Just How It Should Be

Michael Bennett was one of John Schneider's many low-cost, high-reward moves. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Michael Bennett was one of John Schneider’s many low-cost, high-reward moves. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

The Schneider Factor.

I walked into the Seahawks’ locker room after the 23-15 win over New Orleans and looked around. To the left, quarterback Russell Wilson, unwinding. To the right, wideout Doug Baldwin and running back Marshawn Lynch, heroes, surrounded by reporters. Middle of the room, right, the DB area, were corner Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas holding court, and safety Kam Chancellor walking through. To the left, pass rusher Cliff Avril, and farther down, defensive lineman Michael Bennett and middle linebacker/defensive signal-caller Bobby Wagner, all talking about their roles in an impressive defensive performance.

The keys to Seattle beating the Saints and advancing to the NFC Championship Game. All acquired by Seattle since 2010. All acquired under the watch of GM John Schneider, who ducked into the locker room for a second too, long enough to unobtrusively stick a hand in front of Sherman, shake it, say, “Nice game,” with a wide smile, and disappear into a back room.

Marshawn Lynch, master of the stiff arm. (Robert Beck/SI)
Marshawn Lynch, master of the stiff arm. (Robert Beck/SI)

Think of those players. Nine players. One, Thomas, drafted with a Seattle first-round pick. Wagner came in the second round and Wilson the third of 2012. Lynch came in trade, for fourth- and fifth-round picks, from Buffalo. Sherman and Chancellor were fifth-rounders. Baldwin was an undrafted free agent. Avril and Bennett came as reasonably priced free agents when the market was depressed last spring. What Schneider has tried to get are players who love football, who have been marked down, who have some special gifts (Wilson’s charisma, and his Tarkenton-like ability to evade and then throw accurately), and who, rarely, as in the case of the costly trade for Percy Harvin, require a very big risk. Harvin has played in only two games because of a hip injury and now a concussion, and his status for the title game is in doubt. “But you see him on that fly sweep we run,” said Sherman, “and you see why we got him. He makes us so different on offense.” Only time will tell if Harvin was worth the picks and the money; it looks like a reach now. But Schneider’s not sorry he did it. Cost of doing business. He won’t play it safe.

“John convinced me on Russell,” said Pete Carroll. “He was on him early, then he came back from seeing him late in his season at Wisconsin, I think against Michigan State, and he was so enthused about him. I watched a lot of tape on him, and John was right on. Then he got here, and he was everything John said he was.”

I thought Saturday was the first day that the Seahawks had the defense playing the way Carroll and Schneider envisioned in the offseason when they bought Avril and Bennett. Everyone can’t play outside when you’ve got rushers like Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin already in-house. So Bennett, who had played as a rush end in Tampa, moved inside mostly with Seattle. “I just trusted the coaches,” he said. “It’s different, for sure, but coaches are smart. They’re paid too. They thought it would be best for me and best for the team, and I’ve probably been inside 85 percent of the time, rushing from there. I like it. And I think it shows I’m one of the most versatile players in the NFL.” Actually, according to Pro Football Focus, Bennett’s time has been split nearly evenly outside and inside this year (340 snaps outside, 333 inside, including Saturday’s game), but the points is, he never played inside with regularity before this year, and he likes it. Bennett forced a fumble on Mark Ingram that was a huge game-changer, and then he and Avril combined on a strip-sack of Brees.

The game against the Saints was a street game, with lots of trash-talking, before and during. I think the Seahawk defensive backs got into Jimmy Graham’s head. Whatever happened, Graham, who had to be restrained from some Seahawks before the game when they kicked a Saints ball away from him in warmups, was a non-factor, almost passive at times. This was the best tight end in football? I don’t think so. Sherman and Thomas made Graham’s life miserable, timing their physical arrival to a millisecond before a pass arrived and driving Graham nuts. There’s an art to that. Some call it interference that isn’t called. The Seahawks call it pass defense. And it worked until desperation time near the end of the game.

