NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

PHOENIX -- Another zany Super Bowl media day circus has come and gone. Here are a few of the highlights, or lowlights, depending on how you look at it:

Marshawn Lynch saved himself half a million bucks: Lynch walked in to the roar of the 12s in the stands at the U.S. Airways Center, sat down at his corner podium, did his required five minutes and left.

And what did he say? “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Lynch said in some form 29 times before a timer he had went off telling him his five-minute obligation was over. And in so doing, he avoided a possible $500,000 fine by the NFL for not taking part in media day.

A little less crazy: Maybe this is the difference in the Valley of the Sun and New York/New Jersey, but there seemed to be fewer comical costumes and crazy moments than a year ago on media day.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesMarshawn Lynch said enough to avoid a fine Tuesday, but not much more than that.
Last year, one young woman was wearing a fishnet dress, which meant she, as Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman described, “was basically naked.” The closest we saw to that on Tuesday was some guy wearing a barrel, a cowboy hat, sneakers and that’s about it.

And there was one guy in some sort of superhero costume with a P on it. I don’t know where it’s from and don’t care, but he did say it was his seventh media day.

There also was one guy wearing a football helmet and shoulder pads with five mini-cameras mounted on them -- three on the helmet and one on each shoulder. I guess you could say he had every angle covered.

Among the celebrities, two famous figure skaters -- Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir -- also were in attendance.

You get the picture. This day isn’t much about football.

But way too crowded: This is not a place for anyone suffering from claustrophobia. The floor of a basketball arena is way too small for the number of people who have a credential for media day. Just trying to move without a camera hitting you in the head, much less getting from one side of the area to the other, is almost impossible.

Super Bowl media day used to be held at the stadium where the game is being played. It needs to return to that format. Thank goodness no one yelled “Fire” in the middle of this thing.

Sherman’s salsa: Sherman showed some of his dance moves when teammate Christine Michael got him to stand up at his podium and do some salsa steps with a young woman in attendance. "Dancing With The Stars" may be in Sherm’s future.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett on his beard: "I want to look like the richest homeless person you’ve ever seen."

Bennett's description of Seattle: "The streets are so clean you can eat off them."

Sherman says Browner still a LOB: Sherman had no problem with his former teammate, New England cornerback Brandon Browner, saying the Patriots should target Sherman’s injured elbow and free safety Earl Thomas' injured shoulder on Sunday.

“BB doesn't always say things the way he means them, but we know what he means," Sherman said. “We’re OK with him and he’s OK with us. He’s a competitor.

“He was just caught up in the moment. He didn't mean any malice. It’s one of those things. We know him as a person. Sometimes he exaggerates a little bit, but we know who he is. But nobody intentionally hurts anybody in this league that I know of. Guys have respect for one another and Brandon does, too.”

Sherman says make NFL bigwigs talk: Sherman brought up an interesting point in defending Lynch’s right not to talk, saying he thinks NFL executives should have to speak weekly if players do.

LeGarrette Blount said the Seahawks are not immortal: Don’t know who said they were but the Patriots running back also said they are beatable.

Avril on the day: Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril had a perfect three-word summary for media day: “This is nuts.”
PHOENIX -- A lot has been written this week about how things didn't work out for Pete Carroll in his three seasons as the head coach of the New England Patriots.

On Monday, Carroll explained a little bit about why it has worked with the Seattle Seahawks when it didn't work for him in New England.

"Well, it's an entirely different formula," Carroll said. "Really, it came out of the years at SC [University of Southern California] where you have an athletic director and then you're the football guy. I had the opportunity there to make every decision from recruiting to academics to everything, and you're responsible for all of that. That's why I thought that would be the only job that I liked, because I felt like it really gave me an opportunity to be at my best."

Carroll wanted to return to the NFL at some point, but only if he had the same type of control structure.

"When this opportunity came here, it was expressed and clearly laid out that I could have the same kind of responsibility and the same kind of approach," Carroll said. "So it's been really instrumental, because the way we do things isn't the way a lot of other people do things. We really needed our own way to do it. We needed our own language and our own control and our own decision-making process."

Now Carroll is one win away from winning back-to-back Super Bowl after five seasons with the Seahawks. Carroll and general manager John Schneider make all the team personnel decisions together without much interference from team owner Paul Allen, who gives them all the financial support they need.

"It's what every coach needs, I think, to be at his best," Carroll said. "The format and the structure that is generally accepted in the league is not that. I understand why, but this is a football game that we play. There's a business that goes along with it, but the football, I think, has to be run by the football people, and so I feel very, very fortunate.

