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2 Seattle SEAHAWKS

Sept. 06, 2010
Sept. 06, 2010

Table of Contents
Sept. 6, 2010

GOLF PLUS
LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
NFL PREVIEW
Departments

2 Seattle SEAHAWKS

New coach Pete Carroll hopes a jolt of intensity will result in wins

THE SLOGAN "Always compete" is visible throughout the Seahawks' training facility. You see it on everything from banners and T-shirts to the practice-field scoreboard. But nowhere is it more prominent than on the face of new coach Pete Carroll, who is seeking to turn around a franchise that won just nine games in the past two seasons.

This is an article from the Sept. 6, 2010 issue

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck learned as much on the eve of training camp, when he and Carroll had a meeting on a basketball court adjacent to the training complex.

They had not had a real clear-the-air session since Carroll and general manager John Schneider surrendered a third-round pick to San Diego for third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in March, then signed him to an $8 million, two-year contract. One of Carroll's team rules is "no complaining or whining," so Hasselbeck, who was entering the final year of his contract after nine years as the starter, walked lightly when broaching the subject.

"I was like, I'll be honest. I know I'm totally biased here, but, hey, come on, why?" Hasselbeck recalled of the meeting. "It was like the Steve Young situation. When he was with the 49ers and they used their first-round pick to draft Jim Druckenmiller, he wasn't like, Oh, crap. Jim Druckenmiller is going to beat me out. It was just like, Hey, man. I'm older, our team is pretty good, we just need a few more pieces to get back to the Super Bowl. What are we doing?"

Carroll responded to Hasselbeck's question by reiterating his belief that competition is the lifeblood of a program. If Hasselbeck didn't already get that, he found out when Carroll crouched into a defensive stance while wearing flip-flops. Game on.

Hasselbeck, who turns 35 this year, wondered how best to proceed. He thought back to 2000, when he asked permission to marry his girlfriend, Sarah, while playing a game of two-on-two hoops with his future father-in-law and brother-in-law. Hasselbeck's teammate was a 6' 7" buddy who clearly didn't understand the art of buttering up future in-laws, because at one point he attempted a dunk. Hasselbeck quickly reminded his friend that they needed to lose the game.

A decade later he was back on the court with another man who could control his future. He wondered just how seriously he should take the game; after all Carroll, who had kicked off his footwear, is 24 years older and is ultimately in charge of Hasselbeck's playing time.

Hasselbeck didn't have to wonder long, if at all. "Remember that story about your father-in-law," Carroll said, then warned his QB not to lose on purpose. Always compete isn't just a slogan for the coach; it's a mind-set.

So they battled to seven, with Hasselbeck winning by two. Now his goal is to claim the starting job. That seemed all but certain early in training camp, but Hasselbeck struggled in the exhibition opener against the Titans while Whitehurst, who had been pedestrian in practice, wowed everyone with a 14-of-22, 214-yard, two-score performance.

Seattle needs strong play at quarterback because other than at tight end, where John Carlson is solid, the Seahawks have question marks at every offensive position. The line struggled last season and was thrown into greater flux in the second exhibition game when top rookie Russell Okung, a massive left tackle, sustained a serious ankle sprain. He's out for several weeks. The receiving corps lacks a proven No. 1, and the running backs are quick but undersized. Carroll will look to add a sledgehammer back when other teams begin making cuts.

Hasselbeck remains pragmatic about his situation and knows that what he's done in the past doesn't matter. Yes, the previous regime had approached him about a contract extension, but there has been no such outreach from the new leadership.

"I just live in the moment," Hasselbeck says. "There are so many unknowns, so much that is out of your control. Would it be nice to know I'm going to be playing for the Seahawks next year? Yeah, it would be really nice to know that. But the bottom line is, Hey: We got to turn this program around. If you can do it with us, we're with you. If not, we'll find somebody else. I'm fine with that."

In other words, Always compete.

