Good morning. I’m headed to the stadium in about an hour, but wanted to post some links before I take off. Here are a couple keys to the game for Seattle today.
Fast start – It seems like I says this every week, but I think it’s even more critical in this game, particularly with what happened against Arizona last month in Seattle, with the Cardinals jumping out to a 17-0 lead. If the Seahawks win the toss, they will probably take the ball first and try to get the offense going, which leads to my next point.
Put the ball in Hasselbeck’s hands – He’s probably the team’s best playmaker right now, so head coach Jim Mora has to let quarterback Matt Hasselbeck put the offense in the right situations and move the ball down the field by using the short passing game, and use the pass to set up the run.
Locklear has to show up – This will be Sean Lockear’s first game back, but Seattle doesn’t have time for him to shake the rust off. He’s has to set the tone early that he can get the job done and keep Hasselbeck clean on his blindside.
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Contain Fitzgerald – The Seahawks are not going to stop Larry Fitzgerald from catching the ball, but they can’t let him go for 14 catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns. They have to try and limit his touches and not give up the big plays. Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson have to play big today.
Dave Boling of the TNT says technically a win is possible for the Seahawks in the desert, although unlikely.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com provides this midseason report, Q&A style with GM Tim Ruskell. Decent read, but interesting because several reporters who regularly cover the team asked for a mid-season chat with Ruskell earlier this week. I guess we’ve got our answer.
I found this part interesting.
Q: There was a lot of talk during the spring and summer about getting back into the division race and getting back to the playoffs. Were the expectations too high?
A: “Probably so. But, gosh, I’m never going to want to go into a season saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t going to be a real good year; we’re rebuilding.” Because it only takes a certain number of players to have a hot year, or you get a string (of victories) going. So you never go into a season pessimistic, especially when you do a lot in the offseason. Instead, you say, ‘Hey, it’s happened before. This could all come together right now.’ So we’re never going to allow that not to happen. Then I think you’re doing a disservice. But in retrospect, maybe so. Maybe we had our expectations too high.
“But there’s a lot of season left to play, and these guys aren’t even considering that it can’t happen. They’re working to get better. They know they’re getting better. And there’s a lot of season left to go. So let’s just see what happens.
“And we’re not done in terms of our player evaluations. We’re going to let the whole season play out. If you make changes like we did you’ve got to give them time to pan out. Too often, people give up on players too quickly, especially new players. And you make mistakes that way. So we’re going to give it the whole season, then we’re going to take a look, ‘OK, what worked? What didn’t work? What, if any, changes do we need to make?’ ”
Greg Johns of Seattlepi.com provides this game preview of today’s contest.
More Johns: He predicts a 31-27 win for Arizona.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes that the Seahawks are at a crossroads today.
Brock Huard of ESPN 710 Seattle offers these three keys to the game.
ESPN’s John Clayton and Mike Sando talk about the Seattle-Arizona matchup in this audio link. The conversation starts about 19 minutes in.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic provides five keys for the Cardinals as they begin the second half of the season.
Darren Urban at azcardinals.com says Arizona is anxious to change its fortunes at home, beginning today.
More Urban: He writes about the revenge factor for Seattle.
St. Louis Rams
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides these key matchups for today’s Rams-Saints game.
More Thomas: Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove has been given a another opportunity in New Orleans to prove himself after drugs and alcohol led to his demise in St. Louis and Buffalo.
Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch provides an update on the sale of the St. Louis Rams, with St. Louis Blue chairman Dave Checketts attempting to keep the team in St. Louis.
San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says head coach Mike Singletary announced that Josh Morgan had supplanted Isaac Bruce as the starter at wide receiver.
Gwen Knapp of the Chronicle says when San Francisco switched quarterback and started Alex Smith, the season became more about evaluating the young team rather than making the playoffs, even though the team still believes they can make a playoff run.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee said the Niners 10-6 win over Chicago was a blueprint for how San Francisco wants to play moving forward.