The Tuesday Mailbag

The Seahawks are a very good football team, maybe the best in the NFL, as Monday night’s surprise shellacking of the Saints suggests. But it’s not all Russell Wilsons and Marshawn Lynches in Seattle, where backups keep leading the way

Nobody saw Seattle 34, New Orleans 7 coming. That’s because the Saints are good, and because so many Seahawks we didn’t know vaulted into America’s living room Monday night with superb performances, driving home the point safety Earl Thomas used as his mantra in the defensive backs meeting room last week.

We are all starters.

“That’s the culture here,’’ cornerback Byron Maxwell told me early this morning, after the first start of his life came on Monday Night Football. “You get drafted here, and you’re just preparing for the time when it’s your turn. It’s next man up. This game was my turn.’’

Because of the injuries/discipline to starter Brandon Browner and nickel corner Walter Thurmond, Maxwell took his place opposite Richard Sherman, with fellow heir to the lineup Jeremy Lane taking nickel reps against Drew Brees. “It’s a long season,’’ Maxwell said, “and every guy on the roster better be able to play quality football when you need it at some point.’’

It didn’t just happen at the corner position. On the defensive line, a backup waived by the Bengals, Clinton McDonald, pestered Brees consistently and helped the Seattle defense hold Brees to his first game under 200 yards passing in his past 43 starts. At linebacker, unsung K.J. Wright took consistent turns shadowing/punishing all-world tight end Jimmy Graham, and he contributed seven tackles.

As New Orleans desperately tried to get back into the game in the third quarter, the depth won the night. On one series midway through the quarter, Maxwell jarred the ball loose on a potential long gainer to Graham. Next snap: McDonald, covering Graham, dogged him into another incompletion. On third down, Wright caught the slippery Darren Sproles behind the line for a four-yard loss.

K.J. Wright (50) ... (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
K.J. Wright (50), here with assistance from Tony McDaniel, kept Jimmy Graham under wraps Monday night. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The backup brigade was better on the next series, which bled into the start of the fourth quarter. Deep downfield on what would have been a touchdown, Wright leaped to break up a perfect throw from Brees to Benjamin Watson. On the next play, Maxwell broke up another potential touchdown pass to Robert Meachem.

“I should have had that ball,’’ said Maxwell.

In other words, it wasn’t good enough for him to break it up. Maxwell wanted to steal it. That’s what’s been drummed into his head for three seasons: When the ball’s in the air, it’s yours.

Look at the other stars of the day: Russell Wilson, third-round pick. Richard Sherman, fifth-round pick. Wright was a fourth-rounder, Maxwell and Lane picked in the sixth. When Wilson was asked about big plays in the game, he pointed to a back-shoulder catch by undrafted free-agent Jermaine Kearse (from the 2012 rookie class) just before halftime.

One of the reasons Seattle was able to go out this offseason and spend free-agent money and big contract money for the Cliff Avrils and Percy Harvins is because of the productivity of the lesser players. The offensive touchdown makers Monday night—undrafted free agent wideout Doug Baldwin, street free-agent fullback Derrick Coleman, and unrestricted free-agent tight end Zach Miller—cost Seattle exactly zero draft choices.

So take a bow, Seattle GM John Schneider. Coach Pete Carroll and the two coordinators—Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn—should take some pats on the back too.

MMQB Mail

Don't miss the mailbag on Page 2, where Peter King answers readers' questions about many topics, including why Riley Cooper's production matters and how the NFL feels about booting kickers from the game.

Seattle’s rout of the Saints, complete and thorough and humbling for the visitors to the Pacific Northwest Monday night, happened because the players— the ones Schneider drafted and Carroll’s crew coached—got it done.

“Throughout the roster, that’s what we do here with the Seahawks,’’ Maxwell said. “It shows we got depth. All of us, we just want to play ball. We want to show we deserve to be here.”

