A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 15, when the Seahawks held their "Turnover Thursday" practice as they continued to prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field:
FOCUS ON: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Over the past three seasons, the Seahawks have been one of the best – if not the best – team in the NFL. They've compiled a 41-13 record, including playoffs. They've won a Super Bowl. They've been in the playoffs each season. They've led the league in average points allowed each season and in average yards allowed the past two seasons. They've also turned in some record-setting offensive performances.
And Sunday, they will host the NFL Championship game for the second consecutive January, this time against the Green Bay Packers.
But when it comes to individual awards, the Seahawks have been blanked. No coach of the year awards for Pete Carroll. No defensive player of the year awards from a group of some of the best young players in the league – Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner. Not even a sniff of MVP recognition for either Marshawn Lynch or Russell Wilson.
But the snub that leaves Carroll scratching his head is general manager John Schneider not getting any recognition as NFL executive of the year. Schneider and Carroll arrived in 2010 as almost a package deal, and Carroll gives Schneider and his staff ample credit for finding the players that Carroll and his staff have molded into the team that the Seahawks have become.
And it wasn't easy. The Seahawks made 284 roster transactions in that first year; 231 in 2011; 214 in 2012; 215 in 2013; and 252 in 2014 – although many of those involved the revolving door that has been the practice squad and the fact that the Seahawks have had to place 17 players on injured reserve.
Somebody deserves some recognition for all this, and Carroll says it should be Schneider – the former scouting intern for the Packers who has risen to the top of his profession.
Photos of the Seahawks Thursday practice in the lead up to the NFC Championship game.
"The fact that maybe John hasn't been recognized in doing all the things he's done," Carroll said during his media session on Thursday when asked about the lack of individual acclaim for all the team success. "He has done an incredible job from the beginning. First, just putting up with all my stuff and getting along with what we were doing. He adapted quickly and we put our minds together and went after it.
"But from that point, John has just worked tirelessly to continue to compete to find guys to make this a healthy, competitive roster. The hundreds of changes in the first year was just trying to find guys. The continuation of that, it changed in terms of the numbers, but the attitude, the approach, John just continued to battle for it."
The proof, to Carroll, will be on the field on Sunday.
"I don't know how he couldn't be recognized, with the drafts that he's had, with the free agency success that we've had, with the success of our lower draft picks that have come through," Carroll said.
As an example, Carroll pointed to the 2012 NFL Draft, and seventh-round pick J.R. Sweezy, a defensive tackle in college who is starting at right guard; first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who was considered a one-trick-pony player but now excels in several roles for the NFL's best defense; and Russell Wilson, that "too short" quarterback the Seahawks took in the third round.
"All of those feelings have been turned in a whole different direction. And his insight and his ability and really the creativity that he brings couldn't have been more obvious. The rest of us, we're just playing the game and we're a team. But I think his situation here really should standout and should be recognized."
|STAT DU JOUR: FLIPPING THE SWITCH|
After their 2-2 start, the Green Bay Packers started running the ball better. A lot better. And they also started defending the run better. A lot better. The about-face performances on both sides of the ball were keys to the Packers winning 10 for their final 12 regular-season games:
|Category||First 4 games||Final 12 games|
|Average rush yards||73.0||135.4|
|Average rush yards allowed||176.0||101.3|
|YOU DON'T SAY|
"It makes it difficult. But when I'm looking over and seeing the offense struggle more than I am, I'm not too worried about it."
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner on playing in the din generated by the 12s at CenturyLink Field
The official report, as issued by the team:
DL Michael Bennett (not injury related)
OT Justin Britt (knee)
SS Jeron Johnson (elbow)
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related)
DT Tony McDaniel (shoulder)
TE Tony Moeaki (calf)
C Max Unger (ankle)
Carroll provided updates on the team's improved injury situation during his midday media session and Seahawks.com's Tony Drovetto has the details.
For the Packers:
Limited in practice
DT Josh Boyd (ankle)
RB Eddie Lacy (knee)
QB Aaron Rodgers (calf)
OG Josh Sitton (toe)
Lacy was added to the report and coach Mike McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay, "Eddie Lacy's knee is sore. I pulled him in about the middle of practice. I think Eddie will be ready to go on Sunday."
On Rodgers, McCarthy said, "Aaron Rodgers participated in the second part of practice, went through pass under pressure and went through two team periods. He's getting ready to play."
OPPONENT WATCH: CLAY MATTHEWS
The Packers' five-time Pro Bowl linebacker is difficult to miss, with his blond locks flowing from beneath his helmet as he makes plays all over the field. But defensive coordinator Dom Capers is moving Matthews around even more than usual. In Sunday's victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Matthews was at outside linebacker for 29 snaps and inside linebacker for 26 snaps. He'll also lineup as a rush-end. During the regular season, Matthews started four games at left outside linebacker, six games at right outside linebacker and six at middle linebacker.
"You have to always be aware of Clay," Wilson said. "He's moving around, playing defensive end and outside linebacker and middle linebacker. He's all over the field and he's one of the best players in the National Football League, so you have to be aware of where he is. And he's got tons of talent. It's going to be a great matchup going up against him."
Matthews led the Packers with 11 sacks during the regular season, and also had 69 tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception, six passes defensed and 17 QB hits.
HOLD THOSE CALF CONVERSATIONS
Thomas, the Seahawks' All-Pro free safety, was asked about the calf injury that has limited Rodgers' mobility.
"I'm not buying into this leg issue. I'm not buying into it," Thomas said. "I saw him scramble close to the goal line against the Cowboys. So he's not fooling me with that."
LOWERING THE GAVEL
Chancellor pounding his right fist into his left palm after making a big play or big hit has become his signature move.
Asked about the genesis of it, the All-Pro strong safety credited Carl Payne, the team chaplain.
"It's my Bam-Bam gavel," Chancellor not only said, but demonstrated at the end of his podium stint. "The chaplain here, he calls me 'The Commissioner.' So this is what you get when the court is in session. I hit it with the gavel, and it's the Bam-Bam gavel."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO …
Happy 56th Birthday to Seahawks Ring of Honor safety Kenny Easley.
Thursday is the birthday of three generations of Seahawks – second-year tight end Luke Willson, who is 25; eighth-year nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who is 30 and on injured reserve; and Ring of Honor strong safety Kenny Easley, who is 56.
Friday would have been the 62nd birthday of Ring of Honor cornerback Dave Brown. He passed away in 2006, six days before his birthday and during the week the Seahawks were preparing for their divisional playoff game against the Washington Redskins.
UP NEXT: A "BLUE FRIDAY" RALLY AT WESTLAKE
While the Seahawks are holding their "No Repeat Friday" practice at VMAC, a "Blue Friday" pep rally will be held at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle. The entertainment – provided by the Sea Gals, Blue Thunder and Blitz – begins at 11 a.m. The program – hosted by Steve Raible – begins at noon.
At 9 a.m. Friday, Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones will raise a 12 Flag on the Space Needle.