Seattle Seahawks

DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

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USA Today

DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Oregon State defensive back Steven Nelson just got paid, big time, by the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the first four years of his career with Kansas City. 

Nelsen signed a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Steelers last week to provide a stabilizing force opposite cornerback Joe Haden. 

"It's been amazing, it's been awesome," Nelson told reporters after signing with Pittsburgh. "It's been kinda sporadic if you would say. A lot of phone calls, a lot of happy people, a lot of emotions. It's been all over the place, but I'm happy to be here with you guys."

The Chiefs drafted Nelsen in the third round of the 2015 draft. He made 38 starts for Kansas City including 16 last year when he intercepted a career-high four passes. 

Nelson recounted how he had visited Pittsburgh during the predraft process in 2015 and felt that the Steelers liked him enough to draft him but it just didn't fall that way. He pointed to his "toughness and relentlessness," as traits he believes the Steelers see in him.

Playing opposite of Haden, Nelson will likely see a lot of balls thrown his way, a reality he said he would embrace. 

"Absolutely," he said. "That means more opportunities for me, so I love that challenge."

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner will sit out of Pro Bowl

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner will sit out of Pro Bowl

The Seattle Seahawks will now have just two players in the 2020 Pro Bowl game on Sunday.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his staff will coach the NFC roster, but one of his players will be at home resting. In an interview with NFL Network's Omar Ruiz at the NFL’s Huddle for 100 event, Carroll confirmed All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner will not participate in Sunday’s game.

“Bobby’s OK,” Carroll said of Wagner’s ailing knee injury. “Bobby had something he didn’t really know he had. He found out in the exit interviews that he had a little problem with his knee that needs rest. I don’t think he has to do anything for it, but he has to miss this game.”

That means just two Seahawks will participate on the Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida: Quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Shaquille Griffin. 

Wilson will make his fifth appearance in the NFL’s All-Star game and also participate in the Skills Competition.

“Russell did have a great season,” Carroll said. “From the start all the way to the finish of it, all the way to final game, the final opportunity, he was battling. He’s such a great competitor. It’s just come through. He’s just continued to grow as a player. This was his best year I think.”

Griffin will play in his first Pro Bowl after being named to the NFC squad as a replacement for Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

“He’s really improved in the three years he’s been with us,” Carroll said of Griffin. “He’s a fantastic player for us now and it’s great that he gets recognized to be part of this.”

Carroll also shared his thoughts on coaching in the Pro Bowl for the first time, as well as the two possible rule changes the league will experiment with during this weekend’s Pro Bowl. Listen to his full interview with Ruiz here. 

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson named Pro Football Focus' 2019 MVP

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson named Pro Football Focus' 2019 MVP

Russell Wilson isn't likely to win the NFL's MVP Award. That honor is almost assuredly going to Lamar Jackson.

But if Pro Football Focus had its way, it would be Wilson receiving the award. Thus, PFF has named the Seahawks quarterback their 2019 MVP.

Wilson led PFF's WAR metric by a significant margin. His rating of 4.08 was at least a full point higher than the four next closest players: Patrick Mahomes (2.96), Dak Prescott (2.40), Aaron Rodgers (2.38) and Jackson (2.29). It's worth noting that Mahomes missed two games with a knee injury, but even with those extra snaps he still wouldn't have passed Wilson's PFF WAR rating. In addition, Wilson's 91.2 PFF grade for the season was tied with Drew Brees for second-best among QBs. Only Ryan Tannehill was higher, and he didn't play until Week 7.

"This season, the data points to the fact that no player added greater value to their team than Russell Wilson did for the Seattle Seahawks," PFF's Sam Monson wrote.

Wilson finished the season with 4,110 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns and just five interceptions. He added 342 yards and three more scores as a runner.

There were three main contributors to Wilson edging the other MVP candidates in PFF's eyes.

The first is the notion that Wilson overcame Seattle failing to cater to his skill set whereas the Ravens revamped their entire offense to fit what Jackson does best. That's both from a schematic and from a game management standpoint.

The second is Wilson carried the Seahawks despite playing behind a far inferior offensive line. Duane Brown, who notably missed four games, was Seattle's highest-graded offensive lineman (76.3). Joey Hunt was next closest at 62.2. By comparison, the Ravens didn't have an offensive lineman graded below 63.0.

Finally, PFF credited Wilson for his ability to play at a high level in games where the Seahawks trailed, oftentimes by large margins. Jackson had the benefit of playing with a comfortable lead in most of Baltimore's games.

"When you try and see the entire board, Wilson dealt with much more adversity than Jackson did and was significantly ahead in terms of PFF WAR," Monson wrote. "So, Russell Wilson wins the award for a season in which there were two outstanding candidates."

 

Portland Mayor vows to make 'Damian Lillard Day' a reality

Portland Mayor vows to make 'Damian Lillard Day' a reality

Monday evening in front of a national television audience, Damian Lillard showed why he's among the best basketball players in the world.

The kid from Oakland scored a career-high 61 points against the Golden State Warriors, the highest total ever from a Portland Trail Blazer. 

Dame's performance impressed everyone: Social media, Evan Turner and even Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler. 

The politician tweeted his announcement the morning following Lillard's stellar display of shooting. Given the impact and admiration Lillard has earned from Rip City, it was just a matter of time until he got a day dedicated in his honor. 

Some Blazers fans agreed with the mayor's call.

Next up, Damian Lillard and the Blazers will host the Dallas Mavericks at 7:00 p.m. at the Moda Center on Thursday.

It's time for the NBA to practice what they preach in the case of Delonte West

It's time for the NBA to practice what they preach in the case of Delonte West

The NBA made a lot of news over the summer as the league pressed forward with new mental health initiatives. 

The league was trying to be forward-thinking with its approach to mental health and announced prior to the 2019 season that all teams would be required to have a licensed mental health professional on staff. 

It was a big step forward for the league and in line with a program set forth by the NBA Players Association in 2018. 

In recent years, high profile players have come forward with their struggles with mental health, helping to normalize these issues. DeMar DeRozan, Channing Frye, and most notably Kevin Love have all shared their stories. 

NBC Sports even produced a touching documentary over the summer titled "Headstrong: Mental Health and Sports." The documentary chronicled numerous athletes and their battles with depression and other mental health issues.

Here at NBC Sports Northwest, we did our own vignettes to help support the series, where Channing Frye was kind enough to share his story with us.

Frye's story is a feel-good one. He has recovered to the best of his ability and is now using his struggles as a way to help those in need. But coming through the other side of the dark tunnel is not always the ending we get. 

This is where we are today. 

Monday afternoon, a video circulated around the internet of former NBA star Delonte West being beaten in the middle of the street and incoherently yelling at police officers with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

He was shirtless, disheveled, and presumably homeless. The video was shocking and saddening. A man once on top of the NBA world sharing the court with NBA greats had reached the lowest of lows.

I share the video below not to poke fun at West, like so many trolls decided was a good idea on social media. I do it, though it may be uncomfortable to watch, to bring awareness to just how crippling mental health issues can truly be. 

[Langugage Disclaimer-- This video is not suitable for all audiences]

People on social media want to point to drugs and alcohol, or any other scapegoat, but those aren't the true issue.

Mental health is.

And West has a long document battle with it.

In 2008, West had an altercation with a referee during a team scrimmage, an incident that prompted him to get help for depression and a "mood disorder" he had been battling for years. 

Via a 2008 ESPN article:

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West contemplated quitting before leaving the team's training camp to seek help for depression and "a mood disorder" he has been battling his entire life.

West, who recently signed a two-year contract with Cleveland, said he removed himself from the team to "get my thoughts back together." He missed three preseason games during his absence from Oct. 4-15.

"I felt a feeling of anger and I just wanted to throw it all away and quit the team," he said.

The 25-year-old candidly discussed his condition following practice on Friday. West said he had been troubled by his behavior toward a high school referee during a scrimmage at the Cavs' training facility on Oct. 3. West took out his frustrations on the official, and said the incident was a warning signal for him to seek treatment to combat an illness that has troubled him for years.

"I needed help," he said.

West went on to have a great season with Cavs, but the wheels started to fall off shortly thereafter. He was arrested and pled guilty to two counts of weapons possession and was sentenced to eight months of home detention.

He signed with the Mavericks in December of 2011, was suspended twice for "conduct detrimental to the team," and was waived in October of 2012. He never played in the NBA again. 

Now, instead of making headlines for his skills on the hardwood, he makes headlines sitting on a concrete sidewalk. 

As West falls deeper into the abyss, the NBA sits idle. Will they offer a helping hand? They should...but their record shows otherwise.

Take Royce White, drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2012. White had battled anxiety his entire life. It was well documented. This anxiety led to a severe fear of flying. He struggled with the rigors of the NBA travel schedule and never played a single game with the Rockets. White says the league wasn't ready to help someone with a mental health issue.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, White said, "I said at [age] 21 to the NBA that I think mental health is the most important issue of our time and that the mind is the start and finish...Not only did they not have a response or argument — as if there’s a defensible argument — but the fans that are endeared with the game of basketball and sport, in general, provided an argument for them.” 