One more point about the outcome Monday night, and its meaning: Seattle holds a two-game lead in the NFC home-field advantage derby over both New Orleans and Carolina entering the final four weeks of the regular season. But it’s actually more than that. Because Seattle has beaten both teams, it holds the tiebreaker against them. Which means: If Seattle goes 1-3 down the stretch (against the 49ers and Giants on the road, Cards and Rams at home), either Carolina or New Orleans would have to 4-0 to win the top seed in the conference. Tough duty, considering the Panthers and Saints play each other twice in the last four weeks.

All in all, a tremendous night for Seattle and its full 53-man roster. A dispiriting night for the rest of the NFC.

***

Now let’s head to page 2 for your email:

After back-to-back 200-yard games, Browns receiver Josh Gordon has 1,249 receiving yards on the season and is only 50 behind Calvin Johnson for the NFL lead. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
After back-to-back 200-yard games, Browns receiver Josh Gordon has 1,249 receiving yards on the season and is only 50 behind Calvin Johnson for the NFL lead. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

GOOD FOR GORDON, BAD FOR ME. I just finished reading MMQB and am amazed at the Josh Gordon omission by you. Eric Decker’s and Alshon Jeffery’s great games were highlighted, but not one mention of Josh Gordon and the fact he is the only WR with two consecutive 200-yard receiving games? I would think that was at least as newsworthy, if not more so. What gives and what am I missing?

—John

I received dozens of emails like yours, John. That was a mistake on my part not to mention Gordon. I usually do not name players as Players of the Week two weeks in a row, and Gordon was one of my Offensive Players of the Week last week. Still, this was a fairly extraordinary circumstance: the first time a player has had two consecutive 200-yard receiving games in the regular season in NFL history. I was wrong not to write something about him and you are right to point it out.

FOOTBALL. EMPHASIS ON THE FIRST SYLLABLE. Extra points are near 100 percent and Justin Tucker has made 93 percent of his field goals—we all agree, how boring! My simple solution—no more kickers. Instead let’s run one play for the points. For an extra point, one play from the 1-yard line. For field goals, you must be inside the 40 and then you can choose to run a play for the three points. From the 30-39 yard line, move the ball to the 6-yard line for one play; 20-29 move to the 5; 10-19 to the 4, 0-9 to the 3. It’s a simple solution and the result is exciting with creative play calling at its finest.

—Scott Thompson

The one point I have about all of your various ideas for eliminating extra points and field goals is I don’t think the NFL wants to take the “foot” out of football. I don’t think  they want to eliminate the field goal. I think they want to work on ways to make the field goal not as automatic as it is right now. Your ideas are intriguing, and I’m very much in favor of anything that would make field goals either more challenging, or to make it different conceptually. The best idea I’ve heard is a simple narrowing of the goal post. I don’t think the NFL is going to do anything to eliminate the field goal itself.

ZACH LINE UPDATE. I was hoping we could read more about Zach Line. My understanding was that no matter what happened to him (season-ending IR), we would continue to get insight on the life of a undrafted hopeful. I was excited to learn about him making the team, disappointed to hear about the injury and timing that led to him being placed on the IR. I understand it’s likely a less interesting story now that he isn’t going to compete in games, but what is he doing on a daily basis? Working out? Studying tape? Playing Madden 2013 on his XBox after trading Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart for a cornerback?

—Matt

This is a very good idea. You’re right. I’m going to ask Jenny Vrentas to do another installment in the Zach Line series soon and I appreciate you reminding us that he’s an interesting character. The MMQB readers really have identified with his quest for a pro football career. So thank you.

RILEY COOPER BACKLASH. You wrote in MMQB that it was Chip Kelly’s best decision this year to give Riley Cooper another chance. Why? Because he’s playing well? I’m not saying that Cooper should or should not have been forgiven or given another chance (I believe that was up to his teammates, and it sounds like most of them supported him), but to say that his recent success validates Chip’s decision is shortsighted. Does that mean any superstar should get a free pass because they’re expected to excel? The punishment of any poor decision should not reflect the expected (or actual) production of the athlete, but rather the extent of their misgivings. I’m disappointed, Peter.

