Like father-in-law, like son-in-law

Posted Aug 2, 2010

A what-if idea by line coach Dan Quinn has bolstered the Seahawks’ defense as Red Bryant is filling the left end spot where his father-in-law, Jacob Green, became the club’s all-time leader in sacks.

How is it that a 323-pound defensive tackle who was rarely active in his first two seasons with the Seahawks has found his way to a starting spot at defensive end?

Ask coach Pete Carroll or defensive coordinator Gus Bradley that question and all fingers point in the direction of defensive line coach Dan Quinn. But that only prompts another question: What did Quinn see in Red Bryant that made him think the third-year lineman could make the transition?

“We’re playing some different defensive fronts, and one of the strengths that Red has is really good length,” Quinn said Monday between practices at Bing Training Camp.

Quinn isn’t just talking about Bryant’s 6-foot-4 frame. There are those long arms, long legs and quick feet that allow him to even play taller, wider and longer than he actually is. Those are the qualities the defense needs from the body that will fill the five-technique spot.

“We thought Red had the physical skills to do it, we tried him there this spring and – to his credit – he has really worked hard at it,” Quinn said.

Hard enough that if the Seahawks had a game this week, the No. 1 line in the base defense would consist of Bryant, Colin Cole at nose tackle, Brandon Mebane at the three-technique tackle and Chris Clemons at the “Leo” end spot. With Bryant, Cole (328 pounds) and Mebane (311), that’s almost 1,000 pounds of run-stuffing girth, but also enough quickness and explosiveness to be disruptive.

Bryant doesn’t really care why Quinn decided to take flier on moving him outside – or even that Bradley and Carroll bought in to the idea. He’s just glad to be getting an opportunity to play after being inactive for 22 games in his first two seasons.

“My mindset this year is totally different,” said Bryant, who was a fourth-round draft choice in 2008. “I’ve been here two years. I’ve been inactive most of the time. I’m ready to get out there on the playing field and do what I love to do.

“So my mindset going into it is I’m going to get it done. That’s how I’m approaching it. That’s how I’m approaching practice: I’ve got a chip on my shoulder.”

The move also has formed a bridge between the Seahawks’ past and its present in the franchise’s 35th season. Bryant’s father-in-law is Jacob Green, the club’s all-time leader in sacks and a member of the Ring of Honor.

Bryant already was wearing Green’s old number (79) and shares the same alma mater (Texas A&M). Now, he’s lining up at the same position – left end, where Green started 176 games (third most in Seahawks history) from 1980-91 and collected his 116 sacks (42½ more than Michael Sinclair, who is No. 2 on the list).

No one needs to tell Bryant just how much his father-in-law meant – and means – to the Seahawks. He walks under Green’s Ring of Honor banner at Virginia Mason Athletic Center every day.

Usually, it’s several times a day. At home games, Green’s name is featured in the actual Ring of Honor at Qwest Field.

But the ultimate show of respect is Bryant still referring to his father-in-law as Mr. Green.

“Mr. Green is really excited,” Bryant said. “He’s really proud, and I’m proud that I’m making him proud.”

This avenue of admiration is not a one-way street. Green also is impressed with the man and player his daughter, Janelle, decided to marry.

“Red is athletic,” Green said. “I worked out with him (recently) at the facility, he’s big enough, he’s fast enough to play the position. He’s definitely talented enough; he just needs to learn what he needs to do at the position.”

During that session, Green offered pointers on everything from how Bryant should use his hands, to tips for getting off the ball at the snap, to advice on how to lose weight.

“We went through some drills and I was very surprised at the quickness I saw in him,” Green said. “He showed me he can play the position.”

A position Bryant has not played since he was an all-state selection at Jasper (Tex.) High School. But then he’s not playing it the same way he did then.

“It’s almost basically like play the nose (tackle) technique the way I’m playing it,” Bryant said. “Playing the five technique, you’ve just really got to be strong at the point and able to just cover some ground.”

So far, Bryant has been flashing the ability to do both.

Which prompts Quinn to offer, “We’re counting on him in a big way.”

But not too big. Bryant, who weighed 320 pounds last season, said he’d like to trim down closer to that weight before the regular season starts. At any weight, Bryant is showing he was worth the wait.

“Red is totally coming through for us so far,” Quinn said, “and I’m really glad to see this happen.”

So is Bryant, not to mention the entire Green family.