BY Art Thiel 07:29PM 12/10/2014

Thiel: Seahawks ‘D’ fleet of mind as well as foot

The still-young Seahawks defense qualifies as experienced now, meaning they know assignments and offenses so well they can go full-throttle without fear.

Bruce Irvin had no problem running down 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick Thanksgiving night in Santa Clara. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As the Seahawks defense picks up the momentum of a brakes-free logging truck, it is drawing admirers, including RB Frank Gore, longtime hammer of the 49ers offense.

“They’re a great defense, they play fast,” he told Seattle reporters Wednesday via teleconference. “Especially (MLB Bobby Wagner).  He’s ferping fast as ferp, man.”

At least I think he said ferp. But I won’t swear to it.

He did, however, seem sincerely impressed.

“They play great together, man, they do,” he said. “I respect that team a lot.”

The most obvious asset in the past three games — in which opponents, one of which was San Francisco, have accumulated 507 yards and 20 points — has been speed. As a group, the Seahawks seem to get to the ball, to the sidelines and to the deep routes faster than any defense in the NFL.

Since speed is the No. 1 asset that coach Pete Carroll seeks in his recruits, that shouldn’t be a real surprise. But swiftness isn’t necessarily confined to the feet. None other than 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, in his own traditionally painful teleconference,  strung together a coherent thought on the subject.

They do a fantastic job of diagnosing, running, hitting — they do a tremendous job of playing team defense,” Harbaugh said. “Very well coached, very good at diagnosing. You really have to be at your absolute best offensively.”

The ability to diagnose what’s coming, to recognize the tells or indicators, has caused time to warp a bit. Here’s how Seahawks FS Earl Thomas described it.

“The game is so slow, because we’re moving so fast,” he said. “It’s beautiful out there, man.”

As they were last season, the Seahawks again are atop the NFL defensive stats, partly due to confining the 49ers to 204 yards in the 19-3 win Thanksgiving night at the Field of Jeans in Santa Clara. The teams know each other like brothers, and right now the Seahawks are younger and healthier, and the key guys have been together for awhile.

“We’re an experienced defense — these guys have been around,” Carroll said Wednesday. “They’ve played together a lot. They can communicate on a really high level. They can make sense of things, with a glance or with a word of what to expect.

“That’s a tremendously valuable asset. It allows a team that plays a fairly basic scheme to play really fast. If there is anything that you should have witnessed here in the last month is that our team speed picked up. You can see us playing faster. That’s in the continuity, that’s in the communication, that’s in the confidence from being together.”

The Seahawks were so in tune with what the Eagles would do in Philadelphia Sunday that they never allowed the run game to get established, crushing what some felt was the NFL’s hardest offense to stop. The Eagles had 139 yards, fewest ever for a Chip Kelly-coached team.

Thomas said that the newcomers to the defense now get the scheme, and the experienced holdovers got over themselves in a team meeting prior to the Arizona game.

“We play as one,” he said. “We’re one big unit, thinking the same things — even when we communicate outside of football. The dedication, love and connection is there. We understand how offenses are trying to attack us and it allows us to play super fast. It’s crazy to see how we feed off each other.”

Thomas is so thrilled he nearly giggles in the description.

“How we’re winning is cute,” he said. “I like how we dominate. That’s what I expect we should do. We’re having fun. A bench of kids at recess.”

One consequence of losing to the Seahawks is losing again the next week. That has happened to the past seven teams the Seahawks have defeated. Asked if he was surprised that 2-11 Oakland beat the 49ers 24-13 Sunday, Thomas shook his head.

“No, because we just played (the 49ers),” he said. “I’m not lying. It’s a blueprint. Teams see how (the Seattle defense) takes away a lot of stuff. It’s a copycat league, man.”

The consecutive losses don’t mean the Seahawks necessarily pounded the bejeezus out of the opponent.