—Steven W., NYC

Self-Belief in Seattle

Jim Trotter was at CenturyLink for the beatdown of the Saints, and found the Seahawks’ biggest advantage isn’t the seismic crowd support but the players’ own confidence.

Here’s my question for you: if a person makes a terrible mistake and he asks forgiveness for the mistake, and he is granted conditional forgiveness—that is, he is basically told to prove that he means what he said in his apology—and then he spends the next four months doing all the right things, and then he has some success on the field to help his team win, is it not worth our praise?

Look, I understand your point. You believe I wouldn’t have praised the decision if Riley Cooper were not playing well. You might be right. I might not have taken much notice of him if he were inactive most weeks and just a marginal player. But the fact is he has played well and, by every report, has been a model citizen. I’m sorry that you’re disappointed in me, but this is a production business. Cooper was given another shot on the team, and he is producing. I think Kelly read the situation correctly, gave the guy another chance and is being rewarded. It’s not a good decision. As of now, it’s a great decision.

MORE RULES? If the NFL wants to be able to apply the Rooney Rule to head coaching candidates, then it must be applied to the entire “coaching pipeline.” How can you expect that new minority coaches who have not had the same opportunities as whites to be as qualified when they interview? I assert that if the NFL wants the Rooney Rule to work as intended, then they need to expand the scope and include coordinators and position coaches. Grooming minorities at the lower levels will ensure they have a fair opportunity at the head coaching level.

—Shane, Warner Robins, Ga.

I think you are right in wanting the Rooney Rule to spread down to lesser positions on the coaching staff. That’s smart. But I believe that one of the things you can’t do in this business is over-legislate the effort to do anything. One of the things that this new NFL committee is making sure that it does is to advance the cause of some white head coaching candidates just to be sure that everyone is getting an equal opportunity to get head coaching interviews. I’ll be interested to see if the league’s initiative works. In my opinion, over the years, the smartest owners have had an open mind entering their head coaching searches. When that happens, Mike Tomlin gets hired, and John Harbaugh gets hired.

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187 comments
Darren1
Darren1

Here's a wild idea -- how about extending the end zones by another 5 yards on each end. (FYI they are 25 yards deep in Canuck football.) That would accomplish two goals: 1) (and most important) increase the number of passing TDs, given the additional room receivers would have to operate, thus decreasing FG attempts; and 2) make figgies harder; for example an attempt from the 35 yard line would be a difficult 57 yarder instead of a fairly routine 52 yarder. I know purists will blanch as passing and TD stats would change; however, keep in mind the goalposts used to be on the goal line and were moved back with no appreciable negative impact (and many positive benefits) to the game. Thoughts folks?

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

that's the thing you gotta love about Seattle.  Unlike some other teams across the NFL who can't perform well with injuries, the bus never stops with them.  The main reason: coaching.  If you have backup players, yeah they might not be as good as your starters, but they can be coached up to the point where they can begin to not embarrass the team and actually make plays for you.

RufusParsenagel
RufusParsenagel

I think the "Rooney Rule" should be applied through out football.

After all, what we're seeing is the racial element being forced into coaching hire decisions (where it has no place any more than any where else) so why aren't we seeing it with players?

Black football players far out-proportion whites in football.  Why is that?  Could it be because the basis for their selection, dare I say it, is PERFORMANCE?

So why shouldn't the entire basis for a coaching hire be the same?

This kind of hypocrisy doesn't help anything or anyone. 

Here in Washington State, we were told when I-200 ended affirmative action in government hiring and college acceptance, that it would, effectively, end our world.  Those who pushed that position were, of course, dead wrong.  But here, the idea of hiring someone (or failing to hire someone) because of the accident of their skin color is anathema.  And the rates of attendance... well, let the NYT tell it: "In Washington, Hispanic and black enrollment at state universities did not change much after the law went into effect, but at the state’s flagship, the University of Washington, it fell for a few years, before returning to its former level."