White was eventually cut by the Rockets for failing to fulfill his contract. The once-promising star never played a single game in the NBA.

The NBA failed White, but in the time since it has been much more accommodating to its players and their battles with mental health. However, the focus tend sto be on players currently in the NBA. What about players from the past?

If the NBA really wants to be progressive they need to not only help players when they are in uniform and making the league billions of dollars, but they need to also help them long after they decide to hang up the sneakers. 

White and West are just two of the former players that could use the NBA and its resources. Who's to stay there aren't countless more that have fought their battles in private, thinking they had no one to lean on? 

Just simply being there can be the difference between life and death. 

Delonte West needs help.

He needs help that very few can provide. The NBA has the capability to be a savior. It's time they finally practice what they preach. 

I leave you with this, a message from West's former teammate and close friend, Jameer Nelson. 

It's time for the NBA to step up and help players... not just the ones that are helping make money right now. 

 

Jaynes: Mario Cristobal put program first in hiring of Joe Moorhead

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NBCSNW

Jaynes: Mario Cristobal put program first in hiring of Joe Moorhead

Time will tell what kind of offensive coordinator the Oregon Ducks hired Tuesdat. But certainly former Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead has the credentials for the job.

He proved at Penn State that he can move the football and he showed at MSU that he is a big-time recruiter. I mean, if you can lure four- and five-star recruits to Starkville, Miss., you can get them to Eugene.

But for me, the hiring tells as much about Mario Cristobal as it does about anything else.

There are a whole lot of coaches who would not EVER hire a man who even remotely could prove to be a threat to take their job. Moorhead is a former head man of an SEC program and someone with a solid resume. Cristobal is obviously secure in his job and a lot of people would assume that anyone in his position -- with a solid season behind him, a top-10 ranking at the end of that season and a long-term contract -- would never be threatened by the presence of a veteran assistant who could someday campaign for his job.

But that's not the case.

A lot of these guys are very insecure. They take no chances with their assistants. I see it in pro sports, too, where teams pass on proven assistant coaches who could help their team win because the head man is worried about job security. Instead, these teams continually hire young coaches with something to prove or veterans with no head coaching experience or no interest in ever taking the big job.

Cristobal shows with this hire that he's looking to do what's best for his team and isn't worried about hiring somebody who could someday threaten his position.

And that's what the top coaches do. That's what winners do.

Washington State’s Anthony Gordon to wear No. 3 jersey in honor of Tyler Hilinski at Senior Bowl

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USA Today Images

Washington State’s Anthony Gordon to wear No. 3 jersey in honor of Tyler Hilinski at Senior Bowl

When Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon steps onto the field at Ladd Peebles Stadium for the Reese’s Senior Bowl Saturday, he’ll be donning a special jersey.

Gordon will wear the No. 3 jersey in tribute to honor late teammate, Tyler Hilinski, who passed away in 2018. The news was first reported by Buccaneers beat reporter Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report.

Former WSU quarterback Luke Falk was the first Coug to wear Hiliski’s number on his jersey in memory of Hilinski. He came up with the idea in 2018 and wore the No. 3 during Senior Bowl practices, just weeks after Hilinski took his life in an off-campus apartment in Pullman.

Gordon will join quarterbacks like Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Colorado’s Steven Montez in the Senior Bowl game. He led the country with 429.2 passing yards and added 48 touchdowns, second to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Evan Turner thinks a street should be named after Damian Lillard

Evan Turner thinks a street should be named after Damian Lillard

To end the slate of nationally televised games for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Damian Lillard saved the best for last.

The franchise star scored a career-high and franchise-record 61 points against the Golden State Warriors to will Portland to an overtime victory.

The whole country took notice, as did Dame's former teammate Evan Turner.

I don't know about you, but a high school named after Lillard would immediately become the go-to school to attend in Portland. If that's too much, a street name is the least the city can do for Portland's most beloved son. 

Turner and Lillard were teammates from 2015-2019 until he was traded to Atlanta in exchange for Kent Bazemore this past offseason. 

Current and former teammates CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard found Turner's tweet as funny as the rest of us.

What do you say Rip City?

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers

On Tuesday morning the Trail Blazers officially announced their long-rumored trade with the Sacramento Kings

Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are gone, while Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel are on their way Portland.

The Blazers know what they are getting in Ariza: a solid veteran player that has made his entire career on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Stotts anticipates that Ariza will be the team's starting small forward, as many of us expected. 

But what about Gabriel and Swanigan? 

Let's start with Gabriel. He is a largely unknown commodity. In his first year in the league, after spending time in the G-League, Gabriel has played in just 11 games for the Kings. 

