Seattle — Energy exudes throughout the Seattle Seahawks' practice facility. A glass case holding the team's 2013 Super Bowl rings greets you in the lobby. Loud rap music later blares in the locker room. General manager John Schneider — unlike his former boss, Ted Thompson — bounds off the field as if ready to take a Student Body Sweep Right himself.
(I am forced to admit that your first sentence is not grammatically incorrect. However, it's still painfully awkward to read. A person can exude energy, or a place, but you've written it so that the energy is the subject of the sentence instead of the object. It just looks bizarre. Also, why is the word "later" necessary?)
And, of course, at the podium is Richard Sherman. In pure form.
Through the NFL's obsessive embrace of fantasy football-driven, patty-cake defense, Sherman would seem to be Culprit No. 1. The league is cracking down on illegal contact.
(Would it kill you to say something simply. "The NFL is cracking down on illegal contact in 2014, and it's likely to hit the Seahawks hardest." You don't have to pretty it up with stupid little phrases like "patty-cake defense". News flash, Tyler: newspaper reporters are paid to be clear and concise. You are neither. Why are you getting paid, again?)
Seattle, Sherman says, plays within the rules and always has.
"We're happy the emphasis is there," Sherman said, "because it'll give people less excuses."
And does it affect his style?
With that, he snaps his head to a new question. This is the player who has become the emblem of Seattle's rise. The swagger starts with Sherman, the trash-talking Stanford grad fresh off a four-year, $56 million contract extension. When the Green Bay Packers enter CenturyLink Field on Thursday, he'll cast the most intimidating shadow.
(He "snaps his head to a new question"? Think about that for just a second, Tyler. Just think about that. What are you saying? Why is that sentence even necessary? And why isn't the second sentence "Sherman has become the face of the Seahawks" or something like that? It's so unnecessarily wordy, so... clumsy. I don't like the wordiness of "cast the most intimidating shadow", but at least it sort of works. That doesn't.)
From riding that new fine line in coverage to a looming "chess match" with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Sherman is central to Seattle's unparalleled bravado.
"He's had his best camp, his best off-season work. Clearly," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's so disciplined about what he's doing. His attitude has been perfect. He hasn't missed a minute of practice. He's done everything, taken all the reps, done everything we've asked him to do.
"I think he's been his most focused. He's been on it the whole time."
On Monday, Sherman called the practice field a personal "sanctuary." This off-season capped a rise to celebrity status — he checked all the necessary boxes. A new deal. A high-profile Twitter feud (with Arizona's Patrick Peterson). A Madden cover shot. Back to the field, to practice, he said you can "free your mind of all the distractions" and improve.
(It's a little weird that you don't mention the thing that catapulted him to celebrity status, namely the pass breakup vs. Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship Game and his subsequent interview with some reporter, but I guess that's forgivable--you're only a reporter, you're not expected to know things.)
He's forced to be near-perfect because opportunities on game day are so fleeting.
It can get lonely for Sherman. Lining up at left cornerback for 15 of 16 games last year, Sherman often was treated like Barry Bonds at the plate. Quarterbacks simply walked him, choosing to test other cornerbacks. And blanketing his deep third of the field, the 6-foot-3 Sherman still managed eight interceptions and 16 pass breakups in 2013.
(The Bonds analogy is tiresome, but this paragraph has a deeper problem than that. Tyler, it's 2014, and ProFootballFocus exists. You can't be a football reporter in 2014 and not know about it, right? You can use numbers from that site to bolster the point you're trying to make: that QBs avoided Sherman last year. The number of targets he got and the number of completions he allowed is something you can find out. You don't need something as asinine as "Quarterbacks simply walked him", you can provide data! Why don't you? Hell, for the stats you do use, you could say that that was the best percentage of picks/breakups compared to his number of targets in the league, or something. The resources are available for you to be so much better than this.)
So he has a message to all quarterbacks. Don't leave him hanging.
"I hope I get a lot of action," Sherman said. "Hopefully, teams come at me all the time. It's fun. It makes the game very fun for both teams. I don't expect any of that, though."
Thus, the Richard Sherman-Jordy Nelson duels may be sporadic, if existent at all. Green Bay used Jarrett Boykin on its right side (Sherman's left) most of last season. Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn does expect to see Sherman on Nelson at times because, he said, the Packers "move him around a lot."
Quinn did call this summer one of the best "technical times" Sherman has had since Seattle drafted him in 2011. When opportunities are sparse — and they probably will be Thursday night — Sherman must know when to strike.