This state's I-200 passed in 1998.

Coaching affirmative action may get you black coaches.  But what it won't get you is wins.  And the last time I looked, wins are what matter in the NFL.

What gets you wins are, among other things, the best coaches. And the coaching science is quite color blind... as the hiring process SHOULD be.


michaelgallinger
michaelgallinger

Mike,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     30 yard line to be the new RED ZONE. No field goal try in the RED ZONE. Extra Point try from the 30 yard line. 2 Point conversion remains the same. Let the fun begin! Oh,and remember. The RED ZONE is for loading and unloading. Their is no loading in the WHITE ZONE.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

The Hawks have a few trash talkers, but they don't have any 'thugs". And they don't have anybody on their team who wanted to change his name to "Hitner". 

The Seahawks are just another good NFL team who thinks they can beat anybody. Like most of them do.  All we have to judge them on is results. So far they are backing it up.

Stay tuned.....

Frotoon
Frotoon

Peter King is such an egotistical tool.

cbcatanz
cbcatanz

49'ers' fan here, the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, but I have noticed a lot of their fans stating the Seahawks are just as good on the road as they are at home. 5-1 is a great record, but they almost lost to the Rams, Bucs, Texans, and a not so good week 1 Panthers team. There is a huge difference in their play on the road compared to their play at home. I see the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl but losing big to a team like the Broncos. 

mbh82801
mbh82801

I get the Seahawks haven't won anything, but is the jealousy and envy so rampid that you trolls can't admit this team is good? People say they're thugs, and they celebrate too much....watch any NFL game and every player celebrates on every little play. "Any given Sunday" still applies, so there's no guarantee for a SB. But you haters are showing your envy by doubting how good this team is. We're 11-1 and the best team in the NFL. #2 Offense and #2 Defense, best record in the NFL. We still have a lot of work to do, but the fact is, right this minute, this team is better than your team. No stats, game, or fact can change that. We've proven it time and time again, 

Jon8
Jon8

I would not want to be Carolina coming to New Orleans!

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

plus the real reason is because the kickers have adjusted to the special k ball and nowhere to hit, as the first year the special k ball worked because the kickers had no idea where to hit the ball, but now that it has been around for a while they know exactly where to hit the ball

BradyManLove
BradyManLove

Pats crushed the Texans last year when the Texans were 10-1 and looked all world at the time  by a similar margin on a Monday Night.......Pats didn't make the Super Bowl, but it did kind of ruin the Texans........in other words success in the first week of Dec means squat !

runner52
runner52

Until the Seahawks win a Lombardi Trophy, they have nothing to brag about.  They haven't won anything yet.  Let's see if they can win 5 or more ... then there's something to talk about. 

Matrices
Matrices

@Darren1 Pass TDs are already occurring at amazing rates.  I don't think we need even more!

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

@RufusParsenagel 

Rufus,  the players in the league since about 1970 have been at least 70% black, yet when you look at the coaching ranks, that is not close to being reflected.  These guys can play football, but they aren't qualified to be leaders of men?  I find that hard to believe.  When you look at all of the assistants on NFL sidelines, I see mostly more black faces.  Why aren't they ascending to head coaching roles?  


mbh82801
mbh82801

@Frotoon but that doesn't mean he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Seahawks are 7-1 on the road in their last 8 games. Care to find a few teams that are better?

mbh82801
mbh82801

@cbcatanz Seahawks have the #2 Offense and Defense, the Broncos defense is weak, plus the weather in NY will hurt manning (as history has shown) more than it will Wilson. We may not win it all, but I guarantee we won't get blown out by any team this season. We may lose, but it'll be a close game if we do.