"I thought this was an extraordinary opportunity from the day that I arrived in Seattle to prove that. We've set out to kind of show that this is the way organizations can be run. I'm really excited to be here today, where we are. It's been a lot different. This has been the best format for me. Maybe it isn't for other people, but it is for me."
PHOENIX -- Here are a few of the best comments from Monday's media session for the Seattle Seahawks:
  • Coach Pete Carroll on what he will say to Marshawn Lynch about the possible penalty Sunday for an obscene gesture: "You'll never know. I'll never answer that question. But it's no different from talks I have with other players over other issues. But I will say again that we celebrate the uniqueness of our players."
  • Carroll on the Patriots: "This is a really smart football team we're playing. They really heighten your awareness with all the things they can do."
  • Doug Baldwin on the Seattle receivers being underrated: "I have a shirt on underneath my sweatshirt that says, 'Pedestrians With Attitude.' We enjoy the label because we embrace it."
  • Baldwin on the possible bulletin board material last week and this week from both teams: "If you have to have bulletin-board material to play this game, you shouldn't play this game."
  • Outside linebacker K.J. Wright on New England All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski: "He reminds me of Tony Gonzalez in his prime."
  • Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner on Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn probably headed to Atlanta to become the Falcons head coach: "He will be a great head coach. He has a way of motivating his players and getting the most out of them."
  • Wagner on what he expects Tuesday at the annual Super Bowl media day: "People will try to get us to say some crazy stuff. Who knows? Maybe we'll say some, maybe we won't."
PHOENIX -- The Seattle Seahawks' players and coaches knew quarterback Russell Wilson would never doubt himself or the team’s chances long before the miraculous comeback against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

“He stayed true to himself and stayed true to his character,” Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung said of Wilson. “The whole body of work that he’s done is uncompromised. He’s a guy that comes in and puts his hard hat on every day and he leads.”

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
AP Photo/David J. Phillip"His leadership on the sideline, continuing to keep guys in it, was huge," Jermaine Kearse said of Russell Wilson's efforts in the NFC title game.
A victory Sunday over the New England Patriots will make Wilson the first quarterback in NFL history to win two Super Bowls in his first three NFL seasons. But many people still see him as a good quarterback who benefits from having great players around him.

“I think he’s very, very special,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “I don’t know how he could play at the level that he plays, in the most challenging of times, without a tremendous mind. He’s got a tremendous competitive mindset and it stems from the confidence that he feels based on the preparation that he puts in, knowing that he’s ready for whatever comes up.

“You saw a tremendous illustration of that [against Green Bay]. I don’t think you could hope an athlete at this level could have a more clear mindset of what it takes to come through and get it done more so than what Russell has.”

The Seahawks trailed 19-7 before rallying in the final three minutes of regulation and winning it in overtime on Wilson’s 35-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse.

“His leadership on the sideline, continuing to keep guys in it, was huge,” Kearse said. “His power of positivity is huge. When you can stay positive in situations like that, it’s kind of hard to just crumble. That just shows the type of leader he is and the type of belief that he has in his teammates and in this team.”

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who still has a chip on his shoulder about being a fifth-round draft pick, shakes his head to think Wilson was a third-rounder in the 2012 draft.

“It wasn’t his ability on the football field,” Sherman said. “It was he’s too short [5-11]. Obviously, he’s tall enough to make it to the Super Bowl twice. There are some 6-5 quarterbacks that are home right now.”
PHOENIX -- When kickoff time comes on Sunday in the Super Bowl, the last thing the Seattle Seahawks' defense will worry about is how much air is in the footballs.

What the Seahawks will concern themselves with is facing one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in Tom Brady.

“Tom understands the game so well,’’ said Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas. “His pocket presence is smooth. He doesn’t predetermine too much. He kind of flows with the game and that is why he has been so great. They are definitely dangerous.”

So what does Thomas do to counteract Brady’s experience and savvy?

“I am banking on my experience,” Thomas said. “I am banking on eye discipline. Then we will see, because you just have to get in your rhythm. You have to get in the flow of what is going on around you. You just let your body be free. You can’t really predetermine anything.”

The Seahawks haven’t played the Patriots since early in the 2012 season, a 24-23 victory when Seattle trailed 23-10 in the fourth quarter.

“They’re still running the same plays,’’ said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.“There are some tricks here and there, but they run the same offense. You can take a few things. They were a lot younger then. I think they’re more polished now.”