“I’m not getting carried away with this thing,” Thomas said. “I’m saying that after we beat a team, (it’s because we know how) that team works. The next team takes the same approach.”

So you gamblers might want to keep an eye on the Eagles and the 3.5 points they’re favored by at home Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. Presumably the ‘Boys know things they didn’t know a week earlier.

As for the Seahawks, they know what they know from playing the 49ers two games ago.  Odds are they are a little smarter, and as Gore says, still as fast as ferp.



  • Matt

    The Eagles are ferped, man.

  • 1coolguy

    Pete has brought on some talented guys who are smart – they do their homework and when listening to their interviews, they are all in. They know what to do in order to make the concepts work and they study the designs and the other team and we see the results. Hats off to Pete for coachig up motivated players and for John who together with Pete has found them.

  • Matt712

    The Hawks’ D is in the zone, no doubt. But for all the publicized indifference to the offense, I believe they are right on schedule with the designed priorities of how the team is built. Defense first; Running game second. ….guess which categories the Seahawks currently lead the league in?

    The passing game, for all the flack it gets, is close. Russell Wilson has been hinting for the last two weeks “it’s almost there.” …Last year it peaked at Superbowl XLVIII. This year it will probbbaly be a couple of games earlier – team maturity.

    This team has found itself. If the passing game progresses as designed, convincing wins like the last 3 weeks, provided mostly by defense, will become blowouts provided by a complete football team – a team that has peaked at just the right time.

  • Whatmeworry?

    If they are up 58 – 0, are they going for 2?

  • Big

    Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances. Chuck Knox
    Respect for one’s opponent is paramount. Universal truth.

    The Hawks are well coached in the above and go Hawks.

  • ss

    If the Offense can start performing at a comparable level, the Seahawks could be the last team to repeat as Superbowl champs.

  • jafabian

    The Niners are quietly acknowledging the Seahawks dominance now. Even Kaepernick said in an interview yesterday that his mortal enemy is one of the best CB;s in the game. Davis has always been complimentary, at one time saying that Carroll and Schneider weren’t building a champion but a dynasty. IIRC, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and he’s still the best pass-catching TE in the game to me.

    Easley…oops, I mean Earl is absolutely right. When it was shown that short, underneath passes can work against the Hawks teams started doing that all the time against them. The defense has adjusted though and Williams is picking up where Mebane left off after his injury. But now I have to rethink my decision to start Mark Sanchez on my fantasy team.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    In the twilight of Gores career Im sure he is having daydreams of what it would be like on a cohesive squad like Seattles… who play with such passion and now appear to have as good a shot as any in the play offs. Meanwhile SF has been the poster team for dysfunction this year. Cant blame him.He would probbaly tell you privately it is enough to make a guy ferpin’ puke.Two sides of the spectrum for sure.
    I dont care what they say… Paul Allen is the best owner in the NFL. No way do they have todays atmosphere without first his vision and guts to give Carroll so much control~then to allow Pete to essentially hand pick a GM that would set him up to succeed. Finally, you never see Jerry Jones like antics. He is largely there reaping the fruits of his labor quietly. Enjoying the team Art has described in this article in a nice Pacific Northwest kind of way. A Calm proud. Compared to the mess in SF its sort of surreal.Go Hawks.

  • Soggyblogger

    The Way to beat the Hawks has been to attack the weakest link of the defense, but with 10/11 starters healthy, there is no weak link. The biggest improvement has come from Maxwell/Simon. So much so that Lane will have difficulty getting his job back. Lately, they use Maxwell at the nickel cornerback or regular CB with only two. He has managed this extremely well. With the return of Wagner, and Chancellor playing up to his normal self, there are no weak links in our defense. None. Hill has improved as well, and that has helped replace the injured Mebane. If I had to name a weak link, it would be KJ Wright in pass coverage. Which is exactly where the Eagles had any success at all.

  • Sunday should be ferping awesome.

  • cowfarmerJoe

    Field of Jeans….if you build it, they still won’t come.