Thiel: Seahawks are Packers Lite; time to change


by Art Thiel


Posted on September 22, 2012 at 7:30 AM

With no natural rivals, no Super Bowls wins, and relatively few compelling narratives, the Seahawks franchise over time has only a couple of themes that resonate a little nationally (not counting the tragically trite Pike Place Market fish throwers that show up in TV's hackneyed, pre-game "beauty shots.").

The Seahawks have the NFL's best Monday Night Football record (17-8), and they are Packers Lite.

The themes collide Monday night. Extending the first will allow them to drop the qualifier from the second.

Forget the win over the Cowboys. Dallas was 8-8 last year, and Sunday played like Mr. Stay-Puft in "Ghostbusters." Beating the Packers, 15-1 a year ago, is the surest sign that the big-boy pants fit the Seahawks.

Since Mike Holmgren left Green Bay in 1998 for Seattle to become The Big Show, the Packers have had only two losing seasons, are 7-6 in the postseason and won the Super Bowl 19 months ago. There is quality construction here.

And besides beating a good team on the big stage, a triumph Monday allows the Seahawks to keep up with the NFC West Joneses. The San Francisco 49ers already did the deed in the season opener, and according to Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, weren't shy about beating their chests over it.

"Some of the comments after the game seemed as if San Fran beating us was kind of like their Super Bowl, or end of season," he said on a teleconference call. "That’s fine. We’re a couple years removed from winning the Super Bowl and last year was a real good regular season for us – didn’t end up the way we wanted it to – but we’re not going to sneak up on anybody.

"We know what kind of shot we’re going to take from teams. We expect it."

The shot from the Seahawks will look familiar. They Seahawks have the Packers blueprints, and will attempt to roll them up and whip them across the Packers' cheese-curd-choked cheeks.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a native of De Pere, WI., started as a intern under legendary Packers boss Ron Wolf and has been stealing team-building ideas since. He moved up in the Packers hierarchy, then on to Kansas City, Seattle, Washington and back to Green Bay, from 2001 to 2008, before coming to the Seahawks.

His Green Bay pedigree was the premier asset in his hire. He learned under Ted Thompson, who was Green Bay's player personnel boss from 1992-99, then joined Holmgren as Seattle's director of football operations from 2000-04, building most of the team that went to Super Bowl XL.

Thompson went back to Green Bay in 2005 and has been The Big Cheese there since, with a 68-46 record.

Schneider has deployed in the soggy moss what he learned on the frozen tundra: Go young, go big, go fast.

"John had great respect for Ted Thompson and what they had done in their whole system, and he has come through a long line to get (here)," said coach Pete Carroll Thursday. "He brought the line of thinking that they were (building) a young team; always filling the roster with guys from the bottom up to make it competitive, which fit perfectly with what we wanted to do.

"I think in so many areas (the Packers and Seahawks) are philosophically similar. (Green Bay coach) Mike McCarthy and John are really good friends. They have talked ball for years. There are a lot of similarities in what we believe in. We’re fortunate to have that here. John came through a great system and brought his own ideas, but he had to contribute at that end as well.”

The Packers have had the upper hand so far, winning four of the last five between the teams and 8 of 13 regular season games overall. That doesn't include the two of the most galling losses in club history, both playoffs: the 33-27 defeat in Green Bay following in the 2003 season, and after the 2007 season, the 42-20 second-round loss in Green Bay in which the Seahawks were up 14-0.

The first playoff loss was noteworthy because in the coin flip for OT, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's voice was picked up by the referee's microphone saying, "We want the ball, and we're going to score!" (video)

Didn't work out so well; Al Harris returned a Hasselbeck interception for the game-winning touchdown. Except for a lone defeat in a rare Seattle snowstorm in November 2006, it's been all Packers since.

To help avenge the nearly decade-old wound of the Hasselbeck facial, the Seahawks have hired two quarterbacks from the place that knows football best -- backup Matt Flynn (Packers) and rookie starter Russell Wilson (University of Wisconsin).

The Seahawks are not stupid. The Super Bowl blueprint is clear: Lay in a foundation of young cheese, pick a Packer chucker, build a house of mean, fill it up with 12th Men.

NOTES -- Wednesday's news ofGolden Tate's (video) $21,000 fine for his ferocious hit on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee in the fourth quarter Sunday was met mostly with shrugs this week in Renton. "Unfortunately, they saw there was a little contact to the bottom of (Lee's) facemask and perhaps his chin, and that's not OK," Carroll. "That means he has to turn his head to the side at that exact same instant." Which is exactly what generations of football players have been told NOT to do, in order to prevent neck injuries. The NFL goes further down the rabbit hole . . . OT Russell Okung (knee) and WR Charly Martin (bruised lung) practiced this week and are expected to play . . . Because of CB Byron Maxwell's lingering hamstring problem, free agent CB Danny Gorrer was added to Seattle's 53-man roster earlier in the week. Third-year running back Kregg Lumpkin, inactive in the first two games, was  released to make room for him. Gorrer, a longtime friend of Seahawks FS Earl Thomas, played at Texas A&M and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens, where he played in 14 games last season. He was cut Sept. 2 . . . Seattle also re-signed G Rishaw Johnson and LB Korey Toomer to the practice squad, releasing WR Ricardo Lockette and LB Allen Bradford to make room.

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