Research from ESPN says the 39 points the Seahawks have allowed in their six-game winning streak are the fewest ever over the final six games of a 16-game NFL regular season.
For tomorrow's News Tribune I am writing on where this Seattle defense may rank among the all-time best in the league. This week I called Mike Wagner, the four-time Super Bowl-winning and two-time Pro Bowl safety on the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers' "Steel Curtain" defense. His 1976 Steelers allowed 28 points over the final nine games of their 14-game season.
You are going to like what he said about these Seahawks compared to those Steelers.
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The advantages of a first-round playoff bye.
The Seahawks had their usual, day-before walk-through (not even a) practice today and will spend tonight in their hotel in the Seattle suburbs for meetings and final preparations before Saturday's 5:15 p.m. NFC divisional playoff game against Carolina.
"We had a really good week – coming off of last week, it’s a two-week preparation," coach Pete Carroll said before Seattle's fourth playoff game in 11 months. "We feel like we did real well with the break and the work that we got done. This is a real big focus on fundamentals throughout this two-week period.
"We feel good. We’re pretty healthy going in. Guys are ready. They’re rested enough so that everybody is in good spirits, ready to go."
--Here is Kam Chancellor from yesterday following practice. His passers-by teammates tease him as the beginning for getting the star/podium treatment, then he teases me for asking first exactly what he thought he'd be asked first: about the challenge of limiting Carolina's Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen had just one catch in three targets on Oct. 26 when the Seahawks beat the Panthers in Charlotte 13-9. Cam Newton and Carolina would be wise to target him more than that tomorrow:
Here is Carolina's injury report. DeCloud, who started against the Seahawks in October, has since been benched in favor of rookie Tre Boston, anyway:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
January 8, 2015
(Opening) We had a really good week – coming off of last week, it’s a two week preparation. We feel like we did real well with the break and the work that we got done. This is a real big focus on fundamentals throughout this two week period. We feel good. We’re pretty healthy going in. Guys are ready. They’re rested enough so that everybody is in good spirits, ready to go.
(On if this year feels different than last year at all) No, we’re still just another team, I guess. It’s the same.
(On Max Unger) Max is in great shape. He’s ready to go. We’re excited about that.
(On Tony Moeaki) We’re going to find out on game day – very slight strain. We will see what that means. Cooper Helfet is ready to go if we need him.
(On when he was injured) It happened the day before yesterday.
(On how important Kam Chancellor is to the defense) It’s really important. All of our guys add something special and Kam has a dimension of his play that we love to showcase. We have a lot of guys that like to follow him to and follow him in the same manner and play with the same kind of fire and physical nature that he has and so he’s been a big deal to us obviously and he’s a great leader for us.
(On how going into the game on Saturday as heavy favorites impacts game planning and what he says to the team) Well the only place we’re heavy favorites is outside of here – that’s somebody else’s concern and gauge. We know we’re up against a really difficult opponent. They challenge us in many ways. We have great respect for their players and their coach and the way they do things. We’ve had nothing but tough games with these guys. We don’t need any more understanding than that. Whatever the talk is on the outside is outside. It’s a huge game to us – it’s a great championship match up and we’re going for it and the rest of that stuff doesn’t matter at all.
(On his time at N.C. State) That was the first time that I was a defensive coordinator with Monte Kiffin at the time and we had a blast. It didn’t work out quite right. We didn’t win enough games but it was really cool to be in the ACC at the time – the rivalries and the matchups that are really classic. Not everybody understands around the country – it was fun to be involved in all that.
(On how comfortable he is with Jon Ryan) Jon Ryan – he’s a stud. He’s been a great player and been a great factor for us for years. Really in the last six weeks or something, we’ve really controlled the kicking game in that regard. We’ve given up very few yards in punt returns. We expect to continue to do that and Jon is a focal point field position guy for us. He will kick them deep and put our defense inside the 20-yard line at least a few times in this game as he always does and that’s a big weapon for us. Good matchups for us across the board. We’re going to try to really be flawless if we can in the kicking game and not allow any factors to enter in to the outcome of this game.
(On Byron Maxwell being sick yesterday) He’s fine. He was ill.
(On Jermaine Kearse) He’s good. He’s fine. He’s ready to go. He had a full week of practice.
(On Demarcus Dobbs getting back up to speed this week) Everything worked out great in rehab – he’s fine. He was able to go and contribute. There’s no question that he’s going for us so he’s in good shape.
(On how Malcolm Smith has handled the success after being the Super Bowl MVP) He’s handled it great. I had no concern about that. He’s had a lot of fun. It’s been a great thrill to be able to represent as an MVP in that game. He got the truck and everything. He handled it very well. There was never any issue at all. He’s worked like crazy and been there for us every step of the way.
(On if he thinks it’s fair that Russell Wilson didn’t make the Pro Bowl and there isn’t much MVP talk about him) Well I would think if you want to win, you would have picked him. That’s all. I think if you want to win the game – he should have been picked for somebody because he’s that much of a factor when he plays the game. I was kind of disappointed in that to tell you the truth because he has had such a great year for us. But that’s okay – we will make it.
