Big favorite or not, Seahawks strive for perfection

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comSeptember 22, 2013 

Seattle’s Kam Chancellor (31) tackles San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis in the Seahawks’ 29-3 win over the 49ers last Sunday.

STEVEN BISIG/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Guinness Book of World Records representatives might show up with their decibel meters at CenturyLink Field again Sunday, this time to see if fans can set a mark for longest sustained yawn.

The Seattle Seahawks’ vocal 12th Man doesn’t tend to take furloughs on game days, but if there’s a snoozer on the docket for this season, it’s Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. meeting with the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars are not only winless, but also nearly pointless as well, having scored 11 points in their two losses to rank as the NFL’s worst offensive team.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks are the league’s top defensive unit, which caused oddsmakers to install Seattle as a 19-point favorite — nearly double the next highest betting line this week.

Coaches and players have been asked all week how the Seahawks will fight off a lapse in competitive fire when facing a heavy underdog seven days after disposing of rival San Francisco in a 29-3 rout.

Whether it captures their true feelings or not, the team has at least coordinated its answers.

“What we did last week means nothing,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “You’ve got to do it all over again and get cranked up ... it’s a really, really significant game for us.”

Carroll said he has tried to send the message of consistent performance from the day he arrived in Seattle: The best way to avoid emotional slumps is to be disciplined in preparation.

“It isn’t about who we’re playing, it’s about how we prepare,” he said. “We want to be our very best every time out, and that’s why we talk about

championship games; this game could be the one that makes the difference.”

Last season, a few last-minute lapses spelled defeats that were critical as San Francisco ended up winning the division by a slender half-game margin.

Safety Kam Chancellor was surprised to hear that the Seahawks were so heavily favored. “Nobody cares about that. Everybody is focusing on getting better every week,” Chancellor said. “We strive for perfection. There’s no such thing as being perfect, but there’s no harm in striving for it.”

As the Seahawks have limited Carolina and San Francisco to a total of 10 points, Chancellor was asked if the defense is offended when an opponent scores.

“Definitely,” he said. “We get offended even when they catch a pass. That’s how we are. We hold ourselves to high standards.”

The Seahawks have had mixed fortune on the injury front this week, as Pro Bowl tackle Russell Okung was ruled out for eight weeks with a torn ligament in his left big toe, but cornerback Brandon Browner (hamstring) and rush-end Chris Clemons (knee) are expected to be healthy enough to make their first appearances of the season.

Guard Paul McQuistan will shift into Okung’s spot on the left side, and James Carpenter will get the start at left guard.

And with rookie back Spencer Ware (ankle) unlikely to be ready, rookie second-round pick Christine Michael is expected to see his first action of the season.

The game carries some emotional overtones for the Seahawks, particularly on defense, as the new Jaguars coach, Gus Bradley, previously served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator.

“We obviously (have) to go out there and do our jobs effectively and hopefully shut them out, but it’s going to be tough because he’s such a great coach and such a great friend to a lot of the guys on this team,” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said of Bradley.

Bradley’s defense is rated in the league’s top 10, but the issues on offense have been compounded by injuries to quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hand) and top running back Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle). Gabbert will be replaced by Chad Henne, and Jones-Drew’s return is considered questionable.

Despite Seattle’s 2-0 start, Carroll this week stressed the need to get better consistency from the offense.

“We have a lot of areas to improve in,” he said. “We hurt ourselves too much in the first couple games. It’s the details and fine points of the execution and the discipline that it takes.”

And of the team’s goal against the heavy underdog Jaguars?

“We hope we can get out of there with a one-point win,” he said.

SEAHAWKS GAMEDAY

JACKSONVILLE (0-2) at SEATTLE (2-0)

1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field

TV: Ch. 7. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.

The series: The Seahawks lead the series 4-2, winning three of the past four, including a 41-0 victory in their most recent meeting on Oct. 11, 2009 in Seattle. The 2005 Seahawks opened up their Super Bowl XL season with a 26-14 loss to the Jaguars at Jacksonville.

What to watch: As 19-point favorites, the Seahawks are considered likely to be off to a 3-0 start, a record they’ve achieved five times previously (’86, ’98, ’03, ’04, ’06). They’ve never been 4-0, though. The Jaguars are rated last in the NFL in total offense (213 yards) and scoring (5.5 per game). Seattle, meanwhile, has the league’s top defense in five major categories. Issues for the Seahawks, though, include the health of their offensive linemen as Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung has been ruled out with a toe injury. Versatile Paul McQuistan will move from left guard to Okung’s spot, and James Carpenter will start at left guard. The game will mark the return of defensive end Chris Clemons, who has been out with a knee injury since the NFC wild-card game at Washington on Jan. 6. Also, cornerback Brandon Browner (hamstring) has missed both games but is expected to start. Key injuries to Jacksonville include QB Blaine Gabbert (out, hand) and RB Maurice Jones-Drew (questionable, ankle).

The pick: Seahawks, 31-0.

Prime numbers

JACKSONVILLE

No. Name Pos.Ht.Wt.Year

7 Chad Henne QB6-3230sixth

Henne is expected to get the start. His rating of 88.9 is reasonable but he’s been sacked five times.

32 Maurice Jones-Drew RB5-7210eighth

Jags top running back suffered ankle sprain against Oakland and is questionable.

21 Justin Forsett RB5-8194sixth

Forsett was a backup and return guy in Seattle who will see playing time if Jones-Drew is slowed.

58 Jason Babin LB6-326710th

Babin had 18 sacks for Eagles in 2011 and will provide a pass-rush challenge for Seattle with tackle Russell Okung out.

SEATTLE

No. Name Pos.Ht.Wt.Year

3 Russell Wilson QB5-11206second

Wilson completed just eight passes against San Francisco. Jags are second in league in pass defense.

24 Marshawn Lynch RB5-11215seventh

Lynch has averaged just 3.1 per carry after averaging 5.0 last season. Jags give up 5.7 yards-per-carry average.

67 Paul McQuistan LT6-6315eighth

McQuistan moving into Russell Okung’s spot and faces speed rushes from Jaguars’ Babin.

91 Chris Clemons Leo6-325410th

The Seahawks’ leading sacker gets his first action of the year.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @DaveBoling dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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