All rainbows: Defense set to dominate through 2017

Double rainbow at Seahawks headquarters
A double rainbow at Seahawks headquarters in Renton on Friday was quite apropos considering K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril got their pots of gold.

The Seahawks’ deals for Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright had been in the works pretty much all year, so it was no surprise they got them done before the end of the season.

It takes away the top two players from Seattle’s sizable 2015 free-agent list and means Seattle now has all but one starter from the league’s No. 1 defense under contract next year (two if you add Kevin Williams to Byron Maxwell).

Wright and Avril join Legion of Boom stalwarts Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, plus defensive lineman Michael Bennett, as the keys to a defense that could reign over the NFL through 2017.

Continue reading All rainbows: Defense set to dominate through 2017

Paying a premium: How Wright’s deal affects Wagner and the rest

Seahawks top salary cap numbersK.J. Wright’s $27 million contract extension is the latest proof that John Schneider and the Seahawks are willing to pay a premium to keep their favorite players.

The Seahawks paid Wright more than they really needed to — he admitted he had a lower figure in mind. We recently projected they would offer him $4 million a year, which was their original goal, per ESPN’s John Clayton, who said Wright wanted $5.5 million.

Instead, they made him the highest-paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com. The only outside linebackers with better deals are the guys who rush the passer.

The Hawks obviously value Wright’s versatility — he can play inside or out. But they seemingly overpaid him, just as they did Red Bryant when they gave the run-stopping end $7 million a year.

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With decisions to make, Hawks need to create a more dependable O-line

The Seahawks' line
Russell Okung (76), James Carpenter and the rest of the Seahawks’ line sit on the bench during their win over the 49ers on Sunday (Seahawks.com)

Rookie right tackle Justin Britt’s
struggles have opened up the
debate about whether the
Seahawks should consider
replacing him next year, but the bigger question is whether the Seahawks should replace the left side of their line — Russell Okung and James Carpenter — over the next two years.

The Hawks are unlikely to give up on Britt so soon, but they definitely will have decisions to make along the line in the next couple of years, especially with three starters up for free agency — not that we can tell a starter from a backup anyway, considering injuries continually knock out Okung, Carpenter and center Max Unger.

Offensive line has long been Seattle’s weakest link — and that predates John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable. The last time the Hawks started the same five all season was 2007, and they have averaged seven combinations a year in five seasons under this regime. They really need to find some consistency so the offense can progress.

Continue reading With decisions to make, Hawks need to create a more dependable O-line

Once again, Hawks are winning despite O-line

The Seahawks' offensive line struggles to protect Russell Wilson against the 49ers in Week 15 (Seahawks.com)

The Seahawks have rediscovered the formula that won them a Super Bowl: No. 1 defense plus Beast Mode plus DangeRuss plus crappy offensive line.

Can you imagine what kind of season Marshawn Lynch would have if he was running behind the 2005 Super Bowl line that featured future Hall of Famer Walter Jones and All-Pro Steve Hutchinson? We’re probably talking a 2,500-yard season with 30 touchdowns.

But that’s fantasy. Reality is that this line is basically in the same shape as the one that limped into the playoffs last season.

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That bogus roughing call was a rare flag in favor of Seattle

Penalties with logos final 2For just the second time all season, the Seahawks on Sunday had fewer penalties than their opponent — and some people are griping about it. Figures.

Specifically, people are ripping that ticky-tack roughing-the-passer penalty called by Ed Hochuli that gave the Hawks a second chance at a touchdown early in the fourth quarter after Russell Wilson had thrown incomplete on third down.

Yeah, linebacker Nick Moody’s hit on Wilson looked clean to us, too, and the NFL confirmed Monday it was the wrong call. Just like the NFL confirmed it missed a huge fourth-down end zone pass interference against Kansas City four weeks ago in a game the Seahawks lost 24-20.

The call against the 49ers was nowhere near as impactful. Seattle scored on a 10-yard TD pass from Wilson to Paul Richardson two plays later, giving the Hawks a 17-7 lead. But the 49ers didn’t score again anyway, so 13-7 would have been just as good for Seattle.