Mike26
Mike26

@mbh82801 So hey, as long as they're only using illegal drugs (pot is legal in two states for recreational use - unless all the 'Hawks have developed glaucoma or something) then everyone shouldn't worry about the NINE suspensions for PED's and illegal drugs.  OK, got it.  It's just pot....

sherry
sherry

@Jon8 I can't wait to watch that game.  I was thrilled with last night's game, but I know NOLA is a damn good team...as is Carolina.  Let the REAL games begin!!

Wombat
Wombat

@CobyPreimesberger Let's have them kick Captain Crunch Balls instead! Aarrgghhh! I just couldn't help it!!!


RalphF
RalphF

@runner52 There is a fundamental flaw with your post.  The Seahawks themselves aren't bragging about anything.  In fact they have been saying all year exactly what you are lamenting, "We haven't won anything yet".  They are remarkably focused, hard-working and humble (except when disrespected which they use as game time motivation).

Scramble
Scramble

@runner52 They won super bowl forty. They just don't sell enough merchandise to keep the NFL from controlling the officiating.

KingFink
KingFink

@ProfessorGriff @RufusParsenagel, dude, Rufus' point is not racist, it's factual. It makes no sense to hire a coach because he's black rather than to hire a coach because he's a good coach. Rufus is pointing out the sheer idiocy of the Rooney Rule. It's inherently racist. It implies that blacks wouldn't be able to coach without some help. Rufus is saying that it is just as ridiculous as the notion of drafting white players because they're white, regardless of whether or not they will help us win. NFL owners don't give a rats *** whether their coach is black or not, they just want to win.

 Get a grip with reality here.

cbcatanz
cbcatanz

@Frotoon  With several close losses to some pretty bad teams. It's a fact that the Seahawks do not play as well on the road as they do at home. Why won't you Seahawks' fans admit that?

Mike26
Mike26

@Frotoon We'll continue to watch and see how things end up.

KingFink
KingFink

@Mike26 @mbh82801, hey, is that JJ Watt? Must be a Texans fans. Now I understand. You're mad because even steroids wouldn't get your team a win, much less weed or that crazy performance enhancer Adderall. Go back to whining on your team's articles about how they should fire Kubiak and leave the rest of us alone please.

mbh82801
mbh82801

@Mike26 @mbh82801 Except it's legal in WA, where the Hawks play you idiot. And they aren't in any legal trouble, it's an NFL policy, and has no effect on the team winning. Nice try, nice fail.

reachoutandsmack
reachoutandsmack

@BuzzFrankacott @mbh82801 there are exactly 2 players on the 55 man roster that have been busted for PEDs. Last year 2 practice squad/bench warmers and 1 starter got popped and the 2 bench warmers were cut and now play for The Jags and The Eagles.    ! starter was popped this year.   That is a total of 2 guys on the roster who have been popped for PEDs in the past 3 years.  In that same time The Redskins had 8 players burned for PEDs. The Ravens, Colts, and Rams have all had 3 and there

Drifter1
Drifter1

@BuzzFrankacott @mbh82801 So far this season, zero members of the Seattle Seahawks have tested positive for PEDs.


Bruce Irvin was suspended because he failed a test at the end of last season, and the two currently in trouble were caught with substances of abuse (read:  pot) in their system.  Last I checked, pot isn't a PED.

RE
RE

That would be a question for the rest of the league as well.   The Broncos, Patriots, Giants, Panthers, Bengals and others have had multiple players suspended for PED's.  Adderall is the typical stated culprit, which is ridiculous, as the NFL will provide you with a special exemption if you have a doctor's prescription and submit all of the paperwork correctly. Mess up on the paperwork and you're busted. 

mbh82801
mbh82801

@BuzzFrankacott you're going to have to come stronger than that. That's a weak argument at best from someone who can't think of a better excuse to make. 

Mike26
Mike26

@BigSchtick @runner52 Juvenile or not - they haven't.  They very well may by the end of January, but certainly not yet.