"Staying on it, every day, locking out," Quinn said. "You have to stay really disciplined to do that down after down because the one time you 'Ah, I'll just take a shot here,' that's when the bad one happens. So he's been disciplined this training camp."
The last time the Seahawks faced a prolific, no-huddle offense, they embarrassed the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, 43-8, in the Super Bowl. Afterward, Sherman revealed that players were able to jump routes by deciphering Manning's pre-snap hand signals.
In that chess match, Sherman shredded the chessboard before Manning even touched a pawn. This one? In the deafening decibel levels that await, Rodgers probably will be relying on non-verbal (and non-everything) communication, anyway.
Sherman also notes that these are two different quarterbacks.
"It's dissimilar because the offenses they run are a little different," Sherman said. "Obviously, they both get the ball out quickly. I think Aaron is more dynamic in his movement and being able to get out the pocket and be able to step up or step through, and create more time for his receivers to get open.
"Peyton," Sherman continues, snapping his fingers, "makes his decisions and he's going. He takes his hitches and he's getting the ball out. He's not going to scramble and try to create more time. So I think they're different in that respect."
(It's the little things, but you're so shitty at the little things, Tyler. A minute ago, we were in the past tense. Now we're in the present. Why? It was the same interview.)
Bank on Sherman, right cornerback Byron Maxwell and nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane staying aggressive.
In one Monday sequence, Carroll praised his players for consciously adjusting to the league's points of emphasis, for taking it "right to heart." And moments later, there was Sherman saying, "We didn't change anything. We were playing by the rules before, and we continue to play by the rules."
Either way, officials will be watching. Rodgers jokingly told Ed Hochuli's crew early this summer in Green Bay that they'll need them Week 1.
Two years ago, the Seahawks cornerbacks bullied Green Bay's receivers in the first half. They tested the 5-yard limit Hochuli vowed this summer officials would crack down on.
(Vowed is nearly as bad as "insisted", your favorite word, but at least it accurately connotes the intent of Hochuli. You're doing decently well... although, on second look, your second sentence is pretty awkward.)
Don't expect any attitude adjustment here.
Cliff Avril's eyes scowl in semi-disgust. No, the Seahawks won't need to tone anything down.
(And then, this. You have this annoying habit of assigning agency to things--great plays from Part II, energy in the opening paragraph, now Avril's eyes--that don't have agency. The eyes did not decide to do anything. Why on earth not "Cliff Avril scowls in semi-disgust?")
"They made these new rules to slow us down and guys have adapted and gotten even better," the defensive end said. "I don't think it'll slow us down one bit. You want to be aggressive. You want to make the plays you're supposed to make.
"Hit the people you're supposed to hit as hard as you can."
Again, Sherman will be the one leading the movement.
(Tyler, this article is okay. It has, for you, a pretty small number of errors. I previously reviewed a Packers Plus column and an extensive feature story on Myles White. This is a more typical pre-game story, so you're more bound by word limits and less free to gallivant through the phrasebook of clichés and hyperbole that I imagine you must have. But it isn't good. You use eight words when five would do, hype up everything you can, confuse tenses, fail to make use of helpful resources, and write poorly. Where are your real editors? Am I the only one that sees this crap that you do? Seriously, the tenses thing is the kind of error that editors are paid to catch. What is the review process like at the JS these days? Does anyone look these things over before you submit them? Are they inured to your errors?
I realized today why your over-reliance on clichés bothers me so much. I mentioned in a previous post that instead of reporting what you see, you draw your own picture and invite the reader to see that... with the implication that your own picture rarely corresponds to the things that are actually happening. Thinking about the implications of that is kind of appalling. Take the sentence from your last article, "White pretzel-knots a cornerback". We are presumably supposed to infer that White metaphorically tied him in a knot, i.e. confused him. But the words you used bear no resemblance to a thing that happened on the field--say, Myles White cut inside, turned the cornerback around, then cut outside and ran up the sidelines, leaving the CB in his wake. You're not describing the actual play in a way that gives us any indication of what happened. Instead, you're summing up the play with an image, from which we're supposed to guess at what happened in the actual play. Your use of metaphor doesn't make the events you're describing clearer for the reader, it makes it harder to understand what happened. And it's maddening because only you have the perspective--you were right there and you were watching--to show us what actually happened. We rely on you, especially for something like a practice that most people can't physically see, and when you describe something obtusely or confusingly it lets the readers down.)