Sinking Seahawks host bumbling Bucs
Jim Mora has passed frustration and entered desperation in
He needs guys who swallow metal.
“I’d like a whole team of nail eaters!” the coach of the 5-8
Seahawks bellowed this week, during a fist-pounding, voice-raising
call for more “nastiness,” more “dirtbags” on the field to
combat losing – and a league-wide perception that Seattle is
“You’re not going to have it. There’s not enough people out
there that are willing to do that, because it’s hand-to-hand
combat,” Mora said of playing in the brutality along the line of
scrimmage. “I don’t want to say hand-to-hand combat like the
military; the (Navy) SEALS, hand-to-hand combat for their lives,
that’s a different thing. But every down there’s a collision.
That’s the meat and potatoes of football, the interior line.
“And if you’re not winning in there, then you’re not
The Seahawks aren’t winning. Not on the offensive line. Not much
They are 9-20 since their last playoff appearance, in January
2008. Two weeks ago they fired general manager and president Tim
Ruskell. And in the grim aftermath of last weekend’s 34-7 loss at
Houston, when they were not competitive from the first play, Mora
fired center Chris Spencer.
Rookie Max Unger is the new signal-caller for a line that has
allowed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to get his ribs broken, his
throwing shoulder bruised and – last weekend – his thumb banged.
Spencer is reduced to sharing plays at right guard on Sunday
against Tampa Bay with Mike Gibson. Gibson hasn’t played a game
this year. He arrived off Philadelphia’s practice squad in
Mora pounded his fist while demanding that Sean Locklear show
more toughness at left tackle, where he is supposed to be the heir
apparent to injured and fading star Walter Jones.
“Man, if you don’t have some toughness, you’re going to fail,
you know? You’re going to fail,” Mora said.
At least he’s not coaching the Buccaneers.
Raheem Morris has seen 12 losses in his first 13 games as a head
man. The latest was a 26-3 embarrassment at home to the New York
Jets and fill-in quarterback Kellen Clemens, who hadn’t played much
in two years. Tampa Bay gained just 124 yards behind 21-year-old
rookie quarterback Josh Freeman.
“They kind of confused me a little bit,” Freeman said.
Kind of? The Bucs had 15 yards and no first downs in the opening
“We got our butts kicked. That’s what I’m going to tell you
about the New York Jets. They came out and kicked our butt,”
Morris said. “I told my team. I gave them some choice words and
what I felt about the tape.”
So, yes, this is shaping up as quite a barn-burner in
Seattle’s huge advantage Sunday appears to be at quarterback.
When he hasn’t been bent over in pain, Hasselbeck has completed 62
percent of his passes, with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The three-time Pro Bowl thrower will be facing a Buccaneers defense
that has given up many huge passing plays, in addition to being
next-to-last in the league against the run.
But Hasselbeck has been sacked 25 times in 10 1/2 games.
“I think my focus has to be somewhere else, just like their
focus needs to be on what they need to do,” Hasselbeck said of his
Freeman, who visited Seahawks headquarters before last April’s
draft, has thrown eight interceptions in the last two games as
Tampa Bay has managed just three field goals. He threw for 321
yards against Carolina in his fifth career start two weeks ago, but
five interceptions doomed his team in a 16-6 loss.
Then came the “butt-kicking” by the Jets.
“Last week was his first real bad game, playing (a) team that
was better-prepared than us that day, and outcoached us, outplayed
us, and outphysicaled us and outmanned us,” Morris said, invoking
Mora’s get-physical theme.
“We look forward to seeing how he’s going to bounce back.”
Morris says he is as steely as those nails Mora wants the
Seahawks swallowing. When asked if the Bucs’ miserable season has
shaken him, Morris said quickly, “I don’t know if I can be