Four days into his first training camp with the Seahawks,
running back Ricky Watters, the league leader in outbursts
during much of his NFL career, boiled over. Watters, one of the
prizes of the '98 free-agent market, had been getting roughed up
by defenders during what he thought was a noncontact drill, and
after one particularly physical sequence he snapped, "Come on,
we've gotta take care of each other! Don't be buttin' me like
The situation grew increasingly tense until coach Dennis
Erickson entered the fray. Normally more mild mannered than Tom
Snyder, Erickson barked, "Ricky, shut the f--- up. It's not
gonna be like that here." The exchange between star player and
coach, and the one-on-one meeting that followed, was telling,
not as a source of conflict but as a measure of how far both men
have come. Erickson was derided by some players as a lax leader
who ran too loose a ship in his first three years. However,
after surviving a '97 season during which rumors of his demise
ran rampant, he seems more at ease. Players say practices this
summer have been crisper and better organized than in the past,
and Erickson's admonishment of Watters was a strong statement.
"Everyone was sort of stunned, in a pleasant way," says one
Seahawks veteran. "We've never seen Dennis take on a player like
Watters emerged from his meeting with Erickson feeling better
about their relationship. "He basically told me that if I have a
problem to come to him in private," Watters says. "That was
really cool because people always say that there's an open-door
policy, but the door's not really open. He made it clear that we
have that kind of relationship, and that he respects me both as
a player and a person. I feel the same way about him."
Erickson said something else that resonated with Watters, a
five-time Pro Bowl selection: He appealed to the eight-year
veteran's sense of leadership. The notion of Watters in that
role seems bizarre given his history of strained intrasquad
relations (during his second season with the 49ers, teammates
decorated a team picture by pasting cutouts of Watters's face on
those of the entire squad) and his fixation on personal goals
(while with the Eagles from 1995 to '97, he frequently gestured
to offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, demanding the ball).
August 16, 1998
Erickson, however, believes Watters and two other veteran
free-agent signees, former Broncos guard Brian Habib and former
Lions center Kevin Glover, will not only invigorate the running
game but will also help instill a winning attitude in a
franchise that has had seven consecutive nonwinning seasons. In
the case of Watters, the work ethic he acquired in San Francisco
has already been eye-opening to many of his new teammates.
"They saw me running out plays to the end zone in practice, and
they were like, What is he doing?" Watters says. "But it's
something you have to do if you want to take it to the next
level, because otherwise you get conditioned to stopping when
you get contact. It's a mentality I got from some great players,
and hopefully it'll rub off on our young guys. What's really
cool is I've had guys like [second-year cornerback] Shawn
Springs come up and ask me things, and I've never even played
defensive back. But guys have seen what I've done in this league
and the way I work."
Thanks to strong drafts and fruitful free-agent crops in each of
the past two seasons, the Seahawks are solid at most positions.
Their defense has plenty of playmakers, including Springs and
pass-rushing linebacker Chad Brown. The passing offense is keyed
by ageless wonder Warren Moon, a holdout at press time, and
wideout Joey Galloway, a burner who last season caught 12
touchdown passes, six on receptions of 30 or more yards. But
while the Seahawks led the league in passing offense and ranked
third overall, they were 24th in points produced after reaching
the 20-yard line.
Erickson blames an overreliance on the passing game and a lack
of continuity at halfback, where Chris Warren, Lamar Smith and
Steve Broussard were shuttled in and out. The coach wanted one
back to carry the load, and in March he signed Watters to a
four-year, $13 million deal. If things go according to plan,
Watters will touch the ball 20 to 25 times a game.
"When I looked into signing Ricky, I saw that every time he
played he went 100 miles an hour," Erickson says. "Then I
checked into his practice habits, and he went hard in practice,
too. The only 'bad' thing about Ricky is he wants to get the
ball more, and he's gonna get the ball here." --M.S.
Sept. 6 at Philadelphia
27 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 4 at Kansas City
18 OPEN DATE
25 at San Diego
Nov. 1 OAKLAND
8 KANSAS CITY
15 at Oakland
22 at Dallas
Dec. 6 at N.Y. Jets
13 SAN DIEGO
27 at Denver
1997 Record 8-8 (3rd in AFC West) NFL rank (rush/pass/total):
offense 13/1/3; defense 12/14/8
1998 Schedule strength NFL rank: 23 (tie) Opponents' 1997
winning percentage: .477 Games against playoff teams: 5
It will not go down as the most memorable event to occur in
Dallas on a Nov. 22, but on that date in that city this year,
Warren Moon and Kevin Glover have a chance to become the oldest
quarterback-center pair to start a regular-season NFL game since
the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Moon, 41, and Glover, 35, who will be a
combined 77 years and 162 days old on Nov. 22, will surpass
current record holders Fran Tarkenton and Mick Tingelhoff if
they start together in Seattle's Week 12 game against the
Cowboys at Texas Stadium or in any regular-season game thereafter.
Team Quarterback Age Center Age Combined age
1978 Vikings Fran Tarkenton 38 Mick Tingelhoff 38 77,161
1996 Cowboys Wade Wilson 37 Ray Donaldson 38 76,179
1989 Chiefs Ron Jaworski 38 Mike Webster 37 76, 51
1990 Chiefs Steve DeBerg 36 Mike Webster 38 75,223
1993 Giants Phil Simms 39 Bart Oates 35 74, 77
Outside linebackers Darrin Smith and Chad Brown are the keys to
a promising defense. Signed away from the Eagles as a free
agent, Smith is noted for his speed. Brown, who lined up solely
on the right side last season, will be better utilized in a
scheme called "Okie," a version of the 3-4 that moves him
around.... The Seahawks are high on Ahman Green, whose speed has
been a revelation. A third-round pick out of Nebraska, Green
carried 14 times for 63 yards and a score in the preseason
opener, a 20-19 win over the Cowboys.... By virtue of his 12
sacks last year, defensive end Michael Sinclair became the first
Seahawk since Jacob Green in 1985 and '86 to have double-digit
sack totals in consecutive seasons. Sinclair had 13 in '96.
Projected Lineup With 1997 statistics
Coach: Dennis Erickson
Fourth season with Seahawks (23-25 in NFL)
Offensive Backs PVR*
QB Warren Moon 49[PVR*] 528 att. 313 comp. 59.3%
3,678 yds. 25 TDs 16 int. 83.7 rtg.
RB Ricky Watters[N] 44[PVR*] 285 att. 1,110 yds. 3.9
avg. 48 rec. 440 yds. 9.2 avg. 7 TDs
FB Mack Strong 333[PVR*] 4 att. 8 yds. 2.0 avg.
13 rec. 91 yds. 7.0 avg. 2 TDs
RB Ahman Green[N] (R) 140[PVR*] 278 att. 1,877 yds. 6.8
avg. 14 rec. 105 yds. 7.5 avg. 22 TDs
Receivers, Specialists, Offensive Linemen
WR Joey Galloway 32[PVR*] 72 rec. 1,049 yds. 12 TDs
WR Mike Pritchard 164[PVR*] 64 rec. 843 yds. 2 TDs
WR James McKnight 217[PVR*] 34 rec. 637 yds. 6 TDs
TE Carlester Crumpler 206[PVR*] 31 rec. 361 yds. 1 TD
K Todd Peterson 186[PVR*] 37/37 XPs 22/28 FGs 103 pts.
PR Ronnie Harris 407[PVR*] 21 ret. 6.9 avg. 0 TDs
KR Steve Broussard 280[PVR*] 50 ret. 21.5 avg. 0 TDs
LT Walter Jones 6'5" 300 lbs. 12 games 12 starts
LG Pete Kendall 6'5" 292 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
C Kevin Glover[N] 6'2" 282 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
RG Brian Habib[N] 6'7" 299 lbs. 14 games 14 starts
RT Howard Ballard 6'6" 325 lbs. 10 games 10 starts
LE Michael Sinclair 45 tackles 12 sacks
LT Sam Adams 52 tackles 7 sacks
RT Cortez Kennedy 18 tackles 2 sacks
RE Phillip Daniels 34 tackles 4 sacks
OLB Darrin Smith[N] 13 tackles 1 sack
MLB Dean Wells 92 tackles 1 sack
OLB Chad Brown 104 tackles 6 1/2 sacks
CB Willie Williams 67 tackles 1 int.
SS Jay Bellamy 52 tackles 1 int.
FS Darryl Williams 93 tackles 8 int.
CB Shawn Springs 39 tackles 1 int.
P Jeff Feagles[N] 91 punts 44.3 avg.
[N]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college
year) *PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 88)