A variety of things from the TNT for today:
> Our John McGrath wrote about Marshawn Lynch mediagate for today's paper. From McGrath:
Lynch’s reluctance to talk to the media never has been a problem for the media. On any given Sunday, there are 52 other players available for questions after a Seahawks game. A few dread that aspect of their job as much Lynch does; a few others actually enjoy it.
Everybody else regards their five or 10 minutes spent dealing with the media as no big deal: not as good as lounging at a poolside cabana, not as bad as carrying heavy furniture up a spiral staircase. But they’re professional and polite about it.
Strange as this sounds, even in the gloom of defeat, the process is civil. Rarely does a postgame interview end without a reporter and a player exchanging a version of “thanks” and “you’re welcome.”
When I learned the NFL slapped Lynch with a $50,000 penalty last week for avoiding the media this season, my first thought was: Really? 50-grand? I realized players are supposed to be available to reporters after games and once during the week, but $50,000 seemed harsh, even if the league has earmarked it for charity.
> Dave Boling wrote about the Seahawks successful pass rush this season, something they addressed in the offseason. From Boling:
In the immediate aftermath of the loss to Atlanta, coach Pete Carroll said the team’s primary goal was to find pass rushers to upgrade that part of the defense.
Mission accomplished. Two offseason acquisitions – Michael Bennett (8.5 sacks this season) and Cliff Avril (8.0) – lead the team. A holdover from last season, Clinton McDonald, has been a surprising contributor with 5.5.
And whereas linebackers added 3.5 sacks last season, Wagner (5.0) and K.J. Wright (4.5) combined have nearly tripled that figure.
With 44 total sacks, the Hawks have improved to No. 8 in the league.
Wagner points to a couple factors.
“Coach (Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator) runs a lot more blitzes,” he said. “And we’ve got a lot more sackmasters over there. (With more threats) you can’t really slide the protection to one particular person, you’ve got to account for everybody.”
> I wrote about the final four remaining from the pre-Pete Carroll era, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Max Unger and Jon Ryan, the lone survivors from the massive roster turnover. From my story:
Schneider and Carroll booted no-names and big names. Bryant was moving to his third coach after just two seasons with the organization, both of which did not go well. He wondered what was to come.
“Of course,” Bryant said. “You were 4-12 (2008), 5-11 (’09) and you have a new head coach with a different vision from your predecessor, that’s just normal chain of events. I’m extremely fortunate Coach Carroll gave me an opportunity to be a part of his vision.”
> Our Don Ruiz is with New Orleans in Metairie, La., and writes that Sean Payton's return has given the Saints their swagger back. From Ruiz:
Over the five seasons from 2009 through 2013, the Saints won 11 or more games three times. The exception was the 7-9 tumble of 2012, when Payton’s absence was the primary price the team paid for what has come to be known as “Bountygate,” a scandal in which the NFL found that Saints defenders were offered money for inflicting injuries on opposing players.
And if those numbers leave anything unsaid, Payton’s players are eager to flesh out their meaning.
“Football teams are complex,” offensive tackle Zach Strief said. “These organizations, there’s a lot of people involved. And when you take the absolute top leader piece of that out, it’s very difficult to function completely normally. And I think getting Coach back has been a huge help for us. ... He brings a lot to this team, and losing him was difficult.”
> Coming up today, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson hit the podium. I was mistaken yesterday when I thought we would receive and injury report for the shortened week. My apologies. We will get one today.
> 710 ESPN writes that recent history is on the Saints' side. A grain of salt with the numbers used in that post. Simply using the win-loss record of the six seeds versus one seeds the last eight years is a very shallow way to make an argument. If the playoffs were seeded straight up, the Saints would be the four seed and this would not be applicable. A breakdown of injuries, were they double-digit win teams, were they very good road teams, etc., would offer more insight. We'll hope to look into that at the end of the week when there is more time. It could well prove an interesting point or something that sounds much scarier than it is.
> The Everett Herald had an unexpected conversation with Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
> Seahawks.com says you never know what you are going to get with the Saints' defense.
> USA Today writes that the Seahawks and Saints "learn lessons from past matchups" which is the opposite of what everyone on the Seahawks is saying. Steve Hutchinson comments in the story.
> MMQB's Jenny Vrentas writes Saints "mastermind" Sean Payton is back and it's like he never left.
> ESPN writes that the Saints "eye revenge" after being blownout in the first game this season.
> Kicker Shayne Graham is the Saints' "unassuming hero" after his game-winning kick last weekend.