Seahawks have no fear of Patriots – Boston Herald

Posted: Saturday, January 24, 2015

RENTON, Wash. — There’s still much about the Patriots that shakes opponents before a game is ever played.

Defensive coordinators destroy brain cells trying to devise a matchup scheme for Rob Gronkowski. Maybe that dilemma has the Seattle coaching staff in lockdown right now, but you won’t find a trace of intimidation on the field.

Gronk? Meet the player Richard Sherman describes as the “lion” who leads the Seattle defense’s “pack of wild dogs.” The Seahawks cornerback smiled this week when asked about what will happen when safety Kam Chancellor and Gronk collide.

“I don’t know, I’ll be sitting there with popcorn,” Sherman said, pretending to shovel popcorn into his mouth. “It will be good football, though.”

That’s Seattle’s pre-Super Bowl message. Let the Colts dissolve into a puddle. The Seahawks, probably even more than the Ravens, don’t care. They believe they have the hammer to match Gronkowski. Last year’s Lombardi Trophy is behind glass in the lobby of their workout facility, not in Foxboro.

That will be Gronkowski out there, someone the Seattle secondary hopes to destroy, not treat like the arrival of Godzilla.

Cornerback Jeremy Lane turned a little reckless Thursday when he said, “I just don’t think he’s that great. He’s OK, but he has a big body. From what I can tell he doesn’t like you putting a hand on him. We put our hands on him, shake him up a little bit, he won’t catch as many balls. It’s always the key, to put our hands on receivers. That’s definitely an issue from watching tape so far.”

Lane later qualified his comments by saying he simply doesn’t consider Gronkowski to be the NFL’s best tight end. But the tone is consistent. Respect from this group isn’t easily earned.

There’s a lot of talk about the “Seahawks personality” — a phrase receiver Doug Baldwin used this week — in contrast to the corporate, heavy “Patriot Way.”

The Seahawks version carries the kind of attitude chip that might have been found on the 2001 Patriots. Baldwin is one of a long list of undrafted players on the Seattle roster. Overall there are 24 undrafted free agents who originally signed with Seattle or other teams. They are a great example of perseverance for the rest of the league.

“I hear that all the time,” Baldwin said of this new Seahawks identity, and how others have responded to it. “I got a tweet from Andrew Hawkins in Cleveland talking about that. There’s a lot of guys like him and me — guys who weren’t drafted. It’s all across the locker room. Guys talk about our linebackers, and our defensive line. Around the league they show us support because they know it’s done differently here. They know what it’s like on the inside.

“The advantage is that you always have something to fall back on in terms of motivation — finding something really deep inside,” he said. “It’s built up frustration, whatever gives you motivation. Everyone in this locker room has something.

“Early in my Little League career, when I was 6, I didn’t have a chip.”

Instead, the chip for many of these players developed once the NFL started evaluating them as draft prospects. Defensive end Michael Bennett, snubbed coming out of Texas A&M in 2009, went down the roster.

“You think about Russell Wilson. They said he was too short, but he won the most games (of any quarterback) in his draft class,” said Bennett. “You think about Doug Baldwin, he wasn’t drafted but he’s made all of these big catches. You think about (Jermaine) Kearse, he wasn’t drafted. Earl (Thomas) was too short. (Richard) Sherman was a fifth-round cornerback. You think about all of the cornerbacks who were drafted ahead of him, and where he’s at right now.

“Kam (Chancellor) was a fifth-round safety, and think about all of the safeties who went in front of him,” he said. “Me? I was undrafted. Cliff (Avril) was the third round. The only guy who was in the first round was Kevin (Williams). Guys keep that on their minds all the time, and it influences the way they play. It’s easy to get lazy and think you’re at the top, but you need something to keep you moving forward. That’s the thing that’s kept us in our position.”

That position has nothing to do with the other side of the ball. The Seahawks may talk a lot about the Patriots. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks will ever admit to having Patriots on the brain.

“No, no. We have all of the confidence in the world here,” Sherman said. “We’re just a young group of young players ready to fight on every play. A young veteran team — that’s exactly how I put it. I don’t know of any team much younger than us that has our kind of playoff experience and championship experience. Not what we’ve acquired in a little bit of time.”

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