I remember covering the Ravens-Steelers championship game in January 2009 and seeing Phil Simms at halftime, shuddering over the hitting he’d witnessed in the first 30 minutes, glad he wasn’t experiencing the blows those defenses were handing out. That’s the kind of game I see San Francisco-Seattle being. It’s one of the few times these days that you say, “Looking forward to the running game.” When I asked Arizona’s Campbell about how the game would go, he said: “Very, very physical. They’re probably the only teams in football on 3rd-and-7 who’d run the ball and tell their defense, ‘Go win it.’ ”

* * *

The Patriot Way is any way.

Watch the 53-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola Saturday night in the rout of Indianapolis. Know why it happened? Colts safety LaRon Landry got sucked up by the threat of another run by New England, another reminder that these aren’t the aerial Patriots. These are the ones who can crush your spirit with a 46-carry, 234-yard, six-touchdown game.

So what’s happened to New England? Is this a permanent change, some nod to Tom Brady at 36 not being the thrower he once was?

Not at all. Not even close.

The Patriots are doing what they’ve always done under Bill Belichick: what works.

The top five receivers from last year, from Welker to Woodhead, are gone. The tight ends are gone. In their place, at least Saturday, were these men, who played the most snaps of any players in their position group out of New England’s 75 offensive plays against the Colts:

Position Player No. of plays Stats How acquired
WR Julian Edelman 68 6 catches, 84 yards 7th-round Kent State option QB, 2009
TE Michael Hoomanawanui 74 1 catch, 7 yards Signed after being cut by Rams, 2012
RB LeGarrette Blount 28 24 carries, 166 yards, 4 TDs Acquired for RB Jeff Demps, 2013
FB James Develin 35 1 carry, 0 yards Undrafted Brown Univ. DE, 2013

There were times Saturday night that Develin or Hoomanawanui were split wide. Not to give the impression that they’d run a wideout’s route, but simply to lessen the traffic in the middle of the field so the Colts couldn’t plug the box with eight men. Add to this the fact that the New England line is playing well, with Logan Mankins and Nate Solder leading the way, and you can see why the Patriots are comfortable letting Blount be the leading man.

You’d never think the Patriots would be a running team, with Tom Brady playing quarterback. But even in the face of a strong Denver run defense led by the ex-Jag Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them continue the running streak. Blount hadn’t had an 80-yard rushing game this year before Week 17. He lit up the Bills for 189 yards that day, and kept it going Saturday night with 166 against Indy. With a mashing offensive line averaging 316 pounds, and the lead-blocking of the 251-pound Develin, this is what the Patriots do best now—particularly when the weather turns the way it did Saturday night.

It’s a tribute to Belichick, and to his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels (and to Brady, quite frankly, because he won’t squawk about turning and handing it off 46 times), that the offensive transition hasn’t grounded the team. When Belichick looks back on his career, whatever happens Sunday in Denver, he’ll know that this season defined what he was as a coach. He did what the skill level of his 53 players called for him to do. He forced no square pegs into round holes. It’s the definition of what a good coach is. 

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648 comments
ESe
ESe

Wish the hype over Brady would stop.  The reason they've gone to the run is that they realize Brady's arm, first, has no long passing capability.  He has seriously air-balled at least two long passes this year.  Second, his red zone passing is suspect.  Used to be he had great "seeing-eye" passes down there.  This year he's thrown passes that have actually fell short for no apparent reason (Gronkowski - Carolina, Edelman - New Orleans).  Appears that a shoulder separation that went untreated for an entire season (2003) is finally wearing him down.  Brady (age 36) this year has thrown poorly at times, while Manning (age 37) is still in top form.  Appears the Brady replacement game will replace the Brady vs Manning game.    By the way, the answer to that game is Manning, every time.  It's Belichick that beat Manning, not Brady.  Belichick will probably be rated as one of the best coaches, but he's made his mistakes; but that's another discussion.