PROJECTED STARTERS

WITH 2009 STATS

COACH PETE CARROLL

OFFENSE

2009 RANK: 21

QB MATT HASSELBECK

G 14

ATT 488

COMP 293

PCT 60.0

YARDS 3,029

TD 17

INT 17

RATING 75.1

RB JULIUS JONES

G 14

ATT 177

YARDS 663

AVG 3.7

REC 35

YARDS 232

AVG 6.6

TTD 4

FB OWEN SCHMITT

G 15

ATT 0

YARDS 0

AVG —

REC 6

YARDS 21

AVG 3.5

TTD 1

WR T.J. HOUSHMANDZADEH

G 16

REC 79

YARDS 911

TTD 3

WR DEION BRANCH

G 14

REC 45

YARDS 437

TTD 2

TE JOHN CARLSON

G 16

REC 51

YARDS 574

TTD 7

LT RUSSELL OKUNG (R)

G 13

HT 6'5"

WT 310

LG BEN HAMILTON

G 15

HT 6'5"

WT 290

C CHRIS SPENCER

G 14

HT 6'3"

WT 309

RG MAX UNGER

G 16

HT 6'5"

WT 305

RT SEAN LOCKLEAR

G 10

HT 6'4"

WT 310

DEFENSE

2009 RANK: 24

DE CHRIS CLEMONS

G 16

TACKLES 11

SACKS 3

INT 0

DT BRANDON MEBANE

G 15

TACKLES 49

SACKS 1½

INT 0

DT COLIN COLE

G 16

TACKLES 48

SACKS 0

INT 0

DE RED BRYANT

G 6

TACKLES 8

SACKS 0

INT 0

LB DAVID HAWTHORNE

G 16

TACKLES 117

SACKS 4

INT 3

LB LOFA TATUPU

G 5

TACKLES 32

SACKS 1

INT 0

LB AARON CURRY

G 14

TACKLES 61

SACKS 2

INT 0

CB MARCUS TRUFANT

G 10

TACKLES 49

SACKS 0

INT 2

FS EARL THOMAS (R)

G 14

TACKLES 77

SACKS 0

INT 8

SS JORDAN BABINEAUX

G 16

TACKLES 104

SACKS 1½

INT 2

CB JOSH WILSON

G 12

TACKLES 45

SACKS 1

INT 2

SPECIAL TEAMS

P JON RYAN

PUNTS 88

AVG 46.2

NET 38.7

K OLINDO MARE

FG 24--26

XP 28--28

POINTS 100

PR GOLDEN TATE (R)

RET 12

AVG 14.3

TD 1

KR JUSTIN FORSETT

RET 18

AVG 24.0

TD 0

New acquisition

(R) Rookie: College stats

TTD: Total touchdowns

2010 SCHEDULE

2009 Record: 5-11

September

12 San Francisco

19 at Denver

26 San Diego

October

3 at St. Louis

10 BYE

17 at Chicago

24 Arizona

31 at Oakland

November

7 N.Y. Giants

14 at Arizona

21 at New Orleans

28 Kansas City

December

5 Carolina

12 at San Francisco

19 Atlanta

26 at Tampa Bay

January

2 St. Louis

SCHEDULE STRENGTH

NFL Rank: T29

Opponents' 2009 winning percentage: .453

Games against 2009 playoff teams: 4

ANALYSIS

Pete Carroll gets a break in his first season: The Seahawks face only three teams that made the '09 playoffs, and their interconference division is the AFC West, meaning less cross-country travel than usual—only three of their games are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Carroll will know early where his club stands in the NFC West, as he'll see all three divisional opponents in the first six games.

SPOTLIGHT

Aaron Curry, Linebacker

AFTER DRAFTING Curry fourth overall in 2009, the Seahawks' previous management marveled at how he showed more pass-rush ability in off-season workouts than he did on Wake Forest's game tapes. Now would be a good time for Curry to blossom into an edge rusher, because Seattle lacks a pass-rush presence. The team had only two sacks over its final five games last season, and its top three ends are gone—Patrick Kerney to retirement, Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson in trades.

Curry may have the ability to rush the passer, but does he have the mind-set? The 6'2" 255-pounder prefers playing over the tight end; however, most successful pass rushers come from the weak side of the formation, where there is less traffic. Beyond Curry the Seahawks don't have much. End Chris Clemons had eight sacks three years ago with Oakland, but he got just seven total during the past two seasons with Philadelphia. Linebacker Leroy Hill made a strong impression as a rookie in 2005 with 7½ sacks, but he sprained a knee early in camp and might not be healthy by the opener (which he'll miss while serving a one-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy).

Curry has vowed to be a different player this year than the one who had just two sacks in '09. He has said that he played "soft" as a rookie because he was worried about making mistakes. His goal in '10: "imposing my will." The Seahawks are holding their collective breath that he's a man of his word.

PHOTOROBERT BECKTOUCHABLE Hasselbeck is facing unexpected competition from a career backup.PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH