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Thursday in Hawkville: Getting to the root of the run defense problems

Posted Nov 7, 2013

In addition to preparing for the Falcons’ offense this week, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn also has studied what’s been wrong with the Seahawks’ run defense the past two games – and what was right.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Nov. 7, when the Seahawks continued to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Falcons in Atlanta:

WORD OF THE DAY: EMPHASIS

As in, fixing what’s been ailing the Seahawks’ run defense has been exactly that for coordinator Dan Quinn this week.

“Did I study? Did I ever,” Quinn said after practice, which was held in the indoor practice facility because of the inclement weather.

Quinn didn’t just go back and look at what was going wrong as the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers combined to rush 405 yards against the Seahawks the past two games. He also went back and studied what was going right when the Seahawks’ defense was allowing an average of 91.6 rushing yards to rank No. 6 in the league before the Rams went for 200 and the Bucs 205.

“If it had been one thing or one scheme, it would have been, ‘OK, let’s take that out,’ ” Quinn said. “So we went back through all of them. He’s the times where we’re playing our really best ball and we’re really attacking the line of scrimmage and going and hitting our fits.

“When we didn’t do that, or we got out of gaps, it ended up being a big play. Here was a 27-yard run and an 18-yard run, and it just bothers you to no end. There weren’t a lot of calls where you say, ‘Boy, I wish we hadn’t run that one.’ But we didn’t hit it just right and that really took place over the last two weeks.

“So, as you can imagine, that’s a big area of emphasis for us and something we’ve put a lot of time and emphasis into for this week.”

But the Falcons, Sunday’s opponent at the Georgia Dome, rank last in the league in average rushing yards. Yes, and the Rams were No. 29 and the Bucs were No. 21 before going off on the Seahawks.

YOU DON'T SAY

“That’s a secret.”

QB Russell Wilson, with a smile, when asked what he’s seen from on-the-mend wide receiver Percy Harvin during practice

So, how do you fix what’s been going wrong? Or, better yet, get back to how the defense was playing when things were going right?

“We went all the way back through and put on our mindset of how we play – the way we attack the line of scrimmage, the way we get off blocks, the way we finish. Those are the things we want to come back to, reconnect to our core stuff about,” Quinn said. “So it wasn’t necessarily where we had too much stuff in where we say, ‘OK, let’s throw that out.’

“In terms of fixing it, we want to reconnect with the attitude, the mindset, the line of scrimmage, everybody kind of doing your job, taking care of your shop. That’s how we approached it.”

INJURY REPORT: MAX UNGER, RED BRYANT STILL SIDELINED

The official report, as issued by the team:

STAT DU JOUR: SIX SHY OF A VERY-SWEET 16

Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez needs six catches in Sunday’s game to reach 50 for the season – for the 16th consecutive season. The only receiver in NFL history with more 50-catch seasons? Jerry Rice, of course, but Gonzalez is the only receiver with 12 or more 50-catch seasons that has done it in consecutive seasons. Here’s a look at the consistently productive receivers with the most 50-plus catch seasons:

Player, years 50-catch seasons
Jerry Rice, 1986-96/1998-2003  17
Tony Gonzalez, 1998-2012 15
Andre Reed, 1986-94/1996-99 13
Terrell Owens, 1997-2004/2006-10  13
Isaac Bruce, 1995-97/1999-2004/2006-08 12
Marvin Harrison, 1996-2006/2008 12

Note: When Steve Largent retired after the 1989 season, the Seahawks’ Hall of Fame receiver held the NFL record for 50-catch seasons with 10 (1976/1978-1981/1983-1987).

Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (concussion)
FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring)
DT Jordan Hill (biceps)
C Max Unger (concussion)

Limited in practice
OT Breno Giacomini (knee)
SS Kam Chancellor (ankle)

Full participation
DE Chris Clemons (not injury related)
S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (knee)

Bryant and Unger missed their second consecutive day because of the concussions they got in Sunday’s game against the Bucs. Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel worked at the five-technique defensive end spot for Bryant, while Lemuel Jeanpierre continued to replace Unger.

For the Falcons:
Did not practice
DT Corey Peters (knee)

Limited in practice
OT Sam Baker (knee)
DT Peria Jerry (toe)
LB Stephen Nicholas (thigh)
WR Roddy White (hamstring/ankle)

Wednesday, when asked about White returning after missing the past three games, Falcons coach Mike White said, “I can’t say that it’s going to happen this week.” But Thursday, White told Falcons.com, “I’m pretty sure I’ll be out there.”

PLAYER WATCH: EARL THOMAS

Quinn’s extra video study this week also reaffirmed something that has been apparent all season: the team’s All-Pro free safety is having a season worthy of NFL Defensive Player of the Year consideration.

“When we went back through this week of all the tapes and all the film, not just from the two weeks but the whole season, and he is one player who shows up again and again in terms of the attitude, the effort and the style of what he brings,” Quinn said of Thomas, who shares the NFL lead with four interceptions and leads the team with 69 tackles.  “When I got a chance to go back, there was some real appreciation in terms of the style and effort that he brings to our defense.”

UP NEXT: ON TO ATLANTA

The team will fly to Atlanta on Friday afternoon, following a midday practice at VMAC.

The Seahawks have a chance to accomplish what only the 1984 and 2005 teams have done: Win a fifth road game. Four of the victories in the Seahawks’ 8-1 start have come in road games – at Carolina, Houston, Arizona and St. Louis. The ’84 and ’05 teams that were 12-4 and 13-3 in posting the best records in franchise went 5-3 on the road.

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