BY Art Thiel 07:58PM 12/07/2015

Thiel: Seahawks lately ‘have felt very familiar’

The Seahawks defense turned in an afternoon that evoked the Super Bowl triumph over Denver, according to Pete Carroll. That news, plus more on Marshawn Lynch and Darrell Bevell.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman had his hands full with Antonio Brown and other Steelers receivers, but things changed against the Vikings. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The two-time-defending NFC champions have arrived at what seems to be their annual big-boy apex.

“The last couple weeks have felt very familiar,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday, wiping away the last bits of lutefisk from the Vikings’ implosion Sunday in Minneapolis. “The approach the players have had the past three to four weeks is really similar to where we’ve been in past years. It feels good. The play is good.

“Every team in every sport is trying to figure this out. It feels like we’re on track to play really good football. I like the way it feels.”

No tool is available to detect the concussive blow that statement will have around the NFL, but the measurement is somewhere between a cringe and a weep. Bartenders: Just leave the bottle on the bar.

The Seahawks held the NFL’s best rushing offense to 125 yards — at home, the worst output by the Vikings in nine years. The Seahawks defense now ranks fourth in passing (220.5 ypg), third in rushing (87.8 ypg), and second overall (308.2), trailing only the Broncos  at 284.7.

Remarkable as was the efficiency of the Seahawks offense in the 38-7 win, the defense executed a 180-degree turnaround from the previous week, when the Steelers passed for 480 yards in a harrowing 39-30 Seattle win. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger burned the defense underneath and over the top in an uncharacteristic dope-slapping.

Even though the Seahawks knew that Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was no threat to repeat, the blow by the Steelers prompted a change in practice last week: Complete devotion to fundamentals.

Carroll said Monday the approach produced big results.

“We went back to fundamentals — we strictly did that,” he said. “That’s the technical part of breaking on the football — good pass-drops and stuff like that — to ensure that we weren’t giving up some loose areas in our zones.

“Guys did an excellent job — as good a job as we’ve done, probably all the way back to (the Super Bowl win over Denver), of driving on the football, making tackles, making hits in the open field, and the consistency of that.”

Invocation of the Valhalla moment of Seahawks football is not something Carroll does easily. He understands that the 43-8 obliteration of the Broncos was dominance that few teams in any sport will experience. But getting close to that level is a reasonable expectation this year, despite the turnover in personnel.

Fundamentals “are absolutely critical to our play and our style of how we play defense,” he said. “This was the best game that we’ve had. I think last week had an impact on it, everybody drawing back to basics.

“It’s an opportunity for every team to get better fundamentally as the season goes on. That doesn’t always happen. That happened (Sunday). You saw a shift in the tightness of our zone play, and the plays that the guys were making coming out of their zones. So that’s what happened.”

What the next three opponents — the Ravens on the road, and the Browns and Rams at home — have in common besides losing records is that their offenses are mostly decrepit. So the Seattle defense is unlikely to see a serious test. But they can aspire to a fundamental perfection.

As the old guys remembered what to do, one of the young guys supplied serious energy Sunday. Carroll was excited about the play of rookie DL Frank Clark, who had two sacks and two batted passes in his best game as a Seahawk.

“Whenever you have a guy that can run that fast and has all of that quickness, and the energy he brings — he does play really hard — that’s going to help,” he said. “We’ve been excited about Frank since we first saw him on the practice field.”

Clark saw his most extensive action, including spending more snaps inside at the backup tackle job normally played by Jordan Hill, who was out with a toe injury.

“It was kind of a new look for him,” Carroll said. “We do have an opportunity to move guys around for third-down purposes. He gives us flexibility.”

Clark has no notion of how it worked in Seattle the past two seasons. But he doesn’t have to — he has his elders for that. He needs merely to go fetch.

Lynch “at large,” early return unlikely

RB Marshawn Lynch has left Philadelphia, where he underwent surgery to fix a sports hernia, but Carroll said he hasn’t talked to his star running back, and doesn’t know where he is, except he’s not at team HQ.

“He’s at large,” said Carroll, who sometimes has had cool relations with Lynch. Doctors told the Seahawks that Beast Mode is doing “really well,” but Carroll toned down his previous rhetoric about Lynch’s possible return for the playoffs, which would be the weekend of Jan. 10-11.

“It’s so much to ask him to jump back after three weeks,” he said. “I don’t even know how you could think that way. This is week three.”

Bevell to BYU? News to Carroll

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is rumored to be on the short list of candidates to replace head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who left Brigham Young University to take the football vacancy at the University of Virginia. It was news to Carroll Monday.

“I just heard that walking down the hall,”  he said. “Is the job open? I didn’t know that.”

Bevell, 45, has no previous connection to BYU, but he is a member of the LDS church, and  took a two-year mission while attending Wisconsin. His eldest daughter is attending Utah State in Logan and daughter No. 2 has accepted a softball scholarship to attend BYU. A third daughter is in elementary school.

