Turning up the turnovers
RENTON – They come in spurts, and right now turnovers are gushing for the Seattle Sea-hawks.
The Seahawks have a plus-9 turnover differential over the past four games, helping them go 3-1. During that stretch, Seattle has eight interceptions and four forced fumbles to go against three Tarvaris Jackson interceptions.
For the season, the Sea-hawks are plus-4 – tied for ninth in the league – after having not finished with a positive turnover differential at the end of the regular season since 2007.
Seattle has 23 takeaways in 2011, and has converted those opportunities into 73 points. The Seahawks finished with a minus-9 turnover differential last season and still made the playoffs at 7-9 – the first playoff team with a losing record in league history.
And like most head coaches in the league, Seattle’s Pete Carroll thinks turnovers directly correlate to winning games. Carroll also said the Seahawks either having the lead or being tied in the past four games has been the key to creating more turnovers.
“It’s been the offense getting us ahead, and getting us in a different command of games,” Carroll said. “As much as anything, the offenses have to try harder to move the ball, and to catch up and get back into it. That’s a big factor.
“When you’re playing from behind, teams are doing everything they can to not give you those opportunities. When you’re ahead, they have to move the football and see what they’ve got to do to get that done.
“It fits together really clearly. Subsequently, we’ve been able to hang onto the football really well and not give them opportunities and short fields and things like that – and that’s all added to it. We’ve made it hard for them with the kicking game and by not turning the ball over to have to go long fields and all of that. So I think all of that contributes.”
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said the offense getting leads early in games has allowed the defense to take more risks, and that also helps create turnovers.
“When you get leads in games, teams tend to throw the ball more,” he said. “So the defensive line can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. So being in the lead helps us out a whole lot.”
SPAGNUOLO AT QB?
When asked during a conference call with Seattle-area reporters on Thursday who would play quarterback for his team on Monday against Seattle, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo showed he still has a sense of humor despite his team’s 2-10 record.
“I was thinking of lining up there myself,” he joked. “I was a wishbone quarterback in high school so I could pull those notebooks out.”
The Rams have a lot of uncertainty at quarterback. Spagnuolo said the team is limiting starter Sam Bradford’s practice repetitions in the hope that he can return from a high ankle sprain that was aggravated last week and kept him out of the San Francisco game.
“We’re always going to put the health of the player first and foremost,” Spagnuolo said. “And that was kind of where we were at last week in deciding that we didn’t want to put him in a position where he could go backwards.
“We’re hopeful that another eight days … that it will feel better, he’ll be up on his toes and just get him out of any kind of danger zone. And should we get to the end of the week and we think that’s not the case, then we’re going to protect Sam first. Sam was more than willing to go last week, but we just didn’t think medically all things considered that we should do that.
“And we’re taking the same approach this week. What we’re trying to do is get him to the game, so his reps will be very limited. And then we’ll see where we’re at on Monday.”
Backup A.J. Feeley has a fractured right thumb that’s still swollen and likely will not allow him to get on the field this week.
The Rams signed Tom Brandstater from the practice squad to the active roster, and he’s taking the majority of reps during practice. At 6-foot-5, 223 pounds, the former Fresno State player is big but not exactly mobile, and that would limit what St. Louis could do offensively – particularly behind a makeshift offensive line that also has suffered a rash of injuries.
St. Louis also claimed Kellen Clemons (Texans) off waivers this week as insurance in case Bradford and Feeley can’t play.
Carroll said the Seahawks will prepare as if Bradford will start.
“He’s a fantastic player, and if they can get him ready to go, I’m sure they will,” Carroll said. “We wouldn’t know what they would do otherwise, so we’re just going to go ahead and go with it, with that thought and anticipate that he’s going.”
Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne’s knee apparently still is giving him trouble. Hawthorne did not practice Thursday, nor did defensive end Raheem Brock (calf). Cornerback Byron Maxwell (illness) took some repetitions in practice but was limited, as was fellow cornerback Kennard Cox (hamstring). Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral) fully participated in practice and again threw the ball with good pace. … For St. Louis, Bradford (ankle) and Feeley (thumb) did not practice, nor did defensive end Chris Long (ankle), kick returner Quinn Porter (abdomen) and defensive tackle Fred Robbins (back). Offensive tackle Mark LeVoir (chest) and defensive end Eugene Sims (ankle) were limited in practice.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks