The Browns will face President Mike Holmgren’s old team and coach Pat Shurmur’s not-so-old nemesis when they host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Before he took control of the Browns in January 2010, Holmgren served as the Seahawks’ coach and executive vice president from 1999-2008 and their general manager from 1999-2002. Holmgren and his senior adviser, Gil Haskell, who was an offensive coordinator in Seattle, guided the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL during the 2005 season.
As for Shurmur, his history with the Seahawks is even more recent. Shurmur was the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams last season when they lost to the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll with the NFC West title and a postseason berth at stake in Week 17. Shurmur’s offense failed to score a touchdown in the game, allowing the Seahawks to prevail 16-6 and become the first sub-.500 division champion in NFL history.
Shurmur could certainly use some redemption. The Browns (2-3) suffered their second consecutive loss Sunday on the road against the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks (2-3) defeated the New York Giants on Oct. 9 and are coming off their Week 6 bye.
Eric D. Williams covers the Seahawks for the News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. He discussed the Seahawks and their upcoming game against the Browns in the following question-and-answer session:
Q: What’s the latest on the Seahawks’ quarterback situation and do you have a sense of who will start against the Browns?
A: “Right now Charlie Whitehurst, the backup, is taking the majority of the reps with the starters. Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t practiced since he suffered the injury in the second half of the Giants game. He has a high-grade pectoral strain on the throwing side of his body, the right side. He’s been doing some light toss in practice on the side but hasn’t taken any snaps. Carroll’s hopeful that Tarvaris will get some reps maybe on Thursday or Friday, but I think it’s likely that they’re probably gonna go with Whitehurst as the starter.
Q: How much does losing starting cornerback Marcus Trufant to a season-ending back injury hurt the defense?
A: “He’s the captain of the defense. He’s one of two players that were on the active roster that are still left over from the 2005 team that went to the Super Bowl. The rest of the guys they have back there [in the secondary] are mostly first- or second-year players. They’re probably a little more athletic than Trufant is, but they’re more prone to make mistakes or mental errors. The piece they lose from Trufant not being back there is just leadership and experience. Walter Thurmond is gonna start in place of Trufant at corner. So they’re gonna have to figure out what they’re gonna do in nickel situations ‘cause Thurmond has been their nickel back. I think they’re gonna probably play Roy Lewis in that situation. He’s just coming off the PUP [physically unable to perform] list this week.”
Q: What has been the most pleasant surprise for the Seahawks this season?
A: “The play of their safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas and in particular Kam Chancellor. Both those guys are second-year players. They did not bring Lawyer Milloy back, who was a veteran and a leader on that defense last year. One of the reasons they didn’t bring Lawyer back is because they wanted to give Kam Chancellor a chance to get on the field and see what he can do, and he’s exceeded expectations in terms of his play. … They knew Earl was good, but they didn’t know what Kam was gonna bring to the table. I think they’re probably one of the best, young safety tandems in the league that nobody really knows about.”
Q: What has been the biggest disappointment?
A: “The play of the offensive line. They really wanted to establish the running game and run a little bit more effectively than they’ve been able to do in the first five games. They did run the ball OK against the Giants. [Running back] Marshawn Lynch finished with 98 yards in that game, and the no-huddle [offense] kind of helped them out in that respect because they’re able to get defenses in more vanilla looks and not have to deal with more exotic blitzes, particularly in passing downs. Still, they’ve given up a bunch of sacks.”
Q: In which area do you expect the Seahawks to have a significant advantage against the Browns?
A: “Their [defensive] front seven is pretty good, and they’ve been pretty good stopping the run. They’re No. 7 in the league right now [against the run]. They’re giving up [97.8] yards a game. I see that as the key to the game, their ability to [limit] Peyton [Hillis] or Montario [Hardesty], whoever’s running the ball, and to force Colt [McCoy] to make plays in the passing game.”
Q: What should the Seahawks worry about most when they face the Browns?
A: “They’ve struggled a little bit in the kicking game. They gave up a punt return and a kickoff return [for touchdowns] to Ted Ginn in the first game of the year when they had a chance to beat San Francisco late in the game. So I would be wary about [Josh] Cribbs hurting them in special teams.”
Read Eric D. Williams’ coverage of the Seahawks at blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks. Follow him on Twitter: @eric_d_williams.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.