Bevell has interviewed for head coaching vacancies in the NFL but has never been a head coach at any level. Carroll has always been a Bevell believer.

“He’s an excellent football coach,” Carroll said. “He can run the whole thing. I haven’t talked to him about it. But he’s a fantastic head coaching candidate, no question.”


  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Thiel says, “[Carroll] understands that the 43-8 obliteration of the Broncos was dominance that few teams in any sport will experience”

    Yes, the repeat Super Bowl dominance by the Steelers, Raiders, Redskins, Giants, 49’s, Patriots, Cowboys, and even four straight losing Super Bowls of the Bills truly pales next to the Seahawks one Super Bowl championship. LOL. And even if one wishes to break down just individual games, one would have to look at Dallas’ thrashing of the Bills, San Francisco’s thrashing of Denver, Washington’s thrashing of Denver, Chicago’s thrashing of the Patriots, and the Raiders near thrashing of Washington. And don’t even get me going into other sports, but lets start with the Lakers dynasty, and many NHL and MLB dynasties. You can always tell the nouveau rich. They act like it. Otherwise, yes, the Seahawks are, apparently, as I am not sure I have watched a minute this year, playing better in this micro portion of one season. I will take your word for it.

    • art thiel

      Since you’re taking my word, take it on another point: NFL competitive history can be cut into two sagas: Everything before the 1994 CBA change that created free agency, and everything after that.

      The post-94 game that allows great player movement has compromised teams’ abilities to sustain success. It’s almost useless to compare dominant teams now to pre-94. What Carroll has accomplished over the past four seasons is remarkable, and not over.

      And I wrote “few,” not none.

      • Sonics79

        The point was about a moment, not a legacy. The Super Bowl win was an obliteration of another team (that was favored) not seen in years.

    • Pixdawg13

      You have four too many letters at the end of your handle.

      • dingle

        It’s not that there are too many; it’s just misspelled.

        This guy is tedious.

  • jafabian

    Red Auerbach was once asked by a reporter in 1969 why the Celtics should be taken seriously to repeat as champions when they only won 48 games, same as the Hawks and the Lakers, Knicks, Sixers and Bullets had all won over 54 games. Red replied “You don’t defend your title during the regular season.” Then they proceeded to repeat. This team has shown since 2011 they can turn things up a notch when the second half of the season comes about, especially when the season hits December. I fully believe this team could have a perfect season but I’d rather have a few more Super Bowl trophies on display at the Clink before they go for that. And they sure seem to be on the path to getting another trophy at the moment.

    • Karen Reeves

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    • art thiel

      Good pull on the quote from Red. I think I may borrow that in Jan.

  • Jamo57

    “Every team in every sport is trying to figure this out…….I like the way it feels.”

    I remember Carroll saying similar words last year as the Hawks put it all together late, which infers that it isn’t as simple as simply deciding to turn on a switch at the appropriate time.

    It reminds me of Phil Lesh’s reference of ‘searching for the sound.”

    All of this makes the concept of peak performance as something that is found in the ethers, not a tangible act. Something us fans most likely will never get and simply just complain about when they’re not there.

    I want to know more, Art. There’s your next book. Be sure to engage your Peak Perfomance Coordinator on that one. ;-)

    • art thiel

      I think Pete and others who know about peak performance would conclude that it’s something about clearing mind and body of distractions and toxins to allow the performer to do his or her best.

      And I think smarter people than me have written several books on the topic. But you’re right — it’s big.

  • notaboomer

    frank clark. isn’t he that guy who beat up his girlfriend in a motel room?

    • art thiel

      That was the charge.

  • notaboomer

    did anyone ask pete his thoughts about the sarkisian lawsuit v. usc?

    • art thiel

      Didn’t come up, but I imagine he would have said nothing because it’s litigation.

  • Sonics79

    That familiar feeling is this season shaping up like the 2012 season.
    Seahawks on a late season roll, putting up crazy numbers on offense, probably getting the #5 seed in the NFC, go play the winner of the NFC East, and go play the winner of the NFC South to get to the NFC Championship game.
    The good news is these Seahawks are better than the 2012 team.

    • art thiel

      Hard to say better yet until they complete the season, but the trend is definitely upward, which few foresaw at 2-4.

  • Xman

    I hate to admit that Darrell Bevell, who shares the blame for the most devastating loss in Seattle sports history, has been doing a good job lately. It’s like saying something nice about Howard Schultz or David Stern.

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  • Gerald Turner

    The salient point in our most favorite Seahawk game ever, is that Denver had a top 5 greatest offense in NFL history, with a top five QB in NFL history, and the defense held them to 8 points. Making it one of the top 3 greatest defensive performances in NFL Superbowl history.