Sherman made headlines moments after the game in 2012 when he asked Brady on the field, “You mad bro?” But Sherman respects Brady’s talent and ranks him with the best.

“We just faced Aaron [Rodgers],’’ Sherman said.” We face great quarterbacks every year. You have a great feel and respect for what they’ve been doing in this game and their longevity.”

Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett has so much respect for Brady that he didn’t even call him Tom.

“Thomas is a great quarterback,” Bennett said. “And they have a great team, so we have to be ready for the weapons that they have with the up-tempo offense.”

PHOENIX -- Russell Wilson is undefeated in his career when he faces Super-Bowl winning quarterbacks, including the 24-23 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Wilson’s rookie season of 2012.

But a victory over the Patriots in the Super Bowl Sunday will set some historic firsts:

The Seahawks would become the first team to defeat four Super-Bowl winning quarterbacks within a span of two postseasons (Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees).

The Seahawks also would become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls by beating quarterbacks who had previously won a Super Bowl (Manning and Brady).

Brady probably needs All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski to play well Sunday to reverse that trend, but it won’t be easy.

According to ESPN Stat’s and Info, the Seahawks have faced four Pro Bowl tight ends in the last two postseasons. They totaled only 11 catches and 109 yards in those four games, and no touchdowns.

One thing is certain: Last week was a lot easier for Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll than it was for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick and his players spent a good portion of the week answering "Deflategate" questions, including an unusual press conference Saturday in which Belichick used scientific reasons for the footballs being deflated in the AFC Championship Game.

“It’s a big deal for them," Carroll said. “I know they’re dealing with it. It isn’t for us at all. It has no bearing on anything."

That issue aside, Carroll emphasized again how much he and Belichick have in common, even though their personalities are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

“We are both defensive guys, both kind of started in the back end in the secondary and all that,” Carroll said. “But I think it’s more. You can’t play this game at championship level unless you have a lot of fundamental aspects of your game together. You can’t operate, because other teams beat you.

“I’ll give you a stat that’s crucial. Since 2012, they’re plus-51 in the turnover ratio and we’re plus-51 in the turnover ratio. The next team is plus-28, whoever it is. To have a football team that plays with that kind of focus and that kind of concentration, it crosses the entire gamut. It’s every aspect of your game, and guys have to appreciate and understand what fundamentals in this game are all about. I think that’s a nice comparison."
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had a one-word answer when asked how his team will approach its preparation this week for the New England Patriots and Super Bowl XLIX: “repping.”

Carroll means the Seahawks will spend this week on repetition, reviewing what they’ve already worked on during the off week. The Seahawks are using the same approach they had last year for the Super Bowl.

"We practiced as though we were playing a game [in one week], so we got all the installation in [of the game plan],” Carroll said. “We’ll go into game week really ready to finish it up in preparation.”

Carroll feels that’s the best way to approach the crazy week in Arizona, where there is so much media attention and so many distractions.

“Everything will be continued focus on the little things," Carroll said. “It’s making sure that we’re really sharp and ready and the players know exactly what’s asked of them and they will feel really good about the game plan and what they need to know.”

Carroll believes knowing the drill from last year is a major benefit to the 34 returning players for Seattle. It’s also beneficial that those players can prepare the other 19 guys for what’s coming.

"I think it’s really important,” Carroll said. “Having been through this process before, the guys know what to expect. They know what we’re calling from them this week. There is nothing new about that. It’s so fresh that we had just done it [at last year’s Super Bowl], so we’re going to stay right with the routine."

All the players will be available for interviews Tuesday in what has become an annual sideshow of zaniness on media day, which this year takes place at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

Carroll and six players -- quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, left tackle Russell Okung, defensive end Michael Bennett, free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman -- will speak to reporters when the team arrives at its hotel Sunday.

Players also have media obligations on Wednesday and Thursday but are not available from Friday until the game Sunday. Carroll and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have a joint press conference Friday morning.
RENTON, Wash. – With big-money contracts on the horizon for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (perhaps over $20 million a year) and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (likely as much as $8 million a year), many people assume the Seahawks won’t be able to keep cornerback Byron Maxwell.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider sees it differently.

“Quite frankly, one of our first priorities is to talk to Maxey," Schneider said. “He’s going to be a highly-sought free agent after the season, and he should be, but we would like to have the opportunity to try to retain him.”