KingFink
KingFink

@cbcatanz @Frotoon, the problem for you (assuming you're not a Hawks fan), is that they have won on the road, regardless of how they played. So, in the playoffs, they won't have to play on the road at all, forcing you to take a trip to the woodshed in Seattle like the Saints.

BillDonaldson
BillDonaldson

@cbcatanz @Frotoon Ok, as a Seahawk fan, I can admit that they don't play as well on the road. But name me a team that plays better on the road than they do at home.

mbh82801
mbh82801

@Mike26 @HeyJoe @Frotoon I can agree with that. They were selfish and put themselves ahead of the team. On that note, I wouldn't be surprised to see either guy on different teams next year. Both are FA and we're deep enough to let them walk. Not saying it will happen, but it wouldn't surprise me. 

Mike26
Mike26

@HeyJoe @Mike26 @Frotoon So because some people believe it will be legal "everywhere" (sic) then it "ain't no thang" now - even though the players suspended for its use clearly showed how selfish they are and how little the team means to them, as they are completely unable to contribute for at least 4 weeks (well Browner's is longer).  Yeah, that's my kind of "team guy"!   


Hey, it's illegal till it's legal - and it will be at least another nine years before the CBA can be changed, so will your guys ever be able to put their team ahead of themselves?  It doesn't look like it so far.

HeyJoe
HeyJoe

@Mike26 @Frotoon Within a decade it'll be legal every place in the US except a few deep south states.  Just think of the Hawks as being a decade or so ahead of their time.  

Mike26
Mike26

@Frotoon Right, it's PERFECTLY LEGAL to use across the country and especially in the NFL.

Oh wait.....

Frotoon
Frotoon

Marijuana isn't a PED.

Mike26
Mike26

@HeyJoe @Mike26 @BigSchtick waaaaaa.  butthurt.  Terrific vocabulary you've got there!  

Pot is illegal according to the CBA - and in 48 other states.  If you're proud and support the players for putting personal wishes above the team, feel free.  Again, when people outside Seattle criticize and ridicule your team for their league-leading issues with PED's and illegal drug, remember that it is fully earned and not some "envy".  If "envy" is what helps you sleep at night in the higher plane of Suspensiontown, WA, then go ahead.  It's funny that you're not smart enough to understand the situation - or sad, depending one's view of the Washington Public Education System.

sherry
sherry

@cbcatanz And how many mold-encrusted rings do the 49ers have?  Give it a rest.  This is 2013.  Pay attention

HeyJoe
HeyJoe

@Mike26 @BigSchtick The only complaining I see isn't coming out of Seattle, it's coming from the rest of the league.  Waaaaaaaa, they smoke a substance which is legal in the state in which they play, waaaaaaa they take adderall, waaaaaaaaa their stadium is too loud.  

All the butthurt and hate makes enjoying the Hawks current level of play just that much better.  It's the icing on the cake, if you will.

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@cbcatanz 

Really quality stuff there cants. What does past super bowl titles have to do with 2013? Nothing other than weak fodder for fans like you that have nothing to hang their hat on in 2013.

Get it?

Mike26
Mike26

@BigSchtick @Mike26 Ancient history?  Wasn't Ivins suspended to start THIS SEASON and Browner is CURRENTLY suspended?

Support your cheaters and potheads all you'd like - just don't complain when no one outside Seattle feels the same way.

cbcatanz
cbcatanz

BigSchtick, you are an idiot, no doubt about that, but maybe you're smart enough to answer this one question? How many Super Bowl titles have the Seahawks won, I forget. 

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@Mike26

God forbid fans get excited about being 11-1 and about locking up the home field advantage with 4 games to go. Very unusual, must be a Seattle thing.

I love the whiner ancient history posts. Now that makes sense.

PatrickMurphy
PatrickMurphy

When I watch this collection of thugs and cheap shot players I root for them to get hurt...badly.  They're a disgrace to sportsmanship and fair play. 

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