You have to go back to 2005, Seattle's first Super Bowl season, for the last time the Seahawks have allowed fewer points in consecutive games than the six total they've surrendered to Arizona and San Francisco the last two games. (Dec. 5 and 11, 2005, Seattle won 42-0 at Philadelphia and 41-3 over the 49ers).
Kam Chancellor being refreshed and Bobby Wagner returning at middle linebacker have coincided with the defense's revitalization.
Chancellor made a rare podium appearance yesterday before practice. I teasingly asked the strong safety if he lost a bet to have to appear away from his locker, in the auditorium in front of cameras.
Chancellor was already in game mode for Sunday against the Eagles.
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"I don't bet," he said flatly.
The two games he took off last month, wins over Oakland and the New York Giants, seemed to have refreshed him -- and in turn has solidified the defense.
"Just gave me some extra rest, on my hip that I had surgery on, and with anything else that was bothering me," he said.
Let's see: he missed those games with a groin strain, which may or may not be related to the hip surgery he had in last offseason to repair a torn labrum there. He has bone spurs in both ankles that don't just disappear; he is managing the pain and playing through those after contemplating surgery on them in September.
Earlier in the season -- I specifically remember instances at San Diego and against Dallas, two of Seattle's four losses -- Chancellor's legs were buckling while trying to take on blocks in the open field on screens and sweeps. His legs just could not brace him into the ground to take on a charging opponent, and he looked nothing like his thudding, 2013 self.
Now he does.
Asked if this is the best he's felt since February's Super Bowl, his last game before that hip surgery, Chancellor gave a look that said he's not exactly 100 percent now.
"I feel good," he said, without elaboration.
He's better than he was, and so is Seattle's defense.
--My story in today's News Tribune went further into Russell Wilson's 26th birthday week, and not just the socializing he's done. He and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell are again focusing on why the red-zone has been a sinkhole for offensive touchdowns. Seattle is down to 25 for 53 (47.2 percent) on touchdown conversions in the “red zone” this season. (By the way, they are grumbling about that in Philadelphia, too; the Eagles are one of six teams with a lower TD percentage rate in the red zone than the Seahawks, at 43.5 percent).
Penalties and sacks have been the main reasons Seattle has settled for three points instead of six too often inside the opponent's 20. Wilson says it’s the No. 1 issue for the Seahawks’ offense to improve in the final month of the regular season.
“I think we have to be lights out in the red zone,” he said. “When it comes down to championship football, we have to be lights out in the red zone. Be lights out on third down. That’s pretty simple. That’s pretty much it.”
Of course, the Seahawks (8-4) are focused on winning the NFC West, which they would do by winning their final four regular-season games.
--Here is all that Chancellor and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had to say yesterday before and then following practice.
S Kam Chancellor
December 4, 2014
(On if he looks at this game like a playoff game this weekend) No, we’re looking at it as the next game. We look at every game as the next game. Every game has the same proportions. We don’t look at it as a playoff game.
(On if there are any unique challenges with their offense at all especially at his position) Well, they run a certain scheme that they like. They run the same plays over and over but they stay true to who they are. That’s what makes their offense special. We have to line-up – know your assignments, know your fits and make your hits.
(On what he has noticed about Richard Sherman and how he has worked on making tackles in the run game) Sherm has completed his game. He’s definitely a great cover corner. He definitely a great tackler – open field tackler – he comes in and fills the gap where needed. Sometimes we need them on the edges; sometimes we need them on the B-gap, C-gap. Sherm is a team player. He goes out there and handles his business like a professional and gets it done.
(On what the two games he didn’t play in did for him) Gave me some extra rest, some extra rest for my hip because I had hip surgery in the offseason – just extra rest on that, my ankles, anything else that was bothering me – just gave me a little extra rest on it and I’m back, ready to go.
(On how he and Earl Thomas have seemed to play with more energy the past two games) It’s just one of those things when you’re feeling good, you just play free. You know your assignments, you know the preparation and you’re feeling good – you can let free and go out there and have fun with your brothers.