The Seahawks already have the highest paid secondary in the NFL with cornerback Richard Sherman (four more years for $56 million), free safety Earl Thomas (four more years for $38 million) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (three more years at $19.7 million).

Keeping Maxwell will be difficult, and the Seahawks believe they have a rising star in second-year cornerback Tharold Simon.

Schneider believes the Seahawks are ahead of the game compared to last season, when the Super Bowl trip caused the management team to get a little overwhelmed.

“The good thing is we’ve had our free agency meeting already, about a month ago,” Schneider said. “We did it earlier than last year. We kind of got in a crunch [last year] and I don’t think we did a very good job with it. We're more prepared [this year] for what other people would think of our free agents and what we think of their free agents.

“It felt great to have that behind us before the playoffs started. And we’re having our draft meeting starting down there [in Arizona next week]. We found out last year we got a little behind. I’m not saying we did a bad job with it, but we could have done a better job.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said free safety Earl Thomas will play in the Super Bowl after Thomas returned to practice Friday on a limited basis.

Thomas missed the first two days of practice this week after suffering a separated shoulder in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers.

“It’s over, really,” Carroll said of Thomas’ injury concerns. “There were two days of him being very uncomfortable [sitting out practice]. It’s really good to get him back out because of all the continuity that these guys have shared for so long. It picks everybody up.

“That’s a big statement that Earl is going to be fine for next week. It’s going to take him all the way to game day and we’ll keep him from getting banged up [next week in practice], but he’ll be fine by game time.”

At this point, everyone on the 53-man roster is good to go for the Super Bowl, including cornerback Richard Sherman, who suffered a sprained elbow against Green Bay.

“Richard did everything," Carroll said. “He took every snap this week and looked totally fine.”

Carroll said he didn’t know whether Sherman would wear a brace on his arm for the Super Bowl.

Starting right guard J.R. Sweezy missed practice all week, but Carroll said Sweezy also is OK.

“We rested J.R. this week," Carroll said. “He’s has some ankle issues that have been kind of nagging all year, so we took the benefit of the [bye] week. He could play this week if we were playing.”

Right tackle Justin Britt, who missed the game Sunday with a knee injury, practiced all week, and Carroll said Britt was fine.
RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett know the circus is coming on Tuesday for Super Bowl media day in Arizona. Sherman learned that lesson last year.

“I think there was somebody naked at media day,” Sherman said. “Everybody was like, ‘Media day is so serious.’ Then you see a clown over there and three kids over here. Somebody asked me about a Nintendo. So I was like, ‘Oh, I guess this isn’t as serious as they made it out to be.’ "

Bennett could do without all the Super Bowl distractions.

“I think it’s just boring," Bennett said. “It’s just a waste of time. It’s for the NFL to make their money."

Bennett said he didn’t need to be at the festivities last year to know what it was like.

“That’s always been my opinion," Bennett said “It’s just like a boxing match. It’s all about the hype. They want to keep building it up, but at the end of the day, you really just have to play the game.”

Bennett tries to ignore it all and make sure he’s studying the New England Patriots.

The Seahawks are following the same plan they had last year of practicing and installing the entire game plan this week, just like they were playing on Sunday. That’s make it easier for the players to deal with all the media assignments next week in Arizona and use practice to review what they’ve already worked on.

“You really can’t get into all of the media and all of the things going on,” Bennett said. “You see all of the things they’re talking about now just to keep everybody talking about the game, but really it’s about us lining up and playing a great football team and a great game.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Want to guess how many times the phrase "deflated balls" will be mentioned on TV during the Super Bowl? How about whether Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will make an obscene gesture during the game?

That’s just two of a plethora of crazy things you can place a bet on this week for Super Bowl XLIX. The website listed dozens of unusual choices for betting on the big game. Here are the odds on those two items above, along with a few others that are atypical, to say the least, and the MVP odds:

Deflated balls reference:

Over/Under -- 2 1/2

Will Lynch have an obscene gesture?
Yes -- 4/1
No -- 1/6

Will Bill Belichick smile during the game on camera?
Yes -- 3/2
No -- 1/2

What color hoodie will Belichick wear?
Grey -- 1/2
Blue -- 7/4
Red -- 7/1

Which song will Katy Perry perform first at halftime?
Firework -- 3/2
Roar -- 3/2
This Is How We Do -- 5/1
Dark Horse -- 12/1
E.T. -- 12/1
Wide Awake -- 12/1
Waking Up In Vegas -- 20/1

What color hair will Katy Perry have?
Black/Brown -- 2/1
Pink/Red -- 3/1
Blue/Green -- 3/1
Blonde -- 4/1
Purple -- 5/1

How many times will Gisele Bundchen (Tom Brady's wife) be shown on TV?
Over/Under 1 1/2

Which team owner will be shown more on TV?
Robert Kraft -- 1/2
Paul Allen -- 3/2

Which city will have the higher Nielsen rating?
Boston -- 11/10
Seattle -- 2/3

What will be higher?
Russell Wilson's passing yards Sunday or the U.S. national average gas price (in cents) on Monday.

