Mora Setting the Bar For 2009
Jim Mora (Getty)

Posted Sep 10, 2009


Seahawks head coach Jim Mora is not looking for perfection in his regular-season opener as Seattle's new head coach. But he expects his team to be competitive as the Seahawks host the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field on Sunday when the two, NFC West rivals meet for the first time in 2009.

"What we're trying to do as a team is to keep the focus narrow," Mora said. "Concentrate on winning one game, and winning that game one play at a time. We're not trying to win the division, we're not trying to get home field this week, that's not our goal. Our goal is to just win one game. I think our guys understand that."

The Seahawks are looking to rebound from a disappointing, 4-12 season a year ago. They developed some momentum by finishing 4-0 during the preseason. But Mora also understands the team needs to crank up the intensity in order to defeat a young Rams squad also looking for its first win with new head coach Steve Spagnuolo at the helm.

Seattle faces some adversity heading into Sunday's opener. The team recently released projected starting free safety Brian Russell after he lost out in a position battle at free safety with Jordan Babineaux. Instead of relegating Russell to a backup role and asking him to take less money, the team terminated his contract and signed local product Lawyer Milloy to a one-year contract to serve as Babineaux's backup.

"He's just one of those guys that finds the ball, or the ball finds him," Mora said about Babineaux. "We felt that we needed to add that element to our secondary. That made the decision what it was."

Seattle's pass defense was poor last season, finishing last in the league. The team felt Russell struggled to make tackles in the open field, and believes Babineaux is an upgrade at the position. And even though Milloy, 35, comes in with 196 career starts and four Pro Bowls in a 14-year NFL career, Mora said Babineaux will remain the starter.

Although Seattle will have to deal with some changes in the secondary, the Seahawks understand they will have to contain running back Steven Jackson if they want to stop the St. Louis offense on Sunday.

Mora said slowing down Jackson will be one of the defense's top priorities.

"What would force us to put eight guys in the box is No. 39," Mora said. "He is an outstanding runner, and Steve Spagnuolo has made it known that they want to play a power football game. They've got a runner in Steven Jackson that can do those things."

SERIES HISTORY: 22nd regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 12-9. Seattle has won the last eight contests. The Rams haven't finished with a winning record since the 2003 season.

NOTES, QUOTES

--At 29,054 miles, the Seahawks will travel the most miles in the league on its eight regular-season road trips this year, just 34 miles more than San Francisco.
--Seattle is 2-0 in home openers since 2000, and opens the regular season at home for the just the third time this decade.
--With 77.5 sacks, Patrick Kerney ranks sixth overall among active sack leaders. Miami's Jason Taylor leads the league among active leaders with 120 sacks.
--The Rams have two Washington state products in fullback Mike Karney, who played at Kentwood High in Kent, and injured defensive tackle Adam Carriker, who played quarterback at Kennewick High in Eastern Washington.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Number of wins St. Louis has since former Seattle kicker Josh Brown left the Seahawks to sign with the Rams in 2008.
153 -- Number of yards Steven Jackson had in two games against Seattle last season
9 -- Number of interceptions the Seahawks had last season
33 -- Total number of points the Rams scored against Seattle in two games last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "A lot of guys have to set their ego aside. They're not going to play 60 plays a game. It's going to be by committee. It's going to be all of those guys who are going to get an opportunity." -- Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, commenting on the defensive line sharing the load, with at least eight guys expected to see time against St. Louis.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Seahawks had a couple surprises as the team cut down to the final 53-man roster, terminating the contracts of veteran safety Brian Russell and linebacker D.D. Lewis. Seattle replaced Russell on the roster by signing veteran Lawyer Milloy to a one-year contract. Lewis, considered a versatile linebacker who could play all three positions, was expendable because of the improved play of third-year pro Will Herring. Seattle also signed another offensive tackle in Brandon Frye, who is expected to back up starting tackles Sean Locklear and Ray Willis this week, and waived OT Kyle Williams, later placing him on the practice squad.

Seattle also added eight players to the team's practice squad, including WR Logan Payne, WR Mike Hass, OL Williams, RB Devin Moore, DB Jamar Adams, DB Roy Lewis, OL Blake Schlueter and LB Thomas Williams.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--DE Nick Reed could be active this week. The rookie, seventh-round draft pick made the team after a strong preseason effort.
--RB Edgerrin James should see at least five carries this week, as the Seahawks try to find a regular role for the veteran runner in the team's offense.
--DT Brandon Mebane has high expectations coming into this season, after moving to more of a pass rush specialist from the inside. Seattle expects him to improve on last year's 5 1/2 sacks total.
--OG Max Unger earned the starting right guard job as a rookie, second round draft choice.

GAME PLAN: Seattle will rely on a balanced attack offensively, establishing the run with Julius Jones and Edgerrin James, and then working play action with Matt Hasselbeck. Defensively, expect the Seahawks to blitz and bring pressure, making quarterback Marc Bulger uncomfortable in the pocket and taking away the running lanes from Stephen Jackson.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams WR Donnie Avery vs. Seahawks CB Ken Lucas. With the team's top cover corner Marcus Trufant beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list, Seattle will rely on the nine-year veteran to lock down the Rams' best receiver. Avery is looking to improve on a promising rookie season, and with veteran Torry Holt now in Jacksonville he will need to establish himself as the team's go-to receiver.

Rams RT Jason Smith vs. Seahawks LDE Cory Redding. With the Rams deciding to start the No. 2 overall draft pick, you can believe the Seahawks will challenge him. Redding is an experienced veteran with explosive power who could give Smith problems rushing the passer.

INJURY IMPACT: WR Deion Branch did not practice due to a hamstring injury and might not be available on Sunday. DB Travis Fisher (hamstring), SS C.J. Wallace (ribs) and DL Derek Walker (hamstring) also missed practice on Wednesday.


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