Pete Carroll had his Wednesday press conference. It was the usual mix of questions about personnel moves, match-ups and other aspects of the big game on Sunday.
“The guys are pumped up as you can obviously imagine,” Carroll said. “We know that Mike Smith has put together a great team, a team that’s so consistent. They’ve been extremely disciplined.”
Here’s a few quotes and notes …
Carroll talked about the loss of defensive end Chris Clemons (torn ACL) and kicker Steven Hauschka (calf strain).
“We will miss Clemons tremendously,” Carroll said. “It does call for Bruce Irvin to step up.”
Obviously, Irvin will be called on to take his place on most downs. He will go from pass-rush specialist to every down player.
“You can tell the sense of urgency in him,” Carroll said. “Ryan is a thrower, and that position is being called on as a factor in this game.”
Carroll talked about Irvin’s year as a whole.
“I think he’s been terrific,” Carroll said. “Think of the expectations that were outside of our building. Ours were that he could do all of this. He’s had a very consistent work ethic of a mature player that’s been around. He’s still watching the older guys and learning from them. He’s been productive. I think he has more sacks in him. I think he can be a double digit sack guy for years to come.”
The Seahawks could also use Greg Scruggs at defensive end at times, maybe in run situations.
“He’s more of a classic 4-3 end,” Carroll said. “He can do ton of things well and play the run really well. He isn’t going to give you that speed.”
Seattle also brought in free agent defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings, where he played from 2001-04. He then spent 2004-06 with the Denver Broncos, where he recorded a career-high 4.5 sacks in 2006, before spending the 2007 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He recorded nine sacks during his NFL career, before spending two seasons in the UFL, playing for the Florida Tuskers.
“Pat is a very impressive kid,” Carroll said. “He’s been a great worker with a great attitude. He’s in great shape and we put him through a very physical workout. He reported in fantastic shape.”
As for any role that Chukwurah might have, Carroll wasn’t certain.
“I don’t know how much he’ll play or what kind of role he will have, but he will help us in special teams,” he said.
Speaking of special teams, Hauschka’s calf strain would likely have kept him out two weeks, hence the reason for bringing in Longwell.
“Stephen can’t get right in time to play,” Carroll said. “He can’t kick off for us. He might have been better by next week, but we weren’t sure. And obviously this game is hugely important for us.”
The Seahawks auditioned four kickers, including Neil Rackers.
“We wanted to make sure we had a good sense of who was available,” Carroll said.
In the end, Longwell won the job. He hit a 55-yarder during the tryout and also looked strong in kickoffs. But it was his past exploits that also helped sell Carroll.
I think it’s a really big match-up. There’s going to be a lot of chances in this game. Just play like they always have.
“When you look at the time he’s had in playoff situations, to make this transtiion for a younger guy might be more of an issue,” Carroll said. “I think he can handle it. He’s a very even-keeled guy, a true professional. He was flawless in the workout.”
Here’s a look at Longwell’s postseason stats …
Here’s a few other comments from Pete …
On the match-up of the his secondary vs. the Falcons’ wide receivers – ”I think it really will be an exciting match-up to watch. They’re receivers are so good. And they target the heck out of those guys. I expect our guys to play how they always play. The best pair and pair you can have match up.”
On how the defense is different from last year’s game against the Falcons — “There’s a lot of guys that played in that game we don’t even recognize. The names have changed a lot. Scheme-wise we haven’t changed much at all. We are more consistent in our technique. We’ve grown so much. We are better.”
On Richard Sherman’s onfield antics — Sherm has been himself. He’s just being himself. He’s also learning through the course of the season he’s a pretty good football player. Has he crossed the line? I don’t think so. But he’s hanging on that line sometimes.”
On his contact with doctors during the game — “I rarely talk to the doctors in the game unless there is a big issue. I usually go trhough our training staff. We are very careful. There are times when the doctor is bigger than the quarterback.”