In those games, he has averaged 1.7 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 5.5 minutes per game.

He is another Moses Brown. A big body with potential, but still very raw and rough around the edges. Most likely, he will be an end-of-the-bench guy. 

That is the quick rundown on Gabriel. Now, what about Swanigan?

First, remember that Swanigan has been in Portland before and that stint didn't work out. 

He was drafted by the Blazers in 2017, failed to crack the rotation, and was later traded to the Kings in return for Skal Labissiere. 

Swanigan played 45 games for the Blazers, averaging 2.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game. Swanigan's stint in Sacramento was much the same. He failed to crack the rotation, playing in just 10 games while averaging 1.3. points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists. 

To be fair to Swanigan, getting on the floor wasn't easy. He is a versatile player that can play power forward or center in small lineups, but he still had an uphill battle.

In Portland, he was buried behind the likes of Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, and Zach Collins.

In Sacramento, he was buried behind Dewayne Demon, Nemanja Bjelica. Richaun Holmes, Harry Giles, and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Getting on the floor wasn't easy. That's not the case in his second stop here in Portland. 

As we all know, injuries have ravaged the Blazers, especially in the frontcourt. 

The Blazers don't have Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, or Pau Gasol available.  

In fact, the Blazers now only have four players available that are 6'9" or taller: Hassan Whiteside (7'0"), two-way player Moses Brown (7'2"), and the newly-acquired Gabriel and Swanigan who both stand at 6'9."

Quite simply, Swanigan is going to get on the floor out of necessity. 

If the team were fully healthy, Swanigan would once again find himself on the bottom looking up. This time, he gets to start near the top.

The Blazers have lived by a "next man up" mentality all season long, and this time they had to go outside of Portland to find that next man. 

If Swanigan hopes to turn it around, to resurrect his career, there is no better chance than what the Blazers are giving him. 

To use a football analogy -  The ball is on the one-yard-line and the team is choosing to hand the ball off to Swanigan. What he does from there is up to him. When someone gives you the ball, you run with it.

He either runs through the door of opportunity that has been opened, or he runs himself back out of town... hopefully it's the former. 

The Blazers need Biggie, and Biggie needs the Blazers. The chance for both of them to turn their season around starts on Thursday against the Mavericks. 

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington and Oregon have both filled their offensive coordinator positions with former Penn State coaches.

Huskies coach Jimmy Lake named John Donovan as his offensive coordinator Friday morning. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal followed up that announcement naming Joe Moorhead as his offensive coordinator, who coincidentally replaced Donovan in Happy Valley.

Donovan coached under Penn State head coach James Franklin (2011-2013) at both Vanderbilt and Penn State (2014-2015). Following the 2015 season where the Nittany Lions ranked 105th in the country in total offense (348.4 yards) and 100th in points per game (23.2 points), Donovan was fired and replaced by Joe Moorhead. 

Moorhead in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions increased their offensive ranking in every category on their way to winning the Big Ten: 21st in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 50th in total offense (435.6). One season later the Nittany Lions shot up to sixth in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 19th in total offense (460.3 yards). Both seasons Moorhead's offense broke Penn State school records for scoring offense and total offense.

After Washington made the announcement, many Penn State fans sent their condolences to Husky fans.

It's never a good sign when the fanbase for a coach's prior stop has this reaction to him getting another coaching job. However, it seems warranted in this case.

In Donovan's last five seasons as an offensive coordinator at the college level (Vanderbilt and Penn State) his offenses ranked at best 82nd in the country in total offense: 98th, 82nd, 93rd, 114th, and 105th. Huskies coach Jimmy Lake even indirectly references his putrid offenses in his statement welcoming him to the program.

"Coach Donovan has a great deal of experience at both the college and NFL levels, learning from a lot of great offensive minds about coaching the kind of aggressive, pro-style offense we want to play here at Washington," Lake said. "From my own experience, I know how much a coach can learn and grow by spending significant time in the NFL. I'm excited for him to get to Seattle and get started."

Meanwhile, the Ducks hired an offensive coordinator who ran the seventh-ranked scoring offense the last time he was an offensive coordinator. Granted, his offenses as Mississippi State head coach were also lackluster, 71st and 74th in total offense his two seasons as Bulldogs head coach, before getting fired this month. But he was much more successful more recently than Donovan and may have lacked weapons at Mississippi State. A problem he won't have in Eugene given how great of a recruiter Cristobal has been.

It's always possible that Donovan kills it and Moorhead flops at Oregon making this whole article look silly, but given the information available today there's no way you can think Oregon didn't make the better hire.