BY Art Thiel 06:33PM 12/14/2015

Thiel: 3 smaller things helping the Seahawks

The vanishing of selfishness, Russell Wilson’s audibles and the work of defensive linemen Ahtyba Rubin and Brandon Mebane and little celebrated virtues keying the Seahawks’ late-season run.

The Seahawks’ success against the rush, little celebrated, has been a key factor in the recent win streak. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Amid all the local and national gee-whizzery surrounding the Seahawks’ offensive renaissance, which is deservedly focused on the spectacular numbers being posted by QB Russell Wilson and WR Doug Baldwin, there are some subtle things going on that, on a Cleveland Browns week of Manziel mania, are worthy of some attention.

At his Monday presser, coach Pete Carroll spoke about three virtues that have helped make the 8-5 Seahawks a virtual lock for the playoffs and a threat to bust up the postseason:

Selfishness is vanishing: Players won’t admit it, but after each Super Bowl appearance, lots of them get at least temporarily more self-absorbed, eager for a greater slice of the action/money (Kam Chancellor, anyone)? But as the subsequent season moves on, the all-for-one, one-for-all sentiment begins to re-assert.

Carroll wouldn’t call it selfishness, but here’s how he put it Monday:

“The intention to play for one another is really clear. That really makes a difference. When everything else gets pushed aside and it’s about giving everything you have to the team, teams seem to go to different level. We’ve noticed that for years and years.

“It’s s delicate balance sometimes. It’s hard to get to that point. But once it happens, it’s pretty obvious. We have a chance to finish this season on a really high note.”

Wilson’s audibles are nearly good as his deep throws: The ability to recognize defenses and their disguises, then respond at the line of scrimmage, is something that comes only with experience. Carroll is thrilled with Wilson’s improvement in his fourth year.

“That was kind of hidden in the stats of the game . . . He continues to get better. He sees things more clearly and sooner. He can process what he sees and change us into the right protection.

“He’s not 100 percent. He’ll miss some stuff at times, or something won’t look quite the same as we prepared him. For the most part, he had a very good sense of moving around the running game, moving the pass protection around, had some nice checks. He looked very comfortable.”

Fat guys deserve some love too: DLs Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rybin are two of the team’s more obscure, if large, figures. But they have been literally central in stifling opponent rushing games.

The Seahawks have held the past four opponents under 60 yards rushing, and no individual runner has had more than 100 yards since Jamaal Charles of Kansas City last season. Said Carroll:

“It starts right in the middle up front. Every running play, those guys are significant factors. They have to maintain their gap control, and also allow the linebackers to fit properly. Rubin has been a fantastic addition to us. He’s been very consistent, so rock solid and so hard to knock off the football.

“The safeties and the guys on the edge, they just can’t affect it as much as the guys in the middle. So we owe a lot to them setting the standard for us, with the discipline and the consistency. It has given us a chance to keep the running game in order. They’re doing a great job.”

Carroll gets really high

Post-game, Carroll was photographed atop a locker in the visitors’ quarters in Baltimore’s stadium, exhorting his players.

“That may have happened before,” he said, grinning. “I did that in a single bound.”

As is often customary in team sports, visiting team digs are small and unfriendly, just another small distraction designed to annoy and perhaps gain an edge. Often there is no space big enough for a coach to address the entire 53-man team at once. So Carroll took the highest road available to address the Seahawks.

“A more consistent effort is made in the NFL (than college to make visitors uncomfortable),” he said, citing late Raiders owner Al Davis as the worst of the worst in the Oakland Coliseum.

“Al organized that at the Coliseum,” he said. “The visitors locker room is awful. Different levels; it’s terrible. Can’t get together at all. Most locker room set-ups are very humble and small, segmented.”

Then he smiled: “Either you’re competing, or you’re not.”


SS Kam Chancellor, who fell hard on his tailbone in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the game, is “really sore today; he really is,”  Carroll said. “In a flash, he landed wrong, and got bruised pretty good.” Carroll called Chancellor’s chance to play Sunday “unlikely.” Backup Kelcie McCray “did really well,” he said. “I was really fired up about him.”  . . . CBs Marcus Burley and DeShawn Shead are nursing ankle sprains; TE Luke Willson had an MRI for some bruised ribs . . . DE Michael Bennett was in a boot to help deal with  chronically sore toe . . . LB Brock Coyle, a core special-teamer, is scheduled to return to the active roster this week. “He’s really primed and ready to go. So he’ll give us a little boost where we’d like to see it,” Carroll said.


  • Just Another Bullwhip

    Thiel says, “Players won’t admit it, but after each Super Bowl appearance, lots of
    them get at least temporarily more self-absorbed, eager for a greater
    slice of the action/money (Kam Chancellor, anyone)?”