(On the biggest area Russell Wilson has grown in either on the field or off the field this year) Well, he continues to understand the game better and it allows him to play with more confidence and quicker and with more command. He came in here with a lot going for him. He had the makeup, the habits, and the focus ability that great players have and that came along with him. Some of those areas are hard to improve on. But the command of the game has really been where he’s grown the most and he will continue to grow. He’s going to get better. One of these years he’s going to complete 70% of those passes which will be a great mark for him and for our club. But he’s doing great and he couldn’t be more pumped and excited about going into this situation right now.
(On Russell Wilson’s mental and physical toughness) No, that came along with him. You could tell by the sights that he sets for himself and the standard that he works by and lives by – playing two sports, playing professional baseball, coming back – all of the things that he handled – that comes from a guy with real grit. He has to be a great competitor to do all of the things and act the way he acts and perform the way he performs. That was never a question at all. There were other issues we were concerned about but it certainly wasn’t his make up and the toughness and all. I don’t think it’s been pointed out but how consistent he has been and the durable nature that he’s demonstrated in the style of play we have. He’s not just throwing the ball and getting rid of it all the time – he’s all over the field and doing all kinds of things. I know that it came up a couple weeks ago and I think it was really appropriate to point him out as a tough, gritty, hard-nosed competitor – that’s just the way he is. He isn’t coming out of a game. He’s not going to miss a practice. He hasn’t missed a play since we’ve been here. He’s been amazing.
(On if he thinks people sometimes look too much at the raw passing numbers when evaluating quarterbacks) I don’t know, maybe. Maybe that’s what it is. I think winning is pretty important and he’s demonstrated that in historic fashion even – the club that he’s been on. He would be first to tell you it’s not all him. But he’s been on a team that’s won for the QB better than anybody in the history of the game – pretty cool I think.
(On Panthers DT Colin Cole) He’s a good, tough guy – real heavy player – hard to move. Always been a physical guy – knows the game really well – real smart player.
(On the defense being on the same page) It’s absolutely paramount in importance. If you want to perform at the highest level as a group youave to have chemistry and you have to feed off of one another. You have to have tremendous trust in not just yourself but in those around you or you’re questioning and you’re wondering if things are going to go the way you want them to go. These guys have worked really hard for a long time now to grow and we’ve done it kind of in stages but they’ve come together where they absolutely believe in each other and they know who is going to make the plays and if the guy doesn’t, somebody will cover for them. They really believe that. That’s what allows them to play so fast and to play with the conviction that they have. There was a time in this season as there was a time last year when we lost track of that and we had to regain that understanding and the focus and the importance of it. Right now, they’re right in the middle of it – hopefully we can go play like that again this weekend.
(On the role Dan Quinn plays) He’s the leader of that group. He talks to them every day. He directs the focus. He sets the tone. He does all of that. He’s been phenomenal. Gus [Bradley] had done a great job with this group and then to pick up and to take us to another level and then do it again that’s an extraordinary job of coaching and leadership. That’s why there’s a lot of people talking to him, wanting to know where he’s going next and you can understand that.
(On when he drafted Bruce Irvin if he saw him as an every down guy or he figured that out later) We drafted him with the thought that he would play every down. We thought really, that he could have played the Leo spot from the day he got here, physically and all, that’s what we thought. We wanted to find out what we would find in him as a linebacker as well which we did in the second year. We tried not to do that in the first year. So he dropped very little responsibility in coverage but as we grew to appreciate his athletic ability and his natural talent and all that – we just tried him and it was an experiment and it worked out well. Now he’s got tremendous flexibility, he can do tons of stuff for us and he’s all over the field. He really understands the role that he’s asked to do so it’s worked out great. But we did think of him as an every down player. However as we brought him in, you didn’t ask all of this, we knew that he could be an effective pass rusher guy right off the bat so we didn’t try to overdo it with him. Then we brought him along slowly and he fit in quite well.
(On how productive the 2012 draft was) Yeah, that was one at the time, in small circles, behind closed doors; we talked about that this could be the one. This could be the draft class that could really make the difference. We will find out. We have a lot of years and a lot of time to put together before we say something like that. It has the potential to be a great class for this franchise for sure.
(On Jeron Johnson) He’s not able to go – not at all this week. Not even in consideration. He had a real serious injury. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. They say that he will pop back really quickly once he turns the corner but he hasn’t done that yet.
(On if there is any concern with Max Unger due to the amount of time he missed) No. He looks great. All throughout the time he was rehabbing, he was working out – doing all the aerobic conditioning. He’s fine. He will be fine.
(On Bruce Irvin saying he’s just thankful to be here and if he senses that from him) Well I’m happy to hear him say that. He’s grown a tremendous amount. He’s had a great support group around him. His teammates have really been there. He’s made his mistakes along the way but probably more obviously than other guys, he has grown through what he’s faced. On a small scale for us – it’s a remarkable story for the guy. He’s really in command of his world right now. He’s got things going in the right direction. He’s really consistent. We absolutely count of him and he’s having the time of his life. It’s a really good story.