Peter Parker1
Peter Parker1

"e. Sounds crazy to praise a field goal as a smart play, but Steven Hauschka’s 48-yarder late in the first quarter was just that. Knowing a high kick would have a better chance to float off-course (being in the wind longer), Hauschka line-drived the ball low, right down the middle."


yeah, a good play because blocked field goals at the line from low trajectory kicks just don't happen anymore!  I think Hauschka got lucky, just like Phil Dawson when his game winning field goal the week before went exactly between the Packer player's arms. 

Sick Dr Joe
Sick Dr Joe

Peter King's haikus

Now let me phrase this gently

They suck with two hands

nostereagle
nostereagle

I think people are getting upset about the politics because of what it represents. I've been reading MMQB since it's inception, and PK has changed. There used to not be any politics in the blog. Now there is. No other writer on here writing for MMQB has one iota of political commentary. Why is that? Because they are journalist. PK is now a celebrity. The arrogance and ego that title produces makes Mr. King believe his political opinions are much more valuable than they really are. (see most celebrities). He may disagree, but he would be wrong. I'll give you an example. The overwhelming majority of people that read his column are here for the football. There might be a small part here for his beernerdness section, and maybe even a handful of people here for his travel notes section. Do you think one person clicks to read this column to get there political information? NO, but he still feels the need to tell us how it is. Again...this stuff NEVER used to be in his columns. He has gotten bigger and more popular because of his football writing, but like many who are ill prepared for their fame, he thinks it is just because he is so darn great. Not just his football writing, but all around he just must be the bees knees. Surely the masses want to hear what this genius has to say about politics. 

The guy is a good football writer with a ego that has gotten away from him. Nothing more, nothing less. It happens so much now in this country with fame that most people don't even realize it. While in a Dentist's office a few years ago I watching the TV in the waiting room and saw an interview where Snooki from Jersey Shore was being interviewed and asked about her political opinions. No difference between that and what PK does. He's an entertainer now, not a journalist.  

  And this is coming from an independent who leans left. 

Frotoon
Frotoon

Peter King, your haikus are atrocious. You seriously need to learn there's more to them than just syllable count.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Bruce Irvin's a pass rusher, not much of a run stopper.

"Khiry Robinson. The guy’s a revelation. The undrafted quick back from West Texas A&M got the ball in the open field and was face-to-face with 2012 first-round rush linebacker Bruce Irvin. Robinson deked Irvin, made him miss and added eight yards to the play"

shaner021
shaner021

Big fan here Peter, but how you do not literally take Drew Brees and Sean Payton to task for their historically bad clock management last weekend is beyond me. The lack of play clock awareness by Drew Brees is astounding for a veteran quarterback in such a critical game. Someone on the Twitter-verse said that Drew Brees had the most timeouts called this season to avoid delay of game penalties. Based on last week's performance, it's easy to see why.

BWYATT
BWYATT

Peter...just a quick comment to correct your note about Harbaugh's antics costing them 15yards...he lost it because the refs failed to stop the clock on the "incomplete" call on V Davis...the clock kept going for like 5 seconds...either way, his emotions and fire set the tone for that team, hard to criticize 3 straight NFC Championship Games...the red zone play calling is the real concern...in other news, has this year's officiating been as bad as I think it has? $9B+ in Revenues annually should warrant full time officials...too many games were impacted by bad officiating...the game is too fast for these guys, give them the help and support they need to be successful...allow teams to challenge flags is a good start

SteveTrumbull
SteveTrumbull

Regarding "Then Things I Think" #8:

“You’re an idiot for not putting Andre Reed in the Hall of Fame” - Just kidding but I believe that he deserves to be there before Marvin Harrison.  Reed was part of the core of that Buffalo Bills team of which much of the rest of that core is already there, he had great personal stats for the time period, and he has no off field issues that I'm aware of.

x72
x72

Conservatives are just upset that their guns are going to be taken away.

kingwhat
kingwhat

Hey, Peter, did you read Dan Shaughnesy's rant on Indianapolis radio last week, calling the Patriots "the worst 12-4 team ever assembled"? And encouraging the Colts to come in a destroy the Patriots in Foxboro. Is that the kind of objective reporting you were defending Shag for a few weeks ago. Is it Peter? Or are all of you journanlists like doctors, when one of their own is sued for malpractice.

