Sinking Seahawks host bumbling Bucs

Jim Mora has passed frustration and entered desperation in

Seattle.

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

soft.

“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

winning.”

The Seahawks aren’t winning. Not on the offensive line. Not much

of anywhere.

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

October.

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

half.

“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.

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

rotating blockers.

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

shaken.”