    Uh, Russell Wilson, anyone? And with Russell Wilson’s money grab also arguably, and arguably rightfully, being at the core of Chancellor’s issues with pay. And at least Chancellor was not passive aggressive about his approach. If the Seahawks flame out in the playoffs, which is almost a certainty given the fact that it looks like the team will be on the road the whole way, you can trace it to the team’s bad start, and you can trace the bad start, arguably, to a team in turmoil. And turmoil arguably caused by the money Wilson, essentially, demanded. “Chancellor, anyone?” LOL. I think you have the wrong party. And, also, watch what happens after this season. Then the fractures over the money Wilson got are really going to start to show. Glad Wison has put together a couple of good games, but let us see where things end up when it counts. And if they do not end up where people really care about going, take a good long look at the passive aggressive game that Wilson played in the offseason.

    • Jamo57

      QBs around the league are the highest paid position group. Strong safeties, unfortunately not. Wilson’s pay is certainly not outrageous relative to other true franchise QBs, particularly ones that have played in multiple Super Bowls.

      If the players are unhappy about it they should look to their union leadership which collectively bargained the current system. I would have a greater beef with the fact teams can release players with years left on their deals. It’s a one way street in that regard. It’s all about the guaranteed money.

    • WestCoastBias79

      Wilson getting paid was a given, he made third string money his first few years. He was going to get paid like the elite QB that he is. Chancellor was already among the highest paid strong safeties in the game.

      • Just Another Bullwhip

        Almost NO ONE, outside of Seattle, considers Wilson, day-in-day-out, an “elite QB.”

        • WestCoastBias79

          Well, I live in Pasadena. He’s not Tom Brady, but he certainly is good enough to warrant his salary in lieu of what other QB’s are making. National media seems to be fully on the Russell Wilson bandwagon FWIW.

          • Just Another Bullwhip

            Well, I live close to Pasadena, and I disagree. Take away these four games–and, my God, with a billion press outlets these days they have to find something original to write about–and Wilson would not even be currently discussed regarding anything except perhaps within the context of the Seahawks disappointing season.

          • WestCoastBias79

            Well, A+ on the trolling. I love Matt Hasselbeck, but have you watched his last two games? Regardless, I don’t understand all the Wilson hate beyond being obtuse for obstinance sake. He has one of the greatest winning percentages of any QB ever, and while yes, the Seahawks are a great team, look what happened to Arizona last year without Palmer. All great QB’s have talent around them allowing them to succeed. Brady looks pretty ordinary without Gronk, and Aaron Rogers is looking pretty average without his array of starters. The Seahawks are going to the playoffs this year because of Wilson and the offensive line figuring out how to protect for him. He’s 27, with the exception of maybe Cam Newton or Andrew Luck, I can’t think of another QB in the league his age I’d rather have.

            Stay warm in Alhambra, Glendale, or wherever else you claim to be from.

          • John M

            Hey, Bullwhatever, I like the responses you’ve stirred up. Maybe you haven’t watched that much pro football to recognize that 5’10 and 5’8ths Russel Wilson really is unique. He has shown he can win games with a sieve line and with a competent one he can’t be beat. His coaches understand this. That’s why he gets the money. I wish he’d left a little more on the table for linemen, but that ‘s me being selfish. Pay attention, Bull, you’re seeing a legend in the making . . .

          • Just Another Bullwhip

            In fact, ironically, when the season is finally concluded, Matt Hasselbeck might end up being a bigger story than Russell Wilson.

          • Pixdawg13

            Your handle has four letters too many there at the end.

        • Bruce Buls

          No one? ESPN has a current story on the web about how Wilson and Cam Newton are the new Payton Manning and Tom Brady. Story includes a reference to Wilson being only one of three QBs to ever complete 16 touchdown passes with no interceptions in a four-game stretch. Wilson not considered an “elite” athlete, nationally? Really?

          • Just Another Bullwhip

            If the ESPN writer experienced, or another one of the legion of excitable children these days passing for press on the web? I tend to think, regardless of the writer’s actual age, that the writer falls into the excitable child category. I mean, really. Four games? Four games?

        • Nads

          They may not consider RW an “elite QB” but the numbers say otherwise. And this is only his fourth year in the league. Sky’s the limit. He’s still learning and getting better.

        • Kraziken

          The Elite term is thrown around a lot. And really. It is nonsense.

          The money being paid, is to secure him as our Franchise QB. That is what it is all about. And Wilson is still relatively young.

          If you watched this team flounder about in the 90′s, then you’ll realize he is worth every penny.

          Or you can be one of the dozen teams in the NFL that have mediocre records and always wondering if they have the right signal caller in the huddle.

    • art thiel

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. Wilson’s deal was forecasted well ahead time to be in a top five QB slot and had no influence on Chancellor’s decision to hold out. Wilson was permitted by collective bargaining to pursue a contract extension, and did so. Chancellor broke rules and protocol by pursuing money to which he was not entitled.

