he found peculiar for the Super Bowl champion.
“I’ll let you guys speculate those reasons; you guys are incredible writers,” Sherman joked.
The inference, of course, is the NFL doesn’t want prime-time blowouts and audiences switching their TVs from the featured games to “The Bachelor” or whatever, so the league isn’t giving Seattle many prime-time home games. The Seahawks’ other prime-time games are Oct. 6 on a Monday night at Washington, Thanksgiving night against the 49ers in Santa Clara and Sunday night, Dec. 21 at Arizona.
–I will get more into the specific keys to tomorrow night’s game later today and tomorrow, but the biggest one I see for the Seahawks’ offense is how rookie right tackle Justin Britit handles Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews and the Packers’ varied edge rushes. As I was buried by finishing the News Tribune’s Seahawks and NFL special-section stories that will run tomorrow, TNT intern Evan Thompson stepped up with this story on Britt heading into his first NFL start. I’m sensing Green Bay sends every defender short of Ray Nitschke at the Seahawks’ second round draft choice. And as Thompson writes, he and his offensive line coach Tom Cable know it. This is why the Seahawks spent their second-highest draft choice on Britt in May.
–The News Tribune’s special Seahawks and NFL preview section will get your game day started tomorrow to begin the 2014 season. In it, I will profile what I’ve seen in the current Pete Carroll compared to when I last covered him, four-plus years ago during the first months after he arrived to the Seahawks from USC. Carroll is far more a CEO type now on the field than he was then, delegating and overseeing more and getting in every trench and cornerback-wide receiver battle he can find less. He told me that’s because he was trying to instill his “always-compete” message then and that the Seahawks have all internalized his message and ways now.
Those that haven’t are somewhere else.
In that story I also explain the roots of Carroll’s unconventional motivational tactics — as many of you likely know, they come from a basketball guru. The piece will also describe how this Pete Carroll is oh-so-much different than the one the New York Jets and then New England Patriots fired in the 1990s during his first NFL go-round as head coach.
The TNT’s special Seahawks preview edition tomorrow also includes columnist Dave Boling writing what Mike Holmgren, Ken Norton and others who have won Super Bowls say on why it is so difficult in this league to come back the next year and win it again. It will have fellow columnist John McGrath on Russell Wilson’s place among the all-time best quarterbacks at this point in his career, just two seasons in. I also wrote a feature on why Sherman says winning the Super Bowl, becoming a national flashpoint on race relations, being one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, being President Barack Obama’s guest at the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner, even a new, $56 million contract extension, that none of that has changed him.
You’ll also see the my predictions and those from the rest of our staff for each division in the league, the playoffs and this winter’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. No, I don’t pick the Steelers to win it all. But I thought about it.
All that and more is coming tomorrow in our News Tribune special Seahawks/NFL preview section.
–The Seahawks liked this Wall Street Journal article so much they linked it on their Twitter account: How the Seattle Seahawks changed the NFL.
The premise: Sherman has become the prototype at conerback, tall enough, fast enough and with long enough arms to thwart the back-shoulder throw that has dominated the NFL for so many years.
“Then, last winter, came the Seattle Seahawks’ defense: a swaggering, boisterous group of trash-talkers led by Richard Sherman, the self-proclaimed best corner in the game.,” Kevin Clark writes. “Most fans just smiled at the sideshow and dismissed it as an act. But not rival teams. They were running the film back and forth, unable to believe what they were seeing.
“Rather than fielding the usual bunch of regular-sized speedsters in the defensive backfield to keep up with opposing receivers, Seattle decided to go big. By starting the tallest, largest cornerbacks possible …”
–Assuming by now you have read that those Seattle defensive backs won’t be facing Denver WR Wes Welker in the week-three Super Bowl rematch at CenturyLink Field. Welker was suspended for four games yesterday by the league for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Pro Football Talk cites a source for knowing why. Welker was going through the league’s concussion protocol this week following his latest head injury, but I’m guessing Denver was eyeing the Seahawks game, if not sooner, to have Peyton Manning’s favorite target back playing. Now Denver will be without Welker in Seattle.