TruthSeeker12
TruthSeeker12

Peter in all your team analysis you forgot to mention the contributions of some vey important players that also make the difference but always go unheralded - the Offensive Line.  Yes, you need a good defense to keep the other team from scouring but you also need a good offensive line to allow your QB to put points on the board for your own team.  Would really like to see some articles on the Offensive Line and how critical they are to winning the game.

robbosing
robbosing

Peter: I share your love of Manny's Pale Ale, and I believe Manny Chao is the finest beer man I have been around in my 20+ years in the business. But on the matter of Dan Le Batard, this illustrates the "pen is mightier than the sword" - this man gave up his status as a voting member to make a point in public that may be the impetus for change that many of us believe should happen. It is similar to your Snowden reference in that he has risked a great deal (not as much as Snowden, certainly) to make a bold statement. The only reason it is relevent (the ONLY reason) is that his statement resonates with so many of us in the sporting public (as is also the case with Snowden / American public).


Keep doing the good work and being brave in your reporting. You were very very good in your preseason predictions, but I am now pulling for a Seahawks 23 - Broncos 21 Super Bowl. Go Hawks!!!!

tom.aikins
tom.aikins

Dierdorf finally gone. Hallalujah. Now if someone would just hire Gruden to coach somewhere and if Simms would get fired we'd be a long way towards getting some decent announcing for more than just one or two games a week.

John52
John52

Peter, have you read Gates' book?

MK_Nashvegas
MK_Nashvegas

I have to say that I am done reading this article or ever clicking to the website.  I (like several other people have stated previously) used to read this article for football and not political views of sports writers. Also I didn't see similar remarks about "wink-wink" when the IRS scandal broke or the fact that The President did not know about the website failure.    

Scramble
Scramble

The NFL got what it wanted, it took a couple non calls to get the ball out of the Colts hands and back to the Patriots. Even the Browns could win if you keep giving the ball back to them.

Rexal Parshapswich
Rexal Parshapswich

I couldn't care less about his politics, but his homerism of the Pats is bordering on pathetic.

Knowitall
Knowitall

And what Peter King column would be complete it out the cheap shot at the despicable ARod?

Not enough to chortle at the blatant head shot BoSox' Ryan Dempster threw at ARod when he returned to play last year.

Peter - your beloved Red Sox tried to sign ARod, but were too cheap to make it happen. Your beloved Red Sox won titles with juicers like Manny and Big Papi. Not a critical word for the home team, however.

How long do you expect to foist this hypocrisy on us?

davidhd
davidhd

@ESe  A lot of the issues you attribute to Brady might come from his WRs, considering he doesn't have one receiver that would start on the Broncos.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Totally agree , also in regular season games at Carolina and N E

Gandoffthewise
Gandoffthewise

Please leave Big Lib Peter alone. He would NEVER actually research something or someone he criticizes. That would take work and an open mind.

drudown
drudown

@MK_Nashvegas  

Oh, stop crying already. It's his blog. You don't like it, don't read it. 


As for the alleged IRS "scandal"…you conspicuously omit any reference to the FACT these sham GOP "charities" were VIOLATING federal law by engaging in overt political activities. So there is no "scandal" other than the GOP "faux" media trying to make hay over the IRS trying to collect taxes LAWFULLY due to the People. 


Which, given the FACT the GOP seems hall bent on BANKRUPTING the State via its suicidal "no new taxes, ever" policy, maybe we should be applauding the IRS for trying to SUBSIDIZE our government instead of uncritically adopting the GOP "government is the problem" groupthink. 


Tell me, how can you purport to be "more offended" by PK sharing the FACTS surrounding Christie's abuse of power than the incident itself, to say nothing of the GOP's refusal to even COLLECT federal income tax from US Corporations (see, "We're Not Broke" documentary) in a manner that comports with the Equal Protection Clause? It gets so tiresome listening to you "paid for" PR puppets proffer conclusory drivel with no FACTS or LOGIC to support it. 