      • oldcrimson

        This made me laugh. All the siblings squabbling up above over their bratty kid brother, then along comes dad. “Shaddup!” Art, did you bring the wooden spoon, too?

      • Kraziken

        Thank goodness. A voice of reason.

      • John M

        Amen, Art. What folks seem to forget is that when Kam signed his contract he was among the highest paid strong safeties in the league and was thrilled about it. A year later there seemed to be a sea change in safety salaries. Kam became a tweener. But the budget guys work years in advance trying to keep core guys happy. It doesn’t always work out perfectly . . .

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    The Seahawks have done a good job of paying top-of-the-league salaries to their core players and, while building a solid foundation, it has also caused conflict as resentments build among those that are not getting quite as much as they think they should.

    The irony is that by some of the elite players demanding more money, they are undermining the ability of the Seahawks to retain many good players and thus undermining their ability to win.

    The most egregious example IMO is Russell Wilson. Could Wilson have managed to live in lavish luxury the rest of his life on a couple of million less than the tens of millions he demanded? You would think that a guy making millions on the side from endorsements could have cut the team some slack a left a little money under the cap to pay a few hard-working linemen or something (especially after getting flattened a record number of times by the pass rush).

    • art thiel

      Wilson is part of a union that has no incentive to let players accept less than market value. Wilson is a fool if he takes less than the most he can get. The owners can afford to pay each player much more, but the only way that happens is if they agree to it in collective bargaining.

      • Nads

        Two words: Tom Brady. The legendary one takes a discount and the Pats maintain their status at the top of the heap. Perhaps it helps to have a wife that makes as much or more than he does. Hmmmm, Ciara doesn’t do badly in the revenue arena, I’ll bet. But they are yet to be married. Nonetheless, I agree with Obi a bit, RW talks a good game of team solidarity. Methinks he could get by on $19M plus endorsements. Instead, he gets $21M plus.

        • jafabian

          I don’t believe he really took a discount. Rather he just shifted money in his contract so the team could get more players for that season. He gets it all back at the end of his contract.

          • Nads

            You are correct, Brady has deferred payments and, in reality is not taking a discount thereby freeing cap space. My point then, if Wilson is such a team oriented guy and wants to be thought
            of as another Brady in due time, why can’t he do the same?

          • jafabian

            He just signed the contract in the summer. Give him some time. But he’s been dirt cheap since he was drafted and been playing at a high level. It could be argued he’s been giving a discount since he got here. IMO, if a team has to go to a player and ask them to restructure their contract, that team isn’t managing it’s finances very well and could be a sign of higher ticket an concession prices later on.

      • tor5

        Well said, Art. Sure, I like it when players are all about giving to the team. But they’re the ones putting body and brain on the line while owners enjoy nonstop cha-ching. I can’t blame any player for fighting for his max value.

  • jafabian

    I remember a game in ’97 against the Colts where the Indy defense blitzed Hasselbeck. He didn’t even look where he was throwing before he was hit but he didn’t just chuck it. Just threw it about 20 yards down the middle and DJack caught it and went 50 yards for a TD. Hass said afterwards he had no idea where Darrell was but he knew where he’d be and just threw it there. That’s where Wilson and Baldwin are right now. They’re in the zone. They don’t need to even talk anymore.

    Coach Carroll used to say that Kam was one of the leaders of the team. I think he lost that title with his holdout and not just with Carroll. The Fab Four of the team are Wilson, Thomas, Sherman and Baldwin. I’ll leave it up to all of you as to which ones compare to McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Harrison. These four have stepped up their game either on or off the field recently and the trickle down effect is obvious. Wilson especially has seemed to have found his focus. It’s more than just the O-Line finally playing well. Even with Rawls out and Lynch probably not back until the playoffs this team can still go to the Super Bowl with a subpar running game. The Patriots did.

    When I saw the pic of Coach Carroll atop the lockers I recalled a story of Pat Riley becoming so animated during a locker room speech when he was coaching the Heat that he dunked his head into a bucket that Alonzo Mourning was soaking his foot in. Now, as I understand it the visitors locker room is extremely cramped at the Ravens stadium and Carroll may have jumped on top of the lockers just so he could be seen but the best coaches will do anything and everything to inspire their players.

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  • Warchild_70

    Guess I have to weigh in this diatribe. Wilson’s numbers say he is approaching “Elite” status. Playoffs are not in the picture yet there are three more left and a whale of a game come January 1st. Kam should have known better and is paying the price for it just look at his interaction with the LOB. I have confidence in the front office to assuage the egos and keep our up coming free agents. With the hapless Browns next it’s easy to dismiss this game as a winner but as the cliche goes, any given Sunday! GO HAWKS!!