The first score of the game will be what?
Patriots Field Goal -- 4/1
Patriots TD Pass -- 3/1
Patriots Rushing TD -- 11/2
Patriots Safety -- 33/1
Patriots Defensive or Special Teams TD -- 14/1
Seahawks Field Goal -- 7/2
Seahawks TD Pass -- 4/1
Seahawks Rushing TD -- 4/1
Seahawks Safety -- 33/1
Seahawks Defensive or Special Teams TD -- 14/1

Super Bowl MVP odds:
Tom Brady -- 8/5
Russell Wilson -- 7/2
Marshawn Lynch -- 4/1
Rob Gronkowski -- 9/1
LeGarrette Blount -- 12/1
ESPN NFL analysts Tedy Bruschi has a unique perspective as a man who played for both Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Bruschi was linebacker for the Patriots during Carroll’s three years there (1997-99) and during the following nine years of his career under Belichick.

“I think sometimes people forget that Pete spent three years in New England, and they were three very influential years of my career,” Bruschi said on a conference call Thursday. “It was my second, third and fourth year, my rookie year being with [Bill] Parcells.

“Carroll came in  I believe our records were 10-6 and 9-7 and 8-8. There were so many young players like myself that learned a lot from Pete.”

Bruschi was asked how Carroll is different now than he was at New England.

“Well, I don't think he's changed much,” Bruschi said. “Maybe he's grown as a coach in his own mind. I think you always try to improve. But I see that energy. I see the exuberance, the enthusiasm. The way that he speaks at the podium when I watch his press conferences is very similar to the way he handles things with us in the locker room.

"Turnover Thursday, No Repeat Friday, things like that. The naming of the days. And the way he's able to relate to the new modern athlete. I think that's new on how he's done that.”

Bruschi said he never doubted Carroll’s skills as a leader.

“I always thought that Pete was a great coach,” Bruschi said. “I was just learning to play linebacker when Pete came in. I was a defensive end at the University of Arizona. That's all I did was rush the passer. So there was a lot I had to learn.

“Pete taught me a lot of things about becoming a leader. It's just unfortunate I wasn't ready to take that step yet, because I was still learning how to survive to stay on a team.”
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks players continued to hear questions Thursday about the New England Patriots' underinflated-football controversy, and for the most part, the Seahawks either laughed it off and just didn’t really care.

“We haven’t even really talked about it,” said Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams. “You’ve still got to tackle, you’ve still got to cover and you’ve still got to rush the quarterback. It doesn’t matter how much air is in the ball.”

Williams, however, does think it’s an issue for the New England Patriots.

“It’s definitely a distraction for them," Williams said. “That’s kind of all the media is talking about right now. I’m glad it’s their problem and not ours.”

Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said it doesn’t change his play one way or the other.

“I don’t care," Wagner said. “They can be flat. They can be pumped up. Someone has to hand them off and someone has to catch them. I’m the guy who has to tackle them, so put as much air as you want in them.”

Wagner also doesn’t worry about the integrity of the situation.

“I don’t know what’s unfair," Wagner said. “It’s playing ball. At the end of the day, what can we do now? It’s all in the past.

“It’s not like we’re going to go and say, ‘Replay the game.’ It’s not like we’re going to go and say, ‘Disqualify them or something.’ They’re here and we’re going to play them and we’re going to take advantage of all of our advantages.”

Has the controversy changed the way he views the Patriots?

“It hasn’t changed," Wagner said. “They are what they are. We focus on us and they do what they do. They’re winners. They’ve done this for a long time. I’ve watched them -- growing up -- winning. I have respect for them.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Seattle Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy were fined by the NFL on Thursday for illegal hits in the NFC Championship Game last Sunday.

Matthews was fined $22,050 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after Wilson threw an interception in the second quarter.

Sweezy was fined $8,268 for a late hit on Matthews when Matthews was on the ground after sacking Wilson in the third quarter.