"Waaaah, we don't like the ACA!" Really? Despite the FACT since it was signed into law Health Care costs have SLOWED to the lowest levels in 40 years? My pre-ACA Health Care premiums were $760. Now I get ACTUAL coverage (i.e., I cannot be arbitrarily dropped) under an ACA PPO for $343 a month. So, start with some reason and analysis instead of your lock-step, do-anything-we-are-told mentality that got our Nation enmeshed in a $4 TRILLION quagmire in Iraq (aka war started under false pretenses). 


So, spare us your "oh, the HORRORS of the ACA website" gibberish and write us a brief summary as to how, pray tell, the GOP Congress did not VIOLATE THE LAW- much less follow a "strict construction" of Article I, Section 8 requiring the Congress RAISE REVENUE- to avoid the premeditated "shut down" of the federal government? Let's hear it. 

SammyBuka
SammyBuka

@MK_NashvegasYeah....and don't forget the phony birth certificate.  How did he pull that one off?

ScottHill
ScottHill

@Scramble I just love how the conspiracy theorists come out after a loss.

tom.aikins
tom.aikins

@Scramble Yeah, right. I suppose they somehow got Blount to run for 166 yards too.

ScottHill
ScottHill

@psychsports Thanks for the referral. This is a great website. I will be using it quite a bit in the future.

ScottHill
ScottHill

@Knowitall Manny Ramirez. Yes, he was busted. Big Papi, was only rumored to be on a list. That was the one and only time.

bserious
bserious

@KnowitallWhat about the fact that nobody will be happier to see ARod go away than the Yankees?  This suspension helps them, and therefore hurts the Yankees competition, aka the Red Sox.  Anyone who only cared about what was best for the Sox hates this suspension.  Your comment actually made me think of something, I kinda don't think of ARod as a Yankee, even though he's been there for years now.  He's such a selfish, narcissistic little baby, who separates himself from everyone around him, I just don't really associate him with a team, because he doesn't want to be part of a team, all he cares about is himself.  I'm no Yankee or NY fan, but when I think of Yankees, I think of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, Mattingly, Reggie Jackson (though I don't think of him as just a Yankee) Mantle, etc.  If I were to think of great Yankee players, ARod just wouldn't come to mind, no matter what his stats are.

88keys
88keys

@Knowitall

FYI knowitall, the Sox were not too cheap to sign A-Fraud.  They were willing to pony up the dough.  It was the Players' Association that nixed the deal because they felt A-Fraud was sacrificing too much value in his deal while renegotiating his contract.

pickle
pickle

@Knowitall Meh, I am a lifelong Yankees fan and I am just as sick of hearing about A-Rod as Peter is. And I definitely wish he would just "go away"

coachochoa
coachochoa

@drudown@MK_Nashvegas Facts? What facts?  The only fact that matters is how much less take home pay Americans are taking due to ACA.  We are paying more for healthcare, higher premiums, higher copay, higher deductible, and get less coverage thanks to ACA.  The insurance policies that are offered in the website are still worse than my crappy insurance.  What world are you living in?  Because the ACA sucks in the real one!  Just because you state "fact" on your comment doesn't make it one.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

O K Scott but admit that Edelman acting is getting ridiculous .

Scramble
Scramble

@Bostonctychamps1 The Patriots won't last past this weekend. Remember they don't allow filming anymore. It isn't like they have a steroid user like Ortiz to carry the team.

ScottHill
ScottHill

@SammyBuka Scramble has got it all twisted. I compare this Patriots team with the 2001 team. A bunch of no names that just refuse to go down. They get back up and forget about the last play and go on to the next. I would not be surprised to see them go to the Super Bowl and with all. But at the same time, they could lose next week if they don't play their best game, i.e. fumbling the ball.

SammyBuka
SammyBuka

Wow Scramble.....you should really charge Boston rent for living in your cranium.

CUE THE DUCKBOATS!

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