(On if physically this is the best he has felt since the Super Bowl) I feel good.
(On what is the biggest challenge about the game this weekend) The next game – that’s the biggest challenge – the next game. We want to focus on going out there and improving as a team, as a unit and lifting one another up on the field. The biggest focus is improving as a team, getting better at the things we need to get better at.
(On why the defense has had some of their best games against teams that run the fast pace, no huddle type offense) I really don’t know why. But I guess when a team is going fast pace, you know they have to stick to certain things, they can’t run but so many different things because I mean, they have to run the plays also and on defense, it’s the same way. We sit out there and we play. It’s like a chess match – like they say – offense, defense. The same guys that are on the offense out there running the plays, there out there at the same time, they don’t switch personnel and defense, we don’t switch personnel, so it’s a battle of who is going to go the longest.
(On how big of a factor it is to have so many great athletes on defense) I think that’s big for us. It shows our depth, the size, and the athletes we do have in our depth. We can adapt. We do a good job of adapting with different personnel, with different teams.
Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn
December 4, 2014
(On if with the Eagles it starts with stopping the run game) I think so that’s usually where our attention goes first to find out and they’ve got really unique runners who can cut and move where sometimes it looks like you’ve got everything filled and his [LeSean McCoy] ability to get out and get on the edge or find a crease – that’s one of the things we respect in their run game especially.
(On if LeSean McCoy is like Jamaal Charles at all) The shiftiness where he jump cuts from inside to outside so quickly that’s the thing that remarks to us the most on the film – where it starts inside and they cut can cut back anywhere.
(On if he looked at film from both Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez) We do both. We wanted to see, in terms of the style of their offense, was it really different. So we thought it was worthwhile to go through both. I think they’re like us in a lot of regards – they have a really good system, they stick to it and those plays play out, much like we don’t do tons of things on our defense but the things we do we try to do well and to a certain degree, I think that’s true with them. They really execute well in the style that they play.
(On what stands out about their run game in general with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles) Yeah, I think that’s the number one thing. They have some explosive runs that they’re able to get out and those two guys are at the forefront of it so it’s not unusual in terms of what they run. They execute well upfront, their line has good quickness that they can get to the second level fast and then the backs.
(On if Bobby Wagner can make up for other players mistakes) Yeah, I think and that’s really true with the whole team – that effort where I’m just kind of falling off a block, can I have that effort to go and make it? One of the things that I’ve seen from Bobby is just the physical tackling that he’s been doing. That’s really been an emphasis for him during the offseason and who better to work on it with him than Ken [Norton] to talk about how to tackle, the way and the style because really, there has been some knock backs in terms of the collisions that he has and the force that he’s bringing when he’s tackling. It’s one of the parts of his game that he really worked hard at so for him to miss that time and to come back and still be tackling, with the few misses that he’s had, I think that’s a real tribute to how hard he has worked.
(On why tackling was such an emphasis for Bobby Wagner during the offseason) I think during the offseason, he watched a lot of the film and there were certainly plays where he just kind of got the guy down as opposed to that imposing tackle where he was going to try and knock the guy and put him all the way back. So it was part of his game – he wanted to improve that because you always feel his speed and he got there. Now I think the demeanor when he gets there, it feels it.
(On what has allowed the defense to have such success against fast paced offenses) I think the fast pace or no huddle, however you want to call it, is something that’s popular with a lot of teams and if you can remember all the way back in preseason, one of the clubs that we had talked about was Green Bay – was going to be somebody that was really going to be trying to increase their plays so for us, having a chance to go against our own offense who can go into no huddle was huge. We didn’t get in a defensive huddle the whole training camp knowing that there were teams that we would have to be ready for. Not necessarily just Philadelphia but teams that we were going to play this year. It’s one of the areas of the game we knew we would have to adjust and be ready to do so we started way back even in the OTAs and into training camp to kind of prepare and simulate so it kind of felt normal when those opportunities came.