Thiel: Monday night & Packers perfect for Carroll

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by Art Thiel

SportsPressNorthwest

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 7:30 AM

In the past 15 NFL seasons, 10 teams have made the Super Bowl that had a record of .500 or worse in the previous season. That's a big part of why fans put up with lockouts, replacement refs and concussed heroes.

As with Jim Carrey and the babe in "Dumb and Dumber," the NFL is telling you "Your team has a chance." In the Seahawks' case, at a rate far less than a million to one.

Since the Seahawks were 7-9 the last two seasons,  they come pre-qualified for this scenario. So do a lot of teams.

What separates the Seahawks are several advantages coming together this day: They have the Green Bay Packers where they want them -- on Monday Night Football in the loudest saloon in Dodge -- they have hired the Packers' backup quarterback, they have hired the quarterback of the future who is here already, they have the defense that can keep quarterback Aaron Rodgers in check and they have has much good health as any team in Week 3 can expect.

Seahawks 27, Packers 24. Thereafter, much success ensues.

Single-game breakthroughs not not a must for Super Bowl entrants, but for a young team, such a moment is about the best in-house sales incentive short of tax-free paychecks.

The triumph over the Cowboys was helpful for the Seahawks, but few outsiders were expecting such a forceful beatdown. The element of surprise is gone now, so there will be no what-the-hell? moments for the Packers (excepting, of course, calls made by the replacement refs, which often are to the NFL universe what crop circles are to the rest of us).

Prevailing against another good team that knows what's coming . . . that's a feat that will get the buy-in on what coach Pete Carroll has been selling for three seasons.

"There's no reason not to go for it," Carroll said last week. "We're going to do everything we can to make the most of this chance."

That may sound like typical Carroll gee-whizzery, but I think there's more there there. He knows as much as any of his peers about stagecraft. He revels in the rare richness of Monday night, particularly with the chance to show off his young protege, quarterback Russell Wilson.

He said as much Wednesday. Talking about Wilson's successful start under playbook and game-plan limits, he said he wants Wilson protected better, but is eager to unleash his talents on the run.

"I think it's only a matter of time (before) he really makes things happen on the move," Carroll said. "I'm hoping that will show up a little more. When you watch Aaron, he makes huge plays when he's on the move. That really hasn't happened (for Seattle) in the first two games.

"He's doing fine. He's really on it."

Translation from the Petecarrollian: We're calling his number a few times. Taking off some wraps will fit in well with Wilson's first big national endorsement: A commercial for the Levi's brand (click here) scheduled for the ESPN telecast that amounts to a narrative of Wilson's life and views that will be a Tuesday morning talker.

Then there is the contribution of Wilson's backup, Matt Flynn, who was Rodgers' backup for four years in Green Bay, then left via free agency as the presumptive starter for the Seahawks -- until Wilson was drafted.

Flynn, Carroll reported, was "shocked" that he was beaten out, but has diplomatically assumed the role of supportive teammate.

"I'm proud of the way that I've played and I've picked everything up and how I've handled coming into a new situation," Flynn told reporters Wednesday. "I'm just trying to make the team better and make myself better, and stay confident."

To that end, he has downloaded Packers files from his brain to the Seahawks defense over the last eight days. Coaches always downplay the significance of a former teammate on the other side, but what else can they say: "Man, now we know all their calls, trends and weaknesses!"  Course not. Doesn't mean Flynn's four-year surveillance isn't a clear edge.

"I think it's good for our defense," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, "to have a guy that can help them prepare in terms of running the scout team, and (provide) some of the nuances of how Aaron does it."

The triumph over Dallas -- and the near-win win on the road at Arizona, now 3-0 -- established that Carroll's priorities of defense and special teams are being met, as is the rushing game. Yet to be proven is the passing game, with a rookie quarterback, a gimpy tight end and no scary receivers.

So the Seahawks have something to prove. If they don't prove the offense Monday, well, it's worth remembering that in the 2005 season that ended up 13-3 and in the Super Bowl XL began 2-2. If the Seahawks do prove it, smart and smarter people will say they have a chance.

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