Pete Carroll, who has joined us over the past month in pointing out the huge disparity between flags thrown against Seattle and their opponents, had no problem getting a cheap call or two for once.

“We actually felt the benefit of a couple calls. We rarely feel that,” he told 710 ESPN on Monday.

Continue reading That bogus roughing call was a rare flag in favor of Seattle

Seahawks can clinch playoff spot vs. Arizona

At 10-4, the Seahawks control their playoff destiny and can lock up a playoff spot with a win over Arizona in prime time Sunday.

They also are now the favorites for the No. 1 seed in the NFC after Green Bay lost. If the Hawks beat Arizona and St. Louis to finish 12-4, they would win any three-way tie.

The only way they would not get the No. 1 seed by winning out is if Green Bay loses to Tampa Bay this week and Detroit loses to Chicago; in that case, the Hawks would need Dallas to lose once as well to avoid a head-to-head tiebreaker (which Seattle would lose).

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CHAWK LINES -- 49ers at Seahawks

A detailed look at the recent play of the Seattle defense, particularly the Legion of Boom, by Doug Farrar.

Another breakdown of Seattle’s simple but successful defensive schemes.

A look at Bobby Wagner’s contribution to Seattle’s defensive dominance of the last few weeks.

Seahawks.com focuses on defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Jordan Hill.

Tharold Simon is drawing lots of praise despite a ton of penalties.

Not sure why anyone puts much stock in Pro Football Focus grades — they are just as subjective as your opinion or mine. The Seattle Times uses them to point out how Russell Wilson can be viewed as great and terrible in the same game.

Many think this will be the last game between Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers and Pete Carroll’s Seahawks, with Harbaugh expected to be coaching elsewhere in 2015. Jerry Brewer gives his take.

Three key matchups for this Niners-Hawks game, courtesy of Rob Rang.

No one is picking the 49ers.

Mystery solved: Scot McCloughan apparently was forced to leave both the 49ers and the Seahawks because of a drinking problem.

Defensive leaders explain resurgence

Bobby Wagner signals Seattle ball after a takeaway against the Eagles (Seahawks.com)The Seahawks’ late surge was born of roster health, leadership and camaraderie — things that were missing at midseason — and the Hawks have emphasized for the past three weeks that they are playing for each other more than ever now. And, because of that, they are able to play smarter and faster.

With every win, they reinforce the reborn mantra that they will continue to win if they trust each other.

After the 24-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Kam Chancellor was asked if the defense had sent a message. He said yeah, “but the message wasn’t to anyone outside of this team. The message is to each other.”

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How much will Bobby Wagner cost?

Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman after the Super Bowl (Getty)“Him coming back has really changed our defense.”
— Michael Bennett, on Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner has been a major reason the Seattle defense has put the clamps on Arizona, San Francisco and — most impressively — Philadelphia over the last three weeks — and teammates are singing his praises.

“He’s the heart of the defense,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “He cleans up a lot of mistakes made by guys, and other guys clean up mistakes like Earl (Thomas) and Kam (Chancellor). We’ve got a lot guys who are erasers out there, and he has such an instinctual game. He believes what he sees, he plays what he sees. On top of the immense talent and speed that he has, that makes for a fantastic football player that I hope everybody recognizes.”

Wagner’s agent obviously hopes general manager John Schneider recognizes it and will be ready to pay Wagner in the next two years.

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Hawks got it together and can keep it together after this season, too

KJ and CliffOver the last three weeks, the
Seahawks’ defense has gone on a tear
unlike anything it has done under Pete Carroll and the Hawks have
re-established themselves as the Super Bowl repeat threat we all expected them to be.

Assuming the rejuvenated Seahawks maintain their dominant play and take it to the same conclusion as last year, the big question will become: How do they keep this going to create that dynasty we all projected?

Continue reading Hawks got it together and can keep it together after this season, too