How much of Seattle's success is success on first and second downs to stay in manageable situations, third and short?
"Well, it's a big part of their success. Basically, the big part of their success is they're balanced. They run the ball on first and second down as much as anybody in the league. And they do it because they're good at it. The byproduct of that is, when they do get the third down, a lot of times it's in manageable situations for them. So, it's a good formula for them. But, it goes back to them being able to run the ball and run it effectively. They do a great job of blocking and they've got great running backs in [Seahawks RB Marshawn] Lynch and [Seahawks RB Robert] Turbin there."
They didn't get a ton of yards against you in the first game this year. Despite the score, do you think you did pretty good against them defensively?
"If I remember right, that game was 5-3 at halftime and basically all 8 points were scored off of short fields, their five and our three, obviously. Up to that point it was a good defensive game. In the second half, they continued to play great defense and we didn't. So, we got to somehow find a way to play really good against this team for four quarters, because there's a good chance that they'll keep us down low."
How does that running game change with their full line back, their whole offensive line?
"The running game doesn't change at all, it's just better. Anytime you're missing two starting offensive tackles and a center for some of those games, your effectiveness is going to go down some. But, all three of those guys are back. They didn't change at all. They still ran their same offense."
There's been a couple of games like the first game this year where it's been really close at halftime and they've kind of really extended, maybe both games up there. Has it been game-plan stuff? Is it schematic? How do you explain some of those close games that turn into some big blowouts?
"That's just their team. They've got really good players. The quarterback's in the conversation of one of the top quarterbacks in the league right now. He's very dynamic. He can make the plays with his arm. He makes the plays with his feet. And then they've got the option running game that he's directly involved in. So, when you have a great quarterback like they do, you're never out of a game. And, when you have a great quarterback with the defense they have, they can score, defense can go out and hold them, get it back, score again. They've got a really good, balanced team. So, you're never too far behind when you have a team like that."
"He's come in and played great for us. His play has been getting better and better every week. Last week was probably his best game. Those guys challenged us pretty good with inside running. And he withstood that challenge and was a strong force in there for us. We're very glad to have him, thrilled to have him and he's getting better and better."
Throughout his career there's been talk of he shouldn't be here or he should be over here on the line. Has he found his home in the middle and is that maybe his best position?
Yeah, I'm sorry.
"Absolutely. I think he's found a home here. I think he knew that. I think that's why he came here, one of the reasons he came here. And, he's really gravitated towards the position. He's mastering it. Credit to him and to [defensive line coach] Jim [Tomsula] for bringing him along and coaching him along. And like I said, he's still young enough, still early enough in our system, he's going to continue to get better and better and we're glad we have him."
He's obviously not the biggest guy. You guys typically haven't had 350-pound nose guards. Is his size OK and is he a good fit for what you do?
"Absolutely. We love his size. We don't like big heavy guys. We want some guys that can do the job at the point, but still have some movement in them. And he fills that bill."
I saw that CB Tarell Brown was back at practice in limited fashion. What happens when he's 100 percent? Does he get his job back or is that a competition with CB Tramaine Brock there?
"I think he'll probably be, like a lot of these guys that have come back, when you have inactivity, especially with the injury he had, it's best to ease guys back in. We'll tackle that issue when it comes."
I think QB Colin Kaepernick yesterday used the word physical to describe, to best describe Seattle-San Francisco games. Do you think that fits your defense or do you use that as a non-description for your style?
"We like to play physical football. That's pretty well known throughout the league. They do too. So, it's a good battle."
Is it more so than when you play anyone else or is it a budding NFC West kind of trait?
"I think anytime within the division, guys get to know each other, they play against each other a lot, it amps up a hair here and there, but it's just good NFL football."
Do the Seahawks still use that play, the blocking scheme that we saw Ian Williams' season end on? Is that something that's been a regular part of their plan of attack through the past nine games, 10 games?
How do you coach your guys? Are they all on high alert to be watching at their, at ankle level?
"You've just got to protect yourself against the low blocks, get in good position, stay square to the line, get your hands and feet working for you and know that they do it."
As a coach, do you think that's a part of the game that should be eliminated?
"That's for the other people to decide, not me."
You talked about the team's never out of it. It's true. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has four comebacks this year in the fourth quarter. When you look at those drives, in particular, when they were down 21 points against Tampa Bay, what stands out about him and how he runs that offense when they're behind?
"Two best things that he does is he's a very mobile quarterback, so he can make plays with his feet, and invariably he's scrambled for some big plays within those games you're talking about. And, he does a really good job of throwing the ball in the seams and deep. And he's been able to get some big chunks that way. Everybody thinks this guy's a freak quarterback. This guy's just a really good quarterback who happens to be very fast, very quick and very elusive. He's not just a guy that runs around. He's a passer, too. He can run any offense and be a confident quarterback."
You started to talk about NFL MVP Award for him. Do you think that's premature or do you think that's legitimate at this point?
When you play a shorter quarterback a lot of people think that should be a disadvantage with a guy being short when you can bat down passes and some other things. Why is he able to succeed when other shorter quarterbacks have not?
"You've got to remember the difference between six-feet and six-three is only three inches. He throws through windows. He can move around. He doesn't get his ball batted. I was watching the Monday Night game and they threw a stat up there where he's in the top half of not getting balls batted. I didn't even know anybody kept that stat. But, it doesn't stand out when you're watching the tape that he gets balls batted. When you're short, it can be to your advantage in a lot of positions. It reminds me of me coaching [former New Orleans Saints LB] Sam Mills back in the day. He was a 5-9 linebacker. Every now and then being short would hurt him on a play. But, I can think of a lot of plays where it helped him and I think that's the case with this quarterback too, because he's a special player with his movement, with his quarterback instincts. He's not just standing there and throwing it. He's got great quarterback, football instincts."
You watched the Monday Night game live?
"Some of it, yes."
You watched it here?
By yourself? With other coaches?
"It was on in my office while I was working."
Lynch's numbers have dropped off the last couple of games, but how hard is he running and what kind of threat is he to catch the ball out of the backfield?
"He's a big threat out of the backfield. They're a team that likes to throw the ball downfield and if the downfield throw isn't there he comes down to the check-down which is him and that's where he can be very dangerous. I don't see any drop-off in his running. Teams have just really loaded the box on him. The Saints played extra big people in the game. They did a decent job against the run, but you saw what happened against the pass. So, they're balanced enough that if you go to that extreme they're going to hurt you with the quarterback and the passing game."
As you enter the last quarter of the season, especially for this week against the Seahawks, what's your sense of the guy's excitement, their energy level, enthusiasm, all those sort of things?
"I think we're refreshed and ready to go for the stretch. This game is no more important than the three that follow. For all intents and purposes, we're not in the conversation for winning the division. I know it's mathematically still possible. But, we've got four equal-important games down the stretch and we've got to treat them all equally."
You don't blitz a whole lot. Is that part of your philosophy that you've always had as a coach or is that something you do because you have the personnel that allows you to do that?
"No. It's because of the players we have. We feel like we've got a system here that best suits our players. In the past, I was known for a lot more pressure and some people thought too much at times. I think you always have to look at the players you have as a group more so than individually and do the best for those 11."
Did you ask your players to check out the live broadcast of the Monday Night game?
"Why should I?"